Preliminary Remarks. § 2.
The Psychological Nature of Faith.
Different Kinds of Faith.
Faith and Knowledge. § 5.
Faith and Feeling. § 6.
Faith and Love.
The Object of Saving Faith. § 8.
Effects of Faith.
§ 1. Preliminary Remarks.
The first conscious exercise of the renewed soul is faith, as the first
conscious act of a man born blind whose eyes have been opened, is seeing. The
exercise of vision in such a man is indeed attended by so many new sensations
and emotions that he cannot determine how much of this new experience comes
through the eye, and how much from other sources. It is so with the believer.
As soon as his eyes are opened by the renewing of the Holy Ghost he is in a
new world. Old things have passed away, all things are become new. The
apprehension of "the things of God" as true lies at the foundation of all the
exercises of the renewed soul. The discussions on the question, Whether faith
precedes repentance, or repentance faith, can have no place if the meaning of
the words be agreed upon. Unless faith be limited to some of its special
exercises there can be no question that in the order of nature it must precede
repentance. Repentance is the turning of the soul from sin unto God, and
unless this be produced by the believing apprehension of the truth it is not
even a rational act. As so much prominence is assigned to faith in the
Scriptures, as all the promises of God are addressed to believers, and as all
the conscious exercises of spiritual life involve the exercise of faith,
without which they are impossible, the importance of this grace cannot be
overestimated. To the theologian and to the practical Christian it is
indispensable that clear and correct ideas should be entertained on the
subject. It is one of special difficulty. This difficulty arises partly from
the nature of the subject; partly from the fact that usage has assigned the
word faith so many different meanings; partly from the arbitrary definitions
given of it by philosophers and theologians; and partly from the great
diversity of aspects under which it is presented in the Word of God.
The question, What is Faith? is a very comprehensive one In one view it
is a metaphysical question. What is the psychological natme of the act or
state of the mind which we designate faith, or belief? In this aspect the
discussion concerns the philosopher as much as the theologian. Secondly, faith
may be viewed as to its exercise in the whole sphere of religion and morality.
Thirdly, it may be considered as a Christian grace, the fruit of the Spirit;
that is, those exercises of faith which are peculiar to the regenerated people
of God. This is what is meant by saving faith. Fourthly, it may be viewed in
its relation to justification, sanctification, and holy living, or, as to
those special exercises of faith which are required as the necessary
conditions of the sinner's acceptance with God, or as essential to holiness of
heart and life.
§ 2. The Psychological Nature of
Faith in the widest sense of the word, is assent to the truth, or the
persuasion of the mind that a thing is true. In ordinary popular language we
are said to believe whatever we regard as true. The primary element of faith
is trust. The Hebrew word !m;a' means to sustain, to uphold. In the Niphal,
to be firm, and, in a moral sense, to be trustworthy. In the Hiphil, to regard
as firm, or trustworthy, to place trust or confidence in. In like manner the
Greek pisteu,w (from pi,stij,
and that from pei,qw, to persuade), means to trust,
i. e., to be persuaded that a person or thing is trustworthy. Hence the
epithet pisto,j is applied to any one who is, and
who shows himself to be, worthy of trust. In Latin credere (whence our
word credit) has the same meaning. In mercantile matters it means to lend, to
trust to; and then in general, to exercise trust in. "Crede mihi," trust me,
rely on my word. Fides (from fido, and that from pei,qw), is also trust, confidence exercised in
regard to any person or thing; then the disposition, or virtue which excites
confidence; then the promise, declaration, or pledge which is the outward
ground of confidence. In the cognate words, fidens, fidelis,
fiducia, the same idea is prominent. The German word "Glaube" has the same
general meaning. It is defined by Heinsius (Worterbuch): "der Zustand des
Gemuthes, da man eine Sache fur wahr halt und sich darauf verlasst," i. e.,
"that state of mind in which a man receives and relies upon a thing as true."
The English word "faith" is said to be from the Anglo-Saxon "faegan" to
covenant. It is that state ef mind which a covenant requires or supposes; that
is, it is confidence in a person or thing as trustworthy. "To believe," is
defined by the Latin "credere, fidem dare sive habere." "The etymologists,"
says Richardson, "do not attempt to account for this important word: it is
undoubtedly formed on the Dut. Leven; Ger. Leben; A.-S.
Lif-ian, Be-lif-ian; Goth. Liban, vivere, to live, or
be-live, to dwell. Live or leve, be- or bi-live or
leve, are used indifferently by old writers, whether to denote
vivere or credere. . . . To believe, then, is to live by or
according to, to abide by; to guide, conduct, regulate, govern, or direct the
life by; to take, accept, assume or adopt as a rule of life;
and, consequently, to think, deem, or judge right; to be firmly persuaded of,
to give credit to; to trust, or think trustworthy; to have or give faith or
confidence; to confide, to think or deem faithful."
The Primary Idea of Faith is Trust.
From all this it appears that the primary idea of faith is trust. The
primary idea of truth is that which is trustworthy; that which sustains our
expectations, which does not disappoint, because it really is what it is
assumed or declared to be. It is opposed to the deceitful, the false, the
unreal, the empty, and the worthiess. To regard a thing as true, is to regard
it as worthy of trust, as being what it purports to be. Faith, in the
comprehensive and legitimate meaning of the word, therefore, is trust.
In accordance with this general idea of faith, Augustine1
says, "Credere, nihil aliud est, quam cum assensione cogitare." Thus, also,
says, "Belief admits of all degrees, from the slightest suspicion to the
fullest assurance. . . . There are many operations of the mind in which . . .
. we find belief to be an essential ingredient. . . . Belief is an ingredient
in consciousness, in perception, and in remembrance. . . . We give the name of
evidence to whatever is a ground of belief. . . . What this evidence is, is
more easily felt than described. . . . The common occasions of life lead us to
distinguish evidence into different kinds such as the evidence of sense, the
evidence of memory, the evidence of consciousness, the evidence of testimony,
the evidence of axioms, the evidence of reasoning. . . . They seem to me to
agree only in this, that they are all fitted by nature to produce belief in
the human mind."
The more limited Sense of the Word.
There is, however, in most cases a great difference between the general
signification of a word and its special and characteristic meaning. Although,
therefore, there is an element cf belief in all our cognitions, there is an
important difference between what is strictly and properly called faith, and
those states or acts of the mind which we designate as sight or perception,
intuition, opinions, conclusions, or apodictic judgments. What that
characteristic difference is, is the point to be determined. There are modes
of statement on this subject current among a certain class of philosophers and
theologians, which can hardly be regarded as definitions of faith. They take
the word out of its ordinary and established meaning, or arbitrarily limit it
to a special sphere of our mental operations. Thus Morell3
says, "Faith is the intuition of eternal verities." But eternal verities are
not the only objects of faith; nor is intuition the only mode of apprehending
truth which is of the nature of belief. The same objections bear against the
assertion that "Faith is the organ for the supernatural and divine; "or, as
Eschenmayer expresses it,4
"Ein vom Denken, Fuhlen und Wollen verschiedenes, eigenthumliches Organ fur
das Ewige und Heilige; a special organ for the eternal and the holy." The
supernatural and divine, however, are not the exclusive objects even of
religious faith. It is by faith we know that the worlds were made by the word
of God; it was by faith Noah prepared the ark, and Abraham, being called of
God, went out not knowing whither he went. The objects of faith in these cases
are not what is meant by "eternal verities." It is, moreover, an arbitrary
assumption that faith is "a special organ," even when things supernatural and
divine are its object. Our nature is adapted to the reception of all kinds of
truth of which we can have any idea. But it is not necessary to assume a
special organ for historical truths, a special organ for scientific truths,
and another for the general truths of revelation, and still another for "the
eternal and the holy." God has constituted us capable of belief, and the
complex state of mind involved in the act of faith is of course different
according to the nature of the truth believed, and the nature of the evidence
on which our faith is founded. But this does not necessitate the assumption of
a distinct organ for each kind of truth.
Faith not to be regarded as simply a Christian
No less unsatisfactory are those descriptions of faith which regard it
only in its character as a Christian and saving grace. Delitzsch, for example,5
describes faith as the most central act of our being; the return to God, the
going out of our inner life to Him. "This longing after God s free, merciful
love, as his own Word declares it, a longing, reaching forth, and grasping it;
this naked, unselfish craving, feeling itself satisfied with nothing else than
God's promised grace; this eagerness, absorbing every ray of light that
proceeds from God's reconciled love; this convinced and safety-craving
appropriation and clinging to the word of grace; this is faith. According to
its nature, it is the pure receptive correlative of the word of promise; a
means of approachmg again to God, which, as the word itself, is appointed
through the distance of God in consequence of sin; for faith has to confide in
the word, in spite of all want of comprehension, want of sight, want of
experience. No experimental actus reflexi belong to the nature of
faith. It is, according to its nature, actia directa, to wit,
fiducia supplex." All this is doubtless true of the believer. He does thus
long after God, and appropriate the assurance of his love, and cling to his
promises of grace; but faith has a wider range than this. There are exercises
of faith not included in this description, recorded in Scripture, and
especially in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
says that religious faith, the faith on which the Scriptures lay so much
stress, is, "Bewusstseyn der Versohnung mit Gott, consciousness of
reconciliation with God." He insists that faith cannot be separated from its
contents. It is not the man who holds this or that to be true, who is a
believer; but the man who is convinced of a specific truth, namely, that he is
reconciled with God. Calling faith a consciousness is not a definition of its
nature. And limiting it to a consciousness of reconciliation with God is
contrary to the usage of Scripture and of theology.
Definitions of Faith founded on its Subjective
The more common and generally received definitions of faith, may
perhaps be reduced to three classes, all of which include the general idea of
persuasion of the truth. But some seek the distinguisbing character of faith
in its subjective nature, others, in the nature of its object; others, in the
nature of the evidence, or ground on which it rests.
Faith as distinguished from Opinion and
To the first of these classes belong the following definitions: Faith
or belief is said to be a persuasion of the truth stronger than opinion, and
weaker than knowledge. Metaphysicians divide the objects of our cognitions
into the possible, the real, and the necessary. With regard to the merely
possible we can form only conjectures, or opinions, more or less plausible or
probable. With regard to things which the mind with greater or less confidence
views as certain, although it cannot justify that confidenoe to itself or
others, i. e., cannot demonstrate the certainty of the object, it is said to
believe. What it is perfectly assured of, and can demonstrate to be true so as
to coerce conviction, it is said to know. Thus Locke defines faith to be the
assent of the mind to propositions which are probably, but not certainly true.
says, "I propose to confine it [belief or faith] first, to the effect on the
mind of the premises in what is termed probable reasoning, or what I have
named contingent reasoning -- in a word the premises in all reasoning, but
that which is demonstrative; and secondly, to the state of holding true when
that state, far from being the effect of any premises discerned by the mind,
is dissociated from all evidence." To believe is to admit a thing as true,
according to Kant, on grounds sufficient subjectively, insufficient
objectively. Or, as more fully stated, "Holding for true, or the subjective
validity of a judgment in relation to conviction (which is, at the same time,
objectively valid) has the three following degrees: opinion, belief, and
knowledge. Opinion is a consciously insufficient judgment, subjectively as
well as objectively. Belief is subjectively sufficient, but is recognized as
being objectively insufficient. Knowledge is both subjectively and objectively
sufficient. Subjective sufficiency is termed conviction (for myself);
objective sufficiency is termed certainty (for all)."8
says, "Man versteht unter Glauben eine jede Gewissheit, die geringer ist als
das Wissen, und etwa starker ist als ein blesses Meinen oder Furmoglichhalten
(z. B. ich glaube, dass es heute regnen wird)." "By faith is understood any
persuasion which is weaker than knowledge, but somewhat stronger than a mere
deeming possible or probable, as, e. g., I believe it will rain to-day." This
he gives as the commonly accepted meaning of the word, although he utterly
repudiates it as a definition of religious faith.
It is urged in support of this definition of faith that with regard to
everything of which we are not absolutely sure, and yet are persuaded or
convinced of its truth, we say we believe. Thus with respect to things
remembered; if the recollection is indistinct and uncertain, we say we think,
e. g., we think we saw a certain person at a given time and place; we are not
sure, but such is our impression. If our persuasion of the fact be stronger,
we say we believe it. If we have, and can have, no doubt about it, wa say we
know it. In like manner the testimony of our senses may be so weak as to
produce only a probability that the thing is as it appears; if clearer, it
produces a belief more or less decided; if so clear as to preclude all doubt,
the effect is knowledge. If we see a person at a distance, and we are entirely
uncertain who it is, we can only say we think it is some one whom we know. If
that persuasion becomes stronger, we say, we believe it is he. If perfectly
sure, we say, we know it. In all these cases the only difference between
opinion, belief, and knowledge, is their relative strength. The objects are
the same, their relation to the mind is the same, and the ground or evidence
on which they severally rest is of the same kind. It is said that it would be
incorrect to say, "We believe that we slept in our house last night;" if
perfectly sure of the fact. If a witness in a court of justice simply says, "I
believe I was at a certain place at a given time," his testimony would be of
no value. He must be able to say that he is sure of the fact -- that he knows
Objections to this Definition.
Of this definition of faith, it may be remarked, --
1. That the meaning which it assigns to the word is certainly
legitimate, sustained by established usage. The states of mind expressed by
the words, I think a thing to be true; I believe it; I know it, are
distinguished from each other simply by the different degrees of certainty
which enter into them respectively. The probable ground of this use of the
word to believe, is, that there is more of the element of trust (or a
voluntarily giving to evidence a greater influence on the mind than of
necessity belongs to it), manifest in our consciousness, than is expressed by
saying we think, or, we know. However this may be, it cannot be denied that
the word belief often expresses a degree of conviction greater than opinion
and less than knowledge.
2. But this is not the distinguishing characteristic of faith, or its
differentia. There are exercises of faith into which this uncertainty
does not enter. Some of the strongest convictions of which the mind is capable
are beliefs. Even our assurance of the veracity of consciousness, the
foundation of all other convictions, is of the nature of faith. So the primary
truths which are, and must be assumed in all our researches and arguments, are
beliefs. They are taken on trust. They cannot be proved. If any man denies
them, there is nothing more to be said. He cannot be convinced. Sir William
says, "St. Austin accurately says, 'We know what rests upon reason; we believe
what rests upon authority.' But reason itself must at last rest upon
authority; for the original data of reason do not rest on reason, but are
necessarily accepted by reason on the authority of what is beyond itself.
These data are, therefore, in rigid propriety, beliefs or trusts. Thus it is
that, in the last resort, we must, perforce, philosophically admit, that
belief is the primary condition of reason, and not reason the ultimate ground
of belief. We are compelled to surrender the proud Intellige ut credas
of Abelard, to content ourselves with the humble Crede ut intelligas of
The same is true in other spheres. The effect on the mind produced by
human testimony is universally recognized as faith. If that testimony is
inadequate it does not preclude doubt; but it may be so strong as to make all
doubt impossible. No sane man ean doubt the existence of such cities as London
and Paris. But to most men that existence is not a matter of knowledge either
intuitive or discursive. It is something taken on trust, on the authority of
others; which taking on trust is admitted by philosophers, theologians, and
the mass of men, to be a form of faith. Again, in some moral states of mind a
man's conviction of the reality of a future state of reward and punishment is
as strong as his belief in his own existence, and much stronger than his
confidence in the testimony of his senses. And yet a future state of existence
is not a matter of knowledge. It is an object of faith, or a thing believed.
We accordingly find that the Scriptures teach that there is a full assurance
of faith; a faith which precludes the possibility of doubt. Paul says, "I know
whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I
have committed unto him against that day." (2 Tim. i. 12.) As Job had said
ages before, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." The Apostle declares, Hebrews
xi. 1, faith to be an u`po,stasij and
e;legcoj, than which no stronger terms could be
selected to express assured conviction. The power, also, which the Bible
attributes to faith as the controlling principle of life, as overcoming the
world, subduing kingdoms, stopping the mouths of lions, quenching the violence
of fire, turning to flight the armies of the aliens, is proof enough that it
is no weak persuasion of the truth. That definition, therefore, which makes
the characteristic of faith to be a measure of confidence greater than
opinion, but less than knowledge, cannot be deemed satisfactory.
Faith not a Voluntary Conviction.
A second definition of faith, founded on its nature, is that which
makes it "a voluntary conviction or persuasion of the truth." This is a very
old view of the matter. According to Theodoret,11pi,stij
evsti.n e`kou,sioj th/j yuch/j sugkata,qesij, i. e., "a voluntary
assent of the mind." And Thomas Aquinas says,12
"Credere est actus intellectus assentientis veritati divinae ex imperio
voluntatis a Deo motae per gratiam."13
He distinguishes between knowledge and faith by representing the former as the
conviction produced by the object itself seen intuitively or discursively ("sicut
patet in principiis primis, . . . vel . . . . sicut patet de conclusionibus")
to be true; whereas in the latter the mind is not sufficiently moved to assent
"ab objecto proprio, sed per quandam electionem, voluntarie declinans in unam
partem magis quam in alteram. Et siquidem haec sit cum dubitatione et
formidine alterius partis, erit opinio. Si autem sit cum certitudine absque
tali formidine, erit fides."
This definition admits of different explanations. The word "voluntary,"
if its meaning be determined by the wide sense of the word "will," includes
every operation of the mind not purely intellectual. And therefore to say that
faith is a voluntary assent is to say that faith is not merely a speculative
assent, an act of the judgment pronouncing a thing to be true, but includes
feeling. Nitsch, therefore, defines faith to be a "gefuhlsmassiges Erkennen."
"Die Einheit des Gefuhls und der Erkenntniss;14
a knowledge or persuasion of truth combined with feeling, -- the unity of
feeling and knowledge." But if the word "will" be taken in the sense of the
power of self-determination, then nothing is voluntary which does not involve
the exercise of that power. If in this sense faith be voluntary, then we must
have the power to believe or disbelieve at pleasure. If we believe the truth,
it is because we choose or determine ourselves to receive it; if we reject it,
it is because we will to disbelieve it. The decision is determined neither by
the nature of the object nor by the nature or degree of the evidence.
