Cupimus autem ut unusquisque vestrûm idem studium ad finem usque oftendat, ad certam spei peruasionem.
But we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hopee unto the end.
As in the Old Testament the Prophetisse Deborah, in the service of the children of Isha against Jabin, doth specially praise God for the willingnesse of the people, Judges the first chapter; so here the Apostle commendeth the Hebrews for the work and labour of their love, in that they spared no cost in shewing themselves good Christians. Now the crown of our rejoycing is the summe of our desire: and therefore as there Deborah desireth to have the promptnesse and readinesse continued in the people; so the Apostle wisheth that all the Hebrews, as they have been carefull to practise the fruits of faith, so should they still shew further diligence in that behalf. The special drift of the Apostle is to shew, that the Christians comfort standeth in the perfection of their hope.
The Apostle, Hebrews, the eleventh chapter and first verse, maketh their hope for to be the definition of faith: For though matters Historical and Dogmatical pertain to faith, yet chiefly faith hath hope for its object; for as Augustine, Credimus non ut credamus, sed ut speremus; therefore the Apostle saith, the end of all Scripture is, that we may have hope, Romans, the fifteenth chapter and the fourth verse; and that which he affirmeth, in the first epistle to the Corinthians the ninth chapter, That he which planted, planteth in hope, [578/579] is as much true in all actions: the ground whereof is the hope we conceive of some benefit; for he that soweth, soweth in hope, he that faileth, faileth in hope, and he that marrieth, doth it in hope that his estate will be bettered thereby: For sure it is, that it is but a comfortlesse thing to beleeve that there is an everlasting joy and glory laid up in Heaven, except a man be perswaded that he shall be partaker of it; Exanguis res fides sine spe, quia spes fidei exanguis est, Amb[rose]. And as hope is the blood of faith, as the Prophet saith, Isaiah, the thirtieth chapter and the fifteenth verse, In quietnesse and in confidence shall be your strength; so hope is that which whets diligence: and therefore the Prophet saith, in the second book of the Chronicles the fifteenth chapter and the seventeenth verse, Be strong and let not your hands be weak, for your work shall have no end: And in the new Testament the Apostle saith, Be stedfast and immovable, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord, Quod labor vester non erit inanis in Domino, the first epistle to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter and the fifty eighth verse. So nothing is more to be desired than to have hope in the evil day; and the means of this hope is to shew forth diligence.
But for the easier intreatie of the contents of this verse, the points which the Apostle holdeth, are, first, That we are not only to beleeve, but also to hope: Secondly, Not with a feeble or faint hope, but with the fulnesse of hope: Thirdly, This hope must not be for an hour, as Christ speaketh of St. John, John the fift[h] chapter, but continuing to the end.
Then for the means of this hope is request is, First, That diligence be used: Secondly, This diligence must be shewed forth.
For the first point, the Apostles desire is, That they should hope for that which they beleeve; wherein standeth the real difference that is between the faith of the Devils and men reprobate, and the faith of the Children of God; for even to the Devils the Apostle ascribes faith, but this faith ends in fear, James the second chapter, Dæmons credunt & contremiscunt; but a Christian mans faith and beleef ends in hope. A Christian man beleeves that he may have hope, for hope cometh by faith, as the Apostle sheweth, Galatians the fift[h] chapter, and fift[h] verse, We by the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousnesse through faith, and that faith which is the cause of hope, doth work by love; as the same Apostle testifieth, And love causeth diligence, Credendo speramus, sperando diligimus, qui diligit diligendus est, Amb[rose]. For there is no love without diligence. And so necessary is hope that the Apostle makes it a part of our salvation: For as Ephesians, the second chapter and twenty-fourth verse, we are saved by hope: For howsoever it is certain, that God is the hope of all men in general, as the Prophet calls him, the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are in the broad sea, Psalm the sixty fift[h], so it is a certain, there is no other hope, besides that general, which the faithfull conceive; for that general hope concerns this present life. The Apostle saith, if we had no other hope but that, we are of all men most miserable, the first [579/580] to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter. The hope of all men is spes Dei, that he doth save both man and beast, Psalm 36, that