Godefridus Udemans (c. 1581–1649) on true faith


Godefridus Udemans (c. 1581–1649) was one of the most influential Dutch Nadere Reformatie divines of his generation. With the exception of Willem Teellinck (1579–1629), no 17th century theologian from the Zeeland province exerted greater influence upon his contemporaries than Udemans, the preacher from Zierikzee. in his book The Practice of Faith, Hope, and Love (Practycke), the first of his works to be translated into English (by the Dutch Reformed Translation Society), was originally published in 1612. In this book, Udemans, as a Reformed pietist,  presents faith, hope, and love as experientially active Christian virtues. Justification, which establishes the believer’s union with Christ, is presented as the experiential commencement of sanctification, and therefore faith itself cannot but produce good works. Here is an excerpt from chapter 1, p. 22:

“We know that the word faith has several meanings. Sometimes the faith refers to the whole teaching of the gospel (Gal. 1:23; 1 Tim. 4:1). But faith may also mean a basic head knowledge of and assent to the truth of Holy Scripture that produces no joy. This is historical faith, which even devils have and which causes them to tremble (James 2:19). At other times, faith means some knowledge of and assent to God’s Word mixed with the brief joy that results from having tasted God’s grace. But in times of temptation, this belief, which is called temporary faith (Luke 8:13), disappears. Or faith can mean the ability to do miracles in the name of Christ supported by the special revelation of Christ’s promises. This is called miraculous faith (1 Cor. 13:2; Matt. 17:20). Last, it may mean justifying faith (Rom. 5:1). If we have justifying faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We will now deal with this kind of faith and describe it.

True faith is a fruit of the Spirit, planted in our hearts by the hearing of the Word and confirmed by the use of the sacraments. By this faith, we not only understand and firmly assent to the truth of God’s written Word, but we also firmly believe in the promises of the holy gospel in Jesus Christ, and appropriate the forgiveness of sin and eternal life to ourselves.”


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