A Discourse of the Object of Faith

by Stephen Charnock

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.—JOHN 14:1.

OUR Saviour in the foregoing chapter, having discoursed of his death by the treachery of Judas, and upon his interruption by Peter's vaunt of his affection to him, having predicted his cowardice, could not but possess the hearts of his disciples with a wonderful trouble. What could be the first reflection upon this alarm, but a fear of the consequences of so sad a separation, and a distrust of themselves? Their Master would be removed from them by the treason of one of their own college, John 13:21, and to a place whither they could not at present follow him, ver. 36. They must lose that ravishing converse they had so long a time enjoyed with him; they saw themselves ready to be exposed to the fury of his and their ill-willers in Judea; they should want the support they had in his presence; they could not imagine how they should bear up against temptations, since the fall and apostasy of Peter, one of the most clear-sighted and resolute of their associates, was in such plain words foretold in their hearing: ver. 38, 'The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice.' Christ, knowing the agitation of their spirits, proposeth remedies both to calm their present fears, and arm them against future troubles; and in this chapter mixes several cordials together, suited to their present and future condition. The grand remedy is prescribed to them in the text, which is both a preface and a thesis, which he strengthens in his following discourse, 'Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.' I know what troubles those discourses have raised in your spirits; give not way to them, there is a remedy as great as the distemper, and far greater than the cause of your fears; faith will quell all. You think you have cause to be troubled, but if you rightly understood the whole affair, you would find cause of confidence and rejoicing; you have a remedy in your trust in God, a trust which your fathers have successfully practised, and yourselves have been religiously bred in; you believe in the power, goodness, and faithfulness of God; keep that hold still, but take with you also an additional support. Believe also in me, as the person designed in all the promises, from the first to Adam to the last in the prophets, as that person in whom you shall see the evidences of the power, mercy, and goodness of that God you and your fathers have hitherto relied upon.

Let not your heart be troubled. The word ταρασσέσθω signifies properly a commotion of water, which rages, swells, and flings up mud and slime from the bottom; or the disturbance of an army when it is out of rank and order; and thence translated to signify perturbations and fear in the heart of man, when the rest and quietness of the mind is interrupted.

Be not troubled. Entertain no rage or fear in your spirits, do not think I have deceived you, let not your hearts swell with any disdain of me, because your carnal expectations are frustrated. We find in many places that they expected their Master's erection of a worldly empire, wherein they hoped to be his favourites, and settled in some great employments, as ministers of state; and now, at the upshot, finding him to predict nothing but his own death, his leaving of them behind him to endure sufferings and persecution, and all their grand expectations in a moment defeated, they might have an occasion to find storms in their spirits, raking up all the mire and dirt to fling in his face, as if he had been some impostor; well, saith he, 'Let not your heart be troubled, believe in me' as firmly as you have believed in God, and in the issue you will find I have not deceived you, but acted according to the directions of that God in whom you believe; your faith in me shall no more make you ashamed, than your faith in God hath done.


1. The best of God's people are apt to be overwhelmed with an ungrounded sorrow. A sorrow for sin never wants ground, but a sorrow for other things often doth. Ignorance and heedlessness is frequently the cause of commotions in the minds of good men. These had heard in the whole course of Christ's ministry enough to waylay their fears, and prepare them for this hour; they had heard him more than once speaking of his death, yet a fond conceit of obtaining an earthly grandeur by him made them little to regard it. They had seen the power of God shielding him from the power of his enemies, and illustrious in the miracles he had wrought before their eyes, and might have fortified themselves with considerations against any dejection, till they had seen the issue. But their inadvertency, regardlessness, and ignorance, not only gave way to, but fomented, their inward storms.

2. How apt is man to be troubled oftentimes at that which conduceth to his happiness! They are troubled at Christ's death and departure, which in themselves were the only means appointed by God for their felicity; that which was to render them happy did in their own account render them miserable. Had they known the design of it, it had rather been matter of joy to see their sins expiated, and an incensed God reconciled to them upon the surest and most irreversible terms, and to be assured that mansions should be prepared for them in heaven; but short-sighted men perceive not the secrets of divine wisdom in its paths in the world, which are double to what they apprehend, Job 11:6.

3. How tender is Christ to remedy the troubles of his people! In his dying posture he seeketh not their assistance of him, but neglects himself to cheer up them; he gives them some drops of those comforts here, whereof they were to have floods hereafter. He shews them now what he was to do in heaven to order affairs in such a manner as to expel their troubles. What he was so ready to do when his calamitous condition might have excused him from so friendly an office, he will be more ready to do since he hath nothing to obstruct him. What was his office on earth, is still his office in heaven; 'Let not your hearts be troubled,' is his language from the place of his glory; and while he retains his compassions, he will issue out his consolations.

4. How gracious is our Redeemer, to take occasion, from unbelieving distrusts, to pour out his choicest cordials! Nothing so admirable was ever published to the world as the doctrine that had dropped from his lips to his followers. He had acquainted them that redemption was the design of his coming; he had again and again assured them of his Father's and his own love to them; yet you see their corruption shoots up its head above their grace; their unbelieving fears seem to give the lie to all he had formerly acquainted them with; yet he doth not manifest any marks of indignation, and strike them down at his foot, as he did shortly after those that came to apprehend him, but comforts them without checking them; and, which is more astonishing, takes occasion from hence to utter something more magnificent and cordial than he had ever done before: he takes occasion, from the workings of hell in them, to give them a clearer appearance of heaven, and opens that place of glory for them, which was quickly after opened for himself. His discourses after this, in this and the following chapters, bear a general eminency, and are more full of refreshments, than any before; he now rains down manna upon them, and gives them that incomparable promise of the Spirit to be their comforter; after this evidence of their distrustful fear, he seems to open all the repositories in heaven to make a cordial for them. What could be done more to quell fear, and encourage faith, unless he had wafted them immediately to glory, and exchanged their faith for that eternally triumphant affection of love which shall reign in heaven?

5. Christ doth not remove the cross from his people, but comforts them under it. He doth not retract anything he had said before, which gave life to their fear and sorrow, as many tender persons do when they see others startled and grieved at their resolves; but he bears up their spirits, while he holds the cross upon their shoulders, and is as forward in comforting them as the matter he had treated of was apt to disquiet them. That which he useth to repel their fears is, 'Ye believe in God; believe also in me.' The word πιστεύετε in our translation is, in the first place, in the indicative mood; in the latter, in the imperative. But the text is read various ways. Some read it,

1. You believe in God, you do also believe in me;* both in the indicative mood; as much as to say, Since you do believe in us both, this your faith in God, and in me, will be a sufficient bulwark against all your fears. Others read it,

2. Believe in God, believe also in me; both in the imperative, commanding this act upon those two objects. Others read it,

3. Believe in God, and you do then also believe in me; the first in the imperative, the second in the indicative; i.e. If you believe in God rightly, you cannot but believe in me; for there is no true faith and trust in God but in and through the Mediator.

The matter is not great which way we read it; either thus, 'Believe in God, believe also in me,' as ordering both; or, 'You do believe in God, believe also in me,' as allowing the first by way of concession, and ordering the latter; both do suit the occasion of his discourse.

You believe in God. You believe in God as the creator, preserver, and governor of all things.† This is natural to all, to acknowledge God, to own him one way or other as an object of trust in extremity, which is evidenced by the common approach to him, and calling upon him in cases of exigence; but this is not all that is meant here. But, further, you believe the promises of God in Moses, the Psalms, and prophets; you believe all that is spoken of the Messiah, by whom he hath promised to justify and save his people. Thus you have the same faith your fathers had before you, and you do not only believe the authority of God speaking, by an act of your understanding, but you do embrace those promises by a consent of will, and rely upon him for the performance of them, that he will bring forth the Messiah for those great ends and purposes for which he is promised.

Believe also in me. I do not go about to turn you from your confidence in God, but to establish it; you must, besides this, repose yourselves in me. You believe God to be true and merciful, and you believe the promises he hath made of the Messiah; you must believe in me also; you must believe that I am the person designed in all those promises to be that Messiah; you must believe that I am he, as he expresseth it, John 13:19, that very seed of the woman that was to bruise the serpent's head, and rest yourselves in me as that Messiah; and that fear which hath reigned in the hearts of men, from the first moment of Adam's fall, will expire in the spirits of all those that have a true and sincere faith in me; for in me they will behold their restoration. If you believe God making those promises, you must also believe me to be the matter of them. I am the person which was the centre of them, that person by whom your enemies are to be destroyed, your judge to be pacified, your pardon to be purchased. Before, a general faith in the promise of God, that there should be a Messiah, was sufficient for you; this you have, and this your fathers had; and you believe in God, promising this Messiah, and rest upon him for the accomplishment of this promise; but now, since this promise is accomplished, and the Messiah is come, your faith must be more particular; you must believe me to be an all-sufficient Saviour, and must believe in me for the remission of sin, and the eternal mansions which I am going to prepare for you. You must firmly believe that I am the person sent by God in that capacity and office, whatsoever storms you shall see raised against me, and whatsoever black clouds you shall see me wrapped in.

Believing here notes not only an assent, but a recumbency, 'believe in me.' You do not only believe God, but believe in him, i.e. rely upon him for what he hath promised. You must not only believe me to be the Messiah, but rely upon me for those things God hath promised to be done by the Messiah. Believe in me, i.e. believe in me as mediator, and rely upon me for all the fruits of my mediation.

Believe in me. As you believe God is constant in his promises, so believe also that I will not forsake you, though I be absent from you. So that Christ brings them here to himself as mediator, as well as to God the fountain of salvation, and proposeth himself here as an object of faith, in conjunction with the supreme Deity. Nothing would make the poor disciples so dejected as to see him hanging on a cross whom they expected upon a throne; and nothing but a consideration of him to be the Messiah, and a great faith in him, could support them under so unexpected a disaster.


1. By way of caution, that this Scripture is no argument against the deity of Christ, because our Saviour doth here distinguish God from himself.

By God here is meant the Father; and by calling the Father God, the Son is no more excluded from the deity than when Christ is called God, as he is Rom. 9:5, 'Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever,' the Father is excluded. Christ doth here assert his own deity in the substance of the command, in making himself an object of faith in conjunction with God, and as necessary for the support of the soul as God himself. He orders faith in himself in the same manner as he orders it in God: John 5:17, 'My Father works, and I work;' as my Father works, so I work, because of the unity of essence; so as you believe in God the Father, believe in me also the Son.

2. It is necessary to believe Christ to be the Messiah. This is the first thing to be believed in the Christian religion, that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world. The apostles directed their discourses generally to prove this, Acts 2:36, 9:22, 18:5; and the great medium to prove it by was his resurrection after his death; and for not believing this, the Jews are pronounced by Paul judgers of themselves, as 'unworthy of eternal life,' Acts 13:46. Cornelius, before he heard Peter, believed that there would be a Messiah; but after the hearing of Peter's declaration of Christ's death and resurrection, he was to exercise a particular faith in him; and if he had not, his former faith had stood him in no stead, because he would have despised the revelation of God. How can he be said to believe God in his promise, that believes him not in his performance? I am afraid there is too much unbelief of this amongst us; we are brought up in the profession of Christ, and our faith in him is of no better a stamp than an education faith; we understand not upon good grounds that this Christ is the Messiah promised from the foundation of the world.

3. Only faith in God, through the Mediator, can bear up the heart in troubles. This is the ballast that can keep the soul steady in a stormy sea. 'Fear not, but believe,' said Christ, as the proper remedy, Luke 8:50. Faith makes not ashamed, it doth elevate the heart above all that would depress it. It breeds a great and courageous spirit, and makes men willing to want the satisfactions of the flesh for the delights of heaven. To come believingly is to come boldly in a time of need, Heb. 4:16. Faith is dignified with a title of confidence, and with that of a full assurance, Heb. 10:22. This was that whereby God dispelled the cloud of fear from Abraham: Gen. 15:1, 'Fear not, Abraham,' the wrath due to sin upon the revolt of man, I am sufficient to bring forth the promised seed; I will be thy shield against the terrors of wrath, and I will be the reward of thy faith and obedience in a glorious salvation. It was not a carnal fear, or a fear of some temporal evil, for this speech was after his victory over the kings that had conquered and plundered Sodom, after he had been blessed by so great a type of Christ as Melchisedec was; the fear of Abraham was occasioned by his want of a child, and a seed wherein the nations of the earth were to be blessed, as appears by his answer, ver. 2, that promised seed, that was to change the curse of sin into a blessing; this seed is promised him, ver. 4, 5, and then Abraham believed, i.e. all his fears vanished, and he relied upon God for the performance of this.

