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and is destitue of this. But since we have CHAP. professedly handled this subject elsewhere, we may supersede the further discussion of it at present. [15.]
Concerning the Essence of Faith.
I. The state of the controversy. II. The distinction of faith; either as it is in idea, or in the subject. III. In idea, it is a most firm persuasion of my right to Christ, and all the benefits of salvation. IV. In that sense it is defined in the Palatine Catechism. V. That confidence, however, is rather a degree of strong faith,' than its essence. VI. In regard that it is not always found in all believers. VII. They themselves confessing so, who define faith by the certainty that sins are pardoned. VIII. Chamier quoted. IX. Du Moulin. X. Perkins. XI. Davenant.
HAVING observed, therefore, what is
Paul's scope, when disputing concerning jus1. The tification, and demonstrated, that faith is not state of the obedience to the commands of Christ, or the controversy practice of evangelical holiness, but a singulur virtue, having a distinct consideration from other virtues, it follows, that we enquire, in what the essence of that faith consists. There are, who define it by an inward and a most firm persuasion, that Christ is mine, and that all my sins are certainly forgiven me for his sake. To others, this definition appears incautious, and inaccurate.
II. My judgment is, that faith may be condistinction sidered two ways, either as in itself, and in ieither as it dea, as they speak; or as in the subject. In
is in idea, the first respect, it is a most excellent virtue,
or as it is in
the subject. delineated in the gospel, to the perfection of
which it becomes every Christian to aspire. CHAP. In the last repect, it is often found in believers to be very weak, and involved in thick clouds.
III. If we consider faith as in idea, the constant doctrine of the reformed church, and which is agreeable to the scriptures, is persuasion that it consists not only in a full assurance, to Christ, of my right and in the firmest persuasion of the truth of and to all the gospel in general, but also in particular, fits of salof my right to Christ, and all the benefits of vation. salvation: and that therefore every Christian should endeavour to know that he is in the faith, and in Christ; and be able to say with Paul, Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me: I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
IV. In this sense the authors of the Palathat sense, tine Catechism, with innumerable other Diit is defined vines of our communion, have said that faith in the Palatine Cais not only a certain knowledge, whereby Itechism. firmly assent to all things which God hath revealed in his word, but also an assured trust, kindled in my heart, by the Holy Ghost, through the gospel, whereby I acquiesce in God, being assuredly persuaded, that remission of sins, eternal righteousness, and life, are given, not to others only, but to me also, by the mercy
III. In idea it is a
CHAP. of God, through the merits of Christ alone.
than its es
V. But though such an assurance belongs assurance, entirely to faith, yet I rather judge, that it is is rather a a most eminent degree of faith, to which we degree of do not rise, but by many previous acts; than strong faith, that the very essence of faith can be placed in it. For the natural progress of faith, so to speak, seems to be this, that the believing soul beholds in the light of grace, the mystery of God and of Christ, and anon, with full consent, acknowledges the truth of it, on account of the authority of God, who beareth witness: Then, further, that he loves that truth, exults in it, and glorifies God: likewise, that he ardently desires communion with Christ, that these things which are true in Christ, may also be true to him unto salvation; that therefore with the highest pleasure, he accepts of Christ, when, and in what manner, he is offered to him in the gospel, rests and reclines upon him, gives himself up, and makes himself over unto him: and then, that after all these things, having now discovered his mutual union with him, he glorieth that Christ is his, delighting most gladly in him.
VI. Who doubts, but this is a certain desirable perfection of a very strong faith, deserving our most vigorous efforts to reach it, and which apostles, apostolic heroes, and martyrs, dear to God, and others to whom a
cause it is
more eminent measure of the Spirit was vouchsafed, obtained in reality; and of which examples are not a wanting even in our own time: yea, it is very credible, that God grants it, sometimes at least, in this life, more sparingly, or more abundantly, to the most of his elect. For it is by no means the lot of all believers, so to ascend the height of that most pleasant and most holy boasting, that on it they should securely and gladly pass all their time. Which yet behoved to be the case, if indeed the very essence of faith consisted in the boldness and full assurance of that trust. I would rather place it in the reception of Christ as a Saviour and Lord, and in the flight of the soul to him. The English Confession, composed in the year 1645, expresses the matter to excellent purpose. The principal acts of faith are to accept, receive, and rest upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
VII. These very Divines, who define faith by an assurance of that nature concerning the en in the remission of sins, observe, however, that it of those is not always found in all believers.
who define faith, by the certainty of
VIII. Chamier is of those who teach, "That believers know by faith, not only by an universal, or rather by a certain indefinite knowledge, that some shall be saved; or that those shall be saved who have believed; but also, by a particular knowledge, that they themselves shall be saved, because they believe.
the remis sion of sins. VIII. Chamier quoted.