Archive for the ‘Faith and Assurance’ Category

19
Jun

A.E. on Faith as Assurance

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism

A.E.

M[aster]. Give me hen out of what thou has hitherto said, a definition of that same lively and true Christian faith?

S[tudent]. Faith is an assured knowledge of the Fatherly goodwill of God towards us through Christ, and an affiance in the same goodness, as it is witnessed in the gospel, which faith hath coupled with it an endeavour of godly li[f]e, that is, to obey the Will of God the Father.

A.E. The Watch-Mans Lanthorn, Being a Summ of Divinity. In a short very plaine Exposition of the Ten Commandments, the Lords Prayer, and the Creed (Printed for T.R. for Nath. Ekins, at the Sign of the Gun in Pauls Church-Yard, 1655), 60. [Marginal Scripture references not included.]

6
Jun

John Rogers (c.1570-1636) on Faith as Assurance

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism

Rogers:

2. In true faith is an assent to the truth of God’s word, and that not wavering, but firm, not because we see how, or can render or see reasons of the truth of the things, but because God has spoken them, as 2 Pet. 1:16, he knew the things he taught concerning Christ were no fables. So Paul was so resolved of the truth of that he believed and taught, as he dared pronounce him accursed that taught contrary, and was ready to lay down his life for it, as the martyrs also were.

Object of
Faith.

And here by the way understand what is the object of faith, viz., God’s Word, not man’s word or conceit, or any such thing, I believe such and such, because God has spoken it, not because I think so, or because I find it so written in the Apocrypha or some man’s writing. I believe like a fool, except I can bring God’s Word for that I believe; for that is the only foundation and ground of true faith, because God has spoken it, that is well: for then we may believe, it, and otherwise we believe like children; many believe and cannot tell why: a groundless faith.

Secondly, the whole word of God is the object of faith, law, gospel, commandments, prohibitions, threats, so that I must believe all, and not as some, that believe the promises but not the threats. Yet the most proper object of faith is the gospel, and Christ therein exhibited, and life and salvation promised by him: the promise of life first, and then all other inferior promises of preservation, provision, of perseverance, [and] audience of prayers. It is believing in Christ that saves us, not the believing of any part of God’s word. Therefore, the that believe the main fully (as they say) and yet have no faith in the inferior promises, but run to unlawful shifts, or be utterly dismayed in any trouble, they deceive themselves: if they believe the greater, then much more the less, Rom. 8:32. So one cannot be confident of outward things, and these inferior promises to belong to him, except it be from believing the main promises belong to him.

Next to the assent in truth faith, follows that wherein it outstrips the other two false faiths, viz., a particular application of the Word of God, especially the promises, even the promise of life and salvation by Jesus Christ to a man’s own self, for as the hypocrites believe the threatenings in general, but apply them not to themselves in particular, so do they by the promises, either apply them not at all, or else falsely and without ground.

Faith
What.

It is, therefore, a particular persuasion of my heart, that Christ Jesus is mine, and that I shall have life and salvation by his means, that whatsoever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for me, &c.

Seat of
Faith.

A persuasion, not a conceit, an opinion, or blind and uncertain conjecture, but it is a persuasion of the heart. And here by the way understand the seat of true faith, to be the whole soul of man, not the head only, or the heart only, knowledge and assent in the head, the particular application of it to oneself, and the confidence and comfort growing thereon, is in the heart, so that faith is begun in the head, but not perfected til it comes to the heart, Act. 8, towards the end, “If thou believe with all thine heart,” Act. 26, “God opened Lydia’s heart,” and Rom. 10, “With the heart man believes to righteousness.”

Faith is a persuasion, as Rom. 8:38, “I am persuaded,” and is, therefore, called knowledge, to show certainty. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” Isa. 53:11. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee,” John 17:3. Job, “I know my redeemer lives”; 2 Cor. 5:1, 1 Thess. 1:5. Hence also it is, that it is called, Heb. 11:1, a demonstration from the Word of God of such things as be above reason, and an evidence of things not seen, making things absent to the believers to be present, as resurrection and eternal life. It is also called an assurance, Heb. 10:22, “draw near in assurance.” And Rom. 4, “Abraham was fully assured. Though every faith be not full assurance or persuasion and certainty in it, and tends hereto more and more, for the weakest desires to be assured, yea, that faith that is weakest has certainty in it, being built on certain grounds, upon the Word of God and promise, or on the witness of the Spirit.

As a man in a dungeon sees light at little crevice, as certain that he is abroad, though not so much. And a poor blind man sees the sun, as certainly thought not so clearly as the quickest sighted. A shaking palsy hand shakes in the reaching out to take the gift, but it holds surely, so weak faith is opposed and assailed with many doubtings, but they be not of the nature of faith but of our own corruption, and the unregenerate part, as faith is of the part regenerate.

