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Mr. Foxcroft's SERMON, ON Like precious Faith, &c.

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Like precious FAITH obtained, through the Righteousness of our GOD and Saviour, by all the true Servants of Christ.

A SERMON, Preached (in Sum) at the Old-Church-Lecture in Boston, Thursday, March 25th. 1756.

By THOMAS FOXCROFT, A. M. One of the Pastors of the said Church.

Luk. xvii. 5.

And the Apostles said unto the LORD, Increase our Faith.

Joh. ix. 35,—38.

Jesus said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said,—LORD, I believe. And he worshipped Him.

BOSTON; NEW-ENGLAND, Printed and Sold by Green & Russell, at their Printing-Office near the Custom-House, and next to the Writing-School in Queen-Street. M,DCC,LVI.

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Like precious FAITH obtained, by all the true Servants of Christ, &c.

2 PET. I. 1.

Simon Peter, a Servant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to them which have obtained like precious Faith with us, through the Righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

IN these Words, which contain the Inscription of this Epistle, we have—

1. The Writer's Name and Stile. "Simon Peter, a Servant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ."—It is not, like some other of the sa­cred Epistles, anonymous: but in the Face of it carries the Penman's Name; as well the additional one his Di­vine Master had put upon him, as that which his Parents had originally given him.—Also to contribute Authority and Weight to his Letter, and gain Attention to it, he superadds a notable Appellative, signifying his being an inspired Minister of Christ, and suggesting that he wrote as he was moved by the Holy Ghost.—But while he claims the Honour of being an Apostle, he does it in such a Manner as at the same Time discovers his deep Humili­ty. For he affects not to distinguish himself by any pompous Characterisms; as, the Chief of the Apostles; [Page 2] —the First Apostle,—or, the Apostle of the Circum­cision (much less by those vain-glorious Titles, which his pretended Successor at Rome arrogates to himself; such as, the universal Bishop, Vicar of Christ, supreme Head of the Church on Earth, or the like) but only calls himself in simple Terms, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, in common with others dignify'd with the same reverend Appellation. And even this he qualifies, by joining with it that most diminutive Title, a Servant. Though the Lord had said to his Apostles, "Henceforth I call you not Ser­vants, but Friends"; yet Peter modestly declines the latter, and assumes to himself the former Denomination. Truly he glories in being Christ's Servant; notwithstand­ing he was an Apostle, and more than a Prophet, yea, greater in the Kingdom of God than John the Baptist himself, though among them that are born of Women there had not before risen one greater than he.—Even Apostles, with all the Honours of their immediate Divine Mission, Inspiration and extraordinary Gifts, had but a Ministerial Power in the Church: they were not Lords over God's Heritage. They own themselves Servants of Christ; and even Servants of the Church for Jesus sake.—'Tis a humble, yet truly honourable Title, this, a Servant of Christ. And indeed it belongs to Christians in common; who have all one Master, and are all Bre­thren in Christ: the Ministers of the Word being only a Sort of upper Servants in their Lord's Family, who have some special Trusts committed to them, as Stewards and Overseers, to feed the Household, to inspect and regu­late it, and to enlarge it, by drawing in others to become the Servants of Christ.

Let us all then bear in Mind the Title we sustain, the Profession we make; and study to adorn it by shewing all good Fidelity, as becometh Servants, in our Lord's Business. What will it profit us, my Brethren, to wear an empty Title! To stile ourselves Servants of Christ, and yet not do our Master's Will; but do the Will of Man, or the Will of the Flesh, and serve divers Lusts and [Page 3] Pleasures!—Or can we imagine, that Christ will be plea­sed with our giving him an empty Title; complimenting him with the Name of Master and Lord, while yet in Works we deny him, or at least regard Iniquity in our Hearts, but disregard his Honour and Interest! "If I be a Master (says the Lord) where is my Fear?" And if we be his Servants, where is our Duty? where is the Homage and Obedience we owe him?— "But wilt thou know, O vain Man, that Faith without Works is dead!" That the meer Title of Servant, and idle Professions of Service, will avail us nothing; nay, will rather turn to our vast Disadvantage in the End, and dreadfully aggravate our future Condemnation, in proportion as it enhances our present Guilt!

What saith the Scripture? "That Servant which knew his Lord's Will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his Lord's Will, shall be beaten with many Stripes." A Consideration, that should awaken our most serious Concern and Dread, lest, while we call ourselves Servants of Christ, we incur the Reproach and Doom of slothful and unprofitable Servants; as having been neg­ligent of our Duty to him, practically independent of him, and only serving other Lords, who have no Right of Dominion over us. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield your selves Servants to obey, his Servants ye are whom ye obey?"—The Case is peremptorily decided by an infallible Judge. "No Man can serve two Masters: ye cannot serve God and Mammon."—So neither can we serve Christ and Belial; or Christ and Sin. Vain there­fore are our Pretensions to be Christ's Servants, so long as Sin reigns in our mortal Bodies, and we obey it in the Lusts thereof. And is not that universally the Course of this World?—What the Apostle Paul charges on the Roman Christians, "Ye were the Servants of Sin," such by Nature, and such by Practice, is it not applicable to all in every Age? And while we are the Servants of Sin, the same inspired Writer assures us, we are "free from Righteousness," Now surely "they that are such, serve [Page 4] not our Lord Jesus Christ.—But if by a regenerating Change, if by Faith purifying our Hearts, we are "made free from Sin, and become the Servants of Righteousness, having our Fruit unto Holiness," then are we indeed Servants of Christ; such as are now accepted of him, and whom he will in the Day of Judgment distinguish by that gracious Euge, "Well done, thou good, and faith­ful Servant! Enter into the Joy of thy Lord."—O that all who are making their Boast of God, and saying to Christ, LORD, LORD, would allow themselves to recol­lect their past Experiences, to review God's Dealings with their Souls, and enter into a solemn Self-Debate, whether they have ever yet passed from Death unto Life, in the New-Birth, that most important Change. For, as our Lord has given us the express Assurance, ‘Verily, verily, except a Man be born again (born of the Spirit) he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’—Nor are any in Truth the Servants of Christ, but such as are the Chil­dren of God by Faith in Christ,— obedient Children. ‘Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his Commandments.’

And our Text instructs me to remind myself, and my Brethren, who are the Servants of Christ in a peculiar Sense, as Ministers of his Word, of the solemn Charge and Vows of God upon us, to take Heed to ourselves, that we be indeed sanctify'd and meet for the Master's Use, prepared unto every good Work; that we study to shew ourselves approved unto God, Workmen who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth: and to take Heed to our Ministry, which we have received in the Lord, that we fulfil it, in all the various Parts and Labours of it; watching for Souls, as they that must give Account.—So, when the Master of the House cometh, tho' ever so soon or suddenly, to require of us an Account of our Stewardship, we shall give it with Joy, and not with Grief; and be Partakers of the Glory, that shall be revealed, even the Grace that is to be bro't unto us at the Revelation of Jesus Christ, that great [Page 5] Shepherd of the Sheep, the chief Bishop of Souls, and the Lord of all. To Him be Glory and Dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Thus much for the first Thing in the Text. I pass now to what I had principally in View. We have here,

2. A Description of those to whom Peter writes this Epistle: namely, ‘To them which have obtained like precious Faith with us, through the Righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’

It is called an Epistle general,—not as being written by one that claim'd to be Head of the Church catholic, or universal Bishop, but as being of common Concern­ment and Use; and directed, not to any particular Per­son or Society, but to the Saints indefinitely. Accord­ingly, the Character of true Saints or Servants of Jesus Christ, contain'd in the Superscription, being applicable to all such in every Age, indifferently, the present as well as primitive, I propose now to consider this in its excel­lent and various Contents, whether express'd, or imply'd: and shall then conclude with some suitable Application of the Subject, as the Time will allow.

