Page images
PDF
EPUB

tily distinguish this act of the believing soul, thus reclining and thus staying itself upon Christ, from the act of receiving Christ, and make it posterior thereto, I shall not oppose it. Let us therefore call this the sixth act of faith.

XXII. Which we think, is very significantly expressed by the Hebrew word 'OX7, which properly signifies, to throw ones self in order to be carried, on the truth and power of another; as an infant throws itself to be carried on the arms of its nurse. For it is derived from 10x, which properly signifies to carry: hence, a carrier, a nursing father, Numb. xi. 12. “ carry them in thy boson, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child: and 70X77 signifies to be carried, Isa. lx. 4. “thy daughters shall be nursed (carried at thy side. Instead of which it is said, Isa lx. 12. ye shall be borne upon her sides. And Christ really carries believers as nurslings, in his bosom, Isa. xl. II, for Moses also uses that similitude, “the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bare his son,” Deut. i. 31, “ underneath are the everlasting arms,” Deut. xxxiii. 21 7'ONTT therefore in virtue of its signification denotes to give up ones self to be carried by Christ, and so to cast himself into his bosom and arms. By which similitude the activity of the believing soul towards Christ is most elegantly expressed.

XXIII. Moreover, when the believer so receives Christ and leans upon him, he not only considers him as a Saviour but also a Lord. For he receives a whole Christ, and receiveth him just as he is: but he is no less Lord than a Saviour. Yea, he cannot be a Saviour unless he be likewise a Lord. In this doth our salvation consist, that we neither belong to the devil, nor are our own, nor the property of any creature but of Christ the Lord. Faith therefore receives Christ the Lord, Col. ii. 6. Nor does Christ offer himself as a husband to the soul upon any other condition, but this, that he acknowledge him as his Lord, Psal. xiv. 10, II. And when the soul casts himself upon Jesus, he, at the same time renounces his own will, and surrenders himself up to the will of lesus, to be carried whithersoever he pleaseth. Whence there is also in faith a humble surrender ard giving up ones self, whereby the believer, as in duty bound, yields himself, and all that is bis, to Christ, who is freely gia ven him. “ ( an my beloved's, and my beloved is inine." Cant. vi. 3. 2 Cor. vii. 5. “ gave their own selves to the Lord.” Almost in the same form as Amasai, with his companions gave themselves up to David, i Chron. xii. 18 “thiye are we, David, and on thy side, thoi, son of lesse.” And this our surrender to Christ, which we aceeunt the sevei.th act of faith is the continual fountain and spring of all true obedience, which is therefore called the obedience of fuith; Romans i. 5.

faith,

XXIV. After the believing soul has thus received Christ, and given himself up to him, he may, and ought, thence to conclude, that Christ with all his saving benefits are his, and that he shall certainly be blessed by him, according to this infallible syllogism or reasoning of faith: “ Christ offers himself as a full and complete saviour to all who are weary, húngry, thirsty, to all who receive him, and are ready to give themselves up to him: but I am weary, hungry, &c. Therefore Christ has offered himself to me, is now become mine, and I his, nor shall any thing ever separate me from his love.This is the eighth, and the reflex act of faith, arising from consciousness or reflexion, Gal. ii. 20. 2 Tim. i. 12. Rom. viii. 38.

XXV. Hence, in fine, the soul, now conscious of its union with Christ by faith, obtains trust or confidence, tranquillity, joy, peace, and bold defiance to all enemies and dangers whatever, a glorying in the Lord, a glorying in adversity ; while the soul leans ( stays itself) with delight on its beloved ; with stretched out arms throwing itself, or with its elbow sweetly leaning upon him (7970 signifies according to the Talmudists the arm-pit) being assured of mutual communion and mutual love, while it sings, “ I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me." Song vii. 10. it piously exults and delights

itself in its Lord, is enebriated with his love, rejoices “ with · joy unspeakable and full of glory,” i Pet. i. 8. and savingly

inelts at the glowing flames of reciprocal love; in one word, w rejoices in the hope of the glory of God," Rom. v. 2.

XXVI. We shall now briefly compendize, as it were, in one view what we have so largely explained. Faith comprehends the knowledge of the mystery of God, and of Christ in the light of grace, the truth of which mystery the believer acknowledges with full assent of mind on the authority of the testimony of God. And not only so, but he is also in love with that truth, exults therein and glorifies God, he likewise ardently desires communion with Christ: that the things which are true in Christ, may be also true to him for salvation : wherefore, when Christ is offered to him by the word and spirit, he receives him with the greatest complacency of soul, leans and rests upon him, and gives and surrenders himself to him; which done, he glories that Christ is now his own, and most sweetly delights in him, reposing himself under the shadow of the tree of life, and satiating himself with its most delicious

fruits. fruits. This is the faith of God's elect; Tit. i. 1. an invaluable gift, the bond of our union with Christ, the scale of paradise, the key of the ark of the covenant; with which its treasures are unlocked, the never ceasing fountain of a holy quiet and blessed life.

XXVII. If any imagines that he speaks more exactly when he distinguishes these acts of faith, so as to think some of them precede or go before faith strictly so called, as the knowledge of revealed truth, to which some excellent divines add a pious affection of the will towards God ; that other acts belong to the very form or essence of faith, as assent, hunger and thirst after righteousness, the receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour, and the soul's flying to him for refuge; and that others are accidental, which agree only to a confirmed and strengthened faith ; as the certainty or assurance that Christ is now become mine; and the most delightful reliance upon him as mine, joined with exultation and glorying in him : we see no reason why such a person may not enjoy his accuracy without any displeasure to us : for we only intended to shew that all these things concur in the full practise and exercise of faith.

