The Life of Faith
Habakkuk 2:4
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

The text may be taken in two ways. In a moral sense, as regards the circumstances of the Jews. In a theological sense, as respects that great object on which believers have fixed their eye in all ages of the Church. The Rabbis give a very curious exposition of the words, "I will stand upon my watch." They translate, "I will confine myself in a circle," and explain that the prophet drew a circle, and made a solemn vow that he would not go out of it, until God had unfolded those dark dispensations to him, which seemed so injurious to His perfections.

I. EXPLAIN THE TERMS OF THIS PROPOSITION, "The just shall live by faith."

1. Who is the just or righteous man? There are two sorts of righteousness, according to the law, and according to faith. By righteousness after the law understand that which man wishes to derive from his own personal ability. By righteousness of faith understand that which man derives from his own personal ability. To have faith, or to believe, is a vague expression. Faith is sometimes a disposition common to the righteous and the wicked; sometimes the distinguishing character of a Christian; sometimes it is put for the virtue of Abraham; sometimes it stands for the credence of devils. Faith is a disposition of mind that changeth its nature according to the various objects which are proposed to it. We are inquiring about saving faith, and have to inquire what is its object. It is Jesus Christ as dying and offering Himself to the justice of the Father. We must distinguish two sorts of desires to share the benefits of the death of Christ. A desire unconnected with all the acts which God is pleased to require of us; and a desire that animates us with a determination to participate these benefits. Jesus is proposed to the believer's mind and heart and conduct. There are two kinds or causes of justification.

1. The fundamental or meritorious cause.

2. The instrumental cause.That is the fundamental which acquires, merits, and lays the foundation of our justification and salvation. By the instrumental we mean those acts which it hath pleased God to prescribe to us, in order to our participation of this acquired salvation. If faith justifies us, it is as an instrument, that of itself can merit nothing, and which contributes to our justification only as it capacitates us for participating the benefits of the death of Christ. Justifying faith is a general principle of virtue and holiness.

1. Justifying faith is lively faith, a believer cannot live by a dead faith.

2. Justifying faith must assort with the genius of the covenant, to which it belongs.

3. Justifying faith must include all the virtues to which the Scriptures attribute justification and salvation.

4. Justifying faith must merit all the praises which are given to it in Scripture.

5. Justifying faith must enter into the spirit of the mystery of the satisfaction of Jesus Christ.


1. IS it pretended that the design of excluding holiness from the essence of faith is to elevate the merit of the death of Christ?

2. Dost thou say, thy design is to humble man? What can be more proper to humble man than the system we have expounded?

3. Dost thou say, our system is contrary to experience?

4. Or that our justification and salvation flow from a decree made before the foundation of the world, and not from our embracing the Gospel in time?

5. Or dost thou still object, that, although our system is true in the main, yet it is always dangerous to publish it; because man has always an inclination to "sacrifice unto his own net," and by pressing the necessity of good works, occasion is insensibly given to the doctrine of merit?

(J. Saurin.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

WEB: Behold, his soul is puffed up. It is not upright in him, but the righteous will live by his faith.

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