The Inseparable Link of Faith and Obedience by Stephen Charnock

Faith and obedience are distinct, though inseparable “The obedience of faith.” Faith, indeed, is obedience to a gospel command, which enjoins us to believe; but it is not all our obedience. Justification and sanctification are distinct acts of God; justification respects the person, sanctification the nature; justification is first in order of nature, and sanctification follows: they are distinct, but inseparable; every justified person hath a sanctified nature, and every sanctified nature supposeth a justified person.

So faith and obedience are distinct: faith as the principle, obedience as the product; faith as the cause, obedience as the effect; the cause and the effect are not the same. By faith we own Christ as our Lord. by obedience we regulate ourselves according to his. command. The acceptance of the relation to him as a subject, precedes the performance of our duty: by faith we receive his law, and by obedience we fulfil it. Faith makes us God’s children (Gal. 3:26). Obedience manifests us to be Christ’s disciples (John 15:8). Faith is the touchstone of obedience; the touchstone, and that which is tried by it, are not the same. But though they are distinct, yet they are inseparable. Faith and obedience are joined together; obedience follows faith at the heels. Faith purifies the heart, and a pure heart cannot be without pure actions.

Faith unites us to Christ, whereby we partake of his life; and a living branch cannot be without fruit in its season, and “much fruit” (John 15:5), and that naturally from a “newness of spirit” (Rom. 7:9); not constrained by the rigors of the law, but drawn forth from a sweetness of love; for faith works by love. The love of God is the strong motive, and love to God is the quickening principle; as there can be no obedience without faith, so no faith without obedience. After all this, the apostle ends with the celebration of the wisdom of God; “To God only wise, be glory, through Jesus Christ forever.” The rich discovery of the gospel cannot be thought of, by a gracious soul, without a return of praise to God, and admiration of his singular wisdom.

Spurgeon on A Nation’s Alliance with Romanism

Brothers and Sisters, if there is any one thing which yet provokes God above all this, it is the fact that we have once again, as a nation, permitted downright Popery to claim to be our national religion! Dark is the day and dismal is the hour which sees the ancient superstitions defiling the houses which are at least nominally dedicated to the God of Heaven. In our Established Church the Gospel is no longer dominant, albeit that a little band of good and faithful men still linger in it, and are like a handful of salt amid general putrefaction. We have no longer any right to speak of our national Protestant Church—it is not Protestant—it tolerates barefaced Popery, and swarms with worshippers of the god whom the baker bakes in the oven, and whom they bite with their teeth!

Not many streets from this building in which we are assembled you may have your candles, and your incense, and your copes, and your albs with all the other pomp and vanities of the detestable idolatry of Rome. That Romanism against which Latimer bore testimony at the stake has been suffered to hold its mummeries and practice its fantastic tricks in the name of this nation until it counts its deluded admirers by tens of thousands! That monster which stained Smithfield with gore and made it an ash heap for the martyrs of God has come back to you! The old wolf that tore your fathers and tore their palpitating hearts out of their bosoms you have allowed to come back into your houses—and you are cherishing it and feeding it with your children’s meat!

Once again the harlot of Babylon flaunts her finery in our faces almost without rebuke. Do not tell me it is not Popery! It is the same Antichrist with which your fathers wrestled—and a man with but half his wits about him may see it to be so—and yet this land bears it, and rejoices in it, and crouches at the foot of a priest once more! Our great ones, our delicate women, and dainty lords, are once again the willing vassals of priest-craft and superstition. And amid all this, if anyone speaks out, he is assailed as uncharitable, and abhorred as a troublemaker in Israel! Is it for nothing that God has favored this land with the Gospel? Must all her light be turned to darkness? Must all the gains of the valiant men of old be lost by the sloth and cowardice of this thoughtless generation?

In days of yore, men like Knox and Welch in Scotland, and Hugh Latimer, and John Bradford fought like lions for the Truth of God, and are we to yield like cowardly curs? Are the men of oak succeeded by the men of willow? The men who cried, “No Popery here!” now sleep within their sepulchers, and their descendants wear the yoke which their fathers scorned! Shall not God visit us for this? I would that a voice of thunder could arouse this slumbering generation! I am for liberty of conscience for every man—I would have, by all manner of means, the Catholic as free to practice his religion as anyone else!