When they look upon themselves, they doubt and fear, when upon God’s unspeakable goodness and infallible truth, then they are bold to believe, so that a weak believer doubts between whiles, not of God’s Word, or whether Christ be a sufficient Savior, or whether or no, God will perform his promise to humble and contrite hearted sinners, that seek and cry unto him for grace and mercy, &c., but whether he be such a one or no, which shall know more certainly in time.

It is a particular persuasion, “My Lord, my God,” says Thomas, and Job, “My redeemer lives,” and Gal. 2:20, “and gave himself for me,” and Mary, “My Savior.” According to that prophet Hab. 2:4, “The just shall love by his own faith.” This is set out by divers phrases of Scripture, John 1:12. Believe is called the receiving of Christ, as the hand receives the gift, and “eating Christ’s flesh, and drinking his blood,” John 6. “Putting on Christ,” Romans 13, which is an appropriating that part of the meat to man’s self, which is prepared, and his apparel to his back. And as the seeing, liking, and commending the meat nourishes not, if it be not eaten, so not this knowing of Christ, assenting to the truth of the promise, and of Christ the Savior, “except I apply them to me.”

And this is signified by particular setting down the Articles of our Faith, which are not well believed when in general only, but when every [one] of them is particularly applied to myself, for what avails to believe that God is a Father, if I believe him not to be mine? And Christ a perfect Savior who died for man’s sins, rose again for his righteousness, except I believe, he did these for me? And so in the rest, that there is a holy catholic Church, except I be a member of it, forgiveness of sins, resurrection to eternal life, except I believe they belong to me.

This is confirmed by the Lord’s ordinance of the Sacrament wherein he applies Christ to us in particular, and will us to appropriate him to ourselves. In the Lord’s Supper, God gives Christ under the outward signs of Bread and Wine, as if he should say, “As verily as I give thee this, so verily I give thee my Son and all his benefits.” Now every one particularly takes the Bread and Wine, eating and drinking the same, so are men thereby taught to reach out the hand of faith to take Christ home to them. This is the only true and saving faith whereby we are justified before God and comforted in ourselves.

John Rogers, The Doctrine of Faith (London: Printed by G.M. For Nathanael Newbery and Henry Overton, and are to be sold at their shops in Popes-head Alley, 1634), 20-28 . [Some spelling modernized; some sentence reconstruction; marginal headers cited inline; italics original; and underlining mine.]

[Note: The reader should not only take note of Roger’s famous line that ‘whatever Christ did for mankind, he did also for me,’ but also his very Calvinian comment regarding the communicant’s perception of what is offered in communion.]

1
May

Giles Firmin (1614–1697) on Faith as Assurance

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism

[comments below]

Firmin:

One block more lies in the way sinner, there is no union with Christ without faith, and if no union, then no communion; do you then understand what this faith is? I must tell you, “It is a wonderful grace of God, by which a man does apprehend and apply Christ and all his benefits unto himself” [Mr. Perkins Catechise. 4th princip.]. I tell thee, “This applying is done by assurance, when a a man is verily persuaded by the Holy Spirit, of God’s favor towards himself particularly, and of the forgiveness of his own sins.” Thus also Mr John Rogers of Dedham, who describes faith, “It is a particular persuasion of my heart, that Christ Jesus is mine, and that I shall have life and salvation by his means: that whatsoever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for me, &c,” Treatis. of Faith, p. 12.]

Giles Firmin, The Real Christian, or a Treatise of Effectual Calling (London: Printed for Dorman Newman, and are to be sold at his Shop at the Churgurgions Arms in Little-Brattain, 1670), The Introduction, [5]. [Some spelling modernized; marginal references cited inline; and underlining mine.

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Babbington:

Come we, therefore, unto the fourth sort, which is true faith.

And what I pray you is that?

True faith is a knowledge, firm and certain of the good will of God towards us: which is being founded upon the truth of his free promise in Christ, is both revealed to our minds, and sealed in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Another in more words to the same effect speaks thus: Vera fides est non tantum notitia qua firmiter assentior omnibus que Deus nobis in verbo suo patefecit, sed etiam certa fiducia a Spritu Sancte per Evangelium in corde meo assensa, qua in Deo Acquiesco, certo statuens non soluma aliis,1 sed mihi quoq remissionem peccatorum, eternam justifiam & vitam donatam esse, edg, gratis ex Dei misericorda propter unius Christi meritum: True faith is not only a knowledge whereby I firmly assent unto all things which God in his word has opened unto us, but also a sure trust raised up in my heart by the Holy Ghost, through the Gospel, whereby I rest in God certainly persuaded, that remission of sin, eternal righteousness and life is given, not only to other[s], but also to me, and that freely of the mercy of God, for the merit of Christ only.

