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SERMON XI.

Of BELIEVING in GOD.

Rom. iv. 3.

Abraham believed God, and it

was counted unto him for Rigbte-
ousness.

ELIEF in God is the Foun-S ERM.

dation of all Religion both XI. B

Natural and Revealed. For,

be that cometh to God must believe that He Is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek bim. Good Temper and Humanity may be, and often is the cause of many virtuous Actions; which, wherever they are found, ought never to go without

their

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Serm. their just commendation : But the steddy XI. course of a virtuous and religious life, u

niform in all its parts and upon all occafions, resisting all the temptations of the World, overcoming all difficulties, and perfevering to the End under all discouragements ;' this is

à Superstructure which cannot be built upon a less strong

'' a turę State, and an Expectation of the righteous Judgment of God.

Now, as without Belief in God, there can be no Religion ; so, where there is such Belief in God, the Scripture als ways in course supposes it accompanied with every other part of true Religion. The Root is always supposed to have the Branches joined with, it; and where a Tree is mentioned, 'tis always understood to be a Tree bearing its proper Fruit. : A Man, never signifies the dead body of a Man without the Soul of Life; neither does Faith in Scripture-phrafe ever mean the bare Profesion of men's Belief; without evidence of its reality by its Effects ; except only where it is declared to be dead and useless. As the Body, faith St James, without the Spirits is dead; so

Faith without Works, is dead also, Jam. ii. Se r M. 26. As, in natural things, to separate XI. Causes and Effects, to separate things in their own nature inseparable, to fuppose the Sun to be without Light, or the Fire without Heat, is unnatural and absurd : so, in matters of Religion and Morality, to separate Belief and Practife, to sepa-' rate the Obligation to any Duty from the Performance of it, is, morally speaking, monstrous and impoffible : the one being as contrary to Reason, which is the Rule of Morality, as the other is contrary to the course and possibilities of nature. For this reason both in Scripture and in common Speech, the Name of

any

One eminent Virtue is very usually put for the Sum of All; and he that in the inspired Writings is commended particularly for One Virtue, is not thereby so much intended to be distinguished for That, as supposed to be thereupon indued with all others likewise. Righteousness, which properly signifies the particular Duty of fair and equitable Dealing between Man and Man, is in Scripture generally used for the whole Practice of true Religion in general. And the Character given to

Noah,

Ser m. Noah, Gen. vi. 9. that he was a just man ; X.

is in the very fame verse explained to be, that he was a man perfect in his generation, and that he walked with God. In like manner, believing in God; because 'tis the Foundation of Obedience to him, and wherever it is sincere, will naturally be attended with such Obedience, fignifies therefore the same as living religiously. Which, as it is True concerning Religion in general, so in Christianity in particular it is still more usual, to put Faith for the whole Practise of Virtue and Religion ; because, as the Foundation of Religion in general, is Believing in God; so the Foundation of Chistianity in particular, is the Belief of that great Act of God, the raifing his Son from the Dead, in order to judge the World in Righteousness. Which is what the Apostle observes, ver. 23. of this chapter : It was not written, says he, for Abraham's fake alone, that bis Faith was imputed to bim for Righteousness. But for Us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the Dead. This is the reafon, why the whole Gospel is, in the New Teftarnent, so frequently called by the

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Name of Faith. The Jewish Religion, Serm. is on the contrary, through the whole

XI. New Testament, usually stiled by the Name of Works ; upon account of the numerous external Ceremonies and ritual Observations, which, though not in reality, yet, in the opinion and practice of the greater part of that Nation, were the main Body of their Religion, or that which they chiefly and most eagerly contended for. For so indeed, both in antient and in modern time, the corrupt disposition of Mankind generally leads them to this one constant Error ; to value most in every Religion that which is of least importance in it ; opinions or ceremonies, which distinguish them into different Parties and not true Virtue, Rightecusness and Goodness, wherein all, who are indeed religious, do necessarily agree. The great Question at the first preaching of the Gospel, was, whether the Practice of Virtue required by Christ in bis Religion, was sufficient to Salvation, without the continuation of the Jewish Ceremonies. The Argument used by the Apostle to prove that it was sufficient, was, that Abraham their Father was himself faved, Vol. II,

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