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John de l’ Espine (1506-1597) on Faith as Assurance

July 22, 2009

de l’ Espine:

What that
Faith is.

But when we speak so of faith, we understand not by this name a bare opinion which we may have of the truth or a simple persuasion and consent, whereby we allow all that is contained in the Scripture: but we understand this Faith a lively apprehension of the truth of God’s promises, and an assurance of his grace and favor in Jesus Christ. Also, a full confidence that is sufficient to bear all the temptations, that can be laid upon us, and to beat down death, the devil, and all the gates of hell, and further, to set itself against wrath, in the judgment and malediction of God, the which it turns from us as a tempest and storm when we are threatened. Now when we hear said that the law contains the promises of God, and in them his undeserved favor and grace, as the eye does color, and the ear the sound, and the other senses their proper object: we understand this of the assurance and certainty only, not of any carnal seeing. For the things that we believe, they can not be felt with the hand, nor seen with the eye, nor by any reason, or other sense of man be comprehended, and yet nevertheless they are more certain, then the things that we feel, because our senses may be deceived. As the eye which will judge a piece of wood in the water to be crooked, although it be very straight: But Faith when it is once grounded, and rests itself upon the word of God, it is assured of all that is therein taught, and specially it embraces Jesus Christ and draws from him everlasting life.

I. de l’ Espine   An Excellent Treatise of Christian Righteovsnes, (Imprinted at London by Thomas Vautrolier dwelling in the Blackfires, 1577), 90-92.

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