I would have religion left to its own native power for its support, and would allow no church to offer to God what it had taken from an unwilling people by the legalized robbery of a church-rate and tithe! But, above all things, if we must be doomed to have an Established Church, I pray God it may not forever be a den of superstition and the haunt of Papist heresies! If the Church of England does not sweep Tractarianism out of her midst, it should be the daily prayer of every Christian man that God would sweep her utterly away from this nation—for the old leprosy of Rome ought not to be sanctioned and supported by a land which has shed so much of her blood to be purged from it!

Can two walk together, then, except they be agreed? And as these things cannot be supposed to be agreeable to the mind and will of God, we cannot wonder if there should be a plague upon our cattle, and then a plague upon men, and if these should come sevenfold as heavy as they have ever come as yet!

The Sure Covenant and Your Perseverance by C. H. Spurgeon

But now, to wind up our description of this Covenant, it is sure. If I were a rich man there would be but one thing I would want to make my riches all I desire—and that would be to have them sure—for riches often make to themselves wings and fly away. Health is a great blessing and we need but to write one word on it to make it the greatest blessing, that is the adjective “sure.” We have relatives and we love them—ah, if we could but write “sure” on them, what a blessed thing it would be. We cannot call anything, “sure,” on earth. The only place where we can write that word is on the Everlasting Covenant, which is “ordered in all things and sure.” Now there is some poor Brother here this morning who has lost his Covenant, as he thinks. Ah, Brother, you once had peaceful hours and sweet enjoyment in the Presence of God. But now you are in gloom and doubt. You have lost your roll. Well, let me tell you, though you have lost your roll, the Covenant is not lost, for all that. You never had the real Covenant in your hands—you only had a copy of it. You thought you read your title clear but you never read the title-deeds, themselves. You only held a copy of the lease and you have lost it. The Covenant itself. Where is it? It is under the Throne of God. It is in the archives of Heaven, in the Ark of the Covenant. It is in Jesus’ Breast. It is on His hands, on His heart—it is there! Oh, if God were to put my salvation in my hands, I should be lost in ten minutes. But my salvation is not there—it is in Christ’s hands. You have read of the celebrated dream of John Newton, which I will tell you to the best of my recollection. He thought he was out at sea, on board a vessel, when some bright angel flew down and presented him with a ring, saying, “As long as you wear this ring you shall be happy and your soul shall be safe.” He put the ring on his finger and he felt happy to have it in his own possession. Then there came a spirit from the vast deep and said to him, “That ring is nothing but folly.” And by cajolery and flattery the spirit at last persuaded him to slip the ring from off his finger and he dropped it in the sea. Then there came fierce things from the deep. The mountains bellowed and hurled upward their volcanic lava—all the earth was on fire and his soul in the greatest trouble. By-and-by a spirit came and diving below, fetched up the ring and showing it to him, said, “Now you are safe, for I have saved the ring.” Now might John Newton have said, “Let me put it on my finger again.” “No, no, you cannot take care of it yourself,” and up the angel flew, carrying the ring away with him, so that then he felt himself secure, since no cajolery of Hell could get it from him again, for it was up in Heaven.
My life is “hid with Christ in God.” If I had my spiritual life in my own possession, I would be a suicide very soon, but it is not with me. And as I cannot save myself, as a Christian I cannot destroy myself, for my life is wrapped up in the Everlasting Covenant—it is with Christ in Heaven. Oh, glorious and precious Covenant!

Source: Sermon 19

 

Knowing God and Prayer: The Necessary and Inevitable Link

Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory; where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies towards me? Are they restrained? Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting. Isaiah 63:15-16

Introduction

As we have gone through this section, we have taken notice of certain things about God. We have seen the love of God, the wrath of God, the lovingkindness of God, and the sympathy of God for His people. And there are many other things implied about God, such as His wisdom and power. This passage is a rich field wherein we find many attributes scattered throughout it.

Yet, this passage is a passage that has a specific theme; we have seen Isaiah acting as a Remembrancer of God, that is, one who reminds God, even as God had told His people to do. He is reminding the Lord of the past so as to remind Him of His promises toward His people for the future. And as He prayed, He could not help speaking of the nature of God.

There is something here about prayer and getting to know God.  John Bunyan said, “The truths that I know best I have learned on my knees. I never know a thing well, till it is burned into my heart by prayer.”  D. M. Lloyd-Jones said, “The ultimate test of my understanding of the scriptural teaching is the amount of time I spend in prayer. As theology is ultimately the knowledge of God, the more theology I know, the more it should drive me to seek to know God. Not to know ‘about’ Him but to know Him! The whole object of salvation is to bring me to knowledge of God… If all my knowledge does not lead me to prayer there is something wrong somewhere.”

