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.
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.
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.
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.]