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SERM. dience? Surely the real belief (such as we have about III.
common things, apprehended by our reason or by our sense) of any such divine act, or attribute, cannot fail to strike pious affection, and pious awe into us.
After piety, the next great virtue is charity, the which 2 Tim.i.15. also is easily derived from a pure heart, as St. Paul speak
eth, and faith unfeigned ; it representing peculiar obligations and inducements thereto, from the most peremptory commands of God, from the signal recompenses annexed to that duty, from the strict relations between Christians, from the stupendous patterns of charity set before us. Who can withhold love from him, whom he believeth his brother, in a way far nobler than that of nature, so constituted by God himself, the common Father, by spiritual regeneration, and adoption of grace; whom he believeth born of the fame heavenly seed, renewed after the same divine image, quickened by the same Holy Spirit; united to him not only in blood, but in soul; resembling him, not in temper of body or lineaments of face, but in conformity of judgment and practice; partner of the one inheritance, and destinated to lead a life with him through all eternity, in peaceful confortship of joy and bliss? Who can deny him love, whom he believeth out of the same miserable case by the same price redeemed into the same ftate of mercy? for whom he by faith vieweth the common Saviour divesting himself of glory, pinching himself with want, wearying himself with labour, loaded with contumelies, groaning under pain, weltering in blood, and breathing out his soul, propounding all this as an example of our charity, and demanding it from us as the most special instance of our grateful obedience to him? What greater endearments can be imagined, what more potent incentives of love, what more indiffoluble bands of friendship, than are these? Can such a believer forbear to wish his neighbour well, to have complacence in his good, to fympathise with his adversities, to perform all offices of kindness to him? Can be in the need of his brother shut up his bowels of compassion, or withhold his han »s from relieving him? Can a man know that God require red
this practice as the noblest fruit of our faith, and most ac- SERM. ceptable part of our obedience, which he hath promised
III. to crown with most ample rewards ; can he believe, that God will recompense bis labour of love with everlasting rest, and for a small expence of present goods will bestow immense treasures in the other world, and yet abstain from charitable beneficence? Who can forbear sowing, that believeth he shall reap so plentiful a crop; or abstain from dealing in that heavenly trade, whereby he is allured to be so vast a gainer?
In like manner is faith productive of meekness, in comporting with injuries, discourtesies, negle&ts, and provocations of any kind : for who can be fiercely angry, who can entertain any rancorous grudge or displeasure against him, whom he believeth his brother, and that upon so many accounts he is obliged to love him? Who that believeth God hath pardoned him so much, and doth continually bear so many wrongs, so many indignities from him, will not in conscience and gratitude toward God, and in compliance with so great an example, bear with the infirmities of his neighbour? Who can look upon the pattern of his Saviour, patiently enduring so many grievous affronts, without a disposition to imitate him, and to do the like for his fake? Who that taketh himself for a child of God, a citizen of heaven, an heir of eternal glory, can be so much concerned in any trivial accident here; can design to have his passion stirred for any worldly respect ? as if his honour could be impaired, or his interest suffer diminution by any thing said or done here below.
Again, Faith is the mother of fincerity, that comprehenfive virtue, which feafoneth all other virtues, and keepeth them found: for it assuring us, that an all-seeing eye doth view our heart, doth encompass our paths, is pre- Pl. cxxxix. sent to all our closest retirements; that all things are naked ; and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do, how vain must it appear to us anywise to diffemble, or prevaricate, speaking otherwise than we think, acting otherwise an we pretend, seeming otherwise than we are; concealing - as real intents, or disguising them under masks of deceit
Heb. iv. 13.
SERM. ful appearance! If we believe that we shall be judged, not III.
according to the opinions of men concerning us, or our port and garb in this world, but as we are in ourselves, and according to strictest truth; that in the close of things we shall be set forth in our right colours and complexion, all varnish being wiped away; that all our thoughts, words, and deeds shall be exposed to most public cenfure; that hypocrisy will be a sore aggravation of our sin, and much increase our shame; how can we satisfy ourselves otherwise than in the pure integrity of our heart, and clear uprightness of our dealing?
Likewise the admirable virtue of humility, or fobriety of mind, doth sprout from faith ; informing us, that we have nothing of our own to boast of, but that all the good we have, we can do, we may hope for, are debts we owe to God's pure bounty and mercy; prompting us to affume nothing to ourselves, but to ascribe all the honour of our endowments, of our performances, of our advantages unto God; keeping us in continual dependance upon God for the succours of his providence and his grace; representing to us our natural weakness, vileness, and wretchedness, together with the adventitious defe&s and disadvantages from our wilful misbehaviour, the unworthiness of our lives, the many heinous fins we have committed, and the grievous punishments we have deferved.
