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(Matt. vii. 7,) “ Ask, and it shall be given you.” But beware of calling in question the power or the willingness of God to fulfil his promises, by relapsing into unbelief. “ He that believeth not, hath made him a liar.” Say not, that the object is beyond your reach, or that the means afforded you for obtaining it are insufficient. Men do not believe, because they love darkness, and will not come to the light, that they might have life.
Prayers for Faith, in the Liturgy. Collect for the 14th Sunday after Trinity.—Give unto us the
increase of faith, hope, and charity. Collect for St. Thomas's Day.—Grant us so perfectly, and
without all doubt, to believe in thy Son, Jesus Christ, that
our faith, in thy sight, may never be reproved. Collect for St. Mark's Day. Give us grace, that being not like
children, carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we
may be established in the truth of the Holy Gospel. Collect in the Litany.-Grant, that in all our troubles we may put our whole trust and confidence in thy mercy.
Pray that you “may hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.”
ON FAITH. A right understanding of the nature of faith is so important, and the views of it entertained by inany are so confused, that it appears desirable to add to what the author has said, the following clear and satisfactory description of it from the Homily on "true, lively, and Christian faith.”
“There is one faith, which in Scripture is called a dead faith; which bringeth forth no good works, but is idle, barren, and unfruitful. And this faith, by the holy apostle St. James, is compared to the faith of devils ; which believe God to be true and just, and tremble for fear, yet they do nothing well, but all evil.... this faith is a persuasion and belief in man's heart whereby he knoweth that there is a God, and agreeth unto all truth of God's most holy word, contained in holy Scripture. So that it consisteth only in believing the word of God that it is true. And this is not properly called faith. But as he that readeth Cæsar's Com. mentaries, believing the same to be true, hath thereby a knowledge of Cæsar's life and notable acts, because he believeth the history of Cæsar, yet it is not properly said that he believeth on Cæsar, of whom he looketh for no help nor benefit: even so he that believeth that all that is spoken of God in the Bible is true, and yet liveth so ungodly that he cannot look to enjoy the promises and benefits of God; although it may be said that such a man hath faith and belief to the words of God; yet it is not properly said that he believeth in God, or hath such a faith and trust in God, whereby he may surely look for grace, mercy, and everlasting life at God's hand, but rather for indignation and punishment, according to the merits of his wicked life. . . . Another faith there is in Scripture which is not as the foresaid faith, idle, unfruitful, and dead, but worketh by love, as St. Paul declares; which as the other vain faith is called a dead faith, so this may be called a quick or lively faith. And this is not only the common belief of the articles of our faith ; but it is also a true trusi and
confidence of the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and a steadfast hope of all good wings to be received at God's hand. ... This is the true, lively, and unseigned Christian faith, and is not in the mouth and outward profession only, but it liveth and stirreth inwardly in the heart. And this faith is not without hope and trust in God; nor without the love of God and of our neighbours; nor without the fear of God; nor without the desire to hear God's word, and to follow the same in eschew. ing evil, and doing gladly all good works. This faith, as St. Paul describes it, is the sure ground and foundation of the benefits which we ought to look for and trust to receive of God, a certificate and sure looking for them, although they yet sensibly appear not unto us.”
The reader will probably find nowhere else so intelligible and just an explanation of the scriptural doctrine on this subject as may be found in the Homily from which this quotation is made. The Homilies are declared by the Church of England to contain "a godly and wholesome doctrine," and the thirty-fifth article, in which this declaration is made, is received by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, “so far as it de. clares the book of Homílies to be an explication of Christian doctrine, and instructive in piety and morals.” Whenever then we quote the Homilies on matters of doctrine or practical religion, we set forth the doctrines of that church.
ON JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH. Having set before the reader the nature of faith, it is important to say something of its most important office, viz. as the means of our justi. fication. The following extract from the Rev. William Hammond, an old writer of the Church of England, presents a clear and satisfactory view of the subject, and is the more valuable from its reference to the Articles and Homilies. Mr. Hammond's first quotation from the Homily on the Salvation of man, (called in the eleventh article the Homily on Justification, from its leading subject,) is in our extract continued, so as to include some observations which are particularly worthy of attention for their just and discriminating views of this great doctrine. The whole Homily (and indeed all the Homilies) should be attentively studied by every reader.
"The author or efficient cause of our justification is God. He it is that confers this unspeakable privilege upon us; and, therefore, he is called the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, Rom. iji. 20. He is said to justify the ungodly, Rom. iv. 5. It is God that justifieth, Rom. viii. 33. Hence he is said to reconcile the world unto himself, '2 Cor. v. 19. And, indeed, who can forgive sins but God alone? Who can justify souls but only the most high God? This is his peculiar prerogative; and the in. strumental cause or means on our part is faith, which we are now to show. And here I might transcribe the whole Homily on the Salvation of Man, for it is all to our purpose; but this I refer the reader to at his leisure. I shall only just mention one or two passages.
“The Homily aforesaid hath these words; 'St. Paul declareth here nothing upon the behalf of man concerning his justification, but only a true and lively faith-and yet that faith doth not shut out repentance, hope, love, dread, and the fear of God, to be joined with faith in every man that is justified, but it shutteth them out from the office of justifying.'
