Homily 1.4 - Of The True and Lively Faith

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  1. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON OF FAITH.

    You have heard in the first part of this Sermon, that there be two kinds of faith, a dead and an unfruitful faith, and a faith lively that works by charity. The first to be unprofitable, the second, necessary for the obtaining of our salvation: the which faith has charity always joined unto it, and is fruitful, and bringeth forth all good works. Now as concerning the same matter, you shall hear what follows. The wise man says, He that believes in God, will hearken unto his commandments (Sirach 32.24). For if we do not show ourselves faithful in our conversation, the faith which we pretend to have, is but a feigned faith: because the true Christian faith is manifestly showed by good living, and not by words only, as S. Augustine saith, (Augustine, De Fide et Operibus 23, 42 (PL 40. 224), Libro de fide and operibus) Good living cannot be separated from true faith, which works by love.

    And St. Chrysostom says (Pseudo-Chrysostom, De Fide et Lege Naturae 1 [PG 48.1081], Sermo. de lege & fide.), Faith of itself is full of good works: as soon as a man believes, he shall be garnished with them. How plentiful this faith is of good works, and how it makes the work of one man more acceptable to God, then of another, St. Paul teaches at large in the 11th Chapter to the Hebrews saying, That faith made the oblation of Abel, better than the oblation of Cain. This made Noah to build the Ark. This made Abraham to forsake his Country, and all his friends, and to go into a far Country, there to dwell among strangers. So did also Isaac and Jacob, depending or hanging only of the help and trust that they had in God. And when they came to the country which God promised them, they would build no Cities, Towns, or Houses, but lived like strangers in Tents, that might every day be removed (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 heaven of his own foundation and building. This faith made Abraham ready at God's commandment, to offer his own son and heir Isaac, whom he loved so well, and by whom he was promised to have innumerable issue, among the which, one should be borne, in whom all nations should be blessed, trusting so much in God, that though he were slain, yet that God was able by his omnipotent power to raise him from death, and perform his promise (Genesis 22.1-18, 26.1-35, Sirach 44.20). He mistrusted not the promise of God, although unto his reason everything seemed contrary. He believed verily that God would not forsake him in death and famine that was in the country.

    And in all other dangers that he was brought unto, he trusted ever that God should be his God, and his protector and defender, whatsoever he saw to the contrary. This faith wrought so in the heart of Moses, that he refused to be taken for King Pharaoh his daughters son, and to have great inheritance in Egypt, thinking it better with the people of God to have affliction and sorrow, then with naughty men, in sin to live pleasantly for a time (Exodus 2.11). By faith he cared not for the threatening of King Pharaoh: for his trust was so in God, that he passed not of the felicity of this world, but looked for the reward to come in heaven, setting his heart upon the invisible God, as if he had seen him ever present before his eyes.

    By faith, the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea (Exodus 14.22). By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down without stroke, and many other wonderful miracles have been wrought (Joshua 6.20). In all good men that heretofore have been, faith has brought forth their good works, and obtained the promises of God. Faith has stopped the lions mouths (Daniel 6.16-23): faith has quenched the force of fire (Daniel 3.13-28): faith has escaped the swords edges: faith has given weak men strength, victory in battle, overthrown the armies of Infidels, raised the dead to life: faith hath made good men to take adversity in good part, some have been mocked and whipped, bound, and cast in prison, some have lost all their goods, and lived in great poverty, some have wandered in mountains, hills, and wilderness, some have been racked, some slain, some stoned, some sawn, some rent in pieces, some beheaded, some bent without mercy, and would not be delivered, because they looked to rise again 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 only know God to be the Lord, maker, and governor of all men in the world: but also they had a special confidence and trust, that he was and would be their God, their comforter, aide, helper, maintainer, and defender. This is the Christian faith which these holy men had, and we also ought to have. And although they were not named Christian men, yet was it a Christian faith that they had, for they looked for all benefits of God the Father, through the merits of his Son Jesus Christ, as we now do. This difference is between them and us, that they looked when Christ should come, and we be in the time when he is come. Therefore faith St. Augustine (Augustine, In Joannis Evangelium Tract. 45 10, 9 [PL 35: 1722]), The time is altered and changed, but not the faith. For we have both one faith in one Christ. The same Holy Ghost also that we have, they had, says St. Paul (2 Corinthians 4.13).

    For as the Holy Ghost does teach us to trust in God, and to call upon him as our Father: so he taught them to say, as it is written, Thou Lord art our Father and Redeemer, and your Name is without beginning and everlasting. God gave them the grace to be his children, as he does us now (Isaiah 63.10-11). But now by the coming of our Saviour Christ, we have received more abundantly the Spirit of God in our hearts, whereby we may conceive a greater faith, and a surer trust than many of them had. But in effect they and we be all one: we have the same faith that they had in God, and they the same that we have And Saint Paul so much extols their faith, because we should no less, but rather more, give ourselves wholly to Christ, both in profession and living, now when Christ is come, then the old fathers did before his coming. And by all the declaration of St. Paul, it is evident, that the true, lively, and Christian faith, is not a dead, vain, or unfruitful thing, but a thing of perfect virtue, of wonderful operation or working, and strength, bringing forth all good motives, and good works.
     