4. All our comforts are fetched from above. Christ sends them not here to the waters of the earth, to quench the heat of their troubles; he directs not their eyes downwards, but upwards, to God and himself. It is a scanty relief that is fetched from a man's self, and from the uncertainty of the world in shaking troubles; one God in the one Mediator out-balanceth all those things whence men commonly gather their supports. It is as much as if he had said, You have fancied great things to yourselves, you thought to have had great employments under that earthly royalty you imagined I should be possessed with; and no doubt but I should have had a regard to such friends as you are, that have followed me in my perplexed condition, had such a kingdom been designed me; but I would not have your souls so mean and low: take a higher flight, nourish yourselves with hopes of a purer glory, and more durable mansions which I am going to prepare for you; a temporal grandeur will only stupefy your fears, not stab them to the heart, but the consideration of what I propose to you will perfectly despatch them.

In the text you see,

1. An act: 'believe in God.'

2. The object: 'In God,' 'in me.'

3. The fruit and effect of it: 'Let not your heart be troubled.'

I shall speak of the object, and the doctrine resulting thence will be,

Doct. God and Christ are in conjunction, the true and proper object of faith. Read it which way you will, this is the result of it; he doth not discourage their faith in God, but encourageth that, together with faith in himself. Every act hath something about which it is exercised; faith is an act of the soul, it must therefore have an object upon which it is terminated. God is the object of faith according to his present dispensation, which is the manifestation of himself as a reconciled God through a mediator. As he is a God of grace and peace, he is an object of faith, and trust, and joy; but grace and peace are not manifested, not given forth, not multiplied simply by the knowledge of God, but also of Jesus our Lord: 2 Peter 1:2, Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and Jesus our Lord.' Not by the knowledge of God alone, nor by the knowledge of Christ alone, but of God in the mediator Christ, in whom only he is known to be our God in the covenant of grace, the spring of all our comfort, the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord, i.e. the knowledge of God in Jesus our Lord, Ἓν διὰ δυοῖν, as Rom. 1:5, 'grace and apostleship,' i.e. grace of apostleship.

God is not the object of faith now as creator; he was so in the state of man's rectitude, and could not be considered by the creature in any other notion; but in our lapsed state God is not only considered as creator, but as the offended Majesty, and consequently as judge, and we cannot behold him but encompassed with scorching flames about his throne. He that exerciseth faith in God merely as creator, understands not the present condition of human nature, the malignity of his own provocations, nor the glorious perfections of righteousness, veracity, justice, which are essential to the Deity. Though the fall of man did not null the relation of God as creator, which stands irreversible, yet it added another relation to him, that of a judge, and cracked in pieces all grounds and props of a trust in him for the expressions of kindness, and set up only the expectation of a mighty revenge, according to his threatening. You find no other sentiments in Adam after his rebellion, not the least mite of a trust in God, though he had newly come out of the hands of God, and the relation of a creator was fresh and flourishing; and why any of his posterity should have other sentiments than he had, in this single relation, I cannot conceive any ground from the revelation of God; he beats the hands of the creature off from expecting any salvation from him upon that account. Isa. 27:11, 'It is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will have no mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.' It is spoken upon the wasting of Jerusalem, and laying it desolate; yet, he adds for their comfort, that in that day he would gather them, and they should worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem. As he was their creator, or under the notion of a creator, they must expect nothing from him, since they were a people of no understanding, as all men in Adam are, who being in honour, and understanding not, i.e. not walking according to the knowledge they had, became like the beasts that perish; but what they were to expect from him was, as he was God Redeemer, expressed by the worship of him in the holy mount at Jerusalem, alluding to the ceremonial worship, a type of Christ, the way whereby men were to come to God, and blessings to be conveyed from God to them. He would not be the object of their expecting faith, nor of their religious worship as Creator, but as God Redeemer. And though Peter speaks of 'committing of souls to God, as unto a faithful Creator,' 1 Peter 4:19, it is not to be understood of God in the first creation, but the second; and the attribute faithful annexed to Creator, evinceth it; for though faithfulness be a perfection of the Deity, yet it is not apparent in the act of creation. In relation to that act, it is the powerful, wise, good creator; but faithfulness respects the promise and covenant of grace. As righteousness is a fit attribute for a judge,—and so God is called, when he is spoken of under that title, 2 Tim. 4:8,—so powerful is a fit attribute of the Creator, as considered in the first material creation of the world. How had God engaged himself in creation to preserve the soul of man, but in a way of obedience! Suffering was not to be expected in a state of innocence, and it is the committing of our soul to God in a suffering state that the apostle speaks of. His engagements to this purpose are, in his promises, made pursuant to the covenant of grace, but he is called Creator here, in regard of the new creation, as he is called 'the Creator of Israel, and their King,' Isa. 43:15, as he is their Holy One, sanctifying them through his grace. He is no more the Creator of Israel in a way of appropriation, if you consider him so in the first creation, than he is of the fallen angels and the beasts of the earth; but as he formed them into a church, he was peculiarly their Creator. But this creation respected the Messiah, and so doth this in Peter respect Christ, in whom all the promises, wherein God's faithfulness lies at pawn, are yea and amen. He is the Creator of believers, as they are sons of the promise; and therefore Calvin inclines to interpret the word translated creator here as possessor; and the word doth sometimes, in heathen authors, though rarely, signify preserver or restorer.* Yet is not the title of God as Creator excluded from an object of trust, for since Christ hath restored in part the soul to the image of God, which it had by creation, it may expect from God as Creator a faithfulness to his own image, and his service, but not singly as Creator, but in conjunction with the Redeemer.

I shall lay down some propositions for the clearing of this.

I. God is the object of faith.

God is the principal object of faith and trust. The whole revelation in Scripture tends to the knowledge of God. Why did God create, but that he might be known to be omnipotent and good? Why did God send Christ, but that he might be known to be merciful and gracious? Whatsoever is revealed in the word, and concerning Christ in particular, hath a direct tendency to God, and the knowledge of him, and this practical duty which follows thereupon: John 17:3, 'This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.'

1. God in his attributes. He is an object of faith as made known to us, but he is made known to us in some perfections of his nature, as encouragements to approach to him, and ground our hopes in him; and he is an object of faith in every one of his distinct attributes, in his power, wisdom, goodness, and righteousness, according to our several occasions and circumstances; for he is the object of faith as he is a God in covenant, our God; and he is our God in every attribute which makes up that glorious nature; and those perfections of his nature were made known in Christ, that he might be known not only speculatively, but fiducially. The name of God was in him, Exod. 23:21, in that Angel of the covenant. Whatsoever was knowable of God was unveiled in Christ, as the exact and perfect medium wherein we may have a prospect of God; there was more of wisdom, and more of power discovered in uniting the Godhead to the manhood; more of goodness, grace, righteousness, holiness, which are all attractives to seek God, and lay hold upon him, than made known any other way; and all were discovered to promote that great doctrine of faith preached by Christ and the apostles.

2. Particularly the veracity of God is the first object, or ground of faith. He is not the first object of faith in any attribute, but his veracity. As God creates the world as powerful, and punisheth the wicked as he is just, and pardons sin as he is merciful, and provides for all as he is good, so he is believed on as true in the first motion of the soul to him. The first act of faith considers God as true in his promise, and powerful to accomplish it: 'This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,' John 17:3.' Αληθινός, signifies verax, as well as verus; not only true in thy nature, but true in thy word; 'the only true God' in Jesus Christ, in whom there was the performance of the first and greatest promise made in paradise; by the same figure spoken of before, ἕν διὰ δυοῖν. As in loving God, we have his goodness for the immediate object; in hoping in him, we centre in his power; so in our first assent to him we fix our eye upon his truth.* For when any declaration is proposed as from God, the first act is an inquiry whether it be from God, or no; when the result of that inquiry is this, that God speaks and declares this, the assent to it is moved by the consideration of the truth of God; for to a belief of any thing that is offered, there is necessary first an evidence that the declarer is not deceived, and that he will not willingly deceive others. In the believing that God cannot be deceived, faith respects the certainty of his knowledge; in believing that he will not deceive, and so making his word the object of our reliance, faith respects the certainty of his faithfulness and veracity. The promise is the object of trust; the reason why I trust the promiser, is his fidelity and constancy to his word. That is not faith which respects not either a command, promise, or threatening, in all which the faithfulness and veracity of the person urging the precept, or uttering the threatening, or making the promise, comes first into consideration. But justifying faith respects chiefly the promise; hence believers are called 'the children of the promise,' Rom. 9:8, Gal. 4:28, because by faith they entertain the promise; and as it is an assent, it hath for its object the unerring truth of God; and as it is a consent and reliance, it still principally eyes the same for the accomplishment of what he hath engaged to do for us in his word; and the first language of faith in receiving the testimony of Christ, is a testifying, or 'setting to the seal that God is true,' John 3:33; that he hath been as good as his word, and makes good what he promised to our first parents, and repeated several times since in other language.

3. But faith doth ultimately centre in the Deity. God himself, in his glorious nature, is the ultimate object whereinto our faith is resolved. The promise, simply considered, is not the object of trust, but God in the promise; and from the consideration of that we ascend to the Deity, and cast our anchor there. 'Hope in the word' is the first act, but succeeded by hoping in the Lord: Ps. 130:5, 7, 'In his word do I hope;' that is not all; 'but let Israel hope in the Lord.' That is the ultimate object of faith, wherein the essence of our happiness consists, and that is God. God himself is the true and full portion of the soul. If it be asked, why we believe God?† the answer is, because he is true. If it be asked, why God is true? the answer is, because he is God, and cannot be God unless he were true. No further answer can be given. In this the soul doth acquiesce as a full resolution; so that, though faith in the first act respects the truth of God, yet it is ultimately resolved into the Deity itself.

4. It particularly centres in the Deity as the author of redemption (Ps. 130:7, 8, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with him is plenteous redemption; and he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities'), and takes away all the oppressive and provoking guilt of the soul by that redemption, which, like a vast ocean, knows no bounds. As God was the first in forming the design of creation, so he was the first in laying the platform of redemption, and appointing Christ to be a sacrifice for the expiation of our sins, and ransom of our souls. As our thanksgivings are to be directed to him, as he is the 'God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,' Eph. 1:3, so is our faith. This was the title he assumed; and he is 'the Father of glory,' in being 'the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,' ver. 17. He was the orderer of all those glorious acts Christ did, and that purchase he made. He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, not in regard of his divine nature, wherein there is not a superiority of power, though a priority of order, Christ in regard of his divine nature not being inferior to, but equal with, God; but in regard of his mediatory office, as he was the ambassador of God, and his righteous servant acting by his commission and authority, according to his particular instructions, and in regard of the covenant between them. He is said to be the God of Christ, as he is said to be the God of Abraham, not in regard of his creating him, but in a more special manner, as being in covenant with him. Now faith looks through the ambassador to the prince that employs him, and through the servant to the Lord that sends him, and to the person that first proposed the terms of the covenant, and revealed his everlasting purpose of saving sinners by Christ. Faith looks beyond the time of Christ's conversing in the flesh, and sealing the covenant by his blood. It looks to the everlasting platform of it in the bosom of the Deity; beyond the beam of it in the incarnation and death of Christ; beyond the first promise of it in paradise, Hab. 1:13, 'Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One?' The prophet looks back to the everlasting springs of it in the heart of the Deity, and pierceth to the first point of the resolve, and thence concludes we shall not die. It was not barely the eternity of God he considers there; for that simply considered might be an argument for the restoration and sanctification of devils, as well as Israel; but God from everlasting, as his God and his Holy One, as resolving upon a covenant of grace, and to be a sanctifier of his people; and from thence his faith draws a conclusion of an impossibility of dying, and a certain assurance of enjoying life. And the apostle's faith looked to Christ as the medium, 'by whom are all things,' but to the Father, 'of whom,' by whose authority, 'all things are,' 1 Cor. 8:6. Faith doth not stick only in Christ, but mounts up to the Deity, as the fountain and spring of all. 'He that believes on me, believes not on me,' saith Christ, 'but on him that sent me,' John 12:44. Not on me chiefly, not on me solely; it must pierce through the veil to the original wisdom that contrived, and the original authority that enacted, and the grace which inspired every action of the Mediator. God is the ultimate object of faith in all our considerations of Christ; to this purpose he was raised, 'that our faith and hope might be in God,' 1 Peter 1:21, that it might not stick immoveably in Christ, Rom. 4:24, but be as a ladder to get up, and clasp about the Highest and the Ancient of days. In Christ we see first the smiles of God, in him we see the tender voice of his bowels, in him we feel the lively and affectionate motions of his heart. When we have fixed on Christ, faith rests not there, but ascends ultimately to God, as the great promoter of this design, by whose authority all was transacted, and before whom all is to be finished, as to him who set out this propitiation for sin, and keeps in his own hand the royalty of pardoning iniquity.

