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the Son, we must moreover believe, that he is the same God with the father, the second person in Trinity, incarnate, and so become man, by a personal union of the Godhead and manhood: that he was without original or actual sin, having a sinless nature, and a sinless life: that he fulfilled all righteousness, and was put to death as a sacrifice for our sins,
and being buried, he rose again from the dead, and afterward ascended into heaven, where he is Lord of all, and intercedeth for believers : that he will come again and raise the dead, and judge the world, the righteous to everlasting life, and the wicked to everlasting punishment: that this is the only Redeemer, the Way, the Truth, and the Life; neither is there access to the Father but by him, nor salvation in any other. Concerning the Holy Ghost, we must believe that he is the same one God, the third person in Trinity, sent by the Father and the Son, to inspire the prophets and apostles; and that the doctrine inspired and miraculously attested by him is true that he is the sanctifier of those that shall be saved, renewing them after the image of God in holiness and righteousness, giving them true repentance, faith, hope, love, and sincere obedience ; causing them to overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil; thus gathering a holy church on earth to Christ, who have by his blood the pardon of all their sins, and shall have everlasting blessedness with God.
This is the essence of the Christian faith as to the matter of it. As to the manner of receiving it
by the understanding, 1. It must be received as certain truth of God's revelation, upon the credit of his word, by a lively effectual belief; piercing so deep, as is necessary for its prevalency with the will. 2. And it must be entirely received, and not only a part of it: though all men have not so exactly formed distinct apprehensions of every member of this belief, as some have, yet all true Christians have a true apprehension of them.
We feel by daily experience, that with the wisest, some matters are truly understood by us; which yet are not so distinctly and clearly understood, as to be ready for an expression. I have oft, in matters that I am but studying, a light that gives me a general, imperfect, but true conception, which I cannot yet express; but when another hath helped me to form my conception, I can quickly and truly say, that was it that I had an unformed apprehension of before, and it that I meant, but could not utter; not so much for want of words, as for want of a full and distinct conception.
The matter of our Christianity to be received by the will, is as followeth. As we must consent to all the forementioned truths, by the belief of the understanding, so the pure Godhead must be received as the fountain, and our end: the Father, as our owner, ruler, and benefactor, on the title of creation and redemption; and as our everlasting happiness. The Son, as our only Saviour by redemption, bringing us pardon, reconciliation, holiness, and glory; and delivering us from sin and Satan, and the wrath and curse of God, and from
hell. The Holy Ghost as our guide and sanctifier. All which containeth our renouncing the flesh, the world, and the devil, and carnal self, that is the point of their unity, and the heart of the old man. This is the good that must be embraced, or accepted by the will.
And secondly, as to the manner of receiving it, it must be done unfeignedly, resolvedly, unreservedly, or absolutely, and habitually, by an inward covenanting of the heart, as I have formerly explained it. And this is the essence of Christianity; this is true believing in God, the Father, Son, and Hol Ghost; this is the foundation, and this is the right laying of it.
And now the thing that I am persuading you to is to see that this foundation be surely laid, in head and heart.
And 1. That it may be surely laid in the head, you must labour; 1. To understand these articles. And 2. To see the evidence of their verity, that you may firmly believe them. And 3. To consider of the worth and necessity of the matter revealed in them, that your judgments may most highly esteem it. This is the sure laying the foundation in the head.
To these ends you should first learn some catechism, and be well acquainted with the principles of religion ; and also, be much in reading or hearing the holy Scriptures, and inquiring of and others that can help you: and see that you take your work before you, and step not higher till this be done: and then, all other following truths, and duties, and promised benefits, must all be so
learnt as to be built upon this foundation, and joined to it, as receiving their life and strength from hence; and never looked upon as separated from this; nor as more excellent and necessary.
For want of learning well, and believing soundly, these principles, essentials, or fundamentals of Christianity, some of our people can go no further, but stand all their days in their ignorance, at a nonplus : some of them go on in a blind profession, deceiving themselves, by building upon the sand, and hold true doctrine by a false unsound belief of it: and when the floods and storms do beat upon their building, it falls, and great is the fall thereof. With some of them it falls upon the first assault of any seducer that hath interest in them, or advantage on them; and abundance swallow up errors, because they never well understood, or firmly believed fundamental truths. With others of them, the building falls not until death, because they lived not under any shaking temptations. But it being but a perseverance in an unsound profession, will nevertheless be ineffectual to their salvation.
2. When you have thus laid the foundation in your understanding, be sure, above all, that it be firmly laid in your heart or will. Take heed lest you should prove false and unsteadfast in the holy covenant; and lest you should take in the word but into the surface of the soul, and not give it depth of earth and rooting; and lest you should come to Christ but as a servant upon trial, without making an absolute resignation of yourselves to him; of which I warned you in the former directions.
O! this is it that makes our people fall so fast in a day of trial ; some shrink in adversity; and some are enticed away by prosperity: greatness and honour deceiveth one, and riches run away with another, and fleshly pleasure poisons a third ; and his conscience, religion, salvation, and all, he sacrificeth to his belly, and swalloweth it down his throat; and all the love and goodness of God, the blood of Christ, the workings of the Spirit, the precepts, and promises, and threatenings of the word, and the joy and torments which once they seemed to believe, all are forgotten, or have lost their force: and all because the foundation was not laid well at the first. But because this was the very
business of the former directions, I will dismiss it now.
Think not that all is done when once you are converted; but remember that the work of your Christianity then comes in, and must be as long as the time of your lives.
Of this, also, I shall say but little, because it is the drift of all the moving considerations beforegoing. I doubt it is the undoing of many, to imagine, that if once they are sanctified, they are so sure in the hands of Christ, that they have no more care to take, nor no more danger to be afraid of, and at last think that they have no more to do as of
necessity to salvation; and thus prove that indeed they