Faith is not then properly the condition of the Covenant, upon the performance of which, they have a right and title to it; but a choice effect of it, and a singular means for the application of the promises, and fetching in of Covenant blessings to the Soul: by that the Promise, or what is in the Promise, is given to it, and Faith having thus to do with the Promises, it must needs have an aptitude above other Graces, above Sanctification and Evangelical obedience to witness a Soul’s interest in the everlasting Covenant.
By Faith the Soul maketh out [i.e. looks] to Jesus Christ in the Free Promise, as he alone that giveth it subsistence in spiritual Life…Christians live by Faith, by what is laid up in Divine Promises, by these things they live.
I have often thought, if Christians did give more attendance to such direct acts of Faith, and spent less time in questioning their conditions, or giving way to doubtings about them, they would find their interest in the Covenant cleared up, yea and consolation also coming in as by the by.
We are to take heed, that we do not ground and bottom our consolation on the qualifications within, but on the promise itself (or the Lord therein) without. Many are drawing and fetching their comfort from their faith and other graces, and lay the stress of it there, and accordingly are up and down, ebbing and flowing therein, instead of fetching it from the Lord in the promise, an immutable thing, Heb. 6.18. by the means of faith and taking that and other graces only as evidences of interest in it. Some, because they are weary and heavy laden, thence take their rest
and refreshment, wheras they are called out of themselves, to come for it to Jesus Christ, Matth. 11.28. When qualifications lie most dark, or are most clearly discerned, yet we should not look so much to these, as to Jesus Christ in the promise for Consolation … when Jesus Christ was upon Earth, he performed the office of a Mediator as to satisfaction; and now he is in heaven, he doth it still as to intercession, Heb. 7.25. He presenteth his obedience continually to the Father for our obtainment for what he hath purchased. Would we have any foederal blessings, the Law written in our heart in more lively characters, the Lord witnessed more fully to be our God, sin to be pardoned? Let our faith be acting upon him as one that mediateth for our obtainment of all; for he is the Mediator, not of the Old, but of the New and Better Testament, which is established upon better Promises.
“We claim Salvation not in the right of any act of ours, not upon the Rent of Faith (as men hold Tenements by the payment of a Penny, a Rose, or such like) no such thing here; all is paid to the utmost Farthing by our Surety, and we hold and claim upon the obedience of Jesus Christ alone.”
Although Christ fulfilled the Law for us, so as it is imputed to us, and we made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. 5.21. Yet it doth not follow that we should be freed altogether from the obligation of the Law unto obedience; for the righteousness of Jesus Christ, his obeying and fulfilling of the Law for us, was as the condition of Life, or that upon which the Lord hath promised Justification unto Life; but we may be (and are) obliged to obedience, not for that, but for other ends; not in the least for our Justification and title to Life; but as a part of our Sanctification; and we sin in not obeying, that we may glorifie God by those fruits of our being Spiritually alive. Christ’s obedience was for one end, ours is for another; as his sufferings were for one end, our afflictions for another, and neither of them unnecessary.
Hence in opposition to that Sinai Law which ran upon those terms Do and Live, under the dispensation of the New, we hear so often of Believe and be saved, and he which believeth have everlasting Life, Mark 16.16.
Joh.3.16, 36. Not that believing now, taketh the place of doing in the Old Covenant; for then it must be our righteousness unto Justification, Gal 3.12. Rom 10.5., whereas that which justifieth is called, the righteousness of Faith, ver.6. and Phil.3.9. and therefore Faith is distinct from that righteousness it self, is not the least Atome of it: therefore, not our believing, but the obedience of Jesus Christ, is that which cometh in the room and stead of that doing for Life intended in the Law.
When the condition of any Covenant is performed, it becometh absolute, as if there had never been any annexed to it. Now, Jesus Christ is mentioned as our great High-Priest and Mediatour, and that as having finished the work of Satisfaction, [Heb 8] ver. 1, 2, 6. and the condition contained in the Old, being exactly and compleatly fulfilled by him, it naturally or necessarily must turn into an absolute form as in the New, because upon his performance, nothing more is to be demanded of him, but all must certainly be accomplished unto us.
Some think the righteousness of Jesus Christ, or his active obedience in our stead, needless; unless as a part of his satisfaction for sin; because (say they) the law requires not of us both suffering and obedience. I Answer, the Law, as a Covenant of Works, required suffering in satisfaction for sin, and as it belongeth to the Covenant of Grace, so it requireth perfect obedience (to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ) as the condition of the Justification and Life of sinners.