II. Christ is the object of faith. God alone was the object of trust in the state of innocence, and under the covenant of works. The covenant, 'Do this, and live,' being established between God and man without a mediator, none could be the object of trust for the performance of the promise upon condition of obedience, but God in the simplicity of his own being, without any other relation. But under the covenant of grace, which is settled in a mediator, 'Believe this, and live,' Christ the mediator is an object of faith, though God be still the ultimate object; because we believe in him, that he will give us life and salvation for the merit of this mediator, in whom we believe first.

1. Therefore Christ is the immediate object of faith, as he by whom all the counsels of redemption were executed, as he who assumed our nature, to suffer in it for the satisfaction of divine justice, and was raised again to transact our affairs, and manifest the value and infinite fulness of that satisfaction. We cannot look upon God under any other notion than that of an incensed governor and judge, if we well apprehend the condition of lapsed man. Unless we behold him in and through a mediator, the terrors of his majesty would confound us; we dare not look him in the face because of our vileness as sinners. We must first, therefore, fasten our eyes upon the mediator, and then upon God. The mercy of God in pardoning sin is that which faith exerciseth itself about; the satisfactory death of Christ, upon the account of sin to be pardoned, must be the first and immediate object of faith. Christ must first be known, because the riches of divine grace are knowable and manifested only in him; God speaks not a word of mercy out of this propitiatory. Faith being an applying the reconciliation and mercy obtained, it must consider and believe the satisfaction of divine justice, whereby it was obtained. Before any man can think to stand before the face of God's justice, and be admitted into the secret delights of his mercy, and riches of his grace, he must consider this mediator as appeasing God, and consider the voice of God proclaiming himself appeased in his Son, Mat. 3:17. We are first to believe and rest upon the strength and value of this sacrifice, and with this in the hands of our faith, go to God with a further act of faith, for an application to us of what was purchased for us. It is by him we believe in God, 1 Peter 1:21; we must first, therefore, believe in him. The faith, therefore, that justifies, is called 'the faith of Christ,' Gal. 2:16; and in other places it is called a 'coming to God by Christ,' Heb. 7:24. It is, therefore, first a coming to Christ to bring us to God. We cannot 'come to the Father but by him,' as he speaks in the same chapter where the text is, ver. 6, pursuant to the doctrine he had laid down in the first verse; and must first, therefore, come to him as 'the way, the truth, and the life.' It is in him, and 'by the faith of him, that we have access with confidence,' Eph. 3:12. There must first be a coming to him to be inspired with confidence; he that will come to the holy of holies must pass through the veil. Thus Christ is brought in in the prophet proclaiming himself the object of faith: Isa. 45:22, 'Look to me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.' It is that person is introduced speaking, to whom every knee should bow; that person in whom we have righteousness and strength; that person in whom all the seed of Israel should be justified, ver. 23–25. It is in him we can find all things necessary for our deliverance from the ruin sin hath brought upon us, whatsoever is necessary to restore us to the happiness we have lost. In him is righteousness, to remove our variance with God; and sanctification, to clear us from what may be offensive to the eyes of his holiness; and therefore the apostle, 1 Tim. 1:1, calls Christ 'our hope,' i.e. the object of our hope, as God is called 'the fear of Isaac,' Gen. 31:53. The Israelites' worship was directed towards the tabernacle and temple where the ark was placed, their thoughts were to be fixed on that; so all the motions of our souls must be directed to Christ, and in and by him to God. And therefore faith, in regard of this immediateness of it, is appropriated to Christ as the proper and proxim object, and called faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in regard of his mediating and reconciling us; whereas repentance respects God immediately, who hath been offended by us, and therefore called 'repentance towards God,' Acts 20:21.

2. Christ was always, in the times of the patriarchs, the object of faith; and the immediate object, though not so distinct as now.

He was the immediate object of their faith. As he is the object of faith now, as actually destroying the works of the devil, so he was the object of faith then, as potentially bruising the head of the serpent. The object was always the same, though diversified; they believed in the Messiah to be incarnate. Those that lived in the days of his flesh, believed in his present incarnation and passion; those that lived after, believed in him as dying and rising. The faith was the same for substance, the same for object, only differenced in point of time—future, present, past.

(1.) It is clear of David: Ps. 110:1, 'The Lord said unto my Lord.' He calls him his Lord, that was his Son, Luke 22:44. Observe, when he speaks of God, or the Father, or the Deity, singly considered, it is the Lord; but when of Christ, it is my Lord, a more particular application and appropriation of the one than of the other.

(2.) It is as clear of Moses: Heb. 11:26, 'Esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.' What esteem could he have of the reproach of Christ, if he never knew or believed anything of him? Upon what account should he refuse so great an earthly honour, to be treated as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, but upon some higher account than the hopes of enjoying an earthly Canaan, not a better land in itself than Egypt, which was counted the fruitfullest spot in the world? It was certainly the promise of the seed wherein all nations should be blessed, and which he might be twitted with by the Egyptians.

(3.) It is plain of Abraham. The gospel was preached to him in that promise, 'In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,' Gal. 3:8. Abraham in some sort understood it as God preached it; it cannot be thought God should preach the gospel to him, and he understand nothing of gospel in it; and as it was preached to him to raise his faith, so it was entertained by him with a suitable act of faith; he eyed the Mediator in it, who was to bless all nations, and remove the curse which Adam had brought upon his posterity. He is called the father of us all in regard of his believing: Rom. 4:16, 'The father of us all,' of all the believers among the Romans, who were not all of Jewish extraction; so the apostle understands that promise made unto him, thou shalt be the father of many nations, i.e. of many believers among nations; he should be a copy and pattern of their faith, which could not well be, if he had not the same object of faith that they were afterwards to have, and had not for substance the same prospect of Christ. He did see the day of Christ in that promise, and was glad, John 8:56. That which was the matter of his joy must be the object of his faith; if he rejoiced in the day of his appearing, he believed in the person who was to appear in that day. Joy is so far from being without a belief, that it is a branch that springs from that root.

(4.) Enoch pleased God by faith, and walked with him. Two cannot walk together unless they be agreed. But there was no agreement between God and lapsed man but in the reconciling mediator; for God out of the promised seed was as terrible then as God out of Christ is now.

(5.) By faith Abel offered a sacrifice, Heb. 11:4. It must be a belief in the person signified by that sacrifice. God was not the object of his faith barely as Creator; the first threatening of death, which he could not well be unacquainted with, put a bar to that; but it must be a faith in God as a promiser, and so had the matter of the promise, 'the seed,' for its object. It was such a faith whereby he believed God to be a rewarder, ver. 6, which he could have no prospect of but in the redeeming declaration. It was such a faith upon which God pronounced him righteous, which could not be as he stood upon his natural corrupted bottom. He looked for a righteousness in and by that which was represented by his sacrifice, and he obtained a witness from heaven that he was righteous. It is very likely his sacrifice was accompanied with petitions for the hastening the appearance of that seed, and thanksgivings to God for making that gracious promise, and performing those acts of grace after the fall, which necessary attendants were neglected by Cain. It cannot be supposed that Abel could be ignorant of the promise, unless we can suppose Adam so forgetful of it, as never to mention that which could be his only support in his removal from paradise. He that knew the delights of his original state, cannot be imagined to slight a cordial so necessary to keep up his spirits in his exiled condition. The reflection upon his former state must needs fill his mind with a sense of the curse he at the present lay under; and this would by consequence mind him of the remedy God had provided for it; and with what pleasing eye could he look upon his children whom he had brought into that misery, without putting, as I may speak, like a tender nurse, some of the cordial into their mouths?

(6.) That Adam exercised a faith immediately upon this object, the promised seed, is not difficult to represent to you from Gen. 3:20, 'And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.' בל חי, of all living, in the singular number, or the mother of him that was to enliven all that were to be enlivened; of that latter Adam, who was to be made a quickening Spirit; of that person who was to communicate life to the world; or if we understand it of all living in the plural number, he includes himself then.* But she could not be the mother of him according to an animal life, but as one to be spiritually quickened and restored by the seed of the woman. He gave this name to his wife just after the sentence of death and returning to dust pronounced upon him, ver. 19; and had he been possessed only with an horror of that sentence, he would rather have called her the mother of all dying than of all living; and the name Eve signifying life, shews that he did not so much in this name respect her as a mother, but that life which was to be brought forth into the world by her seed, that restoration promised; and giving her this name just after the sentence of returning to dust, he doth evidence his faith in that seed whereby man that was sentenced to death should live again. The Holy Ghost placing this imposition of a new name upon her (who was before called isha, woman) just after the sentence of death, is not without an intimation that Adam looked beyond the sentence of death, to the promise made before of bruising that enemy whose subtlety had brought upon him that judgment, and laid hold on that promise to support him against the sentence of returning to dust. Such a relation to the promise it must have; we can hardly think that Adam in the state of his fall, and under so gracious a word of deliverance, should be guilty of so great a pride, as, in a vaunt and contempt of the divine sentence, to call her the mother of all living, who had brought death upon the world. How could he call her the mother of all living, when he had just before heard that he was to return to dust, if he had not respected a better and a higher life than that short one he was to pass in the world, and respected also the cause of it? Had he respected only an animal life, he might as well have called himself the father of all living, since we find the name of Abraham and Sarah changed upon the giving the promise. But without question he had respect in this to the Messiah, who was to be the seed of the woman, in appropriating this title to her.* And she might be called the mother of all living in regard of her faith, as Sarah is called the mother of all believing women; 1 Peter 3:6, because the promise mentioning only 'the seed of the woman' and not of the man, might give her occasion first to exercise a faith in it before Adam did. Besides, that particle and, And Adam called his wife Eve, &c., linking it with what went before, ver. 19, wherein death was pronounced, shews that he considered the promise of restoration as his support in that state; so that the Messiah in the promise, or the seed of the woman to bruise the serpent's head, was the immediate object of his faith.