He who by the light of faith doth see, that he came naked into the world, heir to nothing but the sad consequences of the original apostasy; that he is a worm, crawling on earth, feeding on dust, and tending to corruption; that he liveth only by reprieve from that fatal fentence, The day thou finnest thou shalt die; that he was a caitiff wretch, a mere slave to fin, a forlorn captive of hell; and that all his recovery thence, or capacity of a better state, is wholly due to mercy; that he subsisteth only upon alms, and hath nothing but his fins and miseries, which he may call his own; he that believeth these things, what conceit can he have of himself, what confidence in his own worth, what complacency in his estate ?
Faith also doth engage to the virtue of temperance;
discovering not only the duty, but the neceflity thereof, SERM. in regard to our state, which is a state of continual exer-. cise and strife; wherefore as wrestlers with many strong adversaries, as racers for a noble prize, we by good diet and constant labour must keep ourselves in heart, in temper, in breath to perform those combats ; according to that of St. Paul, Every man that striveth for the mastery 1 Cor. ir. is temperate in all things.
Again, Faith is productive of contentedness in our state: for how is it possible that he, who is fully satisfied that God appointeth his station, and allotteth his portion to each one; that all occurrences depend on his will, and are managed by his providence, should take any thing amifs ; as if it could hap better, than as infinite goodness pleaseth, and infinite wisdom determineth? How can he, that believeth God most powerful and able, most kind and willing, ever present and ready to help him, be in any case disconfolate, or despair of seasonable relief? What can discompose him, who knoweth himself, if he pleaseth, immoveably happy; that his best good is secure from all attacks, and beyond the reach of any misfortune; that defiring what is best, he cannot fail of his desire; that (himself excepted) all the world cannot considerably wrong or hurt him?
He that is assured, those precepts (Be careful for no- Matt. vi. 25. thing ; Caft all your burden on God; Be content with such 1 Pet. v.%. things as ye have) were not given to mock and gull us ; 1 Tim. vi. that those declarations and promises (There is no want to Heb. xiii. 5. them that fear God; No good thing will God withhold Luke xii. from them that walk uprightly; There shall no evil happen Psal
. xxxiv. to the just; The desire of the righteous shall be granted ; Prov. xii. All things work together for good to them who love God ; 21. x. 24. Seek ye firf the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and Rom. viii. all these things shall be added unto you) were seriously Matt. vi.33. made, and will surely be performed, how loose must his mind be from all folicitude and anxiety! how steady a calm, how sweet a ferenity will that faith spread over his foul, in regard to all worldly contingencies !
It will also beget a cheerful tranquillity of mind, and
1. v. 1. Col. i. 5.
SERM. peace of conscience, in regard to our future state; that III. which St. Paul calleth all joy and peace in velieving;
which the Apostle to the Hebrews termeth the confidence and rejoicing of hope; of which St. Peter faith, Believing, ye
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: for he that 1 Pet. i. 8. is persuaded that God (in whose disposal his fortune and
felicity are) is reconciled and kindly affected toward him; that he doth concern himself in designing and procuring his salvation; that to purchase the means thereof for him, the Son of God purposely came down, and suffered death;
that an act of oblivion is past, and a full remission of fins Rom. viii. exhibited to him, if he will embrace it; that now there is
no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; and that, being justified by faith, we have peace with God; that blessing is his portion, and that an eternal heritage of joy is reserved for him, what ease must he find in his conscience, what comfort must possess bis heart ! how effec
tually will that of the Prophet be accomplished in him, Isa. Ixvi. 3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is payed
on thee, because he trusteth in thee!
Again, It is faith which breedeth the courage, and upholdeth the patience requisite to support us in our spiritual course.
It doth inspire courage, prompting to attempt the bravest enterprises, disposing to prosecute them refolutely, and enabling happily to achieve them : for he that be
lieveth himself in his undertakings backed by OmnipoPhil. iv. 13. tence, and that, as St. Paul, he can do all things through
Christ strengthening him, what should he fear to set upon,
what difficulty should keep him off, what hazard should dif(Phil. i. 28. may him ? he that knoweth himself, by reason of the fuc4.)
cour attending him, infinitely to overmatch all opposition,
whom should he not dare to encounter? May he not well Pf.xxvii. 1. fay with David; The Lord is my light and my salvation,
whom shall I fear ? the Lord is the strength of my life, of
whom shall I be afraid? Let all the world, let earth Chryf. tom.
and hell combine to invade him, how can that mate his vii. p. 51. fpirit, if he believe they cannot overthrow him, or hurt 1, 2. him, being secured by the invincible protection of him, to
1 John iv.