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S.ER M. ftle's reafoning here in the text, which fuppofeth these to be the fame, otherwife there would be no force in his argument. For the proposition which he proves is, that" without faith it is impoffible to please GOD." The argument he ufeth is this, if "every one that "comes to GOD must believe that he is," &c. then "without faith it is impoffible to please him ;" but every one that comes to Gop, muft believe that "he is." Now unless "6 Now unless coming to God," and seeking him," be the fame thing with " "pleafing him," this would be no good argument: for there would be four terms in it; but if these phrases be made equivalent, then the argument is good. Thus, if "every one that comes to GOD," that is that will please him, muft believe that he is, &c." then "without faith it is impoffible to please him :" but every one that comes to GoD," that is, that will please him, must believe that he is, and that he is "a rewarder of them that diligently feek him," or "that endeavour to please him :" therefore "with"out faith it is impoffible to please him."


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Which propofition doth not only fignify that faith is neceffary to religion, and a condition without which it cannot be; but implies likewife, that it is a cause or principle of it: not only the foundation upon which all religion must be built; but the fountain from whence it fprings. For this I take to be implied in the words, not only that there can be no religion unless we believe a GOD; but fuppofing this truth firmly believed, that there is a GOD, it will have a great influence upon men to make them religious. For the apoftle having before fpoken of the power of faith upon Abel and Enoch, that it put them upon "pleafing GOD" he affumes in the next words, "but without faith, &c." As if he had


faid, that you may know what was the principle of SERM. their religion, of their holinefs and obedience, let, us imagine that a man fhould believe nothing concerning the being of a GOD, or the bleffednefs of those who serve him; what would be the iffue? Why this. certainly, there would be no religion, no fuch thing as ferving of GOD, or endeavouring to please him :: for unless we believe that he is, and that he will reward those who seek to please him, it is impoffible, that is, it is unreasonable to think men fhould attempt to please him. So that faith is the cause and principle of religion, it is the thing, quo pofito, pani-. tur effectus; & quo fublato, tollitur; do but fuppofe and admit that a man truly believes there is a God; and he will feek to please him: but if you suppose a man believes no fuch thing; he will caft off all religion. This is the plain meaning of the words; not as fome have thought, that without faith a man may perform religious actions, but then they would not be accepted, or pleafing to GOD: but that which the apostle means is, without faith it is impoffible there should be any religion: not that religious acts should be performed in an acceptable manner; as if Cain had offered as good a facrifice as Abel, only faith made the difference: but Cain did not believe, was not perfuaded of the being of GOD and his excellency, therefore thought to put off GOD with any thing; Abel believed, and did offer a more excellent facrifice, not more excellent because it was mixed with faith, but it was more excellent in itself.

The obfervation therefore from thefe words is this, that faith is one great principle of all religious actions. In the handling of this, I fhall endeavour,

Firft, To fix and fettle the true notion of faith, whereby we may come to understand the general nature of it.



Secondly, to confirm the truth of the propofition.
Thirdly, draw fome inferences from hence.

First, to fettle and fix the true notion of faith, whereby we may come to understand the general nature of it. I find that moft who write upon this fubject have marvellously puzzled themfelves with the various acceptations of this word wigs, and the verb wieve, infomuch that fome have undertaken to enumerate above twenty distinct fignifications of this word. I cannot find fo many, it may be others may: but hereby, inftead of clearing the notion of faith, they have involved it, and made it more intricate, and have made men believe, that it is a notion very remote from common understanding; whereas there is not any word that is in common use, that is more plainly and easy, and which any one may understand better than this of faith and believing.

Therefore in the explication of it, I fhall attend to the use of it in common fpeech, and in all authors as well prophane as facred; and I fhall not guide my felf by terms of art, which have been received in the schools, and have confounded the meaning of words, by distorting them from the common and received use of them; but fhall govern myself by the nature of things to which this word in common use is applied.

I fhall remove two acceptations of it which are lefs ufual, and then fix the common and general notion of it, to which all the other more particular fignifications may be referred. The two lefs usual acceptations are thefe.

First, it is fometimes put for the particular grace or virtue, which is called fidelity, or faithfulness in our promises and contracts; and in this fenfe it is fometimes used in common difcourfe, and in all forts of writers. I fhall only mention a text or two where


it is fo taken. Matt. xxiii. 23. " And have omittedS ER M. "the weightier things of the law, judgment, and, mercy, and faith," that is, fidelity. And Rom. iii. 3. with relation to GoD, "fhall their unbelief make "the faith of GOD of none effect ?" that is, his faithfulness in his promifes. Tit. ii. 13. "Not purloining, but fhewing all good fidelity," wign wãoa", all faith.

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Secondly, it is fometimes put for fpiritual gifts, and particularly the gifts of miracles, which were wrought by the power of faith, Rom. xii. 3. "According as "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith,” that is, of fpiritual gifts, of prophefying, or miniftry, or exhortation, as it is explained afterward. i Cor. xii. 9. "To another is given faith by the fame Spirit," that is, a power of miracles in general, as learned interpreters think. Nor doth that which is added afterward, that to another is given the working of miracles,' prejudice this interpretation, for ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων, "the operation of powers," which we render" of "miracles," seems to fignify foine special fort of miracles, not the power of miracles in general. And this feems, to be favoured by the acceptation of it in the next chap. ver. 2. " and though I have all faith, fo "that I could remove mountains;" where faith is undoubtedly taken for the power of miracles.

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These being removed, as very alien and remote from the common and ufual acceptation of the word, I come now to fix the general notion of faith, to which all other acceptations of it may eafily be reduced; and it is this.

Faith is a perfuafion of the mind concerning any thing; concerning the truth of any propofition, concerning the existence, or futurition, or lawfulnefs, or convenience, or poffibility, or goodness of any thing,



SER M. or the contrary; or concerning the credit of a person, CCXIX. or the contrary. And this notion is not only agree

able to the proper notion of the word wigs, which comes from wiw, to perfuade, but is warranted from the common use of it in this latitude. It is ordinary for men to say, they believe, or. are perfuaded, fuch a propofition is true or false, such a thing is or is not, fuch an event will be or will not be, that fuch an action is lawful or unlawful, fuch a thing is good or bad, convenient or inconvenient, poffible or impossible to be done; or that they believe fuch a perfon, or do not believe him. And I could fhew from scripture, that believing is applied to all these matters, and many more; I will only inftance in one or two.

That faith is frequently ufed for the perfuafion of the truth of a doctrine, or of the veracity of God or CHRIST, I fhall not need to produce any texts, there are fo many..

That faith is used for a perfuafion of the lawfulness of an action, the xivth chap. to the Romans doth abundantly teftify. Ver. 2. " One believeth that he "may eat all things," that is, is perfuaded in his mind, that all forts of meat are lawful without distinction. Ver. 22. "Haft thou faith?" that is, art thou perfuaded or fatisfied in thy mind of the lawfulness of those indifferent things he had been fpeaking of? Ver. 23. "He that doubteth is damned if he eat, becaufe "he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of "faith, is fin;" that is, whatfoever is not done with the perfuafion and fatisfaction of our minds, that we may lawfully do it, "is fin." I fhall trouble you with no more inftances.

Now this being the general notion of faith, that it is a perfuafion of the mind concerning any thing, from hence, by a metonymy, it comes to be put for the ar


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