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SER M. times used for the Truft itself, or the thing committed to our charge; Thus Rom. xii. 6. Having then Gifts differing according to the Grace that is given to us; whether prophecy, let us prophefy according to the proportion of Faith; Or Ministry, let us wait on our miniftring; [The phrase in our modern language very difficult, and cannot well be understood without This obfervation:] According to the proportion of Faith, that is, according to the nature and degree of the Gift or the Truft repofed in us, (whether it be prophecy or miniftration or any other Office which requires Faithfulness in the performance of it,) fo let every one of us discharge his refpective Duty. 3dly, Another and much more ufual fignification of the word, Faith; is to denote the whole Gospel of Christ, or the Chriftian religion, in oppofition to the ritual Works of the Law of Mofes. Thus Acts vi. 7. The number of the Disciples multiplied in Jerufalem greatly, and a great company of the Priefs were obedient to the Faith; that is, embraced the Gospel. Again, Rom. iii. 28. A man is juftified by Faith, without the deeds of the Law; by Faith, that is, by the conditions of the Gofpel. And Rom. x. 8. The word of Faith, which we
preach; That is to fay, the Doctrine of the SER M. Gofpel. And indeed generally throughout all the Epistles, and in the Book of the Acts, this is the conftant fignification of the word, Faith. And the reason why the whole Gospel is fo often expreffed by that Name, is very obvious; [namely] because the great Motives and Promises of the Gospel, are the invifible things of a Future State, which can be difcerned by Faith only. 4thly and Laftly, in other places of Scripture, the word, Faith, fignifies plainly and literally and in its moft natural Senfe, a firm Belief and Perfwafion; a firm Belief, of the Being, and Attributes, and Promifes of God. Not, (as Some underftand it,) a confident Credulity in they know not what, in whatever their Teachers require them to believe; and That perhaps with fo much the greater Affurance, as the things are more abfurd and unreafonable to be believed. Neither does Faith fignify, (as Others have contended,) a groundless imaginary Affurance, and confi dent Reliance on our being unalterably, we know not why, in the Favour of God, But it is a rational Perfwafion and firm Belief, of his Attributes difcovered by NaB 4 ture,
SER M. ture, and of his Promises made known in the Gospel; fo as thereby to govern and direct our lives. Thus the word is used in the 1ft verfe of this Chapter, Faith is the Subftance (a Subftantial well-grounded expectation) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not feen. And in the words of the Text; Without Faith it is impoffible to pleafe God; For He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently feek him.
To come to God, fignifies, according to the Nature of the Jewish language, making. Profeffion of Religion; undertaking to live a holy and virtuous Life, in obedience to God's commands, and in expectation of his Rewards. And it answers to another phrase of the like import, walking with God; which fignifies continuing and persevering in that religious practife, whereof coming to God is the Beginning or Entrance. Thus Gen. v. 22. Enoch walked with God; and, vi. 9. Noah was a juft man, and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God. Walking with God, is being perfect or stedfast in that religious course of Life, whereof Coming to God, is making the first Profeffion. He that cometh to God,.
is as much as to fay, whosoever will be a SER M. virtuous or religious man: In like manner, as, he that cometh to Chrift, fignifies more particularly, he that will take upon him to be a Chriftian. No Man can come to Me, fays our Saviour, Joh. vi. 44. (that is, he cannot become a good Chriftian,) except the Father which hath sent me, draw him ; — Every man that hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. The phrafe, except the Father draw him, is in our prefent manner of fpeaking, difficult and unufual; But it is explained by what follows, He that hath learned of the Father. The Meaning is: No Man can effectually believe in Christ, except he firft believes in God. Natural Religion, is the best Preparative for the reception of the Chriftian. The Love of Truth and Virtue in general is the Difpenfation of the Father; And the Doctrine of the Gospel in particular, is the Difpenfation of the Son. Now as no man can receive Christ, who has not first heard, and is thus drawn by the Father; as no one can be a good Chriftian, who is not first refolved to be a good Man; fo no one can hear the Father, can come to God, unless he first have Faith, and believes in Him. The
SER M. Difpenfation of the Father, That of CreaI. tion or Natural Religion, is a neceffary Preparative for the Difpenfation of the Son, that is, for the Gospel: And it must itself have preparation made for it by Faith going before, as by the First Foundation of all. He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently feek him.
THE Senfe therefore of the Text is This. "Tis in vain to make Profeffion of Religion, without being first well inftructed and firmly perfwaded of This Foundation; the Being and Attributes of God, There is no Chriftian, who is not well apprized of This; and may be apt to think perhaps, that 'tis needlefs to remind him of it. But there are few who confider these first Principles of Religion, fo feriously and fo frequently as they ought to do; and in fuch a manner, as to cause them to produce their proper Effect, by influencing their whole Lives and Converfations. For Knowledge is but a dormant Habit, if not excited by conftant Meditation; and Powers are of no Ufe, if not produced into Act. Right Notions of the Being and Attributes of God, every one knows are the Foundation