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to confider these matters; and if there be weight in SER M. thefe confiderations to fway reasonable men, that they CCXXIV. would not fuffer themselves to be biaffed by prejudice, or paffion, or intereft, to a contrary perfuafion. Thus much I may with reafon defire of men: for though men cannot believe what they will, yet men may (if they will) confider things ferioufly and impartially, and yield or with-hold their affent, as they fhall fee caufe, after a thorough fearch and exa>mination.

If any man will offer a ferious argument against any of the principles of religion, and will debate the matter foberly, as one that confiders the infinite confequences of things one way or other, and would gladly be fatisfied; he deserves to be heard what he can fay: but if a man will turn religion into raillery, and confute it by two or three bold jests; he doth not make religion, but himself ridiculous, in the opinion of all confiderate men, because he sports with his life.

So that it concerns every man that would not trifle away his foul, and fool himself into irrecoverable mifery, with the greatest seriousness to enquire into these things, whether they be fo or no, and patiently to confider the arguments that are brought for them.

And when you are examining these matters, do not take into confideration any fenfual or worldly intereft; but deal fairly and impartially with yourselves. Think with yourselves, that you have not the making of things true or false; that the principles of religion are either true or falfe, before you think of them. The truth of things is already fixed; either there is a God, or no God; either your fouls are immortal, or they are not; either the fcriptures are a divine revelation, or an imposture; one of thefe is



SER M. certain and neceffary, and they are not now to be altered. Things will not comply with your conceits, and bend themselves to your interefts. Therefore do not think what you would have to be, but confider impartially what is *.

And if upon enquiry, you be convinced that it is the greatest reafon and prudence to believe that there is a GOD, and a future ftate, and that the fcriptures are the word of God; then meditate much of these things; attend to the proper confequences of fuch a perfuafion; and refolve to live as becomes those who believe there is a GOD, and another life after this, and that it is best for you to obey the precepts of his word, being perfuaded that whatever is there promised in cafe of obedience, or threatned in cafe of disobedience, will certainly be accomplished.

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And labour to ftrengthen yourselves in this belief because faith is the spring of all rational actions, anɖ the root of all other graces; and according to the itrength and weakness of faith, your holiness, and obe dience, and graces will flourish or decay.

And because the matters of faith do not fall under our fenfes, and the things of another world are invisible and at distance, and confequently not fo apt to effect us, as present and visible things, we should take the more pains with ourselves, that by revolving frequently in our minds the thoughts of GOD, and representing to ourselves the happiness and mifery of another world, they may have as great an effect upon us, as if they were prefent to us, and we faw them with our bodily eyes.

* Of this see more in the fermon above mentioned.



Of the chriftian faith, the means of it's conveyance, and our obligation to receive it.

JOHN xx. 31.

But thefe are written, that ye might believe that JESUS is the CHRIST, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.



Have largely difcourfed concerning the general S ER M. nature of faith, and more particularly concern- CCXXV. ing the faith which is truly divine and religious; in The first the latitude of which is contained a perfuafion con-fermon on cerning the principles of natural religion, the being of this text GOD, the immortality of the foul, and a future ftate; and a persuasion of the divine revelation of the scriptures, and the matters contained in them. Now among matters of divine revelation, the doctrine of the gospel is a principal part; which is the laft and most perfect revelation which God hath made to the world, by his Son JESUS CHRIST; and a firm belief and perfuafion of this is that which is called chriftian faith, or "the faith of the gospel ;" and which, by way of eminency, is ufually called "faith" in the new testament.

Now christian faith is not opposed to a divine faith, but is comprehended under it; as being a principal and eminent part of divine faith, but not all that which may be called divine faith. Chriftian faith supposeth a belief of the principles of natural religion, and a belief of those revelations which God for


SER M. merly made under the old teftament; but it doth CCXXV. only formally contain in it a belief of the gospel, viz. that revelation which God hath in thefe laft days made to the world by his Son JESUS CHRIST. The heathens who were deftitute of divine revelation, did only believe the principles of natural religion; and the generality of them did not believe those, but in a very imperfect manner. The " Jews, to whom "were committed the oracles of GOD," did fuperadd to the belief of the principles of natural religion, the belief of fuch revelations as GOD was pleased to make to them under that difpenfation. Chriftian faith fuperadds to both the former, a belief of the revelation of the gospel.

I fhall now therefore, by GoD's affiftance, endeavour to open to you the nature of chriftian faith from these words; in which you have these three things confiderable.

First, the end of committing the gospel to writing, which was to perfuade men to believe in CHRIST, to propagate and continue chriftian faith in the world; "these things are written, that you might believe "that JESUS is the CHRIST, the Son of God:" and by faith to bring men to a participation of thofe benefits, and the falvation which CHRIST was the author of;" and that believing, ye might have life "through his name. Thefe are written," Taura "these," which may either refer to onula," thefe "figns or miracles," referring to the former verfe, "and many other figns, &c." but "thefe figns," or "miracles are written" to confirm JESUS to be the perfon he pretended to be, the Meffias, the Son of GOD, and confequently to confirm the truth of the doctrine which he delivered; that by this confirmation, men might be induced to believe him to be


the true Meffias, and to give entertainment to his SER M. doctrine.

Or elfe (which is very probable) the word Taura may refer to the whole hiftory of the gospel, in which you have an account of the life of CHRIST, and the doctrine which he taught, and the miracles which were wrought for the confirmation of it. And fo we may look upon these two verfes as a conclufion of the whole history of the gofpel writ by the four evangelifts. For as for the chapter following, it seems not to be written by St. John himself, but by the church, probably as Grotius conjectures by the church of Ephefus, where he had refided, and whom he had acquainted with the particulars which are there fet down; the principle of which is, the prediction of our SAVIOUR Concerning his long life, for the fake of which the rest of the story seems to be brought in; which particular was not fit to be recorded till after his death; I fay, it feems probable that St. John ended his gospel here, and that the last chapter was added by others, as the laft chapter of the pentateuch was added by fome other after the death of Moses; and the last chapter of Joshua after his death. And this feems very evident from the 24th verfe of the chapter; where, after a relation of our SAVIOUR's prediction, concerning "the difciple whom Jesus loved," it is added, "this is the

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disciple which teftified of these things, and wrote "these things" (that is the foregoing history of the .gofpel) "and we know that his teftimony is true;" which feems plainly to be fpoken by fome other perfons: for it were improper for him to say this of himfelf, we know that his teftimony is true."

So that here feems to be the end of the hiftory of CHRIST, which St. John wrote: and thefe two verfes



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