The Evidences of True Faith

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So much for the laying of the grounds of faith, and warrants to believe. Now, for evidencing of true faith by fruits, these four things are requisite:

1) That the believer be soundly convinced, in his judgment, of his obligation to keep the whole moral law, all the days of his life; and that not the less, but so much the more, as he is delivered by Christ from the covenant of works, and curse of the law.

2) That he endeavour to grow in the exercise and daily practice of godliness and righteousness.

3) That the course of his new obedience run in the right channel, that is through faith in Christ, and through a good conscience, to all the duties of love towards God and man.

4) That he keep strait communion with the fountain Christ Jesus, from whom grace must run along, for furnishing of good fruits.

For the first, that is, to convince the believer, in his judgment, of his obligation to keep the moral law, among many passages:

"16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Mat. 5.16-20

Wherein our Lord,

1. Gives commandment to believers, justified by faith, to give evidence of the grace of God in them before men, by doing good works: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works."

2. He induces them so to do, by showing, that albeit they be not justified by works, yet spectators of their good works may be converted or edified; and so glory may redound to God by their good works, when its witnesses "shall glorify your Father which is in heaven."

3. He gives them no other rule for their new obedience than the moral law, set down and explicated by Moses and the prophets: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets."

4. He gives them to understand, that the doctrine of grace, and freedom from the curse of the law by faith in him, is readily mistaken by men's corrupt judgments, as if it did loose or slacken the obligation of believers to obey the commands, and to be subject to the authority of the law; and that this error is indeed a destroying of the law and of the prophets, which he will in no case ever endure in any of his disciples, it is so contrary to the end of his coming, which is first to sanctify, and then to save believers: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets."

5. He teaches, that the end of the gospel and covenant of grace is to procure men's obedience to the moral law: "I am come to fulfil the law and the prophets."

6. That the obligation of the moral law, in all points, to all holy duties, is perpetual, and shall stand to the world's end, that is, "till heaven and earth pass away."

7. That as God has had a care of the Scripture from the beginning, so shall he have a care of them still to the world's end, that there shall not one jot or one tittle of its substance be taken away; so says the text, Verse 18.

8. That as the breaking of the moral law, and defending its transgressions to be no sin, does exclude men both from heaven, and justly also from the fellowship of the true church; so the obedience of the law, and teaching others to do the same, by example, counsel, and doctrine, according to every man's calling, proves a man to be a true believer, and in great estimation with God, and worthy to be much esteemed of by the true church, Verse 19.

9. That the righteousness of every true Christian must be more than the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees; for the scribes and Pharisees, albeit they took great pains to discharge various duties of the law, yet they cut short its exposition, that it might the less condemn their practice; they studied the outward part of the duty, but neglected the inward and spiritual part; they discharged some lesser duties carefully, but neglected judgment, mercy, and the love of God: in a word, they went about to establish their own righteousness, and rejected the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus. But a true Christian must have more than all this; he must acknowledge the full extent of the spiritual meaning of the law, and have a respect to all the commandments, and labour to cleanse himself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and "not lay weight upon what service he has done, or shall do, " but clothe himself with the imputed righteousness of Christ, which only can hide his nakedness, or else he cannot be saved; so says the text, "Except your righteousness, ..."

Part 2 of 4

The second thing requisite to evidence of true faith is, that the believer endeavour to put the rules of godliness and righteousness in practice, and to grow in its daily exercise; as held forth:

"5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Pe. 1:5-8

Wherein,

1. The apostle teaches believers, for evidencing of precious faith in themselves, to endeavour to add to their faith seven other sister graces.

1a) The first is Virtue, or the active exercise and practice of all moral duties, that so faith is not idle, but puts forth itself in work.

1b) The second is Knowledge, which serves to furnish faith with information of the truth to be believed, and to furnish virtue with direction what duties are to be done, and how to go about them prudently.

1c) The third is Temperance, which serves to moderate the use of all pleasant things, that a man be not clogged therewith, nor made unfit for any duty to which he is called.

1d) The fourth is Patience, which serves to moderate a man's affections, when he meets with any difficulty or unpleasant thing; that he neither weary for pains required in well-doing, nor faint when the Lord chastises him, nor murmur when he crosses him.

1e) The fifth is Godliness, which may keep him up in all the exercises of religion, inward and outward; whereby he may be furnished from God for all other duties which he has to do.

1f) The sixth is Brotherly-kindness, which keeps estimation of, and affection to, all the household of faith, and to the image of God in every one where ever it is seen.

1g) The seventh is Love, which keeps the heart in readiness to do good to all men, whatever they be, upon all occasions which God shall offer.

2. Albeit it be true, that this is much corruption and infirmity in the godly; yet the apostle will have men mightily endeavouring, and doing their best, as they are able, to join all these graces one to another, and to grow in the measure of exercising them: "Giving all diligence, add to your faith, ..."

3. He assures all professed believers, that as they shall profit in the obedience of this direction, so they shall profitably prove the soundness of their own faith; and if they not have these graces, that they shall be found blind deceivers of themselves, Verse 9.

Part 3 of 4

The third thing requisite to evidence true faith is, that obedience to the law run in the right channel, that is, through faith in Christ, etc. as held forth:

"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:" 1 Ti. 1:5

Wherein the apostle teaches these seven doctrines:

1. That the obedience of the law must flow from love, and love from a pure heart, and a pure heart from a good conscience, and a good conscience from faith unfeigned: this he makes the only right channel of good works: "The end of the law is love, ..."

2. That the end of law is not, that men may be justified by their obedience of it, as the Jewish doctors did falsely teach; for it is impossible that sinners can be justified by the law, who, for every transgression, are condemned by the law: "For the end of the law is (not such as the Jewish doctors taught, but) love, out of a pure heart, ..."