This entire section proves that statements reflect a biblical truth.  We really know God when we really pray unto Him.  It is not a mere intellectual knowledge, but an experimental knowledge. This passage teaches us, therefore, something about God and about true prayer. For this reason, let us consider,

Praying to God as Father

There are two specific ways that Isaiah addresses God. Both speak of the intimate relationship that God has with His people. On one hand, Isaiah addresses Him as the Father of His people. Though this relationship was revealed under the Old Covenant (Isa. 64:8; Deut. 32:6; 1 Chron. 29:10; Jer. 3:4). It was practically realized only upon the rarest of occasions.  Speaking on this, one man wrote:

Only fifteen times was God referred to as the Father in the Old Testament. Where it does occur, it is used of the nation Israel or to the king of Israel. Never was God called the Father of an individual or of human beings in general (though isolated instances occur in second temple Judaism, Sir. 51:10). In the New Testament numerous references to God as Father can be found (Mark L. Bailey, “A Biblical Theology of Paul’s Pastoral Epistles,” in A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, p. 342).

One of Jesus’ unique emphases was that His disciples should think of God as their heavenly Father. It was not characteristic of believers to address God as their Father until Jesus taught them to do so. Amid their trials, this is now the ground of their appeal. As their Father, surely He must love them, be ready to listen to them, eager to provide for them, and zealous to defend them.

We as Christians address God as our Father. Now how can we do that? On what basis? Well, we may address Him as our Father because He is the author of our spiritual life. By His Spirit He quickens, regenerates, and imparts His own nature and image (2 Pet. 1:4; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:23-24). Also, we may address Him as our Father because He has adopted us into His family, sending His Spirit into our heart, whereby we cry out, “Abba, Father.” And this has practical implications, seeing that it is natural for a son to seek his Father’s society and to tell Him all his wishes and all his wants. In this way, the sons of God come to Him in supplication and prayer, even as our Lord taught us (Matt. 6:6)!

Now, what does a Father do? And this is important for us to ask. The way we think of God as we pray to Him is very important. Some modern individuals advocate thinking of God as our Mother. However this runs contrary to what Jesus taught and to the thousands of references to God that God has given us in the masculine gender in both Testaments. God is not a sexual being. Nevertheless He is more like a father to us than a mother. Thinking of Him primarily as a mother will result in some distortion in our concept of God. It will also result in some confusion in our thinking about how God relates to us and how we should relate to Him.  Thinking of God as our Father will also remind us of our privileged access into His presence and of our need to treat Him respectfully.

First, He secures our instruction. By His works, Word, Spirit, He leads us into all truth. “For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him” (Isaiah 28:26). “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).  This is certainly the emphasis of Isaiah in verses 11-14: “Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him? That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?  As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.”

Second, He supplies all our need. His supplies are suited to our needs; they are abundant, satisfying, and inexhaustible. Even this passage of Isaiah speaks of this in verse 9: “and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” Our Lord said, “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matt. 6:32).

Third, He protects us. Exposed to innumerable perils and evils, He is our shield, buckler, pavilion, and strong tower. Look at Isaiah 63:8, and you will see this intimated: “The angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them.”

Fourth, He loves us, pities us and has compassion on us. Again, we see all of these in verse 8. As Calvin said, “He enlarges on the goodness of God toward his people, and shews that he was kind to the fathers, so long as they permitted themselves to be governed by him, and was so careful about them that he himself bore their distresses and afflictions. By speaking in this manner, he declares the incomparable love which God bears toward his people. In order to move us more powerfully and draw us to himself, the Lord accommodates himself to the manner of men, by attributing to himself all the affection, love, and (συμπαθεία) compassion which a father can have.”

Notice the words, “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” As the Geneva Annotations state, “He bore their afflictions and griefs as though they had been his own.” Indeed, as the Psalmist says, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13).  On this last verse, Matthew Henry wrote,

The father pitieth his children that are weak in knowledge, and instructs them; pities them when they are froward, and bears with them; pities them when they are sick, and comforts them; when they are fallen, and helps them up again; when they have offended, and upon their submission, forgives them; when they are wronged, and rights them. Thus “the Lord pitieth them that fear him.”

