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of all Religion: But then This Knowledge S ER M. must not be a bare Speculation; but a ferious, practical, affecting impreffion, and deep Sense upon the Mind; of a Supreme Being, who created the World, by his Power, preferves and governs it by his Goodness and Wisdom, and will judge it with Justice, Mercy, and Truth: Of fuch a Supreme Being; whofe Glory, no Eye can behold; whofe Majefty, no Thought can comprehend; whofe Power, no Strength can refift; from whofe Prefence, no Swiftness can flee; from whofe Knowledge, no Secret can be concealed; whofe Juftice, no Art can evade; whofe Goodness, every Creature partakes of. This is that Faith, without which it is impoffible to please God. It is impoffible to please him without it; not that Virtue and Righteoufnefs, if it were poffible to find them without Faith, could be in themselves unacceptable to God; but that, because without fuch Faith there can be no Righteousness, therefore neither without it can God poffibly be pleafed. Righteousness is the only means, by which rational Beings can obtain the Favour of God; and therefore fince Faith is neceffary in order to Righteoufnefs, 'tis con
SER M. fequently neceffary to the obtaining of the Favour of God. He that will please God, must come to him in the Ways of Virtue and true Holinefs; and he that cometh to God, muft first believe that he is.
FROM what has been faid upon This head, we may eafily diffipate the vain Fears of many pious and fincere perfons, who are very apt to be fufpicious of themfelves that they want true Faith, and consequently that their Religion is vain. Now this Fear, in fuch Perfons, evidently arises from want of having a diftinct Notion what Faith is. They are poffeffed 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 eafily examine themselves, whether they have that Faith, which I have been defcribing, 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 SER M. the best Proof in the World that he does fo. On the contrary, whosoever upon examination finds not in his Life the Fruits of Righteousness; whatsoever his fpeculative Understanding may be, yet in the Chriftian fense he may be fure he has no Faith. For if the Spring, the Caufe, the active Principle were prefent; there would not be wanting its proper Effect. Such as the Root is, fuch 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 fhewn both what Faith is, and how abfolutely necessary; without which it is impoffible to please God, or to come unto him; It remains that I confider, in the latter part of the words, those Two fundamental inftances 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 feek him. The first foundation of all, and the primary object of Faith, is the Being of God; He that cometh to God, muft believe that he Is. Now the Grounds
SERM.Grounds or Arguments, upon which our Faith
in This particular is built; befides the Evidence and Authority of Revelation; are, from Reafon it felf, and from the very Nature of Things, many and various: there being hardly any thing in Nature, from whence the Certainty of the Being of God, may not justly and reasonably be deduced. Some of the Arguments are abftrufe, and require Attention; but, when thoroughly confidered, conclude most strongly to the Conviction of obftinate Unbelievers. Others are plain, eafy and obvious, fuited to all Capacities; always ready at hand to confirm the Faith even of the meanest Understandings; and yet differing from the former, not in ftrength, but in being more common only. It would be tedious to repeat at length upon This Head a great Number of Arguments, among Christians to whom they have been fo often urged, and are fo well understood. But by a brief recapitulation, to remind our felves frequently of things already known, for the better affifting of our Meditations; cannot but in many cafes be very useful. For me, faith St. Paul, to repeat unto you the fame things, is not grievous, and for You it is fafe. To this purpose, the numerous Arguments, which
prove (in particular) the Being of God, may be naturally reduced to the Two which fol low.
First, THAT 'tis evident, both We our felves, 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 fome Superiour and more Powerful Caufe; which Superiour Cause, either must be it felf the first Caufe, which is the Notion of God; or elfe, by the fame Argument as before, muft derive from him, and fo lead us to the Knowledge of him. If it be faid, that we received our Being from our Fore-Fathers by a continued natural Succeffion, (which however would not in any step have been poffible, without a perpetual Providence ;) yet ftill the Argument holds no less strong concerning the First of the whole Race; that He could not but be made by a Superiour Intelligent Caufe. If an Atheist, contrary to the Truth of all Hiftory, shall contend that there may have been, without any Beginning at all, an eternal Succeffion of Men; yet still it will be no less evident, that fuch a perpetual Succeffion could not