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to this height of sanctification, is that nearness, which brings salvation farther than our believing does ? and that is the last term in this part ; believing.
Now, nearer than believing, nearer than faith, a man might well think nothing can bring salvation; for faith is the hand that reaches it, and takes hold of it. But yet, as though our bodily hand reach to our temporal food, yet the mouth and the stomach must do their office too ; and so that meat must be distributed into all parts of the body, and assimilated to them; so though our faith draw this salvation near us, yet when our mouth is employed, that we have a delight to glorify God in our discourses, and to declare his wonderful works to the sons of men, in our thankfulness : and when this faith of ours is distributed over all the body, that the body of Christ's church is edified, and alienated 13 by our good life and sanctification, then is this salvation nearer us, that is, safelier sealed to us, than when we believed only.
Either then, this quando credidistis, when you believed, may be referred to infants, or to the first faith, and the first degrees thereof in men. In infants, when that seminal faith, or potential faith, which is by some conceived to be in the infants of Christian parents at their baptism ; or that actual faith, which from their parents, or from the church, is thought to be applied to them, accepted in their behalf, in that sacrament, when this faith grows up after, by this new coming of Christ in the power of his grace and his Spirit, to be a lively faith, expressed in charity; then salus propior, then is salvation nearer than when they believed; whether this belief were their own, or their parents' or the church's, we have no ground to deny, that salvation is near, and present to all children rightly baptized; but, for those who have made sure their salvation by a good use of God's graces after, we have another fair piece of evidence, that salvation is nearer them. It is so too, if this believing be referred to our first elements and beginnings of faith : à man believes the history of Christ, because it is matter of fact, and a story probable, and well testified: a man may believe the Christian religion, or the reformed religion for his ease, either because he cannot or will not debate controversies, and reconcile differences, or because he sees it best for order and quiet, and civil ends, which he hath in that state where he lives. These be kinds of faith and moral assents : and sometimes when a man is come thus far, to a historical and a moral faith, God superinfuses true faith; for howsoever he wrought by reason, and natural faculties, and moral, and civil ways, yet it was God that wrought from the beginning, and produced this faith, though but historical or moral. And then, if God do exalt this moral or historical faith farther than so, to believe not only the history, but the Gospel : not only that such a Christ lived, and did those miracles, and died, but that he was the Son of God, and died for the redemption of the world ; this brings salvation nearer him, than when he believed; but then, when this grace comes to appropriate Christ to him, and more than that, to annunciate Christ by him, when it makes him (as John Baptist was) a burning and a shining lamp; that Christ is showed to him, and by him to others in a holy life, then is salvation nearer him than when he believed, either as it is credidit primum, when he began to believe, but had some scruples, or credidit tantum, that he laid all upon faith, but had no care of works. To end this, this nearness of salvation, is that union with God, which may be had in this life: it is the peace of conscience, the undoubting trust and assurance of salvation. This assurance (so far as they will confess it may be had) the Roman church places in faith, and so far, well; but then, in fide formata ; and so far well enough too; in those works which declare and testify that faith; for, though this good work do nothing toward my salvation, it does much towards this nearness, that is, towards my assurance of this salvation ; but herein they lead us out of the way, that they call these works the soul, the form of faith : for, though a good tree cannot be without good fruits, yet it were a strange manner of speech to call that good fruit, the life or the soul, or the form of that tree; so is it, to call works which are the fruits of faith, the life or soul, or form of faith ; for that is proper to grace only which infuses faith. They would acknowledge this nearness of salvation, this assurance in good works; but say they, man cannot be sure, that their works is good, and therefore they can have no such assurance. They who undertook the reformation of religion in our fathers' days, observing that there was no peace without this assurance, expressed this assurance thus, That when a man is sure that he believes aright, that he hath no scruples of God, no diffidence in God, and uses all endeavours to continue it, and to express it in his life, as long as he continues so, he is sure of salvation ; and farther they went not : and then there arose men, which would reform the reformers, and refine salvation and bring it into a less room; they would take away the condition, if you hold fast, if you express it; and so came up roundly and presently to that; if ever you did believe, if ever you had faith, you are safe for ever, and upon that assurance you may rest. Now I make no doubt, but that both these sought the truth, that truth which concerns us, peace and assurance; and I dispute not their resolutions now; only I say, for these words which we have in hand now there is a conditional assurance implied in them; for when it is said now, now that you are in this state, salvation is near you : thus much is pregnantlyintimated, that if you were not in this state, salvation were farther removed from you howsoever you pretend to believe.
15 The word alienated seems to be without sense in this passage. Livy (lib. iii. c. 48) has the expression alienatus ad libidinem animus : Donne can hardly mean that the church is to be thus alienated to the contemplation of our good life and sanctification. Probably the word is corrupt.-ED.
