William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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Temporary Disciples


by Francis Turretin


XI. If the temporary are sometimes called "disciples of Christ" and
"sons of God," "faithful" and "believers," it is either according to
opinion (kata doxan) (because they seem to be such in the opinion of
others) and out of the judgment of charity (because by a profession
of faith and reception of the sacraments, they mingle in the public
society of the church); but not according to the truth of the thing.
Hence Augustine says, "Certain persons are sons of God to God, who
are not such to us, and there are certain others, who on account of
grace received even temporarily, are called by us sons of God and
yet are not such in the sight of God" (Admonition and Grace 9 [20]
[FC 2:269; PL 44.928]).

XII. Faith is not true because it perseveres, but it perseveres
because it is true. Thus perseverance is not the cause of the verity
of faith, but the consequent and the effectfor because it has
solidity and a deep root in the heart, on this account it is
constant and perpetually endures. As from lightness arises liability
to fall, so from solidity arises stability. For although duration
does not properly constitute the essence of a thing, still it so
follows it that from it a judgment can well be formed concerning the
truth of a thing a posteriori. Duration is an index of truth, as
truth is the principle of duration.

XIII. Nothing is said of the temporary (Mt. 13) which proves that
their faith agrees in kind with justifying faith and differs only in
degree. Not that "they hear the word, and immediately receive it
with joy" because that reception is into the mind, not into the
heart (as seed falling upon stony places is received indeed upon the
upper surface of the earth, but does not penetrate farther). And the
joy with which it is received is not solid and true, arising from a
fiducial sense of God's grace, but from perishable things (to wit,
the novelty and pleasantness of the doctrine or even the hope of
earthly advantage). Not that "the seed springs up" (although it did
not come to maturity) because that superficial germination as it
takes place in a different kind of ground, so it ought to differ
specifically from the intimate and true, which brings forth good
fruit. Not that "they do certain good works," as is said of the
Israelites that they seek God and are pleased with the knowledge of
his ways (Is. 58:2); of the Jews, who exulted in the light of John
the Baptist (Jn. 5:35); of Herod, that he did many things after
hearing him (Mk. 6:20). These are no other than external good works
(as to the substance of a work and moral virtue), but not truly such
as to the truth of the thing and the manner according to which they
ought to be done.

XIV. Heb. 6:4-6 does not prove that the apostates were true
believers and that their faith was the same in kind as justifying
faith. (1) The apostle speaks hypo-thetically, not absolutely; for
to parapesontas is the same as if he had said "if they shall fall
away" (ean parapesosi). From the hypothetical to the absolute the
consequence does not hold good, unless the condition be posited.
Nor did the apostle threaten to no purpose because by such
conditional threatenings God prevents the renewed from falling,
frightening them by the fickleness of the apostate and exciting them
to the desire of perseverance. And although the condition on God's
part and as to the event is impossible, it would be very possible on
the part of man left to himself. (2) Whatever is ascribed to them
can be predicated of the unrenewed and reprobate, who can "be made
partakers of the Holy Spirit" (if not as to the fundamental and
saving gifts of conversion and consolation, still as to the initial
gifts of illumination and conviction or even as to extraordinary,
miraculous and ministerial gifts). They can be illuminated and have
a knowledge of the truth, if not a practical and consoling, yet a
theoretical and constraining. They can "taste the good word of God"
with an outward and labial, but not an inner and radical taste. They
can "taste the powers of the world to come," not so much by hope and
joy (which are the first fruits of heavenly glory) as with respect
to miracles (which are often termed powers and which were usually
performed in the primitive church, which is called the future age,
"the world to come" [as in Heb. 2:5] because it was such in the time
of the fathers of the Old Testament). They can "taste the heavenly
gift" as to a participation of faith, if not saving, still true in
its kind and which could be obtained only from heaven. (3) These
things are ascribed to them rather sacramentally and extrinsically
(as to a profession of the truth and the reception of baptism), than
spiritually and internally (as to the reception of faith without
hypocrisy [anypokritou], which is the gift without repentance
[ametameleton] of the elect).

XV. Although the faith of the temporary is true in its own order
because it truly receives the seed with joy and is not feigned by
those who thus believe, who not only think they believe, but really
and truly believe (hence they are even said "to believe," ]n. 2:23;
Lk. 8:13), still it is not a true and living justifying faith, in
which sense it is even called hypocritical because it is emulous of
the faith of the elect and has an external resemblance to it
(although destitute of its truth); and so great is its similarity to
it often that a greater is not seen between an image and its
prototype. Hence not only others who see them are easily deceived by
them, but the believers themselves also are deceived and impose upon
themselves; not feigning, but believing that they are truly
believers (God alone, who searches the innermost recesses of the
heart, knowing the truth). Still it is certain that there is a
manifold and most essential difference (as was said before) which
shows that they mutually differ not only in degree or duration, but
in very kind and nature.


 

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