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mitted into a Participation of the Promises made to him; tho it is declared to be one of the Fruits of the Spirit of God; tho we are continually told, that we have nothing to trust to, but the Righteoufness, which is by Faith, and the Obedience of Faith; tho we are said to live by it, and to be saved by it, or in the Words of the Apostle, to be kept by the Power of God thro' Faith unto Salvation ceiving the End of our Faith even the Şalvation of our Souls * : Notwithstanding all these great, and glorious Characters, we are informed by the Author of Christianity as old as the Creation, that Faith, confider'd in it self, can neither be a Virtue, or a Vice. We are not to wonder at this, remembring that the Spirit, which workech in the Children of Disobedience, will by degrees weaken the influence of Faith, and at last make ic almost
1 Pet. v.9.
impossible to be found upon the Earth ; but, by behaving according to the Apostle's Advice, to become gentle towards all Men, apt to teach, patient, in Meekness inftru&ting those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknwledging of the Truth..
No Truth whatsoever, no Branch of Religion, or Virtue can suffer by Examination : A rafh Positiveness, or a blind Obstinacy are in all Cases hurtful; they bar up our Mind against Enquiry, and prevent all Improvement; even when we are in the right, they are hurtful to our selves, and offensive to others, and in all instances leave Impressions of Disadvantage to the Cause we are engaged in. Those Men, who feel nothing but Indignation arising in their minds from the Errors and Mistakes of others, who have cloached their Opinions
2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.
with something so aweful and sacred, as will admit of no Contradiction, nor so much as Doubt, are in a State, not only the most unchristian, but the most unnatural
. The Sceptics, who are certain of nothing, and the Dogmatic, who are certain of every ching, are in equally opposite and dangerous Extremes. When the Errors of others move our Picy, and make us apt to teach in Meekness of Wisdom, then we are in that Spirit, which is recommended to us in the Gospel, and which the Case of our weak Brethren evidently requires ; then we are rightly disposed and prepared, to convince others, or be convinced our felves: Whereas the opposite Temper is plainly adapted to defeat both those Ends, and, instead of doing Service to Virtue or Religion, is promoting only Supersticion, and Ignorance: It is a Chain of Darkness, the strongest of any we are acquainted with
In examining the Proposition before quoted, that Faith confider'd in it self, can neither be a Virtue, or a Vice, I Muall I. Enquire into the Nature of Faith. II'Y. Into the Nature of Virtue; in
which Enquiries I shall endeavour to explain the Terms of the Propo
sition. Lastly, I shall compare these two so
consider’d, and observe what Agreement or Disagreement there is betwixt them.
1. Then, I shall enquire into the Nature of Faith.
Faith is usually defined to be our Assenting to a Proposition upon the Testimony of another: It is contradistinguished from all those Acts of the Mind, by which Truth is perceived without the Testimony of others. There are many Ways by which we
arrive at the Knowledge of Truth.