« PreviousContinue »
time; as also, consider whether there be any interruption of the act of justification by falling into great sins. There is no man hath a mind more against quirks and quillets than I ; yet for the opening of these things, and staying and settling the mind, and clearing the understanding, give me leave the next time to clear these things unto you.
Rom. CHAP. V. VER. 1.
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
In this chapter, especially in the beginning thereof, I shewed unto you that the apostle sets down unto us those special comforts, that a man receives after God hath wrought that supernatural grace of faith in his heart; so that here is set down the mother grace, justification by faith ; and then the blessed issues or daughters thereof; and those are, a free access to God, a joyful hope of the glory to come, and not only a patient, but a joyful suffering of all afflictions that shall befall us in this life. Concerning justification by faith, I laboured to open it
you the last day; three things may well be considered therein.
1. What that faith is whereby we are justified.
Concerning the first of these I told you, that it was not every faith that justifieth, nor every kind of faith that a man can live by. There is a dead faith, and a man cannot live by a dead thing: and there is a living faith, and that is called a faith unfeigned. And though it be in Scripture called the faith, yet it is with some restriction ; it is the faith of God's elect; and common to none besides. There is a faith also which is but temporary; that being touched with the sense of sin, and seeing there is no deliverance from the curse due to sin, but by Christ; and that there is no part to be had in Christ, but by renouncing all corruptions; the consideration of the desperateness of his
case without Christ, makes him long after him ; and since he cannot have Christ without leaving sin, he will resolve on that too; he will make towards Christ, and perhaps he comes to taste of the sweetness of Christ, and feels the power of the world to come; he forsakes sin, and thereby comes so near the true believer, that a man must, as it were, cut a hair to divide between them. And this is a thing very necessary to be considered of.
And I shewed unto you also that these are not moral things; not a faith that is wrought by the power of men, but by a work of God's Spirit; for it humbles a man for sin, and makes him make toward Christ, and seek him above all things, and having laid some hold on him, he escapes the pollutions of the world, and yet this faith is but temporary; a thing supernatural it is, yet it is without root. Now as I noted unto you, this is not different in the circumstance of time ; for time alters not the thing. A child that liveth but half an hour, doth as properly and truly live, as one that liveth a hundred years. But it is called temporary, not that therein stands the difference, but therein it is shewn, and that proves the man to have something wanting. Our being united to Christ, and being nigh unto him, is as a graft or scion put into a tree ; there are two grafts put into one stock, and each of them have all the several things necessary done unto them, as cutting, binding, &c. yet time discovers that the one thrives, and the other withers; so that there was a fault unseen; though he that put in the grafts never saw it, yet time discovers it. Now the difference is not in the time, but in the foundation of the thing itself. Now what the difference is between these, I laboured to declare unto you the last day.
The use of it is in brief, this faith (I mean the sound faith) is not in all these. All have not faith, the faith, I say, of God's elect, yet some come so near, and have faith so like it, that it will trouble a wise man to make the distinction. These are like the foolish virgins, that lived very civilly, and kept their maiden-heads in regard of the world; none could accuse them for any evil they had done ; yet they are at length shut out. Many think themselves in a good way,
and a safe condition, yea, and go out of the world in this conceit, and they are entering into the gate of heaven, till they in a moment are cast down to hell : try we therefore, search and sift ourselves; if this grace were as grass that grows in every field, it were something; but it is a precious flower, which, if we have not, Christ profiteth us nothing. This is the means of Christ's being applied unto thee; how doth it therefore behove every one of us to look to it, and not to slubber over the matter slightly, but to search and try, and examine ourselves. And in the marks I shewed before that it was such a thing as may be likened to a conception which never comes to the birth ; such a thing is this temporary faith.
Among others let me add the tokens of love; it is twice set down in the Galatians, " neither circumcision nor uncircumcision,” but “ faith which worketh by love ;” and again, “neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision,” but “ new creature.” They that have a temporary faith want nothing but the new creature; what is that? it is “ faith that worketh by love." They that love God, it is a sure token that God hath loved them first, and God never giveth this love to any but they have faith unfeigned. The next thing is, he is ever careful to try himself, to
The temporary cannot endure to be brought to the touch or trial. He accounts every beginning of grace in himself very great; every mole-hill to be a mountain. Now God's children know that they may be deceived with counterfeits, and therefore they try themselves.
Mark the speech of the apostle: "Examine yourselves, prove your own selves; know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?"
Let us understand the words; first, we see then it is a thing that is possible to be known, whether we are in the faith, or no; and this is flat against the papists, for they think that a man can have but a conjectural knowledge that he hath grace and faith. It may be pro
* 1 Cor. chap. 16. ver. 5.
bable, they say, but it cannot be certainly known; but does not the apostle say, “Examine yourselves, prove yourselves, know you not yourselves.” No papist can know it, yet it is possible to be known. Prove and try, you shall not lose your labour. If you take pains in it, you shall attain it in this world. “ Makeb your calling and election sure,” saith the apostle, on God's part it is sure enough, " for the foundation of God standeth sure," but make it sure unto yourselves, in respect of your own knowledge. “ Know you not your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates." It is a thing may well be made sure of; therefore “search, try, examine.” Others are content with bare beginnings that never come to any maturity; but those that have true faith, are ever bringing themselves to the trial and touchstone.
But may some say, I have tried and examined myself, and I do not find that Christ is in me; what, am I a reprobate therefore ?
No, God forbid : I say not the man is a reprobate that cannot discern that Christ is in him ; see what that is that will explain this: “ Ford there must be heresies among you, that they which are approved might be made known;" there must be “ Sókiuoi, men that are approved," such as have endured the dint and shot of the musquet; such as have put themselves to the trial, and come off well: these are the δόκιμοι, and are opposed to those αδόκιμοι, who are such men, as taking things hand over head, do not search, and try, and examine, and put themselves to the proof; it is a sign these have not true faith ; for what, is the having of Christ so slight or poor a thing, as that they will take no pains for him, or care not for knowing whether they have him or no? what, neglect Christ so much, as not to adventure on the trial? these are those adókiuor. But he which has this saving faith, he is ever putting himself to the trial. Again, God's
< 2 Tim. chap. 2. ver. 19.
b 2 Pet. chap. 2. ver. 10.