G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

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person, who believes that Christ Jesus is able and willing to save others,
but does not believe in Christ as about to save him. For this also he
shares Avith fallen beings. " The devils believe and tremble," when
they think that Christ has come to save others, but has not come to
save them ; and this belief, instead of teaching them to love Christ,
only embitters their hatred. It may do so with a sinful man, and con-
sequently is not that trust in Christ which will save him.

And again, to believe in our own personal safety through Christ is,
on the other hand, not justifying faith. Because, many an ignorant
and criminal enthusiast has believed this, while his whole life was one
of disobedience to God's commands, and of napiifest enmity to God.
To believe that we are personally safe, that we are the elect of God
through Christ, that we are through Christ children of God, and the
favorites of heaven, and sure of being saved, may be to believe a
falsehood — a mere delusion. It may be, that the person who has
this belief, is none of those things. And it is obvious, that if the
great enemy of souls could desire any thing respecting one of his
miserable captives, he would mostly desire this ; that while he is living
in his sins, and posting down to destruction, he should be perfectly
persuaded, that he was one of God's elect, a child of God and an heir
of glory through Christ: because, that delusion would prevent repent-
ance, and would, more than any thing else, deepen and perpetuate his
sleep of sin.

None of these things can be the justifying faith, of which our text
speaks. But justifying faith is —

The trust which a sinner feels in Christ, to save him from hell, as a
divine Savior, in the method he has revealed, by his atoning sacrifice,
and by his sanctifying Spirit.

This is justifying faith. Let us briefly illustrate its various charac-
teristics.

It must be a trust in Christ to save us. We must see, that the
Lord Jesus Christ is able and willing to save us. Because, my breth-
ren, Christ is come for this purpose. It is this blessing he offers to us,



WHAT IS JUSTIFYING FAITH? 343

as ruined sinners. He has assured you and me, that he is able and
willing to save us. It is the purpose for which he died — for which
the Bible has been written ; and to disbelieve that, would be to disbe-
Heve one of the very principal truths that he has revealed, the princi-
pal act he came to accomplish ; and would be, not faith, but unbelief.
To disbelieve that, is not trust in Christ, but distrust of him ; and no
one can suppose, that he has justifying faith in Christ, while he dis-
believes one of the principal things revealed concerning him. As we
have seen, to disbelieve that, is to be in the condition of rebellious and
apostate spirits ; and that is not the trust, that he will bless. On the
contrary, to believe that he is willing and able to save us, notwith-
standing all our guilt, in the midst of all our dangers, with the sen-
tence of God's law pronounced against us, in the face of an obedience
required which we cannot pay, in the sight of a disobedience which
merits eternal death — that is the trust he asks from us all. The
eternal Son of God demands of every one of you, and of me, that we
do individually trust him to save us.

It is, in the next place, a trust in him to save us from hell. If we
should trust Christ to save us from any thing less, this would not be to
credit the great truth revealed concerning him. We do in fact de-
serve to perish ; we are on our road to perdition, till that blessed mo-
ment when we believe on Christ ; God's law condemns us, and gracious
as he is, he will certainly execute the sentence of his law ; from
that Christ has undertaken to save us ; and to disbelieve that, is, again
I say, to be an unbeliever. It is not to trust him, but to want trust in
him ; it is not faith, but unbelief; and he who should believe any thing
else of Christ, but should not believe that he is able and willing to save
him from hell — from eternal wrath — from all the consequences of
his transgression — would not be a believer in Christ. But if we
should actually perish without Christ, and he has come to save us from
perishing, as his word continually declares, then we deserve it ; for the
Almighty could not inflict upon us that which we do not merit. Hence,
to beUeve that Christ is able and willing to save us from hell, is to
believe that we deserve it ; and it imphes the conviction on our parts,
that we are lost without him, that there is no method of salvation but
in him, that he alone stands between us and everlasting ruin, that if
God gave us our desert individually, we individually should perish.
This is what faith in Christ implies ; and if any man denies that of
himself, does not own it, questions it, puts the thought aside, does not
explicitly and solemnly confess it to himself and God, he may rest
assured he has no faith in Christ. He may believe other things



344 THE ENGLISH PDLPIT.

respecting Christ ; but the great truth that he has come to save him
from eternal ruin, that man rejects.

