RPM, Volume 18, Number 37, September 4 to September 10, 2016

The Doctrine of Justification by Faith

The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, through the Imputation
of the Righteousness of Christ;
explained, confirmed, and vindicated
Part 3

By John Owen

(The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1965)

Chapter I. Justifying faith; the causes and object of it declared

Justification by faith generally acknowledged -- The meaning of it perverted -- The nature and use of faith in justification proposed to consideration -- Distinctions about it waived -- A twofold faith of the gospel expressed in the Scripture -- Faith that is not justifying, Acts viii. 13; John ii. 23, 24; Luke viii. 13; Matt. vii. 22, 23 -- Historical faith; whence it is so called, and the nature of it -- Degrees of assent in it -- Justification not ascribed unto any degree of it -- A calumny obviated -- The causes of true saving faith -- Conviction of sin previous unto it -- The nature of legal conviction, and its effects -- Arguments to prove it antecedent unto faith -- Without the consideration of it, the true nature of faith not to be understood -- The order and relation of the law and gospel, Rom. i. 17 -- Instance of Adam -- Effects of conviction -- Internal: Displicency and sorrow; fear of punishment; desire of deliverance -- External: Abstinence from sin; performance of duties; reformation of life -- Not conditions of justification; not formal disposition unto it; not moral preparations for it -- The order of God in justification -- The proper object of justifying faith -- Not all divine verity equally; proved by sundry arguments -- The pardon of our own sins, whether the first object of faith -- The Lord Christ in the work of mediation, as the ordinance of God for the recovery of lost sinners, the proper object of justifying faith -- The position explained and proved, Acts x. 43; xvi. 31; iv. 12; Luke xxiv. 25-27; John i. 12; iii. 16, 36; vi. 29, 47; vii. 38; Acts xxvi. 18; Col. ii. 6; Rom. iii. 24, 25; 1 Cor. i. 30; 2 Cor. v. 21; Eph. i. 7, 8; 2 Cor. v. 19

The means of justification on our part is faith. That we are justified by faith, is so frequently and so expressly affirmed in the Scripture, as that it cannot directly and in terms by any be denied. For whereas some begin, by an excess of partiality, which controversial engagements and provocations do incline them unto, to affirm that our justification is more frequently ascribed unto other things, graces or duties, than unto faith, it is to be passed by in silence, and not contended about. But yet, also, the explanation which some others make of this general concession, that "we are justified by faith," does as fully overthrow what is affirmed therein as if it were in terms rejected; and it would more advantage the understandings of men if it were plainly refused upon its first proposal, than to be led about in a maze of words and distinctions unto its real exclusion, as is done both by the Romanists and Socinians. At present we may take the proposition as granted, and only inquire into the true, genuine sense and meaning of it: That which first occurs unto our consideration is faith; and that which does concern it may be reduced unto two heads:-- 1. Its nature. 2. Its use in our justification.

Of the nature of faith in general, of the especial nature of justifying faith, of its characteristical distinctions from that which is called faith but is not justifying, so many discourses (divers of them the effects of sound judgment and good experience) are already extant, as it is altogether needless to engage at large into a farther discussion of them. However, something must be spoken to declare in what sense we understand these things; -- what is that faith which we ascribe our justification unto, and what is its use therein.

The distinctions that are usually made concerning faith (as it is a word of various significations), I shall wholly pretermit; not only as obvious and known, but as not belonging unto our present argument. That which we are concerned in is, that in the Scripture there is mention made plainly of a twofold faith, whereby men believe the gospel. For there is a faith whereby we are justified, which he who has shall be assuredly saved; which purifies the heart and works by love. And there is a faith or believing, which does nothing of all this; which who has, and has no more, is not justified, nor can be saved. Wherefore, every faith, whereby men are said to believe, is not justifying. Thus it is said of Simon the magician, that he "believed," Acts viii. 13, when he was in the "gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity;" and therefore did not believe with that faith which "purifieth the heart," Acts xv. 9. And that many "believed on the name of Jesus, when they saw the miracles that he did; but Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew what was in man," John ii. 23, 24. They did not believe on his name as those do, or with that kind of faith, who thereon "receive power to become the sons of God," John i. 12. And some, when they "hear the word receive it with joy, believing for a while," but "have no root," Luke viii. 13. And faith, without a root in the heart, will not justify any; for "with the heart men believe unto righteousness," Rom. x. 10. So is it with them who shall cry, "Lord, Lord" (at the last day), "we have prophesied in thy name," whilst yet they were always "workers of iniquity," Matt. vii. 22, 23.

This faith is usually called historical faith. But this denomination is not taken from the object of it, as though it were only the history of the Scripture, or the historical things contained in it. For it respects the whole truth of the word, yea, of the promises of the gospel as well as other things. But it is so called from the nature of the assent wherein it does consist; for it is such as we give unto historical things that are credibly testified unto us.

And this faith has divers differences or degrees, both in respect unto the grounds or reasons of it, and also its effects. For as unto the first, all faith is an assent upon testimony; and divine faith is an assent upon a divine testimony. According as this testimony is received, so are the differences or degrees of this faith. Some apprehend it on human motives only, and its credibility unto the judgment of reason; and their assent is a mere natural act of their understanding, which is the lowest degree of this historical faith. Some have their minds enabled unto it by spiritual illumination, making a discovery of the evidences of divine truth whereon it is to be believed; the assent they give hereon is more firm and operative than that of the former sort.

Again; it has its differences or degrees with respect unto its effects. With some it does no way, or very little, influence the will or the affections, or work any change in the lives of men. So is it with them that profess they believe the gospel, and yet live in all manner of sins. In this degree, it is called by the apostle James "a dead faith," and compared unto a dead carcass, without life or motion; and is an assent of the very same nature and kind with that which devils are compelled to give; and this faith abounds in the world. With others it has an effectual work upon the affections, and that in many degrees, also, represented in the several sorts of ground whereinto the seed of the word is cast, and produces many effects in their lives. In the utmost improvement of it, both as to the evidence it proceeds from and the effects it produces, it is usually called temporary faith; -- for it is neither permanent against all oppositions, nor will bring any unto eternal rest. The name is taken from that expression of our Saviour concerning him who believes with this faith, -- Proskairos esti, Matt. xiii. 21.