Let it be observ'd distinctly,

I. Here is the Faith of the Saints: which is a primary and most essential Article in the Character of good and acceptable Servants of Christ.

Now, Faith is sometimes spoken of in it's objective Notion; as meaning the Doctrine of Christ, "the Faith of the Gospel,—"the Faith once delivered to the Saints. But in our Text, as in many other places, it is thought, Faith is to be understood in the subjective Notion; as meaning the Grace, or evangelical Principle in the Heart, that goes under that Name. The Word seems most frequently used in the practical and experimental Sense: As, where we read of "the Shield of Faith,—of "the Joy of Faith,—of "living by Faith,—of "shewing our Faith by our Works, &c. Undoubtedly in all such places it refers to an inward vital Principle, whereby [Page 6] "with the Heart Man believeth unto Righteousness."— This being a radical and primary Grace, fundamental to the other Graces of the christian Life, always subsisting in Union with them, and influential to the Exercise of them, they are thought to be sometimes all collected and sum­med up in this one comprehensive Word, Faith.—But at other times it is to be consider'd in a more limited Sense, in its simpler Notion, as a particular Grace, tho' a cardinal and leading one. For Instance, the Apostle in our Context exhorts Christians to "add unto their Faith Virtue.—So elsewhere it is said, "Faith worketh by Love. — And of Abraham we are told "how Faith wrought with his Works, and by Works was Faith made perfect.

The Word, Faith, seems indeed sometimes apply'd only by way of Allusion, or Accommodation to Men's Pretences and Professions: as, where we read, "What doth it profit, though a Man say he hath Faith, and have not Works? Can Faith save him?" i. e. Can a meer worldy Ostentation of Faith, or "a Man's saying he has Faith," profit him to salvation?—So, where it is said, "Faith without Works, is dead," this means only a verbal Profession of Faith, exclusive of its genuine Ef­fects. It does not imply, that there is any such Thing in Fact, properly speaking in the Sense of the Gospel, as a Faith that is dead; a really existent true Faith, sepa­rate from Works. For the Faith thus described, what­ever it may possibly have of real Existence, yet is but feigned Faith, if it be considered in a relative View, and under the Notion of its being that which the Gospel-Pre­cept requires of us, by the Name of Faith, in Order to Salvation. Because the Faith of the Gospel, or that unfeigned Faith which the Gospel-Requisition refers to, is ever a living practical Principle; of an operative and an imperative Nature; attended with a prevalent moral Efficacy and Command over us; always disposing and enabling us to follow Holiness; and producing an habi­tual Obedience in Heart and Life to all the Divine Com­mandments, [Page 7] as believing them to be holy, just, and good. Hence we read of "the Obedience of Faith,— "the Work of Faith, &c.—But often there is the Profession and some Shew of this Faith, and Men imagine them­selves Subjects of the true Gospel-Grace, altho' it appears not in all its genuine Actings and Effects. Now such a wordy Profession and airy Shew is but analogically and equivocally stiled Faith.—I look upon it only as Irony or Sarcasm, when it is said in the Epistle of James, "Shew me thy Faith without thy Works." It is a Proposal founded on an absurd Hypothesis; on the Supposition of an impossible Case, or a Thing never existent in Fact; Activity and Efficiency being inseparable Properties of a lively (i. e. unfeigned) Faith.—There may be a sort of Philosophical or meer moral Faith, which has something of Reality in it, and may produce some real Fruits: yet if it claim to be the evangelical and saving Grace, it is in Scripture-Account but Faith falsely so called.—How­ever, sometimes by Way of Allusion or Accommodation to human Pretensions and some visible Appearances, [...] has put upon it the Title of Faith, which yet is little or nothing better than the Faith of Devils, who are said to believe and tremble. Such a Belief surely is ineffectual to the proper End of Faith, the Salvation of the Soul. At best, it is comparatively but an impotent frigid Opi­nion, a lifeless Notion swimming in the Brain, and never descending to the Heart, nor powerfully influencing the Life. Or, whatever Resemblance there may be of Faith, in its Effects and Operations, if it be not a Principle in­laid in the Heart, it is but a Counterfeit; and far from being that Faith which is intended in the Gospel-De­mand. Undoubtedly a Profession of Faith, how specious soever, that is without Works, internal, as well as exter­nal, corresponding to it, is but Faith which is dead; dead in it self, as well as dead to the proper Ends and Uses of Faith: and no more deserves the Name of Faith, than an inanimate breathless Corpse does that of a Man. In such a Case, the Scripture intimates, that a Man does [Page 8] but say he has Faith: and boasts of a false Gift, like the Man that pretends to Charity, tho' he shews it only in good Wishes and Professions of Benevolence, while he neglects the proper Offices of Love and Kindness.

Faith, in its most simple primary Idea, and strictest Acceptation, I grant, is Assent,—Assent upon Testi­mony.—Divine Faith is an Assent upon Divine Testi­mony. The Subject-Matter of this Belief is, in general, the Revelation God has made of his Mind and Will in his holy Word; though, more especially and eminently the Record he has given of his Son, and the Promise of Life which is in Christ Jesus. Gospel-Faith, whether in its doctrinal or practical Notion, does not terminate in the Mediator, as such: but ascends to the supreme Be­ing, the God of Truth and God of all Grace. There­fore it is sometimes called Faith towards God. Yet the same is also called Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. It commonly has this latter Denomination, not only with a View to distinguish it from that Faith of Jews and others, which is defective either in its Nature, Matter, or Grounds of Belief, but likewise to signify Christ's being its proximate and special Object. Gospel-Faith more immediately respects the Saviour, and is eminently a Belief of the Peculiars of the Christian Revelation,—of the Truth as it is in Jesus. Nor indeed (as I said) an idle Notional Belief, a cold and unaffecting Assent: but a warm and vital, impressive Perswasion, rooted in the Heart, and producing all correspondent Biasses [...] the Will, all agreable Appetites and Passions. In the Scheme of Salvation, and in Experience, Sanctification and Be­lief are connected; and the latter instrumental to the for­mer. We are therefore said to be sanctified thro' Faith.— View'd particularly in this light, as the sanctifying Prin­ciple, and regarded in its Connections and Results, Be­lief or Faith admits of a complex Notion: and hence the Word seems used sometimes in Scripture with a La­titude, or in an extensive Sense, taking in concomitant Graces and consequent Effects, the genuine Evidences of [Page 9] its Sincerity; such as Love to God, Sorrow for Sin, Re­solutions and Endeavours of Obedience, &c.—"Faith indeed comprehends in it self the Seeds of all other Gra­ces; which will spring up in due Time, and in their pro­per Orders.—"No sooner is any Measure of Belief en­tred, than accordingly it influences the Soul to suitable Actings; and some of them are so immediate and inse­parable, that they seem rather to be the same Thing with that Belief wrought by the Spirit, than any consequential Actings of it.

Belief, or Faith, consider'd according to the Gospel-Use of the Word, does in its essential Notion imply Heart-Consent to the Method of Grace in saying us by a Mediator, cordial Approbation of the appointed Re­deemer, intire Submission to, and Trust in him.—Faith, view'd in its Reference to Justification before God, nextly and especially regards Christ, as the End of the Law for Righteousness to them which believe; or as made Sin for them, and made Righteousness to them; and signally operates by way of Recumbence or Dependence on him for Justification of Life. This is judg'd to be emphati­cally the leading uniting Act of Faith.—Hence those pe­culiar Phrases in Scripture, of believing in (or into) Christ, —Faith in his Blood,—Faith in the Righteousness of Christ; as in our Text, according to the Reading which some prefer.—Faith, though it knows Christ is not divi­ded, yet viewing him in his distinct Capacities, primarily and very eminently regards him in his Office of a Priest; as having once offered himself a Sacrifice for Sin, and entred with his own Blood into the holy Place: and accordingly receives, approves, and makes Use of him in that Capacity; trusting in him as the only Mediator both of Atonement and Intercession, the Procurer of Pardon and Peace, Righteousness and Life.—Yet Faith extends its Views and Applications to him in his other Capacities. It eyes Christ in his Office of a Prophet; considers him as the Apostle, as well as High-Priest of our Profession: and accordingly repairs to him for In­struction, [Page 10] by his Word and Spirit, in Divine Things, and trusts in him as the Light of the World. It also eyes him in his Office of a King, bows to his Sceptre, and confides in him as the Prince of Life, the grand Trustee of Divine Power, and supreme Administrator of Divine Government and Judgment, the sacred Repository and immediate Source of Divine Blessings, for all that Grace and Comfort we need; realizing the Exhibition of all Good to us in the Gospel-Promise, relying on his Faithfulness and Ability to fulfil his Word, and looking for the Mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal Life.