Sometimes both of these meanings of the word voluntary seem to be combined by
those who define faith to be a voluntary assent of the mind, or an assent of
the intellect determined by the will. This appears from what Aquinas, for
example, says when he discusses the question whether faith is a virtue. He
argues that if faith be a virtue, which he admits it to be, it must include
love, because love is the form or principle of all the virtues; and it must be
self-determined because there could be no virtue in faith if it were the
inevitable effect of the evidence or testimony. If a virtue, it must include
an act of self-determination; we must decide to do what we have the power not
Remarks on this Definition of Faith.
This definition of faith contains many elements of truth. In the first
place: it is true that faith and feeling are often inseparable. They together
constitute that state of mind to which the name faith is given. The perception
of beauty is of necessity connected with the feeling of delight. Assent to
moral truth involves the feeling of moral approbation. In like manner
spiritual discernment (faith when the fruit of the Spirit) includes delight in
the things of the Spirit, not only as true, but as beautiful and good. This is
the difference between a living and dead faith. This is the portion of truth
involved in the Romish doctrine of a formed and unformed faith. Faith (assent
to the truth) connected with love is the fides formata; faith without
love is fides informis. While, however, it is true that faith is often
necessarily connected with feeling, and, therefore, in one sense of the term,
is a voluntary assent, yet this is not always the csse. Whether feeling
attends and enters into the exercise of faith, depends upon its object (or the
thing believed) and the evidence on which it is founded. When the object of
faith is speculative truth, or some historical event past or future; or when
the evidence or testimony on which faith is founded is addressed only to the
understanding and not to the conscience or to our emotional or religious
nature, then faith does not involve feeling. We believe the great mass of
historical facts to which we assent as true, simply on historical testimony,
and without any feeling entering into, or necessarily connected with it. The
same is true with regard to a large part of the contents of the Bible. They,
to a great extent, are historical, or the predictions of historical events.
When we believe what the Scriptures record concerning the creation, the
deluge, the calling of Abraham, the overthrow of the cities of the plain, the
history of Joseph, and the like, our faith does not include feeling. It is not
an exercise of the will in either sense of that word. It is simply a rational
conviction founded on sufficient evidence. It may be said, as Aquinas does
say, that it is love or reverence towards God which inclines the will to
believe such faets on the authority of his Word. But wicked men believe them,
and cannot help believing them. A man can hardly be found who does not believe
that the Israelites dwelt in Egypt, escaped from bondage, and took possession
of the land of Canaan.
In the second place, it is true not only that faith is in many cases
inseparable from feeling, but also that feeling has much influence in
determining our faith. This is especially true when moral and religious truths
are the objects of faith. Want of congeniality with the truth produces
insensibility to the evidence by which it is supported. Our Lord said to the
Jews, "Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep." (John x. 26.) And in
another place, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine,
whether it be of God." (vii. 17.) And the Apostle says of those that are lost,
"The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest
the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should
shine unto them." (2 Cor. iv. 4.) The truth was present, attended by
appropriate and abundant evidence, but there was no susceptibility. The defect
was in the organ of vision, not in the want of light. The Scriptures uniformly
refer the unbelief of those who reject the gospel to the state of their
hearts. There can be no doubt that all the true children of God received
Christ as their God and Saviour on the evidence which He gave of him divine
character and mission, and that He was rejected only by the unrenewed and the
wicked, and because of their wickedness. Hence unbelief is so great a sin. Men
are condemned because they believe not on the only begotten Son of God. (John
iii. 18.) All this is true. It is true of saving faith. But it is not true of
all kinds of even religious faith; that is, of faith which has religious truth
for its object. And, therefore, it cannot furnish the differentia or
criterion to distinguish faith from other forms of assent to truth. There are
states of mind not only popularly, but correctly called belief, of which it is
not true that love, or congeniality, is an element. There is such a thing as
dead faith, or orthodoxy. There is such a thing as speculative faith. Simon
Magus believed. Even the devils believe. And if we turn to other than
religious truths it is still more apparent that faith is not necessarily a
voluntary assent of the mind. A man may hear of something most repugnant to
his feelings, as, for example, of the triumph of a rival. He may at first
refuse to believe it; but the testimony may become so strong as to force
conviction. This conviction is, by common consent, faith or belief. It is not
sight; it is not intuition; it is not a deduction; it is belief; a conviction
founded on testimony. This subject, i. e., the connection between faith and
feeling, will come up again in considering other definitions.
In the third place, if we take the word voluntary in the sense which
implies volition or self-determination, it is still more evident that faith
cannot be defined as voluntary assent. It is, indeed, a proverb that a man
convinced, against his will remains unconvinced. But this is only a popular
way of expressing the truth just conceded, namely, that the feelings have, in
many cases, great influence in determining our faith. But, as just remarked, a
man may be constrained to believe against his will. He may struggle against
conviction; he may determine he will not believe, and yet conviction may be
forced upon him. Napoleon, at the battle of Waterloo, hears that Grouchy is
approaching. He gladly believes it. Soon the report reaches him that the
advandug columns are Prussians. This he will not believe. Soon, however, as
courier after courier confirms the unwelcome fact, he is forced to believe it.
It is not true, therefore, that in faith as faith there is always, as Aquinas
says, an election "voluntarie declinans in unam partem magis quam in alteram."
There is ancther frequent experience. We often hear men say they would give
the world if they could believe. The dying Grotius said he would give all his
learning for the simple faith of his unlettered servant. To tell a man he can
believe if he will is to contradict his consciousness. He tries to believe. He
earnestly prays for faith; but he cannot exercise it. It is true, as concerns
the sinner in relation to the gospel, that this inability to believe arises
from the state of his mind. But this state of the mind lies below the will. It
cannot be determined or changed by the exercise of any voluntary power. On
these grounds the definition of faith, whether as generic or religious, as a
voluntary assent to truth, must be considered unsatisfactory.
Definitions founded on the Object of Faith.
The preceding definitions are all founded on the assumed subjective
nature of faith. The next definition is of a different kind. It is founded on
the nature of its object. Faith is said to be the persuasion of the truth of
things not seen. This is a very old and familiar definition. "Quid est fides,"
"nisi credere quod non vides." And Lombard16
says, "Fides est virtus qua creduntur quae non videntur." Hence faith is said
to be wallowed up in vision; and the one is contrasted with the other; as when
the Apostle says, "We walk by faith, not by sight." And in Hebrews, eleventh
chapter, all the objects of faith under the aspect in which it is considered
in that chapter, are included under the categories of ta.
evlpizo,mena and ta. ouv Blepo,mena, "things
hoped for, and things not seen." The latter includes the former. "We hope,"
says the Apostle, "for that we see not." (Romans viii. 25.) The word sight, in
this connection, may be taken in three senses. First, in its literal sense. We
are not said to believe what we see with our eyes. What we see we know to be
true. We believe that the planet Saturn is surrounded by a belt, and that
Jupiter has four satellites, on the unanimous testimony of astronomers. But if
we look through a telescope and see the belt of the one and the satellites of
the other, our faith passes into knowledge. We believe there is such a city as
Rome, and that it contains the Colosseum, Trajan's Arch, and other monuments
of antiquity. If we visit that city and see these things for ourselves, our
faith becomes knowledge. The conviction is no stronger in the one case than in
the other. We are just as sure there is such a city before having seen it, as
though we had been there a hundred times. But the conviction is of a different
kind. Secondly, the mind is said to see when it perceives an object of thought
to be true in its own light, or by its own radiance. This mental vision may be
either immediate or mediate -- either intuitive or through a process of proof.
A child may believe that the angles of a triangle are together equal to two
right angles, on the authority of his teacher. When he understands the
demonstration of that proposition, his faith becomes knowledge. He sees it to
be true. The objects of sense-perception, the objects of intuition, and what
we recognize as true on a process of proof, are not, according to this
definition of the term, objects of faith. We know what we see to be true; we
believe when we recognize as true what we do not see. It is true that the same
thing may be an object of faith and an object of knowledge, but not at the
same time. We may recognize as true the being of God, or the immortality of
the soul, because the propositions, "God is," "the soul is immortal," are
susceptible of proof. The arguments in support of those propositions may
completely satisfy our minds. But they are truths of revelation to be believed
on the authority of God. These states of mind which we call knowledge and
faith, are not identical, neither are they strictly coexisting. The effect
produced by the demonstration is one thing. The effect produced by the
testimony of God's word, is another thing. Both include a persuasion of the
truth. But that persuasion is in its nature different in the one case from
what it is in the other, as it rests on different grounds. When the arguments
are before the mind, the conviction which they produce is knowledge. When the
testimony of God is before the mind, the conviction which it produces is
faith. On this subject Thomas Aquinas says,17
Necessarium est homini accipere per modum fidei non solum ea, quae sunt supra
rationem: sed etiam ea, quae per rationem cognosci possunt. Et hoc propter
tria, Primo quidem, ut citius homo ad veritatis divinae cognitionem perveniat.
. . . Secundo, ut cognitio Dei sit communior. Multi enim in studio scientiae
proficere non possunt. . . . Tertio modo proptor certitudinem. Ratio enim
humana in rebus divinis est multum deficiens."
Thirdly, under the "things not seen," some would include all things not
present to the mind. A distinction is made between presentative and
representative knowledge. In the former the object is present at the time; we
perceive it, we are conscious of it. In representative knowledge there is an
object now present, representing an absent object. Thus we have the conception
of a person or thing. That conception is present, but the thing represented is
absent. It is not before the mind. It belongs to the category of things not
seen. The conception which is present is the object of knowledge; the thing
represented is an object of faith. That is, we know we have the conception; we
believe that the thing which it represents, does or did exist. If we visit a
particular place while present to our senses we know that it exists; when we
come away and form an idea or cenception of it, that is, when we recall it by
an effort of memory, then we believe in its existence. "Whenever we have
passed beyond presentative knowledge, and are assured of the reality of an
absent object, there faith . . . . has entered as an element."18
Sir William Hamilton19
says, "Properly speaking, we know only the actual and the present, and all
real knowledge is an immediate knowledge. What is said to be mediately known,
is, in truth, not known to be, but only believed to be." This, it may be
remarked in passing, would apply to all the propositions of Euclid. For they
are "mediately known," i. e., seen to be true by means of a process of proof.
Speaking of memory, Hamilton says, "It is not a knowledge of the past at all;
but a knowledge of the present and a belief of the past." "We are said,"
according to Dr. McCosh, "to know ourselves, and the objects presented to the
senses and the representations (always however as presentations) in the mind;
but to believe in objects which we have seen in time past, but which are not
now present, and in objects which we have never seen, and very specially in
objects which we can never fully know, such as an Infinite God."20
Objections to this Definition.
According to this view, we know what is present to the mind, and
believe what is absent. The first objection to this representation is the
ambiguity of the words present and absent as thus used. When is an object
present? and when is it absent? It is easy to answer this question when the
object is something material or an external event. Such objects are present
("praesensibus") when they affect the senses; and absent when they do not. A
city or building is present when we actually see it; absent, when we leave the
place where it is, and recall the image of it. But how is it with
propositions? The Bible says all men are sinners. The truth thus announced is
present to the mind. We do not know it. We cannot prove it. But we believe it
upon the authority of God. The Scriptures teach that Christ died as a ransom
for many. Here, not only the historical fact that He died is announced, but
the purpose for which He died. Here again, we have a truth present to the
mind, which is an ob ject of faith.
The second objection is involved in the first. The terms present and
absent are not only ambiguous in this connection, but it is not true, as just
stated, that an object must be absent in order to be an object of faith. The
differentia, in other words, between knowledge and faith, is not found
in the presence or absence of their objects. We can know what is absent, and
we can believe what is present.
The third objection is, that the conviction we have of the reality or
truth of what we distinctly remember is knowledge, and not distinctively
faith, unless we choose to establish a new and arbitrary definition of the
word knowledge. We know what is perceived by the senses; we know what the mind
sees, either intuitively or discursively, is and must be true; and we know
what we distinctly remember. The conviction is in all these cases of the same
nature. In all it resolves itself into confidence in the veracity of
consciousness. We are conscious that we perceive sensible objects. We are
conscious that we cognize certain truths. We are conscious that we remember
certain events. In all these cases this consciousness involves the conviction
of the reality or truth of what is seen, mentally apprehended or remembered.
This conviction is, or may be, as strong in any one of these cases as in
either of the others; and it rests in all ultimately on the same ground. There
is, therefore, no reason for calling one knowledge and the other belief.
Memory is as much a knowledge of the past, as other forms of consciousness are
a knowledge of the present.
The fourth objection is that to deny that memory gives us the knowledge
of the past, is contrary to established usage. It is true we are said to
believe that we remember such and such events, when we are uncertain about it.
But this is because in one of the established meanings of the word, belief
expresses a less degree of certainty than knowledge. But men never speak of
believing past events in their experience concerning which they are absolutely
certain. We know that we were alive yesterday. No man says he believes he has
seen his father or mother or any intimate friend, whom he had known for years.
Things distinctly remembered are known, and not merely believed.
The definition which makes faith to be the persuasion of the truth of
things not seen, is, however, correct, if by "things not seen" are meant
things which are neither objects of the senses, nor of intuition, nor of
demonstrative proof. But it does not seem to be correct to include among the
"things not seen," which are the special objects of faith, things remembered
and not now present to mind. This definition of faith, while correct in
limiting it as to its objects to things not seen, in the sense above stated,
is nevertheless defective in not assigning the ground of our conviction of
their truth. Why do we believe things to be true, which we have never seen and
which we cannot prove? Different answers are given to that question; and,
therefore, the definition which gives no answer to it, must be considered
Definitions founded on the Nature of the
Evidence on which Faith rests.
Some of the definitions of faith, as we have seen, are founded on its
subjective nature; others on its objects. Besides these there are others which
seek its distinguishing characteristic in the ground on which the conviction
which it includes, rests. The first of these is that which makes faith to be a
conviction or persuasion of truth founded on feeling. This is by many regarded
as the one most generally received. Hase21
says, "Every cultivated language has a word for that form of conviction which,
in opposition to the self-evident and demonstrable, rests on moral and
emotional grounds." That word in Greek is pi,stij;
in English "faith." In his "Hutterus Redivivus,"22
he says, "The common idea of faith is: unmittelbar Furwahrhalten, ohne
Vermittelung eines Schlussbeweises, durch Neigung und Bedurfniss," i. e., "A
persuasion of the truth, without the intervention of argument, determined by
inclination and inward necessity." He quotes the definition of faith by
Twesten, as "a persuasion or conviction of truth produced by feeling;" and
that of Nitzsch, given above, "the unity of knowledge and feeling." Strauss23
says, "The way in which a man appropriates the contents of a revelation, the
inward ascent which he yields to the contents of the Scriptures and the
doctrine of the Church, not because of critical or philosophical research, but
often in opposition to them overpowered by a feeling which the Evangelical
Church calls the testimony of the Spirit, but which in fact is only the
perception of the identity of his own religious life with that portrayed in
the Scripture and prevailing in the Church, -- this assent determined by
feeling in ecclesiastical language, is called Faith." Again,24
he says, "The pious man receives religious truth because he feels its reality,
and because it satisfies his religious wants," and, therefore, he adds, "No
religion was ever propagated by means of arguments addressed to the
understanding, or of historical or philosophical proofs, and this is
undeniably true of Christianity." Every preacher of a new religion assumes in
those to whom he presents it, an unsatisfied religious necessity, and all he
has to do is to make them feel that such necessity is met by the religion
which he proposes. Celsus, he tells us, made it a ground of reproach against
the Christians that they believed blindly, that they could not justify the
doctrines which they held at the bar of reason. To this Origen answered, that
this was true only of the people; that with the educated, faith was elevated
into knowledge, and Christianity transformed into a philosophy. The Church was
divided between believers and knowers. The relation between faith and
knowledge, between religion and philosophy, has been the subject of
controversy from that day to this. Some took the ground of Origen and of the
Alexandrian school generally, that it is incumbent on educated Christians to
justify their doctrines at the bar of reason, and prove them to be true of
philosophical grounds. Others held that the truths of revelation were, at
least in many cases, of a kind which did not admit of philosophical
demonstration, although they were not on that account to be regarded as
contrary to reason, but only as beyond its sphere. Others, again, taught that
there is a direct conflict between faith and knowledge; that what the
believing Christian holds to be true, can be shown by the philosopher to be
false. This is Strauss's own doctrine, and, therefore, he concludes his long
discussion of this point by saying, "The believer should let the knower go his
own way in peace, just as the knower does the believer. We leave them their
faith, let them leave us our philosophy. . . . There have been enough of false
irenical attempts. Henceforth only separation of opposing principles can lead
to any good."25
On the same page he admits the great truth, "That human nature has one
excellent characteristic: what any man feels is for him a spiritual necessity,
he allows no man to take from him."
Remarks on this Definition.
With regard to the definition of faith which makes it a conviction
founded on feeling, it may be remarked, --
First, That there are forms of faith of which this is not true. As
remarked above, when treating of the cognate definition of faith as a
voluntary assent of the mind, it is not true of faith in general. We often
believe unwillingly, and what is utterly repugnant to our feelings.
Secondly, It is not true even of religious faith, or faith which has
religious truth for its object. For there may be faith without love, i. e., a
speculative, or dead faith.
Thirdly, It is not true of many of the exercises of faith in good men.
Isaac believed that Jacob would be preferred to Esau, sorely against his will.
Jacob believed that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt. The prophets
believed in the seventy years captivity of their countrymen. The Apostles
believed that a great apostasy in the Church was to occur between their age
and the second coming of the Lord. The answer of Thomas Aquinas to this, is,
that a man is constrained by his will (i. e., his feelings) to believe in the
Scriptures, and then he believes all the Scriptures contain. So that his
faith, even in the class of truths just referred to, rests ultimately on
feeling. But this answer is unsatisfactory. For if the question is asked, Why
did the prophets believe in the captivity, and the Apostles in the apostasy?
the answer would be, not from the effect of these truths upon their feelings,
but on the authority of God. And if it be further asked, Why did they believe
the testimony of God? the answer may be because God's testimony carries
conviction. He can make his voice heard even by the deaf or the dead. Or, the
answer may be, because they were good men. But in either case, the question
carries us beyond the ground of their faith. They believe because God had
revealed the facts referred to. Their goodness may have rendered them
susceptible to the evidence afforded, but it did not constitute that evidence.
