EXTRACT ON WEAK
FROM A SERMON ON JOHN x. 27, 28.
All men get not faith in like measure. But that ye may
understand it if ye have gotten it in any measure, ye shall wit that there are
three degrees of faith. There is the weakest, the midmost, and the strongest
The weakest faith that any of you must have it is this: he sees his conviction, he sees there is nothing for him but wrath, if he be not clad with the righteousness of the Son; he sees that the blood is able to pacify the wrath and slacken that fire; he desires no more but to be ducked in that blood. And would ye speir at him what was his special desire? He would answer you, I desire to be at yonder blood, and to be at yonder Lord, and to have Him in my arms, and tc have my soul washen in that fountain; but yet I cannot get Him, and yet I will wait on; and suppose that I have not gotten that full persuasion, yet He is my Lord, and I will not admit a contrary cogitation; and I suppose I want the true Comforter, I will not admit another in his room and stead". Thou that hast this meikle thou hast true faith; and this is the bruised reed that every wind shakes, and yet it is not broken, and, like the smoking flax or reeking tow, that a little water would put out, yet He will not quench it (Isa. xliii. 3). This is true believing, and thou that hast it cannot perish; for it is not the measure of thy faith that will serve, but it is He whom faith grips. I grant thou wilt never have peace nor rest in thy conscience until thou best at that full measure of faith, to that full persuasion, to these exulting joys, when thou aet ravished within the third heavens. Therefore, suppose thou canst not be content with this least and weakest measure, that is a token that thy faith is true; if thou labourest more and more to make it sure, yet the present measure is true faith.
Now, because there lies great things on it, therefore I will confirm it to you by Scripture. Can any be blessed without faith? (Ps. xxxii. 1.) Hence, says David, Blessed is the man whose sin is forgiven. Can any have their sins forgiven them but those who believe? And Christ says, Matt. v. 6, Blessed is he who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Thou that art hungry and thirsty art blessed, and therefore thou must have true faith, suppose thou seest it not; for it is easy to persuade thee that art full of these heavenly joys, and of the Holy Ghost, as Stephen was (Acts vii. 55). I say, then, it is easy to persuade thee thou hast faith, because thou feelest it within thee when thou art hungry and thirsty, and thou feelest thy heart toom and void of all grace, when thy soul is withered for want of Christs blood, it is hard to persuade thee to believe; yet, if thou hast this hunger and thirst, thou art blessed. Why? Because shalt get a fill. It is not the quantity of thy faith that shall save thee. Why? A drop of water is true water as the whole ocean sea. So a little faith is as true faith as the greatest, suppose it be not so strong; as a child of eight days old is as really a man as one of sixty years; a spark of fire is as true fire as a flame or bonfire; a sickly man is as truly living as a whole man, suppose his life be not so comfortable to him.
So it is not the measure if thy faith that saves thee; it is the blood that it grips to, that saves thee; as the weak hand of a bairn that leads the spoon to the mouth will feed as well as the strongest arm of a man will do; for it is not the hand that feeds thee, puts the meat in thy mouth, but it is the meat into the stomach that feeds thee; it is not the hand that clothes thee, suppose it puts on thy garment itself; it is not the gold ring that stems the blood, but it is the pearl set in the ring; so it is not thy faith (suppose it be precious) that will heal thy wounds, but it is Christ, the precious Pearl, set within the ring of thy faith.
So if thou canst grip Christ ever so weakly, He will not let thee perish. All that looked to the brazen serpent, although never so far og were healed of the sting of the fiery serpent; yet all saw not alike clearly, for some were near at hand, and some were afar off. Those that were near hand behoved to see more clearly than those that were far off; nevertheless, those that were afar off were as soon healed of the sting, when they looked to the serpent, as those that were near hand; for it was not their look that made them whole, but He whom the serpent did represent; and then believed He was to come. So if thou canst look to Christ ever so meanly, He can take away the sting of thy conscience, if thou believest; yet know, the weakest hand can take a gift as well as the strongest. Now Christ is the gift, and weak faith may grip Him as well as strong faith may grip Him; and Christ is as truly thine when thou hast a weak faith as when thou hast come to these triumphant joys through the strength of faith. So comfort yourselves with the meditation of these things. Amen.
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