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CHAPTER XX.
OF SAVING FAITH.

THE other effect of regeneration is saving faith.

Saving faith is a full persuasion operated in us through the gift of God, whereby we believe, on the sole authority of the promise itself, that all things are ours whatsoever he has promised us in Christ, and especially the grace of eternal life.

Through the gift of God. Eph. ii. 8. "by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Philipp. i. 29. "unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;" given, that is, by the Father, through the Son and the Spirit. Matt. xi, 25. "at that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father... because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." xvi. 16, 17. "thou art Christ... flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Luke. xxii. 32. "I have prayed for thee, that, thy faith fail not." John vi. 44, 45. "no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him... every man <18> therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." 2 Thess. i. II. "that our God would count you worthy of his calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power." Heb. xii, 2. "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." 1 Cor. xii. 3. "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 2 Cor. iv. 13. "we having the same spirit of faith." Gal. v. 22. "the fruit of the Spirit is faith."

A full persuasion. Jer. xxxi. 34. "they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." John xvii. 3. "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Rom. iv. 18-21. "who against hope believed in hope... and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform, viii. 38. "I am persuaded that neither death —." 1 Thess. i. 5. "our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." 2 Tim. i. 12. "I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him." Heb. x. 22. " let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." James. i. 6. " let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." Heb. xi. 1. "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;" where by substance is understood as certain a persuasion of things hoped for, as if they were not only existing, but actually present. John viii. 56. "your father Abraham rejoiced to see my <19> day, and he saw it." Hence implicit faith, which sees not the objects of hope, but yields belief with a blind assent, cannot possibly be genuine faith, except in the case of novices or first converts, whose faith must necessarily be for a time implicit, inasmuch as they believe even before they have entered upon a course of instruction. Such was that of the Samaritans, John iv. 41. of the nobleman and his family, v. 53. of Rahab, Heb. xi. 31. and of the disciples, who believed in Christ long before they were accurately acquainted with many of the articles of faith. Those also belong to this class, who are slow of understanding and inapt to learn, but who nevertheless, believing according to the measure of their knowledge, and striving to live by faith, are acceptable to God. Isai. xlii. 3. "a bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." Mark. ix. 24. "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." Faith is also called πεποίθεσις, or trust, with the same meaning. 2 Cor. iii. 4. "such trust have we through Christ to God-ward." Eph. iii. 11, 12. "in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with Confidence by the faith of him;" where however trust or confidence seems rather to be a particular effect or degree of faith, or a firm hope, than faith itself, inasmuch as it is said to come by faith: or perhaps by faith in this passage we are to understand the doctrine on which this confidence is founded. John xvi. 33. "be of good cheer (confidite), I have overcome the world." Hence to trust and to believe are indiscriminately used in the same sense, both in the Old and New Testament. Psal. lxxviii. 22, "because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation." <20> Isai. x. 20. "it shall stay upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth (fide)." Psal.. xxxvii. 5. "commit thy way unto Jehovah, trust also in him." Jer. xvii. 7. "blessed is the man that trusteth in Jehovah, and whose hope Jehovah is." Matt. ix. 2. "Son, be of good cheer (confide); thy sins be for given thee." As to the three divisions into which faith is commonly distinguished by divines, knowledge of the word, assent, and persuasion or trust, the two former equally belong to temporary, and even to historical faith, and both are comprehended in, or, more properly, precede a full persuasion.

On the sole authority of his promise. John xx. 29. "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Rom. iv. 18. "who against hope believed in hope." v. 21. "being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform." 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. "my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." 2 Cor. iv. 18. "while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." v. 7. "we walk by faith, not by sight." 1 Thess. ii. 13. "when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God." Heb. xi. 7. "by faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet." v. 19. "accounting that God was able to raise him up." 1 Pet. i. 8. "whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice." Tit. i. 2. "which God, that cannot lie, promised." Here <21> in is manifested the excellence of faith, inasmuch as it gives to God the highest glory of righteousness and truth. John iii. 33. "he that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true." Rom. iv. 20. "he was strong in faith, giving glory to God." Eph. i. 12. "that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." 2 Thess. i. 10. "when he shall come to be admired in all them that believe." Heb. xi. 6. "without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." v. 11. "because she judged him faithful who had promised." 2 Pet. i. I. "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Hence the title of faithful is frequently applied to God by believers. 1 Cor. i. 9. x. 13. 2 Tim. ii. 13. "he abideth faithful." 1 John i. 9. "he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."