Fourthly, It is admitted that the exercise of saving faith, i. e., of
that faith which is the fruit of the Spirit and product of regeneration, is
attended by feeling appropriate to its object. But this is to be referred to
the nature of the object. If we believe a good report, the effect is joy; if
an evil report, the effect is sorrow. The perception of beauty produces
delight; of moral excellence, a glow of approbation, of spiritual things, in
many cases. a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.
Fifthly, It is also true that all these truths, if not all truth, have
a sell-evidencing light, which cannot be apprehended without a conviction that
it really is what it is apprehended as being. It may also be admitted, that so
far as the consciousness of true believers is concerned, the evidence of truth
is the truth itself; in other words, that the ground of their faith is, in one
sense, subjective. They see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and
therefore believe that He is God manifested in the flesh. They see that the
representations made by the Scriptures of the sinfulness, guilt, and
helplessness of fallen man, correspond with their own inward experience, and
they are therefore constrained to receive these representations as true. They
see that the plan of salvation proposed in the Bible suits their necessities,
their moral judgments and religious aspirations, they therefore embrace it.
All this is true, but it does not prove faith to be a conviction founded on
feeling; for there are many forms of faith which confessedly are not founded
on feeling; and even in the case of true believers, their feelings are not the
ultimate ground of faith. They always fall back on the authority of God, who
is regarded as the author of these feelings, through which the testimony of
the Spirit is revealed to the consciousness. "We may be moved and induced,"
says the "Westminster Confession,"26
"by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverend esteem of the Holy
Scripture; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine,
the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole
(which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only
way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellences, and the
entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence
itself to be the word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and
assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof is from the
inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our
hearts." The ultimate ground of faith, therefore, is the witness of the
Faith a Conviction of the Truth founded on
The only other definition of faith to be considered, is that which
makes it, a conviction of truth founded on testimony. We have already seen
that Augustine says, "We know what rests upon reason; we believe what rests
upon authority." A definition to which Sir William Hamilton gives his
In the Alexandrian School also, the Christian pi,stij,
was Auctontats-Glaube, a faith founded on authority, opposed, on the one hand,
to the heathen evpisth,mh, and on the other to the
Christian gnw/sij, or philosophical explanation and
proof of the truths believed. Among the school-men also, this was the
prevalent idea. When they defined faith to be the persuasion of things not
seen, they meant things which we receive as true on authority, and not because
we either know or can prove them. Hence it was constantly said, faith is human
when it rests on the testimony of men; divine when it rests on the testimony
of God. Thomas Aquinas28
says, "Non fides, de qua loquimur, assentit alicui, nisi quia est a Deo
revelatum." "Faith, of which we speak, assents to nothing except because it is
revealed by God." We believe on the authority of God, and not because we see,
know, or feel a thing to be true. This is the purport of the teaching of the
great body of the scholastic divines. Such also was the doctrine of the
Reformers, and of the theologians of the subsequent age, both Lutheran and
Reformed. Speaking of assent, which he regards as the second act or element of
faith, Aquinas says, "Hic actus fidei non rerum evidentia aut causarum et
proprietatum notitia, sed Dei dicentis infallibili auctoritate." Turrettin29
says, "Non quaeritur, An fides sit scientia, quae habeat evidentiam: Sic enim
distim. guitur a scientia, qu~ habet assensum certum et evidentem, qui nititur
ratione clara et certa, et ab opinione, quae nititur ratione tantum probabili;
ubi fides notat assensum certum quidem, sed inevidentem, qui non ratione, sed
testimonio divino nititur." De Moor30
says, "Fides subjectiva est persuasio de veritate rei, alterius testimonio
nixa, quomodo fides illa generatim descripta, scientiae et conjecturae
opponitur Dividitur. . . . in fidem divinam, quae nititur testimonio divino,
et humanam, quae fundata est in testimonio humano fide accepto." Owen,31
"All faith is an assent upon testimony; and divine faith is an assent upon a
divine testimony." John Howe32
asks, "Why do I believe Jesus to be the Christ? Because the eternal God hath
given his testimony concerning Him that so He is." "A man's believing comes
all to nothing without this, that there is a divine testimony." Again,33
"I believe such a thing, as God reveals it, because it is reported to me upon
the authority of God." Bishop Pearson34
says, "When anything propounded to us is neither apparent to our sense, nor
evident to our understanding, in and of itself, neither certainly to be
collected from any clear and necessary connection with the cause from which it
proceedeth, or the effects which it naturally produceth, nor is taken up upon
any real arguments or reference to other acknowledged truths, and yet
notwithstanding appeareth to us true, not by a manifestation, but attestation
of the truth, and so moveth us to assent not of itself, but by virtue of the
testimony given to it; this is said properly to be credible; and an assent
unto this, upon such credibility, is in the proper notion faith or belief."
This View almost universally Held.
This view of the nature of faith is all but universally received, not
by theologians only, but by philosophers, and the mass of Christian people.
The great question has ever been, whether we are to receive truth on
authority, or only upon rational evidence. Leibnitz begins his "Discours de la
Conformite de la Foi avec la Raison," by saying, "Je suppose, que deux verites
ne sauroient se contredire; que l'objet de la foi est la verite que Dien a
revelee d'une maniere extraordinaire, et que la raison est l'enchainment des
verites, mais particulierement (lorsqu'elle est compares avec la foi) de
celles ou l'esprit humain peut atteindre naturellement, sans etre aide des
lumieres de la foi."35
It has already been admitted that the essential element of faith is
trust; and, therefore, in the general sense of the word to believe, is to
trust. Faith is the reliance of the mind on anything as true and worthy of
confidence. In this wide sense of the word, it matters not what may be the
objects, or what the grounds of this trust. The word, however, is commonly
used in reference to truths which we receive on trust without being able to
prove them. Thus we are said to believe in our own existence, the reality of
the external world, and all the primary truths of the reason. These by common
consent are called beliefs. Reason begins with believing, i. e., with taking
on trust what it neither comprehends nor proves. Again, it has been admitted
that the word belief is often and legitimately used to express a degree of
certainty less than knowledge and stronger than probability; as when we say,
we are not sure, but we believe that a certain thing happened.
The Strict Sense of the Word "Faith."
But in the strict and special sense of the word, as discriminated from
knowledge or opinion, faith means the belief of things not seen, on the ground
of testimony. By testimony, however, is not meant merely the affirmation of an
intelligent witness. There are other methods by which testimony may be given
than affirmation. A seal is a form of testimony; so is a sign. So is
everything which pledges the authority of the attester to the truth to be
established. When Elijah declared that Jehovah was God, and Baal a lie, he
said, "The God that answereth by fire, let him be God." The descent of the
fire was the testimony of God to the truth of the prophet's declaration. So in
the New Testament God is said to have borne witness to the truth of the Gospel
by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost (Heb.
ii. 4); and the Spirit of God is said to witness with our spirits that we are
the children of God (Rom. viii. 16). The word in these cases is
marture,w, to testify. This is not a lax or
improper use of the word testimony; for an affirmation is testimony only
because it pledges the authority of him who makes it to the truth. And
therefore whatever pledges that authority, is as truly of the nature of
testimony, as an affirmation. When, therefore, it is said that faith is
founded on testimony, it is meant that it is not founded on sense, reason, or
feeling, but on the authority of him by whom it is authenticated.
Proof from the General Use of the Word.
That such is the foundation and the distinctive characteristic of
faith, may be argued, -- 1. From the general use of the word We are said to
know what we see or can prove; and to believe what we regard as true on the
authority of others. This is admitted to be true of what is called historical
faith. This includes a great deal; all that is recorded of the past; all that
is true of present actualities, which does not fall within the sphere of our
personal observation; all the facts of science as received by the masses; and
almost all the contents of the Bible, whether of the Old or of the New
Testament. The Scriptures are a record of the history of the creation, of the
fall, and of redemption. The Old Testament is the history of the preparatory
steps of this redemption. The New Testament is a history of the fulfilment of
the promises and types of the Old in the incarnation, life, sufferings, death,
and resurrection of the Son of God. Whoever believes this record has set to
his seal that God is true, and is a child of God.
Proof from Consciousness.
2. In the second place, consciousness teaches us that such is the
nature of faith not only when historical facts are its objects, but when
propositions are the things believed. The two indeed are often inseparable.
That God is the creator of the world, is both a fact and a doctrine. It is as
the Apostle says, a matter of faith. We believe on the authority of the
Scriptures, which dedare that "In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth." That God set forth his Son to be a propitiation for our sins, is a
doctrine. It rests solely on the authority of God. We receive it upon his
testimony. So with all the great doctrines of grace; of regeneration, of
justification, of sanctification, and of a future life. How do we know that
God will accept all who believe in Christ? Who can know the things of God,
save the Spirit of God, and he to whom the Spirit shall reveal them (1 Cor.
ii. 10, 11)? From the nature of the case, "the things of the Spirit," the
thoughts and purposes of God, can be known only by revelation, and they can be
received only on the authority of God. They are objects neither of sense nor
Proof from Scripture.
3. It is the uniform teaching of the Bible that faith is founded on the
testimony or authority of God.
The first proof of this is the fact that the Scriptures come to us
under the form of a revelation of things we could not otherwise know. The
prophets of the Old Testament were messengers, the mouth of God, to declare
what the people were to believe and what they were to do. The New Testament is
called "The testimony of Jesus." Christ came, not as a philosopher, but as a
witness. He said to Nicodemus, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we
have seen; and ye receive not our witness." (John iii. 11). "He that cometh
from above is above all. . . . And what he hath seen and heard, that he
testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his
testimony hath set to his seal that God is true (verses 31-33). In like manner
the Apostles were witnesses. As such they were ordained (Luke xxiv. 48). After
his resurrection, and immediately before his ascension, our Lord said to them,
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye
shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts i. 8). When they
declared the death and resurrection of Christ, as facts to be believed, they
said, "Whereof we are witnesses" (Acts ii. 32, iii. 15, v. 32). In this last
passage the Apostles say they were witnesses not only of the fact of Christ's
resurrection but that God had "exalted" Him "with his right hand to be a
prince and a saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of
sins." See Acts x. 39-43, where it is said, "He commanded us to preach unto
the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the
judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through
his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."
The great complaint against the Apostles, especially in the Grecian
cities, was that they did not present their doctrines as propositions to be
proved; they did not even state the philosophical grounds on which they
rested, or attempt to sustain them at the bar of reason. The answer given to
this objection by St. Paul is twofold: First, that philosophy, the wisdom of
men, had proved itself utterly incompetent to solve the great problems of God
and the universe, of sin and redemption. It was in fact neither more nor less
than foolishness, so far as all its speculations as to the things of God were
concerned. Secondly, that the doctrines which He taught were not the truths of
reason, but matters of revelation; to be received not on rational or
philosophical grounds, but upon the authority of God; that they, the Apostles,
were not philosophers, but witnesses; that they did not argue using the words
of man's wisdom, but that they simply declared the counsels of God, and that
faith in their doctrines was to rest not on the wisdom of men, but on the
powerful testimony of God.
The second proof, that the Scriptures teach that faith is the reception
of truth on the ground of testimony or on the authority of God, is, that the
thing which we are commanded to do, is to receive the record which God has
given of his Son. This is faith; receiving as true what God has testified, and
because He has testified it. "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar;
because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." The Greek here
is, ouv pepi,steuken eivj th.n marturi,an h[n
memartu,rhken o` Qeo.j peri. tou/ ui`ou/ au`tou/, "believeth not the
testimony which God testified concerning his Son." "And this is the testimony,
(h` marturi,a) that God hath given to us eternal
life, and this life ii in his Son" (1 John v. 10, 11). There could hardly be a
more distinct statement of the Scriptural doctrine as to the nature of faith.
Its object is what God has revealed. Its ground is the testimony of God. To
receive that testimony, is to set to our seal that God is true. To reject it,
is to make God a liar. "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God
is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his
Such is the constant teaching of Scripture. The ground on which we are
authorized and commanded to believe is, not the conformity of the truth
revealed to our reason, nor its effect upon our feelings, nor its meeting the
necessities of our nature and condition, but simply, "Thus saith the Lord."
The truths of revelation do commend themselves to the reason; they do
powerfully and rightfully affect our feelings; they do meet all the
necessities of our nature as creatures and as sinners; and these
considerations may incline us to believe, may strengthen our faith, lead us to
cherish it, and render it joyful and effective; but they are not its ground.
We believe on the testimony or authority of God.
It is objected to this view that we believe the Bible to be the Word of
God on other ground than testimony. The fulfilment of prophecies, the miracles
of its authors, its contents, and the effects which it produces, are rational
grounds for believing it to be from God. To this objection two answers may be
made: First, that supernatural occurrences, such as prophecies and miracles,
are some of the forms in which the divine testimony is given. Paul says that
God bears "witness both with signs and wonders" (Hebrews ii. 4). And,
secondly, that the proximate end of these manifestations of supernatural
foresight and power was to authenticate the divine mission of the messengers
of God. This being established, the people were called upon to receive their
message and to believe on the authority of God, by whom they were sent.
The third proof, that the Scriptures teach that faith is a reception of
truth on the ground of testimony, is found in the examples and illustrations
of faith given in the Scriptures. Immediately after the fall the promise was
made to our first parents that the seed of the woman should bruise the
serpent's head. On what possible ground could faith in this promise rest
except on the authority of God. When Noah was warned of God of the coming
deluge, and commanded to prepare the ark, he believed, not because he saw the
signs of the approaching flood, not because his moral judgment assured him
that a just God would in that way avenge his violated law; but simply on the
testimony of God. Thus when God promised to Abraham the possession of the land
of Canaan, that he, a childless old man, should become the father of many
nations, that through his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed,
his faith could have no other foundation than the authority of God. So of
every illustration of faith given by the Apostle in the eleventh chapter of
his epistle to the Hebrews. The same is true of the whole Bible. We have no
foundation for our faith in a spiritual world, in the heaven and hell
described in Scripture, in the doctrines of redemption, in the security and
ultimate triumph of the Church other than the testimony of God. If faith does
not rest on testimony it has nothing on which to rest. Paul tells us that the
whole Gospel rests on the fact of Christ's resurrection from the dead. If
Christ be not risen our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins. But our
assurance that Christ rose on the third day rests solely upon the testimony
which God in various ways has given to that fact.
This is a point of great practical importance. If faith, or only
persuasion of the truths of the Bible, rests on philosophical grounds, then
the door is opened for rationalism; if it rests on feeling, then it is open to
mysticism. The only sure, and the only satisfying foundation is the testimony
of God, who cannot err, and who will not deceive.
Faith may, therefore, be defined to be the persuasion of the truth
founded on testimony. The faith of the Christian is the persuasion of the
truth of the facts and doctrines recorded in the Scriptures on the testimony
§ 3. Different Kinds of Faith.
Though the definition above given be accepted, it is to be admitted
that there are different kinds of faith. In other words, the state of mind
which the word designates is very different in one case from what it is in
others. This difference arises partly from the nature of its objects, and
partly from the nature or form of the testimony on which it is founded. Faith
in a historical fact or speculative truth is one thing; faith in aesthetic
truth another thing; faith in moral truth another thing; faith in spiritual
truth, and especially faith in the promise of salvation made to ourselves
another thing. That is, ttie state of mind denominated faith is very different
in any one of these cases from what it is in the others. Again, the testimony
which God bears to the truth is of different kinds. In one form it is directed
especially to the understanding; in another to the conscience; in another to
our regenerated nature. This is the cause of the difference between
speculative, temporary, and saving faith.
Speculative or Dead Faith.
There are many men who believe the Bible to be the Word of God; who
receive all that it teaches; and who are perfectly orthodox in their doctrinal
belief. If asked why they believe, they may be at a loss for an answer.
Reflection might enable them to say they believe because others believe. They
receive their faith by inheritance. They were taught from their earliest years
thus to believe. The Church to which they belong inculcates this faith, and it
is enjoined upon them as true and necessary. Others of greater culture may say
that the evidence of the divine origin of the Bible, both external and
internal, satisfies their minds, and produces a rational conviction that the
Scriptures are a revelation from God, and they receive its contents on his
authority. Such a faith as this, experience teaches, is perfectly compatible
with a worldly or wicked life. This is what the Bible calls a dead faith.
Again, nothing is more common than for the Gospel to produce a
temporary impression, more or less deep and lasting. Those thus impressed
believe. But, having no root in themselves, sooner or later they fall away. It
is also a common experience that men utterly indifferent or even skeptical, in
times of danger, or on the near approach of death, are deeply convinced of the
certainty of those religious truths previously known, but hitherto disregarded
or rejected. This temporary faith is due to common grace; that is, to those
influences of the Spirit common in a measure greater or less to all men, which
operate on the soul without renewing it, and which reveal the truth to the
conscience and cause it to produce conviction.
That faith which secures eternal life; which unites us to Christ as
living members of his body; which makes us the sons of God; which interests us
in all the benefits of redemption; which works by love, and is fruitful in
good works; is founded, not on the external or the moral evidence of the
truth, but on the testimony of the Spirit with and by the truth to the renewed
What is meant by the Testimony of the Spirit
It is necessary, before going further, to determine what is meant by
the testimony of the Spirit, which is said to be the ground of saving faith.
God, or the Spirit of God, testifies to the truth of the Scriptures and
of the doctrines which they contain. This testimony, as has been seen, is
partly external, consisting in prophecies and miracles, partly in the nature
of the truths themselves as related to the intellectual and moral elements of
the soul, and partly special and supernatural. Unrenewed men may feel the
power of the two former kinds of testimony, and believe with a faith either
merely intellectual and speculative, or with what may be called from its
ground, a moral faith, which is only temporary. The spiritual form of
testimony is confined to the regenerated. It is, of course, inscrutable. The
operations of the Spirit do not reveal themselves in the consciousness
otherwise than by their effects. We know that men are born of the Spirit, that
the Spirit dwells in the people of God and continually influences their
thoughts, feelings, and actions. But we know this only from the teaching of
the Bible, not because we are conscious of his operations. "The wind bloweth
where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell
whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the
Spirit." (John iii. 8.)