(7.) Eve also expresseth her faith in this seed: Gen. 4:1, when Eve bare Cain she said, 'I have gotten a man from the Lord.' It is true the word את is sometimes the note of other cases as well as the accusative; as Exod. 1:1, 'with Jacob,' where it is the same particle, את, and Gen. 5:22, 'Enoch walked with God,' את; and some interpret it 'from the Lord,' i.e. by God's gift and favour; others, 'with the Lord;' others, 'a man, the Lord.' It doth not seem to be any straining of the text to render it 'a man, the Lord,' as respecting the promised seed in her son, the first seed God was pleased to give her, giving him the name Cain,† as if he were the person that were to repossess them again of paradise, and restore them to their happy estate. As a little before Adam had manifested his faith in the name Eve, which he gave to his wife, and the reason of it, so in the birth of Cain there might be as fit an occasion for manifesting the faith of Eve; and it is very probable there might be something more in it than barely an acknowledgment of a mere child from God, and some regard to the promise, since we find no special remark upon any name presently after, but what did refer to that promise, as that upon Noah, of whom Lamech said, Gen. 5:29, 'This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed,' for the return of the sons of men (adds Jonathan); which doth evidently point to that promised seed whereby he expected the curse to be taken off the ground; and though they both erred in their conception of the persons, yet it was a sign they bore a sense of the promise in their minds, and that Eve bore Christ in the womb of her faith, though Cain, whom she bore in the womb of her body, was not that special seed. This particle את, between two nouns, grammarians say, doth specify the person or thing spoken of; as Ezek. 34:23, 'I will set one shepherd over them, even David my servant.' And it is to be considered that an ancient paraphrast, Jonathan ben Uzziel, who best understood the idiom of the Hebrew language, explains it so; 'a man, the Lord.' And the objection against this interpretation, that Eve erred in her imagination of the birth of the promised seed to be like the birth of other men, signifies not much; so did Lamech in the birth of Noah, yet his speech cannot be denied to have some respect to the promise; and why may not both their errors be very well ascribed to the vehemency of their longing (which argued the greatness of their faith) and the obscurity of the revelation? That there should be such a seed, was manifest to them from the truth of God; but the manner how this seed should be brought forth into the world, whether of a virgin, was hid from them, and not revealed till many ages after. I do not see any inconvenience in thus interpreting this place; as if Eve should have said, I have gained that very man, the Lord; that divine person promised to be the conqueror of the serpent, that hath been the cause of bringing this misery upon us.

(8.) All those that believed under the law had their faith pitched upon the Messiah. We may easily perceive by the whole eleventh chapter to the Hebrews that the substance of faith was always the same, and therefore the object of faith was in the gross, confusedly or distinctly, the same. Upon this account, all believers from the beginning of the world may be called Christians.* Whatsoever the ceremonies of the church might be, their faith had the same foundation, was of the same tenure. Upon the promised seed it was pitched, and the bruising of the serpent, and removing of the curse by it, was longed for. The whole mystery of prophecy was designed for the encouragement and support of this faith. Eating and drinking are metaphors to signify faith in its applicatory act. This the ancients are said to do; they ate Christ in the manna, and drank Christ in the rock, 1 Cor. 10:3, 4. They came to God as a rewarder. That was as necessary to be considered by them as the existence of a God is to be believed by them, Heb. 11:6, not as a rewarder in a way of nature; they could not but know Adam's fall to be a discouragement to such expectations; but in a way of grace, according to the promise made to Adam after the fall. This Messiah the church perpetually held under all the corruptions of ages and the abuses of the watchmen, and would not let him go, Cant. 3:4. They had the same fruits of faith under the law, and therefore the same substantial object of faith as we have under the gospel. All that were justified and saved had the sentence of justification pronounced upon them on no other account than we have, which Paul labours to evidence in several places, especially Rom. 4, throughout the whole chapter, in the examples of Abraham and David. Their justification was by faith, which faith was 'imputed to them for righteousness;' and what that faith was, the apostle plainly deciphers: ver. 23, 24, 'It was written for us, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.' If his faith were of another kind and had another object, God alone, and not God in Christ, it could not have been so positively said it was written for our sakes. It is a faith in God through Christ that is imputed to us under the gospel for justification. It was a faith in God through the Messiah that was imputed to them. It was imputed to them, it shall be imputed to us; the same faith pitched upon the same object. It would not be any strong arguing in the apostle that Abraham and we should be alike justified by faith, if our faith and his were not the same, and embraced not the same object. All that were sanctified were perfected by Christ, Heb. 10:14. If any man came to the Father, they came by him, because 'no man comes to the Father but by' that true and living way, John 14:6. They anciently embraced the promises, Heb. 11:13. What! With the neglect of the first root promise, to which all the other promises were but appendixes or comments upon it? Could they embrace the comments, and act faith upon nothing of the text? It was an heavenly inheritance they expected, 'for they confessed themselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth;' and ver. 10, 'they looked for a city, whose builder and maker is God:' a city having foundations, i.e. an immutable state, which they could not do if they had not exercised their faith about that first promise, which took off the execution of the first threatening, and promised the ruin of that enemy which had ruined their health they had in the first creation; and could all this be without a faith in that Messiah who was to be the worker of those glorious things, who was indeed the author and finisher of faith; the author of it, or the foundation of it, in the ancient Israelites, in the types and figures; and the finisher and completer of it in his appearance in the flesh and bloody passion, wherein he laid the top-stone?

This may be further cleared if we consider,

1. Sacrifices in themselves could be no content and satisfaction to them, nor the proper object of their faith. They could not but be sensible of too great a burden to be taken off from them and supported by the weakness of a lamb; they could not but be sensible of too deep a stain to be washed off from them by the blood of a little kid, or a greater quantity of it in a heifer. Could they possibly imagine that brutish blood could open the gates of heaven, and eat through those bars that justice had fixed upon them, or the smoke of the carcase of a slain beast could sweeten the stench of their sins? It is an injury to the faith of those worthies so highly celebrated, Heb. 11, to think that it fell so flat, and was drowned in the blood and bowels of the beasts, and mounted no higher than the smoke of their entrails, that they expected no higher expiation, and no higher contentment, as the issue of these things. Though some of those worthies 'wandered about in sheepskins and goat-skins,' Heb. 11:37, yet their faith was not wrapped up in the skins of lambs or hides of heifers, since they had so often heard by the prophets that those things were not pleasing to God in themselves, that he did not 'eat the flesh of bulls and drink the blood of goats,' Ps. 50:13. Though they knew God true to perform his promise, and merciful to pity their miseries, yet they knew him to be of a pure and spiritual nature, above any delight in a ceremonious pomp, and too just to be appeased by an herd of consecrated animals. The groans and repeated desires of the ancient saints for the 'consolation of Israel,' that 'the salvation of Israel would come out of Sion,' their hungry waitings for God's salvation, manifested that those things were thought too weak by them to ease them of their burdens, to procure the good things they felt the need of. If their faith had been confined to those sacrifices, if it had here taken its rest, and laid its head at ease upon a pillow of beasts' skins, what ground was there for those groans, those ardent desires for another kind of salvation, even when they were in the most prosperous and flourishing condition, tasting every day of the milk and honey of Canaan, and settled in a ceremonious worship of God's institution? Surely their faith ascended above the blood and smoke of the sacrifices to the throne of the Messiah. Sacrifices were the gospel in a rough draught, not with the perfect lineaments.

2. They could not but apprehend some mystery in these ceremonies, and use them as assistances of their faith, and as means to conduct it to the right object. They could not but apprehend them to be rather the representations of the true object of faith than to be the proper object themselves. It can hardly be imagined that all the Israelites stuck in the shell of sacrifices and ceremonies, that their eyes were terminated to the outward pomp and bloody offerings, without any respect to some mystery in them; they could not but conjecture that those types were significant of some great work to be done.* It could never enter into the understanding of rational men that all that corporeal worship was enjoined for itself, and that those multitudes of ceremonies were without a signification of something to them. When there were such perpetual orders about the tabernacle, the meanest utensils of it, the ark, and propitiatory, the cherubims to overshadow it, the shew-bread, the sacrifices, the scapegoat, it was known to them that all those had a respect to the expiation of sin, and therefore must represent some other greater thing, which might be sufficient for the expiation, since they could not but judge those things too feeble to attain so great an end of themselves; or else they must have very unworthy and unbecoming notions of God, and very slight imaginations of the deep taint original sin had left upon their natures, with which we cannot imagine that the minds of believers could be possessed. They knew that God was infinitely wise, that in everything that he did and ordered there was something to be understood by them: could they think that the passage through the Red Sea was intended only to deliver them, and had no further aim, since God could have delivered them many other ways, struck the enemy dead upon their march, or enabled the Israelites to overcome them in a plain fight? The wiser at least might well think that the manna, rock, the serpent lifted up in the wilderness for the healing of the people, and many other actions of God among them, had something mysterious in them, though they could not discern every lineament of that mystery. Did they not all tend to the encouragement of their faith, pursuant to the first promise, and was the design of them altogether unknown to those for whose sake they were appointed? If they were all baptized in the Red Sea, can we think that all were ignorant of something of the spiritual meaning of it? 1 Cor. 10:1–4. Did they eat Christ in the manna, and drink Christ in the rock? Did they eat the spiritual meat and drink the spiritual drink (for that is the apostle's assertion), and did all of them eat and drink it unspiritually, without any understanding of the general spiritual signification of it? 'Our fathers,' saith the apostle, speaking to the Gentile Corinthians. The Israelites were not the Corinthians' fathers according to the flesh, but their fathers in faith. The faith then the Israelites had in the type must respect the antitype, Christ, upon whom only the faith of the Corinthians was pitched. That could not be the same faith that had two different objects, as distant from one another as heaven from earth. Can a faith in the Messiah, and a faith terminated only in corporeal manna, and the liquid waters of a rock, be accounted a faith equally great and of the same kind? The nature of faith, as well as any other act of the soul or body, is quite changed by the object about which it is conversant. The mystery of those things could not be altogether unknown to so many thousands. Would God not hide from Abraham the thing which he would do about Sodom, since Abraham should become a mighty nation, and that God knew that he would command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord? Gen. 18:17–19. And would God totally hide the mystery veiled under those things from Moses, whom he had appointed the conductor of this people under him, one who had an excellency above all prophets, to be known by God face to face? Deut. 34:10; i.e. saith Maimonides, to have an apprehension of things bestowed upon him above what any of the prophets which followed him in Israel had, and one that the Spirit of God in the history associates with God himself as the object of the Israelites' faith after the deliverance at the Red Sea, as a type of Christ.*Exod. 14:31, 'They feared the Lord, and believed in the Lord, and in his servant Moses;' for so the words run in the Hebrew, believed in the Lord, and in Moses, as implying a mystery. Can we think the mystery was wholly obscured from him? Was not his mind enlightened to some apprehensions of what was couched under all those things? Surely it was, and he would not conceal it to himself and veil it from all his people. The gospel was preached to the Israelites while they were in the wilderness: Heb. 4:2, 'Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.' They had the word preached to them, and that word was the gospel; Christ therefore, that is the substance and marrow of the gospel, was preached to them; preached to them in the types, manna, and the rock, and the serpent lifted up; preached to them in the promise of Canaan. And who were those it was preached to? The Israelites in the wilderness; it was to them to whom God sware that they should not enter in his rest, to them who had grieved him forty years, and whose carcases fell in the wilderness. And why did they not enter into his rest? Because they believed not, Heb. 3:17–19. And what was that which they did not believe? That we may not think it was only the promise of entering into the land of Canaan that they thus discredited, he tells us that it was the gospel that they did not believe. The gospel they rejected, by their murmuring against manna and Canaan. Those therefore that did believe among them believed the gospel, pitched upon Christ, who is the marrow of the gospel. They saw Christ in the manna, and Christ in the pleasant land promised them; Christ in the blood of the sacrifices: the whole was the Christian religion in its rough draught. If the gospel were thus preached to them, Christ was the object of faith. Would God preach the gospel to them wholly in vain, so that no act of an evangelical faith should be exercised by any of them? Would he be at such pains to send forth a vain sound so many ages, one after another, to people to whom he would give no understanding, not to a man of them, in some measure of what he meant by it? It cannot be supposed that the gospel should be preached to them in all those figures, without a gospel faith exercised by some of them upon that which was represented by those shadows; they had else been in vain and to no purpose to them.

