« PreviousContinue »
that I could remove Mountains; where Volume Faith is undoubtedly taken for the XII. power of Miracles.
These being removed, as very alien and remote from the common and usual Acceptation of the Word, I come How to fix the general Notion of Faith, to which all other Acceptations of it may easily be reduced; and 'tis this.
Faith is a Perswasion of the mind concerning any thing; concerning the truth of any Propolition, concerning the Existence, or Futurition, or Lawfulness, or Convenience, or Possibility, or Goodness of any thing, or the contrary; or concerning the Credit of a Person, or the contrary. And this notion is not only agreeable to the proper hotion of the word miss, which comes from netw to perswade, but is warranted from the common use of it in this latitude. It is ordinary for men to say, they believe or are perfwaded such a Proposition is true or false, such a thing is or is not, fuch an Event will be or will not be, that such an Action is lawful or unlawful, such a thing is good or bad, convenient or inconve
hient, possible or impossible to be done
? Sermon or that they believe such a Person, or
I. do not believe him. And I could shew from Scripture that believing is apply'd to all these matters, and many more; I will only instance in one or two.
That Faith is frequently used for the perswasion of the Truth of a Doctrine, or of the Veracity of God or Christ, Í shall not need to produce any Texts, there are so many .
That Faith is used for a Perswafion of the lawfulness of an Action, the 14th Chap. to the Romans doth abundantly testifie. Ver. 2. One believeth that he may eat all things; that is, is
perswaded in his mind that all sorts of Meat are lawful without distinction. Ver. 22. Hast thou faith? that is, art thou perswaded or fatisfied in thy mind of the lawfulness of those indifferent things he had been speaking of. Ver. 23. He that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith:
for whatsoever is not of faith, is fin; that is, whatever is not done with the Perswasion and Satisfaction of our Minds that we may
lawfully do it, is sin. I shall trouble Volume you with no more Instances. XII.
Now this being the general Notion of Faith, that it is a Perswasion of the Mind concerning any thing from hence by a Metonymy it comes to be put
for the Argument whereby this Perswasion is wrought in us. Hence it is, that among the Rhetoricians mises are any kind of Argument or Proof which Orators make use of to perswade men; and there is one place in the New Testament, where risis feems to be used in this sense, or very near it, Acts 17. 31. Because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world, &c. whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, πίσιν παραχων πισιν, having offer'd faith to all men; that is, having given us this. Argument for the proof of it, that he raised Christ from the dead.
Sometimes ’tis put for the Object of this Perswasion, or the matter or thing whereof we are perswaded. And thus frequently in the New Testament, thre Gospel, which is the Object of our Faith, the thing which we believe, is call'd Faith. And thus you find it used in m
Serinon that Phrase of Obedience to the faiih,
I. that is, to the Gospel, Acts 6.7. Rom. 1: 5. 16. 26. And in this sense Faith, that is the Gospel, is frequently oppofed to the Dispensation of the Law, Rom, 3. 27, 31. 10. 6. Gal. 1. 23. He that persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. Gal. 3. 2. the hearing of the Gospel, is call?d, the hearing of faith; ver. 23, Before faith came; and ver. 25. But after that faith is come. Epli
. 4. 5. There's one faith, that is, one Gospel, which we believe. I Tim. 4.6. Nourish’d up in the word of faith and of good doctrine.
The opposites to Faith are Unbelief and Credulity. Unbelief, which is a not being perswaded of a thing, is the deficient extream ; or doubting, if it prevail to a degree of Unbelief: and Credulity, which is an easiness to believe things without any probable Argument to induce our perswalion, is the redundant extream:
The seat or subject of Faith is the Mind, or the Heart, as the Scripture usually calls it. With the heart man
mbelieves, that is, with the Soul: for I Volume do not understand
real distinction XII. of Faculties; but if you will distin
guish them, the proper seat of this perswasion is the Understanding; the immediate effect of it is upon the Will; by which it works upon the Affections, and the Life.
And Faith in this general Notion is not opposed to Error, and Knowledge, and Opinion: but comprehends all these under it. For if a Man be perswaded of that which is false, he believes a Lye, as the Scripture expresseth it; a Man may be certainly perswaded of a thing, that is, firmly believe it, which is Knowledge; a Man may be probably perswaded of a thing, that is, believe it with some diffidence and uncertainty, and that is Opinion.
But for our better understanding of this general Notion of Faith, we will take into Consideration these Four things.
1. The Cause of it, or the Argument whereby it is wrought.