This witness of the Spirit is not an affirmation that the Bible is the
Word of God. Neither is it the production of a blind, unintelligent conviction
of that fact. It is not, as is the case with human testimony, addressed from
without to the mind, but it is within the mind itself. It is an influence
designed to produce faith. It is called a witness or testimony because it is
so called in Scripture; and because it has the essential nature of testimony,
inasmuch as it is the pledge of the authority of God in support of the truth.
The effects of this inward testimony are, (1.) What the Scriptures call
"spiritual discernment." This means two things: A discernment due to the
influence of the Spirit; and a discernment not only of the truth, but also of
the holiness, excellence, and glory of the things discerned. The word
spiritual, in this sense, means conformed to the nature of the Spirit. Hence
the law is said to be spiritual, i. e., holy, just, and good. (2.) A second
effect flowing necessarily from the one just mentioned is delight and
complacency, or love. (3.) The apprehension of the suitableness of the truths
revealed, to our nature and necessities. (4.) The firm conviction that these
things are not only true, but divine. (5.) The fruits of this conviction, i.
e., of the faith thus produced, good works, -- holiness of heart and life.
When, therefore, a Christian is asked, Why he believes the Scriptures
and the doctrines therein contained, his simple anrwer is, On the testimony or
authority of God. How else could he know that the worlds were created by God,
that our race apostatized from God, that He sent his Son for our redemption,
that faith in Him will secure salvation. Faith in such truths can have no
other foundation than the testimony of God. If asked, How God testifies to the
truth of the Bible? If an educated man whose attention has been called to the
subject, he will answer, In every conceivable way: by signs, wonders, and
miracles; by the exhibition which the Bible makes of divine knowledge,
excellence, authority, and power. If an uneducated man, he may simply say,
"Whereas I was blind, now I see." Such a man, and indeed every true Christian,
passes from a state of unbelief to one of saving faith, not by any process of
research or argument, but of inward experience. The change may, and often
does, take place in a moment. The faith of a Christian in the Bible is, as
before remarked, analogous to that which all men have in the moral law, which
they recoguize not only as truth, but as having the authority of God. What the
natural man perceives with regard to the moral law the renewed man is enabled
to perceive in regard to "the things of the Spirit," by the testimony of that
Spirit with and by the truth to his heart.
Proof from Express Declarations of Scripture.
1. That this is the Scriptural doctrine on the subject is plain from
the express declarations of the Scriptures. Our Lord promised to send the
Spirit for this very purpose. "He will reprove the world of sin," especially
of the sin of not believing in Christ; "and of righteousness," that is, of his
righteousness, -- the rightfulness of his claims to be regarded and received
as the Son of God, God manifest in the flesh, and the Saviour of the world,
"and of judgment," that is, of the final overthrow of the kingdom of darkness
and triumph of the kingdom of light. (John xvi. 8.) Faith, therefore, is
always represented in Scripture as one of the fruits of the Spirit, as the
gift of God, as the product of his energy (pi,stij th/j
evnergei,aj tou/ Qeou/) (Colossians ii. 12). Men are said to believe in
virtue of the same power which wrought in Christ, when God raised Him from the
dead. (Eph i. 19, 20.) The Apostle Paul elaborately sets forth the ground of
faith in the second chapter of First Corinthians. He declares that he relied
for success not on the enticing words of man's wisdom, but on the
demonstration of the Spirit, in order that the faith of the people might rest
not on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Faith was not to rest on
argument, on historical or philosophical proof, but on the testimony of the
Spirit. The Spirit demonstrates the truth to the mind, i. e., produces the
conviction that it is truth, and leads the soul to embrace it with assurance
md delight. Passages have already been quoted which teach that faith rests on
the testimony of God, and that unbelief consists in rejecting that testimony.
The testimony of God is given through the Spirit, whose office it is to take
of the things of Christ and show them unto us. The Apostle John tells his
readers, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. . . .
The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you: and ye need not
that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things,
and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in
him." (1 John ii. 20, 27.) This passage teaches, (1.) That true believers
receive from Christ (the Holy One) an unction. (2.) That this unction is the
Holy Ghost. (3.) That it secures the knowledge and conviction of the truth.
(4.) That this inward teaching which makes them believers is abiding, and
secures them from apostasy.
1 Corinthians ii. 14.
Equally explicit is the passage in 1 Corinthians ii. 14, "The natural
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness
unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no
man." The things of the Spirit, are the things which the Spirit has revealed.
Concerning these things, it is taught: (1.) that the natural or unrenewed man
does not receive them. (2.) That the spiritual man, i. e., the man in whom the
Spirit dwells, does receive them. (3.) That the reason of this difference is
that the former has not, and that the latter has, spiritual discernment. (4.)
This spiritual discernment is the apprehension of the truth and excellence of
the things discerned. (5.) It is spiritual, as just stated, both because due
to the operation of the Spirit, and because the conformity of the truths
discerned to the nature of the Spirit, is apprehended.
When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living
God, our Lord said, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath
not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. xvi. 17.)
Other men had the same external evidence of the divinity of Christ that Peter
had. His faith was due not to that evidence alone, but to the inward testimony
of God. Our Lord rendered thanks that God had hidden the mysteries of his
kingdom from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes. (Matt. xi.
25.) The external revelation was made to both classes. Besides this external
revelation, those called babes received an inward testimony which made them
believers. Hence our Lord said, No man can come unto me except he be drawn or
taught of God. (John vi. 44, 45.) The Apostle tells us that the same Gospel,
the same objective truths, with the same external and rational evidence, which
was an offence to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek, was to the called the
wisdom and the power of God. Why this difference? Not the superior knowledge
or greater excellence of the called, but the inward divine influence, the
klh/sij, of which they were the subjects. Paul's
instantaneous conversion is not to be referred to any rational process of
argument; nor to his moral suceptibility to the truth; nor to the visible
manifestation of Christ, for no miracle, no outward light or splendour could
change the heart and transform the whole character in a moment. It was, as the
Apostle himself tells us (Gal. i. 15, 16), the inward revelation of Christ to
him by the special grace of God. It was the testimony of the Spirit, which
being inward and supernatural, enabled him to see the glory of God in the face
of Jesus Christ. The Psalmist prayed that God would open his eyes that he
might see wondrous things out of his law. The Apostle prayed for the Ephesians
that God would give them the Holy Spirit, that the eyes of their souls might
be opened, that they might know the things freely given to them of God. (Eph.
i. 17, 18.) Everywhere in the Bible the fact that any one believes is referred
not to his subjective state, but to the work of the Spirit on his heart.
Proof from the Way the Apostles acted.
2. As the Scriptures thus expressly teach that the ground of true or
saving falth is the inward witness of the Spirit, the Apostles always acted on
that principle. They announced the truth and demanded its instant reception,
under the pain of eternal death. Our Lord did the same. "He that believeth not
is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only
begotten Son of God." (John iii. 18.) Immediate faith was demanded. Being
demanded by Christ, and at his command by the Apostles, that demand must be
just and reasonable. It could, however, be neither unless the evidence of the
truth attended it. That evidence could not be the external proofs of the
divinity of Christ and his Gospel, for those proofs were present to the minds
of comparatively few of the hearers of the Gospel; nor could it be rational
proof or philosophical arguments, for still fewer could appreciate such
evidence, and if they could it would avail nothing to the production of saving
faith. The evidence of truth, to which assent is demanded by God the moment it
is announced, must be in the truth itself. And if this assent be obligatory,
and dissent or unbelief a sin, then the evidence must be of a nature, to which
a corrupt state of the soul renders a man insensible. "If our gospel be hid,"
says the Apostle, "it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this
world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the
glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. .
. . [But] God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined
in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. iv. 3-6.) It is here taught, (1.) That wherever
and whenever Christ is preached, the evidence of his divinity is presented.
The glory of God shines in his face. (2.) That if any man fails to see it, it
is because the God of this world hath blinded his eyes. (3.) That if any do
perceive it and believe, it is because of an inward illumination produced by
Him who first commanded the light to shine out of darkness.
Proof from the Practice in the Church.
3. As Christ and the Apostles acted on this principle, so have all
faithful ministers and missionaries from that day to this. They do not expect
to convince and convert men by historical evidence or by philosophical
arguments. They depend on the demonstration of the Spirit.
Proof from Analogy.
4. This doctrine, that the true and immediate ground of faith in the
things of the Spirit is the testimony of the Spirit, producing spiritual
discernment, is sustained by analogy. If a man cannot see the splendour of the
sun, it is because he is blind. If he cannot perceive the beauties of nature
and of art, it is because he has no taste. If he cannot apprehend "the concord
of sweet sounds," it is because he has not a musical ear. If he cannot see the
beauty of virtue, or the divine authority of the moral law, it is because his
moral sense is blunted. If he cannot see the glory of God in his works and in
his Word, it is because his religious nature is perverted. And in like manner,
if he cannot see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, it is because
the god of this world has blinded his eyes.
No one excuses the man who can see no excellence in virtue, and who
repudiates the authority of the moral law. The Bible and the instinctive
judgment of men, condemn the atheist. In like manner the Scriptures pronounce
accursed all who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living
God. This is the denial of supreme excellence; the rejection of the clearest
mainfestation of God ever made to man. The solemn judgment of God is, "If any
man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha." (1 Cor.
xvi. 22.) In this judgment the whole intelligent universe will ultimately
Faith in the Scriptures, therefore, is founded on the testimony of God.
By testimony, as before stated, is meant attestation, anything which pledges
the authority of the attester in support of the truth to be established. As
this testimony is of different kinds, so the faith which it produces, is also
different. So far as the testimony is merely external, the faith it produces
is simply historical or speculative. So far as the testimony is moral,
consisting in the power which the Spirit gives to the truth over the natural
conscience, the faith is temporary, depending on the state of mind which is
its proximate cause. Besides these, there is the inward testimony of the
Spirit, which is of such a nature and of such power as to produce a perfect
revoluticn in the soul, compared in Scripture to that effected by opening the
eyes of the blind to the reality, the wonders, and glories of creation. There
is, therefore, all the difference between a faith resting on this inward
testimony of the Spirit, and mere speculative faith, that there is between the
conviction a blind man has of the beauties of nature, before and after the
opening of his eyes. As this testimony is informing, enabling the soul to see
the truth and excellence of the "things of the Spirit," so far as the
consciousness of the believer is concerned, his faith is a form of knowledge.
He sees to be true, what the Snirit reveals and authenticates.
§ 4. Faith and Knowledge.
The relation of faith to knowledge is a wide field. The discussions on
the subject have been varied and endless. There is little probability that the
points at issue will ever be settled to the satisfaction of all parties. The
ground of faith is authority. The ground of knowledge is sense or reason. We
are concerned here only with Christian faith, i. e., the faith which receives
the Scriptures as the Word of God and all they teach as true on his authority.
Is a Supernatural Revelation needed?
The first question is, Whether there is any need of a supernatural
revelation, whether human reason be not competent to discover and to
authenticate all needful truth. This question has already been considered
under the head of Rationalism, where it was shown, (1.) That every man's
consciousness tells him that there are questions concerning God and his own
origin and destiny, which his reason cannot answer. (2.) That he knows a
priori, that the reason of no other man can satisfactorily answer them.
(3.) That he knows from experience that they never have been answered by the
wisdom of men, and (4.) That the Scriptures declare that the world by wisdom
knows not God, that the wisdom of the world is foolishness in his estimation,
and that God has therefore himself made known truths undiscoverable by reason,
for the salvation of man.
Must the Truths of Revelation be Demonstrable
A second question is, Whether truths, supernaturally revealed, must be
able to authenticate themselves at the bar of reason be. fore they can be
rationally received; so that they are received, not on the ground of
authority, but of rational proof. This also has been previously discussed. It
has been shown that the assumption that God can reveal nothing which human
reason cannot, when known, demonstrate to be true, assumes that human reason
is the measure of all truth; that there is no intelligence in the universe
higher than that of man; and that God cannot have purposes and plans, the
grounds or reasons of which we are competent to discover and appreciate. It
emancipates the from the authority of God, refusing to believe anything except
the authority of reason. Why may we not believe on the testimony of God that
there is a spiritual world, as well as believe that there is such a nation as
the Chinese on the testimony of men? No man acts on the principle of believing
only what he can understand and prove, in any other department. There are
multitudes of truths which every sane man receives on trust, without being
able either to prove or comprehend them. If we can believe only what we can
prove at the bar of reason to be true, then the kingdom of heaven would be
shut against all but the wise. There could be no Christian who was not also a
philosopher. In point of fact no man acts on this principle. It is assumed in
the pride of reason, or as an apology for rejecting unpalatable truths, but
men believe in God, in sin, in freedom of the will, in responsibility, without
the ability of comprehending or reconciling these truths with each other or
with other facts of consciousness or experience.
May not Revealed Truths be Philosophically
A third question is, Whether, admitting a supernatural revelation, and
moreover admitting the obligation to receive on the authority of God the
doctrines which revelation makes known, the revealed doctrines may not be
philosophically vindicated, so as to commend them to the acceptance of those
who deny revelation. May not the Scriptural doctrines concerning God,
creation, providence, the trinity, the incarnation, sin, redemption, and the
future state, be so stated and sustained philosophically. as to constrain
acquiescence in them as truths of the reason. This was the ground taken in the
early Church by the theologians of the Alexandrian School, who undertook to
elevate the pi,stij of the people into a
gnw/sij for the philosophers. Thus the sacred
writers were made Platonists, and Christianity was transmuted into Platonism.
A large part of the mental activity of the School-men, during the Middle Ages,
was expended in the same way. They received the Bible as a supernatural
revelation from God. They received the Church interpretation of its teachings.
They admitted their obligation to believe its doctrines on the authority of
God and of the Church. Nevertheless they held that all these doctrines could
be philosophically proved. In later times Wolf undertook to demonstrate all
the doctrines of Christianity on the principles of the Leibnitzian philosophy.
In our own day this principle and these attempts have been carried further
than ever. Systems of theology, constructed on the philosophy of Hegel, of
Schelling, and of Schleiermacher, have almost superseded the old Biblical
systems. If any man of ordinary culture and intelligence should take up a
volume of what is called "Speculative Theology," (that is, theology presented
in the forms of the speculative philosophy,) he would not understand a page
and would hardly understand a sentence. He could not tell whether the theology
which it proposed to present was Christianity or Buddhism. Or, at best, he
would find a few drops of Biblical truth so diluted by floods of human
speculation that the most delicate of chemical tests would fail to detect the
Attempts to do this Futile.
All such attempts are futile. The empirical proof of this is, that no
such attempt has ever succeeded. The experiment has been made hundreds of
times, and always with the same result. Where are now the philosophical
expositions and vindications of Scripture doctrines by the Platonizing
fathers; by the Schoolmen; by the Cartesians; by the Leibnitzians? What power
over the reason, the conscience, or the life, has any of the speculative
systems of our day? Who, beyond the devotees of the systems which they
represent, understand or adopt the theology of Daub, of Marheinecke, of Lange,
and others? Strauss, therefore, is right when he repudiates all these vain
attempts to reconcile Christianity with philosophy, or to give a form to
Christian doctrine which satisfies the philosophical thinker.36
But apart from this argument from experience, the assumption is
preposterous that the feeble intellect of man can explain, and from its own
resources, vindicate and prove the deep things of God. An infant might as well
undertake to expound Newton's "Principia." If there are mysteries in nature,
in every blade of grass, in the insect, in the body and in the soul of man,
there must be mysteries in religion. The Bible and our consciousness teach us
that God is incomprehensible, and his ways past finding out; that we cannot
explain either his nature or his acts; we know not how he creates, upholds,
and governs without interfering with the nature of his creatures; how there
can be three persons in the Godhead; how in the one person of Christ there can
be two intelligences and two wills; how the Spirit inspires, renews,
sanctifies, or comforts. It belongs to the "self-deifying" class of
philosophers to presume to know all that God knows, and to banish the
incomprehensible from the religion which he has revealed. "To the school of
Hegel," says Bretschneider, "there are mysteries in religion only for those
who have not raised themselves to the Hegelian grade of knowledge. For the
latter all is clear; all is knowledge; and Christianity is the solution, and
therefore the revelation of all mysteries."37
This may be consistent in those who hold that man is God in the highest form
of his existence, and the philosopher the highest style of man. Such an
assertion, however, by whomsoever it may be made, is the insanity of
May what is True in Religion be False in
A fourth question included in this general subject is, Whether there is
or may be a real conflict between the truths of reason and those of
revelation? Whether that which is true in religion may be false in philosophy?
To this question different answers have been given.
The Fathers on this Question.
First, while the Greek fathers were disposed to bring religion and
philosophy into harmony, by giving a philosophical form to Christian
doctrines, the Latins were inclined to represent the two as irreconcilable.
"What," asks Tertullian, "has Athens to do with Jerusalem? The academy with
the Church? What have heretics to do with Christians? Our instruction is from
the porch of Solomon, who himself taught that the Lord was to be sought in the
simplicity of the heart. . . . We need no seeking for truth after Christ; no
research after the Gospel. When we believe, we desire nothing beyond faith,
because we believe that there is nothing else we should do. . . . To know
nothing beyond is to know all things."38
He went so far as to say, "Prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est; . . . .
certum est, quia impossibile est."39
Without going to this extreme, the theologians of the Latin Church, those of
them at least most zealous for Church doctrines, were inclined to deny to
reason even the prerogative of a judicium contradictionis. They were
constrained to take this ground because they were called upon to defend
doctrines whici contradicted not only reason but the senses. When it was
objected to the doctrine that the consecrated wafer is the real body of
Christ, that our senses pronounce it to be bread, and that it is impossible
that a human body should be in heaven and in all parts of the earth at the
same time, what could they say but that the senses and reason are not to be
trusted in the sphere of faith? That what is false to the reason and the
senses may be true in religion?
