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Upon the Twelve Articles of the Christian Faith

I Believe in God the Father, &c.

O Lord God, the Father of our Saviour Jesus Christ, thy people in saying this article, I believe in God the Father Almighty, &c., by faith know that thou, together with Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, did create all things that are in heaven and in earth, for by heaven and earth are understood all things therein. And as they know this, so they by the same faith do see thee the same God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, governing all things after thy great wisdom, power, righteousness, and mercy, and using every creature they see as means to put them in remembrance of fearing, reverencing, trusting, and loving thee; for in every creature they behold thy presence, power, wisdom, and mercy.

Again, by this word Father, they declare their belief that they are not only thy creatures, and that all they have is thy gracious gift and blessing; but also that they are thy children, dearly beloved, and cared for of thee through Jesus Christ; whereby, (notwithstanding their unworthiness,) as they conceive a sure hope of thy goodness and fatherly love towards them, in soul and body for ever so they are thankful for their creation, and also that thou hast made them thy excellent creatures, lords of all. They are thankful for the creation of all creatures, and use them with thankfulness, as visible tokens of thy invisible love. They are thankful for thy preserving and keeping them, and for thy governing them and all the world, lamenting that they are no more thankful, that they believe no deeper; and that reason (human reasoning, unbelief, editor) has so great power with them in these matters.

But, most gracious good Lord and Father, though I say, I believe in thee, my father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, yet thou knows that I am full of much doubting, not only whether thou art my good, Almighty, and most loving dear Father in Christ, because I feel in myself such a consciousness of unworthiness, and such great want of the things which thou requires of thy children, (and so I transfer the cause of my being thy child in part to myself, whereas it is due only and wholly always to thy mercy anal grace in Christ,) but also thou knows my doubting of my creation and governance, and of the creation and governance of all this world, as I declare by my unthankfulness for my creation, for mine adoption, for my gubernation (being governed or guided, editor), for thy providence for me. Or else, dear Father, I could not but heartily with thy children rejoice and praise thy holy name, and that continually; being henceforth anxious for nothing but how to please thee, and profit thy people, and that they might praise thy name in all things for evermore, desiring the sanctification of thy name, the coming of thy kingdom, the doing of thy will upon earth as it is in heaven.

Thou might have made me a dog. but of thy goodness hast made me a creature after thine image. Thou might have made me a Turk, a Jew, a Saracen, but thou hast made me a Christian, a member of thy church. Thou, after my birth, might have left me, and in all need have made no provision for me, as we sometimes see has happened unto others; but yet thou never did so with me, and yet I am of all others most unthankful.

Thy creatures I use not thankfully; I consider not thy invisible love by thy manifold visible tokens, as I now should by this apparel of my body, by this bodily health, by this light, by this my hearing, seeing, feeling, memory, understanding, time, place, company, creatures. and benefits; as well in keeping innumerable evils from me, both in soul and body, which else could not but come to me; as also in giving to me now so many things, which without thy especial grace and working I never could have had, or could keep. In thy creatures I see not thy power, for I fear thee not; I see not thy presence, for I reverence thee not; I see not thy wisdom, for I adore thee not; I see not thy mercy, for I love thee not; I praise thee not but in lips and tongue. Therefore in all that thy creatures do teach me, they cry out upon me to be thankful to thee, to love, fear, serve thee, and trust in thee, and that continually; and since I do not so, they cannot but cry out upon me and against me in thy sight, and in the day of judgment they will arm themselves against me.

Oh that I now considered this! Oh that my blind eyes and my deaf ears were opened! Oh that my miserable and foolish heart were made wise and converted! This thou alone can do who hast all men's hearts in thy hands, to bow than as pleases thee. Bow my heart, good Lord, into thy testimonies. Open my eyes. Make me to hear, for thy mercy's sake, that I may believe and so love thee, be thankful to thee, amend in all things and serve thee, though not as thy dear servants do, yet at the least as brute creatures do; that is, to obey thee and to be profitable to others.

Now forasmuch as my sins hinder this, and all good things from me, I beseech thee to pardon me all my sins according to thy gracious promise, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, &c.

Thy servants, O Christ Jesus, and thy people, know by faith, that as thou art almighty and God with the Father, by whom all things were made and are ruled; for thou art God eternal, co-equal and co-substantial with the Father and the Holy Ghost; so also thou art man, and hast taken our nature upon thee by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and art become the blessed seed who hast bruised the serpent's head, (Gen. iii.;) the blessed seed in whom all nations are blessed, (Gen. xxii.;) the prophet whom Moses prophesied of, (Deut. xviii.;) the pattern he saw in the mount, (Exod. xxv.;) the truth and body of all the types, figures, and shadows of the old law; the Messias, Christ, and Saviour of thy people; the Advocate and Redeemer; the pacifier of God's wrath for sins, the opener of heaven, and the giver of everlasting life.

