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faith doth not only denote precisely and abstractedly such acts of mind, such opinions and persuasions concerning the truth of matters specified, but doth also connote and imply indeed comprehend according to the meaning of those who use the word) such acts of will, as, supposing those persuasions to be real and complete, are naturally consequent on them, and are in a manner necessarily coherent with them; a firm resolution constantly to profess and adhere unto the doctrine, of which a man is so persuaded ; to obey all the laws and precepts, which it contains; forsaking in open profession, and in real practices, all principles, rules, customs inconsistent with those doctrines and laws; that which is called conversion, or returning to the Lord, (that is, leaving a course of rebellion, and disobedience to those laws, which the Lord in the gospel commands, and resolvedly betaking themselves to the observance of them,) πολύς τε όχλος πιστεύσας επέστρεψεν επί τον Κύριον, a great multitude,' it is said, believing, did return unto the Lord ;' their faith did carry with it such a conversion. Hence this faith is styled TelOapxeir Oeq, “to obey God's command ;' ÚTAκούειν τώ ευαγγελία, “to obey the gospel;' υπακούειν τη πίστει, * to obey the faith ;' υποταγή της ομολογίας εις το ευαγγέλιον, (subjection of professing the gospel of Christ,')' with purpose of heart to adhere unto God; stipulation of a good conscience toward God,' (that which St. Peter intimates as a necessary concomitant of baptism, it being a sincere undertaking, and engaging one's self to obey God's commandments;) in fine, to repent; which is either adequately the same thing with faith, or included therein, according to the apostolical meaning of the word; for that remission of sins, which is sometime made the consequent of faith, is otherwhere expressly annexed to repen. tance : the sum of the gospel our Saviour himself expresses by the preaching in his name “ repentance, and remission of sins in all nations :' and, · Repent,'St. Peter preached, and let every one of you be baptised :' and, · Repent,' said he again, and return, that yo.ir
be blotted out:' and, • Then to the Gentiles,' say those in the Acts, “hath God given repentance unto life :' which signifies the same with that other expression concerning the same persons, 'God's having purified their hearts hy faith;' in which places I take repentance to import the
same thing with faith ; being in effect nothing else but sincere embracing Christian religion. Now the word faith is thus extended (beyond its natural and primary force) to comprehend such a compliance of will, or purpose of obedience, because this doth naturally arise from a persuasion concerning the truth of the gospel, if it be real and strong enough in that degree, which Christianity requires, and supposes to the effects mentioned in the gospel ; if it be év zņ kapdią, ' in the heart;' (or a hearty faith,) as St. Paul speaks; if it be such as Philip exacts of the Eunuch,
a belief εξ όλης της καρδίας, from the whole heart;' if it have that due plerophory, that stability, that solidity, which the Apostles speak of; for a weak, faint, slight, ill-grounded, ill-rooted opinion concerning the truth of the gospel, (such as those in another case had, whom our Saviour rebuked with a τι δειλοί έστε, ολιγόπιστοι ; «Why are ye fearful, 0
ye small in faith ? such as St. Peter had, when our Saviour said to him, odzyóriote, eis zí édiotagas ; · 0 thou of small faith, why didst thou doubt ? which faith could not keep them nor him from sinking; not such as those had, who heard the word, and gladly received it; but wanted root, so that, when persecution or affliction did arise for the word, they were presently scandalised ;' not such a faith as those many rulers had, who are said to have believed in Jesus, but for fear of the Pharisees did not confess him ;' not such as Simon Magus had, who is said to have believed Philip, but to no good effect, because his heart was not right before God;' he having not thoroughly resolved to obey the gospel ; not such as Agrippa had, whom St. Paul had · almost persuaded to be a Christian') —these sorts of faith are, in comparison to that we speak of, but equivocally so called : it includes a firm resolution to perform carefully all the duties enjoined to Christians, to undergo patiently all the crosses incident to Christianity; it is the same with becoming a disciple of Christ, which a man cannot be without renouncing all other interests and concernments, without denying one's self, forsaking all and following him; without taking his yoke on him, going after, and bearing his cross : it supposes (as our Saviour also teaches us) that a man hath cast up with himself the gain and loss he is like to receive by the bargain, and being satisfied therein, to contract bona fide with God; that a man hath weighed all the pains and dangers he shall be put on by entering into this warfare, and so resolvedly to adventure on it; it is productive of love to the truth, yea of love to God, and charity to men, without which all faith is unprofitable and ineffectual, as St. Paul teaches us. In short, this faith is nothing else but a true, serious, resolute embracing Christianity; not only being persuaded that all the doctrines of Christ are true, but submitting to his will and command in all things.