This faith I grant to be true in its kind, and not merely to be equivocally so called: it is not pistis pseudonumos. It is so as unto the general nature of faith; but of the same special nature with justifying faith it is not. Justifying faith is not a higher, or the highest degree of this faith, but is of another kind or nature. Wherefore, sundry things may be observed concerning this faith, in the utmost improvement of it unto our present purpose. As --

1. This faith, with all the effects of it, men may have and not be justified; and, if they have not a faith of another kind, they cannot be justified. For justification is nowhere ascribed unto it, yea, it is affirmed by the apostle James that none can be justified by it.

2. It may produce great effects in the minds, affections and lives of men, although not one of them that are peculiar unto justifying faith. Yet such they may be, as that those in whom they are wrought may be, and ought, in the judgment of charity, to be looked on as true believers.

3. This is that faith which may be alone. We are justified by faith alone; but we are not justified by that faith which can be alone. Alone, respects its influence into our justification, not its nature and existence. And we absolutely deny that we can be justified by that faith which can be alone; that is, without a principle of spiritual life and universal obedience, operative in of it, as duty does require.

These things I have observed, only to obviate that calumny and reproach which some endeavour to fix on the doctrine of justification by faith only, through the mediation of Christ. For those who assert it, must be Solifidians, Antinomians, and I know not what; -- such as oppose or deny the necessity of universal obedience, or good works. Most of them who manage it, cannot but know in their own consciences that this charge is false. But this is the way of handling controversies with many. They can aver any thing that seems to advantage the cause they plead, to the great scandal of religion. If by Solifidians, they mean those who believe that faith alone is on our part the means, instrument, or condition (of which afterward) of our justification, all the prophets and apostles were so, and were so taught to be by Jesus Christ; as shall be proved. If they mean those who affirm that the faith whereby we are justified is alone, separate, or separable, from a principle and the fruit of holy obedience, they must find them out themselves, we know nothing of them. For we allow no faith to be of the same kind or nature with that whereby we are justified, but what virtually and radically contains in it universal obedience, as the effect is in the cause, the fruit in the root, and which acts itself in all particular duties, according as by rule and circumstances they are made so to be. Yea, we allow no faith to be justifying, or to be of the same kind with it, which is not itself, and in its own nature, a spiritually vital principle of obedience and good works. And if this be not sufficient to prevail with some not to seek for advantages by such shameful calumnies, yet is it so with others, to free their minds from any concernment in them.

[As] for the especial nature of justifying faith, which we inquire into, the things whereby it is evidenced may be reduced unto these four heads:-- 1. The causes of it on the part of God. 2. What is in us previously required unto it. 3. The proper object of it. 4. Its proper peculiar acts and effects. Which shall be spoken unto so far as is necessary unto our present design:--

1. The doctrine of the causes of faith, as unto its first original in the divine will, and the way of its communication unto us, is so large, and so immixed with that of the way and manner of the operation of efficacious grace in conversion (which I have handled elsewhere), as that I shall not here insist upon it. For as it cannot in a few words be spoken unto, according unto its weight and worth, so to engage into a full handling of it would too much divert us from our present argument. This I shall only say, that from thence it may be uncontrollable evidenced, that the faith whereby we are justified is of an especial kind or nature, wherein no other faith, which justification is not inseparable from, does partake with it.

2. Wherefore, our first inquiry is concerning what was proposed in the second place, -- namely, What is on our part, in a way of duty, previously required thereunto; or, what is necessary to be found in us antecedaneously unto our believing unto the justification of life? And I say there is supposed in them in whom this faith is wrought, on whom it is bestowed, and whose duty it is to believe therewith, the work of the law in the conviction of sin; or, conviction of sin is a necessary antecedent unto justifying faith. Many have disputed what belongs hereunto, and what effects it produces in the mind, that dispose the soul unto the receiving of the promise of the gospel. But whereas there are different apprehensions about these effects or concomitants of conviction (in compunction, humiliation, self-judging, with sorrow for sin committed, and the like), as also about the degrees of them, as ordinarily prerequired unto faith and conversion unto God, I shall speak very briefly unto them, so far as they are inseparable from the conviction asserted. And I shall first consider this conviction itself, with what is essential thereunto, and then the effects of it in conjunction with that temporary faith before spoken of. I shall do so, not as unto their nature, the knowledge whereof I take for granted, but only as they have respect unto our justification.

(1.) As to the first, I say, the work of conviction in general, whereby the soul of man has a practical understanding of the nature of sin, its guilt, and the punishment due unto it; and is made sensible of his own interest therein, both with respect unto sin original and actual, with his own utter disability to deliver himself out of the state and condition wherein on the account of these things he finds himself to be, -- is that which we affirm to be antecedaneously necessary unto justifying faith; that is, in the adult, and of whose justification the word is the external means and instrument.

A convinced sinner is only "subjectum capax justificationis," -- not that every one that is convinced is or must necessarily be justified. There is not any such disposition or preparation of the subject by this conviction, its effects, and consequent, as that the form of justification, as the Papists speak, or justifying grace, must necessarily ensue or be introduced thereon. Nor is there any such preparation in it, as that, by virtue of any divine compact or promise, a person so convinced shall be pardoned and justified. But as a man may believe with any kind of faith that is not justifying, such as that before mentioned, without this conviction; so it is ordinarily previous and necessary so to be, unto that faith which is unto the justification of life. The motive unto it is not that thereon a man shall be assuredly justified; but that without it he cannot be so.

This, I say, is required in the person to be justified, in order of nature antecedaneously unto that faith whereby we are justified; which we shall prove with the ensuing arguments:-- For, [1.] Without the due consideration and supposition of it, the true nature of faith can never be understood. For, as we have showed before, justification is God's way of the deliverance of the convinced sinner, or one whose mouth is stopped, and who is guilty before God, -- obnoxious to the law, and shut up under sin. A sense, therefore, of this estate, and all that belongs unto it, is required unto believing. Hence Le Blanc, who has searched with some diligence into these things, commends the definition of faith given by Mestrezat, -- that it is "the flight of a penitent sinner unto the mercy of God in Christ." And there is, indeed, more sense and truth in it than in twenty others that seem more accurate. But without a supposition of the conviction mentioned, there is no understanding of this definition of faith. For it is that alone which puts the soul upon a flight unto the mercy of God in Christ, to be saved from the wrath to come. Heb. vi. 18, "Fled for refuge."

