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SER M.

VI.

A wrong to exclude any; to confine and appropriate this great blessing; to engross, to inclole a common; to restrain that by forging distinctions, which is so unlimitedly expressed.

The undertakings and performances of our Saviour did respect all men, as the common works of nature do ; as the air we breathe in, as the sun which shineth on us; the which are not given to any man particularly, but to all generally ; not as a proper inclosure, but as a common--they are indeed mine, but not otherwise than as they do belong to all men.

A gift they are to all equally, though they do not prove to all a blessing; there being no common gift, which by the refusal, neglect, or ill use of it may not prove a curse—a favour of death,

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Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with

God, through our Lord Jesus Chrift.

TH

VII.

HEREFORE; that word implies the text to SER M.

be a conclusion (by way of inference, or of recapitulation) resulting from the precedent discourse ; it is indeed the principal conclusion, which (as being supposed a peculiar and a grand part of the Christian doctrine, and deserving therefore a strong proof and clear vindication) St. Paul designed by several arguments to make good. Upon the words, being of such importance, I should so treat, as first to explain them, or to settle their true sense ;

then to make some practical application of the truths they contain.

As to the explicatory part, I should consider first, what the faith is, by which we are said to be justified; 2. what being justified doth iinport ; 3. how by such faith we are so justified ; 4. what the peace with God is, here adjoined to justification ; 5. what

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relation

VII.

SER M. relation the whole matter bears to our Lord Jesus

Christ; or how through him being justified, we have peace with God; in the prosecution of which particulars it would appear, who the persons justified are, and who justifies us ; with other circumstances incident.

I shall at this time only insist upon the first particular, concerning the notion of faith proper to this place ; in order to the resolution of which inquiry, I Thall lay down some useful observations : and,

1. First, I observe, that faith, or belief, in the vul.

gar acception, doth signify (as we have it briefly deTop. 4, s. scribed in Aristotle's Topicks) a podpa úróandis, an

earnest opinion or persuasion of mind concerning the truth of some matter propounded. Such an opinion being produced by, or grounded upon some forcible reason (either immediate evidence of the matter, or sense and experience, or some strong argument of reason, or some credible testimony; * for whatever we affent unto, and judge true upon any such grounds and inducements, we are commonly said to believe) this is the popular acception of the word ; and according thereto I conceive it usually signifies in holy Scripture ; which being not penned by masters of human art or science, nor directed to persons of more than ordinary capacities or improvements, doth not intend to use words otherwise than in the most plain and ordinary manner.

Belief therefore in general, I suppose, denotes a firm persuasion of mind concerning the truth of what is propounded ; whether it be some one single pro

* Aut proba effe quæ credis; aut fi non probas, quomodo credis? Tertul. adv. Mare, v. I.

“Οταν γάρ πως πισεύη, και γνώριμοι αυτώ ώσιν αι αρχαι, επίσαται. Arist. Etb. 6.3.

'Αριστοτέλης το επόμενον τη επιςήμη κρίμα ως αληθές, το δε τι πίσιν είναι Gnou. Clem. Strom. 2. p. 287.

"Ένιοι γαρ πισεύεσιν εδεν ήτον οίς δοξαζεσιν, ή έτεροι οίς έπίσωνται Arif. 7. 3. (Etb.)

position

VII.

Psal. cvi. 24. lxxviii.

2 Thef. ii.

Phil. i, 27

position (as when Abraham believed, that God was s E R M. able to perform what he had promised; and Sarah, that God, who had promised, was faithful), or some system of propositions, as when we are said to believe God's Rom. iv. word (that is, all which by his prophets was in his Heb. xi. name declared); to believe the truth (that is, all the pro- 19: 11. positions taught in the true religion as so); to believe God's commandments (that is, the doctrines in God's 32. law to be true, and the precepts thereof to be good); 12. to believe the Gospel (that is, to be persuaded of the Pfalm cxix. truth of all the propositions asserted, or declared in Mark i. 15. the Gospel).

2. I observe secondly, that whereas frequently soine person, or single thing, is represented (verbo nus) as the object of faith, this dotlı not prejudice, or in effect alter the notion I mentioned; for it is only a figurative manner of speaking, whereby is, always meant the being perluaded concerning the truth of some proposition, or propositions, rulating to that person or thing: for otherwise it is unintelligible how any incomplex thing, as they speak, can be the complete or immediate object of belief. Befide simple apprehension (or framing the bare idea of a thing) there is no operation of a man's mind terminated upon one single object ; and belief of a thing surely inplies more than a simple apprehension thereof : what it is, for instance, to believe this or that proposition about a man, or a tree (that a man is fuch a kind of thing, that a tree hath this or that property), is very easy to conceive ; but the phrase believing a man, or a tree (taken properly, or excluding figures), is altogether insignificant and unintelligible : indeed to believe, Tissue, is the effect tğ TETETTIxn, of a pertuasive argument, and the result of ratiocination ; whence in Scripture it is commended, or discommended, as implying a good or bad use of reason. The proper object of faith is therefore some proposition deduced from others by discourse ; as it is said, that many of the Samaritans believed in Chrift, John iv. 39. because of the woman's word, who testified that he told

her

I 4

&c.

20.

was to be perfuaded concerning the truth (בנְבִיאָיז)

14.

32.

SER M. her all that ever Me did; or as St. Thomas believed, vii. because he saw; or as when is is said, that many be

lieved on our Lord's name, beholding the miracles which John xx.29. he did : When then, for example, the Jews are reExod. xiv. quired to believe Moses (or to believe in Moses, after 31, xix. 9; the Hebrew manner of speaking), it is meant, to be John v. 452

persuaded of the truth of what he delivered, as proceeding from divine revelation; or to believe him to

be what he professed himself, a messenger or prophet 2 Chr. xx. of God. So to believe the Prophets, or in the Prophets,

(?)
of what they uttered in God's name (that the doc-
trines were true, the commands were to be obeyed,

the threats and promises should be performed, the Luke xxiv. predictions should be accomplished : to believe all Acis xxiv. which the Prophets did say, as our Saviour speaks; to

believe all things written in the Prophets, as St. Paul.)

So to believe God's works (a phrase we have in the Pl . lxxviii. Psalms) signifies, to be perluaded, that those works

did proceed from God, or were the effects of his Jer. xvii. 5. good providence: to believe in man (that which is so Pal . cxviii. often prohibited and diffuaded) denotes the being

persuaded, that man in our need is able to relieve and succour us : lastly, to believe in God (a duty so often enjoined and inculcated) is to be persuaded, that God is true in whatever he says, faithful in performance of what he promises ; perfectly wise, powerful, and good; able and willing to do us good : the being persuaded, I say, of all these propositions, or such of them as suit the present circumstances and occasion, is to believe in God : thus, in fine, to believe on a person, or thing, is only a short expreffion (figuratively) denoting the being persuaded of the truth of some proposition relating, in one way or other, to that person or thing (which way is commonly discernible by considering the nature, or state of such a person, or such a thing); the use of which observation may afterward appear.

3. I observe thirdly, that (as it is ordinary in like cales concerning the use of words) the word belief is

by

8, &c.

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