Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Temporary Faith - John Hales

Let therefore every man thoroughly examine his own heart, whether, upon supposal of times of trial and persecution, he can say with David, 'My heart is ready:' Psal. 108:1 [old translation] whether he can say of his dearest pledges,'All these have I counted dung for Christ's sake?' Philippians 3:8 whether he find in himself that he can, if need be, even lay down his life for his profession? He that cannot do thus, what differs his faith from a temporary faith, or from hypocrisy? Mark, I beseech you, what I say; I will not affirm, I will only leave it to your Christian discretion: a temporary faith, that is, a faith resembled to the seed in the gospel, which being sown on the stony ground, withered as soon at the fun arose, a faith that fails as soon as it feels the heat of persecution, can save no man. May we not with some reason think, that the faith of many a one, who in time of peace seems to us, yea, and to himself too peradventure, to die possessed of it, is yet, notwithstanding, no better than a temporary faith, and therefore comes not so far as to save him that hath it? Rufus, a certain philosopher, whensoever any scholars were brought unto him to receive education under him, was wont to use all possible force of argument to dissuade them from it; if nothing could prevail with them, but needs they will be his hearers, this their pertinacity he took for a sure token of a mind thoroughly settled, and led, as it were by instinct, to their studies. If God would use this method to try who are his, and bring on us those temptations which would make the man of a temporary faith to shrink, think we that all those who, in these times of peace, have born the name of Christ unto their graves, would have born unto the rack, unto the sword, unto the fire? Indeed to man, who knows not the thoughts of his friend, some trials sometimes are very necessary; but he that knew and foretold David what the reSolution of the men of Keilah would be, if Saul came to them, knows likewise what the resolution of every one of us would be, if a fiery trial would appear. Who knows, therefore, whether God hath numbered out the crowns of life, according to the number of their souls, who he foreknew would, in the midst of all temptations and trials, continue unto the end? For what difference is there betwixt the faith that fails upon occasion, or that would fail if occasion were offered? for the actual failing of faith is not that that makes it temporary, it is only that which detects it, which betrays it unto us to be so. The faith therefore of that man which would have sunk as fast as St. Peter did, if tempests had arisen, notwithstanding that through the peace of the church he dies possessed of, is no better than a temporary, and cometh short of a saving faith. It is a hard speech, some man may say; but let him that thinks thus recount with himself, that it is a hard way that leads to life. Beloved, deceive not yourselves; heaven never was, nor will be gotten without martyrdom: In a word, my brethren, try therefore yourselves, whether you have in you true resolution: summon up your thoughts, survey every path in which your affections were wont to tread; see whether you are prepared to leave all for Christ: if you find in yourselves but one affection looking back to Sodom, to the things of this life, 'remember Lot's wife,' Luke 17:32 her case is yours; you are not yet sufficiently provided for the day of battle.
- John Hale, Of St. Peter's Fall, in The Works of the Ever Memorable John Hales of Eaton, Volume 2, pp. 226-29

1 comment:

natamllc said...

With regard to these words, I can quite honestly say, I have never been in such a circumstance where this sort of reality has been faced.

I was born and raised in the most prosperous nation God has ever brought into existence and poverty in this country is what a lot of people die for in the poorest nations on earth. Our poverty and the kinds of threats we face is absolutely deceiving when you light a lamp and put it next to what many of our Brethren in a lot of the 'rest' of the world are facing on a daily basis these days.

It is hard to get my head around those realities in his words:::>

Hale:
"....whether, upon supposal of times of trial and persecution, he can say with David, 'My heart is ready:' Psal. 108:1 [old translation] whether he can say of his dearest pledges,'All these have I counted dung for Christ's sake?' Philippians 3:8 whether he find in himself that he can, if need be, even lay down his life for his profession?...".

I have been to some very dangerous places.

In fact I know of one Pastor, a fine young man, newly married, with very young children, who took over for his Bishop because the Bishop was murdered just because he was a Christian, in the country of Sierra Leone.

I have personally been told, once, by a Muslim man, "you could be shot" for saying that. I was in a meeting in a particular Governor's home having dinner with the Governor, a Tribal King and several other prominent dignitaries in Kaduna State, Nigeria, when this "brother" of the President of Nigeria came to pay his respect for my visit. We were expressing our personal views on an array of subjects when I said something that caused that response.

But, really, no one in the United States in the last 50 years has experienced the sorts of Christian persecutions our brother Hales writes about!