they shall be delivered from outward danger, and shall be both kept by God under the shadow of his wings; and when none can minister help, then they, flying to God, shall be safe: But he is more specially called the hope of Israel, Joel the third chapter and the sixteenth verse; that is, there is a further hope, & this is a Christians hope. It is true that Christians have a hope in God for defence from trouble in this life, as others have: and in that sense, this their hope is like a brest-plate against the troubles of this life, the first epistle to the Thessalonians the fift[h] chapter and the eighth verse; and the same hope of theirs, for that the troubles of this life are compared to the surges and waves of the Sea, is called an Anchor, Hebrews the sixth chapter. But the Christian mans hope goes further than that general hope; for the Heathen doth say, spero dum spiro; but when breath is gone, the just man hath hope in his death, Justus etiam in morte sperat, Proverbs the fourteenth chapter and the twenty third verse: therefore the Apostle calls a Christian mans hope spem vivam, a lively hope; as if the other were spes mortua, the first epistle of Peter the first chapter and the third verse: For whereas the faith of all men doth fail in death, the Christians faith doth even then flourish, because they are begotten again to lively hope, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It was Davids speech, That when he was laid in the grave, his flesh should rest in hope, Psalm the sixteenth. In this life our hope hath a waiting, as St. Paul calls it, wherein it doth hope for the hope of righteousness by Christ, Galatians the fift[h] chapter and fift[h] verse; and after this life it hopes for the fruition of the riches of glory, that is, for Christ himself, who is the hope of glory, Colossians the first chapter and the twenty seventh verse: His hope is not in the shadow of Gods wings only, but spes in lumine virtutis, as the Prophet speaks, Psalm the eighty ninth and the fifteenth verse.
There is yet one point more, and that is a necessary admonition not to confound, but keep several these two virtues theological; for they be two disjoyned virtues, as the Apostle sheweth, the first epistle to the Corinthians the thirteenth chapter: Now these three, are Faith, Hope and Love; and whereas we put Hope under Faith, all the ancient Fathers have put differences between them; of whom Augustine makes four difference: First, Faith hath for its object the word and promise of God, but Hope looks not for a promise, but rem promissam, we beleeved the promise but hope for the things promised. Secondly, of Faith, as well evil things as good things are the object; for we beleeve the pains of Hell no lesse than the joyes of heaven, but the object of our hope is openly for good things, as that in this life we shall be partakers of the righteousnesse of Christ, and afterwards of his glory. Thirdly, We doe not only beleeve things to come, but such as are present and past; for things past by faith we apprehend, Hebrews the eleventh chapter and third verse; and for things to come, we beleeve there shall be a day of Judgement, when the Shepherd shall separate 580/581 the sheep from the goats, Matthew the twenty fift[h] chapter; but Hope doth only apprehend things to come, and not things past. Fourthly, as Bernard noteth, the applying virtue is Hope; for this is Vox fidei, magna & invisibilia reposita sunt timentibus Deum; but Hopes voice is, mihi ipsi reperiuntuer, that is, I myself have a part in them: Quod fides futurum credit id, spes, sibi futuruum expectat; but Charities voice is, I am diligent, & spem apprehendo.
For the use of this virtue, whereas in the Scripture there are many sayings which force farre, As that as the ground that drinks in rain and bringeth not forth grasse, is cursed so the Christian that drinks the water of Gods word and yet brings forth no fruits of faith is in a cursed state, Hebrews the sixt[h] chapter: Yet to conceive hope, because in the same chapter is a matter of comfort also, so the Apostle saith, That by two immutable things, whereby it is impossible for God to lye, that is his word and oath, we have strong consolation, Hebrews the sixth chapter and the eighteenth verse: As he hath made us great and pretious promises, the second epistle of Peter the second chapter; so he is a faithfull Creator, the first epistle of Peter the fourth chapter: And as Sarah confessed, He is faithfull that hath promised, Hebrews the eleventh chapter and the eleventh verse: And as Sarah said, so Abraham saith, He is able to doe what he promiseth, Romans the fourth chapter & the twenty first verse. And therefore we are to conceive hope, and say with the Apostle, in the second epistle to Timothie the first chapter, I know whom I have beleeved, Scio cui credidi; and not only able, but willing, For of them that come to him he casteth away none, John the sixth chapter.
