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not through any merit of their own, not through any efficacy of their faith, not through any virtue of their repentance, but through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins.
The nature of the faith also, which is so signally honored, was made the subject of some remarks. It was stated, that it is not a belief of certain historical facts, but a reliance on the power, favour, and faithfulness of a certain person to accomplish an object, which without him would be utterly unattainable. The facts indeed, which are necessary to warrant that reliance, must be believed. belief is essential to the faith, which justifies. But it will not constitute it. There must be a desire of those blessings, which the saviour came to bestow, and there must likewise be a reliance on his readiness and ability to bestow them upon ourselves; or we have not the right and saving faith of the gospel. Hence repentance of sin is an essential preliminary to faith; for a sinner must repent, before he can desire those particular blessings, which the gospel offers; and he must desire those bless
therefore, as the same phrase is rendered by the apostles, he shall not be ashamed or confounded. To the same effect Zechariah says in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of his prophecy, writing there in the name of the coming Messiah- I will pour upon the 'house of David and upon the inhabitants ' of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of sup'plications; and they shall look upon me, 'whom they have pierced. In that day there 'shall be a fountain opened to the house of 'David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem 'for sin and for uncleanness.'
But, if all the prophets before the coming of Christ gave witness to him, and especially if they all bore testimony to the doctrine of remission of sins through his name, all the apostles attest the same truth still more distinctly: for they all in plain terms. connect the pardon of iniquity and the justification of the sinner with faith in the name of the saviour. Thus saint Peter says in the text- Whosoever believeth in him shall ' receive remission of sins'-; saint Paul-' All have sinned, and come short of the glory.
' of God, being justified freely by his grace
through the redemption, that is in Christ 'Jesus,'-and saint John- These things have 'I written unto you, that believe on the name ' of the son of God, that ye may know, that ye have eternal life.'
But what is the testimony even of inspired prophets and divinely authorized apostles, to assure a doubting mind upon such a subject, when compared with the authentic declaration of our lord himself? and he has said in language, the plainness of which would seem calculated to preclude all evasion or mistake, (it has been already quoted from the eighteenth verse of the third chapter of saint John's gospel) He, that believeth on him, is not 'condemned. But he, that believeth not, is ' condemned already.'
Yet, though remission of sins and complete justification before God are thus expressly attributed to faith in the saviour, care is taken even in this very text to avoid ascribing to that act of the mind any meritorious efficacy in procuring remission. If it is stated in ample and unlimited terms, that whosoever
believeth in him shall receive remission of sins, it is yet added, that he shall receive this boon, not through any intrinsic virtue of his faith, but through the name of Jesus. It is by his authority, by his power, by his favour, all which notions are included in his name, that remission of sins is granted to our faith; and, to shew, that in this application of the word the name of Christ is designedly opposed to any holiness or power in the faith, to which the blessing is promised, the two ideas were thus strongly contrasted by saint Peter at a time, when he was anxiously disclaiming all right or pretension to glory in a signal miracle, which yet he had just been the instrument of performing. Why look ye' (said he to the astonished people) 'why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness 'we had made this man to walk? God hath
glorified his son Jesus; and his name through 'faith in his name hath made this man strong.'
The doctrine of the text therefore is plainly this, that remission of sins is promised to faith in the saviour, but nevertheless, that it is promised to it not for any inherent virtue
in faith, which may claim such a mercy, but through the name of Jesus, whose good pleasure it is to bestow it on believers.
It remains therefore to inquire, what is that faith, which is so honorably distinguished, and so richly rewarded. This is a very important branch of the subject, on which it is highly incumbent upon us to form correct notions, because on the character of the faith, to which such blessings are promised, depends the character of the religion, which rewards it. If the mere belief of an historical fact carried with it these high privileges, that appointment would impart an arbitrary and capricious character to the doctrine of christianity, which thence would not easily commend itself to our unbiassed understanding. We are bound, therefore, as well for the credit of our holy religion, as for our own comfort and guidance, to inquire, what is the nature of the faith, to which remission of sins is a never-failing appendage.
Now faith in the new testament corresponds to trust and hope in the old. The object of faith, of trust, and of hope in both testaments is the same, even the long promised, but now