« 上一頁繼續 »
judgment unto victory?” What is that, “ until he send forth judgment?” This judgment signifies nothing but those inherent graces, those infused qualities, that God sends into the heart of a Christian; which being produced in the children of God by the spirit of judgment, through which they are enabled to judge what is right and acceptable to God in Christ, who is their wisdom, are themselves called judgment. You read therefore of washing away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and purging the blood of Jerusalem, which is the sanctification of the Church, by the spirit of judgment". In a man's first conversion there are but beginnings of grace: what is faith, hope, patience and fear? it is like a smoking flax, that is, like the smoking wick of a candle made of flax : as when a candle burns in the socket, it is now up, now down, you know not whether it be alive or dead; so in the first conversion of a Christian, infidelity and faith, hope and despair mount up and down. There is a conflict in the beginning of conversion, but he will not give it over until he bring forth judgment, until he get the victory of all opposition from the flesh. And what is the reason? “ Because the Prince of this world is judged.” He shall convince the world of an inherent righteousness in spite of the Devil's teeth, because he is condemned. He that before worked in the children of disobedience is now cast down. The strong man is cast out, and therefore, upon that ground you have the third point. Besides the grace of justification following upon Christ's death, there is another; the grace, I mean, of sanctification, through which the Devil shall be dispossessed; the Devil is strong where he doth wicked things, but he shall be disarmed, he shall not touch thee, the wicked one shall not hurt thee, thou shalt overcome him.
I now go forward.
The third thing I noted besides faith and justification, was, that we must observe what relation one hath to the other; and how it comes to pass that justification is
Isaiah, chap. 4. ver. 4.
attributed to faith, there being more noble graces in us, than faith.
I answer; the reason is, because faith is brought as the only instrument whereby we receive our justification, purchased by the merits of Christ's death. When we say faith is an instrument, we must understand it right well; we say not, faith is an instrument to work my justification, Christ alone must do that; it is no act of ours, nothing is in us; faith is said to be an instrument, whereby we get our justification in respect of the object, it is a nearing us to Christ; it is the instrument of application, the only instrument whereby we apply the medicine, and the plaster of Christ's blood; whereby we that were strangers, and afar off, are made near; faith is the only hand which receiveth Christ; when the hand layeth hold on a thing, it layeth hold on a thing without itself; so is faith a naked hand, not as a hand that gets a man's living, but like a beggar's hand that receives a free alms given by the donor, as the apostle speaks: “ For" if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ." There is abundance of grace, and a gift of righteousness; faith is the only means whereby we receive this gift: whereupon I inferred this, which was of so great consequence, seeing faith did justify, not as an active instrument, but as it did receive the gift of grace, it did follow, that the weakest faith that was did get as much justification as the strongest faith of any whatsoever; because faith justifieth not as a work, but as it did receive a gift ; therefore our Saviour saith, “ Oo, ye of little faith!" yet, as little as it was, it was builded upon the rock; and though Satan desired to winnow them, and sift them as wheat, yet they remained firm; as our Saviour saith of the faith of miracles: “ IfP ye had faith as much as a grain of mustard seed, ye should say to this mountain, be removed, and it would obey you.” So for common faith, which the apostle calleth so, because it is “ common to all the elect:" if thou hast so much faith, thou shalt be able to remove mountains of corruptions; suppose thou hast a trembling hand scarce able to hold, yet have the persuasion of the woman in the Gospel, “ If I may but touch him, I shall be whole :" I shall be saved, healed, if I can but touch him: and mark our Saviour ; “ The people thronged about him," and he saith, “Who is it that toucheth me?" A wonder that he, when they crowded him, should ask such a question; but Christ knew that somebody touched him, beside the touch of the multitude: indeed that woman touched him more than the crowd that pressed him, as St. Augustine saith: “ Illa mulier quæ fimbriam tetegit, magis tetegit, quam turba quæ pressit;” it is said in the text, “ The poor woman came trembling, and told him all the truth. And he said, be of good comfort;" though thou hast a paralytic, and palsy-sick hand, yet the touch is enough, the least faith brings as much as the greatest.
