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I Believe, &c.
OF JUSTIFYING FAITH.
Rom. v. I.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God,
through our Lord Jesus Chris. THEREFORE; that word implies the text to be a con- Serm. clufion (by way of inference, or of recapitulation) resulting IV. from the precedent discourse; it is indeed the principal conclufion, which (as being supposed a peculiar and a grand part of the Christian doctrine, and deserving therefore a strong proof and clear vindication) St. Paul designed by several arguments to make good. Upon the words, being of such importance, I should fo treat, as first to explain them, or to settle their true sense; then to make some practical application of the truths they contain.
As to the explicatory part, I should consider first, what the faith is, by which we are said to be justified; 2. what being justified doth import; 3. how by such faith we are so justified; 4. what the peace with God is, here adjoined to justification; 5. what relation the whole matter bears to our Lord Jesus Christ; or how through him being justified, we have peace with God; in the prosecution of which particulars it would appear, who the persons justified
are, and who justifies us; with other circumstances incident.
SERM. I shall at this time only infilt upon the first particular, IV.
concerning the notion of faith proper to this place; in order to the resolution of which inquiry, I shall lay down fome useful observations: and,
1. First, I observe, that faith, or belief, in the vulgar
acception, doth fignify (as we have it briefly described Top. 4, 5. in Aristotle's Topics) a opoêpe unóanyos, an earnest opinion
or persuasion of mind concerning the truth of some matter propounded. Such an opinion being produced by, or grounded upon some forcible reason, (either immediate evidence of the matter, or sense and experience, or some strong argument of reason, or some credible testimony; a for whatever we assent unto, and judge true upon any
such grounds and inducements, we are commonly said to believe, this is the popular acception of the word; and according thereto I conceive it usually signifies in holy Scripture; which being not penned by masters of human art or science, nor directed to persons of more than ordinary capacities or improvements, doth not intend to use words Otherwise than in the most plain and ordinary manner.
Belief therefore in general, I suppose, denotes a firm persuasion of mind concerning the truth of what is propounded; whether it be some one single propofition, (as when Abraham believed, that God was able to perform what he had promised; and Sarah, that God, who had pro
mised, was faithful,) or some system of propositions, as PI, cvi. 24. lxxviii. 32. when we are said to believe God's word, (that is, all which
by his Prophets was in his name declared ;) to believe the
truth, (that is, all the propofitions taught in the true rePf.cxix.66. ligion as fo ;) to believe God's commandments, (that is, the
doctrines in God's law to be true, and the precepts Mark i. 15. thereof to be good ;) to believe the Gospel, (that is, to be Phil. i. 27.
a Aut proba esse quæ credis ; aut fi non probas, quomodo credis ? Tertul. adv. Marc. v. 1.
“Οταν γάρ τως πισεύη, και γνώριμοι αυτώ ώσιν αι αρχαι, επίςαται. Αrift. Ειλ. vi. 3.
'Αρισοτίλης το επόμενον το επιστήμη κρίμα ως αληθές, το δί τι πίσιν είναι φησι, Clem. Strom. ii. p. 287.
"Ένιοι γαρ πισεύεσιν δεν ήττον οίς δοξάζεσιν, ή έτεροι οίς επίσανται. Αrift. Ειδ. vii. 3.
Rom. iv. 21. Heb. xi. 19, 11.
persuaded of the truth of all the propositions asserted or SERM. declared in the Gospel.)
IV. 2. I observe, secondly, that whereas frequently some person, or single thing, is represented (verbo tenus) as the object of faith, this doth not prejudice, or in effect alter the notion I mentioned; for it is only a figurative manner of fpeaking, whereby is always meant the being perfuaded concerning the truth of some propofition, or propositions, relating to that person or thing: for otherwise it is unintelligible how any incomplex thing, as they speak, can be the complete or immediate object of belief. Befide fimple apprehension (or framing the bare idea of a thing) there is no operation of a man's mind terminated upon one single object; and belief of a thing surely implies more than a simple apprehension thereof : what it is, for instance, to believe this or that proposition about a man, or a tree, (that a man is such a kind of thing, that a tree hath this or that property,) is very easy to conceive; but the phrase believing a man, or a tree, (taken properly, or excluding figures,) is altogether insignificant and unintelligible : indeed to believe, risetely, is the effect tē nsTrio Sa, of a persuasive argument, and the result of ratiocination; whence in Scripture it is commended, or difcommended, as implying a good or bad use of reason. The proper object of faith is therefore some proposition deduced from others by discoursé; as it is said, that many of Joh. iv. 39. the Samaritans believed in Christ, because of the woman's word, who testified that he told her all that ever she did; or as St. Thomas believed, because he saw; or as when it is John xx. faid, that many believed on our Lord's name, beholding the John ii. 23. miracles which he did : when then, for example, the Jews Exod. xiv. are required to believe Mofes, (or to believe in Mofes, 11. xix. 4. after the Hebrew manner of speaking,) it is meant, to be 45, &c. persuaded of the truth of what he delivered, as proceeding from Divine revelation; or to believe him to be what he professed himself, a messenger or prophet of God. So 10 2 Chron. believe the Prophets, or in the Prophets, (9) was to *x. 20. be persuaded concerning the truth of what they uttered in God's name, (that the doctrines were true, the com
SERM. mands were to be obeyed, the threats and promises thrould IV. be performed, the predictions should be accomplished : to
believe all which the Prophets did say, as our Saviour Luke xxiv.
