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Temorary Faith – Robert Rollack

February 21, 2010

Next followeth a temporary. Of this faith ye have these texts : Matt. xiii. 20, 21, But he that received the seed in stony ground, is he who heareth the Word, and by and by receives it with joy, yet hath no root in himself, but is for a time, and when persecution and trouble ariseth because of the Word, is offended presently. To the same purpose read Luke viii. 13. Of this faith see also Heb. vi. 4, 5, For it cannot be, that they which have been once enlightened, and tasted of the good Word of God, and of the powers of the world to come, if they fall away, &c. To conclude, of this faith ye have John v. 35, He, namely, John, was a burning and a shining candle, and ye would for a time have rejoiced in his light. The reason of the name is this; it is called Temporary, because it endures but for a time, because it hath no root.

It hath the same object with justifying faith, and which is properly so called, namely, Jesus Christ with his benefits, offered in the word of the Gospel and in the Sacraments; wherein it differs from historical faith, which hath for the object thereof the universal truth. It hath the same subject with justifying faith: for it hath its seat both in the mind, and also in the will and heart.

Last of all, it hath as many parts of nature as the justifying hath. For it is a knowledge of the understanding, conjoined with both the judgments of the mind, and it is the apprehension of the will or heart, whereout followeth also the stirring of the affections, as of joy, delight, &c.

But that I may speak a little more largely of this apprehension, which is in temporary faith, and of this joy. First, it is certain, by the Scripture, that these things are in the temporary faith, For Christ saith in Matthew, That he, which is but for a time, doth receive the Word, and that with joy. And in John, the Jews are said to have rejoiced for a time in the light of John Baptist. And to the Hebrews, there is attributed to this faith, not only the enlightening of the mind, but also the taste of the heart, and that performed not only by the Word, but also by the Spirit; for he saith, “They which have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost.” Therefore, in temporary faith, there is indeed a kind of apprehension; there is indeed a certain joy, wherein temporary faith differeth from historical faith. For in historical faith, these things are not indeed, but he that hath it doth feign, and dissemble, and lie, in his outward profession, that he hath these things; wherefore he is a shameless hypocrite. But he that hath temporary faith hath these things indeed—apprehension, I say, and joy, after a certain manner, neither doth he so feign or lie, as he that hath an historical faith; yet he is a hypocrite, because this apprehension and this joy are not sincere, albeit after a certain manner they be true.

I say, they are not sincere, because they are not for that cause for which they should be, that is, they are not for Christ himself, offered in the preaching of the Gospel; they are not for God’s sake, they are not for his glory, nor for those heavenly benefits of Christ, his righteousness and eternal life; but they are for other causes, as for the newness of the Gospel, which is to be understood in that place, John v. 35, He was a burning and a shining candle, and ye would have rejoiced for a time in his light, namely, for the newness of the matter. Secondly, they be, because of a licentiousness to sin, which men by and by snatch to themselves, upon the hearing of free justification by Christ, and Christian liberty. To conclude, they are for riches, honours, and other commodities of this life. Now, seeing the temporising professor hath these causes propounded to himself in hearing and receiving the Word, and in rejoicing, it must needs be that these are not sincere in him. For nothing is done sincerely, unless it be done in respect of the glory of God. And herein differs Temporary Faith from Justifying. For the Justifying Faith doth all things for Christ himself, for God himself, for the heavenly and spiritual benefits of Christ, as much as it can for man’s infirmity.

Out of this, therefore, it follows, that the temporiser is also a hypocrite, seeing he is not sincere, and that the temporary faith is hypocritical, seeing it is not sincere. Out of that again, that it is not sincere, another thing followeth, namely, that it is not sound and firm; for nothing that is not sincere can be sound. For those causes upon which it depends are not sound; as, for example, those worldly things, as riches, honours of the world, &c. In which thing temporary faith differeth from justifying faith; for justifying faith, as it is sincere, so it is sound. For of that it is said, Col. ii. 5, And the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. For justifying faith is, as it were, a solid body, consisting of three dimensions, length, breadth, depth, for it possesseth the depth and lowest of the heart; but temporary faith is not a body with three dimensions, but only a surface, sticking in the upper part of the heart; for it is not either a sound light, enlightening all the heart, or a sound apprehension, arising from the bottom of the heart; or, to conclude, a sound joy possessing the whole body, but all these things are only superficial in the temporary faith. Whereupon, Heb. vi. 4, that apprehension of heavenly things which is therein, is compared to tasting, or slight touching, seeing that the heart doth but, as it were, with the tip of the tongue, lightly taste those heavenly things, and not quite drink them up, and receive them into itself.

Again, out of this, that temporary faith is not sound, another thing also followeth, namely, that it doth not endure for ever, but only for a time. For that which is not sound, is not durable and perpetual; but only temporary. Wherein also it differeth from justifying faith, which, as it is sound, so it is perpetual and constant. From this property this faith took her name, and was called temporary; now this property doth presuppose the two others going before; namely, first, that it is not sound; secondly, that it is not sincere, albeit it be in some sort true.

While I consider somewhat more diligently of the cause of these three properties, I find that it is not to be imputed so much to those outward things for which this faith doth apprehend Christ in the Word, and rejoiceth in him, as to the inward evil affection of the heart. For the heart of man, as Christ saith, is stony ground; that is, it is neither good nor honest of its own nature. Now, we measure this goodness and honesty, chiefly by simplicity and sincerity, which is opposed to hypocrisy and dissembling. Therefore, a deep hypocrisy, which is contrary to sincerity, possesseth the heart of man. Now, the heart, so affected, doth believe, apprehend and rejoice, not sincerely, for a true cause, for which it ought to do these things, but for other worldly causes. It followeth, therefore, that the cause of these evils doth lurk in the heart. Wherefore, if any man will not be a temporiser, let him above all things look to his heart, and sift and examine it diligently, night and day, so long till he feel that the faith of Christ takes root in the bottom of his heart, and doth throughout possess the whole heart, as much as may be.

Out of these things which we have spoken, touching the properties of this faith, and of the cause of them, a mark may be taken, whereby any one may discern true and justifying faith from temporary. And that is, sincerity; in a word, sincerity in doing, in believing, in apprehending, in rejoicing, and in doing all things throughout the whole course of the life. Now, sincerity is known by this, if all things be done and performed by us for God and for Christ, whether those things be of small or great moment. Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. x. 31. By these things which have been spoken, it is easy to gather a definition of this faith. For temporary faith is a knowledge in the mind, and an apprehension in the will, of Christ with all his benefits; but yet temporary, or enduring but for a time. And thus much of temporary faith.

– Robert Rollock, “A Treatise of God’s Effectual Calling,” in Select Works of Robert Rollock, pp. 207-10

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