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and is as early as our Saviour's first Preaching. In explaining the Parable of the Sower to his Disciples, Luke viii. he tells them, Those by the Way-side are they that hear : Then cometh the Devil, and taketh away the Word out of their Hearts, left they fould believe, and be faved, Ver. 12. So again, That on the good Ground are they which in an honest and good Heart bear the Word, and bring forth Fruit with Patience, Ver. 15. The first Sort are those who had an evil Heart of Unbelief : The second are those who, as the same ApoAtle to the Hebrews expresses it, Chap. X. had a true Heart in full Assurance of Faith. In the Acts of the Apostles, Philip tells the Eunuch, That, if he believed with all bis Heart, he might be baptized, Chap. viii. 37. And Barnabas exhorts the Antiochans, That with Purpose of Heart they would cleave unto the Lord; which is only a Periphrasis for Faith, Chap. xi. 23. The Apostle to the Romans has ex profeso determined this Matter : If thou shalt confess, says he, with thy Mouth, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine Heart that God hath raised him from the Dead, thou fwalt be saved, Chap. x. 9. In the following Verse he gives this general Reason for his Affertion: For with the Heart Man believeth
unto Righteousness, and with the Mouth Confeffion is made unto Salvation.
Since then the Scripture, read to you for the Text, contains an Exhortation to Faith, which supposes a Man's Faith to be influenced by his Affections and Inclinations which is not always true, if we consider Faith merely as the Afsent of the Mind to a credible Proposition : Since there are also such Things ascribed to Faith in Scripture, such Promises made to it, as cannot belong to it in this Acceptation : Since Faith, thus considered, is a bare Act of the Mind; but the Faith of the Gospel is described as having its Seat and Operations in the Heart of Man : It is necessary, for the right Understanding of the Text, to inquire,
First, What is the true Notion of Faith.
From whence, in the second Place, it will appear, That it is a proper Exhortation, Take heed, left there be in us an evil Heart of Unbelief. the true Notion of Faith.
Every Step by which we advance to the last Degree of Perfection in Faith, is an Act of Faith, though of a different kind, and not entitled either to the Praises or Rewards of the Gospel.' And hence has
arisen great Part of the Confusion which has obscured and darkened this Question concerning Faith: For, when Men, not diftinguishing between the intermediate Acts of Faith, and that Faith which is the ultimate End and Perfection of the Gospel, ascribe that to one, which only and properly belongs to the other, no wonder if they are found inconfistent with themselves, and Destroyers of Reason and Religion, whilst they seem to themselves to labour for the Promotion of the Doctrine of Righteousness.
To render what I mean plain and intelligible, I desire you to consider the Degrees and Steps of Faith by which Men arrive at Gospel Righteousness. It is one Degree of Faith to believe the Gospels to be true and faithful Accounts; and it is a Degree that leads to greater Perfection: He that wants this Faith is at a stand, and can never proceed farther. But this is not the Faith we seek after. It is a farther Degree of Faith to believe the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles to be true and real Miracles, and wrought by the Power and Spirit of God. But neither is this Faith complete: For the Miracles were wrought, not for their own fakes, but for the sake of something else : And therefore to believe the Miracles, with
out believing what the Miracles were intended to prove, is not Christian Faith. Farther still ; It is another and a more advanced Degree of Faith to believe that the Spirit of God was given to the Apostles in a large measure, and to Christ, the Author of the Salvation, without measure. But neither is this the Faith which Christ came to propagate: For, should I ask you, Why are we taught, and why are we to believe, that God gave the Spirit
the Spirit to his Son without measure, and to the Disciples in a very wonderful manner and degree ? would you not easily answer, that these heavenly Endowments were both given and declared to make them fit Teachers, and us ready Disciples, of the Doctrines of God? It is evident then, that these Gifts were fubfervient to a farther End, and that Christian Faith does not terminate here. But, if notwithstanding this, you will apply all that you read of Faith in holy Scripture to these or any of these kinds of Faith, and then imagine that Faith is a very strange Principle of Religion, and of foreign Growth, repugnant to the Sense and Reason of Mankind, and disclaimed by the Light of Nature; which are the usual Compliments bestowed on it in the World; you may thank your
self for the Delusion: The Doctrine of the Gospel of Christ is clear of the Reproach.
Faith, which is the Principle of the Gospel, respects the Promises and Declarations of God, and includes a sure Trust and Reliance on Him for the Performance. Beyond this there is no farther Act of Faith. We are not taught to believe this in order to our believing something else : But here Faith has its full Completion, and leads immediately to the Practice of Virtue and Holiness, the Conditions in which all the Promises of God are founded. For this End was the Son of God revealed, to make known the Will of his Father, to declare his Mercy and Pardon, and to confirm the Promises of eternal Life to Mankind: He that believes and accepts this Deliverance from the Bondage of Sin, and through Patience and Perseverance in Well-doing waits for the blefiled Hope of Immortality; who passes through this World as a Stranger and Pilgrim, looking for another Country, and a City whose Builder is God; this is He whose Faith shall receive the Promise, whose Confidence shall have great Recom
pence of Reward.
If these are hard Sayings, what Defence shall we make for Natural Religion, which