HOMILY ON THE TRUE AND LIVELY FAITH
A SHORT DECLARATION
of the true, liuely, and Christian Faith.
Faith. THE first comming vnto GOD (good Christian people) is through Faith, whereby (as it is declared in the last Sermon) we be iustified before GOD. And lest any man should be deceiued, for lacke of right vnderstanding thereof, it is diligently to bee noted, that Faith is taken in the Scripture two manner of wayes.
A Dead Faith. There is one fayth, which in Scripture is called a dead fayth, which bringeth foorth no good workes, but is idle, barren, and vnfruitfull. And this faith, by the holy Apostle Saint Iames, is compared to the fayth of Diuels, which beleeue GOD to bee true and iust, and tremble for feare, yet they doe nothing well, but all euill (James 2.17, 19). And such a manner of fayth haue the wicked and naughty Christian people, which confesse GOD, (as S. Paul sayth) in their mouth, but denie him in their deeds, being abominable, and without the right fayth, and to all good workes reproouable (Titus 1.16). And this faith is a perswasion and beleefe in mans heart, whereby hee knoweth that there is a GOD, and agreeth vnto all trueth of GOD'S most holy word, conteyned in the holy Scripture. So that it consisteth onely in beleeuing in the word of GOD, that it is true. And this is not properly called faith. But as hee that readeth C'sars Commentaries, beleeuing the same to bee true, hath thereby a knowledge of C'sars life, and notable acts, because hee beleeueth the history of C'sar: yet it is not properly sayd that hee beleeueth in C'sar, of whom he looketh for no helpe nor benefit. Euen so, he that beleeueth that all that is spoken of GOD in the Bible is true, and yet liueth so vngodly, that he cannot looke to enioy the promises and benefits of GOD: although it may be sayd, that such a man hath a fayth and beleefe to the words of GOD, yet it is not properly sayd that hee beleeueth in GOD, or hath such a fayth and trust in GOD, whereby hee may surely looke for grace, mercy, and euerlasting life at GOD'S hand, but rather for indignation and punishment, according to the merits of his wicked life. For as it is written in a booke, intituled to be of Didymus Alexandrinus, Forasmuch as faith without workes is dead, it is not now faith, as a dead man, is not a man.
A Liuely Faith. This dead faith therefore is not the sure and substantiall faith, which saueth sinners. Another faith there is in Scripture, which is not (as the foresaid faith) idle, vnfruitfull, and dead, but worketh by charity (as S. Paul declareth, Galatians 5.6) Which as the other vaine faith is called a dead faith, so may this be called a quick or liuely faith. And this is not onely the common beleefe of the Articles of our faith, but it is also a true trust and confidence of the mercy of GOD through or Lord Iesus Christ, and a stedfast hope of all good things to be receiued at GOD'S hand: and that although wee, through infirmitie or temptation of our ghostly enimie, doe fall from him by sin, yet if we returne againe vnto him by true repentance, that he will forgiue, and forget our offences for his Sonnes sake our Sauiour Iesus Christ, and will make vs inheritours with him of his euerlasting Kingdome, and that in the meane time vntill that kingdome come, he will be our protectour and defendour in all perils and dangers, whatsoeuer do chance: and that though sometime he doeth send vs sharp aduersitie, yet that euermore hee will be a louing Father vnto vs, correcting vs for our sinne, but not withdrawing his mercie finally from vs, if we trust in him, and commit our selues wholy vnto him, hang onely vpon him, and call vpon him, ready to obey and serue him. This is the true, liuely, and vnfeigned Christian faith, and is not in the mouth and outward profession onely: but it liueth, and stirreth inwardly, in the heart. And this faith is not without hope and trust in GOD, nor without the loue of GOD and of our neighbours, nor without the feare of GOD, nor without the desire to heare GOD'S word, and to follow the same in eschewing euill, and doing gladly all good workes.
This faith (as Saint Paul describeth it) is the sure ground and foundation of the benefites which wee ought to looke for, and trust to receiue of GOD, a certificate and sure looking for them, although they yet sensibly appeare not vnto vs. And after hee saith, Hee that commeth to GOD, must beleeue, both that he is, and that he is a mercifull rewarder of well doers. And nothing commendeth good men vnto GOD, so much as this assured faith and trust in him (Hebrews 11.1, 6).