3. The object of their hope and trust under all that dispensation was the Messiah, and their faith was expressed by waiting and trusting. Jacob upon his death-bed breathes out his soul in longing for God's salvation, or God's Jesus,—Gen. 49:18, 'I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,'—and that in a very remarkable manner. Our interpreters refer it to a prediction of Samson, who was of the tribe of Dan, who was afterwards a deliverer of the Israelites, and say that Jacob's prophetic foresight of the dangers of that tribe made him break out into such a pathetic expression. But did not the other tribes conflict with dangers as well as Dan? Why should Jacob have such an eruption of soul in his speaking of this tribe more than of any other, which were more considerable, and were to undergo as great sufferings as this? Besides, Jacob speaks not of Dan as afflicted, but as victorious, ver. 16, 17; he should judge his people, and as a serpent overthrow the rider. Jacob had certainly an higher consideration. And therefore some of the ancient rabbins* thus paraphrase the words: When Jacob foresaw Gideon and Samson to be the deliverers of his posterity, he saith, I do not so much expect the salvation by Gideon, nor the deliverance by Samson, which are temporal and created salvations; but I expect that redemption which thou hast promised in thy word to come to Israel, that salvation which shall be for ever. The occasion of this sudden ejaculation of Jacob will easily clear the thing. He had been speaking of Dan, ver. 16, 17, and likens him to a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that bites the horse heels so that his rider should fall backwards. Probably the speaking of Dan as a serpent, and his subtlety, minded him of the trick the serpent played our first parents, who is described, Gen. 3:1, by the quality of the subtlest of all the beasts of the field; and then breaks forth into an high expression of faith in that salvation which God bad promised against that serpent. If this were not the occasion of it, why did he not utter the same expression upon a very fit occasion, when he had spoken before of the tribe of Judah, and of Shiloh's coming of that tribe? ver. 10. But upon this occasion only, and no other in his whole prophecy, doth he breathe out his soul in such an expression. He kept this promise of the seed of the woman, and salvation by him, as a depositum in his heart, fed upon it all his days, and makes a solemn confession of his faith in him in his dying posture. The psalmist ardently expected it, as those that watch for the morning, tired with a gloomy and tedious night: Ps. 130:6, 'My soul waits for the Lord, more than they that wait for the morning; I say, more than they that watch for the morning.' The repetition speaks the vehemency of his faith. It was after he had spoken of forgiveness of sin being with God, ver. 4, he expresseth his waiting: ver. 5, 'I waited for the Lord; my soul waits for the Lord.' Because it is a soul mercy I desire, in his word do I hope; in that first promise of the Messiah, and all the promises of pardon and propitiation built upon that foundation. 'I wait more than they that watch for the morning:' when the sacrifices are to be continued in the temple, my soul waits for that Messiah who is to bring forth a plenteous redemption, that Lord who is to redeem Israel from all his iniquities.* I wait for him in these sacrifices more than those do for the morning, wherein they are appointed to offer their sacrifices. The object of their waiting was the same with that of Simeon, Luke 2:25, the consolation of Israel; and that consolation was the Lord Christ, ver. 26. It was the promise made to the fathers that they hoped in; that hope of the promise for which Paul was accused and set before a tribunal, which was his hope in Christ, Acts 26:6, 7. Waiting and hope are the words whereby faith is expressed in the Old Testament. Faith respects things present or past, hope respects things future and to be exhibited; they believed the promise of the Messiah, and hoped for the accomplishment of it. Since Christ was the object of their hope, he was also the object of their faith. Since faith is the root of hope, nothing can be waited for but what is believed to be certainly and infallibly to come to pass. Their salvation, propitiation of their sins, redemption of their souls, they expected from Christ; and therefore their faith must be pitched upon him before he came.

2. The second part of the proposition was, that though Christ was the immediate object of the faith of the ancients, yet he was not so distinct an object as now.

(1.) They could not have a distinct knowledge, because the revelation was dark, both in the obscurity of the prophecies wherein it was signified, and the shadiness of the ceremonies wherein it was represented; and from this obscurity they had many extravagant imaginations of an earthly Messiah,—not in the contemptible form of a servant, but in the royal posture of a prince, with a magificent attendance, to break the Roman yoke. Because as the spiritual glory of the Messiah was signified, so it was obscured also, by those earthly terms; and indeed they could not well have understood those spiritual mysteries without the expressions of them in terms suited to their sense.

(2.) The mercy of God and the incarnation of the Messiah they had a knowledge of, but not so clear of his death. The mercy of God was the distinct object of their faith. That was fully revealed to secure them against the fears of justice, and revealed to be brought about in and through the Messiah. Their faith in that was distinct, as appears Ps. 130:3, 4; and the publican's address was supported by the simple consideration of the mercy of God, Luke 18:3; but the particular methods of the discovery of this mercy, in and by the Messiah, they were ignorant of. Yet a Messiah incarnate they were clear in, and as such he was represented as a distinct object of their faith; and thus they considered his person and glory, and their hearts longed for him.* They knew by the first promise that he would be an extraordinary person, and by the titles God had given him of his righteous servant, that he should be an holy person, that he should be in high favour with God, because he was styled the Branch, and the Branch of righteousness, Zech. 6:12 and 3:8, Jer. 33:15. That he was to be a king upon a glorious throne, and a priest of a more excellent order than Aaron, even according to the order of Melchisedec, they could not be ignorant of; and a prophet whose words they were not to refuse upon the peril of their souls. Such oracles of him were plainly delivered; but what was the religion he should settle by virtue of his prophetic office, or the conquests he should make, or the government he should establish as a king, or the sacrifice he should offer as a priest, they did not clearly understand. Christ in all those offices was wrapped up in types; they had only the rough draught of a picture, the light and colours were not yet added; the virtue of all lay hid in a dispensation of shadows. Though they trusted in God for a mediator, yet they understood not the manner of the administration of this office, only they expected a clearness of knowledge, a firm peace, and a salvation by him. They had a faith in the gross, embraced the promise, saluted the things promised afar off, and rested upon the wisdom of God to clear up all in time, and bring all about that his grace had assured them of. We are not certain that anything besides his incarnation and some kind of suffering was revealed to Adam: his incarnation, in his being called the seed of the woman; and his suffering, in the bruising of his heel by the serpent, Gen. 3:15. But whether he understood that he was to redeem them by death from the expression of his bruised heel, or did collect it from the sacrifices instituted as a representation of this way of redemption, and a support to his faith in it, we have no assurance. But that he did understand a salvation and redemption of him and his posterity to be wrought by that seed, is evident by the promise. God doth not usually make a promise to people, but he gives them some understanding of that promise which may conduce to their refreshment; the promise would be otherwise useless. Had not Adam had some understanding of the intent of the promise, his despair could not have been remedied, he could not with any heart have performed worship to God, which consists in prayer and thanksgiving; nor have taught his posterity to worship, if he had not understood something of the intent of the promise, which he did, as appears by Abel's sacrifice. And we cannot think that he omitted the worship of God till the time of Seth, when the Scripture speaks of it again, which was about a hundred years; and that he had no children between is easily gathered from Gen. 4:25, wherein Eve calls him a seed instead of Abel. But yet the representations he and his posterity had were at the best but like a bright cloud which kept off the heat of divine wrath, and shed some rays upon them, not a clear sunshine. The glory of Christ was in the bud, and not so visible; as the glory of a flower is hid in the bud till it comes openly to display itself, and then it refresheth every sense. They could not have such a distinct view, and therefore their faith could not so distinctly exercise itself about every part of this Messiah as ours may. They saw the Messiah as we do a man at a distance, or in a disguise; we see him to be a man, but know not what man, we discern not his distinct features and lineaments; they saw him as the Israelites saw Moses his face through the veil, not in all its splendour and glory. This indistinct faith being caused by an imperfect revelation, did not prejudice their interest in the saving grace of the Messiah; for God is so righteous as not to require a faith but what is proportioned to the revelation he vouchsafes. They were members of Christ with their faith in the gross tinder Moses, as well as we with our more particular faith under Paul and the apostles.

(3.) Our faith must be more distinct. While the revelation was in the gross, a faith in the gross was sufficient. But for us who have a clearer revelation, a more distinct faith is required, proportioned to the measure and circumstances of the discovery. When they saw the throats of the sacrifices cut by the priest, they might know that they were typical; but how exactly in every part they answered to the antitype, neither did they know then, nor we now; but since we are not under types, but clear manifestations, since the fulness of time is come and the veil is rent in twain, since Christ hath passed through the veil of the shadow of death to his throne of glory, a confused faith will not serve our turn. God, in regard of his veracity, mercy, and goodness, was the distinct object of their faith, Christ, a more obscure one; now one is as distinct as the other. Therefore Christ says, 'Believe also in me,' in the same manner, and as distinctly as you did believe in the mercy and truth of God. The former revelation was not intended to draw out a faith from them as explicit as ours ought to be, but was intended to confirm us who should live in and after the fulness of time, that by the consideration of the ancient predictions, and comparing them with the after transactions, we should have our faith strengthened by them. This is clearly expressed by Peters: 1 Peter 1:12, 'Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you.' By all these obscure revelations anciently, we have certain evidence of the truth of those things declared to us in the gospel.

3. Christ is the immediate object of faith in his person. 'Believe also in me,' that I am the great person appointed by God for the redemption of the world. Christ in this speech directs them to himself, not to a promise; it is not, Believe in this or that promise, but in me. As faith in God centres in the Deity, so faith in Christ centres in his person. Promises may be a ground, yet they are not the object of a justifying faith, nor are they in any sort objects of faith in themselves; but in regard of the good things promised in them, as they contain in them the grace of God, and the blessings of the mediation of Christ, they direct us to Christ, as the proclamation and promise of a prince directs and encourageth the rebels to come into his presence, and supplicate his pardon. Faith is called a coming to Christ, Mat. 11:28, which rather notes his person than his doctrine. It is not a faith simply in his Godhead that is required by him, for so he is the object of faith in the same manner as the Deity is; nor simply in his manhood, for so he is no more the object of faith than another man may be, but Christ in his person, God-man. Christ must be believed in as God gives him; God gives his person first, and then his benefits; the benefits bestowed upon us are consequential to the gift of his person to us: Rom. 8:32, he first delivered him for us, and then with him gives us all things. The blessings expected are not the object of our faith, but Christ, by whom those benefits were purchased, and by whom they are conveyed to us. God gave him as his only-begotten Son, a person, not a doctrine; though he did not give him without giving him orders what doctrine to publish. As God gave him, so we are to believe in him; believe in him, and believe on the Son, John 3:16, 36. We can never apply ourselves to him as the Son of God without a consideration of his person; we are sanctified by faith that is in him, Acts 26:18, not faith in his word severed from his person; and, indeed, there can be no true faith in Christ, if he be not considered in the excellency of his person. The apostle therefore, in the beginning of the Hebrews, an epistle written to draw off the Jews from their ceremonies to the Messiah, proposeth him, Heb. 1, in his dignity and grandeur. As the Deity in its excellency is the ultimate object, so Christ in his eminency is the immediate object of faith. Faith respects Christ dying and meriting by his death, which it cannot do unless it considers him in the excellency of his person above that of a simple man, even the Son of God sanctified for us. His merit, had it been finite, would have been insufficient for the weight of our souls and the burden of our sins, without the greatness of his person. He is not only man: then he might have fallen as the first Adam did, and left us in the same or a worse condition; he is not only God: then he could have performed no obedience to the law, as being not concerned in it as a subject, but as a lawgiver; nor could he have offered any satisfaction to God, as being uncapable of suffering in the Deity; but God and man, fit to repair the honour of God and the fallen state of the creature. Since Christ as crucified is the object of faith, what significancy would his sufferings have without the consideration of the other, which puts so high a value upon his passion, and communicates so rich an efficacy to it? We are to believe in Christ for the remission of sin, which is obtained not so much by the sacrifice, as by the quality of the sacrifice. The Jews searched for their expiation in the bowels of beasts, uncapable to make an atonement for them. The nature of the sacrifice must be first considered, and that we cannot have a prospect of in the value and merit of it, till we fix the eye of our faith upon the greatness of his person, who was thus made a sacrifice for us. Indeed, to consider Christ barely in his person attracts our love more than our recumbency; to consider him barely in his passion without the excellency of his person, would excite neither faith nor love, but grief and horror; to consider him as suffering for us, would attract our love in a way of gratitude; but to consider him as suffering for us; without considering the ability of his person to relieve us by that suffering, would be too weak to elevate our faith to him. Reliance always respects ability as well as goodness and affection; faith therefore respects the person of Christ immediately, but not absolutely in himself, but as he stands in relation to the Father, as his Son and his servant.

