Ad hoc verò vos, omni præterea collato studio, adjicite fidei vestrae virtutem, &c.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, etc.
There is no promise made by God, but is with a condition, either by way of a restraint, with si qui, as Romans the eighth chapter and the first verse; or of affirmative illi verò, or conclusion, the second epistle to the Corinthians the seventh chapter: Therefore seeing we have such promises, in this place we have both. Before promise is made us, to be partakers of the Divine nature, so that we flie the corruption; And the Apostle not contenting himselfe with that, doth joyn a second, as an affirmative condition: Therefore give all diligence to this.
The first observation from hence is, To know how to draw a conclusion from the promise of God: For some, from the promise of Gods grace, did conclude, that they might now freely sinne, Romans the sixt[h] chapter: But the Apostle here dislikes that, as also Paul in the second epistle to the Corinthians the seventh chapter, seeing we have such promises, let us consummate our holiness in the fear of God, The cause of so many dissensions in the world is, because we are of diverse spirits, and gather contrary conclusions, as in the first epistle to the Corinthians the seventh chapter, the Apostle, from the shortnesse of life, draweth this conclusion, that men should use the world as if they used it not. So from the same, there are another sort that concluded thus, Seeing we must dye to tomorrow, let us eat and drink, the first epistle to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter; and Romans the sixt[h] chapter, because when sinne abounds, grace superabounds; they concluded, let us sinne that grace many abound. From the promise of God we may not draw any other conclusion, but as here he exhorts, therefore let us give all diligence.
Secondly, He sheweth wherein this diligence is to be shewed, joyn to your faith virtue.
Firstly of Diligence; and then of the thing wherein it is to be imployed.
[624/625] Care or Diligence, the Apostle maketh the first part of repentance from ill, the second epistle to the Corinthians the seventh chapter: And it is the same word in both places; It is here the God of repentance; and the Apostle he make it the gates of affirmative virtues, and a good life; the one for taking away sinne, the other for bringing in of godlinesse. There are many kinds of diligence, but this is that a man useth, when he makes it tempestiva diligentia, when a man having day before him, he doth not put off till the end,aponemh, as Psalm the hundred and nineteenth; I made haste and prolonged not to keep thy commandements; and in the third chapter, looking for and hasting to the comming of the day of the Lord. As we must look for it, so make haste to meet him joyfully.
Now we know the nature of it, we will consider the degree of it in the word all, not some kinde of care or indeavor, but all diligence. Seeing we have great and pretious promises, in the highest degree, let our diligence be in the highest degree. Men must not perswade themselves it is an easie matter to be a good Christian; but a thing wherein all care and diligence is to be shewed, and he had the spirit of God to direct him, He layeth upon us no other burdens, then necessary commandements, Acts the fifteenth chapter and the eighteenth verse. Our Saviour Christ by crying often Watch and pray, Mark the thirteenth chapter, Take heed, Luke the thirteenth chapter, Strive to enter into the streight gate, Matthew the seventh chapter, Labour not for the meat that perisheth, John the sixt[h] chapter, calling entrance into life, as hard as for a camel to passe through the eye of a needle, Luke the sixteenth chapter, shews men may not think but it requires all diligence and contention. If the preservation of mans body cannot be without caring for apparel and meat; And if humane nature be decayed, and will not be repaired without cost, there must be care and diligence to keep a good dyet; then our union and incorporation into the Deitie is no matter of ease. We must use diligence both in ceasing from evil and following good, and that in as good degrees as we can; for when we have done what we can, yet it is true, in the first epistle of Peter the fourth chapter, justus vix servabitur. Unto which we add thirdly, the word give here used, is very effectual: It is used two wayes, It is to bring in a thing with an opposition; as if the Apostle said, Heretofore ye have shewed great diligence in vanities; ye can watch, spend your time and money: Shew the like diligence in following good. The other is a sense used in the sixt[h] chapter to the Galatians and in Judes epistle, that if Hereticks cannot get in, they will creep in craftily: in the next chapter he saith, Privily bringing in heresies; and the same Jude verse the fourth: So here it is brought in by imitation. We must be as careful to posesse ourselves with good, as the wicked are to joyn vice to vice. It is Christs advise, Luke the sixteenth chapter, The children of light to be as wise as they of the world. This joyning is [an addition]. It hath a plain expression the 68. Psalm: p625/626[ The singers went before, the players went after: This procession in order of a Quier, is the true motion signified by this word. It is used by the Apostle, speaking of the body in the fourth chapter of Ephesians and second chapter of Colossians and the nineteenth verse: This coupling of one bone with another, thus orderly marching or training he called by the same name: Such a thing the Apostle exhorts unto here. From hence we learn, that Christianity or Religion is a Quier, consisting of many veins; or a body, of many parts. It is not a thing standing of one virtue; they that have learned Christ truly, Ephesians the fourth chapter, have learnt first to put off the old man, and then put on the new. And so the Apostle reckoning up, as a great train of virtues, as Peter doth here; and St. Peter saith, verse the ninth, They that conceive not so of Christianity are blinde, and cannot see afarre off. When in the Scriptures we finde any main matter of weight laid upon one virtue, we must take a part for the whole, it is but one virtue of the train. As there are many parts of repentance, the second epistle to the Corinthians the seventh chapter and the first verse; so the Apostle gives a compleat harnesse, standing of seven several parts, Ephesians the sixt[h] chapter.
