Deceived as to Salvation

One sort of objectors to free justification are such as being in name Protestants, and professing themselves utter enemies to Papists, in that {as they say} they will not give the least piece of justification to works and holy walking, and will seem both to themselves and others to hold free justification perfectly; and yet, because of their being in the dead faith, they do not spiritually understand it; and because by conceiving it after a carnal human witted fashion, they feel no sweetness therein. Therefore declining in affection unto the establishing of their own righteousness, they not only nullify the truth regarding justification, and make it as good as nothing; but also making the light of nature, {described in Rom.2:14,15,} and natural reason their chiefest guide, they thus weaken the faith of others, by running into the very objections of the Papists; and shake hands with them in the main points of salvation, with whom they profess to be at utter variance. And all this because they lie in a dead faith, whereby they understand not the nature and excellency of free justification; and yet one such may do us more harm in weakening our faith than many Papists; not only, because they profess to be one with us and the same confession in letter, and so are like homebred flattering enemies; but also, because by great literal learning and teaching, they may bear a great name, as such as are alive, when by their false faith they be dead indeed. {Rev.3:1} Therefore that these objectors do not weaken our faith, we must learn to discern these underminers of truth.

Peradventure some will say, how may we discern them? I answer, by knowing and diligently marking the nature of dead faith; which is this, to hold the very truth of God’s Word after a sort, as far as the light of nature, good memory, and good human wit can reach; and herein to think themselves rich and increased in goods, having need of nothing; {Rev.3:17;} being ashamed not to hold as contrary to what a sound profession is thought to hold, sticking fast to such phrases of Scripture as seem to agree with their human wit and reason; but because such by hearing, do hear only after a literal manner, but do not understand; and by seeing, do see after a carnal human witted fashion, but do not perceive; {Mt.13:13,14;} therefore they talk of that which they hold, as men talk of things in their sleep, and can say Sibboleth, but not Shibboleth; {Judges 12:6;} that is, can say something, but not make a clear and perspicuous confession of the mysteries of Christ. – Then with Nicodemus they count it absurd, and do judge it very foolishness itself, {I Cor.2:14,} and cry out, “What thing is this? What new doctrine is this?” {Mk.1:27} “How can these things be?” {Jn.3:9} Then they fall a wrangling with Nicodemical conclusions, and do not keep neither in word nor deed to that which they hold; but speak like men in a spiritual frenzy with flat contradictions; and then fall to sophisticating, raging and calumniating; that is, to a changing and wresting one’s words and meaning; and finally, if at length they be not renewed and changed with Nicodemus, they fall to railing and persecuting. {Acts 13:45-50} Thus by the excellency of Christ’s benefits laid open, the thoughts of many hearts are opened to be very bad, that seemed a long time by an appearance of holy walking to be very good. {Lk.2:34,35} John Eaton {Honeycombe of Free Justification by Christ Alone, 1642}

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