תמונות בעמוד

assent to, and act by such evidence as usually governs us in all the momentous affairs of the present life. This discovers a studious desire in us of knowing what the will of God is, and a readiness to acknowledge and obey it.

And should we err in following this rule, which I cannot but think the goodness of God will secure us from, we are undoubtedly safe with respect to the favour of God, because such error would, in the present condition of human nature, be utterly unavoidable: by this method therefore we cannot fail of pleasing God. By seeking after proper evidence, we shew our great unwillingness to be deceived, and to take that for his will which is not so: and by yielding to the same evidence, which we are forced to assent to and govern ourselves by, in the greatest business and concerns of life, we shew our desire to please him, and readiness to obey him.

Thus have I considered the commendation given to the grace of faith in my text, and laid before you the reason of it. I have already observed, that the faith the apostle here speaks of is such a belief of gospel truths as begets love in the heart and obedience in the life. This is the faith he commends : for it is noways commendable that a person barely assent to the truths of the gospel upon the evidence we have been mentioning, unless he also act accordingly, unless he govern his temper and direct his behaviour agreeably to the gospel precepts. This is it that renders faith in an unseen Saviour so praiseworthy, that we be not only inwardly convinced, but demonstrate that we are so in our outward conduct, by conforming ourselves to Christ's example, and obeying his commands.

And this is the only way to attain the joy so highly commended by the apostle in the words following: In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and

full of glory, or of praise. Would you maintain a serenity of mind and joy of heart in all states of life, and under the near prospect of death? would you be able to rejoice in the midst of calamities, and under the severest trials and afflictions ? would you triumph even in the agonies of a violent and lingering death, as many of the holy martyrs have done? you must not only give your assent to the truths of the gospel, but must subject yourselves to Christ's government, and perform his will. Unless you produce the fruit of a good life, your faith is dead, your hope is presumption, and all your joy is deceit. If you would lead a life of comfort and joy, you must lead a life of faith. The life you henceforth lead, you must live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved you, and

gave himself for you. The love of Christ must constrain you, that you live no longer to yourselves, but to him that died for you, and rose again from the dead. And if you have such a faith as this, how reasonable is your joy! your sins are pardoned; you are the children of God, and heirs of glory; joint heirs with Christ to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. You may firmly depend on your heavenly Father for whatever aids, supports, and comfort you need here, and rejoice in the hope of everlasting glory and unspeakable bliss hereafter,



WE no sooner come to years of understanding and reflection than we feel one of those truths, which (if we have had any tolerable education) have from our infancy been inculcated on us, striking us in the strongest manner; and that is, that religion is an affair of the highest moment, of the utmost consequence to us possible. This truth shines with so overbearing a light, that persons must first deny the existence of religion itself before they can doubt, dispute of, or diminish its importance. Accordingly we find, when we arrive at knowledge and experience in the world, that it is a truth universally allowed by those who acknowledge the immortality of the soul, or a future state of rewards and punishments, even though they deny all revelation.

It is too plainly visible that mankind are not agreed in an affair of this avowed concern. Even those who are united in the acknowledgment of its moment and consequence, differ widely in their notions of the thing itself: and it cannot be concealed from us, that some parts of the world are not more remotely distant from others in their situations, habits, and languages, than in their religious tenets. Ought not every man then to examine whether the religion he professes be well founded, built upon such solid grounds as will not deceive him? The more necessary, useful, and important the edifice, the greater should be the care taken that the foundation be sure and immoveable.

Shall a man grudge his pains, and spare himself the thought and study, to be satisfied of the truth of the religion he professes ? Can he be too solicitous, too diligent, in an affair of the utmost consequence ? No, certainly; his labour and fatigue in the inquiry ought to bear some proportion to the great moment of the truth he is seeking; till he is firmly persuaded that he has the justest reason to give his assent to it, and is fully determined to be governed by it. For should we be never so strongly convinced of the truth of religion, but at the same time will not form our lives agreeably thereto, we might as well have omitted the pains we were at in examining its evidence, and confirming ourselves in the belief of it, because it cannot be of any service to us to see our way to happiness, if we refuse to walk in it.

Forasmuch as the religion we have been educated in is that delivered down to us by Christ and his disciples as revealed from heaven, it is our concern most certainly well to consider and duly to weigh its pretensions; that if the proofs there are for its being true and genuine are substantial, and carry conviction with them, we may with all cheerfulness perform the things thereby enjoined, and with pleasure wait for the glory and felicity therein promised.

The first thing that offers itself to our thoughts, in the trial of a revelation pretending to come from above, is, whether it be worthy of God, and suited to the condition of man. If it teaches doctrines contradictory to the nature of God, or to that reason with which he has endued us; if it recommends examples or enjoins precepts inconsistent with the moral attributes of the divine Being, or the eternal rule of right reason; if it insist on the practice of such things as tend manifestly to the hurt and detriment of man, and to the preventing his happiness; we may justly and warrantably conclude that it is not from heaven. But the more fully we examine, and the more thoroughly we comprehend the Christian scheme, the more firmly shall we be persuaded that it was fitting to be revealed by God, and received by men; that every part of it exactly harmonizes with the divine attributes, and is no less agreeable to the state of man; that it has a plain and direct tendency to improve and meliorate his condition here, and thereby train him up and prepare him for that perfection it gives him hope of hereafter; that there is not the least thing required of us, but what it was highly becoming the wisdom of God to insist on, and manifestly conducive to our interest and welfare to comply with.

The next inquiry that occurs naturally to our minds is, whether this revelation be fact. It is very possible that, after the strictest scrutiny we are capable of making, we may be able to discern nothing in a revelation pretending to come from God unworthy of him, or unsuitable to the state of man; at least there may be so plausible an interpretation put upon those things we object to, as we cannot reasonably find fault with. And yet, after all, this may be no other than the invention of men, the well-laid contrivance of some crafty, political heads, who, studiously considering and foreseeing the ob

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