John 6:29. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”—That Mr. F. should bring this as an argument for his favourite sentiment is to me astonishing, since it appears directly against him.—He observes they contain an answer to a question; viz. What shall we do that we might work the works of God? v. 28. To which question our Lord answers, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent:” “which (says Mr. F.) if it be a pertinent answer to the question asked (and no doubt but it is so) it is as if he had said, This is what you must do if you think to please God; this is the first duty incumbent upon you in that great work of labouring for that which endureth to everlasting life, and without which it will be impossible with any other labour whatsoever to please God” (p. 41).
Let me first remark here if this believing on Christ be the first duty incumbent in the great work of labouring for that which endureth to everlasting life, is it not somewhat strange, that our Lord should direct to labouring first, as he does, v. 27, and doesn’t tell them of the first duty incumbent on them, till they ask for it; till they by their question draw it out of him? Surely this was acting in a manner (to use Mr. F.’s own words) “far from his usual pertinency” (p. 43). But certainly this answer of our Lord’s is directly against Mr. F. It is as if he had said, What must ye do to work the works of God? I tell you plainly, there is nothing you can do that can be acceptable and well pleasing to God till you have faith, and that faith is of his operation; “this is the work of God, that ye believe:” and then he goes on to speak more largely of this believing in him in the following verses. Speaking of himself as the bread of life, which was to be fed upon in a spiritual manner by faith, he says ver. 35, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger: and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” He further informs them, ver. 36. that they had seen him, but had not believed on him, and then points out who will believe, and who only, v. 37. “All that the Father hath given me, shall come to me.” This doctrine of electing love and distinguishing grace offended the Jews, and we are told, ver. 41, “they murmured at him;” which made Christ reply, v. 43, “Murmur not among yourselves;” what I tell you is a fact: the doctrine I have delivered is truth; that faith is the work of God; that none will have it but those whom the Father has given me, and I now further add, “no man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me, draw him,” ver. 44. How very clear and plain from the whole context does it appear, that this special faith is no duty, but the work of God, and a blessing designed only for those whom the Father hath given to Christ; and to suppose men will be damned for the want of it, is cruel and shocking.