Neither doth faith shut out the justice for righteousness) of our good works, necessarily to be done afterwards of duty towards God-for we are most bounden to serve God in doing good deeds commanded by him in his Holy Scripture, all the days of our life--but it excludeth them, so that we may not do them to this intent, to be made just by doing of them. For all the good works that we can do be imperfect; and therefore not able to deserve our justification : but our justification doth come freely, by the mere mercy of God; and of so great and free mercy, that whereas
all the world was not able of themselves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father, of his infinite mercy, without any desert or deserving, to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ's body and blood; whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied. So that Christ is now the righteousness of all thein that do iruly believe in him. He for them paid their ransom by his death. He for them fulfilled the law in his life. So that now in hiin and by him every true Christian man may be called a fulfiller of the law: forasmuch as that which their infirmity lacked, Christ's justice (or righteousness) hath supplied.'
Though all other graces are in the soul at the same time faith is, yet it is in the prerogative of faith only to justify. So afterwards; "This sen. tence, that we be justified by faith only, is not so meant of them, ihat tho said justifying faith is alone in man without true repentance, hope, charity, dread, and the fear of God, at any time and season." Though faith only justifies, yet justifying faith is not separate from repentance, hope, love, and other fruits of the Spirit. It is the proper office of faith to justify, for faith is the grace that is just suited for ihis purpose. As the eye is fitted for seeing, or the hand for acting, so is faith exactly fitted for justifying, i. e. for seeing Christ, and taking hold of bim for strength and righteousness; but as neither the eye sees, nor the hand acts sepa. rate from the body, (for destroy the subject or organ, and its act is also destroyed,) so neither does faith justify separate from other graces, (for then it would not be true living faith ;) yet it alone justifies, the office of justification is its peculiar privilege, and the other divine principles in the heart have no share in this affair. In short, though faith and all other Christian virtues and graces are in the heart at the time of our justification, yet those other virtues and graces have no hand in our justification, but justification is the office and prerogative of faith alone.
In the third part of this Homily it is said, We be justified by faith only; which is thus explained: “We put our faith in Christ, that we be justi. fied by him only, that we be justified by God's free mercy, and the merits of our Saviour Christ only, and by no virtue or good works of our own that are in us, or that we can be able to have or to do for to deserve tbe same; Christ himself only being the cause meritorious thereof." Here our own works and virtucs are excluded, and Christ asserted to be the meritorious cause of our justification. What, then, becomes of the opinion of those who extol the merit of works, and assign them a part in our justification? Some are willing to make an evasion here: "We (say they) hold, that works are a condition, but not a meritorious condition of our justification." But if works are not meritorious, how can they be any condition at all of our justification? I leave this difficulty for our adversaries to explain.
In the second part of this Homily, the testimonies of Hilary, Basil, and Ambrose, are produced; and Origen, Chrysostom, Cyprian, Augustine, Prosper, 'Oecumenius, Phocius, Bernardus, and Anselm, are mentioned as advocates and espousers of this doctrine of free justification ; which is designed on purpose to show the concurrence of Greek and Latin fathers in this important and everlasting truth.
I must just mention the eleventh Article, which is clear and explicit; It is entitled,
OF THE JUSTIFICATION OF MAN. "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.” The docirine of justification by faith only is hero so clearly deilvered, and so positively asserted, that one
would think nothing but corrupt nature, an evil heart of unbelief, prejudice, or worldly interest, could incline men to understand this article in any other sense, or constrain them to put a double meaning upon it. Our reformers here call it a wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort ; and all who experience it, find it so; although those who do not experience it, do not know either the wholesomeness or comfort of it. Many people have the doctrine of justification by faith in their heads, but yet are very iniserable for want of having it in their hearts.
ON THE PROMISES MADE AT BAPTISM.
What did your Sponsors for you at your Baptism?
• They did promise and vow three things in my name : First, that I should renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, that I should believe all the articles of the Christian Faith. And, thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life.' What is meant by the devil ?
An evil spirit, the prince of the fallen angels, who is invisible, but very busy and powerful. He is the implacable enemy of the whole human race, and especially of believers, whose ruin and misery he is always aiming to effect. He occasioned the fall of our first parents, seducing Eve, by a lie, to take of the forbidden fruit. 2 Cor. xi. 3. Under him are numbers of other wicked spirits, who are always at hand to tempt men to sin, and who will finally become the, tormentors of such as die in a state of unbelief.
He is mentioned in Scripture under various names : Satan, (i. e. Adversary or Accuser.) God of this world. 2 Cor. iv. 4. Job i. 6. Zech. iii. 1.
Belial, (i. e. extremely wicked.) Lucifer. Isa. xiv. 12.
2 Cor. vi. 15. Tempter, (even of our Lord.) Matt. Roaring Lion. 1 Pet. v. 8. iv. 3.
A sinner from the beginning. 1 John
The old Serpent. Rev. xii. 9.
Deceiver. Rev. xx. 10.
Surely, when we consider his power and subtlety, we have great reason to pray, “ Lead us not into temptation.”
The Liturgy contains many petitions for deliverance from his wiles. In the Litany. From the crafts and assaults of the devil. From
all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, deliver us. Prayer after the Litany.—That those evils which the craft and
subtlety of the devil or man worketh against us, be brought
to naught. Collect, 18th Sunday after Trinity:-Grant thy people grace
to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the
devil. What are the works of the devil ?
Whatever is sinful, and contrary to the will of God, as
He tempts men to apostasy.
We are warned to be on our guard, and to resist his at-
the wiles of the devil. Eph. vi. 11.
1 Pet. v. 8. Whom resist, steadfast in the faith. 1 Pet. v. 9.
That you may not be overcome and caught in his snares, endeavour to preserve a continual sense of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, and of the duty you owe to him. When temptation assails you, ask with Joseph, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God ?" Gen. xxxix. 9.
Recollect, too, that Satan is often transformed into an angel of light, in order to deceive. 2 Cor. xi. 14. Beware then how you attempt to refute his suggestions by your own weak and unassisted reason. Hold no parley with