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if there be not, then he cannot say but it is his own fault, that his sin prevails against him. It is true, that no man is free from sin; but it is as true, that no man does as much as he can against it; and, therefore, no man must go about to excuse himself by saying, No man is free from his sin; and therefore, no man can be, no, not by the powers of grace : for he well argue thus,-No man does do all that he can do against it, and, therefore, it is impossible he should do what he can do. The argument is apparently foolish, and the excuse is weak, and the deception visible, and sin prevails upon our weak arguings; but the consequence is plainly this, -when any man commits a sin, he is guilty before God, and he cannot say he could not help it ; and God is just in punishing every sin, and very merciful when he forgives us any. But he that says he cannot avoid it, that he cannot overcome his lust,-confesses himself a servant of sin, and that he is not yet redeemed by the blood of the holy Lamb.
5. He that would be advanced beyond the power and necessity of sinning, must take great caution concerning his thoughts and secret desires ; " for lust, when it is conceived, bringeth forth sin;" but, if it be suppressed in the conception, it comes to nothing; but we find it hard to destroy the serpent, when the egg is hatched into a cockatrice. The thought is deuágtudos ápapria; no man takes notice of it, but lets it alone till the sin be too strong"; and then we complain we cannot help it. “Nolo sinas cogitationem crescere,” “Suffer not your thoughts to grow up;” for they usually come ãoww, cúnónws, ångayuateútws, as St. Basil says, “ suddenly, and easily, and without business;" but take heed that you nurse them not; but, if you chance to stumble, mend your pace, and if you nod, let it awaken you; for he only can be a good man, that raises himself up at the first trip, that strangles his sin in the birth: Τοιαύται των αγίων ψυχαι, πριν έπεσον, ανίστανται, “Good men rise up again, even before they fall,” saith St. Chrysostom. Now, I pray, consider, that when sin is but in the thought, it is easily suppressed, and, if it be stopped there, it can go no further; and what great mountain of labour is it, then, to abstain from our sin? Is not the adultery of the eye easily cured by shutting the eye-lid ? and cannot
" Ille laudatur, qui, ut cæperint, statim interficit cogitata, et alliditad petram.
the thoughts of the heart be turned aside by doing business, by going into company, by reading, or by sleeping? A man may divert his thoughts by shaking of his head, by thinking any thing else, by thinking nothing. “Da mihi Christianum," saith St. Austin, “ et intelligit quod dico.” Every man that loves God, understands this, and more than this, to be true. Now if things be thus, and that we may be safe in that which is supposed to be the hardest of all, we must needs condemn ourselves, and lay our faces in the dust, when we give up ourselves to any sin; we cannot be justified by saying we could not help it. For as it was decreed by the fathers of the second Aurasican council, “ Hoc etiam secundum fidem catholicam credimus,” &c. “ This we believe according to the catholic faith,” that have received baptismal grace; all that are baptized by the aid and co-operation of Christ, must and can, if they will labour faithfully, perform and fulfil those things, which belong unto salvation.
6. And lastly: if sin hath gotten the power of any one of us, consider in what degree the sin hath prevailed: if but a little, the battle will be more easy, and the victory more certain; but then be sure to do it thoroughly, because there is not much to be done : but if sin hath prevailed greatly, then indeed you have very much to do; therefore begin betimes, and defer not this work, till old age shall make it extremely difficult, or death shall make it impossible.
Nam quamvis prope te, quamvis temnone sub uno
Cum rota posterior curras, et in axe secundo *. If thou beest cast behind; if thou hast neglected the duties of thy vigorous age, thou shalt never overtake that strength; • the hinder wheel, though bigger than the former, and measures more ground at every revolution, yet shall never overtake it;' and all the second counsels of thy old age, though undertaken with greater resolution, and acted with the strengths of fear and need, and pursued with more pertinacious purposes than the early repentances of young men, yet shall never overtake those advantages, which you lost when you gave your youth to folly, and the causes of a sad repentance.
* Pers. v. 70.
However, if you find it so hard a thing to get from the power of one master-sin; if an old adulterer does dote,-if an old drunkard be further from remedy than a young sinner,
if covetousness grows with old age,- if ambition be still nore hydropic and grows more thirsty for every draught of honour,--you may easily resolve that old age, or your last sickness, is not so likely to be prosperous in the mortification of your long prevailing sins. Do not all men desire to end their dàys in religion, to die in the arms of the church, to expire under the conduct of a religious man? When ye are sick or dying, then nothing but prayers and sad complaints, and the groans of a tremulous repentance, and the faint labours of an almost impossible mortification: then the despised priest is sent for; then he is a good man, and his words are oracles, and religion is truth, and sin is a load, and the sinner is a fool; then we watch for a word of comfort from his mouth, as the fearful prisoner for his fate upon the judge's answer. That which is true then, is true now; and, therefore, to prevent so intolerable a danger, mortify your sin betime, for else you will hardly mortify it at all. Remember that the snail outwent the eagle, and won the goal, because she set out betimes.
