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some or other of the other Particulars mentioned, I shall therefore apply myself to these, without dwelling longer on the general Comparison.
II. Secondly then, We are to consider what is to be meant by the solid Foundation here spoke of, the building the House upon a Rock. St. Luke expresses it a little more fully, for he calls it digging deep, and laying the Foundation on a Rocks By all which put together, I apprehend are meant these three Things:
1. Serious Consideration and Forecast; this is the digging deep.
2. Faith in Chrift; this is hearing Christ's Sayings. '
3. A firm Resolution to add Practice to our Knowledge of Christ's Doctrine. These three are the digging deep, and laying the Foundation of Religion so solidly, that it will never fail. They deserve a more particular Confideration.
1. The first Thing towards the laying a solid Foundation in Religion is, deep Consideration and Forecast. And there is nothing more commonly wanting than this. For we take up our Religion, as we do other Customs, from our Parents. This Childrens Devotion, as light as it is, is usually all the Foundation in Religion we lay, and therefore it is no Wonder it holds out so badly in a Day of Trial and Temptation. The Duties, the Promises, the Threatnings, and the Examples of Religion, if they are ever so weighty and momentous, cannot exert their Force, when we have so superficial a Glance of them as we commonly take through the Levity of our Minds ; for as it is not a sudden, quick
paffing by, which will acquaint us with the Features of a Man's Face, so as to make us know it again; fo neither is it any flight, tranfient View of Religion, which will work a deep Impression of it upon our Spirits, so as to engage our Affection, and stir us up to Action. And therefore wherever we observe that any Man makes a Conscience of obeying, as well as of knowing, and believing our Saviour's Doctrine, we may assuredly conclude, that such a Person has deeply considered the Truth and Importance of that Doctrine beforehand, and is very fully resolved to venture his Salvation upon it.
it. For considering that the Temptations to the transgressing our Duty are present, (the Objects of Sense) and both the Promises and Threatnings of the Gospel are not present, except to the inquifitive considering Mind, we must needs believe, where we observe a Man to walk contrary to the Dictates of Flesh and Blood, and by the Rules of an hidden unseen Life, that he is not only acquainted with the Theory and speculative Knowledge of these Things, but that they have made deep Impressions upon his Spirit, and have taken deep Root, when they bring forth such plentiful Fruit in his Life and Conversation.
To Consideration, I added Forecast, in preparing for a future State. This is a certain Consequence of the believing and considering of it. For who can seriously believe and consider that there is such a Place of Glory and Happiness as Heaven is, and likewise that there is no coming at it for impure Souls living in the voluntary Pursuit of their evil Courses, that will not make Preparation suitable to that future State? It is true,
there is a strange Stupidity pofseffes most Men, that they employ most of their Time and Labour about this present, perishing, tranfitory State; but I think this is not to be accounted for, any otherwise than that it is a great Want of a lively Faith, which keeps them so much in the Dark about all Things to come, and consequently the Soul in a State of Inactivity as to all those Things.
2. A Second Thing belonging to the solid Foundation, wherein the good Christian resembles a wise Builder is, his digging till he comes to a Rock, to lay his Foundation upon. Now this Rock, I take to be Faith in Chrift: for it is be that beareth these Sayings of our Saviour's; that is, he who becomes his Disciple, he that listens to and believes his Doctrine, This is the Foundation of all; and includes these two. Things : First, The faving Nature of Christ's Doctrine; and then, the Efficacy of Hearing or Believing it: Two Things admirably fitted to lay a Foundation for a good and happy Life. First
, I say, the saving Nature of Christ's Doctrine, Whosoever heareth these Sayings of mine ; there is a mighty Virtue both in Christ, and in his Doctrine ; He only has the Words of Eternal Life ; and, the Words which I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life
, says he. First, Abstracting from the explicit Consideration of the Christian Doctrines, the Faith we have in the Person of Christ, is a good Foundation for all the following Superstructure of religious Practice. For as when the People of Israel in Egypt, were once satisfied in the Person of Mojės, that he was duly
authorized by God to conduct them to the Land of Promise, by the Miracles which he wrought, before they knew any thing as yet of the Excellency of that Law, which he afterwards delivered to them, they had then Foundation enough for that Faith in his Conduct, upon which they adventured themselves and all their Concerns in that Expedition ; so every one who , was acquainted with the Person of Christ, and saw and believed the Miracles he wrought, had Foundation enough for the Superstructure of Christian Doctrine and Practice. And much more they, who, from the heavenly Voice at his Baptism, believed him to be the Son of God; for whosoever believes this, is well disposed and prepared to believe all his Doctrine, and to live according to it. And if this Foundation can be well laid, only from the Belief of Christ's Person, the Founder of our Religion, how much more from the express Belief of the great Articles of our Faith; such as God's Works of Creation and Providence, the Redemption wrought by Christ, his Resurrection from the Dead, his Ascension to Heaven, his furnishing his Church with the plentiful Gifts and Graces of the holy Spirit, the Immortality of the Soul, and Resurrection of the Body, the Judgment to come, an Eternity of Happiness prepared for the Believers, who walk according to this Faith; and an Eternity of Misery for the Unbelievers, and wicked Livers. What a noble Foundation is all this for the Superstructure of a good Life! and how impossible for any one, who firmly believes these Things, if he acts conlistently
to his Principles, not to live a good Life! This is then the laying the Foundation on a Rock, which will very
well bear this noble Superstructure. But now, supposing the fame Superstructure to be built, not upon the Foundation of Faith in Christ, but upon some worldly Considerations, as the fair Life of an Hypocrite is ; it is an easy Thing to imagine what follows here, that in a Day of Adversity, the Foundation of worldly Encouragements failing, this Superstructure of good Life will all fail too.
3. The third Thing belonging to a solid Foundation, is a firm Resolution to follow our good Principles with a suitable Practice; not only in a Time of Peace and Quietness of the Church, but when we must take up our Cross and follow Christ. Ye may perhaps think this belongs more to another part of the Similitude, between the Successfulness of the good Builder and the good Christian ; namely, the Proof of the Solidity of his Religion, beyond that of the Hypocrite, in that it stood firm against all Shocks and Trials, than to this of the good Foundation of Faith in Christ; but I think a Resolution at least of Constancy to the practical Part, must enter into the Description of the Foundation itself ; for as our Saviour elsewhere describes the wise Builder, and one of the first Measures he takes, to be the fitting down, and counting the Coft, and weighing all the Dangers and Difficulties ; so this Foundation cannot be well laid without a View of the Difficulties we are to undergo, and a firm Resolution, with the Grace of God, not to be overcome by them. Otherwise it is to be feared, that Trials and Temptations assaulting us by