Came across these quotes from Thomas Watson while I was re-reading A Body of Divinity.
What is justifying faith?
True justifying faith consists in three things:
(i) Self-renunciation. Faith is a going out of one’s self, being taken off from our own merits, and seeing we have no righteousness of our own. … Repentance and faith are both humbling graces: by repentance a man abhors himself; by faith he goes out of himself … he sees nothing in himself to help, but he must perish unless he can find help in another.
(ii) Reliance. The soul casts itself upon Jesus Christ; faith rests on Christ’s person. Faith believes the promise, but that which faith rests upon in the promise is the person of Christ. … Faith rests on Christ’s person as he was crucified.
(iii) Appropriation, or applying Christ to ourselves. A medicine, though it be ever so sovereign, if not applied, will do no good. Though the plaster be made of Christ’s own blood, it will not heal, unless applied by faith; the blood of God, without faith in God, will not save.
How does faith justify?
(1) Faith does not justify as it is a work, which would make a Christ out of our faith; but faith justifies as it lays hold of the object, viz Christ’s merits. If a man had a precious stone in a ring that could heal, we would say the ring heals; but properly it is not the ring, but the precious stone in the ring, that heals. Thus faith saves and justifes, but it is not any inherent virtue in faith, but as it lays hold on Christ it justifies.
(2) Faith does not justify as it exercises grace. It cannot be denied that faith invigorates all the graces, puts strength and liveliness into them, but it does not justify under this notion. Faith works by love, but it does not justify as it works by love, but as it applies Christ’s merits.
Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p215-217, Banner of Truth 1978 reprint (first published 1692).