Sunday, April 17, 2016

Precious Faith - Chapters 15 through 18

I'm reading Faith by Jeremiah Burroughs and decided to blog the hidden treasures within this book. It is one book that contains two of Burroughs' treatises: (1) Precious Faith and (2) The Saints' Walk by Faith on Earth and by Sight in Heaven.  Both treatises were first published in 1654. In 2011, they were edited by Dr. Don Kistler and reprinted into one book by Northampton Press.  In his first treatise on Precious Faith, Mr. Burroughs expounds 2 Peter 1:1.  You can see my summary for Chapters 1 to 4 here, Chapters 5 to 9 here, and Chapters 10 to 14 here.

In Chapter 15, Mr. Burroughs gives Christians seven rules for obtaining faith:
  1. "Faith is the gift of God, yes, but though it is, you know the Scripture says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God...Do not neglect hearing, but wait at wisdom's gates; and though God does not work in one sermon, He may work in another.  Therefore let it be your care to attend upon the Word, and to attend for this very end, that God might work faith," (pp. 61-62).
  2. "When you do come to hear the Word, you must hear every truth as that which infinitely concerns your souls and your eternal estates...whatever truths you hear, know that they do concern your lives, and therefore weigh and ponder them; and by this God works faith in the soul," (p. 62).
  3. "When you come to hear the Word, though you cannot find abilities to close with it as you should do, [then question yourself that] if these things should prove to be true...[you would be] a most miserable man to lose all the glory of heaven...for the enjoyment of some base sinful lust," (p. 63).
  4. "If you would have God work faith (which is the gift of God), add prayer to your hearing," (p. 63).
  5. "Do  not give liberty to yourselves to please your sense too willing to beat down your body, and not to please your sense too much, and that will be a way for you to get faith in your souls," (pp. 63-64).
  6. "You must not only deny sense, but you must deny your reason too...Do not therefore cast off a truth of God because you cannot understand it," (p. 64).
  7. "If you would have God to work faith, this precious faith in your hearts, do not sin against that historical faith that God has given you...take heed of sinning against this historical faith, if you would ever come to have justifying faith.  Many a man come to hear the Word, and believes that those who walk thus and thus shall not inherit eternal life; and many go away, and sin against the very light of their own consciences.  And because of this God leaves their souls forever in unbelief so that they shall never come to have justifying faith to unite their souls to Jesus Christ...Though you cannot work this precious faith in your own souls, you need not wilfully [sic] go and sin against any light that God puts in to your hearts," (p. 65).

In Chapter 16, he considers another use of the doctrine that faith is a most precious faith.  "[I]f faith is so precious, then what a great pity it is that those who have it should not make use of it," (p. 66).  I found his exhortation very convicting:  "I say this because you hear that Christians usually, when they come to any trials, into great afflictions, or under any temptations, whereas the first thing that they should do should be to exercise their faith; and the main that that they should do should be to put their faith to work, but you shall observe that the first thing, and the chief thing that they do, is to loosen and to give liberty to themselves to such thoughts as may most weaken their faith," (p. 66).  He asks, "[W]hen you come to any great affliction, what is it that your hearts are most busied about?  If you examine it, it is that which most weakens your faith," (pp. 66-67).  Mr. Burroughs concludes: "[I]t's that which the devil exceedingly troubles Christians with, that when God expects that they should put forth their faith, the main thing that they do it to spend the strength of their spirits about those things that only serve to weaken their faith.  Take heed of this...seeing God has given you this faith, make use of it upon all occasions," (p. 67).

In Chapter 17, he opens the second doctrine: "The faith of the weakest believer is equally precious with the faith of the strongest...As the election is the same with all saints, so their faith is of the same nature.  As such is equally precious," (p. 68) because:
  1. "It is wrought by the same almighty power," (p. 68).
  2. "Your faith justifies you as much as the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though there may be a difference in sanctification...a weak faith does not sanctify as much as a strong faith, but is justifies just as much as a strong faith," (pp. 68-69).
  3. "Your faith as truly interests you in God and unites you to Jesus Christ as the strongest faith in the world," (p. 69).
  4. "Your faith as truly brings you to such privileges to be a child of God and an heir," (p. 69).
  5. "Your faith as truly interests you in the covenant as the faith of the strongest...And your faith is of as everlasting a nature as well as the faith of the strongest," (p. 69).

In Chapter 18, Mr. Burroughs applies the second doctrine in five uses:
  1. "[Y]ou do not have the same precious gifts that others men have...yet you have the same like precious faith that such a saint has...therefore comfort yourselves when you see what difference God has made between you and between others.  Sometimes when men and women do but look upon others in whom God has made a great difference between them and us, it affects the heart much...Faith or no faith, that is what makes the great difference between man and man...if God has given you any faith, know that there is no man in the world that is at any great distance from you," (pp. 72-73).
  2. "We may see that the faith of most is surely not true faith, because it is not like precious faith with the saints...if it is faith that will carry you to heaven, it is the same faith," (p. 73).
  3. "You say you have faith, but whose faith is it like?  It may be that it's not beyond the faith of the devils," (p. 74).
  4. "If the faith of the weakest is the same with that of the strongest, then there is nothing that we read in Scripture that any believer did but every one should labor to get to the height that they did," (p. 74).
  5. "Let all Christians who thing they are higher than others in their graces learn to have an honorable esteem of their brethren, thought they have less degrees of grace than themselves." (p. 76).  "Certainly, there is many a poor broken-hearted soul that the world little takes notice of who honors God more by believing than a hundred of your talking Christians whose greatest part of religion lies in their tongues.  Therefore do not lift yourself up because of your gifts and parts, but look upon others as having the like precious faith that you have," (p. 77).

This concludes my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' treatise on Precious Faith.  In my next post, I'll look at his second treatise on The Saints Walk by Faith.

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons," (James 2:1).