Imatges de pàgina

strengthening their minds against the fear of death; others of them must be performed to sick persons, who, oppressed with the heavy burden of their sins, scarcely dare repose hope in God through Christ.

“ I account it necessary to relate to you what has twice happened to me within a few days. The first case was that of a woman, who was seized with a contagious fever; and the other was that of a man, who was labouring under a very baleful species of the plague. Both of them were members of our Church, persons of good life and unspotted reputation, and, in my opinion, both were true christians. She was a woman of strong judgment, and conversant with sacred things far above her sex. The man was so familiar with the same things, as to have been considered a suitable person for administering consolation to others. They were totally unknown to each other; I add this circumstance, lest you should suppose that the one was drawn by the example of the other, into these temptations. Both of them began to be troubled in their minds, because they could not feel in their hearts (certitudinem) the assurance of the remis sion of their sins, and [alloquium) the comfortable attestation of the Holy Spirit, especially at that juncture of time, when they accounted such perceptions the most needful. They had indeed attempted, by serious meditations on the word of God and by prayer, to excite these sensations, if by possibility they might be concealed in their hearts; but their endeavours were fruitless and their exertions unsuccessful. The woman vented her feelings in foods of tears ; the man compressed his grief within himself: Yet neither of them despaired, but were extremely distressed on account of what I have just mentioned. To confess the truth, I listened to them with a sad heart, and was touched with serious commiseration ; I tried to apply a suitable remedy to this temptation, and succeeded in both my attempts.I enquired into the cause of their excessive anguish on account of this matter.— They replied, and the thoughts of both had been on this point alike,) that they accounted the assurance of the remission of sins, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of believers, to be THAT FAITH by which a man who believes is justified ;* and therefore, because they were at this

• As the views of Arminius on this doctrine are exceedingly important, and neces. sary for the correct understanding of his evangelical system, I give the subjoined extract of a letter to his friend Uitenbogaert, dated the third of August, 1604, which exhibits some of his appropriate illustrations : “ This is the distinction between Faith and (Fiducia CONFIDENCE, (Trust or Assurance]: The latter is a' necessary consequence or effect of the former ; yet, in my opinion, it scarcely appertains to

time destitute of this assurance and testimony, that they were likewise destitute of faith itself. I then began to ask them, if they did not believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ sent by

the substance of the former as a part of it. For Faith has its place in the assent; and this assent is either entirely that of the understanding, or of the affections in addi. tion to the understanding, or also that of the practice, according to the diverse nature of its object. Confidence or Trust seems to have its place in that part of the soul which is called the irascible. The following is a more ample explanation: A mere Intellectual Assent is that which assents to a true proposition, without any consideration whether that proposition also contains any good ; thus we believe, that an eclipse is an opposition of the Earth between the Moon and the Sun..An Assent [ Affectivus of the Affections occurs, when the proposition is both true, and has something good joined with it which we are desirous or inclined to obtain ; thus we believe, that God is good, full of clemency and mercy, and ready to do his creatures good.-A Practical Assent occurs, when the proposition is true, and when it also proposes a good which must be performed by us ; thus we believe, that the Lord our God must be loved. Faith has its place in the Assent of the Affections. This distinction will assist us in understanding the phrases, To believe God, and To believe in God.-" To believe God' is a general mode of speech, which implies our believing Him when he declares any thing, whether the proposition which He utters is merely true, or whether it also con tains something good.- To believe in God,' has a signification somewhat more spe. cial, when the proposition lays down such a thing as we wish to be true for our own benefit; thus we believe, that he is wise, just, good and merciful ;-though To behere in God is sometimes received in a general sense, as a belief in Him who is true in all his sayings. From this faith in God, or this Assent of the Affections, springs Confidence or Trust in Him, which reposes on Him, as on one whom we know with such an affection or feeling as we have described, and which has respect to those things which we expect and hope from Him. It is on this account that Confidence or Trust is not unaptly denominated by the Schoolmen (robusta seu roborata] strong or corroborated Hope.' But it is utterly impossible, that such a true Faith, as God requires (to be exercised) towards Himself, should not produce of itself this Confi. dence or Trust, at the very moment indeed in which it first has conceptions of God as the Being whom we have described : For this is the native relation between that understanding of the Affections, and this affection which we call Confidence or Trust. But that article of faith, I believe in God the Father, is not an article of Legal but of Evangelical Faith. For though the description of God be legal; yet the faith in Him, which is expressed in those words, is not Legal but Evangelical. For no man, who is a sinner according to the law, believes in God with this faith of the affections of which we are now treating, and from which springs Trust or Confidence. But Providence is comprehended under creation,_not only because it is a continuation of creation by the preservation and the governance or direction of all things, but like. vise because faith is not exercised on Him, unless conceptions be formed of Him as Preserver and Governor. Indeed, Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, according to which God deserves to have faith reposed in Him, are implied in the word CREATION : But it is necessary that, by this Wisdom, Goodness, and Power, He should likewise manifest his care for us, or else we cannot believe in Him. In some of my former communications to you, I have explained the reason why God desires rather to be believed in, than to be known and understood : I now add, that the Understand. ing appropriately corresponds to the explanation of a thing, which is instituted accord. ing to the very nature of the thing in order to its being known ; but Faith corresponds to the revelation of a thing, which is instituted according to the capacity of him to whom the revelation is made, that some other act, of a thing which is partly known, may be performed." An allusion to the concluding remark, about God choosing rather to be believed in VOL. I.


