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ashes, frail, corruptible, feeble things. To shake off security, therefore, and to breed Fear in the hearts of mortal men, so many admonitions are used concerning the power of evils which beset them, so many threat'nings of calamities, so many descriptions of things threat'ned, and those so lively, to the end they may leave behind them a deep impression of such as hath force to keep the heart continually waking. All which do shew, that we are to stand in fear of nothing more than the extremity of-not fearing.
9. When Fear hath delivered us from that pit, wherein they are sunk that have put far from them the evil day; that have made a league with death, and have said, Tush, we shall feel no harm; it standeth us upon to take heed it cast us not into that, wherein souls destitute of all hope are plunged. For our direction, to avoid as much as may be both extremities, that we may know, as a ship-master by his card, how far we are wide, either on the one side or on the other, we must note, that in a Christian man there is, first, Nature ; secondly, Corruption perverting Nature; thirdly, Grace correcting and amending Corruption. In Fear all these have their several operations: Nature teacheth simply, to wish preservation, and avoidance of things dreadful; for
which cause our Saviour himself prayeth, and that often, [Matt. “ Father, if it be possible." In which cases, corrupt Nature's
suggestions are, for the safety of temporal life, not to stick at things excluding from eternal; wherein how far even the best may be led, the chiefest Apostle's frailty teacheth. Were it not therefore for such cogitations as, on the contrary side, Grace and Faith ministereth, such as that of Job,
Though God kill me;" that of Paul, “ Scio cui credidi, I 2 Tim. know him on whom I do rely;" small evils would soon be (Prov.
able to overwhelm even the best of us. “ A wise man (saith Solomon) doth see a plague coming, and hideth himself." It is Nature which teacheth a wise man in Fear to hide himself, but Grace and Faith doth teach him where. Fools care not where they hide their heads: but where shall a wise man hide himself when he feareth a plague coming ? where should the frighted child hide his head, but in the bosom of his loving father? where a Christian, but under the shadow of the wings of Christ his Saviour? “ Come, my people (saith God in the Prophet) enter into thy chamber, hide thyself,” &c. But because we are in danger, like
Isa. xxvi. 20.
chased birds, like doves, that seek and cannot see the resting holes that are right before them; therefore our Saviour giveth his Disciples these encouragements beforehand, that Fear might never so amaze them, but that always they might remember, that whatsoever 'evils at any time did beset them, to him they should still repair for comfort, counsel and succour. For their assurance whereof, his “ Peace he gave them, his Peace (John
xiv. 27.] he left unto them; not such Peace as the world offereth," by whom his name is never so much pretended, as when deepest treachery is meant; but “ Peace which passeth all (Phil.
iv. 7.) understanding,” Peace that bringeth with it all happiness, Peace that continueth for ever and ever with them that have it.
This Peace God the Father grant, for his Son's sake; unto whom, with the Holy Ghost, three Persons, one eternal and everliving God, be all honour, glory, and praise, now and for ever.
THE CERTAINTY AND PERPETUITY OF FAITH IN
ESPECIALLY OF THE PROPHET HABAKKUK'S FAITH.*
HABAK. i. 4. Whether the Prophet Habakkuk, by admitting this cogitation into his mind, “The
Law doth fail," did thereby shew himself an unbeliever?
1. We have seen in the opening of this clause, which concerneth the weakness of the Prophet's Faith, first, what things they are, whereunto the Faith of sound believers doth assent; secondly, wherefore all men assent not thereunto; and thirdly, why they that do, do it many times with small assurance. Now, because nothing can be so truly spoken, but through misunderstanding it may be depraved; therefore to prevent, if it be possible, all misconstruction in this cause, where a small error cannot rise but with a great danger, it is perhaps needful, ere we come to the fourth point, that something be added to that which hath been already spoken concerning the third.
2. That mere natural men do neither know nor acknowledge the things of God, we do not marvel, because they are spiritually to be discerned; but they in whose hearts the light of grace doth shine, they that are taught of God, why are they so weak in Faith? why is their assenting to the Law so scrupulous ? so much mingled with fear and wavering? It seemeth strange that ever they should imagine the Law to fail. It cannot seem strange if we weigh the
* [Printed at Oxford, 1612. 410.]
