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SERM. aliens.” And so he goes on, recounting the glorious things
which the Saints of old performed by their faith ; that faith which he there saith, “ is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” From all which we may certainly conclude, that if we have any faith at all, we must needs believe what our Saviour here saith, “ Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
But where shall we find such blessed persons now?
Some I hope there are, but not many, I fear, among us. Luke 18. 8. Our Saviour Himself said, “ When the Son of Man cometh,
shall He find faith on the earth ?” If He should come, as we do not know but He may, in our days, I doubt He would find but little. There are many, I know, who profess to believe, but there are but few that do so. They who are born and bred where the Christian faith is professed, they, in course, profess it too: and because they own, or acknowledge, or at least do not deny the Articles of it to be true, they therefore take it for granted that they believe them; whereas, if they search into their own hearts, they may easily find, that they are not fully persuaded of any one of them, so as to believe it as firmly as they do those things which they see or hear; and therefore are far from having
such a faith as is due to the infallible Word and testimony Rom. 10.10. of God Himself: for it is not with the mouth, but “ with
the heart, that man believeth unto righteousness.” With the heart, when it is throughly convinced, and persuaded of the truth and certainty of God's Word, and of every thing in it, then, and not till then, can a man be truly said to believe.
I say, of God's Word, and of every thing in it; for he that doth not believe every thing, believes nothing as he ought to believe it: for no man can be said truly to believe any thing that is written in God's Word, but he who therefore only believes it, because he hath God's Word for it. But he hath God's Word for every thing that is there written, for one thing as well as for another: and therefore, if he believes any one thing aright, he must needs believe every thing else, as well as that; which I therefore mention, because of the great mistake that runs through the most part of the Christian world : for men commonly profess to believe some part of God's Word, although at the same time they do not believe the rest. As for example, they profess to believe, that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, and therefore hope to be saved by Him: but if they really believed that, they could not but believe whatsoever else is affirmed, or promised, or threatened, or foretold in the Word of God; and, by consequence, live accordingly. Which, seeing men generally do not, it is plain, that for all the great noise that is made about it, there is but little true faith in the world; there are but few so blessed, as to believe those things which they never saw.
But let us strive to be in the number of those few that are so: we all profess to believe the books of the Old and New Testament, to be given by the inspiration of God, and therefore to be His Word. I dare say, there is not a person among us, that can or will deny it; but let us do what we profess; let us really believe so as to be fully persuaded in our minds, as we can be of any thing in the world, that whatsoever is there written, is written by God Himself; and, by consequence, that what is there recorded, affirmed, or said, is infallibly true, although we never saw it; and what is there promised, or threatened, or foretold, shall as certainly be fulfilled, as if we saw it fulfilled already: which that we may, we must constantly and earnestly pray to God for it; for as the Apostle tells us, “ Faith is the gift of God.” Eph. 2. 8. But we have no ground to expect He should give us it any other way, than in the use of those means which He hath ordained in His Church, whereby to beget and increase it in us. Now as the same Apostle saith, “ Faith cometh by Rom.10.17. hearing;” not only by hearing of sermons, as some imagine, but by hearing the Word of God either read, or any way made known to us; and by hearing it, so as to lay it up in our hearts, keep it in our memories, ruminate upon it in our minds, and so act and exercise it upon all occasions, at all times, especially at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, where the great objects of our faith are represented to us, on purpose to strengthen and confirm it in us.
By the constant and sincere use of these means, there are none of us but may attain the Divine art of believing those things which we never saw: and then how blessed, how happy shall we be? Then we shall never hear or read
SERM. God's Holy Word, but it will go to the very bottom of our
hearts, and have its due effect upon us: then we shall never doubt of the great mysteries of our religion, but take God's Word for them, whether we understand them or no: then we shall see the finger of God in all the wonderful works and miracles recorded in Holy Scripture, and adore Him for them, as if we had been present when He did them: then we shall constantly expect the Great Day, wherein God hath foretold us, we must give account of all our actions, and accordingly strive to be always ready for it: then we shall tremble at every threatening that God hath denounced against impenitent and obdurate sinners, and dread the thoughts of being in the number of them : then all the promises which God hath made us, will seem as so many strongholds, to which we may resort upon all occasions, and therefore shall never be afraid of evil tidings; for our hearts will be always fixed, trusting in the Lord : then He that made us will have mercy upon us, pardon and accept us, admit us into the number of His own children, and lift up the light of His countenance upon us, so
that we shall live continually under the rays of His Divine [Rom. 8. love and favour: then we shall know “that all things work 2 Cor. 4. 17, together for our good ;” and that these “light afflictions,
which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but
the things which are not seen are eternal.” Then we shall [Gal.5. 24.] be able to crucify the flesh, to withstand the temptations of [Phil. 3. the Devil, to overcome this whole world, and live above it, 20.]
so as to have our conversations in Heaven, where our treasure is, where our dear Lord and Saviour is, where our inheritance and estate lies : then we shall always live as under the eye of God, and have respect to Him in every thing we do: then all things here below will appear to us in their proper colours; for we shall look upon them as nothing, in comparison of those great and glorious objects, which our faith will continually represent unto us: then we shall have fellowship with the Father, and with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost, protecting, assisting, and direct
ing us upon all occasions: then we shall be “steadfast, un- 1 Cor.15.58. movable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, as knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
What shall I say more? When we have once learnt to live with a constant belief of those things which God hath revealed to us in His Holy Word, although we never saw them, we shall then be every way as blessed as we can wish to be: blessed wheresoever we are, blessed in whatsoever we do, and blessed in whatsoever we have; blessed while we live, and blessed when we die; and all by Him, in whom we believe, though we never yet saw Him, even our everblessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: “To whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever.”
ADMISSION INTO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, BY BAPTISM,
NECESSARY TO SALVATION.
John iii. 5.
be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into
SERM. Of all the sorts of creatures we know upon the face of
the earth, there are none but what observe the laws, and answer the end of their creation, except mankind: but mankind are all fallen from their first estate, they are all gone out of the way they were made to walk in, and act quite contrary to what they were at first designed to do;
and therefore might justly have been all reserved, together [Jude 6.] with the fallen Angels, “ in everlasting chains, under dark
ness, unto the judgment of the Great Day.” But the Almighty Creator of all things, for the manifestation of His infinite mercy and truth, was graciously pleased to find out a way, whereby mankind might be restored to their first estate, and be made as happy again, as if they had never fallen from it: and that was by His Only-begotten Son, who, for that purpose, being in the form of God, of one substance with the Father, was pleased to take upon Him the whole nature of man, uniting it to His own Divine
person, and then to offer it up as a sacrifice for the sins and [Phil. 2. 8.] offences of all mankind,“ by being obedient in it unto death,
even the death of the Cross :” by which means He became the “Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe.” So that all men are capable of being saved by Him, and they who believe, shall most certainly be so.