I said, again, that justifying faith is the persuasion, that Christ is
able and willing to save us from hell, as a divine Savior. Because, he
cannot save us in anj other capacity. If Christ were a mere man, hia
obedience and his sufferings could no more save us, than the obedience
and sufferings of any martyr, like Paul, or like Bradford. Christ's
obedience and sufferings would be no more rational a foundation for our
hope, were he but a man, than the obedience and sufferings of other
holy men ; and if we were to expect to be saved by Christ as a man,
instead of exercising the faith he looks for, we should be unbelievers
still. For the truth is, that his love passes all knowledge, as his merit
passes all knowledge, because as incarnate God he died in our stead.
And hence, if we were to deny this of him, we should deny the principal
truth concerning him. We may call ourselves Christians after denying
it, but we have altered not one truth — as men pretend — we have
altered the whole truth respecting the gospel ; fundamentally altered
it ; changed the whole character of a sinner's trust ; swept away at
one fell blow all those powerful motives we have to obedience and love ;
sentenced man, as the consequence of that denial, to perpetual disobe-
dience and enmity to God. And that men call altering one of the
dogmas of Christianity ! No, brethren ; if we do not rest on Christ as
a divine Savior, who has come in our nature to rescue us from the hell
we merited, we have no justifying faith in him. It is such a faith as
Nero had when he heard of his crucifixion ; such a faith as Pontius Pilate
had, when he sentenced him to death ; the belief that he is a good
man : a belief which does him infinite dishonor. To believe in Christ so
as to be saved, is to look to him to save us from hell as a divine Savior.

I said, again, that justifying faith in Christ is the belief in him as a
divine Savior, to save us in the method he has himself revealed, by Ms
atoning sacrifice ; or rather, by his redemption — by his obedience and
sufferings on our behalf. If we should look to be saved m any other
way than by his atoning sacrifice, we should essentially mutilate his
gospel, deny his claim, and discard that which is the principal founda-
tion of our confidence before God. The word of God declares, that
we are "justified freely, by God's mercy, through the redemption that
is in Christ Jesus." To believe that Christ came to set us a bright
example, and to give us wise and divine counsels, and to animate us
with powerful motives to virtue, and there to end, and there to let our
faith terminate, is to deny the one great truth revealed in all this book,
for which this book has been revealed — that the Lord Jesus Christ,
incarnate God in our nature, died in our place, bore the punishment we



WHAT IS JUSTIFYING FAITH? 345

must have borne, and by that punishment borne in his person, has done
away the necessity that we should suifer any punishment. If we ex-
pected to be saved in any other way, we should not be believing God,
but believing a falsehood ; we should not then be trusting Christ to
save us according to his own revealed method, but in another method
of our own, which would dishonor him, and be a reason for our con-
demnation, and not for our acceptance before God. Hence, justifying
faith is a dependence on Christ to save us by the merit of his
obedience and his suflFerings.

And lastly, justifying faith is an expectation of being saved by him
from hell, not only by the merit of his atoning sacrifice, but hy the
power of his sanctifying Spirit. This, again, is revealed in Scripture.
He has told us, that he means to save us thus, and in no other way.
He has never promised a person to save him in sin, but has declared
he means to save nsfrom sin. He has not said, that he would save
us without the aid of the Spirit, but by giving us the Spirit. He has
not told us, that he will save us without the exertion to which grace
prompts, but by that exertion. There is no word of Scripture, which
states that we shall be saved with unholy hearts, but — " without holi-
ness no man shall see the Lord ? " not one word, which intimates that
prayerless habits will conduct us to glory, but — " whosoever shall call
on the name of the Lord shall be saved ; " and so on, of the whole
circle of Christian obligation. To beUeve, therefore, that Christ will
save us without making us holy, and without conducting us to loving
obedience, is to believe a falsehood. It is to deny what he has
declared. It is not to trust him — to exercise faith on him ; for faith
must rest on his Word ; there is no other foundation for it. It is to be
placing a presumptuous confidence in a mischievous and criminal delu-
sion. That is not faith.