In Sum, to believe in Christ imports, not meerly that with the Mouth we make Confession of him, in the united Characters of Prince and Saviour, the Messiah promised to the Fathers, but that we believe in him with all our Heart; that under a Conviction of our Sin and Misery, of the Excellency and Greatness of his Salvation, and of his Sufficiency and Willingness to save to the ut­termost them which come unto God by him, we do ac­cordingly receive him for our Saviour; sincerely enter­taining and employing him in all the Offices of his Medi­ation; applying and leaning to him, or resting in him alone, for all the Benefits of his Redemption, as exhibited to us in the Gospel, and freely granted to all that are sincerely willing to accept the same, and do commit themselves to him to be saved by him.—So that Faith imply's a Perswasion (not indeed, that Christ and all his Benefits are actually ours before our Believing, or that we are in a pardoned and justify'd State already, but) that Christ and his Benefits are in the Gospel-Pro­mise held forth to us, in such a Manner, as to warrant our seeking them, and to give Liberty for our accepting them, according to the Tenor of the Word of Reconci­liation. "In this Sense (says a judicious Divine) all these Things belong so to us, as that we may without any Let or Hindrance apply them unto ourselves, for all those Ends and Uses for which they are appointed"; or in other Words "may in Faith of the Gospel-Exhibi­tion [Page 11] apply them to ourselves in God's Way,—in the Way and Manner prescribed in the Promise,—where the Matter (says he) is so contrived, not that every one may say positively, Christ and his Benefits belong to me [i. e. in special] but none can say, They do not," i. e. in com­mon with others under the Gospel-Call.

And this seems the more necessary to be observed, not only as it points out one eminent Difference between the Faith of Men and that of Devils, founded in the Dif­ference of their relative Circumstances, respecting a Sa­viour and the Promise in him; but also "as it is very common for a poor humbled broken Soul to put these Things away from himself, upon the Pretence, that they belong not to him. To which Objection it may justly be answered, They do belong to him," in the Sense a­bovementioned: and therefore such may safely conclude, since they have this Ground of Faith, it is no Presump­tion in them (as they too readily surmise) to flee for Re­fuge, and lay Hold upon the Hope set before them, in the Gospel of the Grace of God,—while the fallen An­gels at the same Time are left in a State of absolute and final Despair, without all Remedy.

Such, in my View of the Thing, is that Faith by which the Just do live. Such is that Faith, by which the Elders obtained a good Report; even God's Testimony that they were righteous before him. Such is that Faith, by which Christ dwells in our Hearts: Such that Faith, without which it is impossible to please God.—This I consider as the Faith of God's Elect: so termed, because it springs from electing Love; is the universal Character­istic of the Election; and peculiar to those who being from the Beginning chosen to Salvation, are in Time called into the Fellowship of the Son of God, and made Partakers of the Benefit.

Which leads us to another Remark on the Description of those this Epistle is directed to.

[Page 12]II. The Faith attributed to them is here spoken of as a Thing they had obtained.—"To them (says the Apos­tle) which have obtained like precious Faith with us.— According to the Notation of the Greek Word, which is very emphatical, the Meaning is,—Which have had the Grace of Faith Divinely allotted and dispensed to them,—have shared in this precious Benefit, or been made Partakers of it, through the special Interposition and immediate Agency of Heaven, as it were by the sa­cred Lot. *—This seems plainly deducible from the pro­per [Page 13] Import and customary Application of the original Word, here render'd, obtained: which alludes to the getting a Prize in a Lottery, purely by the Hand of God, without any interposing Skill and determining Will or [Page 14] Influence of Man in the Case; so that it signify's as much as obtained gratis, by Divine free Favour.

But I shall more distinctly note the following Parti­culars, as imply'd in the Phrase, "Them that have ob­tained like precious Faith.— As,

1. That Faith is no innate Principle, nor an hereditary Privilege:—even as that which we receive by a Lot, is far from being either the Result of Nature, or the Prero­gative of Birth and Parentage.

No Man is born a Believer; either such in Fact, or of Right.—Faith does not spring up of itself, from some latent Seeds in our degenerate Nature: but is altogether of a foreign Extract, and supernatural Rise.

Alas, if we give any Credit to the holy Scriptures, or consult our own Experience and Observation, we must confess, this holy Faith in a Thing no Man brings into the World with him: but we are born with an evil Heart of Unbelief in us. We are all in the Number of the Many, who by one Man's Disobedience were made Sinners: and there is an inbred Principle of Infidelity (a secret Root of Bitterness) in the corrupt Nature we de­rive from apostate Adam. Foolishness is bound up in the Heart of a Child: and nothing can drive it out, but the Rod of his Strength, who makes his People willing in the Day of his Power. The carnal Mind is Enmity a­gainst God, and not subject to his Law,—is Enmity against Christ, and not subject to his Gospel,—neither indeed can be, without a transforming Change wrought upon us. So self-conceited, so sensual, and stupid is the Mind of Man (vain Man, born like the wild Ass's Colt) that while it remains under the uncontrouled Power of this native Enmity, it neither feels the Need of a Saviour, nor sees the amiable Excellency and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: nay, tho' reduced by Convictions to some Sense of Guilt and Danger, and put in Fear, yet still its habitual Tendency is to rise up in Opposition to Jesus Christ the righteous. It labours of perverse Prejudices against his Divine Person and Perfections, his Medittorial [Page 15] Character and Offices, his Doctrine and Precepts, his A­tonement and Merits, and the Way of Salvation by Grace thro' Faith in his Blood. These Things, which the Angels of Light aspire to look into, and in which they discover the manifold wisdom of God, are never­theless very Foolishness to the unenlighten'd Mind of Man. It relucts against those Self-denying Duties of Christianity, Repentance towards God and Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. It knows not how to come bro­ken-hearted and empty-handed, to God and our Saviour, for the free Pardon of Sins, Redress of Miseries, and Sup­ply of Wants. In its natural Operation, at best, it puts Men upon going about to establish their own Righteous­ness; and, as of it self, is unreconcilable to the whole Me­thod of Gospel-Grace, as well both in justifying us thro' Faith, and in sanctifying us through Faith. The haughty Spirit of the vain natural Man, till subdued by the Power of the Holy Ghost, cannot tell how to brook, either the Washing of Regeneration, or Sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus. The unhappy Tem­per of the Self-righteous and Self-sufficient Pharisee is ha­bitually prevalent in the Carnally-minded.—If they think at all about the Salvation of their Souls, they are for be­ing saved in their own Way; either in their Sins, or else by Works of Righteousness, which they do themselves. By the Principles of Nature, unrenewed Men are Ene­mies in their Minds, as well to the Grace of God and the Merits of Christ, in the Scripture-Notion of them, as to his Holiness and moral Government. If ever they be saved, they desire but to save themselves, and care not to be beholden to another.—Or, if by any Means, un­der Parental or Ministerial Instructions, they have had beaten into their Heads some Notion of the Scripture-Doctrine concerning Christ's Satisfaction, and the Righ­teousness which is of Faith, they usually either take up a false Notion of this Faith, or else resting in some similar, but imperfect Exercises of Mind, they deceive themselves with a false Appearance of Faith; while yet really they [Page 16] have a secret Displicence and Reluctance against the Thing in Truth. Nay, even under a Work of Convicti­on, when in some notable Degree illuminated and assisted by common Grace to see themselves under the Curse, and in Hazard of perishing for ever, without an Interest in Christ, and a Change of their spiritual State, yet how does an Attachment to the Law, usually restrain them, and the Spirit of the Pharisee operate and prevail in them? Insomuch that altho' they have some Sort of Desire to­wards a Saviour, and in a Manner seek to be justify'd by Christ, they however are for tempering and com­pounding Matters, mingling Law and Gospel, or going a middle Way between them. They aim (it seems) at "washing away their Sins by the Tears of Repentance, joined with Faith in the Blood of Christ," as they have sometimes express'd themselves: or else they hope to make a Righteousness (as it were) of their Reformations, Prayers, and Duties, though as yet destitute of Faith; thinking, by such Things, to recommend themselves to the Grace of God, to win Christ, and get intitled to his Benefits. At best, the Pride of their unbroken Hearts will not let them come to Christ as Sinners, naked and blushing at their Shame, wretched and trembling under the Apprehension of their Misery and Danger; worthless and helpless in themselves, depending on him to make them righteous, & to work in them both to will and to do.

