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Incarnation of the Son of God was a Means absolutely necessary to bring about Man's Redemption ; by our Blessed Saviour's Death and Passion an Attonement was made for our Sins, and the Punishment due to their Demerits was removed ; by our Saviour's Resurrection a compleat Victory was gained over the great Enemies of Mankind, Sin and Death; and a firm Belief of these and other Articles are made in their Nature, a Condi. tion of our obtaining the blessed Effects of them. Now there is nothing in any of these Facts themselves which may not be thoroughly embraced, but the Duties consequent on our Belief are the mighty stumbling Blocks in our Way; the crucifying the old Man, the mortifying our Members, the dying unto Sin, and the sitting loose to this World, are the Doubts and Scruples which clog and damp the Evidences afforded us : Passions and Prejudices clap a Biass upon the Mind and incline it to believe contrary to the Dictates of right Reason and the common Rules of Judging. It is plain therefore that in Matters of Faith the Will must be
pared as well as the Judgment inform’d; and the Blessedness here spoken of is con1equent upon that Preparation of the Will, upon a pious Disposition of Mind to receive the sacred Truths of Divine Reve. lation, like little Children : He that requires sensible Evidence for his Convi&ion, and allows only so much Assent for so much Demonstration, believes not out of Virtue, but Force ; and such a necessary Faith can no more avail him than necessary A&ions : Our Obedience to God is as much shewn by believing what he declares, as by doing what he commands and it is an Argument of no great difference to the Almighty to require, that whatever He proposes to our Affent should be fully proved. Our Religion would be unworthy its Author, if Sense and Reason were compleat Judges of the Truth of it : Such contracted Principles would be productive of no other than a narrow Degree of Happinefs ; but Christianity, which is intended in an eminent Degree to enlarge and exalt our Soul, makes Faith the Principle of our Adions, and God's Word the
Foundation of our Faith. A true Be. liever therefore thankfully accepts the Doctrines of Christianity upon such Evidence as the Almighty hath vouchsafed, Reason directs him to the Discovery of . what God hath revealed, and then his Faith takes place, and gives its entire Affent ; an humble Modesty, a tractable Meekness, are the Tempers of Mind which recommend God's Word to his Belief, and likewise his Belief to God's Acceptance ; and thus it is that his Faith, by being attended with the entire Choice and Approbation of the Mind, is counted unto him for Righteousness.
That fullen Obstinacy, which stands out against every thing less than Demonftration, it is to be feared, will act even against Demonstration ; that Hardness of Heart which prevents the renewing of our Minds by the Purity of Faith, will prevent likewise the renewing of our Lives by the Purity of Holiness. The Jews many of them were sufficiently perswaded of the Truth of our Lord's Resurrection, but wanted Integrity to confefs him the Son of God, because they
wanted Goodness to obey his Commandments;
for Virtue it is that must raise our Faith, and then reciprocally will our Faith exalt our Virtue. The History of the Blessed Jesus is not design’d for our Amusement, but for our Instruction and Amendment ; the Nature and Certainty of the Articles ought to affect us in the highest Degree, and a Life of true Holiness is the genuine Result of our being thus perswaded of the Truth of them, and affected by their Importance : Vastly superior are the Influences of religious above those of any common Faith, when improv'd through God's Grace into the very Substance of things hoped for, the very Evidence of things not seen : Thousands of people have with Patience run the Race of a persecuted Life in the stedfast Profession of this Faith, and with Joy embraced the Tortures of the most cruel Deaths in Confirmation of it ; not that the Terms of Credibility were greater then than they are now, we enjoy the same Clearness of Evidence which they did, and were we enrich'd with the fame Degree of Sincerity, it would improve into 4
a Principle of equal Constancy and Fortitude. The Evidence indulged to us is sufficient for all the Purposes of Holy Living ; wherefore then should we expeat or desire greater ? It was necessary for the Apostles to see, because they were appointed Witnesses of these Things : It is our Duty to believe without seeing, and therefore it is necessary for us not to fee : Doubts indeed may arise in the Minds of the most sincere ; but the Circumstance which gave Occasion to the Words before us cannot but convince us, that God will be favourable to their Weaknefs; Slowness of Heart will engage God's Grace to assist its Unbelief, but Hardness of Heart will presumptuously resist it : The Truths of the Gospel are so credibly set forth, that whenever we abate of the Firmness of our Faith, or fall short of the Practice of our Duty, it is not that the Evidence is insufficient, but our Application of it is not hearty and sincere : Would we then so perfectly and without all doubt believe, that our Faith in God's Sight may never be reproved, we must attentively consider whatever is