To believe in Christ as the Savior of our souls from hell, secures
obedience in another way, and leads in another manner to a supreme
love to Christ ; but you will observe, that it not only leads to it — it
actually involves it. Because, faith in Christ involves submission to
his will : just as faith in a guide involves the disposition to follow him,
or faith in a commander involves the readiness to march and fight at
his command, or faith in a physician the determination to take his
medicines. Should a man be lost amidst dangerous precipices, and not
know how to effect his escape, and a guide well versed in the mountain
paths should point out the road of safety, and assure him that if he
followed it, he would be safe ; faith in that mountain guide would lead
the lost pilgrim at once to follow. If an army were surrounded by
perils, and expecting to be destroyed, but their commander assured



346 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

them that he would point out the road to victory, if they marched un-
der his orders, and fought at his command ; faith in that commander
would lead them, necessarily^ to march and to fight. If men were
persuaded that their physician could save them by the remedies he
prescribed, faith in that physician would lead them to adopt those rem-
edies. In every instance faith has thus this practical character;
leading to submission to those methods, which the person in whom we
trust, makes the conditions of safety. And hence, to trust in Christ
for our salvation, not only leads to lovmg him, and leads to obeying
him, (as it is most certain it does,) but likewise it includes in the very
idea of it the placing ourselves absolutely under Christ's care. He
offers to save us in one way and to trust that he will save us in that
way, is to submit to that way. So that if we believe in Christ to save
us by communicating his sanctifying Spirit, it implies that we seek
that Spirit ; if we believe that he will save us by making us holy, it
implies that we consent to be made holy ; if we believe that he will
save us in the course of obedience to God's law, it implies that from
the moment we beUeve we are ready so to obey. Imagine for a mo-
ment the contrary ; that a person should believe that he shall be saved
by Christ while he resolves not to obey, not to be holy, not to welcome
the gift of his Spirit ; then he would believe in that which was false,
instead of believing in Christ, for Christ has never promised to save
any one, who is nourishing those tempers.

Thus we come to this general truth : that justifying faith in Christ
is the trust that any one feels in him, to save himself from eternal
death, as a divine Savior, in the method he has himself revealed, by
his atoning sacrifice, and by his sanctifying grace.

To what extent, let us ask, in the next place, does the possession of
this faith justify ? " Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation
through faith in his blood."

I have often dwelt on the scriptural proofs of this point in our sub-
ject ; I shall therefore merely remind you in passing, that this faith is
spoken of in Scripture, as justifying by itself — as the one sole condi-
tion of justification. " Therefore we conclude," says the apostle, in a
verse which follows our text, " that a man is justified hy faith, without
the deeds of the law." This justifying faith is further declared, in
Scripture to secure the acquittal of any person who trusts Christ. It
is not the less guilty only, but the most guilty may secure acquittal
and safety by its instrumentality. As the apostle here tells us — " the
righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all
them that believe ; for there is no difference." The worst and the



WHAT IS JUSTIFYING FAITH? 347

best, all may alike be justified, upon their receiving this inestimable
gift of God ; and he who believes, is pardoned and accepted. The
Scripture no less declares, that those -who possess this justifying faith,
are acquitted of all their sins, and are entitled to all the privileges of
the new covenant. " By him all that believe are justified from all
things." The justification is complete ; so that a sinner is accepted
as though he was perfectly innocent, becomes a child of God, and is
adopted by his love, and receives all the blessings of his children, in-
cluding preservation by his power and grace, and then eternal glory,
which he has received for all who love him and obey him. And again :
this justifying grace secures all these privileges, the very first moment
it is exercised. As there is nothing else — nothing whatever —
which is the condition of justification, therefore years of obedience
can add nothing to it. The moment a sinner believes, he passes from
a state of condemnation into a state of justification. The dying thief
beheved upon Christ, and he merited eternal death, and was within a
few minutes of it, but, in that moment when he believed, all his sins
were pardoned, and at once Christ said to him, " This day shalt thou
be with me in Paradise." And that is the rule ; that is what must
ensue. If it be true that faith is the one condition, the one instrument of
the sinner's justification, then the moment he possesses that one instru-
ment, the moment he has fulfilled that one condition, he is a justified
person. To delay it, would be to interfere with that divinely ordained
method of justification ; it would be to bring in something else as the
condition ; and it could be easily shown, that the introduction of any
delay would be the dishonor of Christ, If faith in him is the one
appointed condition, the moment that any sinner, however black the
guilt which he has contracted, does rest his soul upon Christ as the
one great atoning sacrifice, and the prevaiUng intercessor, that moment
are his sins obliterated, and he is adopted into the family of God.

