Of the third, and last meanes for the triall and demonstration of Faith, namely, from effects or properties thereof.
THE last Medium which was assigned for the examination of Faith was the properties or effects of it, by which as by stepps we raise our thoughts to the apprehension of Faith it selfe. To assigne all the consequences or effects of Faith is a labour as difficult as it would be tedious. I decline both, and shall therefore touch upon some spe∣ciall ones which if present, all the rest in there order follow with a voluntary traine. Page 225 And now as in the soule of man there are two kinde of operations, one primitive, and substantiall, which we call the act of information, others secondary, and subsequent, as to understand, to will, to desire, and the like: so Faith, being (as hath been formerly observed) in some sort the Actus primus, or forme of a Christian, I meane that very medium unionis whereby the soule of man is really united to CHRIST, hath therefore in it two kinds of opera∣tions. The first as it were substantiall, the other secondary. The former of these is that act of vivisication or quickning, by which, Faith doth make a mana to live the life of Christ, byb knitting him unto Christ as it were with Joynts, and Sinews, andc ingrafting him into the unity of that Vine whose Fruit is Life.
That which doth quicken is ever of a more excellent nature then that which is quickned, now the soule being a spirit, and therefore within the compasse of highest created perfection, cannot possibly be quickned by any but him who is a∣bove all perfection, which the Heathen themselves have acknowledged to be God. For S. Paul hath observed it out of them, that in him we live, and move, and have our being. Now unto life necessary it is Page 226 that there bee a vnion unto the principall or originall of life, which to the soule is God. In regard of the essence of God no∣thing can be seperated from him he be∣ing immense, and filling all things: but yet in regard of his voluntary communi∣cation, and dispensing of himselfe unto the creature, the manner of his speciall presence doth much vary, unto this speciall union of the creature unto God (in ver∣tue whereof the creature is quickned) and doth in some sort live the Life of God. There is necessarily presupposed some sinew or ligament, which may be therefore cal∣led the medium, and instrument of life. This knot in the estate of mans Creation was the obedience of the Law, or the covenant of workes, which while man did maintaine firme, and unshaken, he had an evident Communion with God in all those vitall influences which his mercy was plea∣sed to shed downe upon him: but once untying this knot, and cutting asunder that bond, there did immediately ensue a seperation betweene GOD, and man, and by an infallible consequence death like∣wise. But God being rich in mercy, and not willing to plunge his creature into eternall misery, found a new meanes to communicate himselfe unto him, by ap∣pointing a more easie Covenant, which Page 227 should be the second knot of our union unto him, onely to beleeve in Christ incarnate, who had done that for us which we our selves had formerly undone. And this new Covenant is the covenant of faith by which the just doe live.
But here a man may object that it is harder for one to discerne that hee doth live in Christ then that he beleeves in him, and therefore this can be noe good meane by which we may finde out the truth of our Faith. To this wee answer, that life must be discerned by those tokens which are inseperable from it, and they are first a desire of nourishment, without which it cannot continue, for nature hath imprinted in all things a love of its owne being, and preservation, and by consequence a prosecution of all such meanes as may preserve, and a removeall of all such as may endanger or oppresse it. Secondly, a conversion of nourishment into the nature of the body. Thirdly, augmentation, & growth till we come unto that Stature which our life requires. Fourthly, participation of influ∣ences from the vitall parts, the Head, the Heart, and others, with conformity unto the principall mover amongst them, for a dead part is ever withered, immoveable, and dis∣obedient to the other faculties, Fiftly, a sympa∣thy, and communion in paines, or delights with the fellow members. Lastly, a free use Page 228 of our senses▪ and other faculties, by all which we may infallibly conclude that a creature liveth.
And so it is in Faith. It frameth the heart to delight in all such spirituall food as is requisite thereunto. Disposing it up∣on the view, at lest upon the taste of any poysonous thing to be pained with it, and cast it up. The food that nourish∣eth Faith is as in little Infants, of the same quality with that which begat it, e∣ven the word of life, wherein there is sincere Milke, and strong meate. The poyson which endangereth it is heresie, which tain∣teth the roote of Faith, and goeth about to prevert the assent, and impiety, which blasteth, and corrupteth the branches. All which the soule of a Faithfull man abhorreth.
