Images de page

unbelievers. But the reception of this eminent 'doctrine is on this account called faith; be-: cause we do not attain to it by our own reasonings, as was observed in the beginning of this: Part; but God himself, by means of the word, reveals it unto us. This is confirmed by the word of God. "Go ye unto all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark xvi. 15, 16. Thus, you see how faith, in this passage, is a receiving of the gospel, and, on the contrary, unbelief a rejecting of it.

But, in order to receive the gospel, or really to believe, it is indispensably necessary that every one, 1st, Confess before God his misery; that he is under his righteous displeasure, and is unable to justify himself before his judgment seat.


Hence, the Harbinger, and the Saviour himself, and also the Apostle Peter, respectively began their preaching with the word repent, Matth. iii. 2. and iv. 17; Acts ii. 38.

2. Having received the doctrines of the prophets and apostles as undoubtedly true, it is farther requisite, that we firmly rest assured that the Lord Jesus Christ, who is preached in these doctrines, is the Redeemer of the human race. And in this more particularly consists the essence of


gospel faith, of which the epistles of Paul, in ticular, are filled with proofs. The righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe," Rom. iii. 22. and the whole following chapter. "We have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law," Gal. ii. 16.

This faith is called justifying faith, because through it man is accounted just before God; yea, is accounted as such, according to the doctrine of Paul, without the works of the law: Rom. xi. 6. For how is it possible for man to have any part in his own justification, when it is impossible to be justified in any other way, than by first confessing our guilt before God, and that we have merited his wrath? However, those who are justified by faith must prove the same, and give evidence of their justification, by obeying the holy law of God. For, according to Paul's doctrine also, "faith worketh by love;" Gal.v. 6. And such faith is styled a living faith; because it is unfeigned, and preserves alive the spark of continual progress in virtue. But such as will not confess their poverty before God, and do not place their whole hope of salvation upon their Saviour alone, or lead lives unbecoming the cha

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

racter of Christians, are said to possess a dead, feigned, and vain faith.

From the foregoing considerations, therefore, it is evident that faith must engage the thoughts of men, and also their hearts. Their thoughts, in

bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 2 Cor. x. 5. Their hearts, for believers ought, with Paul, to say, "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;" Gal. ii. 20.

Faith, according to the exalted wisdom of Paul, exists only in this life, but in the future, will have no place for there we shall see God" face to face," where the glory of his light shineth in perfection; 1 Cor. xiii. 12. This exposition of faith should be fixed in the memory of every one; for the whole of Christianity rests upon it.


Of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The most holy faith of the gospel, first teaches us, that God is one in essence, but in three persons: The Father, uncreated; the Son, inexplicably, and from eternity, begotten of the Father; and the Holy Ghost from the same Father, incomprehensibly proceeding, served, reverenced, and glorified in one indivisible worship.

1. Our reason acknowledges that there is a God, that he is one, and so on concerning the rest of his attributes: and faith also instructs us in the same thing; for faith can never be in opposition to sound reason. Between the knowledge which we have of God through reason, and the knowledge which we attain of him through faith, there is this difference, that the former is founded on proofs which our reason finds in the connection of things, while the latter is founded on the true word of God.

The knowledge of faith is most perfect, and far removed from every kind of doubt; for sooner may we be deceived by the most acute reasonings of men, than that the word of God should ever deceive us. Here it were necessary to prove the being of a God, and to point out particularly the nature of his attributes; but on these points we have already been particular enough in the first Part.

2. The Holy Faith reveals to us the most exalted mystery of the Holy Trinity, that is, That God is one in essence in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: yet not three Gods but one God, because one in essence. The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Ghost is Lord: yet not three Lords, but one Lord. The Father is Almighty, the


Son is Almighty, and the Holy Ghost is Almighty yet not three Almighties, but one Almighty God. I believe in God the Father, I believe in God the Son, I believe in God the Holy Ghost yet not three faiths, but one faith. I worship God the Father, I worship God the Son, I worship God the Holy Ghost: yet not three worships, but one worship, one reverence, one adoration, one glorifying of the Holy Trinity.

The Father is neither created nor begotten; the Son is not created, but begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost is neither created nor begotten, but proceeding from the Father. The begetting of the Son of God is from all eternity; the proceeding of the Holy Ghost is also from all eternity.

The manner in which the Son of God was be gotten is incomprehensible to our reason, and the manner of the Holy Ghost's proceeding is also incomprehensible; but simply without attempting to comprehend it, I submit with the most profound reverence, and I believe the truth of the divine revelation. This is one of the most hidden mysteries; however, the word of God in the strongest terms assures us of it. We are baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Matth. xxviii. 19. At the

« PrécédentContinuer »