The third Chapter, VVhat true faith worketh in the soule of a sinner.
BUt now, what maketh me so bold and hardie to presume to come to the Lord with such audacitie and boldnesse, being so great a sin∣ner? Trulie nothing but his owne word. For he saith, Come to me all ye that labour, and are burde∣ned, and I shall refresh you. What gentle, mercifull, and comfortable words are these to all sinners? Were he not a frantike, madde, beastlie, and foolish man, that would runne for aide, helpe, or refuge to anie other creature? What a most gratious, comfortable, and gentle saieng was this, with such pleasant and sweete words to allure his verie enimies to come vnto him? Is there anie worldlie Prince or Magistrate, that would shew such clemencie, and mercie, to their diso∣bedient & rebellious subiects, hauing offended them? I suppose they would not with such words allure them, except it were to call them, whome they cannot take, and punish them being taken. But euen as Christ is Prince of princes, and Lord of lords: so his chari∣tie and mercie exceedeth and surmounteth all others. Christ saith, If carnall fathers do giue good gifts to their children, when they aske them, how much more shall your heauenlie father, being in substance all holie, and most highlie good, giue good gifts to all them that aske him?
It is no small nor little gift that I now require, neither thinke I my selfe worthie to receiue such a noble gift, being so ingrate, vnkind, and wicked a child. But when I behold the benignitie, liberalitie, mercie, and goodnesse of the Lord, I am encouraged, boldened, and stirred to aske such a noble gift. The Lord is so bountifull and liberall, that he will not haue vs satis∣fied Page 46 and contented with one gift; neither to aske simple and small gifts: and therefore he promiseth, and bindeth himselfe by his word, to giue good and benefi∣ciall gifts to all them that aske him with true faith, without which nothing can be done acceptable or pleasing to God. For faith is the foundation & ground of all other gifts, vertues, and graces: and therefore I will praie and saie: Lord increase my faith.
For this is the life euerlasting, Lord, that I must beleeue thee to be the true God, and whom thou didst send Iesus Christ. By this faith I am assured, and by this assurance I feele the remission of my sins. This is it that maketh me bold, this is it that comforteth me; this is it that quencheth all despaire.
I knowe O my Lord, thine eies looke vpon my faith. S. Paule saith, We be iustified by faith in Christ, and not by the deeds of the lawe. For if righteousnes come by the lawe, then Christ died in vaine. S. Paule mea∣neth not here, a dead, humane, and historicall faith, gotten by humane industrie: but a supernall, and liue∣lie faith, which worketh by charitie; as he himselfe plainlie expresseth. This dignitie of faith is no dero∣gation to good works. For out of this faith spring all good works: yet we may not impute to the woorthi∣nesse of faith or works, our iustification before God: but ascribe and giue the woorthinesse of it, wholie to the merits of Christs passion, and refer and attribute the knowledge and perceiuing thereof, onlie to faith: whose verie, true, and onlie propertie it is, to take, ap∣prehend, and hold fast the promises of Gods mercie, the which maketh vs righteous: and to cause me con∣tinuallie to hope for the same mercie, and in loue to worke all maner of waies allowed in the Scripture, that I may be thankfull for the same.
Thus I feele my selfe to come (as it were) in a new garment before God; and now by his mercie, to be ta∣ken Page 47 iust and righteous, which of late without his mer∣cie was sinfull and wicked: and by faith to obteine his mercie, the which the vnfaithfull can not enioie. And although S. Iohn extolleth charitie in his Epistle, saieng that God is charitie, and he that dwelleth in charitie, dwelleth in God. Truelie charitie maketh men liue like Angels; and of the most furious, vn∣brideled, and carnall men, maketh meeke lambes.
Yea, with how feruent a spirit ought I to call, crie, and praie to the Lord, to make his great charitie to burne and flame my hart, being stonie and euill affec∣ted, that it neuer would conceiue nor regard the great inestimable charitie and loue of God, in sending his onlie begotten and deere beloued sonne into this vale of miserie, to suffer the most cruell and sharpe death of the crosse for my redemption? Yea I neuer had this vnspeakeable, and most high charitie, and abundant loue of God printed and fixed in my hart duelie, till it pleased God, of his meere grace, mercie, and pittie, to open mine eies, making me to see and behold with the eie of liuelie faith, Christ crucified, to be mine onelie Sauiour and redeemer. For then I began (and not before) to perceiue and see mine owne ignorance and blindnesse: the cause thereof was, that I would not learne to knowe Christ my Sauiour and redeemer.
But when God, of his meere goodnesse, had thus ope∣ned mine eies, and made me see and behold Christ, the wisedome of God, the light of the world, with a super∣naturall sight of faith; all pleasures, vanities, honor, riches, wealth, and aids of the world, began to waxe bitter vnto me. Then I knew it was no illusion of the diuell, nor false, ne humane doctrine I had receiued. When such successe came thereof, that I had in dete∣station and horrour that which I erst so much loued and esteemed: being of God forbidden that we should loue the world, or the vaine pleasures and shadowes Page 48 in the same: then began I to perceiue that Christ was my onlie Sauior and redeemer; and the same doctrine to be all diuine, holie, heauenlie, and infused by grace into the harts of the faithfull, which neuer can be at∣tained by hnmane doctrine, wit, nor reason, although they should trauell and labour for the same, to the end of the world. Then began I to dwell in God by chari∣tie, knowing by the louing charitie of God, in the re∣mission of my sinnes, that God is charitie, as S. Iohn saith. So that of my faith (whereby I came to knowe God, and whereby it pleased God, euen bicause I tru∣sted in him, to iustifie me) sprang this excellent chari∣tie in my hart.
I thinke no lesse, but manie will woonder and mar∣uell at this my saieng, that I neuer knewe Christ for my Sauiour and redeemer, vntill this time. For many haue this opinion, saieng: Who knoweth not there is a Christ? Who being a Christian doth not confesse him his Sauiour? And thus, beleeuing their dead, hu∣mane, historicall faith and knowledge (which they haue learned in their scholasticall bookes) to be the true in∣fused faith and knowledge of Christ, which may be had (as I said before) with all sinne, they vse to saie, by their owne experience of themselues, that their faith doth not iustifie them. And true it is, except they haue this faith, the which I haue declared here before, they shall neuer be iustified.
And yet it is not false, that by faith onlie I am sure to be iustified. Euen this is the cause that so manie impugne this office and dutie of true faith, bicause so manie lacke the true faith. And euen as the faithfull are forced to allow this true faith; so the vnfaithfull can in no wise probablie intreate thereof: the one fee∣ling in himselfe that he saith, the other hauing not in him for to saie.
I haue certeinlie no curious learning to defend this Page 49 matter withall, but a simple zeale, and earnest loue to the truth inspired of God, who promiseth to powre his spirit vpon all flesh, which I haue by the grace of God whom I most humblie honour) felt in my selfe to be true.