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canft do any thing? Why thus it will be with you, if you be true believers ; Luke xvii. 5: « Lord, (faid the difciples) in“crease our faith.”
Fifthly, There was a conflict in his soul betwixt faith and infidelity, grace and corruption; and this is very ferfible to him ; faith incliniøg him one way, and unbelief carrying him another : And hence he speaks like a man greatly distressed, be. twixt the working of contrary principles in his own soul (and so you will also find it in yourselves), Gal. v. 17. « The flesh “ lufteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; so " that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
Uje 2. Of confolation. Well then, bless the Lord for the least degree of faving faith ; and be not so discouraged at its imperfections, as to overlook and flight the smallest working of faith in your souls. This poor man was deeply sensible of his unbelief, and yet at the same instant truly thankful for a small measure of faith ; and so should you. For,
First, The least measure of saving faith, is more than all the creatures power could produce: It is the faith of the Operation of God, Col. ii. 12. It is the work of God, that ye believe, John vi. 29. Yea, it is the exceeding greatness of bis power, Eph. i. 19, 20. No ministers of Christ, how excellent foever their gifts are, no duties or ordinances, no labour or diligence of your own, without this mighty power of God, can ever bring you to faith.
Secondly, It is the just matter of wonder and astonishment; that ever one fpark of faith was kindled in such an heart as thine is; an heart which had no predisposition or inclination in the least to believe: Yea, it was 'not Rasa Tabula, like clean paper, void of any impression of faith, but filled with contrary impressions to it; so that it is marvellous that ever your hearts received the stamp or impression of faith on them.
It was wonderful, that fire should fall from heaven and burn upon the altar, when Elijah had laid the wood in order upon it; but much more when he poured so much water up. on it, as not only wet all the wood, but filled the trenches, 1 Kings xviii. 33. Juft so was the case of thy foul, reader, when God came to kindle faith there: Thy heart was dark and ignorant, neither acquainted with God, or thy own condition ; yea, thy heart was a proud heart, full of self-righteousness, and self-conceitedness, Rev. iii. 17. Rom. x. 3. A. heart, that would rather.venture eternal damnation, than deny felf, and submit to Chrift: And yet the light of the Lord
mut fhine into this darknefs, and the pride and stiffness of thy heart must be broken, and brought to yield, or there is no believing.
Belide; How many and mighty enemies did oppose the work of faith in thy soul? Among which Satan and thy own carnal reasonings were the principal; 2 Cor. 8. 4. By them, what strong-holds and fortifications were raised; to secure thee from the strokes of conviction that make way for faith. Let but the state of thine own heart, as it was by nature, be confidered, and thou wilt say, it was the wonderful work of God, that ever thou wast brought in any degree to believe.
Thirdly, Though thy faith be weak, yet it is growing, if it bė saving faith. The largest tree was once but a kernel, or acorn; the most famous believer, at first but a weak and doubting one : Be not discouraged therefore, God will fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness in you, and the work of faith with power. It were certainly much better for you to be blessing God for a little faith, praying for the increase of faith; and diligently attending those means by which it may be im proved and made fourishing in your souls, than, by a sinful ungrateful, and prejudicial despondency, at once to dishonour God, and thus wrong yourselves. Doct. 2. That the remains of unbelief in gracious hearts da
cost them many tears and forrows. There are many things that afflict and grieve the people of Goil from without; but all their outward troubles are nothing to these troubles that come from within.
There are many inward troubles that make them groan, but hone more than this, the unbelief they find in their own heartsa This lin justly costs them more trouble than other fins, because it is the root from which other fins do spring; a root of bitterness, bearing wormwood and gall, to the imbittering of their souls. For, in
First, The remains.of unbelief in the saints, greatly disho: nour God; and what is a great dishonour to God, cannot but be a great grief and burden to them: For look, as faith gives God special honour above all other graces, so unbelief, in a special manner, both wrongs and grieves him above all other sins. Unbelief in dominion makes God a liar, 1 John v. 1o. And "even the relicts thereof in believers, do shake their afsent to his truths and promises, and nourish a vile suspicion of them in the heart. And how do those base jealousies reflect upon his honour? Certainly, it cannot but be a grief to a gra«
Vol. VIII. . . . .'
cious heart to fee. God dishonoured by others, Psalm exir. 36. and a much greater to dishonour him ourselves. Hinc illae lachrymae : Upon this ground, we may justly cry out, and say with tears, Lord, help our unbeliefe! 1. Secondly, The remains of unbelief in the saints, doth not only dishonour God, but deface and spoil their best duties, in which they at any time approach unto God. Is the face of God clouded from us in prayer, hearing, or receiving ? Examine the cause and reason, and you will find that cloud raised from your own unbelieving hearts. Are your affections cold, flat, and dead in duty ? Dig but to the root, and you will find this fin to lie there. If the word do 'not work upon you as you defire and pray it might, it is because it is not mingled with faith, Heb. iv, 2. No duties, nor ordinances, no promises, can give down their sweet influences upon your souls, because of this Gint. Now communion with the Lord in duties is the life of our life: These things are dearer to the saints, than their eyes. Juftly therefore do they bewail and mourn over that fin, which obstructs and intercepts their sweetest enjoyments in this world.