XXVIII. From what has been said it is evident, that the faith usually called historical and temporary, though I question the propriety of that name, very widely differs from saving faith, which we have thus far described, They call an bistorical faith“ a naked assent to the things contained in the word of God, on the authority of God, by whom they are asserted, but without any pious motion of the will." But since this assent may be given not only to the historical parts of scripture, but also may extend to the precepts, doctrines, promises and threatenings, the character bistorical given to that faith seems to be too restricted. Unless perhaps it be so called, with respect to the manner in which it is conversant about its object. For as he who reads histories of transactions with which he has no concern barely contemplates them without being inwardly. ine. ved or affected by them; so they who have that kind of faith do only, in an idle or careless manner, observe and think of those things which are taught in the word of God, but do not reduce them to practice; though it is not universally true, that even the most ancient histories, and the things which concern a. nother world, are read without any affection, emotion and appli. tation. It had therefore been better to call this faith theoretii, br a naked assent.

XXIX. Our Lord, Matt. xiii. 21. calls that a temporary faith, which, besides that general assent, exults in the dinowa Vol. I. ja

and and acknowledged truth, makes profession thereof, and stirs up many emotions in the heart, and actions in the life, which exhibit some appearance of piety ; but for a time only, while every thing is prosperous under the gospel, but falls off when the storms of persecution assault it. This is wisely called by our Lord wzórxaişen temporary,or for a while. But as it may, and even does frequently happen, that in the prosperous state of the church, men may persevere to the end of their life in this profession'of faith and imaginary joy, and in such a course of life as they suppose to be sufficient for the purposes of piety; so this being a constant, but not saving, is not so properly called temporary faith, that being the title which our Lord only gave to the faith of apoftates. We might rather perhaps better call it a presumptuous faith.

XXX. But it is needful for our consolation, that we distincta ly know how this may be distinguished from a true, lively, and saving faith, which it boldly though falsely resembles. And, first, there is no small difference in the acknowledgment of re. vealed truths ; to which as to truths, this presumptuous faith really assents, but as it is destitufe of the true light of the Spirit, it sees not the proper form or beauty of these truths, and as they are truths in Christ; it does not observe the perfections of God shining in them, does not rightly estimate their value: when it begins first to know them, it is indeed taken with the novelty and rarity of them, but neither burns with an ardent love to them nor labours much to have them not only impreffed upon the soul, but also expressed in the life and conversation : and as often as other things present themselves to the mind, which flatter it with a great pretended shew of pleasure or profit, it easily suffers the ideas of those truths which oppose that' advantage to be blotted out, and almost wishes these were no truths, which in spite of itself, it is constrained to acknowledge for such. But these things are quite the reverse in true faith, as we shewed, Thes. XVII.

XXXI. Secondly, There is a great difference in the applica. tion of the promises of the gospel : For presumptuous faith does not proceed in the right method ; it rashly imagines that the salvation promised in the gospel belongs to itself; but this is either upon no foundation or upon a false one. For sometimes these persons, without any trial or self-examination, which they avoid as too troublesome and inconvenient to their affairs, foolishly flattering themselves, proudly lay claim to the grace of our Lord; and securely slumber in this vain dream, without either enquiring, or being willing to enquire, what foundation

they

they have for this their imagination. Sometimes again they Jay for a foundation of their confidence, either that perverse notion concerning the general mercy of God, and easy way to hea. ven, of which nothing that I know of is mentioned in the gospel covenant, or an opinion of the sufficiency of their own holiness, because they are not so very vicious as the most profligate, or the external communion of the church in religious worship, or the security of their sleeping conscience, and the pleasing fancies of their own dreams, which they take for the peace of God and the consolation of the Holy Spirit. With these and the like vanities of their own imagination they deceive themselves, as if these things were sufficient marks of grace. But true believers, from a deep sense of their misery, panting after the grace of the Lord Jesus, and laying hold of it with a trembling humility, dare not boast of it as already theirs, till, after a diligent scruti. ny they have found certain and infallible evidences of grace in themselves. It is with a profound humi'ity, a kind of sacred dread, and a sincere selfdenial that they approach to lay hold on the grace of Christ. Nor do they boast of having laid hold of this, till after an exact examination, first of the marks of grace, and then of their own hearts. But it is otherwise in both these respects with presumptuous persons, who rashly lay hold on what is not offered them in that order (for God does not offer security and joy to sinners, before the soul is affected with sorrow for the guilt of his past sins, and a due solicitude about salvation) and then presumptuously boast of their having laid hold on grace; but they cannot produce any neces. sary arguments to make the same appear. . XXXII. The third difference consists in that joy which accompanies or follows both sorts of faith, and that is two

fold ; ist, In respect to the rise. 2dly, In respect of the · effect of that joy. In presumptuous faith, joy arises partly

from the novelty and rarity of the things revealed (for the knowledge of a truth, which is more rare and abstruse gives delight to the understanding; as the enjoyment of a good does to the will) partly from that vairi imagination, that the good things offered in the Gospel belong to them ; of which they have, from the comman gifts of the Holy Spirit some kind of taste, but a very superficial one, affecting only the outside of their lips. But in a living faith, there arises

joy much more noble and solid, from a love of those most precious truths, by the knowledge of which the soul taught of God rigłtly' esteems itself most happy ; from a hope that maketh not ashamed, and a sure persuasion of its own spirit, with the super-added testimony of the divine spirit

concerning

« PreviousContinue »