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Of FAITH in GOD.
HE B. xi. 6.
But without Faith, it is impoffible
HE foregoing Chapter is a very SERM.
a true heart, in full affurance of Faith. Ver. 23. Let us hold fast the profeffion of our Faith without wavering. Ver. 37. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry: Now the just fall VOL. I.
SERM. live by Faith. That This exhortation might not be ineffectual, for want of men's clearly understanding What the Nature of the Duty was, to which they were here fo carneftly exhorted; the Apostle in the ft verfe of this chapter, proceeds to define diftinaly what Faith is, and wherein it confifts. Faith, faith he, is the fubftance of things hoped for, (in the original it is, the firm and affured expectation of things hoped for,) the evidence of things not feen. And what thofe Things are, which being not feen by Senfe, are yet made manifeft by Faith, he declares in the words of the Text. They are, faith he, the Being of God, and the Recards of the Life to come. He that cometh to God, muft believe that is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently feek him. There has prevailed in modern times, a very different and enthufiaftick Notion of Faith; as if Faith, under the Gofpel, was nothing but a Confident Reliance upon the Merits of Chrift, to do all That for us, which he on the contrary expreflly requires that we fhould do for ourfelves. When we have heartily indeavoured to obey the commandments of God; and have performed our Duty really and fincere
ly, tho' very imperfectly; to rely Then up-SER M on the Merits and Interceffion of Chrift, for the acceptance of those imperfect tho' fincere Endeavours; This is indeed the Duty, and the Comfort of a Christian; but it is not what the Scripture ufually calls Faith. Faith, is that firm Belief of things at present not feen; that conviction upon the Mind, of the Truth of the Promises and Threatnings of God made known in the Gospel; of the certain reality of the Rewards and Punishments of the Life to come; which inables a man, in oppofition to all the Temptations of a corrupt World, to obey God in expectation of an invifible Reward hereafter. This is that Faith, which in Scripture is always reprefented as a moral Virtue, nay as the principal moral Virtue, and the root and fpring of all other Virtues; Because it is an Act, not of the understanding only, but also and chiefly of the Will, fo to confider impartially, to approve and embrace the Doctrine of the Gofpel, as to make it the great Rule of our Life and Actions. By This Faith it is, that We must be juftified; and by This it is, that the Antients whofe example is celebrated in this 11th chapter, cbtained, as the Apofile expreffes it, a
SERM. good report. The Faith of Abraham was, I. that he looked for a City which hath foundations, even the heavenly Jerufalem spoken of in the Prophecies, whofe Builder and Maker is God, ver. 10. The Faith of the other Patriarchs was, that confeffing themselves firangers and pilgrims on the Earth, they declared plainly that they fought a better Country, that is, an heavenly, ver. 13, 16. The Faith of Mofes was, that he chose rather to fuffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of Sin for a feafon; For he bad refpect unto the recompenfe of Reward; and endured, as feeing Him who is invisible, ver. 25, 26, 27. The Faith of the Martyrs was that they chofe to be tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better Refurrection, ver. 35. This is a very easy and intelligible Notion of Faith; and fuch a Notion, as shows plainly, how Faith is not a mere fpeculative Act of the Understanding, but a substantial practical moral Virtue.
'Tis true; This is not indeed the only Senfe of the word, Faith, in Scripture; but 'tis the Principal and most important fenfe of it. As may appear by confidering, that all the Variety of fignifications, in which the word is ufed in different places
of Scripture, may properly be reduced, for S ER M. memory and diftinctnefs fake, to thefe which follow. It, The word, Faith, in fome places fignifies That earnest Trust and Confidence in the Power of God, to which in the Apostles Times was annexed the Gift of working Miracles. Thus Mat.xvii. 20. If ye have Faith (fays our Lord to his Apoftles) as a grain of mustard-feed; (if ye have That Trust in God, That particular Kind of Faith or Dependence on him, That affured Reliance on his Power without Doubt or wavering, required of you peculiarly at This time; if you have This Faith, though ever fo finall in comparison, answerable in any measure to your prefent Office and Advantages;) ye shall fay to this mountain, remove hence to yonder place, and it fhall remove. This, was a Faith required of the Apostles at That particular Time, and of Them only. 2dly, In other paffages, the word, Faith, fignifies the duty of Veracity, Faithfulness, or Truth. Thus Matt. xxiii. 23. Ye have omitted the weightier matters of the Law; judgment, mercy, and Faith; Faith, that is, Fidelity, Truth, or Faithfulness, in the discharge of any Trust repofed in Men. Analogous to which, it is also someB 3