[2.] The order, relation, and use of the law and the gospel do uncontrollably evince the necessity of this conviction previous unto believing. For that which any man has first to deal withal, with respect unto his eternal condition, both naturally and by God's institution, is the law. This is first presented unto the soul with its terms of righteousness and life, and with its curse in case of failure. Without this the gospel cannot be understood, nor the grace of it duly valued. For it is the revelation of God's way for the relieving the souls of men from the sentence and curse of the law, Rom. i. 17. That was the nature, that was the use and end of the first promise, and of the whole work of God's grace revealed in all the ensuing promises, or in the whole gospel. Wherefore, the faith which we treat of being evangelical, -- that which, in its especial nature and use, not the law but the gospel requires, that which has the gospel for its principle, rule, and object, -- it is not required of us, cannot be acted by us, but on a supposition of the work and effect of the law in the conviction of sin, by giving the knowledge of it, a sense of its guilt, and the state of the sinner on the account thereof. And that faith which has not respect hereunto, we absolutely deny to be that faith whereby we are justified, Gal. iii. 22-24; Rom. x. 4.

[3.] This our Saviour himself directly teaches in the gospel. For he calls unto him only those who are weary and heavily laden; affirms that the "whole have no need of the physician, but the sick;" and that he "came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." In all which he intends not those who were really sinners, as all men are, -- for he makes a difference between them, offering the gospel unto some and not unto others, -- but such as were convinced of sin, burdened with it, and sought after deliverance.

So those unto whom the apostle Peter proposed the promise of the gospel, with the pardon of sin thereby as the object of gospel faith, were "pricked to the heart" upon the conviction of their sin, and cried, "What shall we do?" Acts ii. 37-39. Such, also, was the state of the jailer unto whom the apostle Paul proposed salvation by Christ, as what he was to believe for his deliverance, Acts xvi. 30, 31.

[4.] The state of Adam, and God's dealing with him therein, is the best representation of the order and method of these things. As he was after the fall, so are we by nature, in the very same state and condition. Really he was utterly lost by sin, and convinced he was both of the nature of his sin and of the effects of it, in that act of God by the law on his mind, which is called the "opening of his eyes." For it was nothing but the communication unto his mind by his conscience of a sense of the nature, guilt, effects, and consequents of sin; which the law could then teach him, and could not do so before. This fills him with shame and fear; against the former whereof he provided by fig-leaves, and against the latter by hiding himself among the trees of the garden. Nor, however they may please themselves with them, are any of the contrivances of men, for freedom and safety from sin, either wiser or more likely to have success. In this condition God, by an immediate inquisition into the matter of fact, sharpens this conviction by the addition of his own testimony unto its truth, and casts him actually under the curse of the law, in a juridical denunciation of it. In this lost, forlorn, hopeless condition, God proposes the promise of redemption by Christ unto him. And this was the object of that faith whereby he was to be justified.

Although these things are not thus eminently and distinctly translated in the minds and consciences of all who are called unto believing by the gospel, yet for the substance of them, and as to the previousness of the conviction of sin unto faith, they are found in all that sincerely believe.

These things are known, and, for the substance of them, generally agreed unto. But yet are they such as, being duly considered, will discover the vanity and mistakes of many definitions of faith that are obtruded on us. For any definition or description of it which has not express, or at least virtual, respect hereunto, is but a deceit, and no way answers the experience of them that truly believe. And such are all those who place it merely in an assent unto divine revelation, of what nature soever that assent be, and whatever effects are ascribed unto it. For such an assent there may be, without any respect unto this work of the law. Neither do I, to speak plainly, at all value the most accurate disputations of any about the nature and act of justifying faith, who never had in themselves an experience of the work of the law in conviction and condemnation for sin, with the effects of it upon their consciences; or [who] do omit the due consideration of their own experience, wherein what they truly believe is better stated than in all their disputations. That faith whereby we are justified is, in general, the acting of the soul towards God, as revealing himself in the gospel, for deliverance out of this state and condition, or from under the curse of the law applied unto the conscience, according to his mind, and by the ways that he has appointed. I give not this as any definition of faith, but only express what has a necessary influence unto it, whence the nature of it may be discerned.

(2.) The effects of this conviction, with their respect unto our justification, real or pretended, may also be briefly considered. And whereas this conviction is a mere work of the law, it is not, with respect unto these effects, to be considered alone, but in conjunction with, and under the conduct of, that temporary faith of the gospel before described. And these two, temporary faith and legal conviction, are the principles of all works or duties in religion antecedent unto justification; and which, therefore, we must deny to have in them any causality thereof. But it is granted that many acts and duties, both internal and external, will ensue on real convictions. Those that are internal may be reduced unto three heads:-- [1.] Displicency and sorrow that we have sinned. It is impossible that any one should be really convinced of sin in the way before declared, but that a dislike of sin, and of himself that he has sinned, shame of it, and sorrow for it, will ensue thereon. And it is a sufficient evidence that he is not really convinced of sin, whatever he profess, or whatever confession he make, whose mind is not so affected, Jer. xxxvi. 24. [2.] Fear of punishment due to sin. For conviction respects not only the instructive and preceptive part of the law, whereby the being and nature of sin are discovered, but the sentence and curse of it also, whereby it is judged and condemned, Gen. iv. 13, 14. Wherefore, where fear of the punishment threatened does not ensue, no person is really convinced of sin; nor has the law had its proper work towards him, as it is previous unto the administration of the gospel. And whereas by faith we "fly from the wrath to come," where there is not a sense and apprehension of that wrath as due unto us, there is no ground or reason for our believing. [3.] A desire of deliverance from that state wherein a convinced sinner finds himself upon his conviction is unavoidable unto him. And it is naturally the first thing that conviction works in the minds of men, and that in various degrees of care, fear, solicitude, and restlessness; which, from experience and the conduct of Scripture light, have been explained by many, unto the great benefit of the church, and sufficiently derided by others. Secondly, These internal acts of the mind will also produce sundry external duties, which may be referred unto two heads:-- [1.] Abstinence from known sin unto the utmost of men's power. For they who begin to find that it is an evil thing and a bitter that they have sinned against God, cannot but endeavour a future abstinence from it. And as this has respect unto all the former internal acts, as causes of it, so it is a peculiar exurgency of the last of them, or a desire of deliverance from the state wherein such persons are. For this they suppose to be the best expedient for it, or at least that without which it will not be. And herein usually do their spirits act by promises and vows, with renewed sorrow on surprisals into sin, which will befall them in that condition. [2.] The duties of religious worship, in prayer and hearing of the word, with diligence in the use of the ordinances of the church, will ensue hereon. For without these they know that no deliverance is to be obtained. Reformation of life and conversation in various degrees does partly consist in these things, and partly follow upon them. And these things are always so, where the convictions of men are real and abiding.