Thirdly, The remains of unbelief give advantage and success to Satan's temptations upon us. Doth he at any time affright and scare us from our duty, or draw and entice us to the commissions of sin, or darken and cloud' our condition, and fill us with inward fears and horror, without cause ? All this he doth, by the mediation of our unbelief. The apostle, in Eph. vi. 16. calls faith the foul's fhield against temptation : And 1 John v. 4: it is called the victory by which we overcome ; i. e. the sword, or weapon, by which we atchieve our victories. And if so, then unbelief difarms us both of sword and thield, and leaves us naked of defence in the day of battle, a prey to the next temptation that befals us. | Fourthly, The remains of unbelief hinder the thriving of all graces ; it is a worm at their root; a plant of such a malignant quality, that nothing which is spiritual can thrive under the droppings and shadow of it. It is said, Heb. iv. 2. That the gospel was preached to the Ifraelites, but it did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. No ordinances, nor duties, be they never so excellent, will make that foul to thrive, where unbelief prevails: You pray, you hear, you fast, you meditate; and yet you do not thrive; your fpiri-' tual food doth no good: You come from ordinances as dead, careless, and vain, as you went to them., And why is it thusy but because of remaining unbelief?
Ufe I. Let all the people of God bewail, and tenderly mourn, over the remainders of infidelity in their own hearts : There,'. there is the root of the disease. . And surely, reader, thy heart is not free of such symptoms of it, as appear in other mens hearts. For do but consider,
Symp. 1. What is our impatiency to wait for mercy, and despondency of spirit, if deliverance come not quickly in the outward, or inward Itraits of soul or body, but a plain fymp., tom of unbelief in our hearts ? « He that believes, will not « make hafte,” Ifa. xxviii. 16. He that can believe, can also wait God's time, Pfalm xxvii. 14. ',
Symp. 2. And what means our readiness to use sinful mediums, to prevent, or extricate ourselves out of trouble, but a great deal of infidelity, lurking still in our hearts ? Might but faith be heard to speak, it would say in thy heart, let me rather die ten deaths, than commit one sin. It is sweeter, and easier, to die in my integrity, than to live with a defiled, or wounded conscience. It is nothing but our unbelief, that makes us so ready to put forth our hands to iniquity, when the rod of the wicked rests long upon us, or any eminent danger threatens us, Pfalm cxxv. 3.
Symp. 3. Doth not the unbelief of your hearts shęw itself in your deeper thoughtfulness, and great anxieties about earthly. things ? Matth. vi. 30. We pretend, we have trusted God with our souls to all eternity, and yet cannot trust him for our daily bread. We bring the evils of to-morrow upon us to-day; and all because we cannot believe more.
O reader ! how much better were it to hear fuch questions. as these from thee. How shall I get an heart suitable to the mercies I do enjoy? How shall I duly improve them for God? « What shall I render to the Lord, for all his goodness ?” This · would better become thee, than to affict thyself with, “ What " shall I eat? What shall I drink? Or wherewithal shall I be . “ cloathed ?”
Symp. 4. What doth the flavish fear of death speak, but remains of unbelief still in our hearts ? Are there not many faintings, tremblings, despondences of mind, under the thoughts of death? Oh! if faith were high, thy spirit could not be so low, 2 Cor., v. 1, 2, 3. The more bondage of fear, the more Infidelity. .. '
Symp. 5. To conclude: What is the voice of all those distractions of thy heart in religious duties, but want of faith,... weakness in faith, and the actual prevalence of unbelief? You
come to God in prayer; and there a thousand vanities befes you': Your heart is carried away: it roves, it wanders to the ends of the earth. Confcience fmites for this, and faith, Thou doft but mock God; thy soul will smart for this : Thou feel eft neither strength nor sweetness arising out of such duties. You enquire for remedies, and fills the ears of friends with your complaints; and, it may be, see not the root of alt this to be in your own unbelief. But there it is ; and all that be cured, it will not be better with yon.
Ufe Il. Yet let not poor Christians fo mourn, as thofe that have no hope, or ground of comfort, even in this case. For; · First, Though there be remains of unbelief in you, yet you have infinite cause to bless God that they are but remains. You once were in unbelief; 1 Tim. i. !3. (i. e.) under the full power and dominion of it. Had God cut you off in that state, you must certainly have perished. This is the disease, but that was the death of your souls.
Secondly, Though unbelief be in you, yet it is not in jou per modum quietis, by way of rest, as it is in all unbelievers ; but by way of daily conflict, and as a burden too heavy to be borne. Now though the sin be sad, yet the forrow for it is sweet; and your conflicts with it bring you under a very comfortable sign of grace, Rom. vii. 21.
Thirdly, This is a disease, under which all Christians do la. bour more or less. There is not a heart fo holy in all the world, but is in fome degree tainted and infected with this difcase. And this hath been evident, not only in all Christians, of all sizes, but in all the acts of their faith. Job's faith tri. umphed in chap xiii. 15. yet had its eclipse änd fainting-fit in chap. xix. 20. Abraham was a most renowned believer, a great pattern and example of faith : 0 how high a pitch did kis faith mount to in Gen. xxii. 3.! And yet there was a time when it fainted, and failed him, as at Gerar, Gen. xx. 2, 10, IJ. David in Psal. xxvii. 1, 23. was not like David in 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. The faith of Peter shone out like the sun, in a glorious confession, Matth. xvi. 16. and yet was not only becloud. ed, but seemed to be gone down, and quite fet, in Matth. xxvi. 69. though it afterwards recovered itself. ; .
Fourthly, It is not this, or that degree of unbelief, that damns a man, bụt the power and dominion of it, that damns · him. Indeed, your comfort depends much upon the strength,
of your faith; but your salvation depends upon the truth of it. Most Christians come to heaven with a weak and doubting