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structions of it:) if we have it, to hold it fast, to cherish it, to improve it, as by all good ways, so especially by good practice; that we may produce the good fruits, and obtain the happy rewards thereof, through the mercies of God in Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom for ever be all praise.
Now the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.' Amen.
SUMMARY OF SERMON IV.
ROMANS, CHAP. V.-VERSE 1.
THE word therefore implies thè text to be a conclusion, by way of inference, resulting from the precedent discourse: importance of the text: manner in which it should be treated described. Here the notion only of such faith as is proper this place is insisted on; in order to which inquiry some useful observations are laid down.
1. It is observed that faith, or belief, in the vulgar acceptation, signifies an earnest opinion or persuasion of mind, concerning the truth of some matter propounded, whether it be one single proposition, or a system of propositions: instances given.
2. Whereas frequently some person or single thing is represented verbo tenus as the object of faith, this does not alter the notion first mentioned; for it is only a figurative manner of speaking thus when the Jews were required to believe in Moses, it is meant, in the truth of his divine revelation: this enlarged on.
3. The word belief is by a kind of synecdoche so commonly extended in signification, as to imply whatever by a kind of necessity, natural or moral, doth result from it: this explained and enlarged on.
4. It may be observed, more nearly to the present purpose, that the faith here spoken of, without any adjunct or limitation, is often set down with terms annexed, explaining and determining it; being sometimes styled the faith of Christ, the belief of the gospel, the believing, hearing, receiving the word
of God, &c. The result of which is, that by this faith (as to the first and primary sense) is the being truly and firmly persuaded that Jesus was what he professed to be, and what his Apostles testified, &c. Such a faith shown to be, in its kind and order, apt and sufficient to promote God's design of saving us, and to render us capable of his favor, &c. It may be observed in the history concerning our Lord and his Apostles, that no other faith was required by them from their converts: this also was the common and current notion of faith among the ancient Christians.
5. But more particularly this faith not only denotes precisely and abstractedly such acts of mind, opinions, and persuasions concerning the truth of matters specified, but also (according to the meaning of those who use the word) such acts of will, as, supposing those persuasions real, are naturally consequent on them, and in a manner coherent with them: this explained and enlarged on.
6. But farther, to prevent mistakes and remove objections, may be observed that this faith hath, though not an adequate, yet a peculiar respect to that part of Christian truth, which concerns the merciful intentions of God toward mankind, and the gracious performances of our Saviour in accomplishing them, &c.
7. Moreover, this faith relates only to propositions revealed by God, and not to others concerning particular matters of fact, subject to private conscience or experience; nor to any conclusions depending on such propositions: for instance, it is a part of this faith to believe that God is merciful and gracious, and disposed to pardon every repentant sinner, &c.; but the persuasion that God doth love me, or hath pardoned my sins, &c. may, as my circumstances may be, not be my duty: this topic enlarged on. That this faith doth not essentially include a respect to such particular propositions, appears from hence, that faith is in holy Scripture represented as preceding God's
especial benevolence, to his remission of sins, to his accepting and justifying our persons: it is a previous condition, &c.
That notion shown to be still less right, which defines faith to be a firm and certain knowlege of God's eternal good-will towards us particularly, and that we shall be saved, &c.; a notion taught by Calvin in the beginning of the Reformation.
That notion plainly supposes the truth of the doctrine, that no man being once in God's favor can ever quite lose it; which is shown to subvert the notion itself.
It may also be added, that, according to this Calvinistic notion, before the late alterations in Christendom, scarcely any man was a believer; for before that time it hardly appears that any one did believe, as the Calvinists do, that a man cannot fall from grace. St. Augustine himself (who is supposed to favor them on other occasions) shown to oppose them here.
But there is another notion of faith, which, if it be not so plainly false as the preceding one, seems more intricate and obscure: namely, that faith is not an assent to propositions of any kind, but a recumbency, leaning, resting on; an adherency to the person of Christ, or an apprehending and applying to ourselves his righteousness. This notion shown to be obscure and false. Conclusion.
I Believe, &c.
OF JUSTIFYING FAITH.
ROMANS, CHAP. V.-VERSE 1.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
'THEREFORE;' that word implies the text to be a conclusion (by way of inference, or of recapitulation) resulting from the 'precedent discourse; it is indeed the principal conclusion, 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. On the words being of such importance, I should so 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.