True justifying faith is said to receive, to embrace, to obey the Son of God as tendered in the gospel; by which expressions is showed both the nature of justifying faith in its actings in point of justification, and also the cause of its being full of good works in the world. A gift is not made mine by my seeing it, or because I know the nature of the thing so given; but it is mine if I receive and embrace it, yea, and as to the point in hand, if I yield myself up to stand and fall by it. Now he that shall not only see but receive, not only know but embrace the Son of God to be justified by him, cannot but bring forth good works; because Christ, who is now received and embraced by faith, leavens and seasons the spirit of this sinner, through his faith, to the making of him so to be. Acts 15:9. For faith has joined Christ and the soul together, and being so joined, the soul is one spirit with him: not essentially, but in agreement and oneness of design. Besides, when Christ is truly received and embraced to the justifying of the sinner, in that man's heart he dwells by his word and Spirit through the same faith also. Now Christ by his Spirit and word must needs season the soul he thus dwells in; so then the soul being seasoned, it seasoneth the body and soul, the life and conversation.
If the receiving of a temporal gift naturally tends to the making of us to move our cap and knee, and binds us to be the servant of the giver, shall we think that faith will leave him who by it has received Christ, to be as unconcerned as a stock or stone, or that its utmost excellency is to provoke the soul to a lip-labor, and to give Christ a few fair words for his pains and grace, and so wrap up the business? No, no; the love of Christ constraineth us thus to judge, that it is but reasonable, since he gave his all for us, that we should give our some for him.2 Cor.5:14.
We are said to be saved by faith, because by faith we lay hold of, venture upon, and put on Jesus Christ for life: for life, I say, because God having made him the Saviour, has given him life to communicate to sinners; and the life that he communicates to them is the merit of his flesh and blood, which whoso eateth and drinketh by faith hath eternal life, because that flesh and blood have merit sufficient to obtain the favor of God. Yea, it hath done so, that day it was offered through the eternal Spirit a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor to him. Wherefore God imputeth the righteousness of Christ to him that believeth in him, by which righteousness he is personally justified and saved from that just judgment of the law that was due unto him. John 5:26; 6:53-57; Eph.4:32; 5:2; Rom.4:23-25.
Here let Christians warily distinguish betwixt the meritorious and the instrumental cause of their justification. Christ, with what he has done and suffered, is the meritorious cause of our justification; therefore he is said to be |made unto us of God wisdom and righteousness,| and we are said to be |justified by his blood and saved from wrath through him,| 1 Cor.1:30; Rom.5:9,10; for it was his life and blood that was the price of our redemption.
Thou art therefore to make Christ Jesus the object of thy faith for justification; for by his righteousness thy sins must be covered from the sight of the justice of the law. Acts 16:31; Matt.1:21.
FAITH THE INSTRUMENTAL CAUSE OF SALVATION.
Faith as the gift of God is not the Saviour, as our act doth merit nothing. Faith was not the cause that God gave Christ, neither is it the cause why God converts men to Christ; but faith is a gift bestowed upon us by the gracious God, the nature of which is to lay hold on Christ, whom God before did give for a ransom to redeem sinners. This faith hath its nourishment and supplies from the same God who at the first did give it; and is the only instrument through the Spirit that doth keep the soul in a comfortable frame both to do and suffer; for Christ helps the soul to receive comfort from him, when it can get none from itself, bearing up the soul in its progress heavenward. But that it is the first cause of salvation, I deny; or that it is the second, I deny. It is only the instrument or hand that receiveth the benefits that God hath prepared for thee before thou hadst any faith; so that we do nothing for salvation, as men. But if we speak properly, it was God's grace that moved him to give Christ a ransom for sinners, and the same God with the same grace, that doth give to the soul faith to believe and by believing to close in with him whom God out of his love and pity did send into the world to save sinners; so that all the works of the creature are shut out as to justification and life, and men are saved freely by grace.
TRUE AND FALSE FAITH DISTINGUISHED.
There are two sorts of good works; and a man may be shrewdly guessed at with reference to his faith, even by the works that he chooseth to be conversant in.
There are works that cost nothing, and works that are chargeable; and observe it, the unsound faith will choose to itself the most easy works it can find: for example, there is reading, praying, hearing of sermons, baptism, breaking of bread, church-fellowship, preaching, and the like; and there is mortification of lusts, charity, simplicity, and open-heartedness with a liberal hand to the poor, and their like also. Now, the unsound faith picks and chooses, and takes and leaves; but the true faith does not so. Satan is afraid that men should hear of justification by Christ, lest they should embrace it. But yet if he can prevail with them to keep fingers off, although they do hear and look on and practise lesser things, he can the better bear it; yea, he will labor to make such professors bold to conclude they shall by that kind of faith enjoy Christ, though by that they cannot embrace him nor lay hold of him; for he knows that how far soever a man engages in a profession of Christ with a faith that looks on but cannot receive nor embrace him, that faith will leave him to nothing but mistakes and disappointments at last.
The Son of God was manifest that he might destroy the works of the devil, but these men profess his faith and keep these works alive in the world.1 John, 3. Shall these pass or such as believe to the saving of the soul? For a man to be content with this kind of faith and to look to go to salvation by it, what to God is a greater provocation?
The devil laugheth here, for he knows he has not lost his vassal by such a faith as this, but that rather he hath made use of the gospel, that glorious word of life, to secure his captive, through his presumption of the right faith, the faster in his shackles.
FAITH AND WORKS.
