The History of Little Faith
Dialogue the Twentieth.
Shepherd. Good morning to you, my friend.
Steward. Good morning to you, my brother.
Shepherd. "Wherefore look ye so sadly to-day?' Are you not well? or, have you over-walked yourself?
Steward. I am not ill, but rather weary, for I have been up all night I have seen the end, and taken my final leave of, poor Little Faith! He is no more!
Shepherd. Pray, when did he go off?
Steward. This morning, at four o'clock.
Shepherd. Was he sensible?
Steward. To the last moment. When I came to him, he seemed remarkably glad to see me; and said-" Surely there never was a poor, unstable, unbelieving, doubting, fearing soul, in the world, that was ever kept in so sweet, so composed a frame of mind, for so many weeks together, as I am! I have been dying, and in bondage through the fear of death, all my days; and now dying seems to be nothing, and death less than nothing. The King came to 'deliver them who, through the fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage.' Surely I can set my seal to this truth. O how have I laboured in fruitless toil to obtain his notice, his favour and approbation; and to render myself acceptable in his sight by a little eye-service, partial obedience, and dead works, the wretched effects of pride, blindness, ignorance, and unbelief! While now my soul lies passive in the hands of my only Lord: while his sovereign pleasure is worked in me, his Spirit carries on his perfecting work; and Grace, without copartnership or mortal aid, unmolested and unresisted, reigns! While the King of kings admires the work of his own hands, accepts the fruits of his own Spirit, and pronounces my worthless soul all fair, and without spot, as embraced in the arms of unbounded love, and enwrapped in his own eternal robe! O what a time of love, when the King enters into covenant with a soul, and brings it into the bonds of it, wrapped up in his own skirt! Ezek. xvi. 8. I aimed at obtaining grace by legal works: but now I perceive that the hardest work is to cease from working; the highest act of obedience is submission to the DIVINE will revealed: and true humility lies in loathing self, instead of trusting in it; and in receiving freely, to the honour of the Giver, what we vainly hope to merit; which is our pride, our loss, and the King's dishonour. I formerly looked to myself, instead of the King; to the commandment, instead of the promise; and to my own resolutions and endeavours, instead of the King's fullness and all-sufficiency; and vainly thought to bring an obedient life to the commandment, and both to the promise; and so to expect the promised blessing, as a reward of my obedience to the command whereas I now see that wrath is revealed in the law, to make me fly to the Refuge; that the strictness of the command is to make me look out for a promise; and the unconditional promise is to lead me to the Saviour's fullness; and grace for grace received from thence, is the Divine accomplishment of the promise; and the sweet operations of promised grace by the Spirit, are an evangelical fulfilment of the law in us; which excludes all boasting from the sinner, lays him under eternal obligations to free grace, and secures the whole glory to the first Cause and last End, who allows of no co-efficient cause in his decrees; no co-worker in the business of salvation; no co-operator in the work of sanctification; no copartner in the throne; consequently, no co-sharers in his praise. 'My glory I will not give to another, nor my praise to graven images.' Thus 'the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them who walk, not after the flesh, but after the spirit.' How wide are man's thoughts to God's thoughts! how far his ways from man's ways! The other is right to man, this to God: the former is the way of death, but the latter is the path of life."
Shepherd. What sublime, what evangelical, what a pure language did he speak! How pure from the dregs of corruption! how free from fleshly savour! how unadulterated with infernal pride and ignorance! and, when breathed from dying lips, how sweet, how encouraging, and how weighty the testimony!
Steward. True. And, indeed, I found it so: for he said-"How nigh is a work of grace to a state of glory! The one is the first-fruits, the other the harvest; the former the earnest, the latter the whole lump; the former a pledge, the latter the full possession. I feel myself," said he, "come to Mount Zion, indeed, and to the heavenly Jerusalem; for there is only a bridge, a river, and a single breath, between me and the celestial inhabitants. O the manifold wisdom of God! Life given us in Christ, before death entered by Adam; confirmed in the second Head, before fallen in the first; mercy and peace triumph, while righteousness and truth approve; God appears just, and yet justifies the ungodly; sins are freely pardoned, and vengeance is taken on man's inventions; God doth not at all acquit the guilty, yet, who shall lay any thing to the charge of his elect? A price is paid, yet man is saved by grace; mercy and grace are glorified, yet holiness and justice are honoured; Satan is outdone by infinite wisdom, and the lawful captive is delivered; by grace, through faith, a man is saved, and faith is the work of God; by works a man is justified, yet none are just before God but such as cease from working; saints are nothing, and yet the least of them are great when God is all in all. Surely I should understand the King's most gracious speeches, were! ever to be admitted to tread the courts of the Chapel-royal again; but I shall shortly join in the worship performed by the more perfect Family. Steward., my most faithful, affectionate, and invaluable friend, I love you for your plain, honest, and undissembled dealings; and admire your unfeigned faithfulness and loyalty to the great King. Accept my most hearty thanks for all favours. I am going! I am going! The field is fought, the battle is ended, the day is won, and the crown, the crown, is eternally mine. Adieu! adieu!
Shepherd. A glorious end! O that I may die the death of the righteous, and that my last end may be like his!
Steward. That you will die the death of the righteous, I have not a single doubt: but there are but few that make so triumphant and glorious an end as Little Faith: and no wonder, when he had waded through so many trials; and was so effectually crucified to the world, and so free from "the love of money, which is the root of all evil." When the root of all evil is cut, the root of the matter takes hold: and, when a man withers to the things of this world, he flourishes in those of the next.
Shepherd. Pray, when and where do you deposit his remains?
Steward. He is to be interred on the Lord's-day next. The burying-spot that he fixed on is in the Fuller's Field: it was purchased at a great price, to be a burying-ground for strangers; and, as Little Faith was both a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth, he desired to lie there. About a week ago, he wrote a letter, and gave it to Deborah, which she was to deliver to me after his departure: in which he has desired me to see his funeral rites performed; a stone erected; and an epitaph, of his own composing, inscribed thereon. As I shall now be exceedingly busy, and not able to call again at the hut, I invite you to the funeral, where I hope to see you without fail
Shepherd. If God permit, I will attend. Till then, Heaven protect us both!