But yet it must be said, that they are neither severally nor jointly, though in the highest degree, either necessary dispositions, preparations, previous congruities in a way of merit, nor conditions of our justification. For, --

[1.] They are not conditions of justification. For where one thing is the condition of another, that other thing must follow the fulfilling of that condition, otherwise the condition of it, it is not; but they may be all found where justification does not ensue: wherefore, there is no covenant, promise, or constitution of God, making them to be such conditions of justification, though, in their own nature, they may be subservient unto what is required of us with respect thereunto; but a certain infallible connection with it, by virtue of any promise or covenant of God (as it is with faith), they have not. And other condition, but what is constituted and made to be so by divine compact or promise, is not to be allowed; for otherwise, conditions might be endlessly multiplied, and all things, natural as well as moral, made to be so. So the meat we eat may be a condition of justification. Faith and justification are inseparable; but so are not justification and the things we now insist upon, as experience does evince.

[2.] Justification may be, where the outward acts and duties mentioned, proceeding from convictions under the conduct of temporary faith, are not. For Adam was justified without them; so also were the converts in the Acts, chap. ii., -- for what is reported concerning them is all of it essentially included in conviction, verse 37; and so likewise was it with the jailer, Acts xvi. 30, 31; and as unto many of them, it is so with most that do believe. Therefore, they are not conditions; for a condition suspends the event of a condition.

[3.] They are not formal dispositions unto justification; because it consists not in the introduction of any new form or inherent quality in the soul, as has been in part already declared, and shall yet afterwards be more fully evinced. Nor, -- [4.] Are they moral preparations for it; for being antecedent unto faith evangelical, no man can have any design in them, but only to "seek for righteousness by the works of the law," which is no preparation unto justification. All discoveries of the righteousness of God, with the soul's adherence unto it, belong to faith alone. There is, indeed, a repentance which accompanies faith, and is included in the nature of it, at least radically. This is required unto our justification. But that legal repentance which precedes gospel faith, and is without it, is neither a disposition, preparation, nor condition of our justification.

In brief, the order of these things may be observed in the dealing of God with Adam, as was before intimated. And there are three degrees in it:-- [1.] The opening of the eyes of the sinner, to see the filth and guilt of sin in the sentence and curse of the law applied unto his conscience, Rom. vii. 9, 10. This effects in the mind of the sinner the things before mentioned, and puts him upon all the duties that spring from them. For persons on their first convictions, ordinarily judge no more but that their state being evil and dangerous, it is their duty to better it; and that they can or shall do so accordingly, if they apply themselves thereunto. But all these things, as to a protection or deliverance from the sentence of the law, are no better than fig-leaves and hiding. [2.] Ordinarily, God by his providence, or in the dispensation of the word, gives life and power unto this work of the law in a peculiar manner; in answer unto the charge which he gave unto Adam after his attempt to hide himself. Hereby the "mouth of the sinner is stopped," and he becomes, as thoroughly sensible of his guilt before God, so satisfied that there is no relief or deliverance to be expected from any of those ways of sorrow or duty that he has put himself upon. [3.] In this condition it is a mere act of sovereign grace, without any respect unto these things foregoing, to call the sinner unto believing, or faith in the promise unto the justification of life. This is God's order; yet so as that what precedes his call unto faith has no causality thereof.

3. The next thing to be inquired into is the proper object of justifying faith, or of true faith, in its office, work, and duty, with respect unto our justification. And herein we must first consider what we cannot so well close withal. For besides other differences that seem to be about it (which, indeed, are but different explanations of the same thing for the substance), there are two opinions which are looked on as extremes, the one in an excess, and the other in defect. The first is that of the Roman church, and those who comply with them therein. And this is, that the object of justifying faith, as such, is all divine verity, all divine revelation, whether written in the Scripture or delivered by tradition, represented unto us by the authority of the church. In the latter part of this description we are not at present concerned. That the whole Scripture, and all the parts of it, and all the truths, of what sort soever they be, that are contained in it, are equally the objects of faith in the discharge of its office in our justification, is that which they maintain. Hence, as to the nature of it, they cannot allow it to consist in any thing but an assent of the mind. For, supposing the whole Scripture, and all contained in it, -- laws, precepts, promises, threatening, stories, prophecies, and the like, -- to be the object of it, and these not as containing in them things good or evil unto us, but under this formal consideration as divinely revealed, they cannot assign or allow any other act of the mind to be required hereunto, but assent only. And so confident are they herein, -- namely, that faith is no more than an assent unto divine revelation, -- as that Bellarmine, in opposition unto Calvin, who placed knowledge in the description of justifying faith, affirms that it is better defined by ignorance than by knowledge.

This description of justifying faith and its object has been so discussed, and on such evident grounds of Scripture and reason rejected by Protestant writers of all sorts, as that it is needless to insist much upon it again. Some things I shall observe in relation unto it, whereby we may discover what is of truth in what they assert, and wherein it falls short thereof. Neither shall I respect only them of the Roman church who require no more to faith or believing, but only a bare assent of the mind unto divine revelations, but them also who place it wholly in such a firm assent as produces obedience unto all divine commands. For as it does both these, as both these are included in it, so unto the especial nature of it more is required. It is, as justifying, neither a mere assent, nor any such firm degree of it as should produce such effects.

(1.) All faith whatever is an act of that power of our souls, in general, whereby we are able firmly to assent unto the truth upon testimony, in things not evident unto us by sense or reason. It is "the evidence of things not seen." And all divine faith is in general an assent unto the truth that is proposed unto us upon divine testimony. And hereby, as it is commonly agreed, it is distinguished from opinion and moral certainty on the one hand, and science or demonstration on the other.

(2.) Wherefore, in justifying faith there is an assent unto all divine revelation upon the testimony of God, the revealer. By no other act of our mind, wherein this is not included or supposed, can we be justified; not because it is not justifying, but because it is not faith. This assent, I say, is included in justifying faith. And therefore we find it often spoken of in the Scripture (the instances whereof are gathered up by Bellarmine and others) with respect unto other things, and not restrained unto the especial promise of grace in Christ; which is that which they oppose. But besides that in most places of that kind the proper object of faith as justifying is included and referred ultimately unto, though diversely expressed by some of its causes or concomitant adjuncts, it is granted that we believe all divine truth with that very faith whereby we are justified, so as that other things may well be ascribed unto it.