Three Things Are to Be Noted of Faith. Of this faith, three things are specially to be noted. First, that this faith doth not lie dead in the heart, but is liuely and fruitefull in bringing forth good workes. Second, that without it, can no good workes be done, that shall be acceptable and pleasant to GOD. Third, what maner of good workes they be, that this faith doth bring forth.
Faith Is Full of Good Workes. For the first, that the light can not be hid, but will shew forth it selfe at one place or other: So a true faith can not be kept secret, but when occasion is offered, it will breake out, and shew it selfe by good workes. And as the liuing bodie of a man euer exerciseth such things as belong to a naturall and liuing bodie, for nourishment and preseruation of the same, as it hath need, opportunity, and occasion: euen so the soule that hath a liuely fayth in it, will bee doing alway some good worke, which shall declare that it is liuing, and will not be vnoccupied. Therfore when men heare in the Scriptures so high commendations of fayth, that it maketh vs to please GOD, to liue with GOD, and to be the children of GOD: if then they phantasie that they bee set at liberty from doing all good workes, and may liue as they lust, they trifle with GOD and deceiue themselues. And it is a manifest token; that they bee farre from hauing the true and liuely fayth, and also farre from knowledge, what true fayth meaneth. For the very sure and liuely Christian fayth is, not onely to beleeue all things of GOD, which are contayned in holy Scripture, but also is an earnest trust, and confidence in GOD, that he doeth regard vs, and that he is carefull ouer vs, as the father is ouer the Childe whom hee doth loue, and that hee will bee mercifull vnto vs for his onely sonnes sake, and that wee haue our Sauiour Christ our perpetuall aduocate, and Priest, in whose onely merits, oblation, and suffering, wee doe trust that our offences bee continually washed and purged, whensoeuer wee (repenting truely) doe returne to him, with our whole heart, stedfastly determining with our selues, through his grace, to obey and serue him in keeping his commandements, and neuer to turne backe againe to sinne. Such is the true faith, that the Scripture doeth so much commend, the which when it seeth and considereth what GOD hath done for vs, is also mooued through continuall assistance of the Spirit of GOD, to serue and please him, to keepe his fauour, to feare his displeasure, to continue his obedient children, shewing thankefulnesse againe by obseruing or keeping his commandements, and that freely, for true loue chiefly, and not for dread of punishment, or loue of temporall reward, considering how cleerely, without deseruings wee haue receiued his mercy and pardon freely.
This true faith will shew foorth it selfe, and cannot long bee idle: For as it is written, The iust man doeth liue by his faith (Habakkuk 2.4). Hee neuer sleepeth nor is idle, when hee would wake, and be well occupied. And GOD by his Prophet Ieremie saith, that hee is a happy and blessed man, which hath faith and confidence in GOD (Jeremiah 17.7-8). For he is like a tree set by the water side, and spreadeth his roots abroad toward the moysture, and feareth not heate when it commeth, his leafe will bee greene, and will not cease to bring foorth his fruit: euen so, faithfull men (putting away all feare of aduersitie) will shew foorth the fruit of their good workes, as occasion is offered to doe them.
THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON OF FAITH.
YE haue heard in the first part of this Sermon, that there be two kindes of fayth, a dead and an vnfruitfull fayth, and a fayth liuely that worketh by charity. The first to be vnprofitable, the second, necessary for the obtayning of our saluation: the which faith hath charity alwaies ioyned vnto it, and is fruitfull, and bringeth foorth all good workes. Now as concerning the same matter, you shall heare what followeth. The wise man sayth, He that beleeueth in GOD, will hearken vnto his commandements (Sirach 32.24). For if wee doe not shew our selues faythfull in our conuersation, the fayth which we pretend to haue, is but a fayned faith: because the true Christian faith is manifestly shewed by good liuing, and not by words onely, as S. Augustine saith, (Augustine, De Fide et Operibus 23, 42 (PL 40. 224), Libro de fide & operibus) Good liuing cannot be separated from true faith, which worketh by loue.
