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THE FUNCTION OF FAITH.
199 but for those that love him. And thus our Saviour would be understood, unless we would say, that He out-practised what He taught; for He came to lay down His life even for His enemies, and (like the kind balsam-tree, whose healing wounds weep sovereign balm to cure those that made them) He refused not to die for those that killed Him, and shed His blood for some of them that spilled it. And so little was His injured love to the ungrateful world discouraged or impaired by the savage entertainment He met with in it, that, after He had suffered from wretched men (for whose sakes He left heaven to become capable of suffering) such barbarous indignities as might have made bare punishments appear mercy, and even cruelty itself seem no more than justice; when, I say, to hope for so much as His pardon were presumption, He was pleased to create confidence of no less than His love, a virtue.
Nor think it, Lindamor, impertinent to our present theme, that I insist so much on what Christ has done and suffered for us, since both He himself informs us, that He and His Father are one; and some of the texts already mentioned have taught us, that 'twas an effect of God's love also to the world, that He gave His only begotten Son to redeem it; and that God commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Wherefore, I shall without scruple proceed to observe to you, that so free is Christ's dilection, that the grand condition of our felicity is our belief that He is disposed to make us happy, on terms not only so honourable to Him, but so advantageous to us, that I was about to say, that possibly faith itself would scarce be exacted as requisite to our happiness- but that the condition does increase the benefit, by vouchsafing us bold and early anticipations of it: for, faith being (as the apostle terms it) the substance of things hoped for, and evidence (or conviction) of things not seen, wafts our joys to this side of the grave, bows heaven down to us, till our freed spirits can soar up to heaven;
and does us such a service as the Jewish spies did to their countrymen, by bringing them over to this side Jordan into the wilderness some of the pleasant and delicious fruits of the blest Land of Promise. I said, Lindamor, that faith was the grand condition required in God's free grant of eternal life. Not that I would ascribe anything to a lazy, speculative, and barren faith, in opposition to that lively and active one, which is called by the apostle, πίστις δι' ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη (faith operating by love), since I am informed by St James, that the divorce of faith and works is as destructive to religion as that of soul and body is to life; but that I was willing to mind you, that though true faith (which cries, like Rachel, "Give me children, or else I die") be ever the pregnant mother of good works, yet are not those works the cause, but the effects and signs of God's first love to men (however afterward the children may nurse their parents). As, though the needle's pointing at the poles be, by being an effect, an argument of its having been invigorated by the loadstone, or received influence from some other magnetic body, yet is not that respect unto the north the cause, but the operation of the iron's being drawn by the attractive mineral. "Thou art good, and dost good," says the Psalmist to his Maker. The greatness of His goodness is that which makes it ours; nor doth He do us good because that we are good, but because He is liberally so, as the sun shines on dunghills, not out of any invitation his beams find there, but because it is his nature to be diffusive of his light: yet with this difference, that whereas the sun's bounty, by being rather an advantage to us than a favour, deserves our joy, and not our thanks, because his visits are made designlessly, and without any particular intention of address (by such a bare necessity of nature as that which makes springs flow out into streams, when their beds are too narrow to contain the renewed water that doth incessantly swell the exuberant sources), God, on the contrary, for being necessarily kind, is
not less freely or obligingly so, to you or me; for, though some kind of communicativeness be essential to His goodness, yet His extension of it without Himself, and His vouchsafing it to this or that particular person, are purely arbitrary. To omit His love to the numberless elect angels, the strict relations betwixt the persons of the blessed Trinity supplying God with internal objects, which employed His kindness before the creation, and Himself being able to allow His goodness the extent of infinity for its diffusion. But (having glanced at this only by the by) we may yet further admiringly observe, that whereas men usually give freeliest where they have not given before, and make it both the motive and the excuse of their desistance from giving any more that they have given already, God's bounty hath a very different method; for He uses to give because He hath given, and that He may give. Consonantly to which, when the revolting Israelites had broken the contents, whilst Moses was bringing them the tables of the Law, and had thereby provoked the incensed Giver of it to the thoughts of a sudden extirpation of so ingrateful and rebellious a people, we may observe, that whereas God, as unwilling to remember His former goodness to them, speaking to Moses, calls them, "Thy people which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt;" Moses, on the other side, to engage God to the new mercy of a pardon, represents to God His former mercy to them, and calls them God's people, which He brought forth out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand. And so conspicuous in the Eternal Son was this property of the merciful Father, that when sick Lazarus's sisters implored His rescue for their expiring brother, the motive they employ, and which prospered their addresses, was, "Lord, behold (not "he who loveth thee," but) he whom Thou lovest is sick." And as He takes the first inducements of His bounty from Himself, so do His former favours both invite and give rates to his succeeding blessings. And there is rea
son for it for His pure love being all the merit by which man can pretend to the effects of His bounty, it is but just that the degree of His love should proportion those favours which it is our only title to, and that God's liberality should as well afford measures as motives to itself.
THE COUNTESS OF WARWICK.
Two years older than Mr Boyle was his sister Mary, Countess of Warwick, who was born Nov. 11, 1624, and died April 12, 1678.
With much of the talent of her wonderfully gifted family, and more than the usual share of lady-like accomplishments, she had all the piety of her younger brother, and of her more celebrated sister, Lady Ranelagh. Her "Diary" has lately been published, and it may interest the reader to see something of the hidden life of one who moved in the highest circle of the seventeenth century.
Sept. 3, 1666, Monday.-I went into the wilderness,* as soon as I was up, to meditate; my meditation of Him was sweet. Then went into my closet to pray; the desires of my heart went out after God there in a short prayer. After dinner much company came in. Towards evening came the news of London being on fire, which much amazed and troubled me, and made me pray heartily for that distressed place and people. The fire began the 2d of September.
Sept. 5, Fast-day.-I got up betimes, and when ready went to meditate. News came that Holborn was all on fire, and Warwick House burned. I thank God I found my heart
* A grove near the mansion of the Earl of Warwick, at Lees or Leigh, in Essex.
THE FIRE OF LONDON.
more affected for the common calamity and sufferings of others than for that, and was not at all disordered with the news, but bore it patiently. Then I went to the chapel to hear Mr Glascock preach: his text was Isa. xxvi. 9, “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." I found my heart much moved at that sermon; and the desires of my heart went much out after God in prayer, and God gave tears of contrition. In the evening, after public duty, I went into the wilderness, and there, with many tears, begged again for mercy for that poor distressed people, and did endeavour to wrestle mightily with God for this poor nation, desiring that as my sins had brought fagots to that fire, so I might bring buckets of tears to quench those flames. After family prayer, wherein my heart was much affected, I committed my soul to God in my closet.
Sept. 6, Thursday.-In the morning, I went out into the wilderness to meditate, and to endeavour by meditation to put my soul into their souls' stead that were spoiled of all, and had not a house to lie in. I found, blessed be God, my heart much carried out to pity them, and to pray for them, and to admire at God's goodness that I had mercies which many others that were better than myself wanted. Then, when I came in, heard that Warwick House was not burned; for which I blessed God. In the afternoon, went out to hear the news; came not home till evening; then prayed again.
Sept. 10.-In the morning, went into the wilderness to meditate; God was pleased to bring the sermons into my mind which I had heard the day before, and to enable me to pray earnestly for strength to put them into practice; especially one direction, which was, to secure my interest in heaven. I did then strive to take the kingdom of God by a holy violence, and to storm heaven by my importunate prayer. God was then pleased, blessed be His name, to carry me up as it were unto Mount Nebo, and from thence to let me have a view of