This they know thou brought to pass in thy human nature, by thy incarnation and nativity, by thy being here on earth, by thy living, teaching, fasting, praying, especially by thy suffering under Pontius Pilate; by thy deaths; burial, resurrection, ascension into the heavens, and reigning on the right hand of the Father, from whence thou shall come to judge both the quick and the dead. And as they know this, so by faith they apply it also to themselves, that for their sake thou hast made man, did pray, fast, was tempted, did die, did rise again, and ascend into heaven; and there art set their Advocate, Bishop, and High priest, always appearing in God's sight for them, from whence they look for thee, knowing that thou wilt not enter into judgment with them to condemn them, who did suffer condemnation thyself for them.

By this faith they feel these affections in themselves, namely, the hatred of sin, the fear of God, the love of God, trust in thee, and love to thy church. The hatred of sin they feel, because it is so foul a thing that it could not be washed away with any other thing than with than precious blood-shedding the fear of God, because his anger is so great against sin, that no less price could pacify his wrath than their most painful death the love of God, because he has so loved them, that he would not spare thee, his dear Son, for them, even when they were his enemies trust in thee, because thou had no respect to thyself, but most willingly gave thyself wholly to be our Saviour and servant love to thy people and church, because generally and particularly in every member of the same they see how dear they are to thee, and therefore they cannot but be so to them. Oh how they imitate and follow thy footsteps! How they rejoice when they are by affliction made like to thee! Oh how they lament their sins, ingratitude, unbelief; how they love thee, and wholly yield themselves up to thee! Whereas I, O gracious God, and dear Saviour, Jesus Christ, though I say I believe in thee, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, yet, alas! I do but babble this, for nothing is in me but unbelief. Of thy power and love, of thine anger and mercy, I have but an opinion, as my insensibleness and unthankfulness declare.

If a man should show me friendship but in a trifle, or suffer anything at all for me, I could not but be thankful: thou, besides my creation, hast redeemed me, and brought me into the number of God's children, than which nothing is greater, and lo! I am unthankful.

Thou hast suffered much for me; from heaven thou came into earth to fetch me into heaven, but I, alas, regard it not.

Thou did bear my sins on thy back, suffering a most bitter death; but I am so far from thankfulness, that I loath thee still more and more.

Thou would enter into communion with me, taking my nature unto thee, concerning the substance thereof, that I might enter into communion with thee concerning the qualities wherewith in thyself thou hast endued it, but I consider it not.

Thou did die to deliver me from death, but I still more and more give thee cause to die, so ungrateful am I.

Thou did rise to justify me, but I with the Jews would still keep thee down, because I would not leave my wickedness.

Thou ascended to heaven to take possession for me there, to be always in the sight of thy Father for me, to send me down gifts, and to pray for me; but I daily am pulling thee down again, as much as I am able. I am altogether earthly; I hide myself out of thy sight by forgetting thee; I reject and abuse thy gifts; I neglect prayer.

Thou art now in readiness to come to judge both quick and dead, but I tremble not at this, nor beseech thee before thou comes to be merciful unto me, and not to enter into judgment with me. Yea, I think nothing at all of thy coming: the wicked consider not the end, they think not on thy judgments.

Thou would bring me to thy Father, that I might find grace; but I put this off, and therefore am worthy to feel thee a Judge, who refuse to feel thee a Saviour.

Now the cause of all these things is unbelief, which though it is natural, by reason of the corruption of our nature, yet I have augmented the same maliciously, in not labouring against it, and by continuing in all sin and wickedness, by reason whereof I deserve most justly thy anger thereon, even rejection from thy face for ever.

Long hast thou mourned, even with displeasure and anger, the incredulity of my heart; calling me therefrom, and offering me thy grace, which I have neglected and rejected, and therefore am never worthy to have it any more offered unto me; much more, then, I am unworthy to have grace given me to receive thy mercy.

Alas! what shall I do? Shall I despair, or, as long as I can, keep unmindful of my misery? O Saviour Christ Jesus, wilt not thou be merciful unto me? Thou did die for me when I deserved it not, and is thy mercy now shortened? Wilt not thou give me thy grace, and take from my heart this horrible unbelief? Shall I never love thee? Shall I never hate sin? Shall I never, as with my mouth I say, I believe in Jesus Christ, so in heart say the same? Shall Satan possess me for ever? O Christ Jesus, who hast led captivity captive, wilt not thou help me? Though I desire it not as I should, yet give me to desire when thou wilt.