And S. Chrysostome sayth (Pseudo-Chrysostom, De Fide et Lege Naturae 1 [PG 48.1081], Sermo. de lege & fide.), Faith of it selfe is full of good works: as soone as a man doth beleeue, he shall be garnished with them. How plentifull this fayth is of good workes, and how it maketh the worke of one man more acceptable to GOD, then of another, S. Paul teacheth at large in the xi. Chapter to the Heb. saying, That fayth made the oblation of Abel, better then the oblation of Cain. This made Noah to build the Arke. This made Abraham to forsake his Country, and all his friends, and to goe into a far Country, there to dwell among strangers. So did also Isaac and Iacob, depending or hanging onely of the helpe and trust that they had in GOD. And when they came to the country which GOD promised them, they would build no Cities, Townes, nor Houses, but liued like strangers in Tents, that might euery day be remooued (Hebrews 11.4-38, Genesis 4.4-5, Genesis 6.22, Sir 44.17, Genesis 11.31, 12.1-5). Their trust was so much in GOD, that they set but little by any worldly thing, for that GOD had prepared for them better dwelling places in heauen of his owne foundation and building. This faith made Abraham ready at GOD'S commandement, to offer his owne sonne and heire Isaac, whom hee loued so well, and by whom he was promised to haue innumerable issue, among the which, one should bee borne, in whom all nations should bee blessed, trusting so much in GOD, that though he were slaine, yet that GOD was able by his omnipotent power to rayse him from death, and performe his promise (Genesis 22.1-18, 26.1-35, Sirach 44.20). He mistrusted not the promise of GOD, although vnto his reason euery thing seemed contrary. He beleeued verily that GOD would not forsake him in death and famine that was in the country. And in all other dangers that hee was brought vnto, hee trusted euer that GOD should be his GOD, and his protectour and defender, whatsoeuer he saw to the contrary. This faith wrought so in the heart of Moses, that he refused to be taken for King Pharao his daughters sonne, and to haue great inheritance in Egypt, thinking it better with the people of God to haue affliction and sorrow, then with naughty men, in sinne to liue pleasantly for a time (Exodus 2.11). By faith hee cared not for the threatning of king Pharao: for his trust was so in GOD, that hee passed not of the felicitie of this world, but looked for the reward to come in heauen, setting his heart vpon the inuisible GOD, as if he had seene him euer present before his eyes. By faith, the children of Israel passed through the red sea (Exodus 14.22). By faith, the walles of Hierico fell downe without stroke, and many other wonderfull miracles haue beene wrought (Joshua 6.20). In all good men that heretofore haue beene, faith hath brought forth their good workes, and obteined the promises of GOD. Faith hath stopped the Lions mouthes (Daniel 6.16-23): faith hath quenched the force of fire (Daniel 3.13-28): faith hath escaped the swords edges: faith hath giuen weake men strength, victorie in battaile, ouerthrowen the armies of Infidels, raysed the dead to life: faith hath made good men to take aduersitie in good part, some haue beene mocked and whipped, bound, and cast in prison, some haue lost all their goods, and liued in great pouertie, some haue wandered in mountaines, hilles, and wildernesse, some haue bene racked, some slaine, some stoned, some sawen, some rent in pieces, some beheaded, some brent without mercy, and would not be deliuered, because they looked to rise againe to a better state (Hebrews 11.36-38).
