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May

Giles Firmin (1614–1697) on Faith as Assurance

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in Faith and Assurance

[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.

[Notes: 1) The most popular source for this statement comes from the Marrow of Modern Divinity, where it asserts:

Wherefore, as Paul and Silas said to the jailor, so say I unto you, " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved;" that is, be verily persuaded in your heart that Jesus Christ is yours, and that you shall have life and salvation by him; that whatsoever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for you.

And:

3. "That whatsoever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for you."–" I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me," Gal. ii. 20. This comes in the last place; and I think none will question, but whosoever believes in the manner before explained, may and ought to believe this, in this order. And it is believed, if not explicitly, yet virtually, by all who receive and rest on Christ for salvation.1

2) Boston and others in their defense of the Marrow’s theology also cite John Rogers of Dedham:

The main of the condemned passages the query refers to, runs not in the order therein set down, but as follows: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" that is, "Be verily persuaded in your heart that Christ Jesus is yours, and that you shall have life and salvation by him; that whatever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for you:" being in matter the same with what has been commonly taught in the Protestant churches, and, in words of the renowned Mr. John Rogers, of Dodham, (a man so noted for orthodoxy, holiness, and the Lord’s countenancing of his ministry, that no sound Protestants in Britain or Ireland, of what denomination soever, would, in the age wherein he lived, have taken upon them to condemn as erroneous) definition of faith, which we have as follows: "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." Where one may see, though the difference in words be almost none at all, yet it runs rather stronger with him than in the Marrow.2

3) The original expression from Rogers is as follows:

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 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.

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.3

4) Interestingly, however, this language has its roots as far back as Bullinger, when, for example, Bullinger says:

Sacramental Eating of the Lord. Besides the higher spiritual eating there is also a sacramental eating of the body of the Lord by which not only spiritually and internally the believer truly participates in the true body and blood of the Lord, but also, by coming to the Table of the Lord, outwardly receives the visible sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord. To be sure, when the believer believed, he first received the life-giving food, and still enjoys it. But therefore, when he now receives the sacrament, he does not receive nothing. For he progresses in continuing to communicate in the body and blood of the Lord, and so his faith is kindled and grows more and more, and is refreshed by spiritual food. For while we live, faith is continually increased. And he who outwardly receives the sacrament by true faith, not only receives the sign, but also, as we said, enjoys the thing itself. Moreover, he obeys the Lord’s institution and commandment, and with a joyful mind gives thanks for his redemption and that of all mankind, and makes a faithful memorial to the Lord’s death, and gives a witness before the Church, of whose body he is a member. Assurance is also given to those who receive the sacrament that the body of the Lord was given and his blood shed, not only for men in general, but particularly for every faithful communicant, to whom it is food and drink unto eternal life. The Second Helvetic Confession–Chapter XXI “Of the Holy Supper of the Lord.”

And even Over the counter viagra:

Thus ye see in effect, whereunto we should refer this saying, where Saint Paul tells us expressly, that the Son of God gave himself. And he contents not himself to say, that Christ gave himself for the world in common, for that had been but a slender saying: but [shows that] every of us must apply to himself particularly, the virtue of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas it is said that the Son of God was crucified, we must not only think that the same was done for the Redemption of the world: but also every of us must on his own behalf join himself to our Lord Jesus Christ, and conclude, It is for me that he has suffered.

…But when we once know that the thing which was done for the redemption of the whole world, pertains to every of us severally [each one of us]: it behooves every of us to say also on his own behalf, The son of God hath loved me so dearly, that he has given himself to death for me… But when we once know that the thing which was done for the redemption of the whole world, pertains to every of us severally… The love that he bear us. Seeing it is so: must we not needs be worse than out of our wits, if we accept not such a benefit? But it is a very common doctrine in the holy Scripture, that God so loved the world, that he spared not his only son, but gave him to death for us: (John 3:16) and also that our Lord Jesus Christ, at such time as we were his deadly enemies as saith Saint Paul, did confirm a marvelous love towards us, in that he offered himself in sacrifice to make atonement between God and us, and to do away all our sins, (Romans 5:8) so as they might no more come to account. Lo here a warrant of our salvation, so as we ought to think ourselves thoroughly assured of it. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 14; Gal 2:20:2; pp., 299-300/212-13.

Calvin again:

“Which is shed for many.” By the word “many” he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse. It must at the same time be observed, however, that by the words for you, as related by Luke–Christ directly addresses the disciples, and exhorts every believer to apply to his own advantage the shedding of blood Therefore, when we approach to the holy table, let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but let every one consider for himself that his own sins have been expiated. John Calvin, Mark 14:24.

5) If we note the fact that as the Marrow references Gal. 2:20 , we can see that so does Calvin with the same sentiment, with almost identical expression. We can conclude that there was a way of sustaining assurance in early Reformed thought which moved from the universal to the particular: that which was done for all, was also done for me, and this then forms the basis of my assuring faith, saving and confirming.

_______________________

1[Edward Fisher], The Marrow of Modern Divinity . . . With Notes by the Rev. Thomas Boston (London: Printed for Thomas Tegg and Son, 1837), 98 and 100.

2Ibid., 338-339. Note the variant spelling Dodham in the original answers from Boson et al.

3John 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 Pope-head Alley, 1634), 23.

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