speaks; to believe all things written in the Prophets, as St.
Paul.) So to believe God's works (a phrase we have in Pr. lxxviii. the Psalms) fignifies, to be persuaded, that those works
did proceed from God, or were the effects of his good Jer. xvii. 5. providence: to believe in man (that which is so often pro
hibited and dissuaded) denotes the being persuaded, that
man in our need is able to relieve and succour us : lastly, Pl. cxviii. to believe in God (a duty so often enjoined and inculcated)
is to be persuaded, that God is true in whatever he says; faithful in performance of what he promises; perfectly wise, powerful, and good; able and willing to do us good : the being persuaded, I say, of all these propofitions, or such of them as suit the present circumstances and occasion, is to believe in God : thus, in fine, to believe on a person, or thing, is only a short expression (figuratively) denoting the being persuaded of the truth of some proposition relating, in one way or other, to that person or thing, (which way is commonly discernible by considering the nature, or state of such a person, or such a thing;) the use of which observation may afterward appear.
3. I observe, thirdly, that (as it is ordinary in like cases concerning the use of words) the word belief is by a kind of fynecdoche (or metonymy, if you please) so commonly extended in signification, as, together with such a persuafion as we spoke of, to imply whatever by a kind of necessity, natural or moral, doth result from it; fo comprehending those acts of will, those affections of foul, and thofe deeds, which may be presumed consequent upon such a persuasion : for instance, when God commanded Abraham to forsake his country, promising him a happy establishment in the land of Canaan, with a perpetual blessing upon his pofterity; Abraham was persuaded concerning the power and fidelity of God, and concerning the truth of what was promised and foretold; in that persuasion his faith, according to the first, proper, and re
strained sense, did confift: but because from such a per- SERM.
IV. fuafion (being sincere, and strong enough) there did naturally and duly result a satisfaction, or acquiescence in the Rom. iv. matter enjoined as best to be done; a choice and refolu- 20. tion to comply with God's appointment; an effectual obedience; a cheerful expectation of a good issue thereupon; therefore all those difpofitions of soul and actions concurring become expressed by the name of faith, (that first persuasion being the principle and root of them :) for it is for his faith that he is highly commended; it is for it that he obtained fo favourable an approbation and acceptance from God. Yet fupposing Abraham to have had such a perfuafion concerning God; and yet to have diliked what God required, or to have resolved againft doing it, or to have indeed disobeyed, or to have difregarded the happy success; it is plain that Abraham as to the whole matter deferved rather much blame, than any commendation; and would not upon that account have had righteousnef: imputed to him, and have been called the James ii. friend of God: when therefore his faith is so magnified, that word comprehends not his bare persuasion only, but all those concomitants thereof, which if they had not gone along therewith, it had been a proof, that such a perfuafion was not fincere, (not úvuróxpiros risus, an un- 1 Tim. i. 5. disembled faith; such as St. Paul commends in Timo- James iii. thy,) or not strong enough, (not áðucárpitos misis, an un- 17.
Rom. iv.20. doubting faith, (but a weak, a small, a dond, an ineffec-ziv.. tual faith; which come under blame and reprof; but the effe&t shewed, that he did not, as St. Paul says, do deveīy Rom. iv.19. vý tisa, had not a weak, or fickly faith ; nor fraggered at vi 26&c: the promise of God; but was strong in faith, giving glory Jam. ii. 17, to God; which he did not only in believing his word, but ; in suiting his affections, and yielding obedience thereto : Het zi. 8. (zissy úsÝKecev ĉEE20Eiv) by faith he obeyed, so as to forsake his country, says the Apostle to the Hebrews; and faith thus taken is not only a single act of a man's understanding, or will, but a complex of many dispositions and actions, diffused through divers faculties of a man, denoting the whole complication of good difpofitions and actions
i Cor. viii. 10.