When I write of justification before God from the dreadful curse of the law, then I must speak of nothing but grace, Christ, the promise, and faith; hut when I speak of our justification before men, then I must join to these good works; for grace, Christ, and faith are things invisible, and so not to be seen by another, otherwise than through a life that befits so blessed a gospel as has declared unto us the remission of our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ. He then that would have forgiveness of sins, and so be delivered from the curse of God, must believe in the righteousness and blood of Christ; but he that would show to his neighbors that he hath truly received this mercy of God, must do it by good works, for all things else to them is but talk; as for example, a tree is known to be what it is, whether of this or that kind, by its fruit. A tree it is without fruit; but so long as it so abideth, there is minisered occasion to doubt what manner of tree it is.
JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION DISTINGUISHED.
A believer is to do nothing for justification, only believe and be saved; though the law be a rule for every one that believes to walk by, it is not for justification. But if you do not put a difference between justification wrought by the Man Christ without, and sanctification wrought by the Spirit of Christ within, teaching believers their duty to their God for his love in giving Christ, you are not able to divide the word aright; but contrariwise, you corrupt the word of God, and cast stumbling-blocks before the people, and will certainly one day most deeply smart for your folly, except you repent.
To those who do believe in Christ aright, and lay him for their foundation: see that you are laborers after a more experimental knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; fly more to his birth, death, blood, resurrection, ascension, and intercession, and fetch refreshing for your souls more and more from him without, through the operation of his Spirit within; and though the fruits of the Spirit be excellent, and to be owned where they are found, yet have a care you take not away the glory of the blood of Christ shed on the cross without the gates of Jerusalem, and give it them; which you will do, if you content yourselves and satisfy your consciences with this -- that you find the fruits of the Spirit within you -- and do not go for peace and consolation of conscience to the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.
Therefore learn of the saints, or rather of the Spirit, who teaches to sing this song, |Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.| Rev.5: 9.
And as for you that cannot yet well endure to think that you should be justified by the blood of the Son of Mary shed on the cross without the gate, I say to you, |Kiss the Son, lest he he angry and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little: blessed are all they that put their trust in him.| Psa.2:12.
The work of the Spirit is to lead us into the sayings of Christ; which, as to our redemption from death, are such as these: |I lay down my life, that you may have life; I give my life a ransom for many; and the bread which I give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.|
The Holy Ghost breatheth nowhere so as in the ministry of this doctrine; this doctrine is sent with the Holy Ghost from heaven.
What is the church of God redeemed by from the curse of the law? It is by something done within them, or by something done without them.
If you say it is redeemed by something that worketh in them, then why did the man Christ Jesus hang on the cross on Calvary, without the gate of Jerusalem, for the sins of his children? and why do the Scriptures say that |through this man is preached to us the forgiveness of sins?|
The answer thou givest is, |The church of God is redeemed by Christ Jesus who is revealed in all believers, and Christ Jesus wrought in them mightily, and it was he that wrought in them to will and to do. This is plain scripture; and the man Christ Jesus,| sayest thou, |hanged on the cross on Calvary because they wickedly judged him to be a blasphemer, and through their envy persecuted him to death because he bore witness against them, and in their account he died and hanged on the cross an evil-doer.|
Ha, friend, I had thought thou hadst not been so much hardened. Art thou not ashamed thus to slight the death of the man Christ Jesus on the cross, and reckon it not effectual for salvation, but sayest, the church is redeemed by Christ Jesus who is revealed within? and to confirm it, thou dost also corruptly bring in this scripture: |Whereunto I labor, according to his working which worketh in me mightily; |by which words Paul signifies, that as God was with him in the ministry of the word, so did he also strive according to his working which wrought in him mightily. What is this to the purpose?
That thy answer is false, I shall clearly prove. First, because thou deniest that redemption was wrought out for sinners by the man Christ Jesus on the cross on Calvary; when the scripture says plainly, that when he did hang on the tree, then did he bear our sins there in his own body. And secondly, in thy saying it is redeemed by Christ within, by being within, when the work of the Spirit of Christ in believers is to make known to the soul, by dwelling within, which way and how they are redeemed by the man Christ Jesus on the cross. And this I prove further, because when thou art forced to answer to these words, Why did the man Christ Jesus hang en the cross, on Calvary for the sins of his children? thou sayest, |Because they wickedly judged him to be a blasphemer.| Friend, I did not ask thee why the JEWS did put him to death; but why was he crucified there for the sins of his children? But thou, willing to cover over thine error, goest on cunningly, saying, that through their envy they persecuted him to death for an evil-doer.
As for thy saying that salvation is Christ within, if thou mean in opposition to Christ without, instead of pleading for Christ thou wilt plead against him; for Christ, God-man, without on the cross, did bring in salvation for sinners; and the right believing of that justifies the soul. Therefore Christ within, or the Spirit of him who did give himself a ransom, doth not work out justification for the soul in the soul, but doth lead the soul out of itself and out of what can he done within itself, to look for salvation in that Man that is now absent from his saints on earth.2 Cor.5:6. Why so? For it knows that there is salvation in none other, Acts 4: 12; and therefore I would wish thee to have a care what thou doest, for I tell thee, that Man who is now jeered by some, because he is preached to be without them, will very suddenly come the second time to the great overthrow of those who have spoken and shall still speak against him.
And indeed they that will follow Christ aright must follow him without, to the cross without, for justification on. Calvary without -- that is, they must seek for justification by his obedience without -- to the grave without, and to his ascension and intercession in heaven without; and this must be done through the operation of his own Holy Spirit that he has promised shall show these things unto them, being given within them for that purpose. Now the Spirit of Christ, that leads also; but whither? It leads to Christ without.
What a poor argument is this to say, that |because the Spirit of Christ doth convince of sin, therefore whatsoever doth convince of sin must needs be the Spirit of Christ:| as much as to say, because the saints are called the light of the world, therefore the saints are the Saviour of the world, seeing Christ also doth call himself the light of the world; or because the moon hath or is light, therefore the moon is the sun.