the Father into the world, and that he is the true and the only Saviour of the world ? If they did not assuredly know, that God the Father had in this only Saviour reconciled the world unto Himself, by not imputing to them their trespasses; that the same Jesus had received power from the Father to forgive sins, however aggravated they might be, and to bestow the Spirit of adoption on those who believe in Him; and that Christ is himself in every respect prepared to use this power for the salvation of believers, nay, has he not solemnly promised that He will thus employ it ?- They answered, they firmly believed all these things.

-I then said, This is the faith which is imputed for righteousness ; but remission of sins is the fruit of this faith ; and a sense of the remission of sins in the heart of a believer necessarily follows it, in the order of nature at least, if not in that of time : For the Apostle says, Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. The same observations apply to the gift of the Spirit, which is bestowed on those who believe in Christ; and on whomsoever it is bestowed, it begins to operate [in such a way) as the Spirit itself knows will contribute to the salvation of those to whom it is given.-When I had said this, they began to pay attention and to receive encouragement,—the man more particularly, for he was assisted by his wife's sister, who, in a manner the most appropriate, explained his meaning, and her own at the same time. Both the sick people openly confessed, that they had hitherto considered the sense of the remission of sins to be faith itself.But I proved by several passages of scripture which I produced, that justifying faith, the remission of sins, and the sense for perception of this remission, are all distinct things in

than to be known, occurs in a letter addressed by Arninius to Uitenbogaert in July, 1604, in which he expresses his partial approbation of his friend's commencing a series of Discourses, before the Court at the Hague, and taking the different articles of the Apostles' Creed as separate subjects; because the topic of " the Authority of the Holy Scriptures, on which their Truth depends, must require a more extensive and laborious discussion, than the circumstances of the time, the place, and of the auditory, will permit."-Arminius closes his remarks in the following words : “ But the question, Why does God prefer being believed upon to being seen?, is most elegantly expressed, and worthy to be discussed as a preliminary to the whole explanation. The discussion will not be inappropriate if due attention be given to these four particulars : (1.) What is contained in the vision of God!-(2.) What is meant by Faith in God 2---(3.) What is the duty of a rational creature ?-(4.) What is befitting and suitable to God and his Majesty ? From these four questions the following Theme might arise : It does not become God and his Majesty to endue a creature that He has created after his own image, with a sight of His Glory and majesty, before such creature has performed the duty which God has prescribed, has sought for his happiness from God, and has exercised hope for its attainment. This performance of duty, search for happiness, and exercise of hope, rest upon Faith as their foundation, according to Heb. xi, 1, 6.”

the holy scriptures, and consectaries to each other. After these remarks they felt still more encouraged. I also explained the causes why this assurance and comfort of the Spirit are not always felt in an equal degree by believers. By the blessing of God, the final result was, that both being elevated in hope were emboldened to commend their souls to God in hope and patience, and to wait with a tranquil mind for the hour of their dissolution. Two days after this conversation, the man died in the Lord.–From these circumstances I have been confirmed in my former opinion, that it is necessary to make an accurate distinction between things that are most closely united among themselves, lest confused notions respecting them should produce in the consciences of men uncomfortable uncertainty and perturbation, which cannot be removed except by such a distinction as is agreeable to the intimate nature of the things themselves. *

