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faith made perfect?" for verse 26. "As the body without the spirit is dead," or without breath is dead, "so faith without works is dead also." See how the apostle compares it, "as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." The apostle makes not works the form of faith, as the soul is the form of the man : but as the body without the spirit is dead, so that faith, that worketh not, that hath no tokens of life, is dead; but then doth not the other word strike home? Faith wrought with his works. It seems here is, as the papists say, fides informis, and works make it up as the ivreλéxɛa of it. But compare this with the other places of the Scripture and the difficulty will be cleared, for instance weigh that place, 2 Cor. chap. XII. ver. 9. where the apostle prayed to God, that the messenger of Satan might be removed from him; and he said unto him, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." What? Does our weakness make God's strength more perfect, to which nothing can be added? No, it is, my strength and the perfection of it, is made known in the weakness of the means that I made use of for the delivery of man's soul from death. So here the excellency and perfection of our faith is made known by works; when I see that it is not an idle, but a working faith, then I say it is made perfect by the work when it is a dead faith, that puts not a man on work, never believe that will make a living soul. In St. Jude's epistle, ver. 20. it hath another epithet, viz. "the most holy faith:" not holy only, but most holy. That faith which must bring a man to know God the holy of holies, must be most holy. It is said, that "God' dwells in our hearts by faith." Now God and faith dwelling in a heart together, that heart must needs be pure and clean. Faith makes the heart pure: it were a most dishonourable thing to entertain God in a sty, a filthy and unclean heart: but if faith dwell there, it makes a fit house for the habitation of the King of Saints, therefore it purifieth the heart. Well then, dost thou think thy sins are forgiven thee: and that thou hast a strong
f Ephes. chap. 3. ver. 17.
faith, and yet art as profane, and as filthy as ever? How can it be? It is a most holy faith that justifieth, it is not a faith that will suffer a man to lie on a dunghill, or in the gutter with the hog. There may be a faith, which is somewhat like this, but it is but temporary, and cometh short of it.
But now there is another thing which distinguishes it: it is the peculiar work of faith. "Ing Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but the new creature;" and again: "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth any thing, but faith which worketh by love." It is twice set down. Now what is a new creature? Why, he that hath such a faith, as works by love: not a dead faith, but a faith that works; but how does it work? it not only abstains from evil, and does some good acts, which a temporary may do, but it is such a faith as works by love. The love of God constrains him', and he so loveth God, as that he hates evil for God's sake; the other does it not out of love to God: all the love he hath, is self-love: he serves his own turn on God rather than hath any true love to serve him.
Now that we may the better distinguish between these two, I shall endeavour to shew you how far one may go farther, than the other. I know not a more difficult point than this, nor a case more to be cut by a thread, than this; it being a point of conscience; therefore, first, I declared unto you the nature of faith; how God first works the will and the deed, and that there is a hungering and thirsting after Christ. First, I say, there is a will and desire to be made partaker of Christ and his righteousness; then there is the deed too. We are not only wishers and woulders, but do actually approach unto the throne of grace, and there lay hold on Christ, touch the golden sceptre, which he holdeth out unto us; but,
OBJ. Now you will ask, Is there not an earnest and good desire in a temporary faith, a desire unfeigned?
SOL. Yes, there may be for a time, a greater and more
h Ibid. chap. 5. ver. 6.
Gal. chap. 6. ver. 15. i2 Cor. chap. 5. ver. 14.
vehement desire in a temporary, than in a true believer, than in the elect themselves, all their life.
OBJ. Where is the difference then? I thought all had been well with me, when I had such a desire, as I could scarce be at rest, till it were accomplished.