Upon the whole it appears, we are by Nature, not on­ly Strangers, but Enemies to holy and unfeigned Faith; so far is this from being a connate Principle in us.

Nor is it a Thing hereditary, or as a Family-Privilege entail'd upon us. Indeed there has sometimes been a beautiful Series of Examples of Faith, in the same Fami­ly; an uninterrupted Succession, from Parent to Child, for a Number of Generations. An Instance the Apostle mentions in his second Epistle to Timothy: where speak­ing of unfeigned faith, he says to him, "Which dwelt first in thy Grandmother Lois, and in thy Mother Eunice, [Page 17] and I am persuaded that in Thee also." Here was Faith exemplify'd in the same Family for three Generations successively. So, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob afford a like Example: and there have been many such. Yet the Case is comparatively rare.—Nor in such Instances is this Faith transmitted to Posterity in the Manner of an here­ditary Privilege. None are born the lawful Inheritors of it. We do not succeed to it as the Inheritance of Fathers. We do not come by it in Right of our An­cestors, in Consequence of our visibie Covenant-Relation to God, or by Virtue of our pious Parentage, though we had even Abraham to our Father. On whatever Ac­count the Faith of a Parent may benefit his Infant-Seed, yet the Adult must every one have a Faith of his own: nor does this belong to the spiritual Patrimony we enjoy as the natural Descendents of believing Progenitors. They that now have unfeigned Faith dwelling in them, were not by Birth the rightful Heirs (any more than actual Possessors) of the Grace of Life: but have since obtained it, without any previous Title or Claim to it.

I go on to observe,

2. Neither is this Faith a Thing of their own Pro­curement and Acquisition; the natural Effect or proper Produce of human Endeavours.—As it is not a Princi­ple born with us, or rooted in the Nature We bring into the World, nor an Heritage derived from our Parents by Succession; so neither is it an acquired Habit, which we work up ourselves to, or procure to ourselves, in Virtue of our own moral Improvements on natural Rea­son and Conscience, or any such Remains of the Image of God in fallen Man.

There is indeed in our lapsed Nature that which some call a passive Receptivity of this and every other holy Principle, or gracious Habit; but no Power of active Production, or Efficiency. I mean, although the Spirit of Man still retains natural Faculties suitable to be wrought on, nor is any Violence done them by the Power exert­ed upon us, in bringing as to believe; and so has what [Page 18] is by some termed an objective Capacity of believing: yet nevertheless it has not properly a subjective Capaci­ty, or a sufficient Ability in itself to accomplish the bles­sed Effect by its own solitary Endeavours.—It is granted, that the Effect is to be sought after, as by Prayer, so in a diligent Use of the Means of Grace; especially God's Word, which is called the Word of Faith, perhaps partly because Faith comes by Hearing.—And it is granted, that Efforts or Trials are to be made by us, if perad­venture it may be given us to believe. So, the happy Event may be, that while we are feebly essaying, as it were, to stretch forth the withered Arm at the Lord's Bidding, we may experience the powerful Influence of an invisible Agent, effectually enabling us (impotent as we are in ourselves) to stretch out the Hand of Faith.— But if left to ourselves, though accommodated with the most desirable Creature-Helps and subservient Means, all our Attempts to believe in Christ will leave us short of that Faith which is unto Salvation. For it is always to be remembred, this is not the meer Result of our own Endeavours; not the sole Product of Means and Instru­ments, in natural Consequence of our Attendance on them, however sedulous and constant: but whoever obtain this holy Principle of Faith, derive it from an extrinsecal Cause, in a way of supernatural Influence; and are made Partakers of it by a secret Power, beyond or out of them­selves, and above the Reach of meer human Agency, as much as is that which has the Disposing of a Lot.—This I suppose to be connoted in the significant Phrase, ob­tained Faith.—But to proceed, this implies,

3. That it is a Gift received from GOD; that Men have this Faith wrought in them by a Divine Energy, in the Way of free Grace.

All Success of Means depends intirely on the Divine Presence and Blessing, and is intirely gratuitous. "Who is Paul, and who Apollos, but Ministers by whom ye be­lieved, even as the LORD gave to every Man.

"To them (says the Apostle in our Text) which have [Page 19] obtained like precious Faith with us; and doubtless ob­tained it in like Manner, from the like Cause. Now whence did Peter and his Brethren obtain, or how get their Faith? Did they challenge to themselves the Ho­nour of acquiring it by any Power of their own, or by any Merit of theirs? No, but they give God all the Glory. In like Manner they teach us to own a Divine Author and Finisher of our Faith. They represent it as "given us to believe. They speak of Saints in Christ Jesus as those "which had believed through Grace,— "which in Time past had not obtained Mercy, but now have obtained Mercy; and are called to Glory and Vir­tue, or (as some read it) by Glory and Virtue, i. e. by God's glorious Power, or by the Power of his Grace, which is sometimes stiled Glory.

Faith is of the Operation of God, by a mysterious Display of his Power and Grace.—So much seems evi­dently imported in the Language of our Text,—obtained like precious Faith: A Phrase alluding to God's over­ruling the Lot, to bring out a Benefit for us, by an ad­mirable, but secret Operation of his kind and all-govern­ing Hand; from whence it comes to us as a meer Gra­tuity of Providence.

I come now to observe,

4. That where Faith is given to any, it is given for a Possession, secure and abiding, never to be taken away from them.—This is a Truth that may be suggested in the Phrase, obtained Faith; as it alludes to a Lot, which gives one a certain and stable Property in what accrues to him hereby. Even so in the present Case, when by a Divine Allotment Faith comes into our Hearts, it is design'd for Perpetuity, and it is ours for ever; a sure and lasting (everlasting) Possession; which, however it may be forfeited, yet shall never be lost. In the Name of all true Believers the Apostle says, "We are of them which believe to the saving of the Soul," i. e. effectually and finally, so as not to fail of the Grace of God at the last.—Faith is of that Nature, that it will not decay and [Page 20] waste away by Exercise.—It is of such Account with the Believer, that he will never voluntarily alienate or part with his happy spiritual Possession.—Neither shall the Adversary of Souls ever be able by Force or Fraud to rob him thereof.—And besure the Believer's Friend & Fa­ther, the original Donor of this Benefit, will never in Wrath deprive him of it. It belongs to the good Part, which the Scripture of Truth assures us shall not be ta­ken away. Unfeigned Faith, wherever it is, is said to dwell in its Subject, because it is not a transient, but fix'd, permament Principle. It is the Faith of God's Elect: and electing Love, the Source of it, will secure its Perseverance to the End. It is the Fruit of the Spi­rit, who, wherever he has begun a good Work, will per­form it to the Day of Jesus Christ. Its Stability or Du­ration is owing to the Supply of the Spirit, procured by the Intercession of Christ. Hence that Saying of his to Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy Faith fail not." Agreably Believers are said to be "preserved in Christ Jesus.—In Virtue of his Intercession, the Habit of Faith (at least) is never-failing: though (as in Peter's Case) its Actings may be sadly interrupted and suspend­ed for a Season, and in the End the Form of its Exer­cise may be changed, when the present Scene of Action is closed.

