Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
The True Notion of Saints
By Bishop John Pearson (16121686)
From the Exposition of the Creed
THE TRUE notion of saints is expressed by Moses, both as to the subject, and the affection or qualification of it; for they are called by him men of holiness; such are the persons understood in this article, which is the communion of men of holiness. Now holiness in the first acceptation of it signifieth separation, and that with the relation of a double term, of one from which the separation is made, of the other to which that which is separated is applied. Those things which were counted holy under the law were separated from common use, and applied to the service of God; and their sanctity was nothing else but that separation from and to those terms, from an use and exercise profane and common, to an use and exercise peculiar and divine. Thus all such persons as are called from the vulgar and common condition of the world unto any particular service or relation unto God, are hereby denominated holy, and in some sense receive the name of saints. The penmen of the Old Testament do often speak of the people of Israel as of an holy nation, and God doth speak unto them as to a people holy unto himself; because he had chosen them out of all the nations of the world, and appropriated them to himself. Although therefore most of that nation were rebellious to him which called them, and void of all true inherent and actual sanctity; yet, because they were all in that manner separated, they were all, as to that separation, called holy. In the like manner those of the New Testament writing to such as were called, and had received, and were baptised in, the faith, give unto them all the name of saints, as being in some manner such, by being called and baptised. For being baptism is a washing away of sin, and the purification from sin is a proper sanctification; being every one who is so called and baptised is thereby separated from the rest of the world which are not so, and all such separation is some kind of sanctification; being, though the work of grace be not perfectly wrought, yet when the means are used, without something appearing to the contrary, we ought to presume of the good effect; therefore all such as have been received into the Church, may be in some sense called holy.
But because there is more than an outward vocation, and a charitable presumption, necessary to make a man holy; therefore we must find some other qualification which must make him really and truly such, not only by an extrinsical denomination, but by a real and internal affection. What this sanctity is, and who are capable of this title properly, we must learn out of the Gospel of Christ; by which alone, ever since the Church of Christ was founded, any man can become a saint. Now by the tenure of the Gospel we shall find that those are truly and properly saints which are sanctified in Christ Jesus: first, in respect of their holy faith, by which they are regenerated; for whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God; by which they are purged, God himself purifying their hearts by faith, whereby they are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, in whom also after that they believe, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Secondly, in respect of their conversation: For as he which hath called them is holy, so are they holy in all manner of conversation: adding to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, that they may neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such persons then as are called by a holy calling, and not disobedient unto it, such as are endued with a holy faith, and purified thereby; such as are sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, and by virtue thereof do lead a holy life, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, such persons, I say, are really and truly saints; and being of the Church of Christ (as all such now must of necessity be) are the proper subject of this part of the article, the communion of saints, as it is added to the former, the holy Catholic Church.