SOL. I answer, beloved, it is a hard matter to tell you the difference: but you must consider,
1. From whence this desire flows; whether it come from an accidental cause; as if by accident my heart is made more soft, and I more sensible of my condition, or whether my nature be changed; to give you an instance in iron: when iron is put into the forge it is softened, and as soon as it is taken forth, we say it is time to strike while the iron is hot; the fire hath made a change in it, it is malleable, the hammer is able to work on it; but let the fire be gone, and it is as hard as before; nay, we say steel is harder, so that there is no change in the nature of iron, it is hard still, redit ad ingenium, it goes back into its own estate. If it be softened, it is by an accidental cause; so here, as long as the temporary faith is in the furnace of afflictions, when God shall let loose the cord of his conscience, and makes him see that there is no way for salvation but by Christ, then the sense of his torture will make him desire with all the veins in his heart to have Christ. See a singular example of this temporary desire in Psalm LXXVIII. ver. 34. "When he slew them, then they sought him, and returned and inquired early after God." So Proverbs, chap. I. ver. 27. "When their fear was on them as desolation, and their destruction as a whirlwind: when distress and anguish cometh upon you, then shall they call upon me," not with a feigned desire, but in truth and reality they desire relief; "they remembered then that God was their rock, and the high God their Redeemer;" they saw a redeemer when he was slaying of them, and they believed that God would free them, though it was but temporary: "nevertheless they flattered him with their mouths, and lied unto him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant." Observe then this was but a
temporary case, a temporary change; there was no new creature, no new nature wrought: but being in the furnace of affliction, as long as the fire was hot they were pliable; they were not steadfast in his covenant. Let this be an admonition to them that think they never can have true faith, till God slay them. I am not of that opinion. God sometimes useth this means, but it is not so necessary, as that it cannot be otherwise; and to speak truly, I had rather have faith that comes another way: the difference is this, the temporary believers will have Christ while God is slaying of them, whilst they are in the furnace of afflictions but the other in cold blood, when God's hand is not on them. The true believer is sick of love, and when he hath no affliction, nor God's hand on him, with the apostlè, "he accounts all things dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." There is an ardent desire, when this external cause draws not. If when thou art out of the forge, thou hast thy heart softened, and findest this work of grace and faith to drive thee to Christ, thou hast a faith unfeigned, and so the faith of God's elect.
Again, there is not only this desire in him who hath a temporary faith; but having understood the word, he so desires it, that when he knows there is no having Christ, nor happiness or salvation by him, unless he deny himself, and part from his evil ways, being persuaded of this, out of self-love he would have Christ; and seeing these be the terms, that he must turn a new leaf, and lead a new life, or go to hell, therefore he will do this too; this is much: yet I say, he doth this too; but how shall this be proved? most evidently in 2 Peter, chap. II. ver. 20. "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled and overcome, the latter end with them is worse than the beginning." Here is that apostacy, and here is the subject of the temporary faith. "It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteous
Philipp. chap. 3. ver. 8.
Psalm 78. ver. 9.
ness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them;" this was a temporary conversion, as" Ephraim', like a broken bow, turned back in the day of battle." Observe what they did; they were like the foolish virgins, they kept their maiden-heads in respect of the pollutions of the world; they lived very civilly, they escaped the pollutions of the world, and no man could challenge them of any filthy act: they knew that Christ was King of saints, and had the knowledge of him they knew that it was not fit that the King of glory and holiness should be attended on by the black guard, that they must have sanctity that will follow him; and therefore they laboured to be fit to attend him : they escaped the pollutions of the world, but yet it continues not: Why so? "For it happened to them according to the true proverb, the dog is returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire." Mark, the dog turns again to his own vomit. This proceeds from some pang in his stomach, that enforceth that filthy beast to disgorge itself, that it may have some ease; but he quickly gathers it up again, as soon as the pang is over. Some there are, that would be content to hide their iniquity under their tongues, as Job speaks", but there comes a pang sometimes, a pang in their consciences, which forceth them to vomit up their sweet bits again : but well, the fit is gone; and being gone, they, like the filthy dog, return to their vomit again, considering the pleasure which they took in that filthy thing: that they did disgorge themselves, was but from that pang and present pinch, not from the loathing or hatred of the thing, and therefore they return again unto it.
By the way then take notice of the filthiness of sin; how filthy is it, that the Lord compares it to the vomit of a dog? Then there follows another comparison of it: it is as the sow that is washed, and returns to her wallowing in the mire: see another loathsome resemblance of this temporary faith; the sow was washed, but how? her swinish
m Chap. 20. verse 12