All these Fathers, Martyrs, and other holy men, (whom Saint Paul spake of) had their faith surely fixed on GOD, when all the world was against them. They did not onely know GOD to bee the Lord, maker, and gouernour of all men in the world: but also they had a speciall confidence and trust, that he was and would bee their GOD, their comforter, ayder, helper, maintainer, and defender. This is the Christian faith which these holy men had, and wee also ought to haue. And although they were not named Christian men, yet was it a Christian faith that they had, for they looked for all benefites of GOD the Father, through the merites of his Sonne Iesu Christ, as wee now doe. This difference is betweene them and vs, that they looked when Christ should come, and we bee in the time when hee is come. Therefore faith S. Augustine (Augustine, In Ioannis Evangelium Tract. 45 10, 9 [PL 35: 1722]), The time is altered and changed, but not the faith. For wee haue both one faith in one Christ. The same holy ghost also that wee haue, had they, saith S. Paul (2 Corinthians 4.13). For as the holy Ghost doeth teach vs to trust in GOD, and to call vpon him as our Father: so did he teach them to say, as it is written, Thou Lord art our Father and Redeemer, and they Name is without beginning and euerlasting. GOD gaue them then grace to bee his children, as hee doth vs now (Isaiah 63.10-11). But now by the comming of our Sauiour Christ, we haue receiued more aboundantly the spirit of GOD in our hearts, whereby we may conceiue a greater faith, and a surer trust then many of them had. But in effect they and we be all one: we haue the same faith that they had in GOD, and they the same that wee haue And Saint Paul so much extolleth their faith, because we should no lesse, but rather more, giue our selues wholy vnto Christ, both in profession and liuing, now when Christ is come, then the olde fathers did before his comming. And by all the declaration of S. Paul, it is euident, that the true, liuely, and Christian faith, is no dead, vaine, or vnfruitfull thing, but a thing of perfect vertue, of wonderfull operation or working, and strength, bringing foorth all good motions, and good workes.
All holy Scripture agreeably beareth witnesse, that a true liuely faith in Christ, doeth bring foorth good workes: and therefore euery man must examine and trye himselfe diligently, to know whether hee haue the same true liuely faith in his heart vnfeignedly, or not, which hee shall know by the fruits thereof. Many that professed the faith of Christ, were in this errour, that they thought they knew GOD, and beleeued in him, when in their life they declared the contrary: Which errour Saint Iohn in his first Epistle confuting, writeth in this wise, Hereby wee are certified that we know GOD, if we obserue his commandements. He that sayth, he knoweth GOD, and obserueth not his commandements, is a lyar, and the trueth is not in him (1 John 2.3-4). And againe hee sayth, Whosoeuer sinneth, doeth not see GOD, nor know him: let no man deceiue you, welbeloued children (1 John 3.6-7). And moreouer hee sayeth, Hereby we know that we be of the trueth, and so we shall perswade our hearts, before him (1 John 3.19-22).
For if our owne hearts reproue vs, GOD is aboue our hearts, & knoweth all things. Welbeloued, if our hearts reproue vs not, then haue wee confidence in GOD, and shall haue of him whatsoeuer we aske, because wee keepe his Commandements, and doe those things that please him. And yet further hee sayeth, Euery man that beleeueth that Iesus is Christ, is borne of GOD, and wee know that whosoeuer is borne of GOD, doeth not sinne: but hee that is begotten of God, purgeth himselfe, and the deuill doeth not touch him (1 John 5.1, 18). And finally he concludeth, and sheweth the cause why he wrote this Epistle, saying, For this cause haue I thus written vnto you, that you may know that you haue euerlasting life, which doe beleeue in the Sonne of GOD (1 John 5.13). And in his iii. Epistle he confirmeth the whole matter of faith and workes, in few wordes, saying, Hee that doeth well, is of GOD, and hee that doeth euill, knoweth not God (3 John 11). And as S. Iohn saith, That as the liuely knowledge and faith of GOD bringeth foorth good workes: so sayth he likewise of hope and charitie, that they cannot stand with euill liuing. Of hope he writeth thus, We know that when GOD shall appeare, we shall be like vnto him, for we shall see him, euen as hee is: and whosoeuer hath this hope in him, doeth purifie himselfe, like as GOD is pure (1 John 3.2-3). And of charitie hee sayth these wordes, Hee that doeth keepe Gods word and commandement, in him is truely the perfect loue of GOD ( 1 John 2.5). And againe hee sayth, This is the loue of GOD, that wee should keepe his Commandements (1 John 5.3). And S. Iohn wrote not this, as a subtill saying, deuised of his owne fantasie, but as a most certaine and necessary trueth, taught vnto him by Christ himselfe, the eternall and infallible veritie, who in many places doth most clearely affirme, that faith, hope and charitie, can not consist or stand without good and godly workes. Of faith, he saith, He that beleeueth in the Sonne, hath euerlasting life: but hee that beleeueth not in the Sonne, shall not see that life, but the wrath of GOD remaineth vpon him. And the same hee confirmeth with a double othe, saying, Verily, verily I say vnto you, Hee that beleeueth in mee, hath euerlasting life (John 6.47).