To sum up all: every good man is a new creature, and Christianity is not so much a Divine institution, as a Divine frame and temper of spirit,—which if we heartily pray for, and endeavour to obtain, we shall find it as hard and as uneasy to sin against God, as now we think it impossible to abstain from our most pleasing sins. For as it is in the spermatic virtue of the heavens, which diffuses itself universally upon all sublunary bodies, and subtilely insinuating itself into the most dull and inactive element, produces gold and pearls, life and motion, and brisk activities in all things, that can receive the influence and heavenly blessing :- so it is in the Holy Spirit of God, and the word of God, and the grace of God, which St. John calls the seed of God;' it is a law of righteousness, and it is a law of the Spirit of life, and changes nature into grace, and dulness into zeal, and fear into love, and sinful habits into innocence, and passes on from grace to grace, till we arrive at the full measures of the stature of Christ, and into the perfect liberty of the sons of God; so that we shall no more say, The evil that I would not, that I
do;- but we shall hate what God hates, and the evil that is forbidden, we shall not do; not because we are strong of ourselves, but because Christ is our strength, and he is in us; and Christ's strength shall be perfected in our weakness, and his grace will be sufficient for us; and he will, of his own good pleasure, work in us, not only to will, but also to do, “ velle et perficere,” saith the apostle, “ to will and to do it thoroughly” and fully, being sanctified throughout, to the glory of his holy name, and the eternal salvation of our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom, with the Father, &c.
FIDES FORMATA; OR, FAITH WORKING BY Love.
You see, then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by
faith only.— James, ii. 24. That we are justified by faith,'St. Paul tells us *; that we are also “justified by works,” we are told in my text; and both may be true. But that this justification is wrought by faith without works, “ to him that worketh not, but believeth,” saith St. Paul : that this is not wrought without works, St. James is as express for his negative as St. Paul was for his affirmative; and how both these should be true, is something harder to unriddle. But, “ affirmanti incumbit probatio,” “ he that affirms must prove ;” and, therefore, St. Paul proves his doctrine by the example of Abraham, to whom faith was imputed for righteousness; and, therefore, not by works. And what can be answered to this ? Nothing but this, that St. James uses the very same argument to provę that our justification is by works also; “ For our father Abraham was justified by works, when he offered up his son Isaac b.” Now which of these says true ? Certainly both of them; but neither of them have been well understood ; insomuch that they have not only made divisions of heart among
a Rom. jii. 28. iv. 5. v. 1. X. 10.
Gl. ii. 16.
James, ii. 9.
the faithful, but one party relies on faith to the disparagement of good life, and the other makes works to be the main ground of our hope and confidence, and consequently to exclude the efficacy of faith : the one makes Christian religion a lazy and inactive institution; and the other, a bold pra sumption on ourselves; while the first tempts us to live like heathens, and the other recalls us to live the life of Jews; while one says I am of Paul,' and another, I am of St. James,' and both of them put it in danger of evacuating the institution and the death of Christ; one looking on Christ only as a Lawgiver, and the other only as a Saviour. The effects of these are very sad, and by all means to be diverted by all the wise considerations of the Spirit.
My purpose is not with subtle arts to reconcile them that never disagreed; the two apostles spake by the same Spirit, and to the same last design, though to differing intermedial purposes : but because the great end of faith, the design, the definition, the state, the economy of it, is that all believers should not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Before I fall to the close handling of the text, I shall premise some preliminary considerations, to prepare the way of holiness, to explicate the differing senses of the apostles, to understand the question and the duty, by removing the causes of the vulgar mistakes of most men in this article; and then proceed to the main inquiry.
1. That no man may abuse himself or others by mistaking of hard words, spoken in mystery, with allegorical expressions to secret senses, wrapt up in a cloud ; such as are, * faith, and justification, and imputation, and righteousness, and works,' be pleased to consider, that the very word ' faith' is, in Scripture, infinitely ambiguous, insomuch that in the Latin concordances of St. Jerome's Bible, published by Robert Stephens, you may see no less than twenty-two several senses and acceptations of the word ' faith,' set down with the several places of Scripture referring to them; to which if, out of my own observation, I could add no more, yet these are an abundant demonstration, that whatsoever is said of the efficacy of faith for justification, is not to be taken in such a sense as will weaken the necessity and our carefulness of good life, when the word may, in so many other senses, be taken to verify the affirmation of St. Paul, of