Secondly, Our hope must not be faint; but we must have a perfect assurance of hope; not a hope halfe full, but the full measure of hope, as the Apostle sheweth. We must not sail with one sail but with the whole gale of winde, that is, with a full assurance of hope; for to this belongeth that which the Apostle requireth, That we be carried forward to that perfection, Hebrews the sixth chapter and the first verse that as we may not alwaies be babes in knowledge, that must be taught line upon line, Esay the twenty ninth chapter, but labour to come to a fulnesse of knowledge, which the Apostle calls A treasure of wisdome. [fulfilment of discernment] Colossians the second chapter and the third verse: So for being faithfull men, we must not content ourselves with a weak and feeble faith, but must strive to attain to an assurance of faith. Hebrews the tenth chapter and the twenty second verse; not to say as Agrippa, Acts the twenty sixt[h] chapter, I am somewhat perswaded to be a Christian, that is but a beginning of faith; but when we have this beginning, we are to goe forward, and so in hope we must not content our selves with a good perswasion at the first, and so to rest in a mammering; but proceed till we be fully assured: And this St. Peter telleth plainly, we must perfecte sperare, the first epistle of Peter the first chapter and the thirteenth verse, trust perfectly. This is Peters desire, as it is the Apostle here. [581/582] Which full assurance, that is a different thing from faith, the Apostle sheweth, Ephesians the third chapter and the twelfth verse, In whom we have boldnesse and accesse with confidence by faith in Christ. That confidence (or fiducia) as the Apostle calls it, is the perfection of our hope; and we attain to it, as he saith perfidem. This fiducia is the effect of faith, as access and boldness of speech are the effects of hope, the second epistle to the Corinthians the third chapter and the twelfth verse. Those beginnings of hope and faith are not to be disliked, Mark the ninth chapter and the twenty fourth verse, I beleeve, Lord help my unbelief; but he that hath such a faith, must strive to come to Abraham's faith, Qui contra sub spe credidit, Romans the fourth chapter: So he hath that small measure of hope which the Prophet speaketh of Joel the second chapter and the fourteenth verse, Who knoweth if the Lord will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him? Jon the third chapter and the ninth verse. These are beginnings not to be disallowed, so that he strive further to the perfection of hope which was in Job, Job the thirteenth chapter and the fifteenth verse, Etenium si occiderit, sperabo in eum; Which made Paul say Romans the eighth chapter and the thirty eighth verse, I am sure that neither life nor death, things present, nor to come etc.
Thirdly, This fulnesse of hope must continue to the end, and not abide for a time: As Christ blames, Luke the eighth chapter, so the Apostle finds fault with temporary hope: It is that which we see in Demas, he beleeved and had hope, and gave great hope for a time, so that Paul acknowledged his fellow laborer; but his faith and hope had soon an end, for he forsook Paul, and fell to embracing the present world, the second epistle to Timothie the fourth chapter. Therefore it is not enough to hope for a time, but our hope must continue to the end, for as the Apostle saith, thou mayst see the goodnesse of God in breaking off the natural branches to graff thee in, if thou continue; for else he will shew like severity to thee, Romans the eleventh chapter and the seventeenth verse; but thou must permanere. The same Apostle saith, Galatians the fift[h] chapter and the seventh verse, You did run well; as if he should say, nay you sate still, and therefore all is to no purpose: therefore the Apostle exhorts, So to run that they may obtain, the first to the Corinthians the ninth chapter; as he himself does in chastising his body and subduing it, least while he preach to them, he should be rejected: His meaning is, albeit be assured, That nothing shall separate him from the love of God, Romans the eighth chapter and the thirty eighth verse, yet he will runne still, and keep his hope. For the state of sanctification is like the sanctifying of the Nazarite, If at the end of six days he did touch any unclean thing, he was to begin again, Numbers the sixth chapter and the twelfth verse. So it is in the matter of hope and other virtues: And therefore the Prophet prayeth not only for the spirit and an ingenious spirit, but a constant spirit that may continue, Psalm the fifty first.
