Page images

Infidelity did cause the Devil's apoftafy.

SERM. Infidelity did banish man from Paradise, (trusting to the

I. Devil, and distrusting God's word.)

Infidelity (disregarding the warnings and threats of God) did bring the deluge on the world. Infidelity did keep the Israelites from entering into Ca-Heb. iii. 19.

iv. 6, &c. naan, the type of heaven; as the Apostle to the Hebrews doth infift.

Infidelity indeed is the root of all fin; for did men heartily believe the promises to obedience, and the threats to disobedience, they could hardly be so unreasonable as to forfeit the one, or incur the other : did they believe that the omnipotent, all-wise, most just and severe God did command and require such a practice, they could hardly dare to omit or transgress.

Let it therefore suffice to have declared the evil of infidelity, which alone is sufficient inducement to avoid it.

3 Believe, &c.




2 Pet. i. 1.

to them that have obtained like precious faith with us. SERM. THE

Holy Scripture recommendeth faith (that is, a II.

hearty and firm persuasion concerning the principal doc

trines of our religion, from divine revelation taught by 1 Pet. i. 7. our Lord and his Apostles) as a most precious and honour

alle practice; as a virtue of the first magnitude, very comHeb. xi. 6. mendable in itself, very acceptable to God, very beneficial John xvi. to us; having moft excellent fruits growing from it, most

noble privileges annexed to it, most ample rewards assigned for it.

It is in a special manner commanded, and obedience to

that command is reckoned a prime instance of piety: 1 John iii. This is his commandment, that we should believe ; this is

the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath

sent. Heb. xi. 6. It is the root of our spiritual life; for, He that cometh to 2 Pet. i. 5. God must believe ; and, Add to your faith virtue, saith St.

Peter, fuppofing faith to precede other virtues.

It is the principal conduit of divine grace; for
By it we are regenerated, and become the sons of God;

John vi, 29.

John i. 12. 1 Joh.ii. 24.

Acts ii. 38.

Johnvii.38. v.1.X. 10. Acts xxvi.

Afts xv. 9. 1 Pet. i. 22.


Ye all, faith St. Paul, are the fons of God by faith in Christ SERM. Jefus.

II. By it we abide in God, and do polless him, faith St. Gal

. iii. 26. John. By it Christ dwelleth in us, faith St. Paul.

2 John is. By it we obtain God's Spirit: Did ye, faith St. Paul, Eph. iii. 17.

Gal. iii. 2, receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing 14.

Eph. i. 13. of faith?

By it we are justified, or acquitted from guilt, and con-v. 32. demnation for fin: for, Being justified by faith we have Rom. iii.25. peace with God.

By it our hearts are purged, faith St. Paul; our souls are 18. 2. 43. purified, saith St. Peter.

By it we are freed from the dominion of fin; according to that of our Saviour; If ye abide in my word,-ye shall John viii. know the truth, and the truth fhall set you free. It procureth freedom of access to God; We have, faith Eph. iii

. 12. St. Paul, boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

It is the field, whereby we refst temptations; and the Eph. vi. 16. weapon, whereby we overcome the world.

In fine, it is that, which being retained in a good conscience, and maintained by virtuous practice, doth keep us Eph. ii. 8. in a state of salvation, and will assuredly convey us into a eternal life and felicity; for, by grace we are saved, through Heb. 2. 34. faith.

That faith should be thus highly dignified, hath always 12. appeared strange to the adversaries of our religion a; and hath suggested to them matter of obloquy against it: they? Theff. ii. could not apprehend why we should be commanded, or how we can be obliged to believe; as if it were an arbitrary thing, depending on our free choice, and not rather did naturally follow the representation of objects to our mind: they would not allow that an act of our under

Heb. X. 22.

i Pet. v. 9. 1 John v.5. 1 Tim.i.19. iii. 9. i. 5.


1 Pet. i. 9. Luke viii.

Acts xvi.

30, 31.


• Ilieto ήν διαβάλλουσι, κενών και βάρβαρον νομίζοντες “Ελληνες. Clem, Str. ii. (p. 265.)