• Uitenbogaert alluded to this subject about two years afterwards, and Arminius replied to him, on the 31st of January, 1605, in the following language: “I now come to the question that you put to me, in consequence of a letter which I addressed to you some time since, and in which I related what transpired when I visited some sick persons who were exercised with doubts respecting their salvation. On the subject of Historical Paith you ask, “Is it not to believe that Jesus is this, that He is able to do this, and that He has promised this to believers ?' This is quite correct so far as such a faith is reposed on the mere narration itself: But that which is reposed on the command to believe, and on the promise, is not Historical but Saving Faith. A devil believes, because he knows what is said] to be true ; but a man believes, because he knows it to be true and beneficial to himself,for this reason, that he may obey God who issues the command, and may obtain the promise attached to that com. mand. The former therefore is an Historical Faith, the latter is a Justifying Faith, which is likewise called the obedience of Faith.-Let these be taken into consideration in regular order : This word is preached, He who shall believe in Jesus Christ shall be saved, or, Jesus Christ will be a Saviour and Redeemer to him who believes. Now this is preached to men, and not to a devil,—although it is impossible for the latter not to know that it is preached, and that it is truly preached. If any one therefore considers it thus as not belonging to himself, although he may believe that it is true, yet he does not believe truly and in such a manner as this (declaration) ought to be believed, and as he ought to believe it. For it is announced that it may be thus believed, and it is announced that he may believe it; that is, he is bound to believe this very thing, and when he believes it, he is commanded to believe in Jesus Christ, or rather, it is the cause of his believing in Jesus Christ, being induced by this argument-that, otherwise, he will not be able to obtain salvation and life eternal. The foundation of Faith then is contained in the united proposition of our duty and of the Divine reward, which is resolved into the requirement of the act of believing, and the promise of life eternal. The answer to the requirement is Justifying Faith ; but that answer I am induced to make, because I believe that this connection is certain-Life shall be bestowed on him who believes, and death awaits him who does not believe.Let a distinction likewise be made between Him who is constituted a Saviour, and actual salvation: For the former denotes the ability, will, and power to save; and the latter denotes the execution and bestowing of salvation. If therefore I believe, as I am bound to do, that Christ is constituted a Saviour, that is, possesses the power, ability and will to save, and if I thus through Faith deliver myself up to him, I shall in this case actually obtain salvation from him, that is, remission of sins, the Spirit of “ I now come to that which is the principal subject of the latter part of your letter,—the Professorship of Theology in the University of Leyden, which is vacant in consequence of the death of that very famous and excellent man, TRELCATIUS. You and a certain other learned man are of opinion, that I might be a suitable person for that office, provided I would consent to undertake it. I will not begin to say, that you are greatly in error, lest I appear in your eyes desirous of producing petty excuses, if I labour to evade that function; yet those which I do make, shall be real excuses. 1 yield at once to your supposition, that I shall not be totally unfit for promoting theological studies, if I be diligent and studious, and devote my entire powers to this matter. But, in opposition to it, many things rise up, and persuade me neither to desert the function in which I now am, nor to change it for the other.— The First is the extreme love and regard of the church towards me ; and truly I consider it most equitable to remunerate her for these by a mutual love, and, if I may be permitted so to speak, I attempt this with all my powers. On this account, therefore, it will be with the greatest difficulty that this Church and I can part from each other. You know likewise the amazing difference between the intense affection which sheep evince towards their shepherd who is always with them, and that temporary affection which even the most virtuous of students manifest towards a man who is their instructor only for a few years.--Another consideration is the edification of my own conscience, to the cultivation of which, (I may declare to you without blushing,) I should not have paid such great attention, had not God admitted me into this holy function. I have had abundant experience to prove, that the personal sanctification of a man set apart to the sacred office, is vastly promoted by the discharge of his hallowing duties. Hypocrites alone, and they too of the most infamous class, can perform the duties of an office so sacred without (deriving from it the benefit of] personal sanctification. It is proper, I know, and the order of things requires, that the private sanctification of such a person ought to precede his separation to his public functions; and I own, that thriceblessed are those who may be allowed, on this account, to glory

grace, and life eternal. In these expressions, therefore, I believe that Christ is the Saviour of the world, yea that He is the Saviour of believers and or ME, the fol. lowing are not included, I believe that I have remission of sins, I believe that I have eternal life; but this is included in them, I believe that I shall have these in his name, For since I believe that I shall obtain these blessings on my believing in him, I believe in him that I may actually have them, and then I actually receive them. The confounding of these matters is the cause why our divines occasionally speak with less propriety concerning Justifying Faith.”

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