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nature of the fubject would permit. And though propably many things that I have faid, might not be within the full reach and comprehenfion of all capacities, yet because I hoped they might be useful and beneficial to fome at least, I could not think the other confideration a fufficient reafon why I fhould wholly omit them, and pafs them by; remembring what St. Paul fays, that "he was a debtor to the wife," as well as "the unwife." And St. Peter tells us, that St. Paul in his epiftles wrote "many things, which were "hard to be understood" by fome perfons; yet because those things might be of ufe to others, the Spirit of GOD did not think fit to omit the writing of them. What remains I fhall reserve for another difcourse, with which I fhall conclude this fubject,

SERMON CCXXIV. The efficacy, usefulness, and reasonablenefs of divine faith.


HE B. xi. 6.

But without faith it is impoffible to please GOD.


N difcourfing on these words, I have dispatched S ER M. the first thing which I propofed, viz. to give an account of the notion and nature of faith in general; The fixth under which I have largely treated of a religious or fermon on divine faith in particular.

The second thing which I propofed, and to which I now proceed, is to confirm the truth of the propofition which I laid down from the words, viz.

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SERM. that faith is the great principle of religion. I told you that these words, "without faith it is impoffible "to please GOD," do not only imply that faith is a neceffary condition, without which men cannot be religious but likewife that it is a cause and principle of religion. Without faith a man cannot be religious : and where there is true faith, it will have this effect upon men to make them religious. Therefore I fhall diftinctly speak to these two things.

First, that without faith there can be no religion. Secondly, that where there is a true faith, it will have this influence upon men to make them religious.

First, that without faith there can be no religion. And this will appear by enquiring into the nature of all human actions, whether civil, or religious: and this is common to both of them, that they suppose fome kind of faith or perfuafion. All human actions have an order and reference to fome end, and confequently fuppofe fome knowledge of the end, and of the means whereby it may be attained. So that un lefs a man do believe and be perfuaded that fuch a thing is fome way or other good for him, and confequently defirable and fit to be propounded as an end, and that this end is attainable, and the means which he useth are probable and likely for the attaining of this end, he will fit ftill and do nothing at all about it. So that without faith it is impoffible to do any thing; he that believes nothing, will do nothing.

To inftance firft in civil actions, and the common affairs and concernments of life; all thefe are done virtue of fome faith or perfuafion concerning them. For example, husbandry, or merchandife; no man will apply himself to thefe, but upon fome belief or perfuafion of the poffibility and neceffity, or at least ufefulness and convenience of thefe to the ends of

life. No man would plough or fow, if he did not SER M believe that there were fuch a thing as the growing of CCXXIV. corn, and that it is neceffary for the fupport of our lives, and if he were not perfuaded of the probability of reaping fome fruit and benefit of his pains and industry. No man would traffick to Turkey or the Indies, if he did not believe there were fuch places, and that they afforded fuch commodities, and that he might have them upon fuch terms as might recompenfe the adventure of his charge and pains. And fo in all other actions of life.

So it is in divine and religious things, nothing is done without faith. No man will worship GoD, unless he believe there is a GOD; unless he be perfuaded there is fuch a being, which by reason of it's excellency and perfection, may challenge our vene15 ration; and unless he believes the goodness of this GOD, that he will reward those that diligently ferve "him." For all acts of religion being reasonable, they suppose at least an object and an end; that there is a God to be worshipped, and that it is not in vain to serve him. This faith is neceffary to natu ral religion. And in cafe GoD do difcover and reveal his will to men, no man can obey the will of GOD, unless he be perfuaded that God hath fome : way or other made known his will, and be perfuad

ed likewife as to the particular inftance wherein his obedience is required, that this is God's will. For instance, no man will obey the precepts of the bible as divine laws and commands, unless he be perfuaded that the doctrine contained in the holy fcriptures is a divine revelation. So likewife no man can entertain CHRIST as the Meffias and SAVIOUR of the world, and yield obedience to his laws, unlefs he believes that he was "fent of GOD, and ordained

" by

SERM." by him to be a Prince and a SAVIOUR." So that you fee the neceffity of faith to religion.


Secondly, I fhall fhew the influence that a divine faith hath upon men to make them religious. A true divine faith fuppofeth a man fatisfied and perfuaded of the reafonableness and neceffity of being religious; that it is reasonable for every man to be fo, and that it is neceffary to his intereft. Now there needs no more to be done to put a man upon any thing, but to fatisfy him of these two things; that the action you perfuade him to is reasonable; that is, poffible and fit to be done: and that it is highly his intereft to do it; that is, if he do it, it will be eminently for his advantage; if he do not do it, it will be eminently to his prejudice, and he is a loft and undone man. If you can once poffefs a man, that is in any degree fober and confiderate, with these perfuafions, you may make him do any thing of which he is thus perfuaded. Now a true divine faith supposeth a man fatisfied and perfuaded of all this.

1. Of the reasonableness of religion. He that verily believes there is a GOD, believes there is a being that hath all excellency and perfection, that is infinitely good, and wife, and juft, and powerful, that made and preferves all things. Now he that believes fuch a being as this, cannot but think it reasonable that he should be esteemed, and honoured, and adored by all thofe creatures that are sensible and apprehenfive of thefe excellencies; that feeing he is infinitely good, and the fountain of all being, and all the bleflings we enjoy, we fhould love fo great a benefactor, and thankfully acknowledge his goodness to us; not only by conftant praise of him, but by an univerfal obedience to his will, and a chearful fubmiffion to his pleasure. For what more reasonable



than gratitude; that feeing he is infinitely wife and SER M. powerful, as well as good, we fhould truft in him, and depend upon him in all conditions, and feek to him for what we want. For what more reasonable than to place our confidence in him, who is able and willing to do us good; and to fue to him who knows our wants, and is ready to fupply them? And seeing he is truth itself, and hath been pleased to reveal his will to us; what can be more reasonable than to believe all thofe discoveries and revelations, which GOD, "who cannot lie," hath made to us, and to comply with the intentions of them? And feeing he is the original pattern of all excellency and perfection, what can be more reasonable than to imitate the perfections of the divine nature, and to endeavour to be as like GoD as we can? And these are the fum of all religion. So that whoever firmly believes a GOD, and that he hath revealed and made known his will to the world, cannot but be fully fatisfied and perfuaded of the reasonablenefs and equity of religion, and all thofe duties which religion requires of us; and confequently of the poffibility of performing all thofe duties which religion requires of us, by the affiftance of the grace and ftrength which God is ready to afford us, if we beg it of him. For no man that believes the goodness of God (which every man does that believes a GOD) can think that he will make it our duty to do, any thing which he hath left us in an utter impoffibility of doing.

2. A true divine faith fuppofeth a man fatisfied and perfuaded of the neceffity of religion; that is, that it is neceffary to every man's intereft to be religious; that it will be highly for our advantage to be fo, and eminently to our prejudice to be otherwife; that if we be fo, we fhall be happy, if we be not, we


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