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canft do any thing? Why thus it will be with you, if you be true believers; Luke xvii. 5. "Lord, (faid the difciples) in"crease our faith."
Fifthly, There was a conflict in his foul betwixt faith and infidelity, grace and corruption; and this is very fenfible to him; faith inclining him one way, and unbelief carrying him another: And hence he speaks like a man greatly distressed, betwixt the working of contrary principles in his own soul (and fo you will alfo find it in yourselves), Gal. v. 17. The flesh "Íufteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; so fo "that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
Ufe 2. Of confolation.
Well then, blefs the Lord for the leaft degree of faving faith; and be not fo difcouraged at its imperfections, as to overlook and flight the smallest working of faith in your souls. This poor man was deeply fenfible of his unbelief, and yet at the fame inftant truly thankful for a small measure of faith; and fo fhould you. For,
First, The least measure of saving faith, is more than all the creatures power could produce: It is the faith of the operation of God, Col. ii. 12. It is the work of God, that ye believe, John vi. 29. Yea, it is the exceeding greatness of bis power, Eph. i. No ministers of Chrift, how excellent foever their gifts are, no duties or ordinances, no labour or diligence of your own, without this mighty power of God, can ever bring you to faith.
Secondly, It is the juft matter of wonder and astonishment, that ever one fpark of faith was kindled in fuch an heart as thine is; an heart which had no predisposition or inclination in the least to believe: Yea, it was not Rafa Tabula, like clean paper, void of any impreffion of faith, but filled with contrary impreffions to it; fo that it is marvellous that ever your hearts received the stamp or impreffion of faith on them.
It was wonderful, that fire fhould fall from heaven and burn upon the altar, when Elijah had laid the wood in order upon it; but much more when he poured fo much water upon it, as not only wet all the wood, but filled the trenches, 1 Kings xviii. 33. Juft fo was the cafe of thy foul, reader, when God came to kindle faith there: Thy heart was dark and ignorant, neither acquainted with God, or thy own condition; yea, thy heart was a proud heart, full of felf-righteoufnefs, and felf-conceitednefs, Rev. iii. 17. Rom. x. 3. A heart, that would rather.venture eternal damnation, than any felf, and submit to Chrift: And yet the light of the Lord
muft fhine into this darkness, and the pride and stiffness of thy heart must be broken, and brought to yield, or there is no believing.
Befide, How many and mighty enemies did oppofe the work of faith in thy foul? Among which Satan and thy own carnal reasonings were the principal, 2 Cor. x. 4. By them, what strong-holds and fortifications were raised, to fecure thee from the strokes of conviction that make way for faith. Let but the state of thine own heart, as it was by nature, be confidered, and thou wilt fay, it was the wonderful work of God, that ever thou waft brought in any degree to believe.
Thirdly, Though thy faith be weak, yet it is growing, if it be faving faith. The largeft tree was once but a kernel, or acorn; the most famous believer, at first but a weak and doubting one: Be not difcouraged therefore, God will fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness in you, and the work of faith with power. It were certainly much better for you to be bleffing God for a little faith, praying for the increase of faith and diligently attending thofe means by which it may be im proved and made flourishing in your fouls, than, by a finful ungrateful, and prejudicial defpondency, at once to dishonour God, and thus wrong yourfelves.
Doct. 2. That the remains of unbelief in gracious hearts do coft them many tears and forrows.
There are many things that afflict and grieve the people of God from without; but all their outward troubles are nothing to these troubles that come from within.
There are many inward troubles that make them groan, but hone more than this, the unbelief they find in their own hearts. This fin juftly cofts them more trouble than other fins, because it is the root from which other fins do spring; a root of bitternefs, bearing wormwood and gall, to the imbittering of their fouls. For,
First, The remains of unbelief in the faints, greatly difho nour God; and what is a great dishonour to God, cannot but be a great grief and burden to them: For look, as faith gives God fpecial honour above all other graces, fo unbelief, in a fpecial manner, both wrongs and grieves him above all other fins. Unbelief in dominion makes God a liar, 1 John v. 10. And even the relicts thereof in believers, do fhake their affent to his truths and promises, and nourish a vile fufpicion of them in the heart. And how do thofe bafe jealoufies reflect upon his honour? Certainly it cannot but be a grief to a gra
cious heart to fee. Gód difhonoured by others, Pfalm exix. 36and a much greater to dishonour him ourselves. Hinc illae lachrymae: Upon this ground, we may justly cry out, and fay with tears, Lord, help our unbelief!
Secondly, The remains of unbelief in the faints, doth not only difhonour God, but deface and spoil their best duties, in which they at any time approach unto God. Is the face of God clouded from us in prayer, hearing, or receiving? Examine the cause and reason, and you will find that cloud raised from your own unbelieving hearts. Are your affections cold, flat, and dead in duty? Dig but to the root, and you will find this fin to lie there. If the word do not work upon you as you defire and pray it might, it is because it is not mingled with faith, Heb. iv. 2. No duties, nor ordinances, no promises, can give down their sweet influences upon your fouls, because of this fin. Now communion with the Lord in duties is the life of our life: These things are dearer to the faints, than their eyes. Juftly therefore do they bewail and mourn over that fin, which obftructs and intercepts their sweetest enjoyments in this world.