But a hint or two further shall conclude this Head.— It is imply'd in our Text,

5. That Faith is a special Property; not a Gift com­mon to all, but a distinguishing Favour. The Phrase, "Them which have obtained Faith," denotes this to be the Privilege of a happy select Number, in Distinction from others. As in a Lottery it is not every one's Case to have a Prize fall to his Share, so in the Dispensation of Grace the Divine Gift of Faith does not fall to every one's Lot. "All Men have not Faith." Even in the professing World, and among those of the best Morals too, it is not every Man has Faith. No; but they are in Scripture-Account a peculiar People, that have unfeigned [Page 21] Faith dwelling in them. This is an Attainment appro­priate to a chosen Generation, the same that our Apostle in his first Letter describes as "Elect according to the Foreknowledge of God the Father.—But still to every one of them it must be said, "Who maketh thee to dif­fer? This Faith, the Fruit of the Spirit, is produced by Him, where he will, in a way of discriminating Grace; yet without the least Partiality, since it is not an Act of Justice, but of Grace, and done in Quality of a Benefac­tor. In giving of Faith, God exercises a sovereign Beneficence, without Respect of Persons; preferring none for any national Considerations, for their civil Distinctions, for their Parental or Ecclesiastical Connections, for their worldly Circumstances, for their intellectual, or even moral Endowments. "Ye see your calling, Brethren," how God so orders the Case, in his unspotted Sovereign­ty, that "no Flesh shall glory in his Presence. Truly, "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither because they are the Seed of Abraham, are they all Chil­dren of the Promise, as was Isaac.

In a word, the Description in our Text, "Them which have obtained Faith," gives the true Character of Saints in Christ Jesus, exclusively of all others; and speaks their peculiar Dignity, their super-eminent Excellency above all others. It was intended by the Apostle for a commendatory, as well as a distinctive Character. And truly it is a very shining Character, full of Glory and Praise.

But this brings me to observe, under another general Head.

III. Their Faith is here denominated precious Faith, like precious with that of Peter and others that first trust­ed in Christ.

The Apostles, who were our Lord's earliest Disciples, and special Favourites, are eminently the Standard or Pattern of Faith under the new Testament, as Abraham had been under the Old. Indeed the Faith of Abraham [Page 22] and of Peter, the Faith of the Patriarchs and Apostles, that of primitive Jews and Christian Gentiles, were spe­cifically all one and the same, however gradually and circumstantially varying. "Know ye therefore, that they which are of Faith, the same are the Children of Abra­ham,—are the Children of the Prophets and Apostles. Hence Peter directs his Epistle in this Form, "To them which have obtained like precious Faith with us.

It will not, I hope, be unprofitable, to make the fol­lowing Remarks here distinctly.

1. We will suppose it insinuated in this Expression, that there may be a Sort of Faith, which is of a different Complexion and Character from that of the Apostles and first Followers of Christ:—a Faith, which so far as it hath any Reality, is of an inferior and baser Kind than theirs; or, if it claims Affinity with that, and pretends to be like precious Faith, is but falsely so called.

Not to speak now of the constrained Faith of Devils, who say of the holy Jesus, "What have we to do with Thee!—nor of the Faith of Pagan Moralists, that never heard of Christ;—nor of the like natural Faith of Deists, who explode all reveal'd Religion, and renounce the Hope of the Gospel;—nor of the Mahometan Faith, which, though it honours Christ as a great Prophet, yet advances a vile Impostor above him;—to say nothing more particularly of these,—there is the once authentic, but now counterfeit Faith of the Jews; who, tho' they profess to believe the Scriptures of Moses and the Pro­phets, that wrote of the Messiah, yet misunderstanding both "What, and what Manner of Time the Spirit of Christ which was in them, did signify," do refuse JE­SUS of Nazareth, as a Deceiver. They pretend to be­lieve the Gospel as it was preached before unto Abra­ham and the Fathers, and adhere to the Law and the Prophets, yet still expect the future Coming of the promised Messiah. But their Faith is vain, and far from being like, in Nature and Effects, to theirs who believe in Christ as already come in the Flesh.—Indeed before [Page 23] his Coming, while the Jews walked in the Steps of that Faith of their Father Abraham, which he had when he saw Christ's Day and rejoiced in Hope, they were sound in the Faith, and acceptable Believers. Such were Si­meon and Anna, and others. But the pretended Follow­ers of their Faith, the Jews of the present Age and of every Age since the Christian Dispensation has been esta­blish'd, have not obtained like Faith with them. No; it is but a groundless, worthless, corrupt, rotten, and dead Faith, at best, which such have to boast of.

There is also the like worthless, adulterate and false Faith of Hereticks, who name the Name of Christ, yet abide not in the Doctrine of Christ, but turn aside to ano­ther Gospel: We may well then suppose such to have also another Faith. For, however involuntary lesser Mistakes in the Doctrine of Faith may consist with the Being of the Grace of Faith, yet surely damnable Heresies, that sub­vert the former, can by no Means stand with the latter.

In fine, there is the like worthless and feigned Faith of Hypocrites, or meer Formalists in Religion, who per­haps in Theory hold a Creed sufficiently Orthodox; but still they have little better than a meer Head-Knowledge. Though they profess Belief of the Truth, it is done in Pretence, not sincerely, but to deceive others: or, at least, they make a Profession without any true Engaged­ness of Heart, and rest in a spiritless dead Faith, deceiv­ing themselves with the Workings of some false Affec­tions and seeming Graces. A Faith therefore not of the Apostolic Kind, not of the same Species, not of the same Quality with that which those primitive Servants of Christ were Teachers and Examples of; and which implies our sincerely receiving of Christ, giving him our Hearts, and committing our Souls into his Hands, to be washed with his Blood, sanctify'd by his Spirit, justify'd in his Name, and preserved to his heavenly Kingdom. The Scrip­ture distinguishes this by the Name of Faith unfeigned, in Opposition to the feigned or counterfeit Faith of meer no­minal Christians.—It is a Faith, that transcends the highest [Page 24] Attainments of unregenerate Nature. It is said indeed of the very Devils, that they believe and tremble. But surely they do not believe in the same Sense, and to the same Purposes, as such do who are said to believe unto everlasting Life. Neither did Simon the Sorcerer believe with the same Faith, as Simon the Apostle.

I come then to say,

2. The Faith of the Saints in common is of the same Kind, with that of the Apostles themselves.—This is im­ply'd in the Phrase, "Them which have obtained like precious Faith with US.

