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SE R M.

VI.

A wrong to exclude any; to confine and appropriate this great blessing; to engross, to inclose a common ; to restrain that by forging diftinctions, which is so unlimitedly expreffed.

The undertakings and performances of our Saviour did respect all men, as the common works of nature do; as the air we breathe in, as the sun which shineth on us; the which are not given to any man particularly, but to all generally ; not as a proper inclosure, but as a common--they are indeed mine, but not otherwise than as they do belong to all

A gift they are to all equally, though they do not prove to all a blessing; there being no common gift, which by the refusal, neglect, or ill use of it may not prove a curse-a favour of death.

men.

SERMON

SERMON VII.

I Believe, &c.

Of justifying Faith.

Rom. y. I.

VII.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with

God, through our Lord Jesus Chrif. THEREFORE ; that word implies the text to 8 3 R M. be a conclusion (by way of inference, or of recapitulation) resulting from the precedent discourse; it is indeed the principal conclusion, which (as being supposed a peculiar and a grand part of the Christian doctrine, and deserving therefore a strong proof and clear vindication) St. Paul designed by several arguments to make good. Upon the words, being of such importance, I should so treat, as first to explain them, or to settle their true sense; then to make some practical application of the truths they contain.

As to the explicatory part, I should consider first, what the faith is, by which we are said to be jusțified ; 2. what being justified doth import ; 3. how by such faith we are so justified ; 4. what the peace with God is, here adjoined to justification ; 5. what

I 3

relation

SER M. relation the whole matter bears to our Lord Jesus VII. Christ; or how through him being justified, we have

peace with God; in the prosecution of which particulars it would appear, who the persons justified are, and who justifies us ; with other circumstances incident.

I shall at this time only insist upon the first particular, concerning the notion of faith proper to this place ; in order to the resolution of which'inquiry, I shall lay down some useful observations: and,

1. First, I observe, that faith, or belief, in the vul

gar acception, doth fignify (as we have it briefly deTop. 4, 5. scribed in Aristotle's Topicks) a opodpa unóanfos, an

earneft opinion or persuasion of mind concerning the truth of some matter propounded. Such an opinion being produced by, or grounded upon some forcible reason, (either immediate evidence of the matter, or sense and experience, or some strong argument of reason, 'or some credible testimony ; a for whatever we afsent unto, and judge true upon any such grounds and inducements, we are commonly said to believe,) this is the popular acception of the word ; and according thereto I conceive it usually signifies in holy Scripture ; which being not penned by masters of human art or science, nor directed to persons of more than ordinary capacities or improvements, doth not intend to use words otherwise than in the most plain and ordinary manner.

Belief therefore in general, I suppose, denotes a firm persuasion of mind concerning the truth of what is propounded; whether it be some one single pro

· Aut proba effe quæ credis ; aut fi non probas, quomodo credis? Tertul. adv. Marc. v. I.

“Οταν γάρ πως πιςεύη, και γνώριμοι αυτώ ώσιν αι αρχαι, επίσαται. Arift. Eib.'vi. 3.

'Αριστοτέλης το επόμενον τη επιστήμη κρίμα ως αληθές, το δε τι πίσιν είναι Qros. Clem. Strom. 2. p. 287.

"Ένιοι γαρ πισεύεσιν εδεν ήτίον οίς δοξάζεσιν, ή έτεροι οίς επίσανται. Arift. Etb. vii. 3.

pofition,

VII.

Heb. xi.

19, 11.

12.

pofition, (as when Abraham believed, that God was SERM. able to perform what he had promised; and Sarah, that God, who had promised, was

faithful,) or some system Rom. iv. of propositions, as when we are said to believe God's 21. word, (that is, all which by his prophets was in his name declared;) to believe the truth, (that is, all the pro-Pfal, cvi: positions taught in the true religion as so ;) to believe 32. God's commandments, (that is, the doctrines in God's 2 Thes. ii. law to be true, and the precepts thereof to be good ;) Plalm cxix. to believe the Gospel, (that is, to be persuaded of the Man

Mark i. is. truth of all the propositions aflerted or declared in Phil. i. 27. the Gospel.)

2. I observe secondly, that whereas frequently some person, or single thing, is represented (verbo tenus) as the object of faith, this doth not prejudice, or in effect alter the notion I mentioned; for it is only a figurative manner of speaking, whereby is always meant the being persuaded concerning the truth of some proposition, or propositions, relating to that person or thing: for otherwise it is unintelligible how any incomplex thing, as they speak, can be the complete or immediate object of belief. Beside simple apprehension (or framing the bare idea of a thing) there is no operation of a man's mind terminated upon one single object; and belief of a thing surely implies more than a simple apprehension thereof : what it is, for instance, to believe this or that proposition about a man, or a tree, (that a man is such a kind of thing, that a tree hath this or that property,) is very easy to conceive; but the phrase believing a man, or a tree, (taken properly, or excluding figures,) is altogether insignificant and unintelligible : indeed to believe, Tissue, is the effect să TETofas, of a persuasive argument, and the result of ratiocination; whence in Scripture it is commended, or discommended, as implying a good or bad use of reason. The proper object of faith is therefore some proposition deduced from others by discourse ; as it is said, that many of the Samaritans believed in Christ, John iv. 39. because of the woman's word, who testified that he told

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John xx.
29.
John ii. 23.

John y. 45, &c.

20.

was to be perluaded concerning the truth (בנְבִיאָין)

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25. AEts xxiv. 14.

S ER M. her all that ever she did; or as St. Thomas believed,
VII. because he faw; or as when it is said, that

many

believed on our Lord's name, beholding the miracles which

he did : When then, for example, the Jews are reExod. xiv. quired to believe Moses, (or to believe in Mofes, after 31, xix. 9; the Hebrew manner of speaking,) it is meant, to be

persuaded of the truth of what he delivered, as pro-
ceeding from divine revelation ; or to believe him to

be what he professed himself, a messenger or prophet 2 Chr, ix. of God. So to believe the Prophets, or in the Prophets,

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of what they uttered in God's name, (that the doc-
trines were true, the commands were to be obeyed,

the threats and promises should be performed, the Luke xxiv. predictions should be accomplished : to believe all

which the Prophets did say, as our Saviour speaks ; to
believe all things written in the Prophets, as St. Paul.)

So to believe God's works (a phrale we have in the
Pr. Ixxviii. Psalms) signifies, to be persuaded, that those works

did proceed from God, or were the effects of his Jer: xvii. 5. good providence: to believe in man (that which is so

often prohibited and dissuaded) denotes the being
persuaded, that man in our need is able to relieve
and succour us: lastly, to believe in God (a duty so
often enjoined and inculcated) is to be persuaded,
that God is true in whatever he says, faithful in per-
formance of what he promises ; perfectly wise, pow-
erful, and good; able and willing to do us good :
the being persuaded, I say, of all

these propofitions,
or such of them as suit the present circumstances
and occasion, is to believe in God: thus, in fine, to
believe on a person, or thing, is only a short expref-
fion (figuratively) denoting the being persuaded of
the truth of some propofition relating, in one way or
other, to that person or thing, (which way
monly discernible by considering the nature, or state
of such a person, or such a thing ;) the use of which
observation may afterward appear.

3. I observe thirdly, that (as it is ordinary in like
cases concerning the use of words) the word belief is

by

32.

xlvi. 25.

Psal. cxviii.

8, &c.

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