« IndietroContinua »
In the phrase of scripture, all good is attributed S ERM to God; and all spiritual good to the holy Spirit of CCXXIII. God working in us, and assisting us to the doing of it. As on the other hand, the scripture attributes all those fins that are committed in the world, to the influence of evil Spirits. “He that committeth sin “is of the devil.” And though we do not know many times, how the Spirit of God worketh a good inclination in us, yet it is safe to follow the phrase of scripture, and to afcribe all good to God, as in some way or other the author of it.
II. This doth not excuse the infidelity of men, that “ faith is the gift of God.” For though no man doth believe without some influence of the divine Spirit upon his heart, yet this does by no means excuse those who believe not, any more than it is an excuse to the infidelity of men, that the scripture attributes it to the devil, as in some sort the cause of it. He is said " to blind the eyes of them that believe
not, left the light of the glorious gospel of Christ “ should shine unto them.” But the unbelief of men is a fault for all this ; because the devil cannot blind our minds, unless we consent to it : he can only suggest false principles to us : but we may chuse whether we will entertain them or not: he can only tempt us to reject the truth ; but we may chuse whether we will do so or not. In this we are faulty, because we may resist the devil, and quench or repel those fiery darts which he cafts into our minds : but if we will consent to his temptations, and suffer ourselves to be blinded by him, the fault of our unbelief is our own, as well as his; and we are guilty of the infidelity which we suffer him to tempt us to.
So on the other hand, though “ faith be the gift “of God ;” yet those that believe not are faulty Q3
upon this account, that they quench and refift the blessed motions of God's Spirit, and the infuence and operation of the Spirit of God, which accompany the truth of the gospel to the minds of men, and produce their effect wherever they are not opposed and rejected by the prejudice and perverseness of men.
III. Let us depend upon God for every good gift; and earnestly beg the asistance and influence of his holy Spirit, which is so necessary to us to beget faith in us, and to preserve, and to make it effectual upon our hearts and lives. Bread is not more necessary to the support of our natural life, than the holy Spirit of God to our spiritual life.
For our encouragement to ask this gift of God's holy Spirit, our Saviour hath told us, that God is very ready to bestow him upon us. No father upon earth is more ready to give bread to his children that cry after him, than God is to give his Spirit to those that heartily and earnestly beg it of him. So our Saviour assures us, Luke xi. 11, 12, 13. “ if a fon “ shall ask bread of any of yoụ that is a father, will “ he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he “ for a fish give him a serpent ? or if he shall ask an “egg, a
will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye then, being “evil, know how to give good gifts unto your “ dren; how much more shall your heavenly Father “ give the holy Spirit to them that ask him ?”
And now I have done with the first thing that I propounded, which was to open the nature of faith to you in general. I have been the longer upon this, because I thought it very material, and important to the settling of right apprehensions in us concerning religion, and divine things ; and I have all along endeavoured to make things as easy and plain as the
nature of the subject would permit. And though propably many things that I have said, might not be within the full reach and comprehension of all capacities, yet because I hoped they might be useful and beneficial to some at least, I could not think the other consideration a sufficient reason why I should wholly omit them, and pass them by ; remembring what St. Paul says, that “ he was a debtor to the wise," as well
“the unwise.” And St. Peter tells us, that St. Paul in his epistles wrote“ many things, which were “ hard to be understood” by some persons; yet because those things might be of use to others, the Spirit of God did not think fit to omit the writing of them. What remains I shall reserve for another discourse, with which I shall conclude this subject,
SE R M O N. CCXXIV.
ness of divine faith.
HE B. xi. 6. But without faith it is impossible to please God. N discoursing on these words, I have dispatched SER M.
CCXXIV. the first thing which I proposed, viz. to give an account of the notion and nature of faith in general ; The sixth under which I have largely treated of a religious or sermon on
this text. divine faith in particular.
The second thing which I proposed, and to which I now proceed, is to confirm the truth of the proposition which I laid down from the words, viz. R 4
SERM. that faith is the great principle of religion. I told CCXXIV.
you that these words, “ without faith it is impossible “to please God,” do not only imply that faith is a necessary condition, without which men cannot be religious : but likewise that it is a cause and principle of religion. Without faith a man cannot be religious : and where there is true faith, it will have this effect upon men to make them religious. Therefore I shall distinctly speak to these two things.
First, that without faith there can be no religion.
Secondly, that where there is a true faith, it will have this influence upon men to make them religious.
First, that without faith there can be no religion. And this will appear by enquiring into the nature of all human actions, whether civil, or religious: and this is common to both of them, that they suppose some kind of faith or persuasion. All human actions have an order and reference to some end, and consequently suppose some knowledge of the end, and of the means whereby it may be attained. So that uns less a man do believe and be persuaded that such a thing is some way or other good for him, and confequently desirable and fit to be propounded as an end, and that this end is attainable, and the means which he useth are probable and likely for the attaining of this end, he will sit still and do nothing at all about it. So that without faith it is impossible to do any thing; he that believes nothing, will do nothing.
To instance first in civil actions, and the common affairs and concernments of life ; all these are done by virtue of some faith or persuasion concerning them, For example, husbandry, or merchandise; no man will apply himself to these, but upon some belief or persuasion of the possibility and necessity, or at least usefulness and convenience of these to the ends of
life. No man would plough or fow, if he did not SERM: believe that there were such a thing as the growing of
CCXXIV: corn, and that it is necessary for the support of our lives, and if he were not persuaded of the probability of reaping some fruit and benefit of his pains and industry. No man would traffick to Turkey or the Indies, if he did not believe there were such places, and that they afforded such commodities, and that he might have them upon such terms as might recompense the adventure of his charge and pains. And so in all other actions of life.
So it is in divine and religious things, nothing is done without faith. No man will worship God, unless he believe there is a God; unless he be per
suaded there is such a being, which by reason of it's i excellency and perfection, may challenge our vene
ration; and unless he believes the goodness of this God, that “ he will reward those that diligently serve “ him.” For all acts of religion being reasonable, they suppose at least an object and an end ; that
there is a God to be worshipped, and that it is not .
in vain to serve him. This faith is necessary to natural religion. And in case God do discover' and reveal his will to men, no man can obey the will of God, unless he be persuaded that God hath some way or other made known his will, and be persuaded likewise as to the particular instance wherein his obedience is required, that this is God's will. For instance, no man will obey the precepts of the bible as divine laws and commands, unless he be persuaded that the doctrine contained in the holy scriptures is a divine revelation. So likewise no man can entertain CHRIST as the Meffias and Saviour of the world, and yield obedience to his laws, unless he believes that he was “ fent of God, and ordained