As they that are partaker of the Divine nature, are a body compact of many joynts and sinews; so the divine spirit is not one alone, but as the ancient Fathers define the eleventh verse of the seventh chapter of Isaiah, and the fourth chapter of the Apocalyps.
Secondly, This is not promiscuè, confusedly, but orderly as in Quier, one begins, another follows: This multitude of virtues is Acies ordinata, Canticles the sixt[h] chapter, like the marching of Soldiers; for it comes from God, who is the God of order and not of confusion.
Thirdly, All at once doe not break out, but there is a successive bringing in one of the other. In that order there are degrees, First, Faith: Secondly, Virtue: Thirdly, Knowledge. The number of virtues be eight, as eight parts of repentance, in the second epistle to the Corinthians, the seventh chapter. Those contain our separation from the Devil's nature: As the other are our union with Gods nature, which are usually compared to those eight steps in Ezekiel the fortieth chapter, from thirty first verse to the fourty first, they are our assents, whereby we approach to the Altar; so the promises of blessednesse which our Saviour speaketh of, are eight Matthew the fift[h] chapter.
Another thing to be observed is, That of these eight there are four pairs; for to a theological virtue is added even more a moral: Faith, knowledge, godlinesse, and charity, are theological; to every one of these there is a moral virtue.
To come to the particulars, we shall observe that faith begins and charity ends, as Galatians the fift[h] chapter, fides per charitatem operatur: So in Peter faith works till it come to love; He that will come to God must beleeve, Hebrews the eleventh chapter; but that is nothing without love 1 Cor.13.
[626/627] Love is the bond of perfection, Colossians the third chapter. Above all have love, which is the chain of perfection. Faith is a most pretious thing; so he saith verse one. And it hath this honor, to be the root and foundation of all, as Colossians the second chapter, grounded in faith, it is the ground of all vertue, it is Choragus the first that leadeth the dance. Men hope to receive the end of faith, and that is the salvation of souls; the first epistle of Peter the first chapter; then faith is the beginning of it. To this truth we must add another truth; that as it is the first, so but a part; and not as the world would have it, to be all. Because faith commeth by hearing, Romans the tenth chapter, the world is all set on hearing; but in the first epistle to the Corinthians and the twelfth chapter, the body is not all an eare; Faith is but a part, and that an eighth part. As here we have warrant from St. Peter, it is the first, ergo we must begin at it, but not to stand there, but goe further. As it is choragi, so epicorigia, that is, not so compleat of itself, but something is to be joyned to it. For saith, St. Peter, the fittest to take instruction from, who shewed the failing and wavering of his faith, when Christ asked him, Lovest thou me? he answered Thou knowest that I love thee, John the twenty first chapter. But how knew he it, when he denyed him before a poor Damsel? Matthew the twenty sixt[h] chapter. And in respect of Christ, Luke the twentieth chapter and the thirty second verse, I have prayed for thy faith: Christs promise and his own experience may persuade us, he knew that nature of faith: And this is an infallible mark of true faith, that it hath joyned virtue, and is taught of the Law of God; and true faith doth not abrogate the Law, nay, Romans the third chapter, the Law is established by faith. Faith must bring in virtue by the hand. So in that great chapter of faith, having gone through all, he saith, They chused rather to suffer, than to enjoy pleasure of sinne, Hebrews the eleventh chapter. Paul saith true faith operatur justiam & per charitatem: So Peter here, and James, the second chapter and the twenty second verse, it doth cooperari; that is the signe James gives of faith. In the first epistle of John the fift[h] chapter, the signe of true faith is, it overcomes not only the Devil, but the world, and the pleasures, riches, honors of the world, as in Hebrews the eleventh chapter: It is the same signe that Hebrews the eleventh chapter and the fourth verse, shewed itself in Moses, when he refused to be the sonne of Pharaohs daughter. And Jude, in the twentieth verse saith, If it be true faith, it is fides sanctificans. So they all agree, Paul saith, Faith must work righteousness; Peter, It must bring virtue in by the hand; John, It must overcome the world and Jude saith, It is a sanctifying faith, not locked up in mans conscience. So that it is no true faith, which virtue follows not.