(3.) On these concessions we yet say two things:-- [1.] That the whole nature of justifying faith does not consist merely in an assent of the mind, be it never so firm and steadfast, nor whatever effects of obedience it may produce. [2.] That in its duty and office in justification, whence it has that especial denomination which alone we are in the explanation of, it does not equally respect all divine revelation as such, but has a peculiar object proposed unto it in the Scripture. And whereas both these will be immediately evinced in our description of the proper object and nature of faith, I shall, at present, oppose some few things unto this description of them, sufficient to manifest how alien it is from the truth.

1st. This assent is an act of the understanding only, -- an act of the mind with respect unto truth evidenced unto it, be it of what nature it will. So we believe the worst of things and the most grievous unto us, as well as the best and the most useful. But believing is an act of the heart; which, in the Scriptures comprises all the faculties of the soul as one entire principle of moral and spiritual duties: "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness," Rom. x. 10. And it is frequently described by an act of the will, though it be not so alone. But without an act of the will, no man can believe as he ought. See John v. 40; i. 12; vi. 35. We come to Christ in an act of the will; and "let whosoever will, come." And to be willing is taken for to believe, Ps. cx. 3; and unbelief is disobedience, Heb. iii. 18, 19.

2dly. All divine truth is equally the object of this assent. It respects not the especial nature or use of any one truth, be it of what kind it will, more than another; nor can it do so, since it regards only divine revelation. Hence that Judas was the traitor, must have as great an influence into our justification as that Christ died for our sins. But how contrary this is unto the Scripture, the analogy of faith, and the experience of all that believe, needs neither declaration nor confirmation.

3dly. This assent unto all divine revelation may be true and sincere, where there has been no previous work of the law, nor any conviction of sin. No such thing is required thereunto, nor are they found in many who yet do so assent unto the truth. But, as we have showed, this is necessary unto evangelical, justifying faith; and to suppose the contrary, is to overthrow the order and use of the law and gospel, with their mutual relation unto one another, in subserviency unto the design of God in the salvation of sinners.

4thly. It is not a way of seeking relief unto a convinced sinner, whose mouth is stopped, in that he is become guilty before God. Such alone are capable subjects of justification, and do or can seek after it in a due manner. A mere assent unto divine revelation is not peculiarly suited to give such persons relief: for it is that which brings them into that condition from whence they are to be relieved; for the knowledge of sin is by the law. But faith is a peculiar acting of the soul for deliverance.

5thly. It is no more than what the devils themselves may have, and have, as the apostle James affirms. For that instance of their believing one God, proves that they believe also whatever this one God, who is the first essential truth, does reveal to be true. And it may consist with all manner of wickedness, and without any obedience; and so make God a liar, 1 John v. 10. And it is no wonder if men deny us to be justified by faith, who know no other faith but this.

6thly. It no way answers the descriptions that are given of justifying faith in the Scripture. Particularly, it is by faith as it is justifying that we are said to "receive" Christ, John i. 12; Col. ii. 6; -- to "receive" the promise, the word, the grace of God, the atonement, James i. 21; John iii. 33; Acts ii. 41; xi. 1; Rom. v. 11; Heb. xi. 17; -- to "cleave unto God," Deut. iv. 4; Acts xi. 23. And so, in the Old Testament it is generally expressed by trust and hope. Now, none of these things are contained in a mere assent unto the truth; but they require other actings of the soul than what are peculiar unto the understanding only.

7thly. It answers not the experience of them that truly believe. This all our inquiries and arguments in this matter must have respect unto. For the sum of what we aim at is, only to discover what they do who really believe unto the justification of life. It is not what notions men may have hereof, nor how they express their conceptions, how defensible they are against objections by accuracy of expressions and subtle distinctions; but only what we ourselves do, if we truly believe, that we inquire after. And although our differences about it do argue the great imperfection of that state wherein we are, so as that those who truly believe cannot agree what they do in their so doing, -- which should give us a mutual tenderness and forbearance towards each other; -- yet if men would attend unto their own experience in the application of their souls unto God for the pardon of sin and righteousness to life, more than unto the notions which, on various occasions, their minds are influenced by, or prepossessed withal, many differences and unnecessary disputations about the nature of justifying faith would be prevented or prescinded. I deny, therefore, that this general assent unto the truth, how firm soever it be, or what effects in the way of duty or obedience soever it may produce, does answer the experience of any one true believer, as containing the entire acting of his soul towards God for pardon of sin and justification.

8thly. That faith alone is justifying which has justification actually accompanying of it. For thence alone it has that denomination. To suppose a man to have justifying faith, and not to be justified, is to suppose a contradiction. Nor do we inquire after the nature of any other faith but that whereby a believer is actually justified. But it is not so with all them in whom this assent is found; nor will those that plead for it allow that upon it alone any are immediately justified. Wherefore it is sufficiently evident that there is somewhat more required unto justifying faith than a real assent unto all divine revelations, although we do give that assent by the faith whereby we are justified.

But, on the other side, it is supposed that, by some, the object of justifying faith is so much restrained, and the nature of it thereby determined unto such a peculiar acting of the mind, as comprises not the whole of what is in the Scripture ascribed unto it. So some have said that it is the pardon of our sins, in particular, that is the object of justifying faith; -- faith, therefore, they make to be a full persuasion of the forgiveness of our sins through the mediation of Christ; or, that what Christ did and suffered as our mediator, he did it for us in particular: and a particular application of especial mercy unto our own souls and consciences is hereby made the essence of faith; or, to believe that our own sins are forgiven seems hereby to be the first and most proper act of justifying faith. Hence it would follow, that whosoever does not believe, or has not a firm persuasion of the forgiveness of his own sins in particular, has no saving faith, -- is no true believer; which is by no means to be admitted. And if any have been or are of this opinion, I fear that they were, in the asserting of it, neglective of their own experience; or, it may be, rather, that they knew not how, in their experience, all the other acting of faith, wherein its essence does consist, were included in this persuasion, which in an especial manner they aimed at: whereof we shall speak afterwards. And there is no doubt unto me, but that this which they propose, faith is suited unto, aims at, and does ordinarily effect in true believers, who improve it, and grow in its exercise in a due manner.