• Matth. chap. 8. ver. 26.
* Rom. chap. 5. ver. 17.
OBJ. But then, what need a man look for a great faith?
Sol. Yes, by all means; for though thou hast much comfort by a little weak faith, yet the more faith, the more comfort; and therefore it is to very much purpose to labour after a strong faith. “ Abrahams," it is said,
staggered not through unbelief;" if thou hast a strong faith, thou wilt have a strong consolation: thou mayest by thy weak faith be healed of thy disease, yet by the weakness of thy faith, mayest want much of the strength of thy comfort; therefore thou must “go* from faith to faith;" but know this, that a new born child ápriyévvntov Bpépos, is not yet so strong as a man, yet he is as much alive, as the strongest and tallest man; so that again thus, thou art yet but a new-born babe, not so strong or so lively as one more grown, but yet thou hast all the lineaments of the new creature in thee, though thou art not so strong and lively as another may be.
9 Tit. chap. 1. ver. 4.
r Luke, chap. 8. ver. 47.
Rom. chap. 1. ver. 17.
OBJ. Did not you tell me that it was not every faith that did justify, but a working faith? how then doth faith alone justify?
Sol. I answer, when faith justifieth, there is one thing said of another; the subject and the predicate are, faith justifies. Justification is attributed unto faith ; look on the word only, whether it doth determine the subject or the predicate; doth faith which is alone severed from good works, justify? so the proportion is false. First, that faith which is alone, separated from love and the fruits of good works, doth not justify; but let the alone be put to the predicate; faith justifieth alone; that is, faith is the only virtue in the soul whereby a man is justified, that is true: as if a man should say, the eye alone seeth, it is true; if we put it thus, the eye, severed from the members of the body, seeth, it is false. If the eye were taken out of the head, it would neither see alone, nor at all; but the meaning is this, the living eye is the organ whereby a man discerns a visible object; so faith, though joined with other graces, yet takes not other with it for helps for justification.
OBJ. But why should God select this virtue among others, that are more noble ?
Sol. I say as before, God had “ respect to the low estate of his hand-maid,” it was reason that God should choose the lowest and the meanest: God selected this poor beggar's hand for two reasons.
First, in respect of God.
I say, first, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all;" so that here are two strong reasons; one in respect of God, that God, by so mean a thing as a beggar's hand, should bring a man to justification ; and the other in respect of faith itself, that it might be grace, for when thou bringest nothing but a bare hand ready to receive a par
• Rom. chap. 4. ver. 16.
don, this must needs be of grace. If God say, thou must love me, this were an exchange, not a free gift. I lay down something, and I take up something for it. Faith is that naked hand which fills itself with Christ, it layeth fast hold on Christ crucified with all his merits.
As if a man were ready to be drowned, there is a cable cast to him to lay hold on, and he laying hold on it, is safe to land; but a man when he lays hold on the cable ole, must let go all his other holds which he laid hold on before. Thus must a man let go all other holds, and lay fast hold on Jesus Christ.
Faith hath two faculties: 1. it opens itself to let fall all other things: and then 2. when it is a naked hand, it layeth hold on Christ, and then it is filled with Christ, when the believer esteems all dross in comparison of Christ; it hath fullness by grace: “Where is then rejoicing and boasting? it is excluded; by what law ? of works? nay, but by the law of faith." And then, “ Foru if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God;" faith taketh away all boasting. him that glorieth, glory in the Lord. Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace." This is the reason in respect of God.
2. In respect of ourselves; "to the end the promise might be sure to the seed;" what is the reason why people doubt and think nothing sure; it is because they come not with a naked hand; we must have such a measure of humiliation, of patience, all to bring somewhat with us; whereas if we look on these things, we shall never be heard. If the bare acceptation of Christ, with a trembling hand, will not make thee sure, thou understandest not the excellency of that very treasure whereof thou art possessed; what canst thou have more than the bare receiving of such a gift by faith? The reason why we are not more sure, is because we come not with a naked hand.
* Rom. chap. 3. ver. 27.
u Chap. 4. ver. 2.