.FAITH IN CHRIST
I. THE things done for us will truly be to us as though they
were not, unless they are believed. Hence, to the untutored and unbelieving
barbarian or infidel, the universe is without a sin offering, a Sun of
Righteousness, a Lord, Redeemer, and a Holy Spirit. Faith is necessary only
as a means of attainment; as a means of enjoyment. It is not, then, an arbitrary
enactment or requisition, but a gracious means of salvation.
II. Faith in Christ is the effect of belief. Belief is the cause;
and trust, confidence, or faith in Christ, the effect. "The
faith," sometimes means the truth to be believed. Sometimes it
means "the belief of the truth;" but here we speak of it metonymically,
putting the effect for the cause -- or calling the effect by the name of
the cause. To believe what a person says, and to trust in him are not always
identical. True, indeed, they often are; for if a person speaks to us concerning
himself, and states to us matters of great interest to ourselves, requiring
confidence in him, to believe what he says, and to believe or trust in
him, are in effect, one and the same thing. Suppose a physician present himself
to one that is sick, stating his ability and willingness to heal him; to
believe is to trust in him, and to put ourselves under his guidance; provided,
only, we love health rather than sickness, and life rather than death.
III. While, then, faith is the simple
belief of testimony, or of the truth, and never can be more nor less than
that; as a principle of action it has respect to a person or thing
interesting to us: and is confidence or trust in that person or thing. Now
the belief of what Christ says of himself, terminates in trust or confidence
in him: and as the Christian religion is a personal thing, both as respects
subject and object, that faith in Christ which is essential
to salvation is not the belief of any doctrine, testimony, or truth, abstractly,
but belief in Christ; trust or confidence in him as a person, not
a thing.1 We take Paul's definition of the term
and of the thing, as perfectly simple, intelligible, and sufficient. For
the term faith, he substitutes the belief of the truth. "God has from
the beginning chosen you to salvation, through the sanctification of the
spirit; through the belief of the truth."2 And
of the thing, he says, "Faith is the confidence of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen."3 And
John says, it is "receiving testimony," for "If we receive the testimony
of man," as a principle of action, or put trust in it, "the testimony of
God is greater," and of course will produce greater
confidence.4 Any belief, then, that does not
terminate in our personal confidence in Jesus as the Christ, and to induce
trustful submission to him, is not faith unfeigned; but a dead faith, and
cannot save the soul.
1 See the
Essay on the Foundation of Christian Union, on the
terms fact, testimony, faith, &c., where this subject is treated
2 2.Thess. ii.
3 Heb. xi. 1.
4 1.John v.