« PreviousContinue »
Name they fall cast out Devils, they shall take up Serpents, if they drink any deadly thing it hall not hurt them, They fall lay hands on the Sick; and they shall recover. Where Faith really is, it cafts out Devils still, the Spirit of Envy and of Pride, of Uncleanness and Revenge, every Foul and Evil Spirit that pos. seffes Man. It works now as mighty things upon the Souls, as in the first and miraculous Age it did upon the Bodys of Men: If it do's not indeed exert Works really more Miraculous, than those visibly perform’d by the first Believers. Such, as if they make less shew without, yet need as great, if not greater, Efficacy within to Effect them. Doubtless Sanctification, Justification, Salvation, all which are in a right Sense ascribd to Faith, are Arguments of as Divine a Power, as to cast out Devils, or to heal the Sick, or to raise the Dead. Nay, if we may presume to compare the Works of Omnipotence, how much harder seems it to inspire Virtue into the Vicious Soul, than to breath the breath of Life into a dead Carcass? To make the Children of the Devil become the Sons of God, than out of the Stones to raise up
Children unto Abraham? To animate a Lump of Earth, is but to Determin to one Form that Matter which is capable of any. To cure à Disease or to cast out, a Devil is but to remove an Unnatural Oppression, a weight that a Man labours under and groans to be discharg‘d of. The Subject in these Cases, is purely passive, or else assistant and willing to contribute to the Effect. But the raising us up to a new Spiritual Life, the healing of the inward Sickness of the Soul, the dispoffeffing every Evil Spirit that had taken up its dwelling there, these Works are attended with no such favourable Circum: ftances: inftead of a meer inactivity, there is a warm and vigorous Resistance, instead of an inclination to comply with the change, an obftinate purpose to hinder and resist it; An Opposition not to be overcome, but by as much or more of Virtue supernatural, than was requir'd to the production of the most astonishing Wonders that were wrought, even by the Apostles, or by Christ himself. So much is imply'd in what our Saviour tells us, John 14. 12. He that Believes in me, the Works that I do he fall do also, and greater Works than these fall be do. Every true Believer then doth not Work Miracles, yet somewhat greater it seems by the Grace of God and Faith in Christ he performs. Thanks therefore be unto God for This his unspeakable Gift! fruitful in the production of such Glorious and Blessed Effects! and chiefly of that most Blessed Effect of all, which, as the Crown of its other Excellencys and Perfections is here affirm'd of Faith in the Text,
that Through it ye are Sav'd, which is the other thing that comes next to be consider'd.
2dly, Ye are Sav'd through Faith. That We are Justify'd by Faith, and that He that Believeth Jhall be Sav'd, can be no doubt to any one that Reads and believes the Gospel, the Power of God unto Salvation to every one that Believes. Rom. 1. 16. This great and comfortable Truth is therein so plainly express’d, or so necessarily imply'd in places so many as were endless, so obvious as 'tis needless to repeat.
But what this Faith is, and in what manner it produces such admirable Effects, as are on all hands allow'd to be ascrib'd to it in Scripture, is the great Question and Subject of Debate.
But not to trouble you with Scholastick niceties, by Faith ye may understand a deep and full persuasion of, and a Real and Cordial assent to, all Truth reveald in Scripture, upon the account that it is the Word of God fo Infinitely Wife, that he cannot be deceiv'd, and fo Infinitely Good, that he cannot deceive. Which is fo juft a Foundation of Assurance, that Faith is therefore rightly describ'd by the Apostle, Hebr. 11,1. The Substance of things hoped for, the Evidence of things not seen. By which is meant that a found and firm Belief makes that, as it were, Sublist, which yet is not, gives a prefent Existence to things yet to come, sets diftant Futurities before the Eye of the Soul, and represents them as lively to the Enlighten'd Mind, as if they were before us expos d naked to our Bodily Eyes giving them thereby the same Efficacy and Power to excite in us workings suitable to such important Discoveries, as if what we are persuaded certainly must be, actually were in Being, and now present in our View. And if this be the Nature of Faith, as from the Apostle's description of it we may conclude it is, We need only to consider what those things are, which are thus reveal'd, and of what vast concern, what mighty importance to us, to learn in what manner such a Belief of them, as has been describ'd Ihould Operate, and be to us the Effectual Instrument in working out our Salvation. Certainly the Glorious and Gracious, the Awful and Terrible Objects of our Faith, are such as cannot choose, if heartily Believ'd, and actually attended to, but produce in us fuch apprehensions of God and ourselves as to engage us to the perfe&ing of Holines in the Fear of God, 2 Cor. 7.1. and if we have our Fruit unto Holines, we know the End is Everlasting Life. Rom. 6.22.
He that firmly and stedfastly Believes, that the Soul that actuates this Body is an Immortal Being, a Subfiftence which shall and must endure to Eternity ; That after Death he must appear before the Tribunal of God and Christ, to answer for the things done in the Body, That from thence he shall be transmitted to a State either of Eternal Happiness, or Eternal Misery, either to be entertain’d in the Vision of God, in the Fellowship of Saints and Angels, with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory, or excluded from the fight of God, and treated with the Devil and his Angels, with Torments anexpressible, Unconceivable, and that to all Eternity, This Man, thus actually Believing, if he might gain all the Profits, and Honours, and Pleasures, if he might decline all the Loffes, Disgrace, and Afictions of this World, will not lose his own Soul. Considering that light and momentary things bear no proportion to the exceeding Weight of those that are Eternal, he will forthwith endeavour to lay hold upon Eternal Life, and make haft to Escape the Wrath to come.
He that is fully in his Mind perswaded, that there is an Omniscient and Omnipresent God, of purer Eyes than to behold Iniquity without infinite Detestation, yet necessarily seeing all whatever he do's, who is about his path, and about his bed, and pies out