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“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” — Gal. ii. 20.
The apostle in this place is expressing the vigour, and indeed the triumph, of the life of faith: “Nevertheless I live.” To show the excellency of that life, says he, “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” etc. That which I would to our purpose observe from these words is this, that the exercise of faith on the death of Christ — “Who loved me, and gave himself for me” — is the very life of faith. This is that we are now called to, — to the exercise of faith on the death of Christ. And I cannot more recommend it to you than by this observation, to show that the life of faith does greatly consist in this peculiar exercise of it upon the death of Christ. And that, —
1. Because Christ in his death, as the ordinance of God for the salvation of believing sinners, is the proper and peculiar object of faith as it justifies and saves. Now, when faith is in its exercise upon its direct, immediate, proper object, it is like a person that is feeding on his proper food, which gives refreshment, spirits, and strength; for faith and its object are in Scripture set out as an appetite and food; and especially it is so represented to us in this ordinance, where the spiritual food of our souls is conveyed to our faith under the symbol and representation of food to our bodies, which we eat and drink. Therefore, brethren, our faith is in its proper place, it is about its proper work, it is directing the soul to its special food, when it is exercised about the death of Christ as the ordinance of God for the salvation of sinners.
2. As the death of Christ is thus the immediate and direct object 604of our faith, — for “God hath set him forth as a propitiation for sin, through faith in his blood,” which is the proper object of faith, as it justifies, — so the ultimate and supreme object of our faith is, the properties of God, as manifested and glorified in the death of Christ; so that you shall see how faith has its plain and full work in coming to this, “Who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The properties of God are God himself; the properties of God, as manifested and glorified, are God’s name; and God himself and his name are the supreme and ultimate object of our faith and trust. All the inquiry, then, is, what special properties of the nature of God, God did design to manifest and glorify in the death of Christ, so as we should make them the special, ultimate object of our faith, — that which faith will find rest and satisfaction in, and wherein it will give glory to God. For the reason why God has made faith the alone instrument (and no other grace) of justification, and so of salvation, it is not because it is so fitted and suited to receive in us, as that it is the only grace whereby we give glory to God, and can do so.
Now let us see, that we may know how to exercise faith therein, what are those properties of the divine nature which God designs to manifest and glorify in the death of Christ; that our faith may stand in and be fixed upon them. I find several things that God distinctly proposes of his divine excellency for our faith to fix upon in the death of Christ:—
(1.) His righteousness: Rom. iii. 25, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness.” I shall not now show how or wherein; but, to me, this it is that manifests his righteousness in granting forgiveness of sin in the death of Christ, — in that he caused all our iniquities to meet upon him. Remember, brethren, we are here to give God the glory he designed to himself in sending Christ to die for us; and he tells us plainly what it was: and therefore it is expected of us that we should give glory to him. Let us labour to be in the actual exercise of faith, whereby we may declare the righteousness of God in this thing.
(2.) God designed to glorify his love. This is more particularly insisted on than any property of God in this matter. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” There is no property of the nature of God which he doth so eminently design to glorify in the death of Christ as his love. That we may know that God is love, that the Father himself loves us, he has sent Jesus Christ, out of his eternal love, to save sinners; and if we have not due apprehensions of these things, it is not our appearing in this place that will give glory to God.
605(3.) God does design to glorify his grace or pardoning mercy. Eph. i. 6, “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” This God purposed, to make his grace in pardoning sinners very glorious by giving Christ to die for us.
(4.) God designed to glorify his wisdom. Eph. i. 8, “He has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence.” Eph. iii. 10, There appeared “the manifold wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. i. 24, “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
Now, let us gather up these things:— The special, ultimate object of faith, whereby we are justified, are those divine properties of God’s nature which he designed to manifest in the death of Christ, — his righteousness, his love, his grace, his wisdom.
The reason, therefore, why the life of faith does consist in its exercise on the death of Christ, is, because the death of Christ is the immediate, proper object of faith, as the ordinance of God for the salvation of sinners; and because the glorious properties of the nature of God, which are manifested in the death of Christ, are the ultimate object of our faith, wherein we give glory to him, and find rest to our own souls.
Let us, then, be called on and be stirred up to this exercise of faith upon this present occasion. And to that end, —
1. We might consider the deplorable condition of all our souls without this blessed provision and ordinance of God for our deliverance by the death of Christ. We had been in a deplorable condition, the wrath of God abiding on us, had not God made this a blessed way for our deliverance.
2. If you would be found acting faith in this matter, labour to come up to a firm, vigorous assent of your minds, not only that these things are true, but that this is the way wherein God will be glorified to eternity. The truth of it is, that person who is firmly satisfied and heartily pleased that this way of the death of Christ for the salvation of sinners, by the forgiveness of sin, is the way whereby God is and will be glorified; I say, that person is a true believer. Now, let not your assent be only to this thing, — that it is true that Christ came into the world to save sinners; but to this, — that this is the way whereby God is and will be glorified. He will be glorified in pardoning such guilty creatures as we are, in imputing righteousness to such sinners as we are. He is glorified in laying all our iniquities on Christ. By this way, his righteousness, his love, grace, and wisdom, are all manifested; this is God’s being glorified. If our souls come up to a free close with these things, that all these properties are manifested in this way, — that is an act of faith; and may the Lord help us unto it!
3. Let us gather up our minds to this institution, whereby these 606things are represented to us. Here is represented the death of Christ, the immediate object of our faith, as God’s ordinance. If the Lord help us to see it so represented to us, as that divine righteousness and wisdom, love and grace do all centre therein, and appear eminently to our souls, we shall have communion with God in this ordinance.
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