Many great divines, at the first Reformation, did (as the Lutherans generally yet do) thus make the mercy of God in Christ, and thereby the forgiveness of our own sins, to be the proper object of justifying faith, as such; -- whose essence, therefore, they placed in a fiducial trust in the grace of God by Christ declared in the promises, with a certain unwavering application of them unto ourselves. And I say, with some confidence, that those who endeavour not to attain hereunto, either understand not the nature of believing, or are very neglective, both of the grace of God and of their own peace.

That which inclined those great and holy persons so to express themselves in this matter, and to place the essence of faith in the highest acting of it (wherein yet they always included and supposed its other acts), was the state of the consciences of men with whom they had to do. Their contest in this article with the Roman church, was about the way and means whereby the consciences of convinced, troubled sinners might come to rest and peace with God. For at that time they were no otherwise instructed, but that these things were to be obtained, not only by works of righteousness which men did themselves, in obedience unto the commands of God, but also by the strict observance of many inventions of what they called the Church; with an ascription of a strange efficacy to the same ends unto missatical sacrifices, sacramentals, absolutions, penances, pilgrimages, and other the like superstitions. Hereby they observed that the consciences of men were kept in perpetual disquietments, perplexities, fears and bondage, exclusive of that rest, assurance, and peace with God through the blood of Christ, which the gospel proclaims and tenders; and when the leaders of the people in that church had observed this, that indeed the ways and means which they proposed and presented would never bring the souls of men to rest, nor give them the least assurance of the pardon of sins, they made it a part of their doctrine, that the belief of the pardon of our own sins, and assurance of the love of God in Christ, were false and pernicious. For what should they else do, when they knew well enough that in their way, and by their propositions, they were not to be attained? Hence the principal controversy in this matter, which the reformed divines had with those of the church of Rome, was this, -- Whether there be, according unto and by the gospel, a state of rest and assured peace with God to be attained in his life? And having all advantages imaginable for the proof hereof, from the very nature, use, and end of the gospel, -- from the grace, love, and design of God in Christ, -- from the efficacy of his mediation in his oblation and intercession, -- they assigned these things to be the especial object of justifying faith, and that faith itself to be a fiduciary trust in the especial grace and mercy of God, through the blood of Christ, as proposed in the promises of the gospel; -- that is, they directed the souls of men to seek for peace with God, the pardon of sin, and a right unto the heavenly inheritance, by placing their sole trust and confidence in the mercy of God by Christ alone. But yet, withal, I never read any of them (I know not what others have done) who affirmed that every true and sincere believer always had a full assurance of the especial love of God in Christ, or of the pardon of his own sins, -- though they plead that this the Scripture requires of them in a way of duty, and that this they ought to aim at the attainment of.

And these things I shall leave as I find them, unto the use of the church. For I shall not contend with any about the way and manner of expressing the truth, where the substance of it is retained. That which in these things is aimed at, is the advancement and glory of the grace of God in Christ, with the conduct of the souls of men unto rest and peace with him. Where this is attained or aimed at, and that in the way of truth for the substance of it, variety of apprehensions and expressions concerning the same things may tend unto the useful exercise of faith and the edification of the church. Wherefore, neither opposing nor rejecting what has been delivered by others as their judgments herein, I shall propose my own thoughts concerning it; not without some hopes that they may tend to communicate light in the knowledge of the thing itself inquired into, and the reconciliation of some differences about it amongst learned and holy men. I say, therefore, that the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as the ordinance of God, in his work of mediation for the recovery and salvation of lost sinners, and as unto that end proposed in the promise of the gospel, is the adequate, proper object of justifying faith, or of saving faith in its work and duty with respect unto our justification.

The reason why I thus state the object of justifying faith is, because it completely answers all that is ascribed unto it in the Scripture, and all that the nature of it does require. What belongs unto it as faith in general, is here supposed; and what is peculiar unto it as justifying, is fully expressed. And a few things will serve for the explication of the thesis, which shall afterwards be confirmed.

(1.) The Lord Jesus Christ himself is asserted to be the proper object of justifying faith. For so it is required in all those testimonies of Scripture where that faith is declared to be our believing in him, on his name, our receiving of him, or looking unto him; whereunto the promise of justification and eternal life is annexed: whereof afterwards. See John i. 12; iii. 16, 36; vi. 29, 47; vii. 38; xiv. 12; Acts x. 43; xiii. 38, 39; xvi. 31; xxvi. 18, etc.

(2.) He is not proposed as the object of our faith unto the justification of life absolutely, but as the ordinance of God, even the Father, unto that end: who therefore also is the immediate object of faith as justifying; in what respects we shall declare immediately. So justification is frequently ascribed unto faith as peculiarly acted on him, John v. 24, "He that believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life." And herein is comprised that grace, love, and favour of God, which is the principal moving cause of our justification, Rom. iii. 23, 24. Add hereunto John vi. 29, and the object of faith is complete: "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." God the Father as sending, and the Son as sent, -- that is, Jesus Christ in the work of his mediation, as the ordinance of God for the recovery and salvation of lost sinners, is the object of our faith. See 1 Pet. i. 21.

(3.) That he may be the object of our faith, whose general nature consists in assent, and which is the foundation of all its other acts, he is proposed in the promises of the gospel; which I therefore place as concurring unto its complete object. Yet do I not herein consider the promises merely as peculiar divine revelations, in which sense they belong unto the formal object of faith; but as they contain, propose, and exhibit Christ as the ordinance of God, and the benefits of his mediation, unto them that do believe. There is an especial assent unto the promises of the gospel, wherein some place the nature and essence of justifying faith, or of faith in its work and duty with respect unto our justification. And so they make the promises of the gospel to be the proper object of it. And it cannot be but that, in the actings of justifying faith, there is a peculiar assent unto them. Howbeit, this being only an act of the mind, neither the whole nature nor the whole work of faith can consist therein. Wherefore, so far as the promises concur to the complete object of faith, they are considered materially also, -- namely, as they contain, propose, and exhibit Christ unto believers. And in that sense are they frequently affirmed in the Scripture to be the object of our faith unto the justification of life, Acts ii. 39; xxvi. 6; Rom. iv. 16, 20; xv. 8; Gal. iii. 16, 18; Heb. iv. 1; vi. 13; viii. 6; x. 36.

