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and entangle the Almighty ? shall we say, to what purpose are we enjoined to what none of us can comply with ? Shall we exclaim against the counsel of God, and cry out,“ since we can contribute nothing to our regeneration, is it not the best course we can take to put our hands in our bosom, and securely wait till he himself regenerate us?" But would not this be, with our vain and carnal reasonings, to argue with God, whose foolishness will be ever found wiser than our most exalted wisdom? How much better is it, when one hears these commands of God, and at the same time is sensible of his own incapacity, that he learn a holy despair of himself, and in sorrow, anxiety, and a longing desire of soul, and in the use of the means, patiently wait for the coming of the grace of God ?
XXVIII. Moreover, when a person touched with an unfeigned sense of his misery, and a sincere desire after his salvation, cries out with the jailor, “what must I do to be saved ?" Acts xvi. 30. even then some pious emotions begin to arise, which proceed from an inward, but a very tender principle of new life, and which are solicitously to be cherished. For which purpose it is expedient, 1st. That he frequently, and in as affecting a manner as possible, set before his eyes the most wretched condition of all unregenerate persons, and how himself also, while he continues in the state of nature, has nothing." to expect but eternal destruction, a deprivation of the divine glory, and intolerable torments both of soul and of body; and all this unavoidable, unless he be born again in the image of God. 2dly. That, affected by this consideration, he cry, pray to, be earnest with God, and not give over crying till he has obtained his grace, Let him often represent himself to himself, as now standing on the very brink of the infernal lake, with the devil standing by him, who, should the supreme Being permit, would instantly hurry him beadlong into bell: and in this anguish of bis distressed soul, importune God, and as it were, extort pardon by the warmest prayers, sighs and tears. 8dly. Let him, however, go on to bear, read and meditate on the word of God, expecting the farther motions of the Spirit, as the diseased wait ed for the angel to move the waters of Bethesda Athly. Let him join himself in society with the godly, and in the exercise of piety, endeavour to catch the flame of devotion from their ipstruction, example, and prayers.
I. W now proceed to explain the nature of true Faith ita God by Christ, which is the principal act of that spiritual life implanted in the elect by regeneration, and the source of all subsequent vital operations. But it is not any one particular act, or habit, nor must it be restricted to any one particular faculty of the soul; for it is a certain complex thing, consisting of various acts which, without confusion, pervade, and by a sweet and happy conjunction, mútually promote and assist one another; it imparts a change of the whole man, is the spring of the whole spiritual life, and in fine, the holy energy and activity of the whole soul tow wards God in Christ. And therefore its full "extent can scarcely be distinctly comprehended under any one single idea.
II. And we need not wonder, that under the name of one Christian virtue, 80 many others are at once comprehended. For as when any person speaks of life, he signifies by that term something that, diffusing itself through the whole soul, and all its faculties, is also communicated to the body, and extends itself to all the actions of the living person so when we speak of faith, which is the most fruitful spring of the whole spiritual life, we understand by it that which pervades all the faculties, and is well adapted to unite them with Christ; and so to enliven, sanctify and render them blessed.
III. There are many things both in naturals and morals, which are almost by general consent allowed to extend to the whole soul, without being restricted to any one faculty. In naturals, free-will, which as will is referired to the under standing; as free, rather to the will: so that as Bernard somewhere speaks, « let man be his own free man on account of his will; his own judge on account of his reason." la morals the image of God, and original righteousness;" which are to be placed neither in the understanding alone, nor in the will alone, but may justly belong to both these faculties.
IV. Should we not then at last see every difficulty remov. ed, and the whole of that controversy among divines about the subject of faith, settled, if, as we justly may, we should
refuse, that there is any real distinction of understanding and will, as well from the soul, as from each other? For, what is the understanding, but the soul understanding and knowing ? What else the will, but the soul willing and desiring ? We must on no account conceive of the soul as of a thing in itself .brutish and irrational, which at length becomes intelligent and rational when something else is given to it. What some affirm, that the understanding comes from the soul by a certain kind of emanation is what we can scarcely conceive. For if the soul, in its proper and formal conception, does not ,
, include the power of reasoning, it can never produce it ; for we are in vain to expect from a cause what it contains neither formally nor eminently. If the soul is of itself endowed with the faculty of reasoning, no necessity requires, that some other faculty be superadded to that wherewith the soul is of itself endowed. The like holds with respect to the will, which is not really distinct from the soul any more than the understanding, but is the very soul itself, as God has given it a natural aptitude to desire good. Since both these faculties are only modally (or in our manner of apprehension] distinct from the soul, so they are also from each other. For if the will be so distinct from the understanding, as in itself to be blind, it is not possible to explain how it can perceive, and so rationally desire, the object discovered by the understanding, as good. And for what reason, pray, should we make a real difference between these two ? Is it, because the object is different ? But the object of both is really the same: namely, a true good, though the manner of our considering it differs. For the understanding considers the good as true : and the will desires this true thing as it is good. And do not the objects of the speculative and practical understanding differ far more among themselves ? And yet philosophers generally agree, that they are but one and the same power of the soul. Is it because their acts are different? But
difference of acts does not infer a difference of power. Indeed, simple apprehension differs from judgment and discourse or reasoning; wbich yet are all the acts of the same faculty.
