Gervase Babington (1549/1550-1610) on faith as knowledge and assurance

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“True faith is a knowledge, firm and certain of the good will of God towards us: which is being founded upon the truth of his free promise in Christ, is both revealed to our minds, and sealed in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Another in more words to the same effect speaks thus [English translation given afterwards]:

Vera fides est non tantum notitia qua firmiter assentior omnibus que Deus nobis in verbo suo patefecit, sed etiam certa fiducia a Spritu Sancte per Evangelium in corde meo assensa, qua in Deo Acquiesco, certo statuens non soluma aliis, sed mihi quoq remissionem peccatorum, eternam justifiam & vitam donatam esse, edg, gratis ex Dei misericorda propter unius Christi meritum:

[Translation] True faith is not only a knowledge whereby I firmly assent unto all things which God in his word has opened unto us, but also a sure trust raised up in my heart by the Holy Ghost, through the Gospel, whereby I rest in God certainly persuaded, that remission of sin, eternal righteousness and life is given, not only to other[s], but also to me, and that freely of the mercy of God, for the merit of Christ only.

This were sufficient, but that most plainness in these points is most profitable: and, therefore, if you will take every part by itself, I think it will be good.

Consider then with yourself what is first said of faith, namely, that it is notitia, a knowledge, which you must understand thus, not as we know these outward and worldly matter, by sense, but it is an assurance or certainty in us, more than an apprehension, proved by these places and and others: ‘This is eternal life, to know thee to be the only true God, and whom thou has sent, Jesus Christ.’ Again, ‘which mystery has been hid,’ (says S. Paul) ‘Since the world began, and from all ages, but now is made manifest unto his saints.’ Also in another place, ‘That their hearts might be comforted, and they knit together in love, and in all riches of the full assurance of understanding to know the mystery of God, even the Father of Christ. And we know,’ (says S. John), ‘that we are translated, &c., we know.’ All which places you see evidently prove faith to be a knowledge, it could not be, and, therefore, joins faith and knowledge, saying, ‘And we believe and know, that thou are that Christ, the Son of the living God’: For he yields a reason why he and other of the Apostles believed in Christ, namely, because the knew that he was the Son of God. Which being so, it necessarily follows, that they believe not, to whom those things are unknown, that he has revealed in his Word. And, therefore, the tale of Popery concerning implicita fide, an ignorant faith, is most foolish: for faith and knowledge are so knit together, that they cannot be separated.”

– Gervase Babington (1549/1550-1610), An Explanation of the Catechism Contained in the Book of Common Prayer,” in The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, Gervase Babington, Late Bishop of Worcester, p. 172-173

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