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SANCTIFICATION

Now concerning the righteousness of sanctification, we deny it not to be inherent; we grant that, unless we work, we have it not; only we distinguish it as a thing in nature different from the righteousness of justification: we are righteous the one way by the faith of Abraham, the other way, except we do the works of Abraham, we are not righteous. Of the one, St. Paul, "To him that worketh not, but believeth, faith is counted for righteousness.[Rom 4:5] Of the other, St. John, "He is righteous who worketh righteousness.[1 Jn 3:7] Of the one, St. Paul doth prove by Abraham's example that we have it of faith without works.[Rom 4] Of the other, St. James by Abraham's example, that by works we have it, and not only by faith.[Jas 2:18ff] St. Paul doth plainly sever these two parts of Christian righteousness one from the other; for in the sixth to the Romans he writeth, "Being freed from sin and made servants of God, ye have your fruit in holiness, and the end everlasting life.[Rom 6:22] "Ye are made free from sin and made servants unto God"; this is the righteousness of justification; "Ye have your fruit in holiness": this is the righteousness of sanctification. By the one we are interested in the right of inheriting; by the other we are brought to the actual possessing of eternal bliss, and so the end is everlasting life.

The prophet Habakkuk doth here [Hab 1:4] term the Jews "righteous men," not only because being justified by faith they were free from sin, but also because they had their measure of fruit in holiness. According to whose example of charitable judgment, which leaveth it to God to discern what men are, and speaketh of them according to that which they do profess themselves to be, although they be not holy whom men do think, but whom God doth know indeed to be such; yet let every Christian man know that in Christian equity he standeth bound so to think and speak of his brethren as of men that have a measure in the fruit of holiness and a right unto the titles wherewith God, in token of special favour and mercy, vouchsafeth to honour his chosen servants. So we see the Apostles of our Saviour Christ do use everywhere the name of saints: so the prophet the name of righteous. But let us all endeavour to be such as we desire to be termed: "Godly names do not justify godless men," saith Salvianus. We are but upbraided when we are honoured with names and titles whereunto our lives and manners are not suitable.

If we have indeed our fruit in holiness, notwithstanding we must note that the more we abound therein the more need we have to crave that we may be strengthened and supported. Our very virtues may be snares unto us. The enemy that waiteth for all occasions to work our ruin hath ever found it harder to overthrow a humble sinner than a proud saint. There is no man's case so dangerous as his, whom Satan hath persuaded that his own righteousness shall present him pure and blameless in the sight of God. If we could say, "we are not guilty of anything at all in our own consciences" (we know ourselves far from this innocency, we cannot say we know nothing by ourselves, but if we could) should we therefore plead not guilty in the presence of our Judge that sees further into our hearts than we ourselves are able to see? If our hands did never offer violence to our brethren, a bloody thought doth prove us murderers before him.[Cf Mt 5:21f] If we had never opened our mouths to utter any scandalous, offensive, or hurtful word, the cry of our secret cogitations is heard in the ears of God. If we did not commit the evils which we do daily and hourly, either in deeds, words, or thoughts, yet in the good things which we do how many defects are there intermingled!

God, in that which is done, respecteth specially the mind and intention of the doer. Cut off then all those things wherein we have regarded our own glory, those things which we do to please men or to satisfy our own liking, those things which we do with any by-respect [that is, with any secondary or ulterior motive], not sincerely and purely for the love of God, and a small score will serve for the number of our righteous deeds. Let the holiest and best thing that we do be considered: we are never better affected unto God than when we pray; yet when we pray how are our affections many times distracted! How little reverence do we show to the grand majesty of that God unto whom we speak! How little remorse of our own miseries! How little taste of the sweet influence of his tender mercy do we feel! Are we not as unwilling many times to begin, and as glad to make an end, as if God in saying "Call upon me" had set us a very burdensome task?

It may seem somewhat extreme which I shall speak; therefore let every man judge of it even as his own heart shall tell him, and no otherwise. I will but only make a demand: if God should yield to us, not as unto Abraham, if fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, yea, or if ten good persons could be found in a city, for their sakes that city should not be destroyed;[Gen 18:23ff] but if God should make us an offer thus large: "Search all the generations of men since the fall of your father Adam, find one man that hath done any one action which hath passed from him pure, without any stain or blemish at all, and for that one man's one-only action neither man nor angel shall feel the torments which are prepared for both" -- do you think that this ransom, to deliver men and angels, would be found among the sons of men? The best things we do have somewhat in them to be pardoned. How then can we do anything meritorious and worthy to be rewarded?

Indeed, God doth liberally promise whatsoever appertaineth to a blessed life unto as many as sincerely keep his law, though they be not able exactly to keep it. Wherefore we acknowledge a dutiful necessity of doing well, but the meritorious dignity of well doing we utterly renounce. We see how far we are from the perfect righteousness of the law. The little fruit which we have in holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt and unsound: we put no confidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the world for it, we dare not call God to a reckoning, as if we had him in our debt-books. Our continual suit to him is, and must be, to bear with our infirmities, to pardon our offences.

But the people of whom the prophet speaketh, were they all, or were the most part of them, such as had care to walk uprightly? Did they thirst after righteousness? Did they wish, did they long with the righteous prophet, "O that our ways were made so direct that we might keep thy statutes"? [Ps 119:5] Did they lament with the righteous apostle, "Miserable men, the good which we wish and purpose, and strive to do, we cannot"? [Rom 7:19,24] No, the words of other prophets concerning this people do show the contrary. How grievously doth Isaiah mourn over them: "Ah sinful nation, people laden with iniquity, wicked seed, corrupt children"! [Is 1:4] All which notwithstanding, so wide are the bowels of his compassion enlarged that he denieth us not, no not when we are laden with iniquity, leave to commune familiarly with him, liberty to crave and entreat that what plagues soever we have deserved we may not be in worse case than unbelievers, that we may not be hemmed in by pagans and infidels. Jerusalem is a sinful polluted city; but Jerusalem compared with Babylon is righteous. And shall the righteous be overborne, shall they be compassed about by the wicked? But the prophet doth not only complain, "Lord, how cometh it to pass that thou handlest us so hardly over whom thy name is called, and bearest with heathen nations that despise thee?" No, he breaketh out through extremity of grief and inferreth thus violently: This proceeding is perverse; the righteous are thus handled, "therefore perverse judgment doth proceed. [Hab 1:1-4; Ps 79; 106:41ff]

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