Now forasmuch as he that beleeueth in Christ, hath euerlasting life: it must needes consequently follow, that he that hath this faith, must haue also good workes, and be studious to obserue Gods commandements obediently. For to them that haue euill workes, and leade their life in disobedience, and transgression or breaking of Gods commandements, without repentance, perteineth not euerlasting life but euerlasting death, as Christ himselfe saith, They that doe well, shall goe into life eternall, but they that doe euill, shall goe into euerlasting fire (Matthew 25.46). And againe he sayth, I am the first letter, and the last, the beginning and the ending: to him that is athirst, I will giue of the well of the water of life freely: he that hath the victorie, shall haue all things, and I will be his GOD, and he shall be my sonne: but they that be fearefull, mistrusting GOD, and lacking faith, they that be cursed people, and murtherers, and fornicators and sorcerers, and all lyers, shall haue their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelations 21.6-8).
Charitie Bringeth Foorth Good Workes. And as Christ vndoubtedly affirmeth, that true faith bringeth forth good works, so doeth hee say likewise of Charitie. Whosoeuer hath my commandements and keepeth them, that is he that loueth me. And after he sayth, He that loueth me, will keepe my word, and hee that loueth me not, keepeth not my wordes. And as the loue of GOD is tryed by good workes, so is the feare of GOD also, as the wise man saith, The dread of GOD putteth away sinne. And also he saith, Hee that feareth GOD, will doe good workes (John 14.21-24, Sir 1.21, Sir 15.1).
THE THIRD PART OF THE SERMON OF FAITH.
YOu haue heard in the second part of this Sermon, that no man should thinke that hee hath that liuely faith which Scripture commandeth, when he liueth not obediently to Gods lawes, for all good workes spring out of that faith: And also it hath beene declared vnto you by examples, that faith maketh men stedfast, quiet, and patient in all affliction. Now as concerning the same matter, you shall heare what followeth. A man may soone deceiue himselfe, and thinke in his owne phantasie that he by faith knoweth GOD, loueth him, feareth him, and belongeth to him, when in very deede he doeth nothing lesse. For the triall of all these things is a very godly and Christian life. He that feeleth his heart set to seeke Gods honour, and studieth to know the will & commandements of GOD, and to frame himselfe thereunto, and leadeth not his life after the desire of his owne flesh, to serue the deuill by sinne, but setteth his mind to serue GOD for his owne sake, and for his sake also to loue all his neighbours, whether they be friends or aduersaries, doing good to euery man (as opportunitie serueth) and willingly hurting no man: such a man may well reioice in GOD, perceiuing by the trade of his life, that hee vnfeignedly hath the right knowledge of GOD, a liuely faith, a stedfast hope, a true and vnfeigned loue, and feare of GOD. But he that casteth away the yoke of GOD'S commandements from his necke, and giueth himselfe to liue without true repentance, after his owne sensuall minde and pleasure, not regarding to know GOD'S word, and much lesse to liue according thereunto: such a man clearely deceiueth himselfe, and seeth not his owne heart, if hee thinketh that hee either knoweth GOD, loueth him, feareth him, or trusteth in him. Some peraduenture fantasie in themselues, that they belong to GOD, although they liue in sinne, and so they come to the Church, and shew themselues as GOD'S deare children. But S. Iohn saith plainely, If wee say that wee haue any company with GOD, and walke in darkenesse, we doe lie (1 John 1.6). Other doe vainely thinke that they know and loue GOD, although they passe not of the commandements. But S. Iohn saith clearely, Hee that saith I know GOD, and keepeth not his commandements, he is a lyer (1 John 2.4). Some falsely perswade themselues, that they loue GOD, when they hate their neighbours. But S. Iohn saith manifestly, If any man say I loue GOD, and yet hateth his brother, he is a lyer (1 John 4.20). He that sayth that he is in the light, and hateth his brother, he is still in darkenesse. He that loueth his brother, dwelleth in the light, but he that hateth his brother, is in darknesse, and walketh in darkenesse, and knoweth not whither hee goeth: For darkenesse hat