Fifth, He gives us a glorious and everlasting portion. A kingdom, a crown, and bliss indescribable and eternal. Our Lord says in Luke 12:32:  “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It pleases the Father to give us the kingdom. Adam Clark says, “Our Lord intimated, God has already given you that kingdom which consists in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and has undertaken to protect and save you to the uttermost; therefore, fear not; the smallness of your number cannot hurt you, for omnipotence itself has undertaken your cause.”

Now, put all of these matters together. God is your Father, if are born again and adopted. Such a relation cannot fail to be a source of unspeakable comfort to the people of God amid all their trials. Such a Father, ever living, ever loving, ever compassionate, and ever providing our needs!

Though their earthly fathers could provide them no assistance, and though these fathers seem to have ceased to feel any interest in them, the children of God have confidence in the constancy of their heavenly Father’s compassion (Jer. 31:20). This is the ever deepening conviction of God’s people everywhere. Gourds may grow and wither, but our heavenly Father’s love neither grows nor withers—it is unchanging; it holds on and holds out, needing no sustenance from without, except that supplied by our need of it; it endures through all our unfaithfulness.

Having noted his prayer to God as a Father, let us also note,

Praying to God As Redeemer

On the other hand, Isaiah prays to God as the Redeemer of His people. The word used here is ga’al, which means that the Lord is the Kinsman-Redeemer. There is again an emphasis here on the relationship that God has to His people. On man wrote:

The primary meaning of this root is to do the part of a kinsman and thus to redeem his kin from difficulty or danger, It is used with its derivatives 118 times. One difference between this root and the very similar root pada “redeem,” is that there is usually an emphasis in ga’al on the redemption being the privilege or duty of a near relative. . . .  Finally, there is the very common usage prominent in the Psalms and prophets that God is Israel’s Redeemer who will stand up for his people and vindicate them. There may be a hint of the Father’s near kinship or ownership in the use of this word. A redemption price is not usually cited, though the idea of judgment on Israel’s oppressors as a ransom is included in Isa. 43:1-3. God, as it were, redeems his sons from a bondage worse than slavery (R. L. Harrison).

Now, the emphasis here is on the relationship that He has to us. It is an everlasting relationship that He has to us. The AV puts it like this: “Thy name is from eternity,” by which it is meant that this name of His, “Our Redeemer.” John Trapp states, “Some read the text thus: Our Redeemer is from of old thy name. Our redemption was not of yesterday, but verily foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20). In other words, Isaiah is calling upon the Lord to fulfill His eternal plan. It is always good to pray according to the will of God. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 Jn. 5:14).

But there is another side to this. Now let us remember that Isaiah is giving a second basis for appealing for help. This time it is that Lord has been Israel’s Redeemer in the past as well as her Father (cf. Isa. 63:12, 14); in fact, He is their eternal kinsman-Redeemer. While Fathers characteristically feel affection and compassion for their children (v. 15), and the kinsman-redeemer normally demonstrate zeal and performs mighty deeds for his relatives. That is why Isaiah pleads in verse 15:

Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained?

Now, this is the type of praying that avails with God. It is the prayer that comes to God, truly understanding Him and our relationship to Him. You can find this type of prayer throughout the Bible. I think that the prayers of Daniel are an example of this. Likewise, David’s prayers demonstrate that he understood prayer in this regard.  We can provide many and various examples of this, but let me provide an illustration from the life of Luther. One of Melanchthon’s correspondents writes of Luther’s praying:

I cannot enough admire the extraordinary cheerfulness, constancy, faith, and hope of the man in these trying and vexatious times. He constantly feeds these gracious affections by a very diligent study of the Word of God. Then not a day passes in which he does not employ in prayer at least three of his very best hours. Once I happened to hear him at prayer. Gracious God! What spirit and what faith is there in his expressions! He petitions God with as much reverence as if he were in the Divine presence, and yet with as firm a hope and confidence as he would address a father or a friend. ‘I know,’ said he, ‘Thou art our Father and our God; and therefore I am sure Thou wilt bring to naught the persecutors of Thy children. For shouldest Thou fail to do this, Thine own cause, being connected with ours, would be endangered. It is entirely Thine own concern. We, by Thy providence, have been compelled to take a part. Thou therefore wilt be our defence.’

Melanchthon notes, “Whilst I was listening to Luther praying in this manner, at a distance, my soul seemed on fire within me, to hear the man address God so like a friend, yet with so much gravity and reverence; and also to hear him, in the course of his prayer, insisting on the promises contained in the Psalms, as if he were sure his petitions would be granted.” In essence, Melanchthon was saying is that here was a man who knew God, knew His promises, and was one who had intercourse with God on that basis. Now, this is what I am seeking to communicate; that is the very way of prayer that Isaiah engages in.