This were sufficient, but that most plainness in these points is most profitable: and, therefore, if you will take every part by itself, I think it will be good.

Consider then with yourself what is first said of faith, namely, that it is notitia, a knowledge, which you must understand thus, not as we know these outward and worldly matter, by sense, but it is an assurance or certainty in us, more than an apprehension, proved by these places and and others: “This is eternal life, to know thee to be the only very good, and whom thou has sent, Jesus Christ.” Again, “which mystery has been hid,” (says S. Paul) “Since the world began, and from all ages, but now is made manifest unto his saints.” Also in another place, “That their hearts might be comforted, and they knit together in love, and in all riches of the full assurance of understanding to know the mystery of God, even the Father of Christ. And we know,” (says S. John), “that we are translated, &c., we know.” All which places you see evidently prove faith to be a knowledge, it could not be, and, therefore, joins faith and knowledge, saying, “And we believe and know, that thou are that Christ, the Son of the living God”: For he yields a reason why he and other of the Apostles believed in Christ, namely, because the knew that he was the Son of God. Which being so, it necessarily follows, that they believe not, to whom those things are unknown, that he has revealed in his Word. And, therefore, the tale of Popery concerning implicita fide, an ignorant faith, is mos foolish: for faith and knowledge are so knit together, that they cannot be separated.

Gervase Babbington, An Explanation of the Catechism Contained in the Book of Common Prayer,” in The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, Gervase Babington, Late Bishop of Worcester (London: Printed by Miles Flesher, 1637), 172-173. [Some spelling modernized; italics original; and footnote mine.]

 

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1Latin is unclear here.

24
Feb

William Perkins (1558-1602) on Faith as Assurance and Certainty

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism

Perkins:

Sect. 2.
Of Certainty
of salvation.

The second property of conscience is an infallible certainty of the pardon of sin and life everlasting. That this point may be cleared, I will handle the question between us and the Papists touching the certainty of salvation. And that I may precede in order, we must distinguish the kinds of certainty. First of all certainty is either infallible or conjectural: Conjectural, which is not so evident, because it is grounded only upon likelihoods. The second all Papists grant, but the first they deny in the matter of salvation. Again, certainty is either of faith, or experimental, which Papists call moral. Certainty of faith, whereby anything is certainly believed: and it is either general or special. General certainty, is to believe assuredly that the word of God is truth itself, and this both we and Papists allow. Special certainty, is by faith to apply the promise of salvation to ourselves, and to believe without doubt, that remission of sins by Christ and life everlasting belong unto us. This kind of certainty we hold and maintain, and Papists with one consent deny it; acknowledging no assurance but by hope. Moral certainty, is that which precedes from sanctification and good works, as signs and tokens of truth faith. This we both allow, yet with some difference. For they esteem all certainty that comes by works to be uncertain and often to deceive: but we do otherwise, if the works be done in uprightness of heart.

The question is, whether a man in this life may ordinarily without revelation, be infallibly certain of his own salvation, first of all and principally by faith, and then secondly, by such works as are inseparable companions of faith. We hold this for a clear and evident principle of the word of God, and contrariwise the Papists deny it wholly. I will therefore prove the truth by some arguments, and then answer the common objections.1

Arg. 1. That which is the Spirit of God does first of all testify in the heart and conscience of any man, and then afterward confirm, is to be believed of the same man as infallibly certain: but the Spirit of God first of all does testify to some men, namely true believers, that they are the sons of God: and afterward confirms the same unto them. Therefore men are infallibly to believe their own adoption. Now that the Spirit of God does give this testimony to the conscience of man, the Scripture is more than plain, Rom. 8:15, “You have received the spirit of adoption where we cry, ‘Abba Father.’ The same Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the sons of God.” Answer is made that this testimony of the Spirit is given only by an experiment or feeling of an inward delight or peace, which breeds in us not an infallibly but conjectural certainty. And I answer again, that this exposition is flat against the text. For the Spirit of adoption is said here not to make us think or speak, but to cry “Abba, Father”: and crying to God as to a father argues courage, confidence, and boldness. Again the same spirit of adoption is opposed to the spirit of bondage causing fear: and therefore it must needs be a Spirit giving assurance or liberty, and that means driving away distrustful fears. And the end, no doubt why the Holy Ghost comes into the heart as a witness of adoption is, that the truth in this case hidden and therefore doubtful, might be cleared and made manifest. If God himself have appointed that a doubtful truth among men, shall be confirmed and put out of doubt by the mouth of two or three witnesses, it is absurd to think that the testimony of God himself knowing all things, and taking upon him to be a witness, should be conjectural.

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