Let us now, in the last place, consider for a moment the manner in
which this faith justifies.

We have already seen, that a sinner is justified without the deeds
of the law ; " and this proves, not merely that a sinner is justified with-
out the merit of the law, without the merit of works, but that he is
justified without the condition of works ; and that it is as unscriptural,
to declare that faith on the condition of works justifies, as to say that
faith justifies by the merit of Christ and the merit of works. There is
no condition of works ; and could there be, it must be obvious to the
dullest understanding that two things would follow : first, that the being
justified by works, as a condition appointed by God in addition to that



348 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

of faith, would so far obscure the glory of the Savior, through whose
sole merit the sinner is accepted ; and next, that it would necessarily
and invariably lead each person to trust his own works, rather than
Christ. It would be vain, to tell persons that there was no merit in
those works, but that their works were the condition of justification,
just as their faith was ; inevitably and necessarily, they would attach
the idea of their justification and salvation to those works, and on those
works they would rest. And thus, both a sinner would be separated
from that exclusive confidence in the merit of Christ which he ought
to feel, and the merit of Christ would be necessarily obscured by the
very fact of such a condition.

God has made no such condition. The one condition is faith. And
since the Redeemer is the sole meritorious cause of the justification of
any sinner, we see that it must be becoming and fitting in the Al-
mighty, to grant the sinner's justification in such a way, as shall give
Christ all the glory. He has, therefore, made faith the sole condition ;
because it is most obvious, that by faith as the sole condition does
Christ receive, as he ought, all the glory. Let a sinner trust in Christ
alone for his salvation from eternal death ; and then, placing himself
as a ruined creature under Christ's care, it is what you might expect
from the infinite mercy of that gracious Redeemer, that he should
welcome such a humble penitent. " Him that cometh to me I will in
no wise cast out." If we apply to Christ for salvation with no other
plea than this, that we are ruined, and he is a mighty and a gracious
Savior. Christ asks nothing else. What else should he ask ? An
atonement ? He came himself to atone. Holiness and love ? He
came, not to fiad them in the rebellious, but to create them both. He
asks, therefore, nothing else ; but if a humbled sinner feels that he is
ruined, and applies to Christ as a gracious and mighty Savior, to res-
cue him from eternal death, Christ is gracious enough to welcome him.
He becomes Christ's disciple ; he receives all through Christ ; and as
a humble penitent, renouncing his rebellion, he both acknowledges his
own ruin, trusts the merit of the Savior in opposition to a trust in the
mere mercy of God, and in opposition to a trust in any merit of his
own, and so submits to Christ's method of saving him, and places
himself under his dominion, to be sanctified and guided from that
day. For such Christ intercedes ; welcoming the penitent believer,
who gives him all the glory, he now intercedes for him ; and God
accepts the intercession ; and that penitent believer trusting exclu-
sively to Christ, is welcomed through his intercession. At the
same time, you may see, that when a person thus trusts in Christ
alone, he does what in him lies, to proclaim to the whole world



WHAT IS JUSTIFYING FAITH? 849

around him his sense of the enormity of sin, which could be par
doned by no other sacrifice than Christ's ; and his sense of the
holiness and truth of God, who would admit him on no other terms ;
and his sense of the infinite mercy and infinite merit of Christ, through
whom he is accepted ; and his sense of the need that his rebellious
heart should be brought back again to God, by his submitting to be
saved by his sanctifying grace ; and by this does he give all the glory
in a sinner's power to that great and gracious Savior.

