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as the apostle shews chap. vii., Gal. iii., and as in Gen. iii. the future war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is spoken of; yet, the blessedness of grace is, that the sin which remains in us is not imputed unto us, but we are accounted righteous before God. For the grace or favour of God toward us, is not in imperfect measure, as we have observed concerning the gift; but God accepts us with free good-will, and full favour, for Christ's sake, our Mediator; and because we have the earnest and first-fruits of the Spirit. How much soever, therefore, the remnants of sin within us may turn and rage at times, we are, nevertheless, still accounted righteous before God; and the sin is not imputed unto as, by reason of our faith, which keeps up a continual resistance against the flesh.
Hereby, thou wilt now understand chap. vii; where she apostle, although already justified by the Spirit, still acknowledges himself a sinner; and yet, notwithstanding this, he saith chap. viii., “ There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." Whoever of us, therefore, are justified by faith in Christ, are both sinners and righteous. Sinners, on account of the fiesh not being completely mortified, and because, having the remnants of sin still within us, we attain not unto the fulness of the Spirit. Righteous, because we have the earnest and first-fruits of the Spirit, and because, for Christ's sake, and our faith in him, God, having a paternal favour unto us, imputes not unto us the remnants of sin within us, nor judges it until sin shall be utterly destroyed and abolished by death.
Now let us see what we are to understand by Faith. --Faith is not a certain cold notion, or vague imagination of the human mind, which any one, hearing the Gospel-history, may vainly form and make out to himself: for some, when they hear faith so much preached, and see that they can themselves talk a great deal about faith and Christ, and yet do not find that they are, by this knowledge, nor by the addition of meditation, constrained to works and to follow after good works, fall at last into that impious error of denying that faith alone
justifies, and affirm that works are also required. These, when they hear the Gospel, form to themselves certain notions, and turn over in their minds some frigid cogitations concerning Christ, and then think that this vague dream of theirs, and these cold cogitations, are faith. And of such, these are the common sayings — Well then (say they) if faith alone justifies, I hear the Gospel, I know the history concerning Christ, therefore I believe. But, as this is a mere cold notion and human cogitation which does not renew the heart nor have any effect upon it, no newness of life, no works of faith are seen to follow.
But true faith is the work of God in us, by which we are born again, and renewed of God and the Spirit of God, John iii.; by which the old Adam is destroyed and we are wholly transformed in all things. As the apostle saith, by faith we are made new creatures in Christ, and the Holy Spirit becomes the life and governing law in our hearts. Faith works so effectually, is such a living spring and powerful energy in the heart, that it cannot remain inactive, but must break forth into works. Nor could he that has true faith sit down at ease, whether good works were commanded or not: even if there were no law, he would, by this impulse influencing and urging him in his heart, be carried forth into action, nor would he come short in any pious and Christian duty. Whereas he, who does not his works from this living and impelling affection of mind, is in unbelief, and a total stranger to faith: and there are many who dispute and argue much about faith in the schools, and yet, know not themselves “what they say nor whereof
Faith, therefore, is a steady confidence in the mercy of God toward us, living in the heart, and there effectually working; by which, we are enabled to cast ourselves wholly upon God, and to entrust ourselves unto him; so that, supported by this contidence, we hesitate not to meet death a thousand times. This animating contidence in the mercy of God, gladdens, cheers, and enlarges the heart, and carries it forth in the softest and sweetest af
fections towards him. It so strengthens the heart of him that believes, that, having this reliance on God, he fears not to stand alone in the face of the whole creation: such an intrepid boldness, such a supporting courage, does the Spirit of God received by faith, put into the heart. l'pon this we follow on, and by this lively impulse in the beart
, we are moved on to good. This gladdened inclination of heart we follow up, so as to find a spontaneous, willing, prompt, and glowing desire to do, to bear, to suffer all things in obedience to so merciful a God and Father
, who, through Christ, has enriched us with such a fulness of grace, and overwhelmed us with such an abundance of riches. And it never can be, that this efficacy and life of faith can be in any one, without its causing him to continue in good works, and to bring forth fruit unto God; even as it is impossible that a funeral pile should be set on fire, and the flame of it not shine forth. Wherefore, in this important matter, take heed that thou trust not to the vain fancies and vague cogitations of thine own brain, or to the idle imaginations of the sophist. These sophists have neither heart por understanding, but are beasts serving their own belly only, born for nothing else but the holiday-feasts of the schools. But pray thou unto God, who by his word commanded the light to shine out of darkness, that be would shine into thy heart and beget in thee faith; or thou wilt never in truth believe, even though thou shouldst, by such notional cogitations as these, strive after the attainment and possession of faith for a thousand years together.
