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of God, &c. The result of which is, that by this faith (as to the first and primary sense) is the being truly and firmly persuaded that Jesus was what he professed to be, and what his Apostles testified, &c. Such a faith shown to be, in its kind and order, apt and sufficient to promote God’s design of saving us, and to render us capable of his favor, &c. It may be observed in the history concerning our Lord and his Apostles, that no other faith was required by them from their converts: this also was the common and current notion of faith among the ancient Christians. 5. But more particularly this faith not only denotes precisely and abstractedly such acts of mind, opinions, and persuasions concerning the truth of matters specified, but also (according to the meaning of those who use the word) such acts of will, as, supposing those persuasions real, are naturally consequent on them, and in a manner coherent with them : this explained and enlarged on. 6. But farther, to prevent mistakes and remove objections, it may be observed that this faith hath, though not an adequate, yet a peculiar respect to that part of Christian truth, which concerns the merciful intentions of God toward mankind, and the gracious performances of our Saviour in accomplishing them, &c. 7. Moreover, this faith relates only to propositions revealed by God, and not to others concerning particular matters 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, and disposed to pardon every repentant sinner, &c.; but the persuasion that God doth love me, or hath pardoned my sins, &c. may, as my circumstances may be, not be my duty: this topic enlarged on. That this faith doth not essentially include a respect to such particular propositions, appears from hence, that faith is in holy Scripture represented as preceding God's especial benevolence, to his remission of sins, to his accepting and justifying our persons: it is a previous condition, &c. That notion shown to be still less right, which defines faith to be a firm and certain knowlege of God's eternal good-will towards us particularly, and that we shall be saved, &c.; a notion taught by Calvin in the beginning of the Reformation. That notion plainly supposes the truth of the doctrine, that no man being once in God's favor can ever quite lose it; which is shown to subvert the notion itself. It may also be added, that, according to this Calvinistic notion, before the late alterations in Christendom, scarcely any man was a believer; for before that time it hardly appears that any one did believe, as the Calvinists do, that a man cannot fall from grace. St. Augustine himself (who is supposed to favor them on other occasions) shown to oppose them here. But there is another notion of faith, which, if it be not so plainly false as the preceding one, seems more intricate and obscure : namely, that faith is not an assent to propositions of any kind, but a recumbency, leaning, resting on; an adherency to the person of Christ, or an apprehending and applying to ourselves his righteousness. This notion shown to be obscure and false. Conclusion.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
‘THERefore;’ that word implies the text to be a conclusion (by way of inference, or of recapitulation) resulting from the precedent discourse; it is indeed the principal conclusion, which (as being supposed a peculiar and a grand part of the Christian doctrine, and deserving therefore a strong proof and clear vindication) St. Paul designed by several arguments to make good. On the words being of such importance, I should so treat, as first to explain them, or to settle their true sense; then to make some practical application of the truths they contain.
As to the explicatory part, I should consider first, what the faith is, by which we are said to be justified; 2. what being justified doth import; 3. how by such faith we are so justified ; 4. what the peace with God is, here adjoined to justification; 5. what relation the whole matter bears to our Lord Jesus Christ; or how through him being justified, we have peace with God; in the prosecution of which particulars it would appear, who the persons justified are, and who justifies us; with other circumstances incident.
I shall at this time only insist on the first particular, concerning the notion of faith proper to this place; in order to the resolution of which inquiry, I shall lay down some useful observations: and, 1. First, I observe that faith, or belief, in the vulgar acception, doth signify (as we have it briefly described in Aristotle's Topics") a apoèpå tróAmbus, an earnest opinion or persuasion of mind concerning the truth of some matter propounded. Such an opinion being produced by or grounded on some forcible reason, (either immediate evidence of the matter, or sense and experience, or some strong argument of reason, or some credible testimony; for whatever we assent unto, and judge true on any such grounds and inducements, we are commonly said to believe,) this is the popular acception of the word; and according thereto I conceive it usually signifies in holy Scripture; which being not penned by masters of human art or science, nor directed to persons of more than ordinary capacities or improvements, doth not intend to use words otherwise than in the most plain and ordinary manner. Belief therefore in general, I suppose, denotes a firm persuasion of mind concerning the truth of what is propounded ; whether it be some one single proposition, (as when Abraham believed that ‘God was able to perform what he had promised ;’ and Sarah, that “God, who had promised, was faithful,”) or some system of propositions, as when we are said to ‘ believe God's word,' (that is, all which by his prophets was in his name declared;) to “believe the truth,’ (that is, all the propositions taught in the true religion as so;) to “believe God's commandments,’ (that is, the doctrines in God's law to be true, and the precepts thereof to be good ;) to “believe the gospel,’ (that is, to be persuaded of the truth of all the propositions asserted or declared in the gospel.) 2. I observe, secondly, that whereas frequently some person, or single thing, is represented (verbo tenus) as the object of faith, this doth not prejudice, or in effect alter the notion I mentioned; for it is only a figurative manner of speaking, whereby is always meant the being persuaded, concerning the truth of
some proposition, or propositions, relating to that person or thing: for otherwise it is unintelligible how any incomplex thing, as they speak, can be the complete or immediate object of belief. Beside simple apprehension (or framing the bare idea of a thing) there is no operation of a man's mind terminated on one single object; and belief of a thing surely implies more than a simple apprehension thereof: what it is, for instance, to believe this or that proposition about a man, or a tree, (that a man is such a kind of thing, that a tree hath this or that property,) is very easy to conceive; but the phrase believing a man, or a tree, (taken properly, or excluding figures,) is altogether insignificant and unintelligible : indeed to believe, triareiew, is the effect row reteia.0at, of a persuasive argument, and the result of ratiocination; whence in Scripture it is commended, or discommended, as implying a good or bad use of reason. The proper object of faith is therefore some proposition deduced from others by discourse; as it is said, that ‘many of the Samaritans believed in Christ, because of the woman’s word, who testified that he told her all that ever she did;’ or as St. Thomas ‘believed, because he saw ;’ or as when it is said, that “many believed on our Lord's name, beholding the miracles which he did :' when then, for example, the Jews are required to believe Moses, (or to believe in Moses, after the Hebrew manner of speaking,) it is meant, to be persuaded of the truth of what he delivered, as proceeding from divine revelation; or to believe him to be what he professed himself, a messenger or prophet of God. So ‘to believe the prophets,” or in the Prophets, (o) was to be persuaded concerning the truth of what they uttered in God's name, (that the doctrines were true, the commands were to be obeyed, the threats and promises should be performed, the predictions should be accomplished : ‘to believe all which the prophets did say,’ as our Saviour speaks; ‘to believe all things written in the prophets,’ as St. Paul.) So to “believe God's works' (a phrase we have in the Psalms) signifies, to be persuaded that those works did proceed from God, or were the effects of his good providence : to “believe in man’ (that which is so often prohibited and dis
* 2 Chron. xx. 20.