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all and following him ; without taking his yoke upon s E r M.
But to prevent mistakes, and remove objections,
That this faith hath, although not an adequate,
* Credere se in Christum quo modo dicit, qui non facit quod Chriftus facere præcepit? Cypr. de Un. Ec.
SER M. man remision of fins is * denounced unto you (so did they VII. preach). Whence this faith is (fignanter) called be
lief in the blood of Christ: indeed, of all Christian doc* nataysia- trines, this is moft proper first to be propounded and Rom. iii. persuaded, as the most attractive to the belief of the
rest; most encouraging and comfortable to men; Rom. iii. most apt to procure glory to God by the illustration of 26, xv. 2: his principal attributes, his justice and his goodness ; . i. 6.
most suitable to the state of things between God and man; for men being in a state of rebellion and enmity toward God, in order to their reducement and recovery thence, it was most proper, that in the first place an overture of mercy and pardon should be made, an act of oblivion should be passed and propounded to them : yet are not these pronositions and promises the adequate or entire object of this faith; for other articles of faith are often propounded
in a collateral order with those; yea sometimes (as in Ads viii. the case of the Eunuch) others are expressed, when
that is not mentioned, but only understood : neither Rom. x. b.
if any one should believe all the doctrines of that
I observe farther, that this faith doth relate only to propositions revealed by God f (or at least deduced from principles of reason, such as are, that there is a God; that God is good, veracious, and faithful; that our religion is true in the gross; that the holy Scriptures were written by divine inspiration; which propositions we believe upon rational grounds and motives), not unto other propositions concerning particular matter of fact, subject to pri
+ Fides dicit, parata funt magna et incomprehenfibilia dona a Deo fidelibus suis : dicit fpes, mihi illa bona fervantur; charitas dicit, curro ego ad illa. Bern.
vate conscience or experience ; nor to any conclu-S ER M. fions depending upon such propositions. For instance, it is a part of this faith, to believe that God is merciful and gracious, that he bears good will unto, and is disposed to pardon, every penitent sinner; or (which is all one) that supposing a man doth believe, and hath repented, God doth actually love him, and doth forgive his sins; this is, I say, indeed a part of the faith we speak of, its object being part of the Gospel revealed unto us : but the being persuaded that God doth love me, or hath pardoned my fins, or that I am in a state of favour with God, may, as my circumstances may be, not be my duty; however it is no part of this faith, but a matter of opinion, dependent upon private experience : for such a persuasion must be grounded upon my being conscious to myself of having truly and thoroughly repented (this being required by God, as a necessary condition toward my obtaining pardon and his favour); of having performed which duty I may presume, when it is false (and therefore cannot then be obliged to believe it), and may doubt, when it is true; and that not without good reason, considering the blindness and fallibility of man's mind, and that man's heart is deceitful above all things, as the Prophet jer. xvii. 9. tells us : upon which account then a man may not be obliged to have such a persuasion. It is indeed a great fault to doubt, or distrust, on that hand which concerns God; about his goodness, his truth, his wisdom, or power : but it is not always (perhaps not commonly) blameable to question a man's own qualifications, or his own performances, whether in kind or degree they be answerable to what God requires * that is inconsistent with true faith, but this not:
* Qui perseveraverit ufque ad finem, hic falvus erit; quicquid ante finem fuerit, gradus eft, quo ad faftigium falutis afcenditur, non terminus, quo jam culminis summa teneatur, &c. Cypr, de Unit. Eccl. p. 259.
SER M.we cannot have any good religious affections toward
God, if we do not take him to be our gracious Father ; but we may have in us such affections toward hiin, and he may be favourably disposed toward us, when we suspect ourselves to be untoward children, unworthy (as the prodigal Son in the Gospel confessed
himself) to be called the fons of God. The Centurion in Matt. viii. the Gospel did confeis himself unworthy that Christ 8, 10.
should enter under his roof : but he declared his persuasion, that if Christ should only speak a word, his child should be healed; and our Saviour thereupon professes, that he had not found so much faith in Ifrael.
To the blind men imploring his relief, our Saviour Matt. ir. puts the question, Do ye believe that I can do this? They vid. Mart. answered, Yes Lord : he required no more of them; but said thereupon, According to your faith let it be
And that for which Abraham the Heb. xi. 19. father of believers, his faith is represented so accept
able is, his firm persuasion concerning God's power; of Ampotopn- because (faith St. Paul) he had a plerophory', that what
was promised, God was able to perform ; by doing thus, he was a believer, and thereby gave glory to God, as the Apostle there adds. If we do not then distrust God, we may have faith, although we diftrust ourselves. It is true (generally and absolutely speaking) we should endeavour fo fully and clearly to repent, and to perform whatever God requires of
us, that we may thence acquire a good hope conCol. i. 23. cerning our state ; we fould labour, that our hearts 1 John'iii: may not condemn us of any presumptuous transgressing
our duty, and consequently, that we may become in a manner confident of God's favour towards us : but when we hare done the best we can, even when we
are not conscious of any enormous fault or defect, Cor. iv. 4. yet we may consider with St. Paul, that we are not
thereby justified, but abide liable to the more certain 1 Sam, xvi. cognizance and judgment of God, who seeth not as a
man feeth; that we are not capable,' or competent judges of ourselves ; nor are ever the better for
thinking well of ourselves; since (as St. Paul tells s E R M. us again) he is not approved that commends himself, but whom the Lord commendeth : for that, deli&ta fua quis intelligit? who can thoroughly understand and scan his 2 Cor. x. own errors? Who can say, I have made my heart clean, Pial
. xix. I am purged of my fin? Who can know (if the Psalmist implieth that he could not), until God hath searched him, and discovers it, whether there be any secret way of Pf.cxxxix. wickedness in him; whether he be sufficiently grieved 24. for having offended God, fully humbled under the sense of his sins, thoroughly resolved to amend his life? However, it often happens that true faith and sincere repentance are in degree very defective; in which case we may, without prejudicing the truth of Mà iting
φρόνει, αλλά our faith, suspect the worst; yea, I conceive it is more safe and commendable so to do*: if in any, then Rom. xi. chiefly, I suppose, in this most important and critical 20. affair, the wise man's sentence doth hold, Blessed is he Prov. that feareth always; so feareth, as thereby to become xxviii. 14. more solicitous and watchful over his heart and ways ; more careful and studious of securing his salvation finally, to render his calling and election in 2 Pet. i. 10, the event more firm, and in his apprehension more hopeful. I dare say, of two persons otherwise alike qualified, i he that upon this ground (fearing his own unworthiness, or the defect of his performances) is most doubtful of his state, doth stand really upon better terms with God; as the Pharisee, who justified himself, and took himself to be in a very good condition, was indeed less justified (somewhat the less for Luke xviii. that conceit of his) than the poor Publican, who was 14. s. 29. sensible of his own unworthiness, and condemned himself in his own opinion : the great danger lies on that hand of being presumptuous, arrogant, and self
* Nunquam eft de salute propria mens secura fapientis. Salv. ad Eccl. Catb. lib. 2.
+ Quem censeas digniorem, nifi emendatiorem; quem emendatiorem, nisi timidiorem Tertul. de Pænit. 6.