Secondly, in Faith there is a conversi∣on likewise, the vertue whereof ever there resides where the vitall power is. In na∣turall life the power of altering is in the man, and not in the meate, and therefore the meate is assimilated to our flesh: but in spirituall life the quickning faculty is in the meate, and therefore the man is as∣similated, and transformed into the qua∣lity of the meate. And indeed the word is not cast into the heart of man, as meate into the stomacke, to be converted Page 229 into the corrupt quality of nature, but rather as seed into the ground to convert that Earth which is about it into the qua∣lity of it selfe.
Thirdly, where Faith is there is some growth in grace, wee grow neerer unto Heaven then when we first beleeved, an improvement of our knowledge in the my∣steries of godlines, which like the Sunne, shines brighter, and brighter unto the perfect day: An increase of willingnes to obey God in all things; and as in the growth of naturall bodies if they be sound, and healthy, so in this of Faith likewise, it is universall, and uniforme, one part doth not grow, and another shrivell, ney∣ther doth one part grow too bigge, and disproportioned for another, the Head doth not increase in knowledge,* and the Heart decay in love, the Heart doth not swell in zeale, and the Hand wither in charity, but in the nourishment of Faith every grace receives proportionably its ha∣bituall confirmation.
Fourthly, by the spirituall life of Faith, the faithfull doe partake of such heaven∣ly influences as are from the head shed downe upon the members. The influences of Christ in his Church are many, and peradventure in many things impercepti∣ble. Some principall I conceive to be the Page 230 influence of his truth, and the influence of his power. His truth is exhibited in tea∣ching the Church, which is illumination, his power partly in guiding the Church, and partly in defending it, that is direction, this protection. Now in all these doe they who are in Christ, according to the measure and proportion of his Spirit, certainely com∣municate. They have their eyes more or lesse opened, like Paul, to see the terrours of God, the fearefulnesse of sinne, the rot∣tennesse of a spirituall death, the pretious∣nesse of Christ and his promises, the glimp∣ses and rayes of that glory which shall be revealed: they have their feete loosned with Lazarus, that they can now rise, and walke, and leape, and praise God. Lastly, they are strengthned and cloathed with the whole armes of God, which secureth them a∣gainst all the malice, or force of Satan.
Fiftly, where faith is, there is a naturall compassion in all the members of Christ to∣wards each other. If sinne be by one mem∣ber committed, the other members are troubled for it, because they are all parta∣kers of that Spirit which is grieved with the sinnes of his people. If one part bee afflicted, the other are interested in the paine, because all are united together in one head which is the Fountaine, and originall of Sense. The members of the Church are Page 231 not like paralyticke, and unjoynted mem∣bers, which cannot move towards the suc∣cour of each other.
Lastly, where Faith is, there all the fa∣culties are expedite and free in their ope∣rations. The eye open to see the wonders of Gods Law, the eare open to heare his voyce, the mouth open to praise his name, the arme enlarged towards the reliefe of his servants, the whole man tenderly sen∣sible of all pressures, and repugnant qua∣lities.
The secondary effects of faith are amongst sundry others such as these. First,a a love and liking of those spirituall truths which by faith I assent unto.* For saving Faith being an assent with adherence and delight, contrary to that of Divils which is with trembling and horror (which delight is a kinde of relish, and experience of the goodnesse of those objects wee assent unto.) It necessarily followes even from the di∣c¦ate of Nature (which instructeth a man to love that which worketh in him delight and comfort) that from this assent must arise an approbation and love of those objects whence doth issue such sweetnesse. A second effect is affiance, and hope, con∣fidently for the present relying on the goodnesse, and for the future waiting on the power of God, which shall to the full Page 232 in time performe what hee hath in his Word promised, when once the minde of a man is wrought so to assent unto divine promises made in Christ, as to acknowledge an interest, and propriety unto them, and that to bee at last actually performed not by a man, who is subject both to unfaith∣fulnesse in perseverance and to disability in performance of his promises (for every man is a lyar, either by imposture, ready to de∣ceive, or by impotencie, likely to disappoint the expectations of those who rely upon him) but by Almighty God, who the bet∣ter to confirme our faith in him, hath both by his Word, and Oath engaged his fidelity, and is altogether omnipotent to doe what hee hath purposed: Impossible it is but from such an assent, grounded on the ve∣racity, and on the All-sufficiency of God, there should result in the minde of a faith∣full man a confident dependance on such promises, renouncing in the meane time all selfe-dependance, as in it selfe utterly impo∣tent, and resolving in the midst of Temp∣tations to relie on him, to hold fast his mercy, and the profession of his Faith with∣out wavering, having an eye to the recom∣pence of reward, and being assured that he who hath promised will certainely bring it to passe.