Indeed the Apostles had a particular Faith, of the pro­phetic Kind, and for miraculous Effects. But the Text has no Reference to this: nor in Truth does the Epithet, precious, belong to this, in Comparison with that Faith which worketh by Love, without which a Man is No­thing. The Apostle undoubtedly had his Eye to the Grace of Faith: and this is existent in every Period of the Church, common to the Saints of every Age. The meanest real Saint has Faith (in Kind) like that of the ancient Fathers, and very chief of the Apostles, or rather the same with theirs, in all essential Respects. It is the same with theirs in its general Nature, Properties, Act­ings, and Effects. It has the same Object, the same Seat, the same Original, the same Design and Issue; the same Operations, the same Influences attending it, the same Privileges annexed to it, and the same Blessings conse­quent upon it.—All are alike justify'd thro' Faith, alike sanctify'd thro' Faith, and alike finally saved by Grace thro' Faith.—But I go on to observe,

3. Faith is precious,—alike precious, in every Instance. Says our Text, "Them that have obtained like pre­cious Faith with with us.—It is one compound Word in the Orignal. Some read it co-equal: and it is so in regard of its general Properties, Objects, Ends, Uses, and final Result; though not always so in the Degree [Page 25] of its Vigour, Operation, and Influence.—Others read it equally excellent: and so it always is in the Kind; what­ever Disparity there may be in the particular Exercises and Effects of it.—But our english Version well enough renders it like precious. So that although it implies the Faith to be of the like Nature, or of the same Species; the Faith of one corresponding to that of another: yet, I confess, the direct Meaning is, that it is alike precious. The Faith of the least of all Saints is of similar Excel­lency,—of the same Preciousness, in Proportion,—as that of the very chiefest of the Apostles.

Faith is precious, wherever it is found; in one Sub­ject, or another, and in whatever Degree.—And it may be so called for its Rarity: which is a Circumstance that usually advances the Rate of Things in human Estima­tion. Among Men, we know, as Propriety gives an additional Lustre to the Excellency of any valuable En­joyment, so when that Good is scarce, and falls to the Share of Few, this is a Circumstance that heightens the Worth of it in the Possessor's Account, and draws others, through a Principle of Curiosity or Emulation, the more to covet it, and be willing to give the greater Price for it. Diamonds, chiefly for that Reason, are called precious Stones. So, Faith may be termed pre­cious, it being the most uncommon Jewel.

This Epithet points also to its valuable Nature, and admirable Utility. Faith certainly is most excellent in a comparative View; as it excells all other Graces on some Accounts; and as the Faith of Christians ex­cels the Faith of all others. —But considering Faith in an absolute Light, it appears a Thing most worthy and beneficial; deserving the Name of Gold tried in the Fire, even the most refined Gold, as useful as it is ornamental. The Value of the Object derives an answerable Preciousness to the Faith employ'd upon it.—So the Price, which pro­cured this Blessing for us, this stamps an Excellency on Faith, and speaks it preferable to Thousands of Gold and Silver.—Likewise its Original, which is eminently divine[Page 26] and heavenly, it being the First-fruit of the Spirit, this puts a further Dignity on Faith, and argues its superla­tive Excellency.—It's Seat is in the inward Man, the noblest Constituent of human Nature.—In fine, this Faith is of a most excellent Tendency, and admirably subser­vient to the most excellent Designs in the Kingdom of Grace. Love, as excellent as it is, is founded in Faith, and springs from it: Yea, Faith is the Root and Life of every christian Grace and Duty: and in the Nature of Means, by Virtue of a Divine Institution, and in Subor­dination to Christ, it is the prime Source of all spiritual Good and Comfort. It is the special uniting, applying, participating, and appropriating Principle.

Faith has this high Office peculiar to it, to justify us in the Sight of God, as we thereby receive Christ, and thus make his Righteousness our own, for that blessed Pur­pose. And subordinately to Christ, Faith is the Foun­dation of new and excellent Privileges; the Basis of new and excellent Relations; the Spring of a new and excel­lent Life in this World, and Preparative to a better in the next; the Preservative from Hell, and the Pledge of Heaven.

Faith invests us with a Title to great and precious Promises, nor does it fail of obtaining the Promises, sooner or later. "Whosoever believeth on Him, shall not be ashamed.—"The Trial of Faith worketh Patience: and "the tried Faith, being much more precious than refined Gold, shall be found unto Praise and Honour and Glory at the Appearing of Jesus Christ,—in that Day when he will "bind up his Jewels.

Well then may the Faith of the Saints have this Dis­tinction put upon it, to be call'd precious Faith. It is admirably excellent and precious in itself, most necessary for us, and more gainful to us, than, if the whole World were given us.—And this Faith appears, by the whole Tenor of Scripture-Representation, very precious & amia­ble in the Sight of GOD. It is so likewise in the Eyes of holy Angels, who rejoice over one Sinner brought to repent [Page 27] and believe.—And in the Eyes of the Just themselves, that live by Faith, certainly it is of great Account.

Let it now be added, The Faith of Saints, in com­mon, is alike precious in every Case. Being a rich spiritual Blessing, purchased by the same infinite Price, the Blood of Christ; and bestowed by the same Divine Power and Grace; having always the same Object, the same Seat, the same Nature and Qualities, the same Actings, the same Results, and the same final Issue, in general; it must, of Consequence, be alike precious in all Saints.

The blessed God bears the like Benevolence to all true Believers, without Respect of Persons. All are alike the Children of God, Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with Christ Jesus. They are all one in Christ; are in one spiritual State, of one heavenly Nature, of one Heart, and bound for one End: and in general, God deals with them all alike, in one Way; by one Covenant, by one Mediator, and by one Comforter, appointing them to one common Salvation. Which argues the Faith of all to have one and the same Pretiosity in his Sight: only allowing for a gradual Difference in the various Cases of a weak and a strong, or a little and a great Faith; according as it more or less gives Glory to the God of all Grace, and to the Son of his Love; in whom he is ever well-pleased, and for his sake is well-pleased with Believers, putting no Difference for their outward Cir­cumstances.—"Hearken, my beloved Brethren, hath not God chosen the Poor of this World, rich in Faith, and Heirs of the Kingdom?

I pass now to the last Thing in the Text.

IV. After that Part of the Description, "Which have obtained like precious Faith with us," it follows, "Thro' the Righteousness of GOD and our Saviour Jesus Christ," or, of our God and Saviour, according to strict gram­matical Conctruction.

Indeed it is the Title of LORD, that is most commonly given Christ in this Epistle; and sometimes the Stile is, [Page 28] "Our LORD and Saviour: But in the Text it is, "our GOD and Saviour. And no Wonder, since those Names are of equal Dignity and Importance; and are accord­ingly applied in this Epistle indifferently, as of equivalent Meaning.—The Day of the LORD and the Day of GOD, are Phrases here conveying one Idea. It concludes with ascribing Glory to Christ under the united Characters of "our LORD and Saviour": And is it at all strange, that it should begin with doing Honour to the Righteous­ness of Christ under the like Characters, of "our GOD and Saviour Jesus Christ,

We elsewhere read of "Grace reigning thro' Righte­ousness unto eternal Life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 5.21.) It means a Righteousness that is a Gift to us; it is called "the Righteousness of One;— and is the same Thing with "the Obedience of One; by which, it is there said "Many shall be made righteous.—A My­stery this, that any should be constituted righteous by the Obedience of Another! Much more, that Many should be made so by the Obedience of One! That one Righteousness should suffice for as many as believingly accept the Gift, unto Justification of Life!—I think, this is to be accounted for only by the Consideration, that it is the Righteousness of our GOD and Saviour: not a meer humane, but a Divine, not a meer personal, but a me­diatorial Righteousness; wrought out for his People's Use and Benefit, by One who by Nature is GOD, as well as Man, and who by Office is Mediator between God and Men.

Christ's being here stiled our Saviour, points out the special Capacity, in which he wrought out this Righte­ousness;— and the End in View, namely, Salvation, no otherwise to be effected;—as also the Party whose Benefit was respected, not the sinning Angels, but fallen Man­kind, even as many as receive him in his Character of Saviour. In the way of Grace and Faith, this Righteous­ness becomes ours, to the Salvation of the Soul.— In the Counsel of God, it was ours by original Intention: and [Page 29] upon believing, it becomes ours by actual Application. It is ours with respect to its being accepted for us, and reckoned to us, or placed to our Account, as wrought in our Stead. It is ours, to all the Purposes for which we needed a Saviour's Righteousness. It is so ours, upon our receiving the Gift, that we may plead it with God, in Answer to the Challenges of offended Justice, and as a Ground of Claim to Pardon and Favour. Having this Righteousness for ours, we may have Confidence toward God, in Life and Death; and shall have Boldness even in the Day of Judgment. It is a Righteousness admira­bly glorious in itself, infinitely amiable and dear to God, infinitely important and beneficial to us.

