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the object of faith. This, in its full extent, includes every thing that is revealed in the holy fcriptures, with respect to his perfon, character, and work. It may indeed be laid to include the whole revealed will of God; because every part of this will has a more remote or immediate reference to him. Chrift Jesus is “ the Alpha and Omega, the first " and the last, the beginning and the ending," of the will of God as revealed for our salvation. But as every thing else was only introductory and preparatory to his atonement, or consequent upon it, I shallchiefly direct your attention to him as a Saviour from guilt and pollution. This the name of Jesus immediately imports : Matth. i. 21. “ And " thou shalt call his name Jefus : for he fall save his “ people from their fins.” In this view, i think the objectof
faith may be summed up in the following particulars.
I. That we are, by nature, in a state of fin, alienated in heart from God, tranfgressors of his law, and liable to his wrath. If this were not the case, a Saviour would not bc necessary; salvation would be a word without force, and even without meaning. It is accordingly found in experience, that till there be a conviction of this truth upon the confcience, the tidings of a Saviour are always treated with neglect or disdain. Nothing can be stronger than the language of fcripture on this fubject in many passages; para ticularly, Matth. xviii. 11. “For the Son of man is come -" to save that which was lost.” Luke v. 31, 32.
" And Jesus answering, said unto them, they that are whole, “ need not a physician; but they that are fick. I came "“ not to call the righteous, but finners to repentance." I shall also read to you the account of our natural state, and the end of Christ's coming, given by the apostle Paul, Eph. ii. 1.-5. “ And you hath he quickened wi.o
were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in time part
ye walked according to the course of this world, accord“ ing to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that “ now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among “ whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in " the lufts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, " and of the mind; and were by nature the children of “, wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy,
" for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we
were dead in sins hath quickened us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved).” I forbear to mention the proof of this from the history of the world, from the marks of God's displeasure against fin in the course of providence, and from the testimony of conscience, as I have illustrated them at considerable length in other discourses. Let it fuffice at present to say, that the first truth which is the object of faith, is the guilt and misery of our nature.
The next part of the object of faith is, that there is no way of recovery from this state but by Christ: Acts iv. 12. “Neither is there salvation in any other ; for there is “none other name under heaven given among men where“ by we must be saved." If there were any other, it would not be the command of God that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. After men are in some measure sensible that they are guilty, it is often diffi cult to convince them that they are helpless. There is something so mortifying in this consideration, and so hum. bling to our pride, that it is with great unwillingness we yield to it. Nay, after we have seemed to confess it, we are often ready to retract it. The finner has always a proneness to seek some resource in himself. Hence the disposition to extenuate his guilt; and if he cannot plead absolute, to place fome dependence upon comparative innocence. Hence the disposition to magnify human merit, as if, by the value of some good deeds, we could balance or cancel the guilt of our disobedience. Hence the endless variety of human inventions, of costly facrifices and voluntary penance. Micah vi. 6,7. “Wherewith fhall I
come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high “ God ? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, “ with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased “ with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers “ of oil ? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the “ fruit of my body for my soul ?” The truth is, till the finner is stript of every plea, and found to be without excuse, he will still refuse to be indebted to the grace of his Redeemer. But hear
But hear ye the Spirit of God, Rev. ii. 17, 18. “ Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with "goods, and have need of nothing; and knoweft not that “thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, " and naked. I counfel thee to buy of me gold tried in “the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, " that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy “ nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with
eye-salve, that thou mayest see.” -3. This leads me to the third part of the object of faith, viz. That the pardon of fin, and peace with an offended: God; is freely offered to the chief of finners through Chrift. The two preceding truths are preparatory to this, and serve to point out its necessity and moment. This is the gracious message which was brought into the world by the gospel; and from which it derives its name, importing glad tidings.. What we are particularly to attend to here is, (1.) that Christ Jesus was substituted in the room of finners, and suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; that the holiness and justice of God required an expiation of fin, which was made by this immaculate victim: If. liii. 5, 6. " But he was wounded “ for our tranfgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: “ the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and withos “ his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone "aftray; we have turned every one to his own way, and “ the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”. Rom. iii. 25.
" Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his “ righteousness for the remission of fins that are paft,
through the forbearance of God.” (2.) Another thing also to be observed, is the constitution of the sufferer's person. It was no less than the eternal and only begotten Son of God. This is a circumstance of the utmost moment, and on which the greatest stress is manifestly laid in fcripture. It is included in the words of the text : “ This is his commandment, That we should believe on “ the name of his Son Jesus Christ.” It is also con
ftantly found in the early Confessions of Faith ; John i. 49.
Nathaniel answered and faid unto him, Rabbi, “ thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel."
Matth. xvi. 16. “ And Simon Peter answered and said, “ Thou art Christ, the son of the living God.” Acts
“ And Philip faid, If thou believest with all " thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, « I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Unless this is attended to, we shall neither be sufficiently sensible of the evil of fin, which required such an atonement, nor of the love of God which provided it, nor of the power of the Saviour to execute it; nor can we have such encouragement to put our trust in it.
From these two circumstances you may be directed to contemplate the leading and principal object of faith, viz. the only begotten Son of God dying in our room, and purchasing our pardon. Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, having finished his work, invites weary and heavy-laden finners to come unto him ; and assures them, that the highest demands of the law are answered, that their debt is fully paid, and nothing is now to be laid to their charge : Rom. viii. 33, 34.
" Who fhall lay any " thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that jul“ tifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that as died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at “ the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession 66 for us.”
Rev. xxii. 17. “ And the Spirit and the “ bride fay, Comne. And let him that heareth, say, Come. " And let him that is athirst, come: and whosoever will, " let him take the water of life freely."
4. In the last place, The object of faith is the power of Christ to renew our natures, to deliver us from the bondage of corruption, and bring us into the glorious liberty of God's children. We must never separate the Redeemer's merit and his power. Conviction is imperfect unless we see our slavery, as well as misery, and unfeignedly defire deliverance from both. Neither do we properly apprehend the extent of Christ's undertaking, unlefs we view him exalted as a prince and a Saviour to give repen. tance to Israel, and remission of fins. There are too things equally essential to the gospel upon this particular. (1.) The necessity of being fančtified. Salvation in sin is not promised; salvation or happiness in sin is not possible ;
and therefore all who hope for falvation through Christ, must be renewed in the spirit of their minds. Thenceforth they must not serve sin: 2 Cor. v. 17. " If any
man be in Christ, he is a new creature : old things are " passed away, behold, all things are become new.” If the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness of men, it must still abide on the children of disobedience.
(2.) The other thing to be observed is, that the sanctification of the believer is the purchafe of Christ's blood, and the work of his Spirit. This is plain through the whole of the scriptures both of the Old Testament and the New. Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26, 27.
“ Then' will I sprinkle " clean water upon you, and ye fhall be clean; from all
your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse -C you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the * ftony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an “ heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, “ and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep
my judgments, and do them.", John xv. 4, 5. "A. “ bide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear “ fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine ; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are " the branches :. he that abideth in me, and I in him, “ the same bringeth forth much fruit : for without me ye " can do nothing." Nothing can be stronger than the language used on this subject : “ His grace is fufficient for “us; his strength is made perfect in weakness.” “ By “the grace of God," says the Apostle, “I am what I am.”. And again, “ Not I, but the grace of God which was “ with me."! Nay, he is said " to work in. us both to, “ will and to do of his good pleasure." All this, shows, that there is no room left for the finner to glory; but that the whole of his loss, by the fall, both his integrity and his happiness, may be recovered, and can only be recovered through Christ. This is the sum of evangelical truth, this is the source of evangelical holiness: Gal. ii. 16.
“ Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we " have believed in Jesus Christ; that we might be justis