Whatsoever he has promised. Acts. xxiv. 14. "believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets." Rom. iv. 3. "Abraham believed God." v. 16. "therefore it is of faith to the end the promise might be sure." 1 John v. 14. "this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us."

Ours; that is, ours who believe. John i. 12. "as many as received him, to them gave he power to be come the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name." xvii. 20. "neither pray I for these alone, but for them also that shall believe on me through their word." 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. "all are your's, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." Gal. ii. 20. "the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith <22> of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

In Christ. John vi. 29. "this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." xiv. 1. "ye believe in God; believe also in me." 1 John iii. 23. "this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." Rom. x. 9. "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." 2 Cor. iii. 4. "such trust have we through Christ to God-ward." Gal. iii. 22. "that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." v. 26. "by faith in Jesus Christ." 1 Pet. i. 21. "who by him do believe in God... that your faith and hope might be in God." Heb. vii. 25. "wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." John xii. 44. "he that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me." Hence, as was shown in the fifth chapter, the ultimate object of faith is not Christ the Mediator, but God the Father: a truth, which the weight of scripture evidence has compelled divines to acknowledge. For the same reason it ought not to appear wonderful if many, both Jews and others, who lived before Christ, and many also who have lived since his time, but to whom he has never been revealed, should be saved by faith in God alone; still however through the sole merits of Christ, inasmuch as he was given and slain from the beginning of the world, even for those to whom he was not known, provided they believed in God the Father. Hence honourable testimony is borne to the faith of the illustrious patriarchs who lived under the law, Abel, Enoch, Noah, &c. though <23> it is expressly stated that they believed only in God, Heb. xi.

Especially the grace of eternal life. Mark. i. 15. "repent ye, and believe the gospel." John. iii. 15. "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." v. 18. "he that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already." These passages are to be understood of those to whom Christ has been revealed; for to believe in one of whom we have never heard, is evidently impossible. Rom. x. 14. So also John vi. 47. "he that believeth on me hath everlasting life." 2 Thess. ii. 13. "because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth." Heb. x. 39. "of them that believe to the saving of the soul." 1 Pet. i. 9. " receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." 1 John v. 13. "these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life."

Seeing, however, that faith necessarily includes a receiving of God, and coming to him, John. i. 12. "as many as received him, to them gave he power to be come the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;" vi. 35. "he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst;" Eph. ii. 18. "through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father:" iii. 12. "in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him;" Heb. vii. 25. "he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him:" x. 22. "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith;" <24> seeing also that we must have a right knowledge of God before we can receive him or come to him, for "he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him," xi. 6. it follows, that the source from which faith originally springs, and whence it proceeds onward in its progress to good, is a genuine, though possibly in the first instance imperfect, knowledge of God; so that, properly speaking, the seat of faith is not in the understanding, but in the will.

From faith arises hope, that is, a most assured expectation through faith of those future things which are already ours in Christ. Rom. iv. 18, 19. "who against hope believed in hope," &c. viii, 24, 25. "we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." xvi. 13. "now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." Gal. v. 5. "for we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." Heb. x. 23. "let us hold fast the possession of our faith without wavering." 1 Pet. i. 3. "who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection." v. 13. "hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." v. 21. "that your faith and hope might be in God." Heb. vi. 11. "we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end." Hope differs from faith, as the effect from the cause; it differs from it likewise in its object: for the object of faith is the promise; that of hope, the thing promised.

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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