Conclusion

As we come to a conclusion on this, let us do two things. First, let us examine our relationship to God. Do you and I have any basis to call Him your Father and Redeemer? Do you know anything about Him as your Father and your Redeemer? If we know nothing of this, then we are unable to pray rightly. As Calvin says,

Whenever we engage in prayer, there are two things to be considered, both that we may have access to God, and that we may rely on Him with full and unshaken confidence: his fatherly love toward us, and his boundless power. Let us therefore entertain no doubt, that God is willing to receive us graciously, that he is ready to listen to our prayers, — in a word, that of Himself he is disposed to aid us. Father is the appellation given to him; and under this title Christ supplies us with sufficiently copious materials for confidence.

The man or woman who cannot call God Father is in a dangerous position. The state of their soul is in serious peril, and they should not expect to receive anything from God. You begin to prayer, “Our Father,” even as our Lord taught, but then you must stop; you must ask, “Is He my father, and am I His son.” Unless that is answered, true prayer is impossible. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6, 7). Charles Simeon rightly preached,

Before you can say with truth, Doubtless, thou art our Father, and our Redeemer,” you must have experienced the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit; and must have fled to Christ for refuge, as your only hope. Others, indeed, may not have noticed in you this change, so as fully to recognise you under your new character: but you must be deeply conscious of the secret exercises of your soul before God; and must be able to appeal to the heart-searching God, that you have thus sought mercy at his hands. Tell me then, Brethren, whether you can thus appeal to God? And, if your conscience testify against you, that you are yet unregenerate, and without an interest in Christ, let your trials be regarded by you as messengers from the Most High, to call you into a state of reconciliation with him, and to save you from the troubles that shall never end.

Second, let us ask ourselves if we know anything about this method of pleading with God. I am sure that we are all inconsistent here, exercising some knowledge of this more thoroughly than at other times. That is true of all of us. While we know God as our Father and Redeemer, we do not always know it thoroughly and feel it keenly as we ought. The Lord repeatedly corrected His disciples on this, and He would have our thinking continually corrected on this. Take the sixth chapter of Matthew, and you will see this. There is a repeated emphasis upon walking our life in this awareness. We must have a firm confidence that our heavenly Father cares for us, that He will defend us, and that He will guide us.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Mat 6:25-34)

Let me summarize all of this in this way: prayer and the knowledge of God go hand-in-hand. We will plead with God to the degree that we know Him and understand Him. “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee” (Psalm 9:10).  John Trapp said, “They can do no otherwise who savingly know God’s sweet attributes, and noble acts for his people. We never trust a man till we know him, and bad men are better known than trusted. Not so the Lord; for where his name is ointment poured forth, the virgins love him, fear him, rejoice in him, and repose upon him.” John Ball commented:

They that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for, thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” The mother of unbelief is ignorance of God, his faithfulness, mercy, and power. They that know thee, will trust in thee. This confirmed Paul, Abraham, Sarah, in the faith. “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12. “He is faithful that promised,” and “able also to perform.” Hebrews 10:23, and 11:11; Romans 4:21. The free promises of the Lord are all certain, his commandments right and good, the recompense of reward inestimably to be valued above thousands of gold and silver; trust therefore in the Lord, O my soul, and follow hard after him. Thou hast his free promise, who never failed, who hath promised more than possibly thou couldst ask or think, who hath done more for thee than ever he promised, who is good and bountiful to the wicked and ungodly; thou doest his work, who is able and assuredly will bear thee out. There is a crown of glory proposed to thee above all conceit of merit; stick fast unto his word, and suffer nothing to divide thee from it. Rest upon his promises though he seem to kill thee; cleave unto his statutes though the flesh lust, the world allure, the devil tempt, by flatteries or threatenings to the contrary.

 

Jonathan Edwards on Discerning the Lord’s Body & Self-Discernment

He that has no habitual appetite to and relish of that spiritual food, which is represented and offered at the Lord’s table; he that has no spiritual taste, wherewith to perceive any thing more at the Lord’s supper, than in common food; or that has no higher view, than with a little seeming devotion to eat bread, as it were in the way of an ordinance, but without regarding in his heart the spiritual meaning and end of it, and without being suitably affected with the dying love of Christ therein commemorated; such a one may most truly and properly be said not to discern the Lord’s body.

