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Of the nature of faith in general.


HE B. xi. 6.

But without faith it is impoffible to please GOD.


this text.

Efore I come to the words themselves, in orders E R M. to our better understanding of them, we will CCXIX. take into confideration the defign of this epiftle, that The art so we may see more clearly the relation that these fermon on words have to the foregoing difcourfe. Who the penman of this epiftle was I fhall not tell you, because I do not know, nor is it much material to know it; but whoever wrote it, he had this very good defign in the writing of it, to perfuade the Jews to hold faft the profeffion of the gospel, notwithstanding all the fufferings and perfecutions it expofed them to. And to this purpose he fhews at large, what prerogatives the gospel hath above the legal administra"The law was given by the difpofition of angels, in the hand of a mediator," that is, Mofes : but the gospel is revealed to us by the Son of GOD; á perfon not only above Mofes, who was a mere man; but above angels. The gofpel is the fubftance and reality of the types and ceremonies, and. the very good things themfelves, that were obfcurely reprefented by thofe fhadows. It is a teftament established upon better promifes, the clear promifes of eternal life, which were but darkly revealed in the old teftament, that being established either folely or principally upon temporal promifes: and it is a perfect and complete difpenfation, that hath in it all things requifite




need of

SER M. to attain it's end, and therefore fhall never ftand in any farther change or alteration. These are the heads of thofe arguments which the author of this epiftle does largely difcourfe upon.

Now the gospel having in these refpects the advantage of the legal dispensation, the apostle doth all along in this epiftle earnestly exhort the Jews to a constant profeffion and stedfast belief of the gospel, and not to turn back from christianity to judaifm, which was a far lefs perfect inftitution. Ch. ii. 1. "There"fore we ought to give the more earneft heed to the

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things which we have heard, left at any time we "fhould let them flip, wapappuauer, left we should "fall away," fo the word may be rendered. And ch. iii. 12. Take heed, brethren, left there be in 66 any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing "from the living GoD." And ch. iv. 1. Let us "therefore fear, left a promife being left us of en"tring into his relt, any of you fhould feem to come "fhort of it." And ch. x. 23. "Let us hold fast the "profeffion of our faith without wavering."

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After which he declares the danger of apoftafy, or falling off from the belief and profeflion of the gofpel which they had entertained: v. 26. " for if we fin "wilfully after we have received the knowledge of “the truth, there remaineth no more facrifice for fin." He tells them they would be fhrewdly tempted to apoftafy by the reproaches, afflictions and perfecutions that they would meet withal; but the promises of the gofpel were fufficient to support and bear up good men under thefe, if they were but firmly perfuaded of the truth of them; and though they did not for the prefent receive the things promifed, yet a firm belief of them would carry them through all fufferings, and make them hold out under them. "The juft fhall live by faith." v. 38.

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And having mentioned the power of faith, that is, S ER M. of a confident perfuafion of the truth and reality of the promises of the gofpel to fupport men under fufferings, he gives an account how faith uses to have this influence, ver. 1. "faith is the fubftance of things "hoped for," fo we render the word voraris: but it might be much better rendered, both according to the frequent ufe of it in the feptuagint, and in the new teftament, " a confidence of things hoped "for," that is, a confident expectation of things hoped for, or a firm perfuafion that our hopes will not be frustrated. And as this is more agreeable to the scope and defign of the apostle, fo likewife to the common acceptation of this word in the new teftament, for which I will appeal to two places. 2 Cor. "That we be not put to fhame in this confi"dence of boasting," év T vás Taúтy. The other text is in this epift. ch. iii. 14. " that we hold "faft the beginning of our confidence, Tv px τάσεως, which is of the very fame fenfe with παρ pnoía, at the 6th ver." If we hold faft the con

ix. 4.

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fidence wapinolav, and rejoicing of the hope firm "unto the end. And the evidence of things not feen, yx, the conviction," as being convinced, or perfuaded of the truth of thofe things, for which we have no ocular or fenfible demonstration. Now if faith in the promises of the gofpel do perfuade us and give us fatisfaction that we fhall receive a reward, which will outweigh and countervail our present fufferings, then faith is likely to fupport us under fufferings.

And that this is no strange thing which the apoftle fpeaks of faith, he fhews that in all ages faith hath been the principle of all holy and heroick actions. By it the elders obtained a good report; it is that


SER M. which made the holy men of the old teftament fo famous; and this he proves throughout this chapter, by a large induction of particular inftances, in which we see the power of faith, the wonderful effects of it, and the mighty works it hath done in the world.

But because he faid before that "faith is the evi"dence," or conviction" of things not feen," as well as "a confident expectation of things hoped for," before he comes to inftance in the effects of faith upon particular perfons in the old teftament, he proves it to be the evidence of things not feen," that is, being convinced and perfuaded of things of which we have no fenfible and ocular demonftration, ver. 3. "Through faith we understood that the worlds were "framed by the word of God, fo that the things "which are feen, were not made of things which do

ર appear;" that is, though we were not prefent at the making of the world, nor did fee it framed ; yet we are fatisfied, and do believe that it was made by the powerful word of God, and that all those things which we fee were not produced out of things which do now appear, but either immediately out of nothing, or a dark confufed chaos.

And having thus proved that we may be perfuaded of things we do not fee, of things past, or future, he comes to the particular inftances of the holy men of the old teftament, in whom the power of faith did appear. He begins with Abel, who being perfuaded of the being of GOD, and the perfection and excellency of the divine nature, and confequently that he was worthy to be ferved with the best, by virtue of this faith, "offered up to GoD a more ex"cellent facrifice than Cain." The second inftance is in Enoch, who being perfuaded of the being of GOD, and of his goodness to reward them that ferve him,


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was a righteous man, and ftudious to pleafe GOD; SER M.
and as a reward of this faith and obedience, "GOD
"tranflated him, that he fhould not fee death;'
upon which the apoftle affumes, ver. 6. " but with-
out faith, it is impoffible to please GOD." As
if he had faid, unless a man do believe, and be per-
fuaded of fome principles, it is impoffible any man
fhould be religious, or endeavour to do any thing
that is pleasing or acceptable to God: for religion,
and the fervice of GOD, and an endeavour to please
him, do fuppofe at least that I believe and am per-
fuaded of these two things, of the being, and of the
goodness of GoD, that there is fuch a being as I ferve
and feek to pleafe, and that his goodness is fuch,
that it will not be in vain to ferve him, he will not
let me be a lofer by it.

And that here by pleasing, we are to understand
in general the performing any action of religion, is
evident from the equivalent terms which are used in
the next words, "for he that cometh to God, muft
"believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them
"that feek him;" where " coming to God," and
"feeking of him," are of the fame importance with
pleafing him. Now to come to GOD, and feek him,
in fcripture phrafe fignify the fum of religion, it be-
ing usual in the language of fcripture, to exprefs the
whole of religion by any eminent principle, or part,
or effect of it; as by the knowledge, remembrance,
or fear of God in the old teftament; by the love of
him, and faith in him, in the new, by coming to
him, feeking him, calling upon his name, and pleas-
ing of him.

Now that "coming to GoD," and "feeking him," are of the fame importance here with "pleafing of "him," will be clear to any that confider the apo


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