[582/583] The means are set down in these words, First, he would have them use diligence: Secondly, it must be demonstrative and expert Diligence: Thirdly, it must be the same diligence that is shewed in the works of Love and Charity and in the distribution of the poor.
Of these three points the first is, The Apostle sheweth we may deceive our selves in our hope: He that said, I shall never be moved, Psalm the thirtieth and the sixt[h] verse, had hope enough and too much; and he that said, Though all men forsake thee, yet not I, Matthew the twenty sixt[h] chapter, hoped enough and too much: and therefore hope doth well in injoyning the means, for as in the beginning of the chapter, verse the sixt[h], is matter of feare, and in the end, verse the eighteenth, matter of hope; so here he willeth them to shew diligence, that this hope may appear, and that it be not a negligent and sluggish hope, as he speaks, ut ne sitis semper sperantes: For as fear, if it be not mixed with hope, doth degenerate into desperation; so hope if it be not tempered with fear, will turn into presumption. And it was the case of the two saints, David and Peter and we see what came of it: And therefore of Job who had such an assured hope in God, even in death, it is said, Nonne timor tuus spes tua Job the fourteenth chapter: he felt in himself a fear to commit sinne, and that fear, say the ancient Fathers, was his hope. And the Apostle that wills them perfecte sperare, to trust perfectly, the first epistle of Peter the first chapter and the thirteenth verse, saith after, verse the seventeenth, Passe your time in fear: He that before called for a perfection of hope, doth here require fear; for so our hope may not fall asleep or wax negligent. And as Basil saith, Vide spem num sit vera spes; The true hope is that which hath [endurance approved] coact and loved to diligence: Such a hope is not that perswades himself his Master deters his comming, and so falleth to be negligent; that is a confounding hope: But the diligent hope is that which confounds not, Romans the fifth chapter and fifth verse; For as faith teacheth that it is impossible to attain to Heaven; so withall it tells us, it is arduus, a matter of difficulty: Wherefore Christ saith, Vigilate, Mark the eighth chapter. If we will come thither, we must not be sloathfull, but diligent and watchfull: We must use both attention, Luke the twenty first chapter: take heed to your selves, and contention, Luke the thirteenth chapter, Strive to enter, Therefore the Prophet saith, Psalm the thirty seventh, Hope in the Lord, and be doing good: there is both hope and diligence. The Apostle saith, We have great and pretious promises made us, the second epistle of Peter the first chapter and the fourth verse. That is our hope, but we must be diligent, adding to our hope virtue, to virtue knowledge, and these if we be without, we cannot be partakers of the promises, which agreeth with Galatians the fift[h] chapter, That faith worketh by love; And he that hath this hope purgeth himself, the first epistle of John the third chapter and the third verse. Job, that did perfectly hope, was not negligent, as he saith, Etiam si occidit, sperabo in eum, Job the thirteenth chapter and the fifteenth verse; so he sheweth his carefulnesse Veritas omnia opera mea, Job the ninth chapter. 583/584 Paul that said, He was sure of the love of God Romans the eighth chapter doth not cease to be diligent, lest he should be vexed; first epistle to the Corinthians the ninth chapter: the same Paul saith, Philippians the third chapter and the tenth verse, I forget that which is behinde, and indeavour towards that which is before. That is that which concluded this point, in seeing faith sheweth it is possible to attain to Heaven, though it be hard, we must use diligence which may make it a thing possible: Not that we are sufficient of our selves, as from our selves to think any good, or to use any diligence to bring this to passe, for all our sufficiencie is of God, the second epistle to the Corinthians the third chapter: And therefore the Apostle, when he had said, I labored more than they all, correcteth himself, yet not I, but the grace of God within me, the first epistle to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter and the tenth verse: He did not say before, It was I that persecuted the Church, but the sinne that dwelleth within me, but ascribes that wholly to himself. But if we doe any good thing, we must wholly ascribe that to God, who, by his spirit, doth give us grace and ability to doe it. And therefore whosoever feel themselves to receive grace, the second epistle to the Corinthians and the sixth chapter, and be indued with virtue from above, Luke the twenty fourth chapter, they must take heed they be not wanting to that grace and heare it in vain; but having grace from God, we must labour to make that possible which faith sheweth to be possible.