If the things which we believe be considered in themselves, it may truly be said that Faith is more certain than any
science. That which we know either by sense, or by infallible demonstration, is not so certain as the principles, articles, and conclusions of Christian Faith. Concerning which we must note, that there is a Certainty of Evidence, and a Certainty of Adherence. Certainty of Evidence we call that, when the mind doth assent unto this or that, not because it is true in itself, but because the truth is clear, because it is manifest to us. Of things in themselves most certain, except they be also most evident, our persuasion is not so assured as it is of things more evident, although in themselves they be less certain. It is as sure, if not surer, that there be spirits, as that there be men; but be assured of these than of them, because these are more evident. The truth of some things is so evident, that no man which heareth them can doubt of them: as when we hear that “ a part of any thing is less than the whole,” the mind is constrained to say, this is true. If it were so in matters of Faith, then, as all men have equal certainty of this, so no believer should be more scrupulous and doubtful than another. But we find the contrary. The Angels and Spirits of the righteous in Heaven have certainty most evident of things spiritual: but this they have by the light of Glory. That which we see by the light of Grace, though it be indeed more certain ; yet it is not to us so evidently certain, as that which sense or the light of Nature will not suffer a man to doubt of. Proofs are vain and frivolous, except they be more certain than is the thing proved. And do we not see how the Spirit every where in the Scripture proveth matters of Faith, laboureth to confirm us in the things which we believe by things whereof we have sensible knowledge? I conclude therefore that we have less certainty of evidence concerning things believed, than concerning sensible or naturally perceived. Of these who doth doubt at any
time? Of them at some time who doubteth not? I will not here allege the sundry confessions of the perfectest that have lived upon earth, concerning their great imperfections this way; which, if I did, I should dwell too long upon a matter sufficiently known by every faithful man that doth know himself. 3. The other, which we call the Certainty of Adherence
Psal. Ixxiii. 28.
is, when the heart doth cleave and stick unto that which it doth believe. This certainty is greater in us than the other. The reason is this: the Faith of a Christian doth apprehend the words of the Law, the promises of God, not only as true, but also as good; and therefore even then, when the evidence which he hath of the truth is so small, that it grieveth him to feel his weakness in assenting thereto, yet is there in him such a sure adherence unto that which he doth but faintly and fearfully believe, that his spirit having once truly tasted the heavenly sweetness thereof, all the world is not able quite and clean to remove him from it; but he striveth with
himself to hope against all reason of believing, being settled (Job
with Job upon this unmoveable resolution, “ Though God xiii. 15.) kill me, I will not give over trusting in him.” For why?
this lesson remaineth for ever imprinted in him, “ It is good for me to cleave unto God."
4. Now the minds of all men being so darkened as they are with the foggy damp of original corruption, it cannot be that any man's heart living should be either so enlightened in the knowledge, or so established in the love of that wherein his salvation standeth, as to be perfect, neither doul ng nor shrinking at all. If any such were, what doth let why that man should not be justified by his own inherent righteousness? For righteousness inherent, being perfect, will justify. And perfect Faith is a part of perfect righteousness inherent; yea, a principal part, the root and the mother of all the rest : so that if the fruit of every tree be such as the root is, Faith being perfect, as it is
it be not at all mingled with distrust and fear, what is there to exclude other Christian virtues from the like perfections? And then what need we the righteousness of Christ ? His garment is superfluous; we may be honourably clothed with our own robes, if it be thus. But let them beware, who challenge to themselves a strength which they have not, lest they lose the comfortable support of that weakness which indeed they have.
5. Some shew, although no soundness of ground, there is, which may be alledged for defence of this supposed perfection in Certainty touching matters of our Faith ; as, first, that Abraham did believe, and doubted not: secondly, that the Spirit, which God hath given us to no other end, but only to assure us that we are the sons of God; to embolden