  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    All Holy Scripture agreeably bears witness, that a true lively faith in Christ, does bring forth good works: and therefore every man must examine and try himself diligently, to know whether he has the same true lively faith in his heart unfeignedly, or not, which he shall know by the fruits thereof. Many that professed the faith of Christ, were in this error, that they thought they knew God, and believed in him, when in their life they declared the contrary: Which error Saint John in his first Epistle confuting, writes in this way, Hereby we are certified that we know God, if we observe his commandments. He that says, he knows God, and observes not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2.3-4). And again he says, Whosoever sins, does not see God, nor knows him: let no man deceive you, well beloved children (1 John 3.6-7). And moreover he says, Hereby we know that we be of the truth, and so we shall persuade our hearts, before him (1 John 3.19-22).

    For if our own hearts reprove us, God is above our hearts, and knows all things. Well beloved, if our hearts reprove us not, then have we confidence in God, and shall have of him whatsoever we ask, because we keep his Commandments, and do those things that please him. And yet further he says, Every man that believes that Jesus is Christ, is born of God, and we know that whosoever is born of God, does not sin: but he that is begotten of God, purges himself, and the devil doeth not touch him (1 John 5.1, 18). And finally he concludes, and shows the cause why he wrote this Epistle, saying, For this cause have I thus written unto you, that you may know that you have everlasting life, which do believe in the Son of God (1 John 5.13). And in his 3rd Epistle he confirms the whole matter of faith and works, in few words, saying, He that does well, is of God, and he that does evil, knows not God (3 John 11).

    And as St. John says, That as the lively knowledge and faith of God brings forth good works: so says he likewise of hope and charity, that they cannot stand with evil living. Of hope he writes, We know that when God shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him, as he is: and whosoever has this hope in him, does purify himself, as God is pure (1 John 3.2-3). And of charity he says these words, He that does keep God’s word and commandment, in him is truly the perfect love of God ( 1 John 2.5). And again he says, This is the love of God, that we should keep his Commandments (1 John 5.3). And St. John wrote not this, as a subtle saying, devised of his own fantasy, but as a most certain and necessary truth, taught him by Christ himself, the eternal and infallible verity, who in many places does most clearly affirm, that faith, hope and charity, can not consist or stand without good and godly works. Of faith, he says, He that believes in the Son, has everlasting life: but he that believes not in the Son, shall not see that life, but the wrath of God remains on him. And the same he confirms with a double oath, saying, Verily, verily I say to you, He that believes in me, has everlasting life (John 6.47).

    Now forasmuch as he that believes in Christ, has everlasting life: it must needs consequently follow, that he that has this faith, must have also good works, and be studious to observe God's commandments obediently. For to them that have evil works, and lead their life in disobedience, and transgression or breaking of God's commandments, without repentance, pertains not everlasting life but everlasting death, as Christ himself says, They that do well, shall go into life eternal, but they that do evil, shall go into everlasting fire (Matthew 25.46). And again he saith, I am the first letter, and the last, the beginning and the ending: to him that is thirsty, I will give of the well of the water of life freely: he that has the victory, shall have all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son: but they that be fearful, mistrusting God, and lacking faith, they that be cursed people, and murderers, and fornicators and sorcerers, and all liars, shall have their portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelations 21.6-8).

    Charity Brings Forth Good Works. And as Christ undoubtedly affirms, that true faith brings forth good works, so doth he say likewise of Charity. Whosoever hath my commandments and keeps them, that is he that loves me. And after he saith, He that loves me, will keep my word, and he that loves me not, keeps not my words. And as the love of God is tried by good works, so is the fear of God also, as the wise man says, The dread of God puts away sin. And also he says, He that fears God, will do good works (John 14.21-24, Sirach 1.21, Sirach 15.1).
     
  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    THE THIRD PART OF THE SERMON OF FAITH.

    You have heard in the second part of this Sermon, that no man should think that he hath that lively faith which Scripture commandeth, when he lives not obediently to God's laws, for all good works spring out of that faith: And also it hath been declared to you by examples, that faith makes men stedfast, quiet, and patient in all affliction. Now as concerning the same matter, you shall hear what follows. A man may soon deceive himself, and think in his own fantasy that he by faith knows God, loves him, fears him, and belongs to him, when in very deed he does nothing less. For the trial of all these things is a very godly and Christian life.