Lutheran Teaching on this Point.
The Lutherans were under the same necessity. Their doctrine of the
person of Christ involves the denial of the primary truth, that attributes
cannot be separated from the substance of which they are the manifestation.
Their doctrine concerning the Lord's Supper involves the assumption of the
ubiquity of Christ's body, which seems to be a contradiction in terms.
Luther's utterances on this subject are not very consistent. When
arguing against the continued obligation of monastic vows, he did not hesitate
to say that what was contrary to reason was contrary to God. "Was nun der
Verunuft entgegen ist, ist gewiss dass es Gott viehmehr entgegen ist. Denn wie
sollte es nicht wider die gottliche Wahrheit seyn, das wider Vernunft und
menschliche Wahrheit ist."40
But in the sacramentarian controversy he will not allow reason to be heard.
"In the things of God," he says, reason or nature is stock-star-and-stone
blind. "It is, indeed," he adds, "audacious enough to plunge in and stumble as
a blind horse; but all that it explains or concludes is as certainly false and
wrong as that God lives."41
In another place he says that reason, when she attempts to speculate about
divine things, becomes a fool; which, indeed, is very much what Paul says.
(Rom. i. 22, I Cor. i. 18-31.)
The Lutheran theologians made a distinction between reason in the
abstract, or reason as it was in man before the fall, and reason as it now is.
They admit that no truth of revelation can contradict reason as such; but it
may contradict the reason of men all of whose faculties are clouded and
deteriorated by sin. By this was not meant simply that the unrenewed man is
opposed uo the truth of God; that "the things of the Spirit" are foolishnees
to him, that it seems to him absurd that God should be found in fashion as a
man; that He should demand a satisfaction for sin; or save one man and not
another, according to his own good pleasure. This the Bible clearly teaches
and all Christians believe. In all this there is no contradiction between
reason and religion. The being of God is foolishness to the atheist; and
personal immortality is foolishness to the pantheist. Yet who would admit that
these doctrines are contrary to reason? The Lutheran theologians intended to
teach, not only that the mysteries of the Bible are above reason, that they
can neither be understood nor demonstrated; and not only that "the things of
the Spirit" are foolishness to the natural man, but that they are really in
conflict with the human understanding; that by a correct process of reasoning
they can be demonstrated to be false; so that in the strict sense of the terms
what is true in religion is false in philosophy. "The Sorbonne," says Luther,
"has pronounced a most abominable decision in saying that what is true in
religion is also true in philosophy; and moreover condemning as heretics all
who assert the contrary. By this horrible doctrine it has given it to be
clearly understood that the doctrines of faith are to be subjected to the yoke
of human reason."42
Sir William Hamilton.
Secondly, the ground taken by Sir William Hamilton on this subject is
not precisely the same with that taken by the Lutherans. They agree, indeed,
in this, that we are bound to believe what (at the bar of reason) we can prove
to be false, but they differ entirely as to the cause and nature of this
conflict between reason and faith. According to the Lutherans, it arises from
the corruption and deterioration of our nature by the fall. It is removed in
part in this world by regeneration, and entirely hereafter by the perfection
of our sanctification. According to Hamilton, this conflict arises from the
necessary limitation of human thought. God has so made us that reason, acting
according to its own laws, of necessity arrives at conclusions directly
opposed to the doctrines of religion both natural and revealed. We can prove
demonstrably that the Absolute being cannot know, cannot be a cause, cannot be
conscious. It may be proved with equal clearness that the Infinite cannot be a
person, or possess moral attributes. Here, then, what is true in religion,
what we are bound to believe, and what in point of fact all men, in virtue of
the constitution of their nature do believe, can be proved to be false. There
is thus an irreconcilable conflict between our intellectual and moral nature.
But as, according to the idealist, reason forces us to the conclusion that the
external world does not exist, while, nevertheless, it is safe and proper to
act on the assumption that it is, and is what it appears to be; so, according
to Hamilton, it is not only safe, but obligatory on us to act on the
assumption that God is a person, although infinite, while our reason
demonstrates that an infinite person is a contradiction. The conffict between
reason and faith is avowed, while the obligation of faith on the testimony of
our moral and religious nature and of the Word of God is aflirmed. This point
has been already discussed.
The View of Speculative Philosophers.
Thirdly, we note the view taken by the speculative philosophers. They,
too, maintain that reason demonstrates the doctrines of revelation and even of
natural religion to be false. But they do not recognize their obligation to
receive them as objects of faith. Being contrary to reason, those doctrines
are false, and being false, they are, by enlightened men, to be rejected. If
any cling to them as a matter of feeling, they are to be allowed to do so, but
they must renounce all claim to philosophic insight.
May the Objects of Faith be above, and yet not
A fifth question is, Whether the objects of faith may be above, and yet
not contrary to reason? The answer to this question is to be in the
affirmative, for the distinction implied is sound and almost universally
admitted. What is above reason is simply incomprehensible. What is against
reason is impossible. It is contrary to reason that contradictions should be
true; that a part should be greater than the whole; that a thing should be and
not be at the same time; that right should be wrong and wrong right. It is
incomprehensible how matter attracts matter; how the mind acts on the body,
and the body on the mind. The distinction between the incomprehensible and the
impossible, is therefore plain and admitted. And the distinction between what
is above reason, and what is against reason, is equally obvious and just. The
great body of Christian theologians have ever taken the ground that the
doctrines of the Bible are not contrary to reason, although above it. That is,
they are matters of faith to be received on the authority of God, and not
because they can be either understood or proved. As it is incomprehensible how
a soul and body can be united in one conscious life; so it is incomprehensible
how a divine and human nature can be united in one person m Christ. Neither is
impossible, and therefore neither is contrary to reason. We know the one fact
from consciousness; we believe the other on the testimony of God. It is
impossible, and therefore contrary to reason, that three should be one. But it
is not impossible that the same numerical essence should subsist in three
distinct persons. Realists tell us that humanity, as one numerical essence,
subsists in all the millions of human individuals. Thomas Aquinas takes the
true ground when he says: "Ea quae sunt supra naturam, sola fide tenemus. Quod
autem credimus, auctoritati debemus. Unde in omnibus asserendis sequi debemus
naturam rerum, praeter ea, quae auctoritate divina traduntur, quae sunt supra
"Quae igitur fidei sunt, non sunt tentanda probare nisi per auctoritates his,
qui auctoritates suscipiunt. Apud alios vero sufficit defendere non esse
impossibile quod praedicat fides."44
"Quidquid in aliis scientiis invenitur veritati hujus scientiae [sacrae
doctrinae] repugnans, totum condemnatur ut falsum."45
The Objects of Faith are consistent with
While, therefore, the objects of faith as revealed in the Bible, are
not truths of the reason, i. e., which the human reason can discover, or
comprehend, or demonstrate, they are, nevertheless, perfectly consistent with
reason. They involve no contradictions or absurdities; nothing impossible,
nothing inconsistent with the intuitions either of the intellect or of the
conscience; nothing inconsistent with any well established truth, whether of
the external world or of the world of mind. On the contrary, the contents of
the Bible, so far as they relate to things within the legitimate domain of
human knowledge, are found to be consistent, and must be consistent, with all
we certainly know from other sources than a divine revelation. All that the
Scriptures teach concerning the external world accords with the facts of
experience. They do not teach that the earth is a plane; that it is stationary
in space; that the sun revolves around it. On the other hand, they do teach
that God made all plants and animals, each after its own kind; and,
accordingly, all experience shows that species are immutable. All the
anthropological doctrines of the Bible agree with what we know of man from
consciousness and observation. The Bible teaches that God made of one blood
all nations which dwell on the face of the earth. We accordingly find that all
the varieties of our race have the same anatomical structure; the same
physical nature; the same rational and moral faculties. The Bible teaches that
man is a free, accountable agent; that all men are sinners; that all need
redemption, and that no man can redeem himself or find a ransom for his
brother. With these teachings the consciousness of all men agrees. All that
the Scriptures reveal concerning the nature and attributes of Gods corresponds
with our religious nature, satisfying, elevating, and sanctifying all our
powers and meeting all our necessities. If the contents of the Bible did not
correspond with the truths which God has revealed in his external works and
the constitution of our nature, it could not be received as coming from Him,
for God cannot contradict himself. Nothing, therefore, can be more derogatory
to the Bible than the assertion that its doctrines are contrary to reason.
Faith in the Irrational impossible.
The assumption that reason and faith are incompatible; that we must
become irrational in order to become believers is, however it may be intended,
the language of infidelity; for faith in the irrational is of necessity itself
irrational. It is impossible to believe that to be true which the mind sees to
be false. This would be to believe and disbelieve the same thing at the same
time. If, therefore, as modern philosophers assert, it is impossible that an
infinite being can be a person, then faith in the personality of God is
impossible. Then there can be no religion, no sin, no accountability, no
immortality. Faith is not a blind, irrational conviction. In order to believe,
we must know what we beheve, and the grounds on which our faith rests. And,
therefore, the refuge which some would take in faith, from the universal
scepticism to which they say reason necessarily leads, is insecure and
While admitting that the truths of revelation are to be received upon
the authority of God; that human reason can neither comprehend nor prove them;
that a man must be converted and become as a little child before he can truly
receive the doctrines of the Bible; and admitting, moreover, that these
doctrines are irreconcilable with every system of philosophy, ever framed by
those who refuse to be taught of God, or who were ignorant of his Word, yet it
is ever to be maintained that those doctrines are unassailable; that no
created intellect can prove them to be impossible or irrational. Paul, while
spurning the wisdom of the world, still claimed that he taught the highest
wisdom, even the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. ii. 6, 7.) And who will venture to say
that the wisdom of God is irrational?
Knowledge essential to Faith.
A sixth question, included under the head of the relation of faith to
knowledge is, Whether knowledge is essential to faith? That is, whether a
truth must be known in order to be believed? This Protestants affirm and
Protestants of course admit that mysteries, or truths which we are
unable to comprehend, may be, and are, proper objects of faith. They repudiate
the rationalistic doctrine that we can believe only what we understand and
what we can prove, or, at least, elucidate so that it appears to be true in
its own light. What Protestants maintain is that knowledge, i. e., the
cognition of the import of the proposition to be believed, is essential to
faith; and, consequently, that faith is limited by knowledge. We can believe
only what we know, i. e., what we intelligently apprehend. If a proposition be
announced to us in an unknown language, we can affirm nothing about it. We can
neither believe nor disbelieve it. Should the man who makes the declaration,
assert that it is true, if we have confidence in his competency and integrity,
we may believe that he is right, but the proposition itself is no part of our
faith. The Apostle recognizes this obvious truth when he says, "Except ye
utter by the tongue words easy to be understood (eu;shmon
lo,gon), how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into
the air. . . . If I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him
that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
. . . When thou shalt bless with the Spirit, how shall he that occupieth the
room of the unlearned, say Amen at thy giving of thanks? seeing he
understandeth not what thou sayest?" (1 Cor. xiv. 9-16.) To say Amen, is to
assent to, to make one's own. According to the Apostle, therefore, knowledge,
or the intelligent apprehension of the meaning of what is proposed, is
essential to faith. If the proposition "God is a Spirit," be announced to the
unlearned in Hebrew or Greek, it is impossible that they should assent to its
truth. If they understand the language, if they know what the word "God"
means, and what the word "Spirit" means, then they may receive or reject the
truth which that proposition affirms. The declaration "Jesus is the Son of
God," admits of different interpretations. Some say the term Son is an
official title, and therefore the proposition "Jesus is the Son of God," means
that Jesus is a ruler. Others say it is a term of affection, then the
proposition means that Jesus was the special object of the love of God. Others
say that it means that Jesus is of the same nature with God; that He is a
divine person. If this be the meaning of the Spirit in declaring Jesus to be
the Son of God, then those who do not attach that sense to the words, do not
believe the truth intended to be taught. When it is said God set forth Christ
to be a propitiation for our sins, if we do not understand what the word
propitiation means, the proposition to us means nothing, and nothing cannot be
an object of faith.
Knowledge the Measure of Faith.
It follows from what has been said, or rather is included in it, that
knowledge being essential to faith, it must be the measure of it. What lies
beyond the sphere of knowledge, lies beyond the sphere of faith. Of the unseen
and eternal we can believe only what God has revealed; and of what God has
revealed, we can believe only what we know. It has been said that he who
believes the Bible to be the Word of God, may properly be said to believe all
it teaches, although much of its instructions may be to him unknown. But this
is not a correct representation. The man who believes the Bible, is prepared
to believe on its authority whatever it declares to be true. But he cannot
properly be said to beheve any more of its contents than he knows. If asked if
he believed that men bitten by poisonous serpents were ever healed by merely
looking at a brazen serpent, he might, if ignorant of the Pentateuch, honestly
answer, No. But should he come to read and understand the record of the
healing of the dying Israelites, as found in the Bible, he would rationally
and sincerely, answer, Yes. This disposition to believe whatever the Bible
teaches, as soon as we know what is taught, may be called an implicit faith,
but it is no real faith. It has none of its characteristics and none of its
Proof that Knowledge is Essential to Faith.
That knowledge, in the sense above stated, is essential to faith is
1. From the very nature of faith. It includes the conviction of the
truth of its object. It is an affirmation of the mind that a thing is true or
trustworthy, but the mind can affirm nothing of that of which it knows
2. The Bible everywhere teaches that without knowledge there can be no
faith. This, as just stated, is the doctrine of the Apostle Paul. He condemned
the speaking in an unknown tongue in a promiscuous assembly, because the
hearers could not understand what was said; and if they did not know the
meaning of the words uttered, they could neither assent to them, nor be
profited by them. In another place (Rom. x. 14) he asks, "How shall they
believe in him of whom they have not heard?" "Faith," he says, "cometh by
hearing." The command of Christ was to preach the Gospel to every creature; to
teach all nations. Those who received the instructions thus given, should, He
assured his disciples, be saved; those who rejected them, should be damned.
This takes for granted that without the knowledge of the Gospel, there can be
no faith. On this principle the Apostles acted everywhere. They went abroad
preaching Christ, proving from the Scriptures that He was the Son of God and
Saviour of the world. The communication of knowledge always preceded the
demand for faith.
3. Such is the intimate connection between faith and knowledge, that in
the Scriptures the one term is often used for the other. To know Christ, is to
believe upon Him. To know the truth, is intelligently and believingly to
apprehend and appropriate it. Conversion is effected by knowledge. Paul says
he was made a believer by the revelation of Christ within him. The Spirit is
said to open the eyes of the understanding. Men are said to be renewed so as
to know. We are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of
light. Believers are children of the light. Men are said to perish for the
lack of knowledge. Nothing is more characteristic of the Bible than the
importance which it attaches to the knowledge of the truth. We are said to be
begotten by the truth; to be sanctified by the truth; and the whole duty of
ministers and teachers is said to be to hold forth the word of life. It is
because Protestants believe that knowledge is essential to faith, that they
insist so strenuously on the circulation of the Scriptures and the instruction
of the people.
Romish Doctrine on this Subject.
Romanists make a distinction between explicit and implicit faith. By
the former is meant, faith in a known truth; by the latter faith in truths not
known. They teach that only a few primary truths of religion need be known,
and that faith without knowledge, as to all other truths, is genuine and
sufficient. On this subject Thomas Aquinas says, "Quantum ad prima credibilia,
quae sunt articuli fidei, tenetur homo explicite credere. Quantum autem ad
alia credibilia non tenetur homo explicite credere, sed solum implicite, vel
in praeparatione animi, in quantum paratus est credere quidquid divina
Implicit faith is defined as, "Assensus, qui omnia, quamvis ignota, quae ab
ecclesia probantur, amplectitur."47
says, "In eo qui credit, duo sunt, apprehensio et judicium, sive assensus: sed
apprehensio non est fides, sed aliud fidem praecedens. Possunt enim infideles
apprehendere mysteria fidei. Praeterea, apprehensio non dicitur proprie
notitia. . . . Mysteria fidei, quae rationem superant, credimus, non
intelligimus, ac per hoc fides distingintur contra scientiam, et melius per
ignorantiam, quam per notitiam definitur." The faith required of the people is
simply, A general intention to believe whatever the Church believes."49
The Church teaches that there are seven sacraments. A man who has no idea what
the word sacrament means, or what rites are regarded by the Church as having a
sacramental character, is held to believe that orders, penance, matrimony, and
extreme unction, are sacraments. So, of all other doctrines of the Church.
True faith is said to be consistent with absolute ignorance. According to this
doctrine, a man may be a true Christian, if he submits to the Church, although
in his internal convictions and modes of thought, he be a pantheist or pagan.
It is to this grave error as to the nature of faith, that much in the
character and practice of the Romish Church is to be referred, --
1. This is the reason why the Scriptures are withheld from the people.
If knowledge is not necessary to faith, there is no need that the people
should know what the Bible teaches.
2. For the same reason the services of public worship are conducted in
an unknown language.
3. Hence, too, the symbolism which characterizes their worship. The end
to be accomplished is a blind reverence and awe. For this end there is no need
that these symbols should be understood. It is enough that they affect the
4. To the same principle is to be referred the practice of reserve in
preaching. The truth may be kept back or concealed. The cross is held up
before the people, but it is not necessary that the doctrine of the sacrifice
for sin made thereon should be taught. It is enough if the people are
impressed; it matters not whether they believe that the sign, or the material,
or the doctrine symbolized, secures salvation. Nay, the darker the mind, the
more vague and mysterious the feeling excited, and the more blind the
submission rendered, the more genuine is the exercise of faith. "Religious
light," says Mr. Newman, "is intellectual darkness."50
5. It is on the same principle the Roman Catholic missions have always
been conducted. The people are converted not by the truth, not by a course of
instruction, but by baptism. They are made Christians by thousands, not by the
intelligent adoption of Christianity as a system of doctrine, of that they may
be profoundly iguorant, but by simple submission to the Church and its
prescribed rites. The consequence has been that the Catholic missions,
although continued in some instances for more than a hundred years, take no
hold on the people, but almost uniformly die out, as soon as the supply of
foreign ministers is cut off.