And no Wonder, since it is the Righteousness of Christ, our GOD and Saviour.—I think, some have question'd whether there is any express Mention ia Scripture of "the Righteousness of Christ," in so many Words. But it seems they had forgot our Text, which presents us with an Instance; and where the Phrase is used in a Manner extreamly advantageous to that Cause which they are no Advocates for. "The Righteousness of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour.—It means the same that is often called "the Righteousness of GOD.—And it is so called, not only for its transcendent Excellency, or for its being of God's Contrivance and Appointment, or because approved and accepted by him, or because it is God's Gift to those he justifies: but rather because Christ, its Efficient, is GOD, as well as Man. The Text points out this Construction of the Phrase, as our Lord is here expresly named, and it is called "the Righteousness of our GOD and Saviour, Jesus Christ.—The Operator and immediate Subject of it is the same who is elsewhere cha­racterised "The LORD of Glory,—"GOD manifest in the Flesh,—"GOD blessed for evermore.—Its being the Righteousness of a Divine Person, incarnate in our Nature, this speaks its absolute Perfection, entire Fitness to its Design, and universal Suitableness to our Case.—It is that everlasting Righteousness, the Messiah was to bring in.— [Page 30] Well might the Apostle Paul glory in this, and compara­tively despise his own. And well might he impute it to the Jews Ignorance, that they went about to establish their own Righteousness, and submitted not themselves to the Righteousness of GOD.

The same is often call'd "The Righteousness which is of God by Faith:—denoting Faith to be the Medium of its Reception, the Means of its becoming actually ours. Some read the Text accordingly,—not through, but with the Righteousness of Christ: signifying, that this accompanies Faith, and is made ours in the way of believing. Hence we are said to "believe unto Righ­teousness.

Others (as the Greek Preposition is 'EN) render it, in the Righteousness of Christ; as specifying the Object of Faith. Agreably we read of "Faith in his Blood.— But then Evangelical Faith respects the Blood of Christ, not as its Object only, but it's Price, or meritorious Cause, and in the View of Divine Grace, the sole Reason of its being given. So we read, "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ (that is, for the sake of his Righ­teousness, and in Consequence of his Merits) to believe on him.—Accordingly many translate the Greek Par­ticle (EN, per) by or through; our English Bible [...]ds the Text, Through the Righteousness of Christ.—And thus render'd, some have turn'd it, through the Mercy of Christ: and certainly "the Grace of our Lord is ex­ceeding abundant, with Faith.—But others prefer the usual Sense of the Word, Righteousness: and keeping to this, some think the Text may intend, that Faith is pre­cious through Christ's Righteousness, or in Virtue of its Relation to this, as both its Object and its Price. But rather the Word obtained seems to be the Antecedent; and in this Connection, the Text means, that the Grace of Faith owes its Existence (as well as Value) to Christ's Righteousness, as its procuring Cause, and the Reason or Ground of its being obtained by any.

Christ, by his Obedience, purchased for his People [Page 31] this precious Gift of Faith; and by his Intercession, in Virtue of his Merits, procures the actual Bestowment of it: and the Spirit comes in his Name, to call them into the Fellowship of the Son of God, by persuading and ena­bling them to believe on him.—Indeed the Righteous­ness of Christ, presented to the Eye of the awaken'd Mind in a true and powerful Light, has an objective Force, an attractive Efficacy and moral Power (in the Manner of a Medium or Argument) to excite the Principle of Faith, where the Spirit has implanted it, to its genuine Exer­cises, in a way of active receiving Christ, submitting to his Righteousness, and depending on his Mediation.— In all these Regards, Faith is obtained through (or in Vir­tue and by Means of) the Righteousness of Christ.

I will only add, that many have thought there is some Act of Divine Sovereignty referrible to the Head of Justification (view'd as Constitutive, in Distinction from Declarative) which co-incides or falls in with the Instant of Regeneration or passive Conversion, and is previous even to the very first Exercise of Faith: Which Act of God, they suppose, is what the Scriptures call his "bring­ing near his Righteousness.—But I may not tarry to say any Thing for the Illustration of this Point.—

The APPLICATION remains. And here,

1. Is Christ our GOD and Saviour? Then we should believe on him, and confess him, in both these his Cha­racters; as well in what he is by Nature, as what he is by Office.

By Office he is our Saviour, and in this Capacity he has all the Authority of a Prophet, Priest, and King; has all the excellent Qualifications, and does all the important Works, belonging to these mediatorial Characters. Ac­cordingly he expects and demands, that we own him as the Author of eternal Salvation to all that obey him; and that we take him to be our Saviour, put our Trust in him, and pay him all the Honour and Homage due to him as Mediator.

Yet we must remember, this is not his highest Capa­city. [Page 32] For in this he sustains "the Form of a Servant. With respect to his created Nature, and his mediatorial Office, "Christ is God's," is "of God,—derivative from him, dependent on him, subordinate and accountable to him. And therefore all the Honours we pay to him in this inferior Capacity, should be ultimately refer'd to the Deity, and terminate in the supreme Being. Carrying up our Views beyond the Mediator, as such, we must "by him come to GOD.—And indeed in coming to Christ, we must not finally terminate our Views in his Huma­nity and delegated Office, but rise to his superior Capa­city, and take in the Consideration of his Divine Nature, and Unity with the Father and Holy Ghost: always re­membring, "There are Three that bear Record in Heaven, which Three are One;" the same in whose Name the chri­stian Baptism is administred, and the Blessing pronounced.

Truly, we may with full Assurance of Faith avouch Jesus Christ to be our GOD, as well as our Saviour; since inspired Apostles have sat us an Example, and since, the holy Scriptures instruct us to "follow their Faith.—Cer­tainly none but so extraordinary a Person, the God-Man, was capable of sustaining & executing the arduous & high Office of Mediator between God & Men. For he must be "One mighty to save,—able to save unto the uttermost, —able to destroy the Works of the Devil,—to make an End of Sin, and bring in everlasting Righteousness,—and to bring many Sons to Glory.—But, Who is sufficient for these Things? Only He was equal to the vast Under­taking, to whom our Text applies the exalted Names of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. The same who is elsewhere characterised "the great GOD and our Savi­our,—"the true GOD: and eternal Life.—Indeed he could not be the latter, without being also the former. He who claims to be our Saviour, and so eternal Life to us, must be One having "all Fulness,—even "the Ful­ness of the Godhead, dwelling in him:—and of Conse­sequence, one who must be held "by Nature GOD; not one who is meerly a Deify'd Creature, a God by Office [Page 33] only, and so a meer titular God.—Such a God as this, how dignify'd and exalted soever, is at most only a sub­ordinate, dependent God; and in Comparison of the liv­ing JEHOVAH, a poor petty Deity; a comparatively ig­norant, impotent, deficient, worthless God. But such a God we can never consistently imagine our blessed Saviour to be. An inferior God, having but an inferior Nature, but created Perfections and Powers, and only a subdi­vine Authority, methinks, must make but an incompe­tent Saviour, and have at best but a defective Salvation for them that trust in him.—Indeed the Scripture tells us, "A God that cannot save, is no GOD." And one who has the Name, but in Truth is no God or Saviour, how unfit is he to be the Object of our holy Worship? how unworthy of our supreme Affection, Submission, and Affiance?—To suppose our dear Lord JESUS to be but such a Saviour-God as this, exceedingly derogates from the Riches of his redeeming Grace, as well as from the Dignity of his Person; and by Consequence, from the Glory of the Father's Wisdom and Love, in his Mission: manifestly subverts the Scripture-Doctrine of Atonement and Justification; and tends to overturn the whole re­vealed Scheme of Redemption. On such a Supposition, no wonder if Men deride the Notion of an imputed Righteousness; explain away, by perverse Comments, the blessed Doctrine of our being saved by Grace through Faith; make light of the Spirit of Christ, in his Person and Operations; deny the Perseverance of Believers, &c.

