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the lustre and brightness of those principles which God originally implanted in them, tho' now sullied and impaired by the corruptions of mankind; and to add such improvements as might draw human nature, to a true sense of it's own bad state and weakness, and instruct men in the method of obtaining pardon of their offended creator.
Thus the God of nature has at sundry times, and in divers manners, spoken in times past, says the apostle, unto the fathers by the prophets; but in these last days Wilhed.
When pube he speaketh unto us by his Son Jesus Christ. In which revelation are contained articles of faith to What it be believed; precepts of life to be practised ; and motives and arguments to enforce obedience : from whence it is natural to collect, that the knowledge of the holy scriptures is necessary to our eternal salvation ; because these are the great and standing revelation of God to mankind; wherein the nature of God, and his will concerning our duty, and the terms and conditions of our eternal happiness in another world, are fully and plainly declared to us. Therefore,
Though there be some things which our reason and understanding cannot fathom; yet because we are fatiffied they are revealed by God, who cannot lye, Nievede
Must be bes whose knowledge is infallible, and whose word is true, we ought upon this higher and superior reason, to yield a firm assent to the truth of them. And though we meet therein with many precepts of life, which corrupt nature may be unwilling to put in practice; yet we must remember it is the Lord who commands them, and we must obey with the resignation becoming a child of God; Lord, not my will but thine be done; who by the mouth of his holy apostle has commanded us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. II. Whence we learn, that the foundation The great
branches of of a christian's duty is a due regard of God, our our duty to neighbour, and ourselves: of which duties I shall God and treat in their proper order.
III. Our duty towards God is to believe in him, Our duty to to fear him, to love him with all our heart, with God, what. B 2
all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength : to worship him; to give him thanks; to put our whole trust in him; to call upon him, to honour his holy name, and his word, and to serve him truly all the days of our life.
in which short description of our duty towards To believe God, as it is excellently drawn up for the use of that he is.
*** young capacities by the compilers of our church catechisın, we are directed to believe and acknowledge the being and self-existence of a God; that he is from everlasting and world without end ; that he is a spirit whom no man hath seen, nor can see ; that he is the great creator and preserver of all things, the father of lights in whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning, cloathed with the infinite perfections of power, wisdom, and goodness, from which all the other divine attributes do flow; that in the godhead there are three distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and that these divine perfections and offices bind the whole race of mankind to all possible expressions of duty and service. For, he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him: wherefore our first approach unto God is by faith, without which it is impossible to please God *. Now,
IV. Faith being a sincere perswafion of the Of faith in mi
h in mind, concerning the certainty or credibility of aGod.
ny truth or fact arising from another's testimony, the reason of faith in the holy scriptures is strong and forcible; because that is the testimony of God, concerning those things in which are contained the means of eternal life: and therefore, though many of those things which we are commanded by the word of God to believe, are of a spiritual nature, we must not be faithless but believing. Thus, God is a spirit ; no man hath seen him at any time, with his bodily eyes; and yet Mofes is said by faith to have seen him, who is invisible: and it is the concern of a good man to set the Lord always before him, that is, to consider him as a near and constant spectator of his actions, and therefore to live and act as always before his face. Again,
The * See this more largely treated of in the third chapter of this book,
Ind in particular
The providence of God is out of sight, while outward events are seen: and most people have little regard for the one, while they have their heads and hearts full of the other : but we should attend to the invisible hand of providence in all cases, whether in prosperity or adversity : the blessings come not within the verge of sense ; such as, an interest in the favour of God, the pardon of sin, the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit. And our most formidable enemies are invisible too; original corruption, and the power and policy of evil spirits : yet these are objects of faith, which excite our daily watchfulness. And in particular
Let it be remarked concerning faith in Chrift; that the believing what is said by him is called Wh
puted. faith in Christ, as his authority and credit is the ground and reason of our belief. And the believing things faid of him, is called faith in Christ, as he himself is the object of them. And when this belief suitably affecteth us, and we resolve and practise so as may reasonably be expected from persons under such perswasions, then, and no otherwise, it is imputed to us for righteousness. For those properties of faith must be real and unfeigned, contrary to the pretences of those that use it only as a disguise to be trusted ; or as a mere outside profeffion, without looking for any farther reason than to be in the fashion. It must be hearty and affectionate ; not a mere object of our admiration, as of things wherein we are not much interested; but a moving and influencing perswafion, wherewith all the powers of the soul are affected. It must be assured and confident; for a wavering and uncertain opinion will not accomplish it's work. Men will not run ventures and bear losses on uncertain hopes, but only on firm and certain expectations. It must be honest, and accompanied with a good conscience, implying a man's honesty in discharge of the profession he makes, and honesty in performing his undertaking. It must be resolute and fully fixt, after all things are well considered, so that when any hardships arise, we may not be seen wavering in our minds. And, since life and immortality are brought to light by Jelis,
To enable us to fulfil his will by faith, the Ho- low ly Spirit of God inwardly enlightens our minds, wrough.