4. Therefore, Christ as sent by God is the object of faith, as sent to such an end as redemption. Faith rests upon Christ as a gift, upon God as the donor. There is little comfort in all that Christ did and suffered, unless we respect him as one sent by his Father; it is this fastens our faith on him, and possesses our souls with a confidence in him; this is the magnifying emphasis he himself sets upon his disciples' faith, in his solemn pleas in heaven, if we may judge of them by the pattern of them he gave us on earth: John 17:8, 'They have believed that thou didst send me.' Christ as sent is the object of faith, since the love of God in sending Christ is urged as the encouragement to faith, John 3:16. Though faith pitcheth upon Christ's propitiating blood, yet it is under this consideration, that he was set forth by God for such an end: Rom. 3:25, 'Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.' This is necessary to the formal condition of faith in its closing and justifying act, without which it would be a lifeless and comfortless thing, for faith justifies us before God as a judge; but can any thing be confidently and comfortably pleaded by a criminal, who doubts the judge's approbation of it? The allowance of God as a judge upon the propitiation of Christ heartens faith in its act; it would wholly droop, nay, not go a step, if it did not see God's authority in Christ's action and passion; it considers Christ not only as a Redeemer, but a Redeemer by commission, and carries God's commission to Christ in its hand in every address to the throne of grace for justifying mercy. If a pardon be proclaimed to those that shall come to such an inferior magistrate, no man would come but upon the strength of the declaration of the supreme authority which made that proclamation, and can only make it valid for a rebel's safety. This is so necessary a part of the object of faith, that no true grounded and well-built faith can be without it. When our eyes have respect to the Holy One of Israel, we must look to our maker, Isa. 17:7. I question whether if an Israelite bitten by a fiery serpent had looked upon the brazen one, lifted up on the pole, only to contemplate the figure, and the ingenuity of the artificer, without considering the end for which Moses had set it up in relation to his cure, and the divine appointment of it, he would have found from it any remedy for his distemper; natural influence it had none, and moral influence supposeth a suitable apprehension in the spectator. I am sure an ancient so paraphraseth Numb. 21:8, 9, 'When he looks upon it, he shall live: he shall live, if his heart be directed to the name of the word of the Lord;'* and so ver. 9, 'When he looked upon the brazen serpent, and his heart was intent upon the name of the word of the Lord, he did live.' His look was to be not only to the elevated serpent, but to the divine authority that ordered it.

5. Christ in all his offices. 'Believe also in me,' without any limitation or restriction to this or that particular office. If faith pitch upon the person of Christ, and the person of Christ as authorised by God, it embraceth Christ with all his offices, because his person is invested with them; and the same authority which settled him in one, conferred upon him the rest. True faith rests upon his person as commissioned, and receives him in the extent of his commission; and therefore in every office distinctly, to be given up to his rule, sit under his instructions, and eat and drink of his sacrifice. His person is not separated from his offices, nor his offices from one another; nor is there a distinct commission for each of them. As faith takes God with all his perfections, so it takes Christ with all his dignities; as when we believe in God, we believe in him with all his attributes, so when we believe in Christ, we believe in him with all his excellencies; as you believe in God, believe also in me. You do not take God to be your God, only in his power, or mercy, goodness, or faithfulness, or wisdom, but in all; so you must not take me to be Messiah, anointed for you to a priesthood only, but to a kingly and prophetical office. Christ is proposed whole, and therefore must be taken whole; God doth not offer him in pieces, but entire; he is not a priest without being a king, nor a prophet without being a king and a priest. As faith is exercised for justification, Christ is considered as a priest; as it is exercised for an understanding of God, he is considered as a prophet; as it is exercised for sanctification, to put down the dominion of sin, and relics of corruption, he is considered as a king, advanced to put all enemies under his feet. Our necessities require such acts of faith upon his distinct offices; we are full of guilt and filth, and we must have Christ as our priest to secure us by his sacrifice from the merit of our guilt, and wash us by his blood from the defilements of our filth; we are beset and inlaid with darkness, and we must have Christ by his wisdom to shew us the way, and conduct us in saving paths; we are possessed with a stubbornness and impotency, and we must believe in Christ as a king to quell our enmity, and strengthen our weakness by his power. The ingenuity of faith speaks this language: Since Christ is a priest to sacrifice for me, it is but reasonable he should be my prophet to teach me, and my king to govern me; that as I live by his blood, I should walk by his rule; receive every ray of light, suck in every spiritual direction, as well as feed upon the juice of his sacrifice.

6. Yet, Christ as crucified is the more immediate object of faith. He had spoke of his death in the foregoing chapter, which was the occasion of their sorrow; and now he speaks of their believing in him: 'You believe in God' as a living God, 'believe also in me' as a dying Saviour. We are to receive Christ as God doth offer him to us, as a redeemer from eternal death, and the purchaser of eternal life: and this he doth in the quality of a sacrifice satisfying for our sin, and meriting our life: Rom. 3:25, he is set out as a propitiation; as one in whom God is well pleased. It is faith therefore in his blood that justifies, ver. 24; not faith in his precept, nor faith in his miracles, nor abstractedly faith in his person, but faith in him as bathed in his own blood, and rolling in his own gore. The other parts are but conductors of faith to this bath, wherein it washes the soul; to this throne, whereon faith sits triumphantly, and never sparkles with such a life, as in this. Faith in the latitude of it, extends to all parts of Scripture; and as it is a general faith, is exercised about precepts, promises, and threatenings; but in its acts about those objects, it is not a justifying faith, but only as it respects Christ, and Christ too in the very act of expiating sin by his satisfactory death on the cross; as the soul of a man doth exercise itself in vegetation and sense, yet a man is not said to be a rational creature by those acts, or by those powers of the soul, but by the soul, as it is rational.

(1.) This was proposed as the formal object in the first promise, Gen. 3:15, as having his heel bruised by the devil, as well as bruising the devil's head. This promise was the great charter of our redemption, and the foundation of the faith of Adam's posterity for several ages. It was indeed spoke to the serpent, but for the sake of man; a threatening to the tempter, and a promise to the tempted, and an argument of terror to the first, and support to the latter. Christ is here proposed for men's comfort under the notion of a conqueror, but yet under the notion of a sufferer; his passion in his heel was to precede his breaking his enemies' head; so his sufferings are first to be eyed by faith before his victory. The devil could not be overcome, and stripped of his power, but by a satisfaction to the broken law, which could not be only by observing the precept, without suffering the penalty. The devil's authority was built upon the curse of the law, which must be endured before the devil could be turned out of his palace. It was upon the cross that principalities and powers were stripped of their dominion, and exposed in triumph, Col. 2:15. And in this promise, though the seed of the woman be proposed to their faith as one to be bruised, yet not as one to be conquered, but as prevalent and triumphant, bruising the enemy in the head and vital part, while himself is only bruised in the heel, a part remote from the heart, and more remote from the head. The ancients therefore, in sucking the sweet juice of this gracious word, could not but consider Christ as combating, as well as conquering; the Messiah suffering something from the serpent, as well as defeating and surviving him.

(2.) Christ under this notion was proposed in all the Jewish sacrifices. As the promise was a publication of Christ to faith in a suffering condition, so the sacrifices were a publication of Christ to sense in the kind of his sufferings in a dying posture. It was more than once expressed to the Israelites that sacrifices were appointed for the atonement of sin; they must be exceeding blind, if they could persuade themselves that any such expiation of sin could be wrought by any value in the blood of a beast, that that could bear a proportion to the injured honour of God, and the broken tables of the law; they could not but conceive something mysterious in them; and the more inquisitive, it is like, perceived some analogy between the type, and the thing signified by it. They might read something of a suffering Messiah in them for the atonement of their sins; but they could never be instructed by the dying groans and heart-blood of beasts to fancy such a triumphant Messiah as they did, without being exposed to a calamitous condition. It is certain, Christ as a sacrifice was proposed in all those sin-offerings; they were all but legal shadows of the good things to come by the great sacrifice, Heb. 10:1. Our faith ought not less to pitch upon Christ as a crucified sacrifice offered to God, than theirs was to look to him under that consideration in every beast, in every lamb slain, and offered upon the altar. He was not shadowed in those sacrifices in the glories of his person, the miracle of his resurrection, the triumphs of his ascension, and his honours at the right hand of God, but in the agonies of his bitter passion, represented by the strugglings and dying gasps of the slain victim; these sacrifices had no analogy but with his death.

(3.) This was proposed by the apostles in their teaching. It was Paul's practice among the Corinthians: 1 Cor. 2:2, he 'determined to know nothing among them,' i.e. to make known nothing as the object of the faith he invited them to, 'save Jesus Christ and him crucified.' His design was to manifest Christ in the glory of his person, in the excellency of his natures, in the end of his coming, but more especially as crucified, being under that consideration the fountain of their salvation, and most proper for the exercise of their faith. And when he heard of the Galatians' departure from the truth, he wonders at it, since Christ had been evidently set forth crucified among them, Gal. 3:1. It was an astonishment to him that they should imagine to find a remedy for their guilt, a sanctuary for their souls, a screen against the justice of God, anywhere else but in the cross of Christ. Christ as crucified was in all their preaching proposed as the object of faith, security from punishment, and way to happiness. Believing in Christ is called eating of the altar, Heb. 13:10, i.e. of the sacrifice which had been offered on the altar, the apostle speaking in legal terms. In some sacrifices part was burnt upon the altar, and part reserved for a feast for the offerer and his friends. They ate it in the relation of a sacrifice; and Christ can be fed on by faith only under the consideration of a sacrifice, as a dying sacrifice, before he be considered as a living Saviour.

(4.) Under this consideration will the faith of the Jews pitch upon him, when God shall be pleased to convert them. Christ as pierced is to be looked upon: Zech. 12:10, 11. 'They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.' They that did actually pierce him shall so look upon him with an eye of faith, planted in them by the Spirit of grace; and he that was pierced for their sins shall be seen and owned by them. It is a look of belief, not a bodily look. They shall look upon him so as to rest in him: they shall look upon him as pierced, as their predecessors did look upon the serpent lifted up in the wilderness, with a reliance on the promise of God, that they should have the restoration of their health, and the expulsion of their venom by it. He will be acknowledged in the great intent of his death, which was to take away sin.

(5.) That is the object of our faith, which is God's object in justifying a sinner. But God in his justifying act particularly looks upon this blood: Rom. 5:9, 'Being now justified by his blood.' He speaks of God's act of justifying as he doth in the expression of God's act in saving us. In the act of justification, God looks upon the sinner as bedewed and sprinkled with this blood. He crosses not one of our debts without first dipping his pen in this blood. Christ therefore as dying, and paying the price of his precious blood for our redemption, is the immediate object of faith. Christ as risen is an object of faith successively to this. The payment of a debt is really the ground of the justification and security of him for whom that debt is paid. The acquittance is only the declaration of the payment, if the debtor should be questioned afterwards. It was this sacrifice God took the sole pleasure in: Heb. 10:8, 'Offerings for sin thou wouldst not, neither hadst pleasure therein;' not in any offered by the law, which the apostle adds in a parenthesis, intimating thereby that this great offering was the delight of the soul; and in this offering of the body of Christ his whole will for our sanctification centred, as it follows ver. 9, 10. Our faith must therefore bear some parallel with the pleasure and will of God, and wrap itself up in the same object. The blood of Christ is that whereby we are justified, for we are pronounced justified by God upon the account of a righteousness answering the law; but Christ as a king and Christ as a prophet did not answer either the precept or penalty of the law, but Christ as a priest. This therefore whereby God justifieth is considered by faith in its going out for justification. This only can expel fears, and be a ground of the greatest consolation. This was that God's heart was chiefly set upon. This was that he called him out to perform. He had never been a king nor a prophet had he not acted the part of a priest, nor had God justified any but upon that account of his sacrifice. It was in this office God confirmed him for ever with so much delight as to engage himself by oath to the perpetuating of it. He was not so solemnly by oath invested in the other two.

