VI. To whom is faith given?

Justifying faith is peculiar to all the elect, and to them alone: for it is given to all the elect, and only to them, including even infants, as it respects an inclination to faith. "No man can come to me except the Father draw him." "It is given unto you to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given." "As many as were ordained unto eternal life believed." "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, justified and glorified." "Faith is the gift of God." "But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Esaias saith, Lord who hath believed," &c., "for all men have not faith?" (John 6:44. Matt. 13:11. Acts 3:48. Rom. 8:30; 10:16. Eph. 2:8. 2 Thes. 3:2.)

Temporary faith, as well as the faith of miracles, is given to those who are members of the visible church only, that is, the hypocrites. "Have we not in thy name done many wonderful works: cast out devils?" &c. (Matt. 7:22.) The faith of miracles, however, which was possessed by many in the primitive church, has now disappeared from the church, inasmuch as the doctrine of the gospel has been sufficiently confirmed by miracles. historical faith may be possessed even by those who are out of the church, and also by devils.

Obj. 1.. Historical faith is a good work—the devils possess this faith-therefore they have good works. We reply to the major proposition thus:
Historical faith is a good work if it be connected with an application of those things which are known, and if confidence be at the same time joined with it. And if it be said, by way of objection, that this faith is the effect of the Spirit of God, and so of itself a good work, we reply that it is indeed a good work in itself, but it becomes evil by accident, seeing that the reprobate do not receive and apply to themselves the things which they know to be true. Hence the devils are said to tremble, because they do not apply to themselves what they know of God; that is, they do not believe that God is to them what they know him to be from his word, merciful, gracious, &c.

Obj. 2. Many infants are included in the number of the elect, and yet they have no faith. Therefore, all the elect do not possess faith.

Ans. Infants do not, indeed, possess actual faith, as adults, yet they nevertheless have a power or inclination to faith which the Holy Ghost works in them according to their capacity or condition. For, since the Holy Ghost is promised to infants also, he cannot be inactive in them. Therefore, that which we have said, that saving faith is granted to all the elect, remains true.

We add still further, that faith is necessary for all the elect, and not only faith, but also a profession of faith in those who have arrived to years of understanding, and that, 1. On account of the command of God. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;" therefore thou shalt reverence and profess it. "He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven." (Ex. 20:7. Matt. 10:32.)

2. On account of the glory of God. "Let your light so shine before men," &c. (Matt. 5:16.) 3. Because faith is not inactive, but like a fruitful tree, it manifests itself by profession. 4. On account of our safety. "By the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom. 10:10.) 5. That we may bring others to Christ. "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:32.)

We may know that we have faith, 1. From the testimony of the Holy Ghost, and by the true and unfeigned desire which we have to embrace and receive the benefits which Christ offers unto us. He that believes, is conscious of the existence of his faith-as Paul says, "I know whom I have believed." "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." "He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself." (2. Tim. 1:12. 2 Cor. 4:13. 1 John 5:10.)

2. We may know that we have faith, by the doubts and conflicts which we experience, if we are of the number of the faithful. 3. From the effect of faith, which is a sincere purpose, and desire to obey all the commands of God.

Obj. 3. Those who may fall and lose the grace of God before the end of life, cannot be certain of eternal life: because to be certain of our salvation, and yet not be raised above the possibility of losing the grace of God, involves a contradiction; therefore we cannot be certain of our salvation, so that, what has been said of justifying faith, that it is an assured confidence of righteousness and eternal life, is false.

Ans. The antecedent is true of those who finally fall away; for to be able thus to fall, is inconsistent with the certainty of salvation; but those in whom God once produces true faith, do not finally fall away.

Reply 1. All those who are weak, may finally fall away. We are all weak. Therefore we may all come short of the grace of God. Ans. If the righteous were sustained by their own strength, they might indeed fall and lose the grace of God, but they are continually supported by divine grace. "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." (Ps. 37:24.)

Reply 2. God has no where declared that he will preserve us in his favor to the end. Ans. Yea he has declared it in the passage just quoted, and in many other places. "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all, and no man," &c. "I am persuaded that neither life nor death, nor angels, nor principalities," &c., "shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (John 10:28, 29. Rom. 8:38.)

Reply 3. But it is said, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:12.) Therefore God does not promise perseverance, but makes our salvation dependent upon ourselves, which is to make it doubtful. Ans. There is here a fallacy in regarding that a cause which is none; for God, by this exhortation, wishes to nourish, to preserve and perfect the salvation of believers by urging them to their duty, and not to commit their perseverance to their own strength and will. Wherefore, if we now truly believe, we ought certainly to rest assured that God will also preserve us in time to come; for if he desires that we should be assured of his present grace, he will also have us certain of that which is still future, for he is unchangeable.

Reply 4. But it is also said in Eccl. 9: 1, "No man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them." Therefore we cannot be certain of the present grace of God, and consequently we cannot determine any thing in reference to that which is still future. We reply to the antecedent: 1. No man can indeed know, or judge with certainty, from second causes, or from events whether good or evil: for the external condition of men furnishes no safe criterion either of the favor or disaprobation of God. 2. He may not know it of himself, and yet if God is pleased to reveal it unto him, he may not be ignorant of it. We may therefore be ignorant of our salvation, as far as it is dependent upon second causes, but we may know it in as far as God is pleased to reveal it unto us by his word and Spirit.

Reply 5. "But who hath known the mind of the Lord?" (Rom. 1:34.) Ans. No man indeed knows the mind of the Lord before it is revealed; but after God has revealed it, we may know as much as is necessary for our salvation. "We all with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory unto glory." (2 Cor. 3:18.)

Obj. 5. Paul exhorts the Corinthians "not to receive the grace of God in vain;" and Christ exhorts us to "watch and pray." (2 Cor. 6:1. Matt. 26:41.) Ans. This, however, is said to prohibit carnal security, and to excite the faithful to watchfulness and prayerfulness, in order that the certainty of their salvation might be preserved.

Obj. 6. Saul fell away finally. He was one of the godly. Therefore the righteous may finally fall.

Ans. Saul was not a truly pious man, but a hypocrite. Hence we deny the minor proposition. And if it is said by way of objection that he had the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we reply that he had only such gifts as are common both to the godly and ungodly; but he had not the gift of regeneration and adoption which is peculiar to the godly.

Obj. 7. The doctrine of perseverance, and of the certainty of our salvation, produces security.
Ans. It produces by itself a spiritual security in the elect, and a carnal security in the reprobate by accident.