In his declarations.
and inclines them to the obedience of faith, whereby we firmly believe those truths, which unto a natural or carnal man are foolishness. So that when the belief of the principles of religion is vigorous enough to govern our practice, and influence our lives; when the torments of the damned make us afraid to follow them in their fins, which have brought upon them all those miseries ; when they put us upon striving against every temptation to avoid the danger ; when the glories of the saints perswade us to imitate their lives, which have raised them to fuch happiness; when the hope of seeing God purifieth us, as he is pure, by seeking all occasions of our improvement, and by making it our business to work out our salvation; then we know that the Spirit of God dwelleth in us, and guides us unto all truth, giving us wisdom, that
Though several things which the scriptures contain are above our understanding ; not to be per
ceived by sense, and not to be seen through with the closest application ; things attended with many
difficulties we cannot solve; as to the manner of their being, which is the case of many of the divine perfections ; the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; and the distinction of the blesfed Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit, which plainly runs through the means of our salvation ; yet we must firmly believe them as revealed, and endeavour to improve the bene, fits, which we receive thereby. So in like manner
Though some of the objects of faith are things past and gane : Such are, the creation of the world, the dispensations of providence in former ages; and, above all
, the Son of God manifested in the flesh; his life, and death, and resurrection, and ascension into heaven; and the divine testimonies borne to the gospel of Christ, though only a few in one age, and part of the world, had opportunity to see these things; yet they are matters of faith to such as come after them. Other things are at a distance from us, beyond our world, too far for us to have any immediate perception of them. Of this kind is the present state of the invisible world, the happiness of holy angels, and of departed faints with Christ in paradise ; and the misery and torments of those dead in fin, Many of thein are future : They are now only to be discerned by
faith, but hereafter will be seen. Such are, the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, and the rewards and punishments, which will ensúe upon it. Every eye shall see the Redeemer, when he comes in the glory of his Father, even those who shall mourn because of him. And the great business, for which he comes, shall be managed upon the publick stage in the view of all. But now we fee them only through a glass darkly, and at a distance: And yet if we have faith, and trust in his promises, all these things become present unto us. For,
V. No temporal motives should so prevail upon us, as to make us disregard his promises; and those particularly suitable to our present case, ought to be in his pro.
mises. called to mind from time to time: the promise of divine guidance, in the sense of the weakness of our understanding and judgment : of strength, when we think of our inability for service or suffering : of grace answerable to our work, when we are called out to hard services: of proper supplies, when we are under outward burdens and wants; of acceptance and pardon upon our sincerity, when we are proceeding in our way, and yet cannot but be sensible of our imperfections: and of grace to enable us to persevere, while we are endeavouring it, and yet think of the oppositions in our way. Hereby we shall make the proper use of God's promises, according to God's intention in delivering them, and our own occasion for the relief they contain. The excellence of his promises should excite our care to have them fulfilled in us : and those of grace and glory, should have the main influence upon us. This is walking by his promises. Having therefore these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,
We are also to believe that God is just and powerful, that he will and is able to punish sinners. The terrors, of the Lord are recorded, for our admonition and
mand In his
threatnings. caution; to keep us awake, as well as to rouze linners out of their lethargy; and we should attend to them when we are apt to be remifs ; to quicken us; to excite our çare and caution, left after our hopes, we should at last be