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June 8, 1673.
Faith is bounded, in every ordinance, by its objects and acts. The general object of saving faith respecting God, is the truth of his word and promises, Rom. xv. 8. The special object of our faith in this ordinance is the sufferings and death of Christ. Herein he is “evidently set forth crucified before our eyes.” And we must act faith upon three things with respect to his death:—
First, The personal love of Christ to our persons, from whence it was that he died for us. So saith the apostle, “Who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Gal. ii. 20. Were we helped to raise up our hearts by faith to apprehend Christ’s love to our persons, it would greatly help us in this ordinance. The Lord lift us up above our fears, and give us a view by faith, not only of the love of Christ in general, but that he personally loved us, even this whole church!
Secondly, The sufferings of Christ. In this ordinance we are to act faith upon his death, as therein undergoing the punishment due 528to our sins. It is [intended] to mind us that “he made his soul an offering for sin,” that “he suffered for sin, the just for the unjust,” “bearing our sins in his own body on the tree,” that we should not come into judgment.
Thirdly, The effects of Christ’s death; which were, the making an atonement for all our sins, — the making peace between God and our souls, bringing in everlasting righteousness. Under the law we find that “the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctified to the purifying of the flesh,” and that the people were thereby legally cleansed; “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Heb. ix. 13, 14.
The acts of faith in this ordinance are, first, recognition. That faith which is exercised on the death of Christ, that is past, is to call it over, and make it present to the soul. It is to realize it and bring it before us. It is not a bare remembrance of it, but such a one as makes it present. And where there is faith, there is the same advantage to a believing soul in the participation of this ordinance as there would have been if we had stood by the cross.
Secondly, Faith works by reflecting to humiliation. “They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn” for all their unkindness and unthankfulness to their Saviour. And when we come to this work in this ordinance, self-abasement, self-abhorrence, and brokenness of heart, will be acted, and flow forth in abundance of love to Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, Another act of faith in this ordinance is, thankfulness to God for his wisdom and grace in contriving this way of our salvation; and thankfulness to Christ, in whom was this mind, that, “being in the form of God, and thinking it not robbery to be equal with God, he took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” that he might save us from our sins. If the Lord be pleased to lead us to act faith in any of these things, in some signal and eminent manner, we shall find an advantage in this ordinance.
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