As a very worthy Divine (the late Dr. Calamy) observes, ‘The denying Christ's proper Deity [i. e. his essential eternal Divinity] is just like opening a Sluce, to let in Floods of Errors, to the endangering a common De­luge. If Christ once passes with us for a subordinate and metaphorical God, we shall soon count him a me­taphorical Priest, and his Death a metaphorical Sacri­fice.—Then, of Course, he will pass for a metapho­rical Saviour, and it is to be fear'd, we must content oursel­ves at last with a metaphotical Salvation. In short, a meer[Page 34] nominal God will make but a nominal Saviour: And "a God without infinite Perfections, is only a nominal God." And to suppose a meer nominal God to be endow'd with infinite Perfections, is to suppose a created true God, or ‘an infinite Creature: which carries in it more of Ab­surdity, than the greatest Difficulty, that the Doc­trine of the Trinity has attending it, can be charged with,—with any Colour of Reason.’

Let us then take Heed to ourselves, that we fall not from our own Stedfastness, in this important Point of Christ's Divinity. Together with solemn Prayer for Di­vine Light and Help, we must be searching the Scrip­tures.—One of the best Methods for our Establish­ment in the Truth, is, to review and consider our Wants, Miseries, and Dangers, our Guilts, Pollutions, and Demerits, that we may see what Kind of a Saviour will suit our Case; and then to compare herewith the Scrip­ture-Representations of Jesus Christ, in the Constitution and Excellencies of his Person, the Nature and Designs of his Mediatorial Office, the Perfection of his Obedience, and the Greatness of that Salvation, which, in Virtue of this, he is become the Author of;— and likewise at the same Time to maintain in our Minds a solemn Concern, that we may make sure of an Interest in Christ, and his Redemption, thro' Faith in his Blood.—A settled As­surance of Christ's being ours, in point of special Pro­priety and actual Possession, will make us readily avouch him to be our GOD, as well as Saviour. We shall then have the Witness in ourselves, that He and the Father are One. As there is all the same Evidence from God's Word & Works, of the Deity of the Son, as of the Father, so we shall have the same Testimony of it within our­selves from our Experience of the Power and Grace of our Lord and Saviour.—We shall not then be soon shaken in Mind, by any Suggestions of Gainsayers, as if because Christ is Mediator, therefore he is a meer subordi­nate God; or, as if because there is only one God, there­fore Christ is God in a figurative Sense only, that is, [Page 35] no God in the proper Sense. Nay, but we shall detest all such Notions of him as unscriptural and absurd and most pernicious; and shall cleave to the LORD with Pur­pose of Heart, in his whole Character of our GOD and Saviour.—But to proceed—

2. Is Faith so precious, as has been represented? It should then be of high Account with us.—We should value the Principle, the Profession, the Life of Faith. It should be precious to us, for it's excellent Nature and Effects: and so should all Things in Connection with it, or related to it; the Objects the efficient and procuring Causes, the Means, the Subjects of Faith, &c.—But on the contrary, how base is Unbelief? Vile in God's Sight, and should be so in ours. This is eminently "the Evil; to be mourn'd and abhor'd and deprecated by us.

3. Is Faith like precious in all? We should then have the like Esteem for it in all, without Partiality. "My Bre­thren, have not the Faith of our Lord Jesus, the Lord of Glory, with Respect of Persons.

4. Is this Faith obtained through the Righteousness of Christ, while yet we receive this Righteousness through Faith? Here is the Wisdom of God in a Mystery, that should be glorious in our Eyes; and will be so, if truly enlighten'd by the Spirit of Christ. Nor shall we then vainly imagine the Doctrine of imputed Righteousness to be a Doctrine of Licentiousness, but truly according to Godliness. For, Faith is the Principle of godly living.

5. Let such of you as have obtained this precious Faith, give Glory to our God, and be thankful. It is a high and happy and peculiar Attainment; for which you are indebted to Christ and Grace. You should ponder the vast Value of this spiritual Blessing; its Divine Rise; the Riches of Mercy, in the Purchase and Application of it; the Distinction put upon you, by this precious Gift of sovereign Grace; and give God our Saviour the Praise, while you take the Comfort. And you should be concern'd, that your Faith may grow exceedingly, and produce all its proper Fruits, to the Glory of God, as well as your own joyful Account at last.

[Page 36]6. Let such as are still in Unbelief, be concerned that they may ob­tain the important Gift of Faith.—Be convinced of your Unbelief.— Cry to God for the Spirit of Faith, that you may obtain like precious Faith with the Saints in Christ Jesus. Rest in nothing short of this. This Faith is a precious Thing, worth your seeking; and of absolute Necessity, you must perish without it.—It has been obtained by Thou­sands of others: which Examples may encourage you to seek & hope to find.—It is obtainable, even by the chief of Sinners, through the Righ­teousness of our GOD and Saviour, which is of sufficient Virtue to procure the richest Gift for the vilest Sinner.—Seek this precious Faith as a Gift, in Consequence of Christ's Purchase; sensible of your own Un­worthiness, of your Insufficiency to procure it for yourselves, as well as Incapacity to produce it in your own Hearts.—Seek with unweary'd Constancy, in the Use of appointed Gospel-Means, with earnest Prayer: and who knows but ere you are aware, you may obtain the Blessing?

7. Let what has been said, excite us to, and direct us in the grand Inquiry, whether we have this Faith.

The Preciousness of Faith, its Excellency and Rarity, are Motives to induce us to a careful and impartial Self-Examination. And the Text suggests to us some Rules, or Marks, for our Direction therein. Thus, if we have true Faith, then it will be precious in our Esteem —Then we have obtained it; were not born with it, nor have work'd up ourselves to it, but received it from God.—Then it has been obtained by us through the Righteousness of Christ, and we shall consider this as the Price, as well as the immediate Object of it.—Then it is like precious Faith with that of Apostles & primitive Believers. Reviewing the Scrip­ture-Account of their Faith, its Properties and Effects, and comparing ours with theirs, we may thus come to know whether our Faith be genuine. Well, have we been pricked in our Heart, and become dead to the Law, as they were?—Is Christ truly precious to us, as he was to them? Does our Faith, like theirs, work by Love?—Purify our Hearts?—Overcome the World?—Shield us against the fiery Darts of the Wicked?—Shew itself by good Works?—Do we live by the Faith of the Son of God, the Lord our Righteousness and Strength, our God and Saviour?—And hope to die in Faith, counting all Things but Loss, that we may win Christ, and be found in him?—We are thus to examine ourselves, whether we be in the Faith.—And we should do this prayerfully; begging the Spirit of God to witness with our Spirits.—O let us consider the Hazard of deceiving ourselves with a spurious Faith;—the Possibility, by divine Help, of attaining Assu­rance; and the Advantages of this.—Let such Reflections engage us to make sure of unfeigned Faith.—In fine, Exercise will, under the Spirit's Influence, increase our Faith: and by its Growth we may come to know its Truth. As our Faith improves, the proper Effects will abound more and more: and its genuine Efficacy will serve to evidence its Reality.—Then in this Way be seeking Assurance.

Agreable is that Exhortation in our Context, 2 PET l. 5.—11 [which the Reader is desir'd to turn to.]

FINIS.

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