(6.) Nothing else of Christ can be the immediate and primary object of our faith, but his death. Nothing else but the priestly office of Christ and his propitiation, and atonement he hath made for sin (and thereby delivered us from the wrath to come), can be the formal object of faith in its first application. There are many things in Christ that faith afterwards considers, and that are worthy of our deepest inquiries and meditations; but this only is considered in the first application. What did the poor stung Israelites consider in their looking upon the brazen serpent? Did they consider it only as the figure of a serpent, or let their minds run out upon the excellency of the figure, the skill of the artificer, and the curiosity of the workmanship? These indeed to a sound man would have been a delightful employment; but as soon as ever he had been bitten, he would have laid aside all such thoughts, and cast his eye upon it, according to the intent of its elevation on the pole for the cure of his disease. What did the poor malefactor consider in his distress when he ran to the horns of the altar? He considered it only as a place of refuge, and not as a place of worship. A man in the first act of faith considers himself guilty before God, and in danger of eternal fire, under the dreadful displeasure of God by reason of his transgression of the law; he considers himself a breaker of that law, and consequently under the threatening and curse of it, and wishes for security from that fire: his conscience, by virtue of a violated law, flasheth in his face. That therefore which prompts a man in this condition to go to Christ, is the belief and hope of a sure deliverance by him. His great intendment is justification, freedom, and deliverance, and therefore he eyes Christ as a deliverer, and in that posture and method wherein he was a deliverer, i.e. as hanging upon the cross. Indeed, afterwards, when the soul comes to consider its own ignorance and pollution, and longs for sanctification, then its faith goes out to Christ as a prophet to instruct him, and as a king to defeat his enemies in him. But to a soul sensible of the guilt of sin, and racked by the horrors of conscience, what is most convenient to be proposed? Would you set forth Christ in his glories as a king that must be obeyed? This strikes the soul dead. What would his answer be? The more able to damn me for my disobedience. A king, say you, to be obeyed? What is this to me that have disobeyed him, that find no power in myself to obey him; and if I could, I cannot, upon a diligent scrutiny, find any merit in that obedience? But if there were, how can I wipe off my former scores, and pacify God for my manifold past errors, and please his offended holiness? Would you propose Christ as a prophet to teach him his duty? What is this to the curse? How shall I be rid of my guilt? How shall I escape punishment? But propose Christ as a priest and sacrifice: set him forth in his priestly attire, with the streams of blood issuing from him for the expiation of guilt. This will make a soul that hath all the flames of hell about his ears listen. Here is an offer of Christ in a suitable capacity to the present state and wants of a sinner. What is the language of a poor soul at first? How can I endure wrath? How can I satisfy justice? The proposal of Christ as having undertaken this work for him, and becoming sin in his stead, is the only proportionable remedy. It is then, and not till then, that the soul clasps about him. Here I find the satisfaction of my soul, where God found the satisfaction of his justice. This contents me under the charge of a violated law, the dread of an incensed God, the tortures of an enraged conscience. Here I find a surety satisfying my debts, bearing my punishment, and interposing his shoulders between me and the wrath merited by me; here I find that which pacifies God and pacifies me. This gives rest to the soul. The day of atonement among the Israelites, which typified this great saving expiation by the death of the Messiah, is called, not God's Sabbath, but your Sabbath, Lev. 23:32. Here, and here alone, is the rest that faith finds in its first search. Christ as a king and Christ as a prophet did not merit, and therefore Christ as a king and Christ as a prophet are not considered in the first act of seeking after justification; but Christ as meriting, and therefore Christ as a priest and a sacrifice. As a king he rules, as a prophet he instructs, as a priest he merits. Christ did not profit us but as dying, and all the benefits we have by him were radically in his death. Hereby he satisfied the curse of the law, which was the only bar to our restoration to happiness. This was the main thing he was to do by articles drawn between the Father and himself, so that upon this account this death, or Christ as dying, is the main object of faith.

(7.) Nothing can continue, and keep life in faith afterwards, but Christ considered as dying. Since there are slips and new pollutions, faith, in all its acts for continuance of justification and repeated pardons, goes afresh to the embraces of the cross, and pleads the merits of Christ's wounds and agonies; it looks upon the Lamb of God as taking away the sins of the world, and begs the favour of God for the merits of Christ.

As Christ dying is the object of the first act of faith, so he is the encouragement to a continuance of faith; for he hath in so high a manner evidenced himself merciful and faithful in this, that there is no doubt of his mercifulness and faithfulness in everything that concerns us after. He hath declared himself worthy of our most fixed reliance on him, and that he will not stick at lesser things, since he hath undertaken and finished so great a task as that of suffering. From his priesthood faith takes spirit and heart to go to him as king and prophet, which it could never do if it did not first receive encouragements from hence, and first pitched upon it; for, as I said before, as all the after benefits of Christ are radically in his death, so all the after acts of faith upon Christ in any other condition are radically in his first act of faith upon Christ as a sacrifice, which first act gives life to all the exercises of faith upon Christ in another capacity afterwards.

To conclude. The death of Christ, as it is satisfactory to God, is the object of faith; as it is of infinite efficacy and perpetual force, it is the object of a triumphant faith and hope. The righteousness of Christ in his death is to be considered in all this. If we take him as a sacrifice, we must take him as a spotless sacrifice; if as a priest, as an undefiled one, separate from sinners, as well as for sinners. We cannot believe in Christ without taking in his righteousness, as we cannot behold the sun without beholding its light.

7. Christ, as risen and exalted, is the object of faith. He is the immediate object of faith as dying, the triumphant object of faith as rising. His sacrifice was in his death, but the value and virtue of that sacrifice was manifest by his resurrection. Had Christ left his body in the grave, and had sins committed before been pardoned upon the atonement he made by his death, yet the sacrifice ceasing and corrupting, it had not been of everlasting efficacy. If God, as raising Christ from the dead, is the object of faith,—Rom. 4:24, 25, 'If we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification,'—then Christ, as raised by God, is the object of faith also. He was raised from the grave for our justification, as well as delivered to the cross for our offences. As in his death in our stead he bore the curse of the law, so in his resurrection as a common person we received our acquittal from the hands of the judge. Though his resurrection was not meritorious of our justification, yet it was a declaration of the efficacy of his death, and consequently of our discharge. Faith must eye that whereby we are justified. Now, though we are justified by Christ's death as the meritorious cause, yet we are justified by his resurrection as the perficient cause. Had his death been supposed to be fully meritorious without a resurrection, it had freed us from death by cancelling the bond; but his resurrection instates us in life by God's gracious acceptation, and makes the redemption complete, which else had been but a partial one; nay, none at all. To the one we owe our freedom from death; to the other, our investiture with eternal life and glory. To the one we owe our righteousness; to the other, our sonship. It is by his resurrection from the dead we are begotten to a lively hope, 1 Peter 1:3; it is upon him, therefore, as raised, that our faith must be settled. Had he not risen, we had been still in our sins; not a mite of our debts had ever appeared to have been paid, 1 Cor. 15:17. His death had been insufficient for our happiness without his resurrection. His resurrection was an evidence that he could save others, since he was delivered himself, and that his Father would save the members, since he had raised the head. Had he not been raised, faith in his death had had no ground. It had been an unaccountable thing to believe in him that lay under the power of death, and had not sufficient strength to shake off the bands of it. This is the key that unlocks to us the whole design, end, and sufficiency of his death, and renders faith in him as crucified more easy. Everything in Christ, everything promised by him, is very credible. Nothing can be matter of any difficulty to faith, since this of his resurrection is perfected. Faith is, therefore, called 'the faith of the operation of God,' Col. 2:12, noting the object of faith, and not the efficient cause of it; not because God works it in us (though that be true, yet it is not the sense of the place), but a faith of that energy and mighty power of God put forth in the raising Christ from the dead. It was by this act, whereby he fulfilled his past promises, that he gives us security for the performance of future ones. 'For as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he saith in this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David,' Acts 13:34. What were those sure mercies of David given in this? The fulfilling of the promise made to the fathers, ver. 32, 33; the promise of an everlasting covenant, Isa. 55:3, whence this is cited. That grand promise God made to Adam, and in him to all his posterity, was fulfilled in this act of Christ's resurrection. The bruising the serpent's head, the blessing all nations in the seed of Abraham, the bringing in an everlasting righteousness, were declared thereby to be fulfilled. Hereby was the efficacy of his death cleared to all the world, in his being eased of the burden of our sins, which bowed down his head upon the cross. Hereby it was manifest that his blood was the blood of the everlasting covenant, Heb. 13:20; a blood established and settling the covenant of grace for ever, and making it truly everlasting. As our redemption was not in its meridian glory till his resurrection, so neither is our faith in its full strength and vigour, but as eyeing this together with his death.

Use 1. If God and Christ in conjunction be the proper object of faith, here is an argument for the deity of Christ. If he be a mere creature, how can he assert himself an object of faith, in conjunction with the eternal God? It would be the highest invasion of the right and authority, and affront to the perfection and sufficiency of God, to make himself equal with God as the object of our faith, if he were not equal with God in the dignity of his nature. He doth everywhere propose himself in this consideration to us: John 6:29, 'This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he hath sent.' It is not a belief of Christ, but a belief in Christ, or on Christ. To believe a person is one thing, and to believe on him is another. We believe Paul and Peter, but are never said to believe in Paul or in Peter. The devils cannot but believe what Christ saith to be true, but they do not believe in him. To be believed in or relied upon for salvation and pardon is proper only to the deity, and a flower of his crown. If Christ were a mere man, though in the highest throne of excellency and holiness as a creature, as indeed he is, yet he could not be an object of our trust and faith without an offence to God, a violation of his precept, and contracting his curse. He doth expressly threaten to lay his curse upon every one that makes flesh his arm or confides in man, because that is a departure from the Lord, Jer. 17:5; and promiseth a blessing to them that trust in the Lord and make him their hope, ver. 17. If he be liable to the curse that puts his trust in man solely for worldly advantage, much more he that puts his trust in a mere man for an eternal salvation. He pronounceth a curse on them that put their trust in man, but a blessing on them that put their trust in his Son the Messiah: Ps. 2:12, 'Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.' If Christ were a mere man, we are cursed by God for trusting in him; if blessed for putting a confidence in him, then he is more than a man, the true God. He that was obedient to his Father would never have ordered such an act wherein we should be accursed by the Father. God would never have backed this proposition of faith in Christ, asserted by Christ himself, and preached by the apostles, with the seal of so many miracles, and justified that which, he had cursed before. He would never have cast the crown from his own head, or made another partner with him, had he not a dignity in his own nature equal with God. If God our Saviour and Jesus Christ be the joint objects of hope, 1 Tim. 1:1; if those that believe in him shall not be ashamed, Rom. 9:33, it is a blasphemy to say he is a mere man, a mere creature, and not God, since a sovereign prerogative of God is ascribed to him. We should otherwise meet with a curse rather than a blessing by relying on him.

2. The difference between the law and the gospel. The law orders a trust in God, but utters not a syllable of a restoring mediator upon the entrance of sin, and therefore exacts not from us such a kind of faith as this, which is necessary for our happiness since we are all fallen. The law cannot order such an act but it must also present the object of that act; it speaks nothing of the latter, and therefore enjoins nothing of the former. It represented God as a sovereign and judge, not as a merciful pardoner; as a revenger upon transgression, not as a redeemer and restorer. The law is therefore insufficient to save us; our happiness is wrapped up solely in the gospel; we have no safety but in the arms of a mediator. Faith is wholly a gospel grace and a new covenant duty.

3. Comfort 'Believe also in me.' What doth this signify but that our faith in Christ will be as effectual for our good as our faith in God? He was too faithful to his Father to invade his rights, and too merciful to us to put us upon a fruitless act; his joining himself with God as the object of faith, shews that our faith in him will be as prevalent as our faith in God, and our happiness be as mount Sion, not to be shaken; for 'he that believes in him shall not be ashamed,' Rom. 9:33. He had never commanded us to believe in him as we do in God, if he had not had an office to relieve us; it intimates, that both God and the mediator are in conjunction for our salvation and felicity. Do we believe God to be merciful, powerful, gracious? The mediator also hath as tender a compassion to pity us, and as sovereign a grace to heal us; he hath as ardent a love to bless us, and as infinite a power to rescue us; he hath as overflowing a peace to quiet us, and as ever-flowing a goodness to relieve and perfect us. If they are jointly to be respected by our faith, they are joint also in the answering the expectations of our faith: John 10:30, 'I and my Father are one;' one in saving, one in preserving, one in perfecting; for it is spoken in relation to the perpetual preservation of his people to salvation, 'none shall pluck them out of my hand, none shall pluck them out of my Father's hand.' We grasp them both by faith, and they grasp one another's hand for our safety; we lay hold both on the Father and the Son by an act of faith, and both Father and Son lay hold on ns by an act of particular affection; as we own them, so they will prove in the end joint Saviours to our faith. As they are one in power, so they are one in the cares of the flock. Christ would never else have ordered us to pitch our faith as strongly and fully upon him as upon the Father.