V. This ought not to be looked upon as a tion. Scotus long ago maintained, that the understanding and will differed neither among themselves nor from the soul, in 2. dist. 15. qu. 1. Scaliger, in like manner, whose words we shall not scruple to transcribe from his Exercitat. 307. sect. 15. Although “ the understanding and will, says he, are one thing, yet they are distinguished by the manner in which we conceive then. For they are proper and not accidental
affections of the soul, and one thing with it. As one, good, and true, are the affections of entity or being; nay, one and the same thing with being itself. But they are distinguished from it, and among themselves by definition, in this manner : because being itself is placed in the first nature or essence, which nature does in some measure display itself, and is the cause of that one, true, and good. Which is a formality dife ferent from the first formality. Because the notion of being is one thing, as it is being, and another as it is one. For the latter follows and arises from the former; but not without it, for it is one thing. Thus soul, understanding and will, are one thing. Yet the soul denotes the essence: the understanding that very essence, 'as it apprehends: the will, the same with that intelligent
essence tending to enjoy the thing known, or understood." Thus far Scaliger. Durandus was of opinion, that indeed the faculties differ really from the soul, but not from each other. An opinion, which Vossius is above all pleased with, de Idololat. Lib. 3. c. xlii. Which is sufficient for our present purpose: as we are not then to separate those faculties, no wonder though we place faith in both.
VI. Mean while we observe, that among those things which we are about to describe, there is one principal act in which, we apprchend, the very essence and formal nature of faith consists, as it unites us with Christ and justifies us. This is to be carefully taken notice of in the matter of justification, lest any one should look upon some acts of love, which in different ways are implied in the exercise of faith, as the causes of justification.
VII. Moreover, we are likewise to maintain, that those things which we shall
, for the greater accuracy, explain distinctly in particular, stand various ways mutually connected in the very exercise of faith. While the whole soul is engaged in this work of God, very many actions may all at once tend towards God and Christ; without observing any certain method, and which the believer, engaged in this work itself, has neither leisure nor inclination to range in their proper order; nay, sometimes it is impossible to do it. Yet it is expedient, that we attend to the natural process of faith, whereby its entire nature and manner may be the more than roughly perceived.
VIII. The first thing which faith either comprehends or presupposes, is the knowledge of the thing to be believed. This appears in opposition to Popish triflers, I. From express passages of scripture, which so speak concerning faith
as manifestly to intimate, that knowledge is included in its very notion and exercise, Isa. liii. 11. John xvi. 3. compared with Heb. ii. 4. John vi. 69. 2 Tim. i. 3. II. From the nature of faith itself, which, as it doubtless means an assent given to a truth revealed by God, necessarily pitsupposes the knowledge of these two things. (1.) That God has revealed something.. (2.) What that is to which assent is given, as a thing dividely revealed. For it is absurd to say, that a person assents to any truth which he is entirely ignorant of, and concerning wbich he knows of no testimony extant worthy of eredit. III. From the manner in w.icb faith is produced in the elect; which is done externally by preaching and hearing of the Gospel, Rom. x. 27. revealing that which ought to be believed, with the demonstration of the truth to every man's conscience, 2 Cor. iv. 2. and internally by the teaching of God the Father, John vi. 45. If therefore faith be generated in the heart by a teaching both external and internal, it must of necessity consist in knowludge: for knowledge is the proper and immediate effect of such instruction. IV. From the consequence annexed, which is confession and a tomayıá, or giving an answer, Rom. x. 9, 10. 1 Pet. iä. 15. But it is impossible, that this should be without knowledge. Hilary saith well, “ For none can speak wbat he knows not; nor believe what he cannot speak."
IX. But indeed it must be confessed, that in the present dark state of our minds, even the most illuminated are ignorant of a great many things; and that many things are believed with an implicit faith, especially by young beginners and babes in Christ, so far as they admit, in general, the whole scriptures to be the infallible standard of what is to be believed; in which are contained many things which they do not understand, and in as far as they embrace the leading doetrines of Christianity, in which many other truths concenter, which are thence deduced by evident consequence, and which they believe in their foundation or principle, as John writes concerning believers, that they knew al things, 1 John ü. 20. because they had learned by the teaching of the Spirit, that foundation of foundations, to which all saving truths are reduced, and from which they are inferred. But I go a step farther : it is possible that one, to whom God, who distributes his blessings as he pleases, has measured out a small degree of knowledge, may yet be most firmly rooted in the faith, even to martyrdom. But then it no ways follows, that faith is better described by ignorance than by knowledge: or that they do well who cherish ignorance among the people as the