Thou did appear to destroy the work of the devil. Thou sees his work in me; good Christ, destroy his work, but not thy work. Save me, for thy great mercies' sake. Give me to believe in thee, in thy death, resurrection, and ascension. Pardon me my sins, and now mortify in me my corrupt affections. Raise me up and justify me. Regenerate me daily more and more. Give me faith of immortality, and the resurrection of this body. Give me faith to ascend into heaven, and to be certain that thou hast already taken possession of me there. Give me to look for thy coming, and to be ready for thy coming! to find mercy to everlasting life.

I believe in the Holy Ghost.

O Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, who did descend upon Christ our Saviour in his baptism in the likeness of a dove; thy children know that with the Father and the Son thou made and rules all creatures, visible and invisible; they know thee in their redemption to be no less willing and loving than the Father and the Son; for thou did always declare Christ to be the Son of God, and gayest testimony inwardly in the hearts of thy elect to believe and embrace the same; and outwardly, by miracles and wonders, they know thee to be the conformer and governor whom Christ promised in his corporeal absence to teach, rule, keep, comfort, and govern his church and people.

Again, as in the former part of their belief they consider the works of creation and redemption; so in this part they consider the place where the same is most effectual and takes place, even thy holy church, which is catholic; that is, extending itself to all times, to all places, to all kinds of people.

For in this church alone they know that as all things were made, so the work of redemption was taken in hand, that the blessed Trinity might in this church be praised, magnified, served, and worshipped for ever.

This church is nothing but a communion and society of saints; that is, not only a society of all such as are, have been, or shall be thy people, but also a society or partaking of Christ Jesus, who is the Head of the same. Yea, by him of thee, O blessed Father! who art the Head of Christ, and of thee, O Holy Ghost! who now shadows and sits upon the same, to hatch and cherish it, as the hen her chickens, by the extending of thy wings, not only to defend them from their enemies, but also to cover their sins, and to remit them in this life. Beginning also here the resurrection of the flesh and everlasting life, which thou wilt consummate in the end of the world so that they shall not need to be covered for sin; for then shall they be pure and have glorious bodies immortal and spiritual, which shall have the fruition of eternal joy, life everlasting, and glory, such as the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor the heart of man can conceive. For then Christ Jesus shall give up his kingdom to God the Father, that God may be all in all; concerning the governance of it by the ministration of his word, and other means, whereby now he governs it, that it may be his Father's kingdom, we being become like unto him, (1 John iii. :) that is, as the Godhead is united to the manhood of Christ, and is all in all without any other means; even so God shall be in us, assuming not only in the person of Christ the human nature, but also all the human nature of his church, who are members of Christ; the wicked and reprobate being separated from this communion, and cast into eternal perdition with Satan and antichrist, there to be in torments and horror for ever.

By reason of this their faith they are thankful to thee, O Holy Spirit, who hast taught them this, and given them to believe it.

By reason of this faith they pray, love, and help thy church here militant, and labour to be holy.

By reason of this faith they confess themselves sinners, they desire and believe the pardon of their sins, they are risen and rise daily concerning the inward man, and feel the life eternal begun in them, more and more labouring, praying, wishing for, and desiring the same, wholly and perfectly.

Whereas, O Lord God and most gracious Holy Spirit, thou knows that it is otherwise with me. I do but babble with my lips in saying I believe in the Holy Ghost, for I am unthankful for calling me into thy church; I do not live holily; I confess not, I lament not my sins, I pray not for remission of them, I stand in doubt thereof, I feel not myself risen from a sinful life as I should be. I feel not life begun in me as it is in thy dear children, and I doubt hereof, whether I have pardon of my sins, whether I am regenerate, whether I truly feel everlasting life: this most displeases thee, and yet with my tongue I say, I believe in the Holy Ghost. Oh, I beseech thee, good Holy Spirit, for thy love's sake, which moved thee to agree and be willing to pacify and open the goodness, not only in the work of creation (Gen. i. ii.; but also in the work of redemption, and therefore did descend and abide not only upon Christ in his baptism, but also on the apostles and church, in fiery tongues, visibly, the fiftieth day after Christ's resurrection; as now thou dost invisibly, generally, and particularly, sit upon thy church and children, being the consoler, the comforter, the teacher, and leader, the guider and governor of us all.

For this thy love's sake, I say, I beseech thee to be merciful unto me, and forgive me my doubting, unbelief, and horrible monstrous uncleanness and sin, and utterly take them from me. Bring me into thy church which thou guides; that is, guide me, make me holy, and by faith unite me to Christ, by charity to thy people; that is, give me the communion of saints with thy saints, overshadow my sins, raise me up to righteousness, begin in me everlasting life, and give me now more and more to expect and look for all these great mercies, and at length to possess eternal felicity with thee, O blessed Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one almighty eternal, most just, wise, and good God; to whom be all glory, power and dominion, now and for ever!

 

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