§ 5. Faith and Feeling.
It has already been seen, --
1. That faith, the act of believing, cannot properly be defined as the
assent of the understanding determined by the will. There are, unquestionably,
many cases in which a man believes against his will.
2. It has also been argued that it is not correct to say that faith is
assent founded on feeling. On this point it was admitted that a man's feelings
have great influence upon his faith; that it is comparatively easy to believe
what is agreeable, and difficult to believe what is disagreeable. It was also
admitted that in saving faith, the gift of God, resting on the inward
illuminating testimony of the Holy Spirit, there is a discernment not only of
the truth but of the divine excellence of the things of the Spirit, which is
inseparably connected with appropriate feeling. It was moreover conceded that,
so far as the consciousness of the believer is concerned, he seems to receive
the truth on its own evidence, on its excellence and power over his heart and
conscience. This, however, is analogous to other facts in his experience. When
a man repents and believes, he is conscious only of his own exercises and not
of the supernatural influences of the Spirit, to which those exercises owe
their origin and nature. Thus also in the exercise of faith, consciousness
does not reach the inward testimony of the Spirit on which that faith is
founded. Nevertheless, notwithstanding these admissions, it is still incorrect
to say that faith is founded on feeling, because it is only of certain forms
or exercises of faith that this can even be plausibly said; and because there
are many exercises of even saving faith (that is, of faith in a true
believer,) which are not attended by feeling. This is the case when the object
of faith is some historical fact. Besides, the Scriptures clearly teach that
the ground of faith is the testimony of God, or demonstration of the Spirit.
He has revealed certain truths, and attends them with such an amount and kind
of evidence, as produces conviction, and we receive them on his authority.
3. Faith is not necessarily connected with feeling. Sometimes it is,
and sometimes it is not. Whether it is or not, depends, (a.) On the nature of
the object. Belief in glad tidings is of necessity attended by joy; of evil
tidings with grief. Belief in moral excellence involves a feeling of
approbation. Belief that a certain act is criminal, involves disapprobation.
(b.) On the proximate ground of faith. If a man believes that a picture is
beautiful on the testimony of competent judges, there is no aesthetic feeling
connected with his faith. But if he personally perceives the beauty of the
object, then delight is inseparable from the conviction that it is beautiful.
In like manner if a man believes that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, on
the mere external testimony of the Bible, he experiences no due impression
from that truth. But if his faith is founded on the inward testimony of the
Spirit, by which the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is revealed to
him, then he is filled with adoring admiration and love.
Religious Faith more than Simple Assent.
4. Another question agitated on this subject is, Whether faith is a
purely intellectual exercise; or Whether it is also an exercise of the
affections. This is nearly allied to the preceding question, and must receive
substantially the same answer. Bellarmin,51
says, "Tribus in rebus ab haereticis Catholici dissentiunt; Primum, in objecto
fidei justificantis, quod haeretici restringunt ad solam promissionem
misericordiae specialis, Catholici tam late patere volunt, quam late patet
verbam. . . . Deinde in facultate et potentia animi quae sedes est fidei.
Siquidem illi fidem collocant in voluntate [seu in corde] cum fiduciam esse
definiunt; ac per hoc eam cum spe confundunt. Fiducia enim nihil est aliud,
nisi spes roborata. . . . Catholici fidem in intellectu sedem habere docent.
Denique, in ipso actu intellectus. Ipsi enim per notitiam fidem definiunt, nos
per assensum. Assentimur enim Deo, quamvis ea nobis credenda proponat, quae
non intelligimus." Regarding faith as a mere intellectual or speculative act,
they consistently deny that it is necessarily connected with salvation.
According to their doctrine, a man may have true faith, i. e., the faith which
the Scriptures demand, and yet perish. On this point the Council of Trent
says: "Si quis dixerit, amissa per peccatum gratia, simul et fidem semper
amitti, aut fidem, quae remanet, non esse veram fidem, licet non sit viva; aut
eum, qui fidem sine caritate habet, non esse Christianum; anathema sit."52
On the other hand Protestants with one voice maintain that the faith
which is connected with salvation, is not a mere intellectual exercise. Calvin
"Verum observemus, fidei sedem non in cerebro esse, sed in corde: neque vero
de eo contenderim, qua in parte corporis sita sit fides: sed quoniam cordis
nomen pro serio et sincero affectu fere capitur, dico firmam esse et efficacem
fiduciam, non nudam tantum notionem." He also says:54
Quodsi expenderent illud Pauli, Corde creditur ad justitiam (Rom. x. 10):
fingere desinerent frigidam illam qualitatem. Si una haec nobis suppeteret
ratio, valere deberet ad litem finiendam: assensionem scilicet ipsam sicuti ex
parte attigi, et fusius iterum repetam, cordis esse magis quam cerebri, et
affectus magis quam intelligentiae."
The answer in the Heidelberg Catechism, to the question, What is Faith?
is, "It is not merely a certain knowledge, whereby I receive as true all that
God has revealed to us in his Word, but also a cordial trust, which the Holy
Ghost works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, the
forgiveness of sin, and everlasting righteousness and life are given by God,
out of pure grace, and only for the sake of Christ's merit."55
That saving faith is not a mere speculative assent of the
understanding, is the uniform doctrine of the Protestant symbols. On this
point, however, it may be remarked, in the first place, that,as has often been
stated before, the Scriptures do not make the sharp distinction between the
understanding, the feelings, and the will, which is common in our day. A large
class of our inward acts and states are so complex as to be acts of the whole
soul, and not exclusively of any one of its faculties. In repentance there is
of necessity an intellectual apprehension of ourselves as sinners, of the
holiness of God, of his law to which we have failed to be conformed and of his
mercy in Christ; there is a moral disapprobation of our character and conduct;
a feeling of sorrow, shame, and remorse; and a purpose to forsake sin and lead
a holy life. Scarcely less complex is the state of mind expressed by the word
faith as it exists in a true believer. In the second place, there is a
distinction to be made between faith in general and saving faith. If we take
that element of faith which is common to every act of believing; if we
understand by it the apprehension of a thing as true and worthy of confidence,
whether a fact of history or of science, then it may be said that faith in its
essential nature is intellectual, or intelligent assent. But if the question
be, What is that act or state of mind which is required in the Gospel, when we
are commanded to believe; the answer is very different. To believe that Christ
is "God manifest in the flesh," is not the mere intellectual conviction that
no one, not truly divine, could be and do what Christ was and did; for this
conviction demoniacs avowed; but it is to receive Him as our God. This
includes the apprehension and conviction of his divine glory, and the adoring
reverence, love, confidence, and submission, which are due to God alone. When
we are commanded to believe in Christ as the Saviour of men, we are not
required merely to assent to the proposition that He does save sinners, but
also to receive and rest upon Him alone for our own salvation. What,
therefore, the Scriptures mean by faith, in this connection, the faith which
is required for salvation, is an act of the whole soul, of the understanding,
of the heart, and of the will.
Proof of the Protestant Doctrine.
The Protestant doctrine that saving faith includes knowledge, assent,
and trust, and is not, as Romanists teach, mere assent, in sustained by
1. In the first place, it is proved from the nature of the object of
saving faith. That object is not merely the general truth of Scripture, not
the fact that the Gospel reveals God's plan of saving sinners; but it is
Christ himself; his person and work, and the offer of salvation to us
personally and individually. From the nature of the case we cannot, as just
remarked, believe in Christ on the inward testimony of the Spirit which
reveals his glory and his love, without the feelings of reverence, love, and
trust mingling with the act and constituting its character. Nor is it possible
that a soul oppressed with a sense of sin should receive the promise of
deliverance from its guilt and power, without any feeling of gratitude and
confidence. The act of faith in such a promise is in its nature an act of
appropriation and confidence.
2. We accordingly find that in many cases in the Bible the word trust
is used instead of faith. The same act or state of mind which in one place is
expressed by the one word, is in others expressed by the other. The same
promises are made to trust as are made to faith. The same effects are
attnbuted to the one, that are attributed to the other.
3. The use of other words and forms of expression as explanatory of the
act of faith, and substituted for that word, shows that it includes trust as
an essential element of its nature. We are commanded to look to Christ, as the
dying Israelites looked up to the brazen serpent. This looking involved
trusting; and looking is declared to be believing. Sinners are exhorted to
flee to Christ as a refuge. The man-slayer fled to the city of refuge because
he relied upon it as a place of safety. We are said to receive Christ, to rest
upon Him, to lay hold of Him. All these, and other modes of expression which
teach us what we are to do when we are commanded to believe, show that trust
is an essential element in the act of saving faith.
4. The command to believe is expressed by the word
pisteu,w not only when followed by the accusative, but also when
followed by the dative and by the prepositions evpi,(
eivj( evn. But the literal meaning of pisteu,ein
eivj, or evpi,, or evn,
is not simply to believe, but to believe upon, to confide in, to trust.
Faith in a promise made to ourselves, from the nature of the case, is an act
of confidence in him who makes the promise.
5. Unbelief is, therefore, expressed by doubt, fear, distrust and
6 The believer knows from his own experience that when he believes he
receives and rests on Jesus Christ for salvation, as He is freely offered to
us in the Gospel.
The controversy between Romanists and Protestants on this subject turns
on the view taken of the plan of salvation. If, as Protestants hold, every man
in order to be saved, must receive the record which God has given of his Son;
must believe that He is God manifest in the flesh, the propitiation for our
sins, the prophet, priest, and king of his people, then it must be admitted
that faith involves trust in Christ as to us the source of wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But if, as Romanists teach, the
benefits of redemption are conveyed only through the sacraments, effective
ex opere operato, then faith is the opposite of infidelity in its popular
sense. If a man is not a believer, he is an infidel, i. e., a rejecter of
Christianity. The object of faith is divine revelation as contained in the
Bible. It is a simple assent to the fact that the Scriptures are from God, and
that the Church is a divinely constituted and supernaturally endowed institute
for the salvation of men. Believing this, the sinner comes to the Church and
receives through her ministrations, in his measure, all the benefits of
redemption. According to this system the nature and office of faith are
entirely different from what they are according to the Protestant theory of
§ 6. Faith and Love.
As to the relation between faith and love there are three different
1. That love is the ground of faith; that men believe the truth because
they love it. Faith is founded on feeling. This view has already been
2. That love is the invariable and necessary attendant and consequent
of saving faith. As no man can see and believe a thing to be morally good
without the feeling of approbation; so no one can see and believe the glory of
God as revealed in the Scriptures without adoring reverence being awakened in
his soul; no one can believe unto salvation that Christ is the Son of God and
the Son of Man; that He loved us and gave Himself for us, and makes us kings
and priests unto God, without love and devotion, in proportion to the
clearness and strength of this faith, filling the heart and controlling the
life. Hence faith is said tc work by love and to purify the heart. Romanists,
indeed, render pi,stij diV avga,phj evnergoume,nh
in this passage (Gal. v. 6), "faith perfected or completed by love." But this
is contrary to the constant usage of the word
evnergei/sqai in the New Testament, which is always used in a middle
sense, "vim suam exserere." According to the Apostle's teaching in Rom. vii.
4-6, love without faith, or anterior to it, is impossible. Until we believe,
we are under the condemnation of the law. While under condemnation, we are at
enmity with God. While at enmity with God, we bring forth fruit unto death. It
is only when reconciled to God and united to Christ, that we bring forth fruit
unto God. Believing that God loves us we love Him. Believing that Christ gave
Himself for us, we devote our lives to Him. Believing that the fashion of this
world passes away, that the things unseen are eternal, those who have that
faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things
not seen, set their affections on things above where Christ sitteth at the
right hand of God. This necessary connection between faith and love, has
already been sufficiently insisted upon.
Romanists make Love the Essence of Faith.
3. The third doctrinal view on this subject is that of the Romanists,
who make love the essence of faith. In other words, love with them is the form
(in the scholastic sense of the word) of faith; it is that which gives it
being or character as a Christian virtue or grace. While on the one hand they
teach, as we have seen with the Council of Trent, that faith is in itself mere
intellectual assent, without any moral virtue, and which may be exercised by
the unrenewed or by those in a state of mortal sin; on the other hand, they
hold that there is such a Christian grace as faith; but in that case, faith is
only another name for love. This is not the distinction between a living and
dead faith which the Scriptures and all Evangelical Christians recognize. With
Romanists the fides informis is true faith, and the fides formata
is love. On this point, Peter Lombard56
says: "Fides qua dicitur [creditur?], si cum caritate sit, virtus est, qula
caritas ut ait Ambrosius mater est omnium virtutum, quae omnes informat, sine
qua nulla vera virtus est." Thomas Aquinas57
says: "Actus fidei ordinatur ad objectum voluntatis, quod est bonum, sicut ad
finem. Hoc autem bonum quod est finis fidei, scilicet bonum divinum, est
proprium objectum charitatis: et ideo charitas dicitur forma fidei, in quantum
per charitatem actus fidei perficitur et formatur." Bellarmin58
says: "Quod si charitas est forma fidei, et fides non justificat formaliter,
nisi ab ipsa caritate formata certe multo magis charitas ipsa justificat. . .
. Fides quae agitur, ac movetur, formatur, et quasi animatur per dilectionem.
. . . Apostolus Paulus . . . . explicat dilectionem formam esse extrinsecam
fidei non intrinsecam, quae det illi, non ut sit, sed ut moveatur." All this
is intelligible and reasonable, provided we admit subjective justification,
and the merit of good works. If justification is sanctification, then it may
be admitted that love has more to do with making men holy, than faith
considered as mere intellectual assent. And if it be conceded that we are
accepted by God on the ground of our own virtue, then it may be granted that
love is more valuable than any mere exercise of the intellect. Romanists
argue, "Maxima virtus maxime justificat. Dilectio est maxima virtus. Ergo
maxime justificat." It was because this distinction between a "formed and
unformed faith" was made in the interest of justification on the ground of our
own character and merit, that Luther, with his usual vehement power, says:
"Ipsi duplicem faciunt fidem, informem et formatam, hanc pestilentissimam et
satanicam glossam non possum non vehementer detestari." It is only as
connected with false views of justification that this question has any real
importance. For it is admitted by all Protestants that saving faith and love
are inseparably connected; that faith without love, i. e., that a faith which
does not produce love and good works, is dead. But Protestants are strenuous
in denying that we are justified on account of love, which is ths real meaning
of the Romanists when they say "fides non justificat formaliter, nisi ab ipsa
§ 7. The Object of Saving Faith.
It is conceded that all Christians are bound to believe, and that all
do believe everything taught in the Word of God, so far as the contents of the
Scriptures are known to them. It is correct, therefore, to say that the object
of faith is the whole revelation of God as contained in his Word. As the Bible
is with Protestants the only infallible rule of faith and practice, nothing
not expressly taught in Scripture, or deduced therefrom by necessary
inference, can be imposed on the people of God as an article of faith. This is
"the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free," and in which we are bound to
stand fast. This is our protection on the one hand, against the usurpations of
the Church. Romanists claim for the Church the prerogative of infallible and
authoritative teaching. The people are bound to believe whatever the Church,
i. e., its organs the bishops, declare to be a part of the revelation of God.
They do not, indeed, assume the right "to make" new articles of faith. But
they claim the authority to decide, in such a way as to bind the conscience of
the people, what the Bible teaches; and what by tradition the Church knows to
be included in the teaching of Christ and his Apostles. This gives them
latitude enough to teach for doctrines the commandments of men. Bellarmin59
says: "Omnium dogmatum firmitas pendet ab auctoritate praesentis ecclesiae."
On the other hand, however, it is not only against the usurpations of the
Church, that the principle above mentioned is our security, but also against
the tyranny of public opinion. Men are as impatient of contradiction now as
they ever were. They manifest the same desire to have their own opinions
enacted into laws, and enforced by divine authority. And they are as fierce in
their denunciations of all who venture to oppose them. Hence they meet in
conventions or other assemblies, ecclesiastical or voluntary, and decide what
is true and what is false in doctrine, and what is right and what is wrong in
morals. Against all undue assumptions of authority, true Protestants hold fast
to the two great principles, -- the right of private judgment, and that the
Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. The object of
faith, therefore, is all the truths revealed in the Word of God. All that God
in the Bible declares to be true, we are bound to believe. This is what
theologians call fides generalis.
But, besides this, there is a fides specialis necessary to
salvation. In the general contents of the Scriptures there are certain
doctrines concerning Christ and his work, and certain promises of salvation
made through Him to sinful men, which we are bound to receive and on which we
are required to trust. The special object of faith, therefore, is Christ, and
the promise of salvation through Him. And the special definite act of faith
which secures our salvation is the act of receiving and resting on Him as He
is offered to us in the Gospel. This is so clearly and so variously taught in
the Scriptures as hardly to admit of being questioned.
In the first place, our Lord repeatedly declares that what men are
required to do, and what they are condemned because they do not do, is to
believe on Him. He was lifted up, "That whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have eternal life." (John iii. 15.) "He that believeth on him is
not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath
not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (v. 18.) "He that
believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: but he that believeth not the Son
shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (v. 36.) "This is
the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and
believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the
last day." (John vi. 40.) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth
on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. . . . This is the bread
which cometh down from heaven, . . any man eat of this bread, he shall live
forever." (vers. 47-51.) In another place our Lord says, "This is the work of
God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John vi. 29.) The passages,
however, in which faith in Christ is expressly demanded as the condition of
salvation, are too numerous to be cited.
We are said to be saved by receiving Christ.
That Christ is the immediate object of saving faith is also taught in
all those passages in which we are said to receive Christ, or the testimony of
God concerning Christ, and in which this act of receiving is said to secure
our salvation. For example, in John i. 12, "As many as received him, to them
gave he power to become the sons of God." "I am come in my Father's name, and
ye receive me not." (John v. 43.) "If we receive the witness of men, the
witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath
testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in
himself: he that believeth not God has made him a liar; because he believeth
not the record that God gave of his Son." (1 John v. 9, 10.) "He that hath the
Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (v. 12.)
