« السابقةمتابعة »
less denoting the same thing, do imply this faith to consist in being persuaded concerning the truth of some propositions chiefly relating to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, either as grounded on his authority, or appertaining to his person. Now what such propositions are, we may learn from other expressions, descriptions, or circumlocutions declaring the nature and quality of this faith : it is sometimes called the belief of the gospel,' (that is, of the whole system of doctrines, and laws, and promises, and prophecies taught, delivered, or declared by Christ, and his Apostles: Repent,' said St. John the Baptist,' and believe the gospel,') the belief of the truth,' (that body of truth, signally so called, which was taught by the same authors,) the acknowlegement of the same truth,' (πιστός, and επεγνωκώς την αλήθειαν are in St. Paul the same.) Equivalent to those descriptions of this faith are those expressions, which set it out by yielding assent (generally) to what our Lord Christ and his Apostles taught, or to some chief points of their doctrine, inferring the rest; the believing, bearing, receiving the word of God, of Christ, of the Apostles, the receiving Christ's testimony, and (which is the same) receiving Christ himself; coming unto Christ, (that is, as disciples to their Master, as servants to their Lord, as persons oppressed and enslaved to their Deliverer :) the believing (and knowing) that Jesus was sent by God, and came from him; the believing that Jesus was what he professed himself to be; the confessing that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, he which should come into the world; the King of Israel; that God raised him from the dead; by the belief of which one point, as involving the rest, St. Paul expresseth this faith : If thou,' saith be, “shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe with thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.'
The result, on considering all which expressions declaratory of the nature of this faith (for this surely is not different from that, which is so commonly otherwhere represented in our Sa. viour's and his Apostles' discourses and writings, as a great duty required of us; as a virtue (or act of virtue) highly commendable, as an especial instrument of our salvation, as a pecessary condition prerequisite to our partaking the benefits and
privileges by divine favor conferred on Christians)--the result, I say, is this, that by this faith (as to the first and primary sense thereof) is understood the being truly and firmly persuaded in our minds, that Jesus was what he professed himself to be, and what the Apostles testified him to be; the Messias, by God designed, foretold, and promised to be sent into the world, to redeem, govern, instruct, and save mankind; our Redeemer and Saviour, our Lord and Master, our king and Judge; the great High Priest, and Prophet of God; the being assured of these, and all other propositions connexed with these ; or, in short, the being thoroughly persuaded of the truth of that gospel which was revealed and taught by Jesus and his Apostles. That this notion is true, those descriptions of this faith, and phrases expressing it, do sutliciently show; the nature and reason of the thing doth confirm the same; for that such a faith is, in its kind and order, apt and sufficient to promote God's design of saving us, to render us capable of God's favor; to purge our hearts, and work that change of mind, which is necessary in order to the obtaining God's favor, and enjoying happiness; to produce that obedience, which God requires of us, and without which we cannot be saved ; these things are the natural results of such a persuasion concerning those truths; as natural, as the desire and pursuit of any good doth arise from the clear apprehension thereof, or as the shunning of any mischief doth follow from the like apprehension : as a persuasion that wealth is to be got thereby, makes the merchant to undergo the dangers and pains of a long voyage, (verifying that, Impiger extremos currit mercator ad Indos, Per mare pauperiem fugiens, per saxa, per ignes ;) as the persuasion that health may thereby be recovered, engages a man not only to take down the most unsavory potions, but to endure cuttings and burnings, (ut valeas ferrum patieris et ignes ;) as a persuasion, that refreshment is to be found in a place, doth effectually carry the hungry person thither: so a strong persuasion that Christian religion is true, and the way of obtaining happiness, and of escaping misery, doth naturally produce a subjection of heart and an obedience thereto; and accordingly we see the highest of those effects which the gospel offers, or requires, are assigned to this faith, as results from it, or adjuncts thereof. Regeneration ; · Whosoever,' saith St. John, 'believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.' Spiritual union with God; · Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God :' • If what ye have heard from the beginning abide in you, ye shall also abide in the Father and the Son. The obtaining God's love; • The Father loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came from God.' Victory over the world ; · Who is he that overcometh the world, but he who believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ? Freedom from spiritual slavery, and becoming true disciples of Christ; · If ye abide in my word, ye are truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.' Obtaining everlasting life; · He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, (that is, who believeth my word, which is indeed the word of God, who sent me, and in whose name I speak.) hath everlasting life.' And, • These things were written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing it, you may have life in his name.' Interest in God and Christ; “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he (oros) hath the Father and the Son.' Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath eternal life.' Rising with Christ, (that is, as to capacity and right;) · Buried with him in baptism, wherein you are risen with him through faith of the operation of God; who raised him from the dead.' Being saved ; Whoever confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus to be the Son of God; and in his heart believes that God raised him from the dead, shall be saved.' Lastly, being justified; for, St. Paul adjoins, 'a man believeth (in the manner before mentioned) to righteousness ; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.' So we see that the chief of those excellent benefits, to the procuring of which faith (however understood') is anywise conducible, or requisite, do belong to the persuasion concerning evangelical truths. We may also observe in the history concerning our Lord, and his Apostles' proceedings toward persons, whom they had converted to Christianity, and did admit to a participation of the privileges thereof, that no other faith was by them required in order thereto : on such a persuasion appearing, they received them into the church, baptised them, pronounced unto them an absolution from their sins, and a reception into God's favor. This was the faith of Martha, which gave her interest in the promise of eternal life : * Every one,' said our Saviour to her, * living, and believing in me, shall never die: Dost thou believe this ? She saith unto him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. This was the faith for which our Saviour commends St. Peter, and pronounces him happy. On appearance of this faith, St. Peter baptised and admitted into the church the three thousand persons whom he had converted. (* Then,' says the text,' they who gladly (or willingly) received his word (that is, were persuaded of the truth of that doctrine, which is before set down concerning our Lord) were baptised; and the same day were added (to the church) about three thousand souls.) On the like faith the Samaritans were baptised, (ore émiorevoay Tý PUNTY,' when they gave credence to Philip's doctrine.') And on the same account did the same evangelist say it was lawful to baptise the Eunuch, and accordingly did perform it : If,' saith Pbilip, thou believest with thy whole heart, it is lawful, (or thou mayest be baptised.) He answering said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So he baptised him.' This was the faith on which St. Paul baptised Lydia,' when she had yielded assent unto (so mpooéxeev doth import in the Acts; not only apooéxeiv roūv to yield attention, but apogéxelv hlotiy to give assent unto) the things spoken by St. Paul.' Thus also of those Jews in another place of the Acts, when St. Paul had opened and alleged, out of the Scriptures, that Christ was to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, and that Jesus was the Christ,' it is said rivès ég airwr επείσθησαν, και προσεκληρώθησαν, “were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas,' (that is, were received into Christian communion with them. The same is intimated in other passages of the apostolical history; by all which it appears that the Apostles' method was to declare and inculcate the main points of the Christian history and doctrine, attesting to the one, and proving the other by testimonies and arguments proper to that purpose ; and whoever of their hearers declared himself persuaded of the truth of what they taught, that he did heartily assent thereto, and resolved to profess and practice accord
ingly, him, without more to do, they presently baptised, and instated him in the privileges appertaining to Christianity; or, in St. Paul's language, did justify them, according to their subordinate manner, as the ministers of God. And thus did the primitive church practise after the Apostles; as Justin the Martyr fully relates of it:-όσοι αν πεισθώσι, και πιστεύωσιν αληθη ταύτα τα υφ' ημών διδασκόμενα, και λεγόμενα είναι, και ποιείν ούτως δύνασθαι υπισχώνται, &c.-άγονται υφ' ημών ένθα ύδωρ εστί, και τρόπον αναγεννήσεως, δν και ημείς αυτοί ανεγεννήOnuev, åvayevvūvrac-Apol. 2. “Whoever,' saith he, ' are persuaded, and do believe these things by us taught, and said to be true, and undertake that they can live so according to them; -are brought thither, where water is, and are regenerated after the same manner as we have been regenerated. I farther add, that even this faith is expressed to be the effect of divine grace and inspiration ; for when St. Peter bad confessed that · Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God,'our Saviour tells him, “that flesh and blood had not revealed that unto him, but his Father in heaven ;' and, No man,' St. Paul tells us, can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost :' and, ' Every spirit, which confesseth Jesus Christ to have been come in the flesh, is of God,' saith St. John. So that even this is a faith, in respect to which the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of faith,' which is the • fruit of the Spirit,' and 'the gift of God;' that which no man can have without God's drawing him, and teaching him; • No man can come unto me, except the Father, that hath sent me, shall draw him (ekvon avrov.) Every one that hath heard from the Father, and bath learned, cometh unto me :' to which it is ordinarily required, that God should open the heart, as he did Lydia's heart, 'to attend and assent unto what St. Paul taught:' neither doth the Scripture, as I conceive, attribute any thing unto faith, which doth not agree to this notion.
We might lastly adjoin, that this was the common and current notion of faith among the ancient Christians; neither do we, I suppose, meet with any other in their writings; all which things do abundantly confirm the truth thereof.
5. But I must farther observe particularly, in correspon. dence to what was before more generally observed,) that this