Thirdly, The remains of unbelief give advantage and fuccefs to Satan's temptations upon us. Doth he at any time affright and scare us from our duty, or draw and entice us to the commiffions of fin, or darken and cloud our condition, and fill us with inward fears and horror, without caufe? All this he doth, by the mediation of our unbelief. The apoftle, in Eph. vi. 16. calls faith the foul's fhield againft temptation: And 1 John v. 4. it is called the victory by which we overcome; i. e. the fword, or weapon, by which we atchieve our victories. And if fo, then unbelief disarms us both of fword and thield, and leaves us naked of defence in the day of battle, a prey to the next temptation that befals us.
Fourthly, The remains of unbelief hinder the thriving of alk graces; it is a worm at their root; a plant of fuch a malignant quality, that nothing which is fpiritual can thrive under the droppings and fhadow of it. It is faid, Heb. iv. 2. That the gofpel was preached to the Ifraelites, but it did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. No ordinances, nor duties, be they never fo excellent, will make that foul to thrive, where unbelief prevails: You pray, you hear, you fast, you meditate; and yet you do not thrive; your fpiritual food doth no good: You come from ordinances as dead, careless, and vain, as you went to them.. And why is it thus, but because of remaining unbelief?
Ufe I. Let all the people of God bewail, and tenderly mourn over the remainders of infidelity in their own hearts: There, there is the root of the disease. And furely, reader, thy heart is not free of fuch fymptoms of it, as appear in other mens hearts. For do but confider,
Symp. 1. What is our impatiency to wait for mercy, and defpondency of spirit, if deliverance come not quickly in the outward, or inward ftraits of foul or body, but a plain symptom of unbelief in our hearts?" He that believes, will not "make hafte," Ifa. xxviii. 16. He that can believe, can also wait God's time, Pfalm xxvii. 14.
Symp. 2. And what means our readiness to use finful mediums, to prevent, or extricate ourselves out of trouble, but a great deal of infidelity, lurking ftill in our hearts? Might but faith be heard to speak, it would fay in thy heart, let me rather die ten deaths, than commit one fin. It is fweeter, and easier, to die in my integrity, than to live with a defiled, or wounded. confcience. It is nothing but our unbelief, that makes us fo ready to put forth our hands to iniquity, when the rod of the wicked refts long upon us, or any eminent danger threatens us, Pfalm cxxv. 3.
Symp. 3. Doth not the unbelief of your hearts fhew itself in your deeper thoughtfulness, and great anxieties about earthly things? Matth. vi. 30. We pretend, we have trufted God with our fouls to all eternity, and yet cannot truft him for our daily bread. We bring the evils of to-morrow upon us to-day; and all because we cannot believe more.
O reader! how much better were it to hear fuch questions as these from thee. How fhall get an heart fuitable to the mercies I do enjoy? How fhall I duly improve them for God? "What shall I render to the Lord, for all his goodness?" This would better become thee, than to afflict thyfelf with, "What fhall I eat? What fhall I drink? Or wherewithal fhall I be "cloathed?"
Symp. 4. What doth the flavifh fear of death speak, but remains of unbelief ftill in our hearts? Are there not many faintings, tremblings, defpondences of mind, under the thoughts of death? Oh! if faith were high, thy fpirit could not be fo low, 2 Cor. v. 1, 2, 3. The more bondage of fear, the more infidelity.
Symp. 5. To conclude: What is the voice of all thofe diftractions of thy heart in religious duties, but want of faith, weakness in faith, and the actual prevalence of unbelief? You
come to God in prayer; and there a thousand vanities befee you: Your heart is carried away it roves, it wanders to the ends of the earth. Confcience fmites for this, and faith, Thou doft but mock God; thy foul will fmart for this: Thou feeleft neither ftrength nor fweetness arifing out of fuch duties. You enquire for remedies, and fills the ears of friends with your complaints; and, it may be, fee not the root of all this to be in your own unbelief. But there it is; and till that be cured, it will not be better with yon.
Use II. Yet let not poor Chriftians fo mourn, as thofe that have no hope, or ground of comfort, even in this cafe. For,
First, Though there be remains of unbelief in you, yet you have infinite cause to bless God that they are but remains. You once were in unbelief; 1 Tim. i. 13. (i. e.) under the full power and dominion of it. Had God cut you off in that state, you must certainly have perished. This is the disease, but that was the death of your fouls.
Secondly, Though unbelief be in you, yet it is not in you per modum quietis, by way of reft, as it is in all unbelievers; but by way of daily conflict, and as a burden too heavy to be borne. Now though the fin be fad, yet the forrow for it is fweet; and your conflicts with it bring you under a very comfortable fign of grace, Rom. vii. 21.
Thirdly, This is a difeafe, under which all Chriftians do labour more or lefs. There is not a heart fo holy in all the world, but is in fome degree tainted and infected with this difcafe. And this hath been evident, not only in all Chriftians, of all fizes, but in all the acts of their faith. Job's faith triumphed in chap xiii. 15. yet had its eclipfe and fainting-fit in chap. xix. 20. Abraham was a moft renowned believer, a great pattern and example of faith: O how high a pitch did his faith mount to in Gen. xxii. 3.! And yet there was a time when it fainted, and failed him, as at Gerar, Gen. xx. 2, 10, IJ. David in Pfal. xxvii. 1, 23. was not like David in 1 Sam.' xxvii. 1. The faith of Peter fhone out like the fun, in a glorious confeffion, Matth. xvi. 16. and yet was not only beclouded, but feemed to be gone down, and quite fet, in Matth. xxvi. 69. though it afterwards recovered itself.
Fourthly, It is not this, or that degree of unbelief, that damns a man, but the power and dominion of it, that damns him. Indeed, your comfort depends much upon the strength of your faith; but your falvation depends upon the truth of it. Moft Chriftians come to heaven with a weak and doubting