Again, 'believe also in me.' He requires a true faith, as true in him as in God, but not an equal measure of faith in all. If we have not a faith of such a stature and growth as that of Paul or the other apostles, yet if it have the same mien and lineaments, it will not be ineffectual. The serpent was to be looked upon, but not by all with an equal clearness of sight; some eyes were dimmer, some clearer; a look was sufficient, though but a weak one. A blear-eyed Leah might have been cured by a look, as well as a sharp-sighted Rachel. Believe in me, close with me, though your hands may not be equally strong to hold fast as others are. No one's spirit is always in an equal degree of health, and an even complexion; the wheels do not always move with an equal swiftness; reflections on a state of sin, and the blackness of transgressions, sometimes make us shrink and tremble; the wonderful greatness of God's mercy, like the light of the sun, sometimes dazzles and blinds our eye. Yet if we believe in him with all these palsies, it will go well with us. It is 'believe in me,' not ordering all faith to be of the same elevation.

4. Let us examine our faith by the object. Many will speak carelessly, and many will boast confidently, of their faith and trust in God, and scarce ever think or speak of Christ, separating that which God hath joined. What warrant have we to trust in God, singly considered, without a mediator? As it is eternal life to know him, not in the simplicity of his own being, but as he makes himself visible in a mediator, John 17:3, so it is to believe in him in the same manner. As our knowledge of God, with an ignorance of Christ, so our faith in God, with an unbelief in Christ, will never entitle to an eternity of happiness. No act of faith is right that doth not virtually and implicitly take in Christ together with God. Our Saviour speaks it here in relation to the troubles of his disciples' hearts for their outward condition, and the misery they expected by his departure from them. You have been educated in a reliance on God, and the expectations of a Messiah: believe me to be the person, and believe in me as the great undertaker and accomplisher of your happiness. We have a prospect of troubles, soon we may feel the smart of them; we believe in God as the sovereign of the world, let us see whether we eye at the same time Christ as the king set upon the holy hill of Sion for the protection as well as the government of the church. We have a great deal of ignorance. We believe in God as the Father of lights; do we also believe in Christ as a prophet to instruct us, and a Sun of righteousness to enlighten and heal us with his wings? We believe in God as infinitely merciful; do we also believe in Christ, as a priest settled for ever to make an atonement by his sacrifice, and perpetuate the application of it by his intercession? We have no warrant to exert one act of faith on the one without the other. By faith in God singly, without a mediator, we neither obey God nor secure ourselves. Since the object of faith is Christ as dying, true faith must eye the motive which persuaded Christ to die, and have the same motive in itself, viz., the hatred of sin and the love of righteousness; the hatred both of guilt and filth, and a desire to vindicate the righteousness of God. The hatred of sin is therefore necessary in our compliance with Christ, and therefore believers are called his fellows, Heb. 1:9; not only fellows in his glory, but in his disposition; in the integrity of it, not in the degrees of it. Faith fastens upon Christ as the gift, upon God as the donor; it considers the greatness of the gift, and with ravishments ascends to a confidence in the giver. It reads God's heart in Christ, sees the glory of God in the face of Christ, and mounts up to clasp about him who hath issued out the knowledge of himself in such a full spring of mercy and grace. It looks upon Christ as a propitiator, and upon God as a father. Faith hath recourse to the atoning blood of Christ, and by that blood to God. The goodness of faith consists chiefly in the object it is placed upon; as all acts receive their goodness from the object, as well as from the principal end and circumstances.

5. Exhortation. Let us observe his order. We do believe in God, that is taken for granted. There is indeed a natural confidence that all men have explicitly or implicitly in God: 'He is the confidence of all the ends of the earth,' Ps. 65:5, This is not sufficient; a faith in Christ as mediator, a belief of it, a reliance on him in that capacity, together with a walking according to the rules of his prophetic office, is the whole of the Christian religion. This is every man's duty, as much his duty to believe in Christ as to believe in God. It is enjoined with the same authority, 'believe also in me;' it is a command as well as an invitation. Not believe, if you will, but you must believe in me as well as in God, if ever you have a security against trouble, here or hereafter. To believe is not only our privilege, but our duty; not to believe, is not only our misery, but our sin; it is not a matter of indifferency. Christ had a command from God to die for us, and we have a command from himself to believe in him. God will have every one confess to the glory of the Father that 'Jesus is the Lord,' Philip. 2:11. God in him hath discovered the wonders of his mercy, justice, and wisdom, and without believing in him, we disown God in the glory of those discovered perfections: 'He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father that hath sent him,' John 5:22, 23. He that believes not in the Son, believes not in the Father, whatever vain imaginations he wraps himself in; he that believes not in Christ satisfying, believes not in the Father satisfied. As God goes out to us in him, our return must be by him to God. God was the judge, Christ the mediator; we must first go to the mediator to be conducted to the judge for our sentence of absolution. We have offended the sovereign lawgiver; we must first believe in him who is the repairer of the honour of the law. Our standing is not secure by absolute mercy; mercy through Christ only saves us; it breathes in no other air. We must first lay hold of the strength of God before we can be at peace with him, Isa. 27:5. Take hold of Christ, who is the power as well as the wisdom of God, 1 Cor. 1:24.

1. All our salvation comes in by believing in Christ. We can have no satisfaction but in this way; we cannot answer the terms of the law but by our surety, nor the demands of the gospel but by our faith in him. Do not our own hearts often disquiet us? Doth not the perfect law amaze us? Doth the devil never accuse us? Do our own consciences never charge us? Where can we find a peace for ourselves, a discharge against the law, and an answer to Satan, but by faith in him who hath vindicated the law, conquered our enemy, and hath blood enough to besprinkle our consciences with an eternal peace? Paul had tried all other ways that were of vogue in the Jewish church, but met with nothing that could have a just pretence to be a competitor with Christ. With what joy did Andrew meet Peter with the news, 'We have found the Messiah'? John 1:41. Nothing can contribute such a measure of peace and joy to the soul as faith in Christ. There is not, indeed, an ear to be gleaned anywhere else; all is laid up in that garner. God cannot now save us in a way of absolute mercy, since he hath settled the method of our salvation by faith in his Son; it would be against his truth, his wisdom, and also against the honour of his obedient Son. If he would save one by absolute mercy, why not more, why not all? What need, then, of his Son's sufferings to make the purchase?

2. We cannot believe any promise without believing in Christ. As the promises are confirmed and conveyed to us, so must our faith be exercised about them; there is not a promise that is yea and amen, i.e. firm and irreversible, but in Christ, 2 Cor. 1:20. It is in Christ; it is in Christ that our faith must be exercised in every promise, upon the promise in Christ, upon Christ in the promise; we else believe and depend upon them without their confirmation. No man will depend upon a deed and conveyance without the seal; look first to the seal, and then, and not till then, will the promise pour out comfort to the soul.

3. He only is fit to be the immediate object of our faith. As he is the mighty God, and the Prince of peace, as well as a Son given, Isa. 9:6; as he made a suitable compensation for the offenders in regard of the human nature, which had committed the trespass, and as he made a sufficient compensation in regard of the divine nature, which had been injured by sin. Infinite justice was satisfied by an infinite person. He only is fit to be the immediate object of our faith whose shoulders bore the weightiest burdens, whose head bowed under the sharpest curses, whose soul drunk down the bitterest potions in our stead. He had all the fitness to answer the demands of God, and all the fulness to answer the indigencies of man; he hath an office, and himself furnished both with ability and compassion for the execution of it; he hath a wisdom not to be ignorant of what he is to do, and an integrity not to be false in it. Let us, therefore, according to his own order, believe in him in conjunction with God.

1. Solely. In me, without joining any created thing in me. We must strike off our hands from all other purchases but that of the pearl. It is not Believe in me and your own righteousness, though it appear in the utmost glory; not Believe in me and your own hearts, though they smile upon you never so kindly. You believe in God. It doth not follow, believe in me and your own righteousness; believe in me and in saints; in Abraham, Jacob, David, or Elijah; but believe in me alone, without the conjunction of any thing less than a Deity. No other Lamb but this was slain from the foundation of the world. This is the only seed of the woman that was wrapped up in the promise. None else was the centre of the prophecies, the subject of the promises, the truth of the types; none in conjunction with him, none in subordination to him in the work of mediation and satisfaction. He only is the first-born among many brethren. As the eye seeks for no other light than that of the sun, and joins no candles with it to dishonour the sufficiency of its beams, so no created thing must be joined with Christ as an object of faith. This is a dishonour to the strength of this Rock, which is our only foundation, this is to undervalue the greatness of the gift, and the wisdom of the giver. It is a folly to seek for security anywhere else. Who would join the weakness of a bulrush with the strength of a rock for his protection? Who would fetch water from a muddy pond to make a pure fountain in his garden more pleasant? All other things are broken reeds under the most splendid appearances. Address yourselves only to him, to find a medicine for your miseries, and counsel in your troubles. Believe in him as the power of God under the weight of your guilt. Believe in him as the wisdom of God under the darkness of your ignorance. He alone is sufficient for our redemption by the allowance of God, and therefore the sole object of faith in conjunction with God. Let us live a life of faith only in him, as Paul did, Gal. 2:20. This is the vital juice and nourishment of faith; it languished when it applies to any thing else. We cannot trust him too much, nor ourselves too little. God trusted him alone, therefore should we; he puts no trust in his saints, Job 15:15; not in the highest glory of their saintship. Nothing else comes up to the exactness of the law, nor bears proportion with the holiness of God's nature.

2. Believe in me wholly. Not in a part or a piece of me, not in any one particular action of Christ. Nothing of Christ can be well spared by us; he is full and rich, and not any of his fulness or riches but are of use to us. He is necessary in every capacity; the merchant would have his whole pearl, not a part; nothing of Christ is vain and fruitless. God hath given us nothing in the creation but what we may use for his glory; he hath stored Christ as a redeemer with nothing but what we may use for our comfort. We must take whole Christ in his sufferings as well as Christ in his glory; Christ with his sceptre as well as Christ with his salvation. True faith will lay hold on every word, on every promise, on every particle of Christ, as the vine will upon every stick in the support which is set for it.

3. Constantly believe in me. Not for a time and a spurt, by fits and starts; as you always believe in God, so always believe in me; as you do not cast God off from being your confidence, so do not in the least waive me from being your hope. Upon all occasions when storms arise in the world, believe in me as your protector, as your conductor; when racks appear to be set up in your consciences, believe in me as your peace-maker; when corruptions creep up and defile you, believe in me as a refiner. The woman of Canaan would not leave her faith in him, though he spoke a word sour enough to make her turn her back in sorrow upon him. Let not an act of faith be exercised in God, but let there be a mixture of an equal quantity of faith in the Mediator. The word spoken to us doth not profit us unless mixed with faith; nor do any of our returns to God please him unless mixed with faith in the Redeemer. Whenever we exert a particular act of faith in God, let us exert a particular act of faith in Christ too; not look upon the one without the other, nor embrace the one without the other. We are as constantly to honour the Son as to honour the Father.

Let us therefore frequently meditate on this object of faith, view every wound of a dying Saviour; it will increase our faith in him, add a new life to our faith in God. Our faith is feeble, and our souls languish under spiritual burdens, because we do not look to him as lifted up upon the cross. Our addresses to God are faint, fearful, and disturbed, because our eye is not fixed upon the Mediator, who hath changed God from the frightful garb of a judge to the pleasing aspect of a father. By such acts upon this object, our faith will receive a new spirit, a fresh boldness, a pleasant liveliness.

Let us consider him in his person, in his promises, in his offices, in his mediation, in his sacrifice, and in the righteousness of all, and we shall find what is here spoken by way of command, to be exemplified in a powerful operation in our hearts, which will make us echo back again, Our hearts are not troubled, O Lord, since we believe in God, and believe also in thee.

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