A third effect of Faith is ioy, and peace of Page 233 Conscience,b for being iustified by faith we have peace with God. The minde is by faith, and the impression of sweetnesse in Gods Promises, composed unto a setled calme∣nesse, and serenity. I doe not meane a dead peace, an immobility, and sleepinesse of Conscience, like the rest of a dreaming pri∣soner: but such a peace as a man may by a syllogisme of the practicke judgment upon right examination of his owne inte∣rest in Christ, safely inferre unto himselfe. The wicked often hath an appearance of peace as well as the faithfull: but here is the difference. Betweene a wicked mans sinne and him there is a Doore shut, which will surely one day open, for it is but ei∣ther a doore of Error, or the doore of Death: for sinne lieth at the doore, ready to flye at his throate as soone as it shall finde either his eyes open to see it, or his life to let it in upon the soule: but betweene a faithfull man, and his sinne, there is a Corner-stone, a Wall of fire, through which Satan himselfe cannot breake, even the merits of Christ Iesus. Briefly, the peace which comes from Faith hath these two properties in it, tranquility and serenity too; otherwise it is but like the calmenesse of the dead Sea, whose un∣moveablenesse is not Nature, but a Curse.
The last effect which I shall now name Page 234 of Faith, is that generall effect of fructifi∣cationapurifying the heart, and dispo∣sing it unto holinesse, and new obedience, which is to bee framed after Gods Law. Faith unites us unto Christ, being thus u∣nited we are quickned by one and the same Spirit, having one spirit, and soule we must needs agree in the same operations, and those operations must necessarily beare conformi∣ty unto the same rule, and that rule is the Law, under which Christ himselfe was for our sakes made. So that the rule to exa∣mine this effect of Faith by, should bee the whole compasse of Gods Law, which to enter into, were to redouble all this la∣bour past, for thy Law (saith David) is exceeding wide. Briefly therefore in all our obedience observe these few rules. First, The obligatory power which is in the Law depends upon the one, and sole authority of the Law-giver who is God. He that breakes but one Commandement venturs to violate that authority which by the same Ordination made one equally obli∣gatory with the rest. And therefore our obedience must not bee partiall, but uni∣versall unto the whole Law, in as much as it proceeds from that Faith which without indulgence, or dispensation yeel∣deth assent unto the whole compasse of Divine Truth. Secondly, as is God, so Page 235 is his Law, a spirituall, and a perfect Law, and therefore requires a universality of the subject, as well as of the obedience. I meane (besides that perfect integrity of Nature, which in regard of present inherence is irre∣coverably lost in Adam, and supplied one∣ly by the imputed righteousnesse and in∣tegrity of Christ) an inward, spirituall, sincere obedience of the heart, from thence spreading like lines from a Centre un∣to the whole Circumference of our Na∣ture, unto our Words, Actions, Ge∣stures, unto all our parts, without croo∣ked, mercenary, and reserv'd respects, where∣in men often in stead of the Lord, make their ends, or their feares their God. Lastly, remember that in every Law all ho∣mogeneall matters to the maine duty which is commanded, every sprigge, or seed, or originall, or degree thereof is in∣cluded, as all the severall branches of a Tree are fastned to one and the same stocke. And by these rules are wee to examine the truth of our obedience. But heere be∣fore I draw downe these premises to an Assumption, I will but name one caution which is this, That Faith as it may bee either habituall or Actuall, so it is the cause of these holy actions either habitu∣ally by framing and disposing the heart un∣to them, or actually, when it is it selfe, Page 236 as it ought ever to bee sound, and opera∣tive. But sometimes Faith (so great is the corruption of our nature) admits of a decay, and languor, wherein it lies as it were like fire under ashes raked up, and stifled under our corruptions. Againe in some there is a weaker, in some a stronger Faith, according unto which difference, there must be a difference in the measure, and magnitude of the effects. But yet it is infallibly true that all, or most of those holy fruits doe in some seasons or other bud forth of that stocke which is quick∣ned by Faith, though sometimes in some men lesse discernable by reason of cor∣ruptions interposed. For it usually thus falleth out, that our graces are but like the Army of Gedeon, a small handfull where∣as our corruptions are like the Midianits which lay on the ground as Grashoppers innumerable. But yet in these God crow∣neth his owne meanest gists with victory, and successe.
