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2 Thef. ii. 10.
all and following him ; without taking his yoke upon s e R M. him, going after, and bearing his cross: it supposes (as our Saviour also teaches us) that a man hath cast up Luke ix. 23. with himself the gain and loss he is like to receive by xiv. 26, 27. the bargain, and being satisfied therein, to contract Mare. Xiii. bona fide with God; that a man hath weighed all the 44, 45, pains and dangers he thall be put upon by entering 28, 31. into this warfare, and so resolvedly to adventure upon it; it is productive of love to the truth, yea of love to (1 Cor. xiii. God, and charity to men, without which all faith is Gal. v. 6.) unprofitable and ineffectual, as St. Paul teaches us. In fort, this faith is nothing else but a true, serious, resolute embracing Christianity; not only being persuaded that all the doctrines of Christ are true, but submitting to his will and command in all things.
But to prevent mistakes, and remove objections, I shall yet further observe,
That this faith hath, although not an adequate, yet a peculiar respect unto that part of Christian truth, which concerns the merciful intentions of God toward mankind, and the gracious performances of our Saviour in order to the accomplishing them ; the promises of pardon to our fins, and restoral into God's favour upon the terms propounded in the Gospel, of fincere faith and repentance ; whence the Gospel is called róyos natadacyñs, (the word of recon- 2 Cor. v. ciliation ;) and this is expressed as a summary of the Apoftolick ministry or message ; that God was in Chrift reconciling the world, not imputing their fins: and Luke xxiv. this our Saviour did order in especial manner to be 47. preached in his name; this accordingly they did mainly propound and inculcate ; that God had ex- Aes v. 31. alted Jesus to his right hand as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of fins; that Aas x. 43. he should receive remission of fins, whoever did believe in his name: Let it be known unto you, brethren, that by this Acts xiii.
c Credere se in Christum quo modo dicit, qui non facit quod Chriftus facere præcepit? Cypr. de Un. Es. K 2
ŠERM. man remiffion of fins is * denounced unto you; (so did they vit. preach.) Whence this faith is Chignanter) called bea
lief in the blood of Chrift: indeed, of all Christian doc*καταγγίλ
trines, this is most proper first to be propounded and Rom, ili. persuaded, as the most attractive to the belief of the
rest; moft encouraging and comfortable to men; Rom. iii. most apt to procure glory to God by the illustration of hty: his principal attributes, his justice and his goodness ;
most suitable to the ftate of things between God and man; for men being in a state of rebellion and enmity toward God, in order to their reducement and recovery thence, it was most proper, that in the first place an overture of mercy and pardon should be made, an act of oblivion should be passed and propounded to them: yet are not these propositions and promises the adequate or entire object of this faith; for other articles of faith are often propounded
in a collateral order with those; yea sometimes (as in Aets viii. the case of the Eunuch) others are expressed, when
that is not mentioned, but only understood : neither if any one should believe all the doctrines of that kind, if he did not withal believe that Jesus is his Lord, and shall be his Judge; that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, and a judgment to come, with the like fundamental verities of our religion, would he be a believer in this sense.
7. I observe farther, that this faith doth relate only to propofitions revealed by God, (or at least deduced from principles of reason, such as are, that there is a God; that God is good, veracious, and faithful; that our religion is true in the gross; that the holy Scriptures were written by divine inspiration ; which propofitions we believe upon rational grounds and motives,) not unto other propofitions concerning particular matter of fact, subject to pri
Rom. X. 9.
e Fides dicit, parata funt magna et incomprehenfibilia dona a Deo fidelibus fuis : dicit (pes, mihi illa bona fervantur ; charitas dicit, curro ego ad illa. Bern.
vate conscience or experience ; nor to any conclu-SERN. fions depending upon such propositions. For in, vii. stance, it is a part of this faith, to believe that God is merciful and gracious, that he bears good will unto, and is disposed to pardon, every penitent finner; or (which is all one) that supposing a man doth believe, and hath repented, God doth actually love him, and doth forgive his fins ; this is, I say, indeed a part of the faith we speak of, its object being part of the Gospel revealed unto us : but the being persuaded that God doth love me, or hath pardoned my fins, or that I am in a state of favour with God, may, as my circumstances may be, not be my duty; however it is no part of this faith, but a matter of opinion, dependent upon private experience: for such a persuasion must be grounded upon my being conscious to myself of having truly and thoroughly repented, (this being required by God, as a neceffary condition toward my obtaining pardon and his favour ;) of having performed which duty I may presume, when it is false, (and therefore cannot then be obliged to believe it,) and may doubt, when it is true; and that not without good reason, considering the blindness and fallibility of man's mind, and that man's heart is deceitful above all things, as the Prophet Jer. xvii. 9. tells us : upon which account then a man may not be obliged to have such a persuasion. It is indeed a great fault to doubt, or diftruft, on that hand which concerns God; about his goodness, his truth, his wisdom, or power : but it is not always (perhaps not commonly) blameable to question a man's own qua. lifications, or his own performances, whether in kind or degree they be answerable to what God requires" ; that is inconsistent with true faith, but this not:
Qui perseveraverit ufque ad finem, bic falvus erit; quicquid ante finem fuerit, gradus est, quo ad faftigium falutis afcenditur, non terminus, quo jam culminis summa teneatur, &c. Cypr. de
Unit. Eccl. p. 259.
