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Hebrews. And this Faith every Christian man professeth and covenanteth to keep, when he receiveth the Sacrament of Baptism.
For declaration whereof, it is to be noted, that all promises of God, made to man after the fall of Adam for Christ's sake, be made under this condition; that man should believe in God, and with the Grace of God, given for Christ, endeavour himself to accomplish God's commandments. The Church, therefore, (intending that man should always have in mind how the promises of God be made upon condition, and without keeping of the condition no man is partaker of God's promises,) hath taught and ordained that men, before they receive Baptism, shall promise and covenant to fulfil the said condition; and to forsake the devil and the world; and to serve only God. And of this especial covenant, whereby man bindeth himself to God, he is called in Latin fidelis, faithful; and he that never made the same covenant, or after he hath made it renounceth and refuseth the same, is called among Christian men infidelis, unfaithful or heathen. And because God hath made promise and covenant with man, (as is before declared,) which we must most assuredly believe that God will observe and keep, and is ever in his words and promises most true, most just, most constant; therefore God is called, as he is indeed, faithful to
man, and keepeth and observeth his faith, that is to say, his promise to man, requiring that man should likewise keep his faith and promise towards him.
Now of that which is beforesaid, it is manifest, that Faith, as it is taken in the second acception, is the perfect Faith of a true Christian man, and containeth the obedience of the whole doctrine and religion of Christ. And thus is Faith taken of St. Paul, and in other places of Scripture, where it is said, that we be justified by Faith. In which places men may not think, that we be justified by Faith as it is a several virtue separated from hope and charity, fear of God and repentance; but by it is meant Faith neither only ne alone, but with the foresaid virtues coupled together, containing, as it is afore said, the obedience to the whole doctrine and religion of Christ.
And here is to be noted, that every man that doth offend God, doth not lose his Faith thereby. For they that sin by frailty and sudden motions, (which just men do not avoid,) and be taught therefore of Christ to say in their Pater noster, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; yet those men, so breaking their promise with God, and slacking in such care and desire as they should have to please God, nevertheless be not accounted to have lost their Faith thereby;
yea, they also, who after the knowledge of God, fall into sin advisedly, as they that commit murder, adultery, and other abominations, and so fall from Faith as it is taken in the second acception, and be therefore out of the state of grace and favour of God for the time; yet do not these men fall from Faith as it is taken in the first acception, that is to say, from certain and assured knowledge of God and his doctrine. And therefore the (y) Gospel speaketh of a servant that knoweth the will of his lord, and doth it not. And (2) St. James in his Epistle saith, that Faith may remain without charity. Wherefore a transgression of the law of Almighty God, after Baptism, keepeth still a remorse of conscience, and the light of knowledge by Faith, whereby he seeth the remedies, how to attain a remission of sin; and by a special gift of further Grace is moved to use the same remedies, and so by Faith maketh the ways ordained to attain remission of sins.
Thus we have shewed two acceptions of Faith, and declared that the Faith of knowledge may remain in him that hath fallen from Faith, after the second acception. But whether there be any special, particular knowledge, which man hath certainly of himself, whereby he may testify to himself, that he
(y) Luc. xii.
(x) Jacob ii.
is of the predestinates which shall to the end persevere in their calling, we have not spoken; ne can not in Scripture ne doctors find, that any such faith can be taught or preached. Truth it is, that, in the Sacraments instituted by Christ, we may constantly believe the works of God in them, to our present comfort; and application of his grace and favour, with assurance also, that he will not fail us, if we fall not from him. Wherefore, so continuing in the state of Grace with him, we may believe undoubtedly to be saved. But forasmuch as our own frailty and naughtiness ought ever to be feared in us, it is therefore expedient for us to live in continual watch, and continual fight with our enemies, the devil, the flesh, and the world; and not to presume too much of our perseverance and continuance in the state of Grace, which on our behalf is uncertain and unstable. For although God's promises made in Christ be immutable, yet he maketh them not to us but with condition; so that, his promise standing, we may yet fail of the promise, because we keep not our promise. And therefore if we assuredly reckon upon the state of our felicity, as grounded upon God's promise; and do not therewith remember, that no man shall be crowned, unless he lawfully fight; we shall triumph before the victory, and so look in vain for that which is not otherwise promised
And this every
mised but under a condition. Christian man must assuredly believe.
(a) The Article of Free-Will.
The commandments and threatenings of Almighty God in Scripture, whereby man is called upon, and put in remembrance, what God would have him to do, most evidently do express and declare, that man hath Free-Will also now after the fall of our first father Adam; as plainly appeareth in these places following: (b) Be not overcome of evil. Neglect not the grace that is in thee. Love not the world, &c. If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Which, undoubtedly, should be said in vain, unless there were some faculty or power left in man, whereby he may, by the help and grace of God, (if he will receive it when it is offered unto him,) understand his commandments, and freely consent and obey unto them. Which thing, of the catholick fathers, is called Free-Will; which if we will describe, we may call it conveniently in all men, A certain power of the will joined with reason, whereby a
(a) Necess. Erudit. sign. c. ii. et seq.
(b) Rom. xii. 1 Tim. iv. 1 John ii. St. Matt. xix.