3. That the true end of the law, preached to the people, is, that they, by the law, being made to see their deserved condemnation, should flee to Christ unfeignedly, to be justified by faith in him; so says the text, while it makes love to flow through faith in Christ.

4. That no man can set himself in love to obey the law, excepting as far as his conscience is quieted by faith, or is seeking to be quieted in Christ; for "the end of the law is love, out of good conscience, and faith unfeigned."

5. That feigned faith goes to Christ without reckoning with the law, and so wants an errand; but unfeigned faith reckons with the law, and is forced to flee for refuge to Christ, as the end of the law for righteousness, so often as it finds itself guilty for breaking of the law: "For the end of the law is faith unfeigned."

6. That the fruits of love may come forth in act particularly, it is necessary that the heart be brought to the hatred of all sin and uncleanness, and to a steadfast purpose to follow all holiness universally: "For the end of the law is love, out of a pure heart."

7. That unfeigned faith is able to make the conscience good, and the heart pure, and the man lovingly obedient to the law; for when Christ's blood is seen by faith to quiet justice, then the conscience becomes quiet also, and will not suffer the heart to entertain the love of sin, but set the man on work to fear God for his mercy, and to obey all his commandments, out of love to God, for his free gift of justification, by grace bestowed on him: "For this is the end of the law indeed, " whereby it obtains of a man more obedience than any other way.

Part 4 of 4

The fourth thing requisite to evidence true faith is, the "keeping strait communion with Christ, " the fountain of all graces, and of all good works; as held forth:

"I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." John 15:5

Wherein Christ, in a similitude from a vine-tree, teaches us,

1. That by nature we are wild barren briers, till we be changed by coming to Christ; and that Christ is that noble vine-tree, having all life and sap of grace in himself, and able to change the nature of every one that comes to him, and to communicate spirit and life to as many as shall believe in him: "I am the vine, and ye are the branches."

2. That Christ loves to have believers so united to him, as that they be not separated at any time by unbelief: and that there may be a mutual inhabitation of them in him, by faith and love; and of him in them, by his word and Spirit; for he joins these together, "If ye abide in me, and I in you, " as things inseparable.

3. That except a man be ingrafted into Christ, and united to him by faith, he cannot do any the least good works of his own strength; yes, except in as far as a man does draw spirit and life from Christ by faith, the work which he does is naughty and null in point of goodness in God's estimation: "For without me ye can do nothing."

4. That this mutual inhabitation is the fountain and infallible cause of constant continuing and abounding in well-doing: For "he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit." Now, as our abiding in Christ presupposes three things;

4a) That we have heard the joyful sound of the gospel, making offer of Christ to us, who are lost sinners by the law;

4b) That we have heartily embraced the gracious offer of Christ;

4c) That by receiving of him we are become the sons of God, John 1:12, and are incorporated into his mystical body, that he may dwell in us, as his temple, and we dwell in him, as in the residence of righteousness and life:

So our abiding in Christ imports other three things,

4d) An employing of Christ in all our addresses to God, and in all our undertakings of whatever piece of service to him.

4e) A contentedness with this sufficiency, without going out from him to seek righteousness, or life, or help in any case, in our own or any of the creature's worthiness.

4f) A fixedness in our believing in him, a fixedness in our employing and making use of him, and a fixedness in our contentment in him, and adhering to him, so that no allurement, not temptation of Satan or the world, no terror nor trouble, may be able to drive our spirits from firm adherence to him, or from the constant avowing of his truth, and obeying his commands, who has loved us, and given himself for us; and in whom not only our life is laid up, but also the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, by reason of the substantial and personal union of the divine and human nature in him.

Hence let every watchful believer, for strengthening himself in faith and obedience, reason after this manner:

"Whoever does daily employ Christ Jesus for cleansing his conscience and affections from the guiltiness and filthiness of sins against the law, and for enabling him to give obedience to the law in love, he has the evidence of true faith in himself:"

"But I (may every watchful believer say) do daily employ Jesus Christ for cleansing my conscience and affections from the guiltiness and filthiness of sins against the law, and for enabling of me to give obedience to the law in love:"

"Therefore I have the evidence of true faith in myself."

And hence also let the sleepy and sluggish believer reason, for his own upstirring, thus:

"Whatever is necessary for giving evidence of true faith, I study to do it, except I would deceive myself and perish:"

"But to employ Christ Jesus daily for cleansing of my conscience and affections from the guiltiness and filthiness of sins against the law, and for enabling me to give obedience to the law in love, is necessary for evidencing of true faith in me:"

"Therefore this I must study to do, except I would deceive myself and perish."

And, lastly, Seeing Christ himself has pointed this forth, as an undoubted evidence of a man elected of God to life, and given to Jesus Christ to be redeemed, "if he come unto him, " that is, close covenant, and keep communion with him, as he teaches in John 6.37, saying:

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out; "

let every person, who does not in earnest make use of Christ for remission of sin, and amendment of life, reason hence, and from the whole premises, after this manner, that his conscience may be awakened:

"Whoever is neither by the law, nor by the gospel, so convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment, as to make him come to Christ, and employ him daily for remission of sin, and amendment of life; he wants not only all evidence of saving faith, but also all appearance of his election, so long as he remains in this condition:"

"But I (may every impenitent person say) am neither by the law nor gospel so convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment, as to make me come to Christ, and employ him daily for remission of sin, and amendment of life:"

"Therefore I lack not only all evidence of saving faith, but also all appearance of my election, so long as I remain in this condition."

The End


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