So then these things being thus proposed let the conscience without connivence ex∣amine it selfe by such interrogatories as these. Doe I finde my selfe live by the Faith of the Sonne of GOD who gave himselfe for me? Doe I delight in his Word more then my appoynted food, ne∣ver adulterating it with the Leaven or Page 237 Dreggs of hereticall fancies or dead workes? Doth the word of Truth transforme me to the Image of it selfe, Crucifying all those corruptions which harboured in me? Doe I finde my selfe to grow in all graces universally, and uniformely towards God and man, not thinking to recompence some defects which my nature drives me unto, with supererogation (as I con∣ceive) and over performance of such du∣ties as are not so visibly repugnant to my personall corruptions? Doe the beames of the Sunne of righteousnesse shining on my soule illighten me with his truth, and with his power sway me unto all good? Am I heartily affected with all the con∣ditions of Gods Church, to mourne, or to rejoyce with it even at such times, when mine owne particular estate would frame me unto affections of a contrary temper? Have I free use of all my spi∣rituall senses, to see the light of God, to heare his Word, to taste his mercies, to feele with much tendernes all the wounds and pressures of sinne? Doe I love all di∣vine truth, not so much because propor∣tionable unto my desires, but because conformable unto God? Am I resolv'd in all estates to relie on Gods mercy, and providence, though He should kill me to trust in him? Doe I wholy renounce all Page 238 trust in mine owne worthines, or in any concurrences of mine owne naturally to∣wards God? Doe I not build eyther my hopes or feares upon the faces of men, nor make eyther them or my selfe the rule or end of my desires? finally, doe I endeavour a universall obedience unto Gods Law in all the whole latitude, and ex∣tent of it, not indulging to my selfe li¦berty in any knowne sinne? Is not my obedience mercenary, and hypocriticall, but spirituall, and sincere? Do I not swal∣low gnats, nor stumble at straws, not dispense with my selfe for the least of sinns, for irregular thoughts, for occasi∣ons of offence, for appearances of evill, for the motions of concupiscence for idle words, and vaine conversation, and what∣sover is in the lowest degree forbidden? And though in any, or all these I may be sometimes overtaken (as who is it that can say I have washed my hands in inno∣cency, I am cleane from my sinnes?) Doe I yet relent for it, strive, and resolue against it? in a word, doth not mine owne heart condemne me of selfe-deceite, of hypocrisie, of halting and dissembling in Gods service. Then may I safely con∣clude that I have partaked of the saving efficacy of Faith, and am fitly qualified to partake of these holy mysteries, Page 239 whereby this good worke of Faith be∣gun in me, may bee strengthned, and more perfected against the day of the Lord Jesus.
In the receiving of which we must use all both inward, and outward reverence, secret elevations of spirit, and comfortable thoughts touching the mercies of God in Christ, touching the qualities, and be∣nefits of his passion, and of our sinnes that caused it: and Lastly, for the course of our life after wee must pitch upon a constant resolution to abandon all sinne, and to keepe a strict hand over all our wayes;a least turning againe with the Swine to the mire that which should bee the badge of our honor, prove the Cha∣racter of our shame. The Persians had a festivall time one day in the yeere which they cald Vitiorum interitum, wherein they slew all Serpents, and venemous, creatures, and after that till the revolution of that same day suffred them to swarme againe as fast as ever: If we thinke in that manner to destroy our sins, and onely one day in the yeere, when we celebrate this holy Festivall, the evill spirit may hapily de∣part for a day in policie, but surely he will turne againe, with seven other spirits, & make the end of that man worse then his beginning. But that ground which drinketh in the Page 240 raine which commeth of upon it (and what raine comparable to a showre of Christs bloud in the Sacrament?) and bringeth forth herbs meete for the use of him that dressed it, receiveth blessings from God; A Cup of Blessing heere, but Rivers of Bles∣sednesse hereafter, in that Paradise which is above, where Hee who is in this life the Obiect of our Faith and Hope, shall bee the End, and Reward of them both for ever.