For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness,…. Paul explains the nature and use both of faith and confession; as true faith does not lie in the bare assent of the mind to the Gospel, or any truth contained in it, respecting the person and office of Christ, so neither does it lie, as not in the brain, so not in the tongue, but in the heart.
It is not a notional knowledge of things to be believed; nor is it saying that a man believes; but it is heart work, a believing with all the heart; such a faith in which all the powers of the soul, the understanding, will, and affections, are concerned, it is a seeing of the Son, a beholding of the glory, fulness, suitableness, ability, and willingness of Christ as a Saviour, with the eye of the understanding spiritually enlightened.
It is a going out of the soul to Christ, in various acts, such as venturing into his presence, prostrating itself at his feet, resolving if it perishes it will perish there; a giving up itself unto him, determining it will have no other Saviour, leaning and relying on him, and living upon him; which faith works by love to Christ, moves the affections, stirs up the desires of the soul to his name, and endears him and all that belong to him to it.
The use of this grace is, “unto righteousness”; it is not instead of one, for faith is not our righteousness; nor is it in order to work out one, for this grace puts a soul on renouncing its own righteousness; but its use is to receive one, even the righteousness of Christ, which when it spies, it admires, receives, lays hold on, and rejoices in looking on itself as righteous through this righteousness, and so has peace with God through Christ:
And with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. This is to be understood not of confession of sin, though that is proper and requisite to be made, both with respect to the participation, and enjoyment of salvation, particularly pardoning grace and mercy, and to an admission to Gospel ordinances; but of confession of Christ, as appears from the preceding verse, which lies in a frank and open acknowledgment of what Christ is in himself, as that he is truly and properly God, the Son of God, the true Messiah, the Mediator between God and man, and the only Savior of lost sinners, and of our faith in him, with respect to ourselves, to our pardon, justification, acceptance and salvation in him and through him; in ascribing the whole of our salvation to him, and giving him the glory of it.
In declaring to the churches of Christ what he has done for our souls, and in subjecting ourselves to his ordinances. This confession must be made both by words and facts, must be open, visible, and before men; and also real, hearty, and sincere, the words of the mouth agreeing with the experience of the heart; and such a good profession made before God, angels, and men, highly becomes all that believe with the heart. This was the practice of the primitive saints; yea, all nations own, acknowledge, and profess the God they worship; and should not we confess our God, Savior and Redeemer?
Christ himself confessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate, and is the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. So to do, makes both for the glory of God, and for our own real good and advantage. Yea, it is “unto salvation”; not as a cause of it, for Christ alone is the author of eternal salvation; but a sincere and well made confession of Christ points out to all that know us where and from whom we expect to have salvation; it is what lies in the way, and is to be taken up by all that believe in Christ, and to be held fast without wavering until we receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.