Luko xv. 19.
S ER M.we cannot have any good religious affections toward vii. God, if we do not take him to be our gracious Fa
ther ; but we may have in us such affections toward him, and he may be favourably disposed toward us, when we suspect ourselves to be untoward children, unworthy (as the prodigal Son in the Gospel confessed
himself) to be called the sons of God. The Centurion in Matt. viii. the Gospel did contess himself unworthy that Chrif
should enter under his roof: but he declared his persuasion, that if Chrift sould only Speak a word, his child should be healed; and our Saviour thereupon profeffes, that he had not found so much faith in Israel.
To the blind men imploring his relief, our Saviour Matt. ix. puts the question, Do ye believe that I can do this? They Vid
. Matt. answered, Yes, Lord: he required no more of them; XV. 27. but said thereupon, According to your faith let it be Rom. iv.
done unto you. . And that for which Abraham the Heb. xi. 19. father of believers, his faith is represented so accept
able is, his firm persuasion concerning God's power ; Ir Ampopogn- because (saith St. Paul) he had a plerophory, that what Róm. iv.21. was promised, God was able to perform; by doing
thus, he was a believer, and thereby gave glory to God, as the Apostle there adds. If we do not then distrust God, we may have faith, although we diftrust ourselves. It is true (generally and absolutely speaking) we should endeavour so fully and clearly to repent, and to perform whatever God requires of
us, that we may thence acquire a good hope conCol. i. 23. cerning our state ; we should labour, that our hearts Hohni. may not condenın us of any presumptuous transgressing
our duty, and consequently, that we may become in a manner confident of God's favour towards us : but when we have done the best we can, even when we
are not conscious of any enormous fault or defect, Cor. iv. 4. yet we may consider with St. Paul, that we are not
thereby justified, but abide liable to the more certain 1 Sam. xvi. cognizance and judgment of God, who feeth not as a
man seeth; that we are not capable, or competent judges of ourselves ; nor are ever the better for
2 Cor. x.
thinking well of ourselves ; fince (as St. Paul tells SERM. us again) he is not approved that commends himself, but VII. whom the Lord commendeth: for that, delicta fua quis intelligit? who can thoroughly understand and scan his 18. own errors? Who can say, I have made my heart clean, Pfal. xix, I am purged of my fin? Who can know, (if the Psalmist Prov. xx. 9. implieth that he could not,) until God hath searched him, and discovers it, whether there be any secret way of Pl. cxxxix. wickedness in him ; whether he be sufficiently grieved 24. for having offended God, fully humbled under the fense of his fins, thoroughly resolved to amend his life? However, it often happens that true faith and fincere repentance are in degree very defective; in which case we may, without prejudicing the truth of Mouronno
, our faith, suspect the worst; yea, I conceive it is more *. safe and commendable so to dos: if in any, then Rom. xi. chiefly, I suppose, in this most important and critical affair, the wise man's sentence doth hold, Blessed is he Prov. that feareth always ; so feareth, as thereby to become *xviii. 14. more solicitous and watchful over his heart and ways ; more careful and studious of securing his salvation finally, to render his calling and election in 2 Pet. i. 10. the event more firm, and in his apprehension more hopeful. I dare say, of two persons otherwise alike qualified, h he that upon this ground (fearing his own unworthiness, or the defect of his performances) is moft doubtful of his state, doth stand really upon better terms with God; as the Pharisee, who justified himself, and took himself to be in a very good condition, was indeed less justified (somewhat the less for Luke xviii, that conceit of his) than the poor Publican, who was 14. 2. 29. fenfible of his own unworthiness, and condemned himself in his own opinion : the great danger lies on that hand of being presumptuous,
arrogant, and 'self
& Nunquam est de salute propria mens secura fapientis. Salv. ad Eccl. Catb. lib. ii.
h Quem censeas digniorem, nifi emendatiorem ; quem emendatiorem, nifi timidiorem? Tertul. de Pænit. 6.