Secondly, They must make it apparent there is a secret diligence; but that which the Apostle requireth is an offensive diligence, For as James saith, Ostende mihi fidem ex operibus, James the second chapter and eighth verse: So the Apostles meaning is, I care not for the concealed diligence, let me see it appear by your outward conversation. For if the Heathen being indued with the light of Nature only, did shew the work of the Law written in their hearts, by doing morall virtues, Romans the second chapter, much more ought Christians, that are indued with grace from above, to shew forth this diligence, that it may be visible to the world. The Apostle shews there are two hopes, Spes internæ dulcedinus & extremæ operationis; the one is concealed and inward, the other is apparent and to be seen. The inward hope bringeth this too passe, That the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, Rom. 5.5 and therefore is to be likened: This hope doth likewise effect this, That we have the spirit of God bearing witnesse to our spirits that we are the Children of God Rom. 8. It is as it were absconditum Manna, Apoc. the second chapter doth inwardly feed our souls, But howsoever this be good, yet not without danger; for as the Apostle sheweth, there are that have been lightened with knowledge, and have tasted of the Heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God, and the power of the world to come, and yet fall away, Hebrews the sixt[h] chapter and the fourth verse: Therefore he calls not for this diligence, but will have them make it evident; which he expresseth in these words, that it be same diligence; which is the third point:
Wherein he teacheth in what this demonstrative diligence standeth, that is, as the former verse sheweth in the work and labour of love, and in ministering to the Saints; that is, the doing of works of charity, makes the offensive diligence: Whereby he teacheth, that this offensive or demonstrative diligence, is the touch stone of our hope, as the Apostle saith, The works of love are the touchstone of faith, for true faith worketh by love, Galatians the fift[h] chapter. This diligence cannot deceive us, of which our Saviour Christ saith, John the fift[h] chapter, They that have done good, shall come forth into everlasting life, and the comfortable sentence pronounced by the Judge at the last day, upon all those that have shewed forth this diligence, in doing good workes of mercy shall be: Come ye blessed possese the kingdome prepared for you, Matthew the twenty fift[h] chapter. It sufficeth not to say to a brother or sister that is naked and destitute of daily food, Depart in peace, warm your selves, fill your bellies; but the inward compassion must shew it self outwardly, by giving them those things which are needful to the body, James the second chapter and the fifteenth verse: Therefore the Apostle Peter willeth them that are perswaded of the great and pretious promises that are made them, not to stay there, but make their election sure to them by this offensive diligence, that to their faith they add virtue, to virtue knowledge, which if they doe, they never fail, the second epistle of Peter the first chapter. And the Apostle, St. John saith, Hereby we know that we are translated from death unto life, because we love the brethren, and that not in word and tongue only, but in deed and truth, the first epistle of John the third chapter and the fourteenth verse. God to assure us of his mercifull promises in Christ, is said, not only to have sealed us, but also to have given us the earnest of the spirit into our hearts, the second epistle to the Corinthians the first chapter and the twenty second verse. The concealed diligence is as the earnest which a man puts in his purse; but the offensive diligence is like to a seal, which may be shewed to all men: for, as Christ witnesseth, Our lights must so shine before all men, that the wicked and the ungodly, by seeing our good works, may take occasion to glorifie God and be converted, Matthew the fift[h] chapter. If we use diligence, and shew forth our diligence in doing those works of love, we shall attain to hope, and that not faint or feeble, but of full measure, even the full assurance of hope, which shall not be for a time, or an hour, and so fail, but it shall continue even to the end.