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of fuch a fin as unbelief: for now-a-days we may SER M. have fufficient grounds of faith.

Seventhly, that to "believe that JESUS is the CHRIST, the Son of GOD," is truly and properly chriftian faith. This is the defcription which is here given of it, that it is a believing, "that JESUS is "the CHRIST, the Son of GOD."

Eighthly, that to "believe that JESUS is the "CHRIST, the Son of GoD," is truly and properly fanctifying, and justifying, and faving faith; by this faith we have life. "These things 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."

Thefe obfervations are all virtually contained in the words. The greatest part of them I fhall very lightly pafs over, and speak but briefly to them, because I intend mainly to infift upon the two laft; in the handling of which, I fhall open to you the nature of chriftian faith, and fhew you, that the faith which is here described is that which is truly and properly juftifying and faving.

First, that writing is the way which the wisdom of God hath pitched upon, as the ftanding way of conveying the knowledge of the gofpel to the world. This is matter of fact, and for the proof of it we have the evidence of the thing. The gospel de facto was written, and this writing is conveyed down to us, and is the inftrument which God hath in all ages, fince the apoftles times, that is, fince the eye and ear witneffes of the miracles of CHRIST and his doctrine ceased, made use of to convey to the world the knowledge of the gofpel. And here it were proper to fhew what advantage this of way conveyance of the gospel hath above oral tradition; but that I have al

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SERM.ready done in fome former difcourfes *, where 1 fhewed at large, that this way of conveyance is a more universal and diffusive, a more certain, and liable to lefs imposture and falfification, a more equal and uniform, and a more human way more human way of conveyance than oral tradition; so that I fhall not infift longer upon this.

Secondly, that all things neceffary to be believed by Chriftians in order to falvation, are contained in the written gospel: or elfe how could St. John in reason say, that "these things were written," to this end," that men might believe and be faved;" if these things be not fufficient to this end? which certainly they are not, if any thing neceffary to be believed in order to falvation be left out. The Papifts being urged with this text, to prove the fufficiency of the written word, in oppofition to thofe traditional doctrines which they pretend to be neceffary over and befides the written word, tells us, that St. John doth not here fpeak of the doctrine of CHRIST, but only of his miracles; these were written to confirm our faith of the Meffias; but the doctrine of CHRIST was not all written, but left to the apoftles to be delivered by mouth to their fucceffors, and fo down to pofterity. But I have fhewn before, that the neceffary doctrines of the gofpel, as well as the miracles, are comprehended in these things which St. John fays "were written." Befides that it will be very hard for any man to devife a convenient reafon, why miracles, as well as doctrines, might not have been left to the apoftles, to have been traditionally delivered down to pofterity without writing. For doctrines may as well be committed to writing, as relations of miracles and miracles may be with as * See the foregoing fermons in this vol.

much

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much ease, and certainty, and convenience in all re-S ER M. fpects, delivered down to pofterity by an oral tradi-, tion, as doctrines may.'

Thirdly, that the miracles related in the gospel are a proper and fufficient means to bring men to christian faith. That they are fo, it is a good fign that God did work them to this end, and afterward commit them to writing for this very reason, that the knowledge of them might be conveyed to pofterity, and there might ftill remain in the world a proper and fufficient argument to perfuade men to believe; and we may well imagine, that GOD would not do any thing, but what is very proper and fufficient for it's end. Now that miracles were wrought by the divine power purposely to this end, and that they are in reafon a very fufficient atteftation to a person, and confirmation of the doctrine which he brings, I have largely fhewn elsewhere *; and that all along, both in the old and new teftament, GOD did empower Mofes and the prophets, CHRIST and his apoftles, to work miracles to bring men to faith, and that this was the principal argument whereby those who did believe were wrought upon.

Fourthly, that credible hiftory doth give men fufficient affurance of matter of fact; and fuch affurance as we may fafely build a divine faith upon. We freely believe innumerable things, which are faid to have been done many ages before we were born, and make not the least doubt of them, only upon the credit of history so that if the relation of miracles be but granted to be a credible history, we may upon the credit of the relation, fafely believe that fuch miracles were wrought; and if fuch miracles were wrought, we may fafely believe the doctrine to be from GOD, * See the foregoing fermons in this vol. S 4

for

SERM.for the confirmation of which they were wrought; CCXXV. and confequently a divine faith may be fafely built

upon fuch an affurance of miracles, as we may have from a credible hiftory and relation.

Fifthly, that we are not now-a-days deftitute of a fufficient ground of faith; because the doctrine of the gofpel hath ftill the fame confirmation that it had, viz. miracles: only we who live at this distance from the time when, and the place where they were wrought, have the knowledge of them conveyed to us, and come to be affured of them in another way. Thofe who lived in the age of CHRIST and his apoftles had affurance of miracles from their own fenfes; and we are now affured of them by credible history and relation. Now though thefe ways be not equal, yet they are both fufficient to beget in us an undoubted affurance, and fuch as no prudent man hath any reason to doubt of. For a man may be as truly and undoubtedly certain, that is, as well fatisfied, that a thing was done, from the credit of hiftory, as from his own fenfes. I make no more doubt whether there was fuch a perfon as Henry the VIII. king of England, than I do whether I be in this place.

Sixthly, that now-a-days thofe to whom the gofpel comes are under an obligation to believe; or that now-a-days there is fuch a fin as unbelief of the gofpel. And I the rather note this, because there are some well-wishers to atheism, who out of prudence and regard to their own fafety, chufe rather fecretly to undermine religion, than openly to deny it. I grant indeed, that in our SAVIOUR's time, when fuch great miracles were wrought, those who faw thofe miracles (which they think no body did) were under an obligation to believe, and guilty of a great fin in

not

not believing the gofpel: but now-a-days, when we SERM. fee no fuch miracles wrought for the confirmation of CCXXV. the gospel, there lies no obligation upon any man to believe it; and that now there is no fuch fin as unbelief. Now any man may with half an eye fee the confequence of this affertion: for being once admitted, it doth as certainly deftroy christian religion, as if men fhould deny that there was any fuch perfon as JESUS CHRIST, or that he ever wrought any miracles for if to difbelieve the gofpel be no fin, and confequently brings a man into no danger; but on the other hand dangers and perfecutions do attend the belief and profeffion of it; it were the greatest folly in the world for any man to believe; unless this poffibly may be greater, for a man who does believe it, not to obey and live according to it. And if this were true, it were the greatest imprudence that can be, for any man to be a Christian. And if that were once admitted, there is all the reafon in the world that christianity should be banished and extirpated, not only as useless and impertinent, but as a thing dangerous and pernicious to the welfare of mankind.

I fhall therefore briefly prove to you, that it is now one of the greatest fins that men are capable of (except the fin against the holy Ghoft) for thofe who have the gospel fufficiently propounded to them, to difbelieve it; I fay, except the fin against the holy Ghost, which our SAVIOUR tells us, was " blaf"pheming the Spirit of God," whereby he wrought his miracles, and faying it was the fpirit of the devil; and this fin men in a lower degree and proportion may now-a-days be guilty of: for as the Pharifees who faw the works that CHRIST did, and acknowledged them to be miracles, did commit the fin against the holy Ghoft, in afcribing those miracles

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