What other instrument of justification can be so suitable as this ?
We see, on the one hand, that God will justify a sinner because of
Christ's righteousness, and will give to Christ all the glory ; we see,
on the other hand, an instrument of justification, by which all the glory
is rendered to Christ ; and it must be plain to the commonest under-
standing, that that instrument, and none other, is that which may be
most honorable to God, to order and establish as the one condition of
a sinner's salvation. Is there merit in this act of faith ? No more
than there was in Peter, when, because he was sinking in the water,
he trusted Christ's power and love to save him from it. No more than
there was in the army of Israel, when they believed that the power of
God would divide for them the Red Sea, and carry them in safety
through it. No more merit, than there is in the destitute and dying
welcoming the alms, that may save them from destruction. There is
no merit in faith. It is not by faith as a work, by faith as a meritori-
ous attainment, that any sinner is justified ; but it is by the riches of
Christ, which faith apprehends, and lays hold upon. It is by that
which gives to Christ all the glory, and precludes all merit in the
sinner, that God has determined to justify every sinner who z's justified.

If this, my brethren, be the plain, scriptural account of the way in
which a sinner is justified by God, it is very easy to see how important
it is, that you and I should not alone reason about faith, not alone
talk about faith, but should have this justifying faith. In fact,
it is impossible for me adequately to state the importance of
obtaining this blessing. All blessings flow from it. Once obtain
this saving faith in Christ, and we are glorious forever. Once
obtain it, and the attributes of God are around us, like a fortress,
that no evil can invade. Once obtain it, and the privileges of the
new covenant of grace are ours. Without it, we are shut out from
salvation, and honor, and happiness. No words can express the
importance of every living and thinking soul in this congregation
getting this faith. We must have it. We shall be lost without it.
We shall hasten down to ruin, if we have not faith ; and the more we
know of it, the more convinced we are of it. the worse will it be for us



350 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

if we do not get it. That faith must burn in our bosoms, as the prin-
ciple of eternal life, or we perish. We must have it, or we die.

Does any one here say — I cannot have it ; I have no faith, and I
cannot have it ? What does that mean — I cannot have faith ? Is
Christ deserving your confidence ? Are God's invitations plain and
certain ? Is it necessary to escape from hell, and to reach heaven ?
Must you be happy ? Have you an indestructible thirst after happi-
ness ? Is the way to happiness made plain before you ? Why, then, do
you not take it ? What is the meaning of saying, I cannot believe ?

It means this, as you must see if you recall what justifying faith is :
I cannot see that I am a lost sinner ; I will not own it ; and therefore
I cannot trust Christ's atoning sacrifice, and Christ's sanctifying grace.
Is this what it means ? Then what fatal pride there is in that man,
or woman, or child, in this congregation, that ventures, in the face
of facts that will silence all of us when we stand before the judg-
ment seat, and ought to silence all of us now, to say — I cannot own
that I am a hell-doomed sinner ; I cannot own that I merit my Maker's
eternal curse ? We shall see it plainly enough hereafter, if we do not
see it now ; and there is nothing to account for the dulness of our
vision, but the pride of our hearts. What fatal pride, if we should
have to own before God at the last, that in the face of all the clearest
demonstration of his word, his attributes, and the workings of our own
common sense, we denied that we deserved his eternal wrath !

Or does it mean — I cannot trust Christ's great sacrifice, and per-
fect obedience, and declared love ? What ingratitude to him ! what
causeless unbelief! Is it true, or is it not true, that that unseen, but
Almighty Savior is ready to intercede for you, and give you his Spirit,
and carry you to heaven ? Is it true, or is it not, that there is not one
soul in this congregation, for whom Christ Jesus did not give his blood,
and whom he is not now ready to make a child of God and an heir of
heaven ? What fatal, what damnable unbelief, if notwithstanding all
this, any one in this congregation says — I cannot trust him !

Or does it mean, that because he has revealed that he will save you
by making you holy, by leading you to obey, by making you mortify



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 39 of 45)