« ZurückWeiter »
Serm.times used for the Trust itself, or the thing I.
committed to our charge ; Thus Rom. xii. 6. Having then Gifts differing according to the Grace that is given to us; whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of Faith; Or Ministry, let us wait on our ministring; [The phrase in our modern language is very difficult, and cannot well be understood without This observation:] According to the proportion of Faith, that is, according to the nature and degree of the Gift or the Trust reposed in us, (whether it be prophecy or ministration or any other Office which requires Faithfulness in the performance of it,) so let every one of us discharge his respective Duty. 3dly, Another and much more usual signification of the word, Faith; is to denote the whole Gospel of Christ, or the Christian religion, in opposition to the ritual Works of the Law of Moses. Thus Aēts vi. 7. The number of the Disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly, and a great company of the Priests were obedient to the Faith ; that is, embraced the Gospel. Again, Rom. iii. 28. A man is justified by Faith, without the deeds of the Law; by Faith, that is, by the conditions of the Gospel. And Rom. x. 8. The word of Faith, which we
preach; That is to say, the Doctrine of the Serm. Gospel
. And indeed generally throughout all the Epistles, and in the Book of the Acts, this is the constant signification of the word, Faith.
And the reason why the whole Gospel is so often expressed by that Name, is very obvious; [namely] because the great Motives and Promises of the Gospel, are the invisible things of a Future State, which can be discerned by Faith. only. 4tbly and Lastly, in other places of Scripture, the word, Faith, signifies plainly and literally and in its most natural Sense, firm Belief and Perswafon; a firm Belief, of the Being, and Attributes, and Promises of God. Not, (as Sorne understand it,) a confident Credulity in they know not what, in whatever their Teachers require them to believe; and That perhaps with so much the greater Assurance, as the things are more absurd and unreasonable to be believed. Neither does Faith signify, (as Others have contended,) a groundless imaginary Assurance, and confident Reliance on our being unalterably, we know not why, in the Favour of God. But it is a rational Perswafion and firm Be. lief, of his Attributes discovered by Na
Ser M. ture, and of his Promises made known in I.
the Gospel; fo as thereby to govern and direct our lives. Thus the word is used in the ist verse of this Chapter, Faith is the Substance (a Substantial well-grounded expectation) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And in the words of the Text;
Without Faith it is imposible to please God; For He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
To come to God, signifies, according to the Nature of the Jewish language, making Profession of Religion ; undertaking to live a holy and virtuous Life, in obedience to God's commands, and in expectation of his Rewards. And it answers to another phrase of the like import, walking with God; which signifies continuing and persevering in that religious practise, whereof coming to God is the Beginning or Entrance.
Thus. Gen. v. 22. Enoch walked with God; and, vi. 9. Noah was a juft man, and perfeet in his generation, and Noah walked with God. Walking with God, is being perfeet or stedfast in that religious course of Life, whereof Coming to God, is making the first Profeffion. He that cometh to God,
is as much as to say, whosoever will be a Serm. virtuous or religious man: In like manner, as, he that cometh to Christ, signifies more particularly, be that will take upon him to be a Christian. No Man can come to Me, says our Saviour, Joh. vi. 44. (that is, he cannot become a good Christian,) except the Father which hath sent me, draw
Every man that hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. The phrase, except the Father draw him, is in our prefent manner of speaking, difficult and unusual; But it is explained by what follows, He that hath learned of the Father. The Meaning is: No Man can effectually believe in Christ, except he first believes in God. Natural Religion, is the best Preparative for the reception of the Christian. The Love of Truth and Virtue in general is the Dispensation of the Father ; And the DoEtrine of the Gospel in particular, is the Dispensation of the Son. Now as no man can receive Christ, who has not first heard, and is thus drawn by the Father ; as no one can be a good Christian, who is not first resolved to be a good Man ; so no one can hear the Father, can come to God, unless he first have Faith, and believes in Him. The
Serm. Dispensation of the Father, That of Crea-
tion or Natural Religion, is a necessary Pre-
THE Sense, therefore of the Text is This.
There is no Christian, who is not well apprized of This; and may be apt to think perhaps, that 'tis needless to remind him of it. But there are few. who consider these first Principles of Religion, so seriously and so frequently as they ought to do; and in such a manner, as to cause them to produce their proper Effect, by influencing their whole Lives and Conversations. For Knowledge is but a dormant Habit, if not excited by constant Meditation ; and Powers are of no Use, if not produced into A&t. Right Notions of the Being and Attributes of God, every one knows are the Foundation