(4.) The end for which the Lord Christ, in the work of his mediation, is the ordinance of God, and as such proposed in the promises of the gospel, -- namely, the recovery and salvation of lost sinners, -- belongs unto the object of faith as justifying. Hence, the forgiveness of sin and eternal life are proposed in the Scripture as things that are to be believed unto justification, or as the object of our faith, Matt. ix. 2; Acts ii. 38, 39; v. 31; xxvi. 18; Rom. iii. 25; iv. 7, 8; Col. ii. 13; Tit. i. 2, etc. And whereas the just is to live by his faith, and every one is to believe for himself, or make an application of the things believed unto his own behoof, some from hence have affirmed the pardon of our own sins and our own salvation to be the proper object of faith; and indeed it does belong thereunto, when, in the way and order of God and the gospel, we can attain unto it, 1 Cor. xv. 3, 4; Gal. ii. 20; Eph. i. 6, 7.

Wherefore, asserting the Lord Jesus Christ, in the work of his mediation, to be the object of faith unto justification, I include therein the grace of God, which is the cause; the pardon of sin, which is the effect; and the promises of the gospel, which are the means, of communicating Christ and the benefits of his mediation unto us.

And all these things are so united, so intermixed in their mutual relations and respects, so concatenated in the purpose of God, and the declaration made of his will in the gospel, as that the believing of any one of them does virtually include the belief of the rest. And by whom any one of them is disbelieved, they frustrate and make void all the rest, and so faith itself.

The due consideration of these things solves all the difficulties that arise about the nature of faith, either from the Scripture or from the experience of them that believe, with respect unto its object. Many things in the Scripture are we said to believe with it and by it, and that unto justification; but two things are hence evident:-- First, That no one of them can be asserted to be the complete, adequate object of our faith. Secondly, That none of them are so absolutely, but as they relate unto the Lord Christ, as the ordinance of God for our justification and salvation.

And this answers the experience of all that do truly believe. For these things being united and made inseparable in the constitution of God, all of them are virtually included in every one of them. (1.) Some fix their faith and trust principally on the grace, love, and mercy of God; especially they did so under the Old Testament, before the clear revelation of Christ and his mediation. So did the psalmist, Ps. cxxx. 3, 4; xxxiii. 18, 19; and the publican, Luke xviii. 13. And these are, in places of the Scripture innumerable, proposed as the causes of our justification. See Rom. iii. 24; Eph. ii. 4-8; Tit. iii. 5-7. But this they do not absolutely, but with respect unto the "redemption that is in the blood of Christ," Dan. ix. 17. Nor does the Scripture anywhere propose them unto us but under that consideration. See Rom. iii. 24, 25; Eph. i. 6-8. For this is the cause, way, and means of the communication of that grace, love, and mercy unto us. (2.) Some place and fix them principally on the Lord Christ, his mediation, and the benefits thereof. This the apostle Paul proposes frequently unto us in his own example. See Gal. ii. 20; Phil. iii. 8-10. But this they do not absolutely, but with respect unto the grace and love of God, whence it is that they are given and communicated unto us, Rom. viii. 32; John iii. 16; Eph. i. 6-8. Nor are they otherwise anywhere proposed unto us in the Scripture as the object of our faith unto justification. (3.) Some in a peculiar manner fix their souls, in believing, on the promises. And this is exemplified in the instance of Abraham, Gen. xv. 6; Rom. iv. 20. And so are they proposed in the Scripture as the object of our faith, Acts ii. 39; Rom. iv. 16; Heb. iv. 1, 2; vi. 12, 13. But this they do not merely as they are divine revelations, but as they contain and propose unto us the Lord Christ and the benefits of his mediation, from the grace, love, and mercy of God. Hence the apostle disputes at large, in his Epistle unto the Galatians, that if justification be any way but by the promise, both the grace of God and the death of Christ are evacuated and made of none effect. And the reason is, because the promise is nothing but the way and means of the communication of them unto us. (4.) Some fix their faith on the things themselves which they aim at, -- namely, the pardon of sin and eternal life. And these also in the Scripture are proposed unto us as the object of our faith, or that which we are to believe unto justification, Ps. cxxx. 4; Acts xxvi. 18; Tit. i. 2. But this is to be done in its proper order, especially as unto the application of them unto our own souls. For we are nowhere required to believe them, or our own interest in them, but as they are effects of the grace and love of God, through Christ and his mediation, proposed in the promises of the gospel. Wherefore the belief of them is included in the belief of these, and is in order of nature antecedent thereunto. And the belief of the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, without the due exercise of faith in those causes of them, is but presumption.

I have, therefore, given the entire object of faith as justifying, or in its work and duty with respect unto our justification, in compliance with the testimonies of the Scripture, and the experience of them that believe.

Allowing, therefore, their proper place unto the promises, and unto the effect of all in the pardon of sins and eternal life, that which I shall farther confirm is, that the Lord Christ, in the work of his mediation, as the ordinance of God for the recovery and salvation of lost sinners, is the proper adequate object of justifying faith. And the true nature of evangelical faith consists in the respect of the heart (which we shall immediately describe) unto the love, grace, and wisdom of God; with the mediation of Christ, in his obedience; with the sacrifice, satisfaction, and atonement for sin which he made by his blood. These things are impiously opposed by some as inconsistent; for the second head of the Socinian impiety is, that the grace of God and satisfaction of Christ are opposite and inconsistent, so as that if we allow of the one we must deny the other. But as these things are so proposed in the Scripture, as that without granting them both neither can be believed; so faith, which respects them as subordinate, -- namely, the mediation of Christ unto the grace of God, that fixes itself on the Lord Christ and that redemption which is in his blood, -- as the ordinance of God, the effect of his wisdom, grace, and love, finds rest in both, and in nothing else.

For the proof of the assertion, I need not labour in it, it being not only abundantly declared in the Scripture, but that which contains in it a principal part of the design and substance of the gospel. I shall, therefore, only refer unto some of the places wherein it is taught, or the testimonies that are given unto it.

The whole is expressed in that place of the apostle wherein the doctrine of justification is most eminently proposed unto us, Rom. iii. 24, 25, "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood; to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins." Whereunto we may add, Eph. i. 6, 7, "He has made us accepted in the Beloved; in whom we have redemption through his blood, according to the riches of his grace." That whereby we are justified, is the especial object of our faith unto justification. But this is the Lord Christ in the work of his mediation: for we are justified by the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; for in him we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sin. Christ as a propitiation is the cause of our justification, and the object of our faith, or we attain it by faith in his blood. But this is so under this formal consideration, as he is the ordinance of God for that end, -- appointed, given, proposed, set forth from and by the grace, wisdom, and love of God. God set him forth to be a propitiation. He makes us accepted in the Beloved. We have redemption in his blood, according to the riches of his grace, whereby he makes us accepted in the Beloved. And herein he "abounds towards us in all wisdom," Eph. i. 8. This, therefore, is that which the gospel proposes unto us, as the especial object of our faith unto the justification of life.

