First Book of Homilies - Homily 4 Of the True and Lively Faith. The first coming to God (good Christian people) is through faith, where (as it is declared in the last Sermon) we be justified before God. And lest any man should be deceived, for lack of right understanding thereof, it is diligently to be noted, that faith is taken in the Scripture two manner of ways. A Dead Faith. There is one faith, which in Scripture is called a dead faith, which brings forth no good works, but is idle, barren, and unfruitful. And this faith, by the Holy Apostle Saint James, is compared to the faith of devils, which believe God to be true and just, and tremble for fear, yet they do nothing well, but all evil (James 2.17, 19). And such a manner of faith have the wicked and naughty Christian people, which confess God, (as St. Paul saith) in their mouth, but deny him in their deeds, being abominable, and without the right faith, and good works as evidence (Titus 1.16). And this faith is a persuasion and belief in man’s heart, whereby he knows that there is a God, and agrees unto all truth of God's most holy word, contained in the holy Scripture. So that it consisteth only in believing in the word of God, that it is true. And this is not properly called faith. But as he that readeth Christ’s Commentaries, believing the same to be true, has thereby a knowledge of Christ’s life, and notable acts, because he believed the history of Christ: yet it is not properly said that he believeth in Christ, of whom he looks for no help nor benefit. Even so, he that believeth that all that is spoken of God in the Bible is true, and yet lives so ungodly, that he cannot look to enjoy the promises and benefits of God: although it may be said, that such a man has a faith and belief to the words of God, yet it is not properly said that he believes in God, or has such a faith and trust in God, whereby he may surely look for grace, mercy, and everlasting 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 book, entitled to be of Didymus Alexandrinus, Forasmuch as faith without works is dead, it is not now faith, as a dead man, is not a man. A Lively Faith. This dead faith therefore is not the sure and substantial faith, which saves sinners. Another faith there is in Scripture, which is not (as the aforesaid faith) idle, unfruitful, and dead, but works by charity (as St. Paul declared, Galatians 5.6) Which as the other vain faith is called a dead faith, so may this be called a quick or lively faith. And this is not only the common belief 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 steadfast hope of all good things to be received at God’s hand: and that although we, through infirmity or temptation of our ghostly enemy, do fall from him by sin, yet if we returned again unto him by true repentance, that he will forgive, and forget our offences for his Son’s sake our Saviour Jesus Christ, and will make us inheritors with him of his everlasting Kingdom, and that in the meantime until that kingdom come, he will be our protector and defender in all perils and dangers, whatever happens: and that though sometimes he does send us sharp adversity, yet that evermore he will be a loving Father to us, correcting us for our sin, but not withdrawing his mercy finally from us, if we trust in him, and commit ourselves wholly to him, hang only upon him, and call upon him, ready to obey and serve him. This is the true, lively, and unfeigned Christian faith, and is not in the mouth and outward profession only: but it lives, and stirs inwardly, in the heart. And this faith is not without hope and trust in God, nor without the love of God and of our neighbours, nor without the fear of God, nor without the desire to hear God's word, and to follow the same in eschewing evil, and doing gladly all good works. This faith (as Saint Paul describes it) is the sure ground and foundation of the benefits which we ought to look for, and trust to receive of God, a certificate and sure looking for them, although they yet sensibly appear not unto us. And after he says, he that comes to God, must believe, both that he is, and that he is a merciful rewarder of well doers. And nothing commends good men unto 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 lively and fruitful in bringing forth good works. Second, that without it, can no good works be done, that shall be acceptable and pleasant to God. Third, what manner of good works they be, that this faith doth bring forth. Faith Is Full of Good Works. For the first, that the light can not be hid, but will show forth itself at one place or another: So a true faith can not be kept secret, but when occasion is offered, it will break out, and show itself by good works. And as the living body of a man ever exercises such things as belong to a natural and living body, for nourishment and preservation of the same, as it has need, opportunity, and occasion: even so the soul that has a lively faith in it, will be doing always some good work, which shall declare that it is living, and will not be unoccupied. Therefore when men here in the scriptures so high commendations of faith, that it makes us to please God, to live with God, and to be the children of God: if then they fantasise that they be set at liberty from doing all good works, and may live as they lust, they trifle with God and deceive themselves. And it is a manifest token; that they be far from having the true and lively faith, and also far from knowledge, what true faith means. For the very sure and lively Christian faith is, not only to believe all things of God, which are contained in Holy Scripture, but also is an earnest trust, and confidence in God, that he does regard us, and that he is careful over us, as the father is over the Child whom he loves, and that he will be merciful to us for his only son’s sake, and that we have our Saviour Christ our perpetual advocate, and priest, in whose only merits, oblation, and suffering, we do trust that our offences be continually washed and purged, whensoever we (repenting truly) do return to him, with our whole heart, steadfastly determining with ourselves, through his grace, to obey and serve him in keeping his commandments, and never to turn back again to sin. Such is the true faith, that Scripture does so much commend, the which when it sees and considers what God hath done for us, is also moved through continual assistance of the Spirit of God, to serve and please him, to keep his favour, to fear his displeasure, to continue his obedient children, showing thankfulness again by observing or keeping his commandments, and that freely, for true love chiefly, and not for dread of punishment, or love of temporal reward, considering how clearly, without deserving we have received his mercy and pardon freely. This true faith will show forth itself, and cannot long be idle: For as it is written, The just man lives by his faith (Habakkuk 2.4). He never sleeps nor is idle, when he would wake, and be well occupied. And God by his Prophet Jeremiah says, that he is a happy and blessed man, who has faith and confidence in God (Jeremiah 17.7-8). For he is like a tree set by the water side, and spread his roots abroad toward the moisture, and feareth not heat when it comes, his leaf will be green, and will not cease to bring forth his fruit: even so, faithful men (putting away all fear of adversity) will show forth the fruit of their good works, as occasion is offered to do them.