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (v. 1.) It is,
therefore, receiving Christ; receiving the record which God has given of his
Son; believing that He is the Christ the Son of the living God, which is the
specific act required of us in order to salvation. Christ, therefore, is the
immediate object of those exercises of faith which secure salvation. And,
therefore, faith is expressed by looking to Christ; coming to Christ;
committing the soul to Him, etc.
Teaching of the Apostles
Accordingly the Apostle teaches we are justified "by the faith of
Christ." It is not faith as a pious disposition of the mind not faith as
general confidence in God; not faith in the truth of divine revelation; much
less faith "in eternal verities," or the general principles of truth and duty,
but that faith of which Christ is the object. Romans iii. 22: "The
righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all
them that believe." Galatians ii. 16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by
the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed
in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by
the works of the law." iii. 24: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto
Christ, that we might be justified by faith." v. 26: "For ye are all the
children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Galatians ii. 20: "I live by the
faith of the Son of God," etc., etc.
Christ our Ransom.
Christ declares that He gave Himself as a ransom for many; He was set
forth as a propitiation for sins; He offered Himself as a sacrifice unto God.
It is through the merit of his righteousness and death that men are saved. All
these representations which pervade the Scriptures necessarily assume that the
faith which secures salvation must have special reference to Him. If He is our
Redeemer, we must receive and trust Him as such. If He is a propitiation for
sins, it is through faith in his blood that we are reconciled to God. The
whole plan of salvation, as set forth in the Gospel, supposes that Christ in
his person and work is the object of faith and the ground of confidence.
We live in Christ by Faith.
The same thing follows from the representations given of the relation
of the believer to Christ. We are in Him by faith. He dwells in us. He is the
head from whom we, as members of his body, derive our life. He is the vine, we
are the branches. It is not we that live, but Christ, who liveth in us. These
and other representations are utterly inconsistent with the doctrine that it
is a vague general faith in God or in the Scriptures which secures our
salvation. It is a faith which terminates directly on Christ, which takes Him
to be our God and Saviour. God sent his Son into the world, clothed in our
nature, to reveal his will, to die for our sins and to rise again for our
justification. In Him dwells the fulness of the Godhead, from his fulness we
are filled. He to us is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Those who receive this Saviour as being all He claimed to be, and commit their
souls into his hands to be used in his service and saved to his glory, are, in
the Scriptural sense of the term, believers. Christ is not only the object of
their faith, but their whole inward, spiritual life terminates on Him.
Nothing, therefore, can be more foreign to the Gospel than the Romish
doctrine, substantially revived by the modern philosophy which turns the mind
away from the historical, really existing, objective Christ, to the work
within us; leaving us nothing to love and trust, but what is in our own
Christ is not received in a Special Office
Admitting that Christ is the immediate and special object of those acts
of faith which secure salvation, it is asked, Whether it is Christ in all his
offices, or Christ in his priestly office, especially, that is the object of
justifying faith? This seems an unnecessary question. It is not raised in the
Bible; nor does it suggest itself to the believer. He receives Christ. He does
not ask himself for what special function of his saving work he thus accepts
Him. He takes Him as a Saviour, as a deliverer from the guilt and power of
sin, from the dominion of Satan, and from all the evils of his apostasy from
God. He takes Him as his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption. He takes Him as his God and Saviour, as the full, complete,
satisfying, life-giving portion of the soul. If this complex act of
apprehension and surrender were analyzed it doubtless would be found to
include submission to all his teaching, reliance on his righteousness and
intercession, subjection to his will, confidence in his protection, and
devotion to his service. As He is offered to us as a prophet, priest, and
king, as such He is accepted. And as He is offered to us as a source of life,
and glory, and blessedness, as the supreme object of adoration and love, as
such He is joyfully accepted.
Is the Sinner required to believe that God
Again, it is questioned, Whether the object of saving faith is that God
is reconciled to us; that our sins are forgiven; that we are the objects of
the saving love of God? This is not the question above considered, namely,
Whether, as Romanists say, the object of faith is the whole revelation of God,
or, as Protestants contend, Christ and the promise of redemption through Him,
although many of the arguments of the Romanists are directed against the
special form of the doctrine just stated. They argue that it is contradictory
to say that we are pardoned because we believe; and, in the same breath, to
say that the thing to be believed is that our sins are already pardoned.
Again, they argue that the only proper object of faith is some revelation of
God, but it is nowhere revealed that we individually are reconciled to God, or
that our sins are pardoned, or that we are the objects of that special love
which God has to his own people.
In answer to the first of these objections, the Reformed theologians
were accustomed to say, that a distinction is to be made between the remission
of sin de jure already obtained through the death of Christ, and
remission de facto through the efficacious application of it to us. In
the former sense, "remissio peccatorum jam impetrata" is the object of faith.
In the latter sense, it is "remissio impetranda," because faith is the
instrumental cause of justification, and must precede it. "Unde," says
"ad obtinendam remissionem peccatorum, non debeo credere peccata mihi jam
remissa, ut perperam nobis impingunt; sed debeo credere peccata mihi credenti
et poenitenti, juxta promissionem factam credentibus et poenitentibus,
remissum iri certissime, quae postea actu secundari et reflexo ex sensu fidei
credo mihi esse remissa."
The second objection was answered by distinguishing between the direct
and the reflex act of faith. By the direct act of faith we embrace Christ as
our Saviour; by the reflex act, arising out of the consciousness of believing,
we believe that He loved us and died for us, and that nothing can ever
separate us from his love. These two acts are inseparable, not only as cause
and effect, antecedent and consequent; but they are not separated in time, or
in the consciousness of the believer. They are only different elements of the
complex act of accepting Christ as He is offered in the Gospel. We cannot
separate the joy and gratitude with which a great favour is accepted. Although
a psychological analysis might resolve these emotions into the effects of the
act of acceptance, they belong, as revealed in consciousness, to the very
nature of the act. It is a cordial and grateful acceptance of a promise made
to all who embrace it. If a general promise of pardon be made to criminals on
the condition of the confession of guilt, every one of their number who makes
the confession knows or believes that the promise is made to him. On this
point the early Reformed and Lutheran theologians were agreed in teaching that
when the sinner exercises saving faith. He believes that for Christ's sake he
is pardoned and accepted of God. In other words, that Christ loved him and
gave Himself for him. We have already seen that the "Heidelberg Catechism,"61
the symbolical book of so large a portion of the Reformed Church, declared
saving faith to be "Certa fiducia, a Spiritu Sancto per evangelium in corde
meo accensa, qua in Deo acquiesco, certo statuens, non solum aliis, sed mihi
quoque remissionem peccatorum aeternam, justitiam et vitam donatam esse idque
gratis, ex Dei misericordia, propter unius Christi meritum." In the "Apology
of the Augsburg Confession of the Lutheran Church" it is said,62
"Nos praeter illam fidem [fidem generalem] requirimus, ut credat sibi quisque
remitti peccata." Calvin says,63
"Gratiae promissione opus est, qua nobis testificetur se propitium esse
Patrem: quando nec aliter ad eum appropinquare possumus, et in eam solam
reclinare cor hominis potest. . . . Nunc justa fidei definitio nobis
constabit, si dicamus esse divinae erga nos benevolentiae firmam certamque
cognitionem, quae gratuitae in Christo promissionis veritate fundata, per
Spiritum Sanctum et revelatur mentibus nostris et cordibus obsignatur." "Hic
praecipuus fidei cardo vertitur, ne quas Dominus offert misericordiae
promissiones, extra nos tantum veras esse arbitremur, in nobis minime: sed ut
potius eas intus complectendo nostras faciamus. . . . In summa, vere fidelis
non est nisi qui solida persuasione Deum sibi propitium benevolumque patrem
esse persuasus, de ejus benignitate omnia sibi pollicetur: nisi qui divinae
erga se benevolential promissionibus fretus, indubitatam salutis expectationem
This is strong language. The doctrine, however, is not that faith
implies assurance. The question concerns the nature of the object seen, not
the clearness of the vision; what it is that the soul believes, not the
strength of its faith. This Calvin himself elsewhere beautifully expresses,
saying, "When the least drop of faith is instilled into our minds, we begin to
see the serene and placid face of our reconciled Father; far off and on high,
it may be, but still it is seen." A man in a dangeon may see only a ray of
light streaming through a crevice. This is very different from broad daylight.
Nevertheless, what he sees is light. So what the penitent sinner believes is,
that God for Christ's sake is reconciled to him. It may be with a very dim and
doubtful vision, he apprehends that truth; but that is the truth on which his
trust is stayed.
Proof of this Doctrine.
This is involved in the appropriation of the general promise of the
Gospel. The Scriptures declare that God is love; that He set forth his Son to
be a propitiation for sin; that in Him He is reconciled; that He will receive
all who come to Him through Christ. To appropriate these general declarations,
is to believe that they are true, not only in relation to others, but to
ourselves that God is reconciled to us. We have no right to exclude ourselves.
This self-exclusion is unbelief. It is refusing to take of the waters of life,
freely offered to all.
Galatians ii. 20.
Accordingly the Apostle in Galatians ii. 20, says, "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." The object of the Apostle's faith, therefore, the
truths which he believed, and faith in which gave life to his soul, were, (1.)
That Christ is the Son of God; (2.) That He loved him; (3.) That He gave
Himself for him. The faith by which a believer lives, is not specifically
different in its nature or object from the faith required of every man in
order to his salvation. The life of faith is only the continued repetition, it
may be with ever increasing strength and clearness, of those exercises by
which we first receive Christ, in all his fuiness and in all his offices, as
our God and Saviour. "Qui fit ut vivamus Christi fide? quia nos dilexit, et se
ipsum tradidit pro nobis. Amor, inquam, quo nos complexus est Christus, fecit
ut se nobis coadunaret. Id implevit morte suanam se ipsum tradendo pro nobis,
non secus atque in persona nostra passus est. . . . Neque parum energiae habet
pro me: quia non satis fuerit Christum pro mundi salute mortuum reputare, nisi
sibi quisque effectum ac possessionem hujus gratiae privatim vindicet."64
It is objected to this view of the case that by the "love of God," or
"of Christ," in the above statement, is not meant the general benevolence or
philanthropy of God, but his special, electing, and saving love. When Paul
said he lived by the faith of Christ who loved him, and gave Himself for him,
he meant some thing more than that Christ loved all men and therefore him
among the rest. He evidently believed himself to be a special object of the
Saviour's love. It was this conviction which gave power to his faith. And a
like conviction enters into the faith of every true believer. But to this it
is objected that faith must have a divine revelation for its object. But there
is no revelation of God's special love to individuals, and, therefore, no
individual has any Scriptural ground to believe that Christ loved him, and
gave Himself for him. Whatever force there may be in this objection, it bears
against Paul's declaration and experience. He certainly did believe that
Christ loved him and died for him. It will not do to say that this was a
conclusion drawn from his own experience; or to assume that the Apostle argued
himself into the conviction that Christ loved him. Christ specially loves all
who believe upon Him. I believe upon Him. Therefore Christ specially loves me.
But a conclusion reached by argument is not an object of faith. Faith must
rest on the testimony of God. It must be, therefore, that God in some way
testifies to the soul that it is the object of his love. This he does in two
ways. First, by the general invitations and promises of the Gospel. The act of
appropriating, or of accepting these promises, is to believe that they belong
to us as well as to others. Secondly, by the inward witness of the Spirit.
Paul says (Rom. v. 5), "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the
Holy Ghost which is given unto us." That is, the Holy Ghost convinces us that
we are the objects of God's love. This is done, not only by the various
manifestations of his love in providence and redemption, but by his inward
dealings with the soul. "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I
will love him, and will manifest myself to him." (John xiv. 21). This
manifestation is not outward through the word. It is inward. God has
fellowship or intercourse with the souls of his people. The Spirit calls forth
our love to God, and reveals his love to us. Again, in Romans viii. 16, the
Apostle says, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are
the children of God." This does not mean that the Spirit excites in us filial
feelings toward God, from whence we infer that we are his children. The
Apostle refers to two distinct sources of evidence of our adoption. The one is
that we can call God Father; the other, the testimony of the Spirit. The
latter is joined with the former. The word is summarturei/,
unites in testifying. Hence we are said to be sealed, not only marked and
secured, but assured by the Spirit; and the Spirit is a pledge, an assurance,
that we are, and ever shall be, the objects of God's saving love. (Eph. i. 13,
14; iv. 80. 2 Cor. i. 22.)
This is not saying that a man must believe that he is one of the elect.
Election is a secret purpose of God. The election of any particular person is
not revealed, and, therefore, is not an object of faith. It is a thing to be
proved, or made sure, as the Apostle Peter says, by the fruits of the Spirit.
All that the doc trke of the Reformers on this subject includes is, that the
soul in committing itself to Christ does so as to one who loved it and died
for its salvation. The woman healed by touching our Saviour's garment,
believed that she was an object of his compassionate love, because all who
touched Him with faith were included in that number. Her faith included that
§ 8. Effects of Faith.
Union with Christ.
The first effect of faith, according to the Scriptures, is union with
Christ. We are in Him by faith. There is indeed a federal union between Christ
and his people, founded on the covenant of redemption between the Father and
the Son in the counsels of eternity. We are, therefore, said to be in Him
before the foundation of the world. It is one of the promises of that
covenant, that all whom the Father had given the Son should come to Him; that
his people should be made willing in the day of his power. Christ has,
therefore, been exalted to the right hand of God, to give repentance and the
remission of sins. But it was also, as we learn from the Scriptures, included
in the stipulations of that covenant, that his people, so far as adults are
concerned, should not receive the saving benefits of that covenant until they
were united to Him by a voluntary act of faith. They are "by nature the
children of wrath, even as others." (Eph. ii. 8.) They remain in this state of
condemnation until they believe. Their union is consummated by faith. To be in
Christ, and to believe in Christ, are, therefore, in the Scriptures
convertible forms of expression. They mean substantially the same thing and,
therefore, the same effects are attributed to faith as are attributed to union
Justification an Effect of Faith.
The proximate effect of this union, and, consequently, the see. ond
effect of faith, is justification. We are "justified by the faith of Christ."
(Gal. ii. 16.) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Christ Jesus." (Rom. vii. 1.) "He that believeth on him is not condemned."
(John iii. 18.) Faith is the condition on which God promises in the covenant
of redemption, to impute unto men the righteousness of Christ. As soon,
therefore, as they believe, they cannot be condemned. They are clothed with a
righteousness which answers all the demands of justice. "Who shall lay
anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he
that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who
is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom.
viii. 33, 34.)
Participation of Christ's Life an Effect of
The third effect of faith, or of union with Christ, is a participation
of his life. Those united with Christ, the Apostle teaches (Rom. vi. 4-10), so
as to be partakers of his death, are partakers also of his life. "Because I
live, ye shall live also." (John xiv. 19.) Christ dwells in our hearts by
faith. (Eph. iii. 17.) Christ is in us. (Rom. viii. 10.) It is not we that
live, but Christ liveth in us. (Gal. ii. 20.) Our Lord's illustration of this
vital union is derived from a vine and its branches. (John xv. 1-6.) As the
life of the vine is diffused through the branches, and as they live only as
connected with the vine, so the life of Christ is diffused through his people,
and they are partakers of spiritual and eternal life, only in virtue of their
union with Him. Another familiar illustration of this subject is derived from
the human body. The members derive their life from the head, and perish if
separated from it. (Eph. i. 22; 1 Cor. xii. 12-27, and often). In Ephesians
iv. 15, 16, the Apostle carries out this illustration in detail. "The head,
even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by
that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the
measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself
in love." As the principle of animal life located in the head, through the
complicated yet ordered system of nerves extending to every member, diffuses
life and energy through the whole body; so the Holy Spirit, given without
measure to Christ the head of the Church, which is his body, diffuses life and
strength to every member. Hence, according to Scriptuie, Christ's dwelling in
us is explained as the Spirit's dwelling in us. The indwelling of the Spirit
is the indwelling of Christ. If God be in you; if Christ be in you; if the
Spirit be in you, -- all mean the same thing. See Romans viii. 9-11.
To explain this vital and mystical union between Christ and his people
as a mere union of thought and feeling, is utterly inadmissible. (1.) In the
first place, it is contrary to the plain meaning of his words. No one ever
speaks of Plato's dwelling in men; of his being their life, so that without
him they can do nothing; and much less, so that holiness, happiness, and
eternal life depend upon that union. (2.) Such interpretation supposes that
our relation to Christ is analogous to the relation of one man to another.
Whereas it is a relation between men and a divine person, who has life in
Himself, and gives life to as many as He wills. (3.) It iguores all that the
Scriptures teach of the work of the Holy Spirit and of his dwelling in the
hearts of men. (4.) It overlooks the supernatural character of Christianity,
and would reduce it to a mere philosophical and ethical system.
Peace as the Fruit of Faith.
The fourth effect of faith is peace. "Being justified by faith, we have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. v. 1.) Peace arises from
a sense of reconciliation. God promises to pardon, to receive into his favour,
and finally to save all who believe the record which He has given of his Son.
To believe, is therefore to believe this promise; and to appropriate this
promise to ourselves is to believe that God is reconciled to us. This faith
may be weak or strong. And the peace which flows from it may be tremulous and
intermitting, or it may be constant and assured.
To make assurance of personal salvation essential to faith, is contrary
to Scripture and to the experience of God's people. The Bible speaks of a weak
faith. It abounds with consolations intended for the doubting and the
desponding. God accepts those who can only say, "Lord, I believe; help thou
mine unbelief." Those who make assurance the essence of faith, generally
reduce faith to a mere intellectual assent. They are often censorious,
refusing to recognize as brethren those who do not agree with them, and
sometimes they are antinomian.