Now this hath brought us to our third and last sense and acceptation of these words, as they are spoken of Christ's last coming, his coming in glory; which is to us at our deaths, and that judgment which we receive then. And in this acceptation of the word, these three terms, salvation, nearness and believing, are thus to be understood : salvation is salvation perfected, consummated; salvation which was brought near baptism, and nearer in outward holiness, must be brought nearer than that: and this prope, this nearness is, that now being near death, you are near the last seal of your perseverance; and so the credidistis, the believing amounts to this : though you have believed and lived accordingly, believed with the belief of a Jew, believed all the prophets, and with the belief of a Christian, believed all the Gospel, believed with a seminal belief of your own, or an
14 Folio edition," pugnantly." VOL. VI.
actual belief of others at your baptism, with a historical belief, and with an evangelical belief too, with a belief in your root, in the heart, and a belief in the fruits, expressed in a good life too, yet there is a continuance and a perseverance that must crown all this; and because that cannot be discerned till thine end, then only is it safely pronounced, Now is salvation nearer you than when you believed.
Here then salvation is eternal salvation; not the outward seals of the church upon the person, not visible sacraments, nor the outward seal of the person, to the church, visible works, nor the inward seal of the Spirit, assurance here, but fruition, possession of glory, in the kingdom of heaven; where we shall be infinitely rich, and that without labour in getting, or care in keeping, or fear in losing; and fully wise, and that without ignorance of necessary, or study of unnecessary knowledge, where we shall not measure our portion by acres, for all heaven shall be all ours ; nor our term by years, for it is life and everlasting life ; nor our assurance by precedent, for we shall be safer than the angels themselves were in the creation ; where our exaltation shall be to have a crown of righteousness, and our possession of that crown shall be, even the throwing it down at the feet of the Lamb; where we shall leave off all those petitions of Adveniat regnum, Thy kingdom come, for it shall be come in abundant power; and the Da nobis hodie, Give us this day our daily bread, for we shall have all that which we can desire now, and shall have a power to desire more, and then have that desire so enlarged, satisfied ; and the libera nos, we shall not pray to be delivered from evil, for no evil, culpæ or pænæ, either of sin to deserve punishment, or of punishment for our former sins shall offer at us: where we shall see God face to face, for we shall have such notions and apprehensions, as shall enable us to see him, and he shall afford such an imparting, such a manifestation of himself, as he shall be seen by us; and where we shall be as inseparably united to our Saviour, as his humanity and divinity are united together: this unspeakable, this unimaginable happiness is this salvation, and therefore let us be glad when this is brought near us.
And this is brought nearer and nearer unto us, as we come
nearer and nearer to our end. As he that travels weary, and late towards a great city, is glad when he comes to a place of execution, because he knows that is near the town; so when thou comest to the gate of death, glad of that, for it is but one step from that to thy Jerusalem. Christ hath brought us in some nearness to salvation, as he is vere Salvator mundi, in that we know, that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world's, and he hath brought it nearer than that, as he is Salvator corporis sui, in that we know, that Christ is the head of the church, and the Saviour of that body'': and nearer than that, as he is Salvator tuus Sanctus, in that we know, he is the Lord our God, the Holy One of Israel, our Saviour'7: but nearest of all, in the Ecce Salvator tuus venit, Behold thy salvation cometh 18. It is not only promised in the prophets, nor only writ in the Gospel, nor only sealed in the sacraments, nor only prepared in the visitations of the Holy Ghost, but, ecce, behold it, now, when thou canst behold nothing else: the sun is setting to thee, and that for ever; thy houses and furnitures, thy gardens and orchards, thy titles and offices, thy wife and children are departing from thee, and that for ever; a cloud of faintness is come over thine eyes, and a cloud of sorrow over all theirs; when his hand that loves thee best hangs tremblingly over thee to close thine eyes, ecce Salvator tuus venit, behold then a new light, thy Saviour's hand shall open thine eyes, and in his light thou shalt see light; and thus shalt see, that though in the eyes of men thou lie upon that bed, as a statue on a tomb, yet in the eyes of God, thou standest as a colossus, one foot in one, another in another land; one foot in the grave, but the other in heaven; one hand in the womb of the earth, and the other in Abraham's bosom: and then vere prope, salvation is truly near thee, and nearer than when thou believedst, which is our last word.
Take this belief in the largest extent; a patient assent to all foretold of Christ and of salvation by the prophets ; a historical assent to all that is written of Christ in the Gospel; an humble and supple, and appliable assent to the ordinances of the church ; a faithful application of all this to thine own soul, a fruitful
15 John iv. 42.
17 Isaiah xliii. 3.
16 Eph. v. 23. 18 Isaiah Lxii. 11.