« PreviousContinue »
The latter of which I shall firft endeavour to make good, because it seems to have been the Apoftles primary and cheif Intent, to shew that whatever Subordinate means are to be us'd by Us, whatever Concurrenc Qualifications are required of Us, towards the attainment of Everlasting Salvation, yet that whole great Work is principally owing to God's unmerited and unbounded Grace. That nothing might interfere with, or rob this free, infinite Love of God of any part of the Honour due to it in contriving and carrying on, and perfecting the Salvation of Man, but that the firft Propofition in the Text might ftill hold good, notwithstanding all the Subfervient Attendance of Faith or Works, By Grate ye are Savid. Through Faith indeed immediately follows: but as the Promise of that Earthly Inheritance which was made to Abraham, as the Apostle tells us (Rom. 4. 16.) was of Faith that it might be of Grace: so our Eternal Inheritance which was prefigur'd and signify'd thereby, if it is, as we are here taught, through Faith, is so, that it also might be by Grace. For to take off the too high Opi-. nion that some Men seem to have of Faith, we should underftand that the very highest degree of it, even such as was in the Father of the Faithful himself, is far from being any Meritorious Cause of Justification.
Abraham Believ'd and it was Counted to Him for Righteousnes, Rom. 4. 3. and again, Faith mas counted to Abraham for Righteousnes. v.9. It was reckond, it was counted to him For, therefore it was not Righteousness. So that as there is no Merit in Works, so neither is there in Faith; and tho' God do's Justifie the Believing Man, it is not for the Wor: thiness of his Beleif, but the Worthiness of him, in whom he Believęs. In whom he Believes, and from whom alone it proceeds also that he do's Believe. For let us give to Faith all the highest Elogies that are recorded of it, and very glorious things are spoken of it in the Book of God; Let us own all its Victorys which are so triumphantly display'd in the rith Chapter to the Hebrews, and what is greater than all those what the same Apostle speaks of it in the Text, Through it ye are Savd, yet that there may be no room for doubt but that Salvation is still entirely to be afcrib'd to Grace, we are at the same time taught that this Faith, inftrumentally imploy'd in so great a Work, is it self of Grace, It is not of yourselves it is the Gift of God.
Undoubtedly Faith, as Every good Gift and every perfešt Gift, is from above and cometh down from the Father of Lights, who of his own Will begat us with the Word of Truth: James 1. 17,18. That is, who has given us
in his Word a full Revelation of the Truth, necessary by all to be Beliey'd in Order to Eternal Life. And so far it is by all that ever calld themselves. Christians agreed, that Faith is the Gift of God. That is Objectively consider d, containing the things Reveaľd by God, and propos d to be Beliey'd by Man, tho' undiscoverable before the Revelation, by the most exalted Powers of Human Understanding. Which neither Eye has seen, nor Ear beard, neither hath it-enter'd into the Heart of Man to conceive; but God has reveald them to us by bis Spirit. So far I say, even the Pelagians of Old, and the Socinians at this Day readily allow. But that there is any need of an Internal Operation of the Grace of God, any inward Motion of the Holy Ghost towards creating in us a Belief of these things, they as absolutely deny, arrogating to themselves a Natural Ability in themselves, without any Supernatural Allistance to Believe the Gospel. Against both these Antient and Modern Denyers of the Grace of God, we are constantly to maintain, that God the only giver of all good Gifts, gives us Faith also, the chiefest of all his Gifts, and That not only by Revealing the Deep things of God, which none but the Spirit of God has ever searched out, or discover'd and propos'd as the matter of Our Belief, but also by ex
citing in Us the Act of Believing, by Illuminating the Understanding that it may perceive, and enflaming the Will that it may heartily embrace the Truth. Briefly, not only by presenting the Object, but also by Enlightning the Subject of Belief. Accordingly we find St Paul Praying in the behalf of his Ephesians, That God would give them the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the Knowledge of Him. Πνεύμα σοφίας και δποκαaufows. Not only a Spirit of Revelation to remove the Veil from off the Object, but a Spirit of Wisdom also to bring Light into the Eye of the Mind, that it may be fitted for the Reception of it. So that the beginning and progress and encrease and perfection of Faith is from the Spirit of God, chat not only by an External proposal in the Word discovers to us the things of God, but also by an internal Operation in the Soul enables every Believer, both to Affent to them, tho they are Footifhness to the Understanding, and to Love them tho they are enmity
to the Will of the Natural Man. For it is not with Religion as with Sciences purely Speculative, which only aim at an acquiescence of the Mind in the perception of the simple Truth of a Proposition, but the Scope of Divine Truth is more to perfuade Men than to convince them, to attract their Wils rather than to
force their Understandings. And thus after having offer'd outward motives of Credibility sufficient to create a Rational Affent, out of this Rational Affent to form a Chris ftian Faith, which includes besides a bare belief, a Complacency also and Delight in what it receives, is a further effect of the good Spirit of God evincing the goodness of the Gospel to such as are persuaded of the Truth of it, and rendring it Worthy of all Acceptation to them that own it a Faithful Saying. We are therefore under the Atrongeft Obligation both of Justice and Gratitude, to acknowledge (and if we have True Faith we cannot do otherwise) that it is not of Ourselves: it is the Gift of God. And a Gift of ineftimable Price it is, And of such Virtue and Power as nothing is able to withftand. This is the Vi&ory which Overcometh the World, nay by this we are more than Conquerors, more than Conquerors of the World, for by This we encounter and withftand, we defeat and vanquish all the Subcilty and Malice of our Spiritual Enemys, all the Wiles and Powers of Darkness and Hell. By this, which is yet a harder Victory, we sabdae our selves, our own Fleshly Defires aud Inordinate Lufts and Vicious Inclinations. In short, a true Faith works as great Wonders ftill, as our Saviour promis’d Inould follow them that Believe. In my