    He that feels his heart set to seek God's honour, and studies to know the will and commandments of God, and to frame himself thereunto, and leads not his life after the desire of his own flesh, to serve the devil by sin, but setteth his mind to serve God for his own sake, and for his sake also to love all his neighbours, whether they be friends or adversaries, doing good to every man (as opportunity serves) and willingly hurting no man: such a man may well rejoice in God, perceiving by the trade of his life, that he unfeignedly has the right knowledge of God, a lively faith, a steadfast hope, a true and unfeigned love, and fear of God. But he that casts away the yoke of God's commandments from his neck, and gives himself to live without true repentance, after his own sensual mind and pleasure, not regarding to know God's word, and much less to live according thereunto: such a man clearly deceives himself, and sees not his own heart, if he thinks that he either knows God, loves him, fears him, or trusts in him.

    Some peradventure fantasise in themselves, that they belong to God, although they live in sin, and so they come to the Church, and show themselves as God's dear children. But St. John saith plainly, If we say that we have any company with God, and walk in darkness, we lie (1 John 1.6). Others do vainly think that they know and love God, although they pass not of the commandments. But St. John saith clearly, He that says I know God, and keeps not his commandments, he is a liar (1 John 2.4). Some falsely persuade themselves, that they love God, when they hate their neighbours. But St. John says manifestly, If any man say I love God, and yet hates his brother, he is a liar (1 John 4.20).

    He that says that he is in the light, and hates his brother, he is still in darkness. He that loves his brother, dwells in the light, but he that hates his brother, is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not whither he goes: For darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2.9-11). And moreover he says, Hereby we manifestly know the children of God from the children of the devil. He that does not righteously, is not the child of God, nor he that hates his brother (1 John 3.10).

    Deceive not yourselves therefore, thinking that you have faith in God, or that you love God, or do trust in him, or do fear him, when you live in sin: for then your ungodly and sinful life declares the contrary, whatsoever you say or think. It pertains to a Christian man to have this true Christian faith, and to try himself whether he has it or not, and to know what belongs to it, and how it works in him. It is not the world that we can trust to, the world and all that is therein, is but vanity. It is God that must be our defence, and protection against all temptation of wickedness and sin, errors, superstition, idolatry, and all evil. If all the world were on our side, and God against us, what could the world avail us? Therefore let us set our whole faith and trust in God, and neither the world, the devil, nor all the power of them shall prevail against us. Let us therefore (good Christian people) try and examine our faith, what it is: let us not flatter ourselves, but look upon our works, and so judge of our faith what it is. Christ himself speaks of this matter, and says, The tree is known by the fruit (Luke 6.44, Matthew 12.33).

    Therefore let us do good works, and thereby declare our faith to be the lively Christian faith. Let us by such virtues as ought to spring out of faith, show our election to be sure and stable, as St. Peter teaches, Endeavour your selves to make your calling and election certain by good works. And also he says, Minister or declare in your faith virtue, in virtue knowledge, in knowledge, in temperance patience, in patience godliness, and in godliness brotherly charity, in brotherly charity love (2 Peter 1.5-7): so shall we show in deed that we have the very lively Christian faith, and may so both certify our conscience the better that we be in the right faith, and also by these means confirm other men. If these fruits do not follow, we do but mock with God, deceive ourselves, and also other men. Well may we bear the name of Christian men, but we do lack the true faith that belongs thereto: for true faith ever brings forth good works, as St. James says: Show me thy faith by thy deeds (James 2.18).

    Thy deeds and works must be an open testimonial of thy faith: otherwise thy faith (being without good works) is but the Devils faith, the faith of the wicked, a fantasy of faith, and not a true Christian faith. And like as the Devils and evil people be nothing the better for their counterfeit faith, but it is unto them the more cause of damnation: so they that be Christians and have received knowledge of God and of Christ's merits, and yet of a set purpose do live idly, without good works, thinking the name of a naked faith to be either sufficient for them, or else setting their minds upon vain pleasures of this world, do live in sin without repentance, not uttering the fruits that do belong to such an high profession, upon such presumptuous persons, and wilful sinners, must needs remain the great vengeance of God, and eternal punishment in hell, prepared for the unjust and wicked liars.

    Therefore as you profess the name of Christ (good Christian people) let no such fantasy and imagination of faith at any time beguile you: but be sure of your faith, try it by your living, look upon the fruits that come of it, mark the increase of love and charity by it towards God and your neighbour, and so shall you perceive it to be a true lively faith. If you feel and perceive such a faith in you, rejoice in it: and be diligent to maintain it, and keep it still in you, let it be daily increasing, and more and more by well working, and so shall you be sure that you shall please God by this faith, and at the length (as other faithful men have done before) so shall you (when his will is) come to him, and receive the end and final reward of your faith (as St. Peter names it) the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1.9): that which God grant us, he has promised the same to his faithful, to whom be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
     

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