Pagani nobis objicere folent, quod religio noftra, quia quafi rationibus deficit, in sola credendi persuasione consiftat. Ruff. in Symb. 'Αδίκημα και δικαιοπράγημα ώρισαι το εκουσία και ακουσίω. Αrit. Eth. ν. 6. iii. 1.


SERM, standing, hardly voluntary, as being extorted by force of II.

arguments, should deserve such reputation and such recompenses; for if, argued they, a doctrine be propounded with evident and cogent reason, what virtue is there in believing it, seeing a man in that case cannot avoid believing, is therein merely paflive, and by irresistible force subdued ? if it be propounded without such reason, what

fault can it be to refuse assent, or to suspend his opinion Prov. xiv. about it? can a wise man then do otherwise? is it not in

such a case fimplicity, or fond credulity, to yield assent? yea, is it not deceit or hypocrisy to pretend the doing so? may not justly then all the blame be charged rather on the incredibility of the doctrine, or the infirmity of reafons enforcing it, than on the incredulity of the person who doth not admit it? whence no philosophers ever did impose such a precept, or did assign to faith a place among the virtues.

To clear this matter, and to vindicate our religion from such misprisions, and that we may be engaged to prize and cherish it; I shall endeavour to declare, that Christian faith doth worthily deserve all the commendations and the advantages granted thereto: this I shall do by considering its nature and ingredients, its rise and causes, its efficacy and consequences.

1. As to its nature; it doth involve knowledge, knowyour ows 32-ledge of most worthy and important truths, knowledge purusuasum peculiar and not otherwise attainable, knowledge in way ren. Chryf:


evidence and assurance.
1. b Truth is the natural food of our soul, toward which
it hath a greedy appetite, which it tasteth with delicious
coinplacency, which being taken in and digested by it
doth render it lusty, plump, and active : truth is the spe-

cial ornament of our mind, decking it with a graceful and Psal. cxix, pleasant lustre; truth is the proper wealth of reason, 142, 151. whereof having acquired a good stock, it appeareth rich,

prosperous, and mighty : what light is without, that is

πίσεις της εις τον Θεόν

tom. v. Or. 55.

6 'Aλήθεια δή πάντων μεν αγαθών θεούς ηγείται, πάντων δε ανθρώπους. Ρar. Leg.v. (p. 481.) de Rep. vi. (p. 675.)

έργον αυτού

ii, 6.

truth within, shining on our inward world, illustrating, SERM. quickening, and comforting all things there, exciting all

II. our faculties to action, and guiding them in it. All knowledge therefore, which is the possession of truth, is much esteemed; even that which respecteth objects mean, and little concerning us, (such as human sciences are converfant about ; natural appearances, historical events, the properties, proportions, and powers of figure, of motion, of corporeal force,) doth bear a good price, as perfective of rational nature, enriching, adorning, invigorating our mind; whence Aristotle doubteth not upon all those habitual endowments, which so accomplish our understanding, to bestow the name of virtues; that with him being the virtue of each thing, which anywise perfecteth it, and nãoq agora, difpofeth it for action fuitable to its nature. And if igno- auré ri . rance, error, doubt, are defects, deformities, infirmities of xoy árons

λει, και το our soul, then the knowledge which removeth them doth imply the perfection, beauty, and vigour thereof. Faith "vá todidwes.

Arift. Eth. therefore, as implying knowledge, is valuable.

2. But it is much more fo, in regard to the quality of its objects, which are the most worthy that can be, and most useful for us to know; the knowledge whereof doth indeed advance our foul into a better state, doth ennoble, enrich, and embellish our nature; doth raise us to a nearer resemblance with God, and participation of his wisdom; doth infuse purest delight and satisfaction into our hearts; doth qualify and direct us unto practice most conducible to our welfare; it is a knowledge, enlightening the eyes, Pfal. xix. 7, converting the foul, rejoicing the heart ; sweeter than honey, 8, 9, 10.

(cxix. 103, and the honeycomb; more precious than rubies; which i11.) giveth to our head an ornament of grace, and a crown of i1.9:

•Prov.jii. 13. glory. For, '

Thereby we understand the nature, or the principal attributes of God, of whom only the Christian doctrine doth afford a completely true and worthy character, directive of our esteem, our worship, our obedience, our imitation of him ; whereby our demeanour toward him may become him, and please him.


« PreviousContinue »