At the same time, Scripture and experience teach that assurance is not
only attainable, but a privilege and a duty. There may indeed be assurance,
where there is no true faith at all; but where there is true faith, the want
of assurance is to be referred either to the weakness of faith, or to
erroneous views of the plan of salvation. Many sincere believers are too
introspective. They look too exclusively within, so that their hope is
graduated by the degree of evidence of regeneration which they find in their
own experience. This, except in rare cases, can never lead to the assurance of
hope. We may examine our hearts with all the microscopic care prescribed by
President Edwards in his work on "The Religious Affections," and never be
satisfied that we have eliminated every ground of misgiving and doubt. The
grounds of assurance are not so much within, as without us. They are,
according to Scripture, (1.) The universal and unconditional promise of God
that those who come to Him in Christ, He will in no wise cast out; that
whosoever will, may take of the water of life without money and without price.
We are bound to be assured that God is faithful and will certainly save those
who believes (2.) The infinite, immutable, and gratuitous love of God. In the
first ten verses of the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and in the
eighth chapter of that epistle from the thirty-first verse to the end, the
Apostle dwells on these characteristics of the love of God, as affording an
immovable foundation of the believer's hope. (3.) The infinite merit of the
satisfaction of Christ, and the prevalence of his continued intercession.
Paul, in Romans viii. 34, especially emphasizes these points. (4.) The
covenant of redemption in which it is promised that all given by the Father to
the Son, shall come to Him, and that none of them shall be lost. (5.) From the
witness of the Spirit, Paul says, "We . . . rejoice in hope of the glory of
God," because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost
given unto us. That is, the Holy Ghost assures us that we are the objects of
that love which he goes on to describe as infinite, immutable, and gratuitous.
(Rom. v. 3-5.) And again, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit
that we are the children of God." If, therefore, any true believer lacks the
assurance of faith, the fault is in himself and not in the plan of salvation,
or in the promises of God.
Sanctification a Fruit of Faith.
The fifth effect of faith is sanctification. "Which are sanctified,"
says our Lord "by faith that is in me." Although in this verse (Acts xxvi.
18), the words "by faith" do not qualify the preceding clause, "are
sanctified," alone, but are to be referred to all the preceding particulars,
illumination, deliverance from Satan, forgiveness of sins, and the eternal
inheritance, yet the immediate antecedent is not to be omitted. We are
sanctified by faith as is elsewhere clearly taught. "Faith which worketh by
love and purifies the heart." (Gal. v. 6, and Acts xv. 9.)
The relation of faith to sanctification is thus set forth in the
1. We are justified by faith. So long as we are under the law, we are
under the curse, and bring forth fruit unto death. There is, and can be no
love to God, and no holy living until we are delivered from his wrath due to
us for sin. We are freed from the law, delivered from its condemnation, by the
body or death of Christ. It is by faith in Him as the end of the law for
righteousness, that we personally are freed from condemnation and restored to
the favour of God. See all this clearly taught in Romans vi., and in the first
six verses of the seventh chapter. It is thus by faith we pass from judicial
death to judicial life, or justification. This is the first and indispensable
step of sanctification so far as it reveals itself in the consciousness of the
2. It is by faith that we receive the indwelling of the Spirit. Christ
(or the Spirit of Christ) dwells in our hearts by faith. Faith is the
indispensable condition (so far as adults are concerned) of this indwelling of
the Spirit. And the indwelling of the Spirit is the source of all spiritual
life. Faith is indeed the fruit of the Spirit, and therefore the gift of the
Spirit must precede the exercise of faith. It is nevertheless true that faith
is the condition of the indwelling of the Spirit, and consequently of
spiritual life. Life must precede breathing, and yet breathing is the
necessary condition of living.
3. Faith is not only the condition of the Spirit's dwelling in us as
the source of spiritual life, but we live by faith. That is, the continuance
and exercise of spiritual life involve and suppose the lonstant exercise of
faith. We live by exercising faith in God, in his attributes, in his
providence, in his promises, and in all the truths which He has revealed.
Especially is this life sustained by those exercises of faith of which Christ
is the object; his divine and mysteriously constituted person, as God manifest
in the flesh his finished work for our redemption; his constant intercession;
his intimate relation to us not only as our prophet, priest, and king, but as
our living head in whom our life is hid in God, and from whom it flows into
our souls. We are thus sanctified by faith, because it is through faith that
all the religious affections and all the activities of spiritual life are
called into exercise.
4. We are sanctified by faith, as it is the substance of things hoped
for, and the evidence of things not seen. "The things of God," the truths
which He has revealed concerning the spiritual and eternal world exist for us
while in this world, only as the objects of faith. But faith is to the soul
what the eye is to the body. It enables us to see the things unseen and
eternal. It gives them substance, reality, and therefore power, -- power in
some little measure in proportion to their value. Thus the things seen and
temporal lose their dominant power over the soul. They are not worthy to be
compared with the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. The
believer, -- the ideal, and at times the actual believer, as we learn from
Scripture and from history, is raised above the things of time and sense,
overcomes the world, and becomes heavenly minded. He lives in heaven, breathes
its atmosphere, is pervaded by its spirit, and has a prelibation of its joys.
This renders him pure, spiritual, humble, self-denying, laborious, meek,
gentle, forgiving, as well as firm and courageous. The whole of the eleventh
chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews is devoted to the illustration of the
power of faith especially in this aspect. The Apostle shows that in times
past, even under the dim light of the former dispensation, it enabled Noah to
stand alone against the world, Abraham to offer up his only son, Moses to
prefer the reproach of Christ to the treasures of Egypt; that others through
faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions,
quenched the violence of fire; that others were by faith made strong out of
weakness, waxed valiant in fight; that others submitted to the trial of cruel
mockings and scourgings that others by faith endured to be stoned, sawn
asunder, or slain with the sword; and that yet others through faith consented
to wander about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and
tormented. All these, we are told, through faith obtained a good report.
5. Faith sanctifies because it is the necessary condition of the
efficacy of the means of grace. It is through the Word, sacraments, and
prayer, that God communicates constant supplies of grace. They are the means
of calling the activities of spiritual life into exercise. But these means of
grace are inoperative unless they are received and used by faith. Faith does
not, indeed, give them their power, but it is the condition on which the
Spirit of God renders them efficacious.
That good works are the certain effects of faith is included in the
doctrine that we are sanctified by faith. For it is impossible that there
should be inward holiness, love, spirituality, brotherly kindness, and zeal,
without an external manifestation of these graces in the whole outward life.
Faith, therefore, without works, is dead. We are saved by faith. But salvation
includes deliverance from sin. If, therefore, our faith does not deliver us
from sin, it does not save us. Antinomianism involves a contradiction in
Certainty of Salvation.
A sixth effect attributed to faith in the Scriptures is security, or,
certainty of salvation. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
everlasting life." (John iii. 16.) "He that heareth my word, and believeth on
him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation;
but is passed from death unto life." (John v. 24.) "I am the living bread
which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live
forever." (John vi. 51.) "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and
him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. . . . And this is the will
of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him,
may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John vi.
37, 40.) "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them. and they follow me: and I
give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any
man pluck them out of my hand." (John x. 27, 28.)
The Eighth Chapter of Romans.
The whole of the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is
designed to prove the certain salvation of all who believe. The proposition to
be established is, that there is "no condemnation to them which are in Christ
Jesus." That is, they can never perish; they can never be so separated from
Christ as to come into condemnation. The Apostle's first argument to establish
that proposition, is, that believers are delivered from the law by the
sacrifice of Christ. The believer, therefore, is not under the law which
uondeinns, as Paul had before said (Rom. vi. 14), "Ye are not under the law,
but under grace." But if not under the law he cannot be condemned. The law has
had its course, and found full satisfaction in the work of Christ, who is the
end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. He renders every
one righteous, in the sight of the law, who believes on Him. This is the first
reason which the Apostle gives why those who are in Christ shall never be
His second argnment is that they have already within them the principle
of eternal life. That principle is the Spirit of God; "the life-giving" as He
was designated by the ancient Church. To be carnally minded is death. To be
spiritually minded is life and peace. Sin is death; holiness is life. It is a
contradiction to say that those in whom the Spirit of life dwells, should die.
And, therefore, the Apostle says, Although the body dies, the soul lives. And
if the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that
raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken even your mortal bodies by
his Spirit that dwelleth in you. The indwelling of the Spirit, therefore,
secures not only the life of the soul, but also the ultimate and glorious life
of the body.
The third argument for the security of believers, is, that they are the
sons of God. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of
God. That is, they are partakers of his nature, the special objects of his
love, and entitled to the inheritance which He gives. If sons then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. According to the Apostle's mode of
thinking, that any of the sons of God should perish, is impossible. If sons
they shall certainly be saved.
The fourth argument is from the purpose of God. Those whom He has
predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, them He calls to the
exercise of faith and repentance; and whom He thus calls He justifies, He
provides for them and imputes to them a righteousness which satisfies the
demands of the law, and which entitles them in Christ and for his sake to
eternal life; and those whom He justifies He glorifies. There is no flaw in
this chain. If men were predestinated to eternal life on the ground of their
repenting and believing through their own strength, or through a cooperation
with the grace of God which others fail to exercise, then their continuance in
a state of grace might be dependent on themselves. But if faith and repentance
are the gifts of God, the results of his effectual vocation, then bestowing
those gifts is a revelation of the purpose of God to save those to whom they
are given. It is an evidence that God has predestinated them to be conformed
to the image of his Son, i. e., to be like Him in character, destiny, and
glory, and that He will infallibly carry out his purpose. No one can pluck
them out of his hands.
Paul's fifth argument is from the love of God. As stated above,65
the Apostle argues from the greatness, the freeness, and the immutability of
that love that its objects never can be lost. "He that spared not his own Son,
but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us
all things." If He has done the greater, will He not do the less? If he gave
even his own Son, will He not give us faith to receive and constancy to
persevere even unto the end? A love so great as the love of God to his people
cannot fail of its object. This love is also gratuitous. It is not founded on
the attractiveness of its objects. He loved us "while we were yet sinners;"
"when we were enemies." "Much more, then, being now justified by his blood, we
shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were
reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we
shall be saved by his life." God's love in this aspect is compared to parental
love. A mother does not love her child because it is lovely. Her love leads
her to do all she can to render it attractive and to keep it so. So the love
of God, being in like manner mysterious, unaccountable by anything in its
objects, secures his adorning his children with the graces of his Spirit, and
arraying them in all the beauty of holiness. It is only the lamentable mistake
that God loves us for our goodness, that can lead any one to suppose that his
love is dependent on our self-sustained attractiveness, when we should look to
his fatherly love as the source of all goodness, and the ground of the
assurance that He will not allow Satan or our own evil hearts to destroy the
lineaments of his likeness which He has impressed upon our souls. Having loved
his own, He loves them to the end. And Christ prays for them that their faith
may not fail.
It must be remembered that what the Apostle argues to prove is not
merely the certainty of the salvation of those that believe but their certain
perseverance in holiness. Salvation in sin, according to Paul's system, is a
contradiction in terms. This perseverance in holiness is secured partly by the
inward secret unfluence of the Spirit, and partly by all the means adapted to
secure that end --instructions, admonitions, exhortations, warnings, the means
of grace, and the dispensations of his providence. Having, through love,
determined on the end, He has determined on the means for its accomplishment.
The sixth argument of the Apostle is that, as the love of God is
infinitely great and altogether gratuitous, it is also immutable, and,
therefore, believers shall certainly be saved. Hence the conclusion, "I am
persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord."
It will be seen that the Apostle does not rest the perseverance of the
saints on the indestructible nature of faith, or on the imperishable nature of
the principle of grace in the heart, or on the constancy of the believer's
will, but solely on what is out of ourselves. Perseverance, he teaches us, is
due to the purpose of God, to the work of Christ, to the indwelling of the
Holy Spirit, and to the primal source of all, the infinite, mysterious, and
immutable love of God. We do not keep ourselves; we are kept by the power of
God, through faith unto salvation. (1 Peter i. 5.)
1. De Praedestinatioe Sanctorum [II.], 5; Works, edit.
Benedictines, Paris, 1838, vol. x. p. 1849 b.
2. On the Intellectual Powers, Essay II. ch. xx.; Works,
Edinburgh, 1849, pp. 237 b, 328 a, b.
3. Philosophy of Religion.
4. Die einfachste Dogmatik, Sec. 338; Tubingen, 1826, p. 376.
5. Biblical Psychology, p. 174.
6. Vorlasungen uber Glauben und Wissen, von Johann Eduard Erdmann,
Berlin, 1831, p. 30.
7. Letters on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, London, 1855, pp. 75,
8. Meiklejohn's Translation of Critic of Pure Reason, London, 1855, p.
9. Glauben und Wissen, Berlin, 1837, p. 29.
10. Reid's Works; edit. Edinburgh, 1849, note A, Sec. 5, p. 760.
11. Graecarum Affectionum Curatio, sermo. i. edit. Commelinus,
Heidelberg(?) 1592, p. 14, lines 11, 12.
12. Summa, II. ii. quaest. ii. art. 9, edit. Cologne, 1640, p. 8 b, of
13. Ibid. quaest. i. art. 4, pp. 3 b, 4 a, of third set.
14. System der Christlichen Lehre, Einl. II. A. Sec. 8. 3, 5th edit.
Bonn, 1844, p. 18.
15. In Joannis Evangelium Tractatus, XL. 9; Works, edit.
Benedictines, Paris, 1837, vol. iii. p. 2088 b.
16. Liber Sententiarum, III. xxiii. B., edit. 1472(?).
17. Summa, II. ii. quaest. ii. art. 4, edit. Cologne, 1636, pp. 6 b, 7
a, of third set.
18. McCosh, Intuitions of the Mind, part II. book ii. ch. 1, edit. New
York, 1860, p. 197.
19. Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, vol. i. "Metaphysics," lect.
xii., edit. Boston, 1859, pp. 152, 153.
20. Intuitions of the Mind, p. 198.
21. Dogmatik, 3d edit. Leipzig, 1842, p. 307.
22. Sixth edit. Leipzig, 1845, p. 4.
23. Dogmatik, Sec. 20, edit. Tubingen and Stuttgart, 1840, vol. i. p.
24. Dogmatik, edit. Tubingen and Stuttgart, 1840, vol. i. p. 298.
25. Ibid. p. 356.
26. Chapter i. Sec. 5.
27. See page 46.
28. Summa, II. ii. quaest. 1. art 1. Cologne, 1640, p. 2, a, of third
29. Institutio, XV. ix. 3, edit. Edinburgh, 1847, vol. ii. p. 497.
30. Commentarius in Johannis Marckii Compendium, cap. xxii. Sec. 4,
Leyden, 1766, vol. iv. p. 299.
31. Doctrine of Justification, ch. i. edit. Philadelphia, 1841, p. 84.
32. Works, vol. ii. p. 885, Carter's edition, New Yorko, 1869.
33. Ibid. p. 1170.
34. An Exposition of the Creed, 7th edit. London, 1701, p. 3.
35. Theodicee, Works, edit. Berlin, 1840, 1839, part ii. p. 479.
36. See above, p. 58.
37. Systematische Entwickelung, Sec. 29, 4th edit. Leipzig, 1841, p.
38. De Praescriptionibus adversus Haereticos, cap. 7, 8, 14, Works,
Paris, 1608, (t. iii.), p. 331: "Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis? quid
Academiae est, qui et ipse tradiderat: Dominum in simplicitate cordis esse
quaerendum. Viderint qui Stoicum, et Platonicum, et Dialecticum,
Christianissimum protulerunt. Nobis curiositate opus non est post Christum
Jesum, nec inquisitione post Evangelium. Cum credimus, nihil desideramus ultra
credere. Hoc enim prius credimus, non esse quod ultra credere debeamus . . .
Cedat curiositas fidei, cedat gloria saluti. Certe aut non obstrepant, aut
quiescant adversus regulam. Nihil ulta scire, omnia scire est."
39. De Carne Christi, cap. 5, Works, (t. iii.), p. 555: "Natus
est Dei filius: non pudet quia pudendum est. Et mortuus est Dei filius:
prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est. Et sepultus, resurrexit: certum est,
quia impossibile est."
40. Works, edit. Walch, vol. xix. p. 1940.
41. Ibid. vol. xii. pp. 399, 400.
42. Works, edit. Walch, vol. x. p. 1399.
43. Summa, I. quest. xcix. art 1, edit. Cologne, 1640, p. 185, a.
44. Ibid. quaest. xxxii. art 1, p. 64, a.
45. Ibid. quaest. i. art 6, p. 2, b.
46. Summa, II. ii. quaest. ii. art. 5, edit. Cologne, 1640, p. 7, a, of
47. Hutterus Redivivius, Sec. 108, 6th edit. Leipzig, 1845, p. 271.
48. De Justificatione, lib. i. cap. 7, Disputationes, edit.
Paris, 1608, vol. iv. 714, a, c.
49. Strauss, Dogmatik, Die Christliche Glaubenslehre. Tubingen and
Stuttgart, 1840, vol. i. p. 284.
50. Sermons, vol. i. p. 124.
51. De Justificatione, lib. i. cap. 4, Disputationes, edit.
Paris, 1608, vol. iv. p. 706, d, e.
52. Session vi., Canon 28; Streitwolf, Libri Symbolici, Gottingen,
1846, vol. i. p. 37.
53. On Romans x. 10; Commentaries, edit. Berlin, 1831, vol. v.
54. Institutio, III. ii. 8; edit. Berlin, 1834, vol. o. p. 358.
55. Question 21.
56. Liber Sententiarum, III. xxiii. C. edit. 1472(?)
57. Summa, II. ii. quaest. iv. art. 3, edit. Cologne, 1640, p. 11, a,
of third set.
58. De Justificatione, lib. ii. cap. 4; Disputationes, edit.
Paris, 1608, vol. iv. pp. 789, a, b, 790, c.
59. De Sacram. lib. ii. c. 2. (?)
60. Institutio, XV. xii. 6; Works, edit. Edinburgh, 1847, vol.
ii. p. 508.
61. XXI.; Niemeyer, Collectio Confessionum, Leipzig, 1840, p. 434.
62. V. 60; Hase, Libri Symbolici, Leipzig, 1846, p. 172.
63. Institutio, lib. III. ii. 7, 16; edit. Berlin, 1834, vol. i. pp.
64. Calvin in loco.
65. Page 107.