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can be deceived himself, nor will deceive us in any SERM. thing that he reveals to us. I say the testimony or,
a CCXX. authority of God some way or other revealing things to us, is the argument whereby a faith of any supernatural revelations is wrought in us : but if we restrain all supernatural revelations to the bible, as I told you we know of no other; then the particular kind of testimony whereby this faith is wrought in us, is the written word of God.
III. As to the degrees of this faith. Supposing men sufficiently satisfied that the scriptures are the word of God, that is, a divine revelation ; then all those who are sufficiently satisfied of this, do equally believe the things contained in the scriptures. For if men be once fully satisfied that God hath spoken any thing, I think no man makes the least doubt but what God says is true. Now there can be no degrees of faith, where there is no doubt of the contrary; all the degrees that are in faith, arising from a greater or less mixture of doubting. So that those who do not at all doubt but that the scriptures are the word of God, have the same degree of persuasion concerning the matters contained in them : and that no man doubts whether what God says is true, ariseth from the fixed and constant notion which men universally have of God, that he is infallible and true. Therefore we find, Matt. xxi. 25. when our Saviour puts the dilema to the Pharisees, concerning the baptism of John, “ whether it were “ from heaven, or of men ? that they reasoned with " themselves, saying, if we shall say, from heaven; “ he will say unto us, why did ye not then believe - hiin?” Which kind of reasoning imports thus much, that it is universally acknowledged, that no man can in reason make the least doubt of that which
SER M. he believes to be from God. Therefore a man
would wonder what Becanus the jesuit meant, unless
Supposing any man be unsatisfied, and do make any doubt whether these books called the holy scrip
tures, tures, or any of them, be the word of God, that is, S ER M.
CCXX. a divine revelation ; proportionably to the degree of his doubting concerning the divine authority of the scriptures, there will be an abatement of his faith, as to the things contained in them ; for he that believes a thing merely upon the credit or testimony of such a person ; so much reason as he hath to doubt, whether such a person did speak, or testify such a thing; so much reason he hath to doubt whether the thing be true.
And upon this account I think it is, that the scripture speaks of degrees of faith, of growing and increasing in faith, of a strong faith, that is, such a faith, as was either wholly, or in a great measure free from doubting; and of a weak faith, that is, such a faith, as had a great mixture of doubting; by which we are not to understand, that they doubted of the truth of any thing of which they were satisfied by a divine revelation ; but that they doubted whether such things were divine revelations, or not. So that the great doubt of the disciples was, whether Christ were the true Messias, and really the Son of God: for so far as they were satisfied of that, they could not doubt of any thing he said.
IV. What are the proper and genuine effects of this faith? The proper and genuine effects of the belief of the scriptures in general, is the conformity of our hearts and lives to what we believe; that is, to be such persons, and to live such lives as it becomes those, who do heartily believe, and are really persuaded of the truth of the scriptures. And if this be a constant and abiding persuasion, it will produce this effect; but with more or less difficulty, according to the disposition of the subject, and the weakness or strength of contrary habits and inclinations. N4
S E R M. More particularly the effects of this faith are accord.
ing to the nature of the matter believed. If it be a hiftory or relation of things past, or prophecy of things to come; it hath an effect upon men so far as the history or prophecy doth concern them. If it be a doctrine; it hath the effect which the particular nature and tendency of such doctrine requires. For instance, the doctrine of God's goodness is apt to infiame us with love to him; of his power and justice, with a fear and awe of him. This doctrine, that Christ is the SAVIOUR of the world, the proper effect of it, is to make men rely upon him for sale vation, and so of the rest. If it be a precept; the proper effect of it is obedience : and hence it is that unbelief and disobedience are frequently put for one another in scripture : and disobedience is oppose to faith, i Pet. ij. 7. “ unto you therefore' which be" lieve, he is precious : but unto them which be " disobedient, &c.” where “ the disobedient” are 'opposed to “ them that believe.” And so likewise those who neglect any duty of religion, and do any thing notoriously unworthy of their profession, are said to “ deny the faith,” i Tim. v. 8. “ but if any : "6. provide not for his own, and especially for those of
“ his own house, he hath denied the faith.” How does he “ deny the faith?” In disobeying the precept of the christian religion, which chargeth us with such natural and moral duties. If it be a proinise; the proper effect of it is, encouragement to obedience by hopes of the thing promised. If a threatning ; the proper effect of it is to restrain men from sin and disobedience.
V. In what sense this faith of things supernaturally revealed, may be said to be a divine faith? Answer, not only in respect of the matter and object of it,
which are divine things, such as concern God and S E R M. religion; and in respećc of the divine effects it hath upon those who believe these things; (for in these two respects a persuasion of the principles of natural religion, may be said to be a divine faith) but likewise in respect of the argument whereby it is wrought, which is a divine testimony. As for the efficient cause, the Spirit of God, that does not immediately belong to this : for the Spirit of God doth not, speaking properly, persuade us immediately of the truth of things supernaturally revealed ; but mediately by perfuading us of the truth of the revelation : for to believe a thing to be true, which we are persuaded is revealed by God, is so natural and consequent upon such a persuasion, that it doth not seem to require ? any new work of the Spirit. And if this be all the work of the Spirit, to persuade men that such a revelation is divine ; it will be most proper to speak of this, when I come to the third sort of faith, which is a persuasion of a divine revelation, that it is such; which because it hach many difficulties in it, it deserves a more large and particular consideration.
SERMON CCXXI. . Of the faith or persuasion of a divine
HE B. xi. 6.
SERM. | Have observed that a religious and divine faith I comprehends under it three things..
Finit, this text.
Firtt. lermon on