But to prevent mistakes, and remove objections, I shall yet farther observe,
6. That this faith hath, although not an adequate, yet a peculiar respect unto that part of Christian truth, which concerns the merciful intentions of God toward mankind, and the gracious performances of our Saviour in order to the accomplishing them; the promises of pardon to our sins, and restoral into God's favor on the terms propounded in the gospel, of sincere faith and repentance ; whence the gospel is called lóyos karallayis, (* the word of reconciliation ;') and this is expressed as a summary of the apostolic ministry or message ; that “God was in Christ reconciling the world, not imputing their sins:' and this our Saviour did order in especial manner to be preached in his name; this accordingly they did mainly propound and inculcate ; that God had exalted · Jesus to his right hand as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins; that he should receive remission of sins, whoever did believe in his name:'• Let it be known unto you, brethren, that by this man remission of sins is denounced unto you ;' (so did they preach.) Whence this faith is (signanter) called • belief in the blood of Christ :' indeed, of all Christian doctrines, this is must proper first to be propounded and persuaded, as the most attractive to the belief of the rest; most encouraging and comfortable to men; most apt to procure glory to God by the illustration of his principal attributes, his justice and his goodness; most suitable to the state of things between God and man; for men being in a state of rebellion and enmity toward God, in order to their reducement and recovery thence, it was most proper that in the first place an overture of mercy and pardon should be made, an act of oblivion should be passed and propounded to them : yet are not these propositions and promises the adequate or intire object of this faith; for other articles of faith are often propounded in a tollateral order with those ; yea sometimes (as in the case of the Eunuch) others are expressed, when that is not mentioned, but only understood : neither if any one should believe all the doctrines of that kind, if he did not withal believe that Jesus is his Lord, and shall be his Judge; that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, and a judgment to come, with the like fundamental verities of our religion, would he be a believer in this sense.
7. I observe farther, that this faith doth relate only to propositions revealed by God, (or at least deduced from principles of reason, such as are, that there is a God; that God is good, veracious, and faithful ; that our religion is true in the gross ; that the holy Scriptures were written by divine inspiration; which propositions we believe on rational grounds and motives,) not unto other propositions concerning particular matter of fact, subject to private conscience or experience ; nor to any conclusions depending on such propositions. For instance, it is a part of this faith to believe that God is merciful and gracious, that he bears good-will unto, and is disposed to pardon, every penitent sinner; or (which is all one) that supposing a man doth believe, and hath repented, God doth actually love him, and doth forgive his sins; this is, I say, indeed a part of the faith we speak of, its object being part of the gospel revealed unto us : but the being persuaded that God doth love me, or hath pardoned my sins, or that I am in a state of favor with God, may, as my circumstances may be, not be my duty ; however it is no part of this faith, but a matter of opinion, dependent on private experience: for such a persuasion must be grounded on my being conscious to myself of having truly and thoroughly repented, (this being required by God, as a necessary condition toward my obtaining pardon and his favor ;) of having performed which duty I may presume, when it is false, (and therefore cannot then be obliged to believe it,) and nay doubt, when it is true : and that not without good reason, considering the blindness and fallibility of man's mind, and that man's 'heart is deceitful above all things, as the prophet tells us : on which account then a man may not be obliged to have such a persuasion. It is indeed a great fault to doubt, or distrust, on that hand which concerns God; about his goodness, his truth, his wisdom, or power : but it is not always (perhaps not commonly) blameable to question a man's own qualifications, or his own performances, whether in kind or degree they be answerable to what God requires; that is inconsistent with true faith, but this not: we cannot have any good religious affections toward God, if we do not take him to be our gracious Father; but we may have in us such affections toward him, and he may be favorably disposed toward us, when we suspect ourselves to be untoward children, unworthy (as the prodigal son in the gospel confessed himself) to be called the sons of God.' The centurion in the gospel did confess himse!f unworthy that Christ should enter under his roof :' but he declared his persuasion that if Christ should only speak a word, his child should be healed ;' and our Saviour thereon professes, • that he had not found so much faith in Israel.' To the blind men inploring his relief, our Saviour puts the question, ' Do ye believe that I can do this? They answered, Yes, Lord :' he required no more of them ; but said thereon, ' According to your faith let it be done unto you.' And that for which Abraham the father of believers, his faith is represented so acceptable is, his firm persuasion concerning God's power; because,' saith St. Paul, he had a plerophory, that what was promised, God was able to perform ;' by doing thus, he was a believer, and thereby • gave glory to God,' as the Apostle there adds. If we do not then distrust God, we may have faith, although we distrust ourselves. It is true (generally and absolutely speaking) we should endeavor so fully and clearly to repent, and to perform whatever God requires of us, that we may thence acquire a good hope concerning our state; we should labor that our hearts may not condemn us of any presumptuous transgressing our duty, and consequently, that we may become in a manner confident of God's favor toward us: but when we have done the best we can, even when we are not conscious of any enormous fault or defect, yet we may consider with St. Paul, that we are not thereby justified,' but abide liable to the more certain cognisance and judgment of God, who seeth not as man seeth;