When therefore the apostle exhorts to self-examination as a preparative for the sacramental supper, he may well be understood to put professors upon inquiring whether they have such a principle of faith, by means whereof they are habitually in a capacity and disposition of mind to discern the Lord’s body practically and spiritually (as well as speculatively and notionally) in their communicating at the Lord’s table. Which is what none can do who have but common grace, or a faith short of that which is justifying and saving.

It is only a living faith that capacitates men to discern the Lord’s body in the sacrament with that spiritual sensation or spiritual gust, which is suitable to the nature and design of the ordinance, and which the apostle seems principally to intend.

Matthew Poole on the Identity of the Whore of Bablyon

1. Some would have it to be the whole world of wicked men. Against this it is said:

(1.) That John speaks here of a certain great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth, Rev. 17:18: this cannot be meant of the wicked world.

(2.) The world of wicked men are those inhabitants of the earth, whom this woman made drunk with the wine of her fornication: now she that made them drunk, and those that were made drunk, cannot be the same.

(3.) This woman sitteth on seven mountains, Rev. 17:9, and so do not all the wicked of the world.

(4.) We are commanded to come out of this Babylon, but we are not obliged to go out of the world.

2. Others would have this woman, or this Babylon, to be the old Chaldean Babylon. But:

(1.) Where then is the mystery, mentioned Rev. 17:5?

(2.) The Babylon here mentioned, is by all agreed to be the seat of antichrist; so was that never.

3. The generality agree it to be Rome. Amongst the ancients, Tertullian, Jerome, Ambrose, CEcumenius, Augustine, Eusebius: of later writers, Beda, Aquinas, Salmeron, Pererius, Bellarmine, Lapide, Ribera, (all papists), besides a multitude of protestant writers.

(1.) That city is also like old Babylon for power and greatness, for oppression and tyranny of and over God’s Israel; besides, the city here mentioned is described by two characters, agreeing to none but Rome, Rev. 17:9, dwelling upon seven hills.

(2.) Reigning over the kings of the earth: for the first Rome is the only city in the world founded upon seven hills, and famed for it by its old poets, Ovid, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, &c. It is attested to be so founded by Plutarch, Pliny, Dionysius, Halicarnassaeus. The names of these hills are known: Palatinus, Quirinalis, Aventinus, Celius, Veminalis, Esquilinus, Capitolinus. Both papist and protestant writers agree that here by Babylon Rome is meant; but they are divided, whether it be to be understood of Rome in its old pagan state, or in its present state, or in a state yet to come.

4. Some would have it to be Rome in its pagan state; of this mind are Grotius, and Dr. Hammond, and some others. But against this many things are said:

(1.) It is manifest that God here describes Rome not as under its sixth head, viz. the pagan emperors, but as it was under its last head, the eighth king, Rev. 17:11, as it should ascend out of the bottomless pit, Rev. 17:8.

(2.) What John saw herein mentioned as a secret about the blood of the saints, which he wondered at; now the pagan emperors’ spilling the blood of saints was a thing long since done.

(3.) The desolation of the Babylon here mentioned was to be final, never to be repaired, as appears by Rev. 18:21-23; but pagan Rome was never made so desolate.

(4.) If Rome pagan be here meant, then, after its fall, Rome Christian was the habitation of devils, Rev. 18:2.

(5.) Rome pagan fell upon our saints with downright blows, not with allurements, making them drunk with the wine of her fornication, as Rev. 17:2.

5. The papists, who grant that by Babylon Rome is meant, would have it to be Rome toward the end of the world, when, they say, Rome shall apostatize from the pope to paganism again; but for this opinion there is no foundation in Scripture, nor the judgment of the ancients, and some of the papists themselves reject it as improbable and detestable.

6. The generality and best of protestant writers understand by Babylon, and by this woman, Rome, as it is at this day under the conduct of the pope, for which they give these reasons.

(1.) Because it cannot be understood of Rome in either of the other notions, as hath been proved.

(2.) Because antichrist is to sit in the temple of God, 2 Thess. 2:4, as God, therefore not in any pagan city. The mystery of iniquity was working in the apostle’s time, but, Rev. 17:7, the Roman empire hindered the appearance of antichrist till the popes had wrung Rome out of their hands, and were the sole rulers there; then antichrist showed himself.

(3.) Because there is nothing said of this great whore, or this Babylon, but admirably agreeth to Rome in its present state.

What is Vital Godliness or Piety by John Calvin

I call `Piety” that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him-they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.’

-JOHN CALVIN