But we may also in the same manner confirm the several parts of the assertion distinctly:--

(1.) The Lord Jesus Christ, as proposed in the promise of the gospel, is the peculiar object of faith unto justification. There are three sorts of testimonies whereby this is confirmed:--

[1.] Those wherein it is positively asserted, as Acts x. 43, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Christ believed in as the means and cause of the remission of sins, is that which all the prophets give witness unto. Acts xvi. 31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." It is the answer of the apostle unto the jailer's inquiry, -- "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" His duty in believing, and the object of it, the Lord Jesus Christ, is what they return thereunto. Acts iv. 12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." That which is proposed unto us, as the only way and means of our justification and salvation, and that in opposition unto all other ways, is the object of faith unto our justification; but this is Christ alone, exclusively unto all other things. This is testified unto by Moses and the prophets; the design of the whole Scripture being to direct the faith of the church unto the Lord Christ alone, for life and salvation, Luke xxiv. 25-27.

[2.] All those wherein justifying faith is affirmed to be our believing in him, or believing on his name; which are multiplied. John i. 12, "He gave power to them to become the sons of God, who believed on his name," chap. iii. 16, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life;" verse 36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;" chap. vi. 29, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent;" verse 47, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life;" chap. vii. 38, "He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." So chap. ix. 35-37; xi. 25; Acts xxvi. 18, "That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." 1 Pet. ii. 6, 7. In all which places, and many others, we are not only directed to place and affix our faith on him, but the effect of justification is ascribed thereunto. So expressly, Acts xiii. 38, 39; which is what we design to prove.

[3.] Those which give us such a description of the acts of faith as make him the direct and proper object of it. Such are they wherein it is called a "receiving" of him. John i. 12, "To as many as received him." Col. ii. 6, "As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord." That which we receive by faith is the proper object of it; and it is represented by their looking unto the brazen serpent, when it was lifted up, who were stung by fiery serpents, John iii. 14, 15; xii. 32. Faith is that act of the soul whereby convinced sinners, ready otherwise to perish, do look unto Christ as he was made a propitiation for their sins; and who so do "shall not perish, but have everlasting life." He is, therefore, the object of our faith.

(2.) He is so, as he is the ordinance of God unto this end; which consideration is not to be separated from our faith in him: and this also is confirmed by several sorts of testimonies:--

[1.] All those wherein the love and grace of God are proposed as the only cause of giving Jesus Christ to be the way and means of our recovery and salvation; whence they become, or God in them, the supreme efficient cause of our justification. John iii. 16, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." So Rom. v. 8; 1 John iv. 9, 10. "Being justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," Rom. iii. 24; Eph. i. 6-8. This the Lord Christ directs our faith unto continually, referring all unto him that sent him, and whose will he came to do, Heb. x. 5.

[2.] All those wherein God is said to set forth and to make him be for us and unto us, what he is so, unto the justification of life. Rom. iii. 25, "Whom God has proposed to be a propitiation." 1 Cor. i. 30, "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." 2 Cor. v. 21, "He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Acts xiii. 38, 39, etc. Wherefore, in the acting of faith in Christ unto justification, we can no otherwise consider him but as the ordinance of God to that end; he brings nothing unto us, does nothing for us, but what God appointed, designed, and made him to do. And this must diligently be considered, that by our regard by faith unto the blood, the sacrifice, the satisfaction of Christ, we take off nothing from the free grace, favour, and love of God.

[3.] All those wherein the wisdom of God in the contrivance of this way of justification and salvation is proposed unto us. Eph. i. 7, 8, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and understanding." See chap. iii. 10, 11; 1 Cor. i. 24.

The whole is comprised in that of the apostle: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," 2 Cor. v. 19. All that is done in our reconciliation unto God, as unto the pardon of our sins, and acceptance with him unto life, was by the presence of God, in his grace, wisdom, and power, in Christ designing and effecting of it.

Wherefore, the Lord Christ, proposed in the promise of the gospel as the object of our faith unto the justification of life, is considered as the ordinance of God unto that end. Hence the love, the grace, and the wisdom of God, in the sending and giving of him, are comprised in that object; and not only the actings of God in Christ towards us, but all his actings towards the person of Christ himself unto the same end, belong thereunto. So, as unto his death, "God set him forth to be a propitiation," Rom. iii. 25. "He spared him not, but delivered him up for us all," Rom. viii. 32; and therein "laid all our sins upon him," Isa. liii. 6. So he was "raised for our justification," Rom. iv. 25. And our faith is in God, who "raised him from the dead," Rom. x. 9. And in his exaltation, Acts v. 31. Which things complete "the record that God hath given of his Son," 1 John v. 10-12.

The whole is confirmed by the exercise of faith in prayer; which is the soul's application of itself unto God for the participation of the benefits of the mediation of Christ. And it is called our "access through him unto the Father," Eph. ii. 18; our coming through him "unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," Heb. iv. 15, 16; and through him as both "a high priest and sacrifice," Heb. x. 19-22. So do we "bow our knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Eph. iii. 14. This answers the experience of all who know what it is to pray. We come therein in the name of Christ, by him, through his mediation, unto God, even the Father; to be, through his grace, love, and mercy, made partakers of what he has designed and promised to communicate unto poor sinners by him. And this represents the complete object of our faith.

The due consideration of these things will reconcile and reduce unto a perfect harmony whatever is spoken in the Scripture concerning the object of justifying faith, or what we are said to believe therewith. For whereas this is affirmed of sundry things distinctly, they can none of them be supposed to be the entire adequate object of faith. But consider them all in their relation unto Christ, and they have all of them their proper place therein, -- namely, the grace of God, which is the cause; the pardon of sin, which is the effect; and the promises of the gospel, which are the means, of communicating the Lord Christ, and the benefits of his mediation unto us.

The reader may be pleased to take notice, that I do in this place not only neglect, but despise, the late attempt of some to wrest all things of this nature, spoken of the person and mediation of Christ, unto the doctrine of the gospel, exclusively unto them; and that not only as what is noisome and impious in itself, but as that also which has not yet been endeavoured to be proved, with any appearance of learning, argument, or sobriety.

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