Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ess. x11.]
We are Justified

489 to a participation in the favour of the Almighty—the faith which alone is justifying in the sight of God-is “ faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a reliance of the soul, on the incarnate Son, who conducts the great scheme appointed for our salvation-whoin every part of that scheme is prominently presented to our attention—who was himself “ delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." The righteousness of God,” is declared by the apostle Paul to be, “by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe :" Rom. iii, 22. And, again, when he was rebuking his less faithful brother in the apostleship, he said, “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law :" Gal. ii, 15, 16; comp. Rom. x, 1-4.

Now, as Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, so it is only in the character of sinners that we are, in the nature of things, capable of justification; for “to be justified,” in the language of Scripture, and particularly in that of the apostle Paul, usually signifies to be absolved-to be delivered by pardon from the penalty due to our past sins. “The free gift is of many offences unto justification:" Rom. v, 16. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declarc his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past :" iii, 23—25. From these premises it follows, that, in the order of the grace of God, justification precedes sanctification, and that the faith in Jesus Christ, by which the ungodly are justified, has

[ocr errors]

490
through Faith in his Blood.

[Ess. XII.
respect, in a very preeminent manner, to the atone-
ment which he has made for the sins of the world.
It is faith in a crucified Redeemer, or, to adopt the
apostle's words, “ faith in his blood," and this doctrine
corresponds with the declaration of our Lord himself
-"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of man be lifted up, (on the cross,)
that whosoever believeth in him, (that is, I conceive,
whosoever places his reliance upon him as the atone-
ment for sin) should not perish, but have eternal life :"
John iii, 14, 15; comp. Rom. v, 1, 9. While, how-
ever, the justification of the sinner, through faith in
a crucified Redeemer, precedes the work of sanctifi-
cation, its close and inseparable connexion with that
work is evinced by the fact, that, in the economy of
God's spiritual government, this very faith is the con-
stituted means, through which we obtain the gift of
the Holy Spirit. In the preceding Essay, I have en-
deavoured to prove from Scripture, that the channel
through which the Spirit flows to man is Christ cru-
cified, and I am now remarking, that it is through
faith in Christ crucified, that we, on our parts, are en-
abled to receive the Spirit, and are brought under his
regenerating and sanctifying influence. “ Christ,” says
the apostle Paul, “ hath redeemed us from the curse
of the law, being made a curse for us, that the bless-
ing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through
Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of
the Spirit through faith :" Gal. iii, 13, 14.
man thirst,” cried Jesus himself, “ let him come unto
me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scrip-
ture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of liv-
ing water:" John vii, 37, 38; comp. ver. 39. Those
only can truly be said to "eat the flesh of the Son of
man, and drink his blood," whose whole reliance for
salvation is placed upon him, as the sacrifice for sin ;

66 If any

Ess. XII.] Through this Faith we receive the Spirit. 491 and these are they who receive the “Spirit that quickeneth"-who dwell in Christ and know Christ by his Spirit to dwell in them--who, through the Spirit, are made alive unto God in this world, and, therefore, live for ever in the world to come: John vi, 53–63.

Lastly, let it ever be remembered, that the faith in Christ, which is thus frequently declared to be the means of our salvation, and which procures for us the sanctifying effusions of that Holy Spirit by whose influence it is itself originated, is not the mere conviction of our understanding, that Jesus was the true Messiah, or that he made an atonement for the sins of the world. Such a conviction, although desirable and needful, is in itself a dead faith. The devils themselves could confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God; and we read, that they also believe, and tremble :" James ii, 19. Saving faith in Christ is a living and active principle, implanted by a divine hand in the soul, through which, as penitent sinners, we draw near to Jesus-accept him as our only Saviourspiritually feed upon him as upon the bread of life and cast ourselves, without reserve, on his merits and mercies. This is that faith which "worketh by love;" and, while under the influence of that Christian grace, it fixes itself with humble confidence on Jesus as the great sacrifice for sin, it does not stop here, but embraces the Lord of glory in all his other gracious offices, as our Lawgiver, our Pattern, our Intercessor with the Father, our Sympathizing High Priest, our omnipresent Helper, our Shepherd, and our King. Finally, the believer who has been enabled thus to accept the Gospel and its mighty Author, is led along by a gentle yet powerful hand, to walk by faith in the Son of God- to live as the devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ-to " follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth!"

492 Recupitulution.

[Ess. XII. Let us now briefly review the contents of the present dissertation.

The doctrine of Scripture, that belief or faith, considered as a principle of action, is indispensable to the religious life, and therefore to our eternal well-being, is in perfect analogy with the known course of God's government over the world ; for faith has respect to those things which, though probable, are not absolutely known to us, and especially to the truth of testimony; and it is obvious, that in this point of view, all men are under the necessity of walking by faith.

The subjects of religious faith are various, but its only true and proper object is God.

In requiring of us faith in himself, God deals with us as with reasonable creatures, for he has imparted to us, by the light of nature, ample evidences of his existence, his goodness, and his moral government.

To place a full reliance of the soul on that Being whom our reason has thus discovered, is a duty which the plainest principles of the same reason prove to be required of us, and which in the Bible is insisted on, as fundamental and essential.

Although this trust in God may, through grace, be exercised by persons who possess no other information on divine subjects, than that which they derive from natural religion, yet the declarations of Scripture respecting faith, have been, in all ages, addressed to that part of mankind, who have enjoyed the light of an outward revelation. With such as these, a belief in revelation (i. e. in the word of the Lord) is an essential part, or necessary consequence, of an acceptable trust in God. Hence, the blessings promised by the Gospel of Christ are offered only to believers in that Gospel. And here, also, God deals with us as with reasonable creatures; for he does not require of us faith in revelation, without, at the same time, bestow

Ess, XI.]
Recapitulation,

493 ing upon us the signs of miracles and prophecy, together with internal moral evidences, in order to convince us that he is himself its Author.

Faith when by no means extensive as to its subjects, may nevertheless be powerful in operation, as is evinced by the history of numerous patriarchs and prophets who lived before the Christian era.

Under the light of the Gospel dispensation, however, the faith of the consistent and well-instructed believer apprehends the whole scheme of evangelical truth. It is directed to the Father, to the Son, and to the Spirit, as to its equal and inseparable objects: and since God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, it follows that, among those to whom the Gospel is proposed, they only rightly believe in the Father, who believe also in the Son.

The faith by which the Christian is saved, is indeed very frequently declared to be faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of men. As sinners, we are justified before God, by placing our reliance on the Messiah, whom the Father sent into the world to make an atonement for the sins of mankind, -- who loved us and gave himself for us.

This faith is the means through which we receive the Holy Spirit, by whom we are regenerated and sanctified.

Lastly, a saving faith in Jesus is not merely intellectual--it springs from the heart, works by love, gradually accepts the Saviour in all his offices, and gently constrains the Christian to take up his daily cross and FOLLOW CHRIST.

And, now, before we bring this section to its conclusion, it is desirable that our most serious attention should be directed to the contrast so clearly drawn in Scripture, between the respective effects of believing, and of not believing, in the Gospel, and in Christ. "He

« PreviousContinue »