blinded his eyes (1 John 2.9-11). And moreouer hee sayeth, Hereby wee manifestly know the children of GOD from the children of the deuill. Hee that doeth not righteously, is not the childe of GOD, nor he that hateth his brother (1 John 3.10). Deceiue not your selues therefore, thinking that you haue faith in GOD, or that you loue GOD, or doe trust in him, or doe feare him, when you liue in sinne: for then your vngodly and sinfull life declareth the contrary, whatsoeuer you say or thinke. It perteineth to a Christian man to haue this true Christian faith, and to trie himselfe whether he hath it or no, and to know what belongeth to it, and how it doth worke in him. It is not the world that wee can trust to, the world and all that is therein, is but vanitie. It is GOD that must bee our defence, and protection against all temptation of wickednesse and sinne, errours, superstition, idolatrie, and all euill. If all the world were on our side, and GOD against vs, what could the world auaile vs? Therefore let vs set our whole faith and trust in GOD, and neither the world, the deuill, nor all the power of them shall preuaile against vs. Let vs therefore (good Christian people) trie and examine our faith, what it is: let vs not flatter our selues, but looke vpon our works, and so iudge of our faith what it is. Christ himselfe speaketh of this matter, and saith, The tree is knowen by the fruit (Luke 6.44, Matthew 12.33). Therefore let vs doe good workes, and thereby declare our faith to bee the liuely Christian faith. Let vs by such vertues as ought to spring out of faith, shew our election to bee sure and stable, as S. Peter teacheth, Endeuour your selues to make your calling & election certaine by good works. And also hee saith, Minister or declare in your faith vertue, in vertue knowledge, in knowledge, in temperance patience, in patience godlines, in godlinesse brotherly charity, in brotherly charity loue (2 Peter 1.5-7): so shall we shew in deed that we haue the very liuely Christian fayth, and may so both certifie our conscience the better that we be in the right fayth, and also by these meanes confirme other men. If these fruites doe not follow, we do but mocke with GOD, deceiue our selues, and also other men. Well may wee beare the name of Christian men, but wee doe lacke the true fayth that doeth belong thereunto: for true fayth doeth euer bring foorth good workes, as S. Iames sayth: Shew me thy fayth by thy deeds (James 2.18). Thy deeds and workes must be an open testimoniall of thy fayth: otherwise thy fayth (being without good works) is but the Diuels fayth, the faith of the wicked, a fantasie of fayth, and not a true Christian fayth. And like as the Diuels and euill people bee nothing the better for their counterfait fayth, but it is vnto them the more cause of damnation: so they that be Christians and haue receiued knowledge of GOD and of Christ's merits, and yet of a set purpose doe liue idlely, without good workes, thinking the name of a naked fayth to bee either sufficient for them, or else setting their mindes vpon vaine pleasures of this world, doe liue in sinne without repentance, not vttering the fruites that doe belong to such an high profession, vpon such presumptuous persons, and wilfull sinners, must needs remayne the great vengeance of GOD, and eternall punishment in hell, prepared for the vniust and wicked liuers. Therfore as you professe the name of Christ (good Christian people) let no such phantasie and imagination of fayth at any time beguile you: but be sure of your fayth, trie it by your liuing, looke vpon the fruites that commeth of it, marke the increase of loue and charity by it towards GOD and your neighbour, and so shall you perceiue it to bee a true liuely fayth. If you feele and perceiue such a fayth in you, reioyce in it: and be diligent to maintaine it, and keepe it still in you, let it be dayly increasing, and more and more by well working, and so shall you bee sure that you shall please GOD by this fayth, and at the length (as other faithfull men haue done before) so shall you (when his will is) come to him, and receiue the end and finall reward of your fayth (as S. Peter nameth it) the saluation of your soules (1 Peter 1.9): the which GOD grant vs, that hath promised the same vnto his faithfull, to whom be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
The Anglican Library, This HTML edition copyright 1999.