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of all Religion : But then This Knowledge SER M. must not be a bare Speculation; but a feri
I: ous, practical, affecting impression, and deep Sense upon the Mind; of a Supreme Being, who created the World, by his Power, preserves and governs it by his Goodness and Wisdom, and will judge it with Justice, Mercy, and Truth: Of such a Supreme Being; whose Glory, no Eye can behold; whose Majesty, no Thought can comprehend; whose Power, no Strength can resist'; from whose Presence, no Swiftness can flee; from whose Knowledge, no Secret can be concealed; whofe Justice, no Art can evade; whofe Goodness, every Creature partakes of. This is that Faith, without which it is impossible to please God. It is impossible to please him without it; not that Virtue and Righteousnefs, if it were possible to find them without Faith, could be in themselves unacceptable to God; but that, because without such Faith there can be no Righteousness, therefore neither without it can God possibly be pleased. Righteousness is the only means, by which rational Beings can obtain the Favour of God; and therefore since Faith is necessary in order to Righteousness, 'tis con
SER M. fequently necessary to the obtaining of the I.
Favour of God. He that will please God, must come to him in the Ways of Virtue and true Holiness; and he that cometh to God, must first believe that he is.
FROM what has been said upon This head, we may easily dissipate the vain Fears of many pious and sincere persons, who are very apt to be suspicious of themselves that they want true Faith, and consequently that their Religion is vain. Now this Fear, in such Persons, evidently arises from want of having a distinct Notion what Faith is. They are possessed of the Thing ; but for want of clearly understanding the Notion, they are not able to judge rightly whether they have it or not. From the Explication which has Now been given of that Matter, men may easily examine themselves, whether they have that Faith, which I have been describing, or no.
And without entring into the definition at all, there is yet a plainer Rule given us by our Saviour ; by its Fruits we may know it. Where-ever the Fruits of Righteousness and true Virtue are found, there cannot be wanting the Root of Faith, from which those Fruits proceed : For he that cometh to God, does certainly believe that he is; and gives Serm.
1. the best Proof in the World that he does so. On the contrary, whosoever upon examination finds not in his Life the Fruits of Righteousness; whatsoever his speculative Understanding may be, yet in the Christian sense he may be sure he has no Faith. For if the Spring, the Cause, the active Principle were present; there would not be wanting its proper Effect.
Effect. Such as the Root is, such will be the Branches. He who seriously believes that God is; will indeavour to come unto him, in the ways of Truth and Righteousness.
HAVING thus briefly explained the former part of the words; and shewn both what Faith is, and how , absolutely necessary; as without which it is impossible to please God, or to come unto him ; It remains that I consider, in the latter part of the words, those Two fundamental instances or primary objects of Faith, laid before us by the Apostle ; namely, the Being of God, and his Relation to Us; that he Is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him. The first foundation of all, and the primary object of Faith, is the Being of God; He that cometh to God, must believe that be Is. Now the
SermiGrounds or Arguments, upon which our Faith
in This particular is built; besides the Evi-
prove (in particular ) the Being of God, may Serm. be naturally reduced to the Two which fol. low.
First, THAT 'tis evident, both We our selves, and all the other Beings we know in the World, are weak and dependent Creatures, which neither gave ourselves Being, nor can preserve it by any Power of our own: And that therefore we entirely owe our Being to some Superiour and more Powerful Cause ; which Superiour Cause, either must be it self the first Cause, which is the Notion of God; or else, by the fame Argument as before, must derive from him, and so lead us to the Knowledge of him. If it be said, that we received our Being from our Fore-Fathers by a continued natural Succession, (which however would not in
any step have been possible, without a perpetual Providence;) yet still the Argument holds no less strong concerning the First of the whole Race; that He could not but be made by a Superiour Intelligent Cause. If an Atheist, contrary to the Truth of all History, shall contend that there may have been, without any Beginning at all, an eternal Succession of Men; yet still it will be no less evident, that such a perpetual Succession could not