This real faith is true righteousness, which the apostle calls the righteousness of God: that is, which avails and stands before God, because it is the pure gift of God. And this righteousness renews, and transforms the whole man, and renders him such, that, according to the common definition of righteousness, he “renders
every one his own.“ For when by this faith we are justified and brought to love the law of God, by thus magnifying God and his law, we render unto God the
honour due unto him. Moreover, when by this faith we believe that we are freely reconciled to God through Christ, who gave himself up entirely to become a servant unto our salvation, then also, in like manner, we are enabled to become servants unto our neighbour; and thus again we "render to every one of his own.” But ụnto this righteousness of the heart we shall never attain, by any strivings of our own free-will, or by any powers or merits of our own. For, as no one but God himself can implant in the heart that vital energy, faith, so no one can expel from himself that enmity, the unbelief of the heart; it is the work of the grace and Spirit of God only; so utterly impossible is it to deliver ourselves from one sin by our own powers. How specious a show soever, therefore, external works may carry with them, yet, whatever is not of faith is hypocrisy and sin. And, finally, concerning the terms Flesh and Spirit
, which so often occur in this epistle.—By Flesh you are not to understand, in the common sense of the term, desires and lusts only. Nor by Spirit are you to understand those things only that are carried on in the internal recesses of the mind and heart. According to the apostle, and Christ himself, John iii., you are to understand by flesh “whatsoever is born of the flesh :” that is, the whole man, his body, his soul, and his whole reason, together with all its greatest and best faculties: because all these faculties savour of nothing but flesh and seek nothing but what is carnal. You are to consider flesh whatever is without the Spirit of God, even though it be thinking or speaking of God, or faith, or any spiritual things. You are to call flesh, all works, how good and holy soever in appearance, that are done without the grace and motions of the Holy Spirit in the heart. This is clear from Gal. v., where the apostle enumerates, among the fruits of the flesh, heresies, and divisions. And, Rom. viii, he saith, the law was weak through the flesh: which is to be understood, not of lust only, but of the whole enmity and depravity of nature; and, in one word of unbelief, which is the grand secret spring of all sin, yea, the greatest of all sins.
On the contrary, by Spirit, you are to understand spiritual things, even external works, when they proceed from the spiritnal man, or from the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit
. That washing of the feet which Christ did before his disciples was Spirit, although an external work. The fishing of Peter was Spirit, to which he retumed after he was justified by the Spirit.— Flesh, therefore, is whatever a man does seeking and savouring of carnal things. Spirit, is whatever a man does, either within or without, exercising faith and love, and seeking spiritual things.
Unless you understand all these terms, you will comprehend neither this Epistle of St. Paul, nor the other books of the holy scriptures. And therefore, what authors soever they may be who use these terms in any other sense, be thou in nothing moved with such authority of men, but shun them all as a contagious pestilence.
THE USE OF THE LAW.
GALATIANS iü. 19.
Wherefore then serveth the Law? It was added because of transgressions. As things are divers and distinct, so the uses of them are divers and distinct: therefore, they may not be confounded : for if they be, there must needs be a confusion of the things also. A woman may not wear a man's apparel, nor a man a woman's attire. Let a man do the works that belong to a man, and a woman the works that belong to a woman.
Let every man do that which his vocation and office requireth. Let pastors and preachers teach the Word of God purely. Let magistrates govern their subjects, and let subjects obey their magistrates. Let every thing serve in his due place and