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worship we avow that with our mouths which we disavow with our hearts? And yet there are some who will contend, “ God will not damn any of his creatures,” as they affect to phrase it, the better to colour over a flat denial of the whole doctrines of the Gospel, and a determined purpose of continuing in an impenitent state. There are others who insist, if a man be honest and civil, and charitable to the poor, it matters not what his sentiments are about religion ; for with such a man all shall be well. How contrary these tenets are to the Christian scheme of salvation contained in the Creed, every one sees ; as also no one can help seeing what a gross absurdity, not to say impiety, is expressed in their conduct, who, while they hold such antichristian tenets, do nevertheless appear in Christian assemblies, and by their repetition of the Creed, in common with the congregation, publicly declare (for this is the very design of every man's reciting the Creed) that they steadfastly believe there is no salvation out of Jesus Christ; and that the wrath of God, under which all are born, abideth on him who believeth not on the Son of God.
From the subject matter of the Creed, as it has been now set forth, I cannot but observe further, how the doctrine of the Trinity is fully contained in it, which is particularly observed by the compilers of the Catechism as what is chiefly to be learnt in these articles of belief; “ I learn to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost," ascribing to each his respective office. Now if, by reciting the Creed publicly in the congregation, we profess to believe a trinity of persons in the Godhead ; and if, at the same time, as was just now shown, we do thereby also profess to believe that there is salvation in none other but Jesus Christ, then what reason can they who recite this Creed assign for their refusing to join in that which is commonly called the Creed of Athanasius ? This latter Creed is, as to the matter of it, in substance the very same with the former ; the doctrine of the Trinity, and the one only way of salvation by Jesus Christ, are not a jot more in the one than the other : and whoever recites the Apostles' Creed does by so doing declare himself satisfied with every tittle contained in the Creed of Athanasius, the damnatory clauses not excepted : for when, by reciting the Apostles' Creed, he declares that there is but one way of salvation, he of necessity consents that whoever do not hold that way shall undoubtedly and everlastingly perish : so that, after all the clamour raised against the Creed of Athanasius, nothing lies against it which does not equally lie against the Apostles' Creed. And, in truth, the cry for having it laid aside arises from nothing else but a disbelief of the grand doctrines of the Gospel, that of the Trinity, and that of salvation by Jesus Christ only; points which do not at all suit with the pride of an unhumbled heart, and which therefore are wished to be taken out of the church ; but which, whatever Creeds should be rejected or used, cannot be laid aside without striking out the very being of Christianity, and leaving Christ utterly out of what in that case would be falsely called his church. But,
Secondly.—What is the true nature of faith concerning these articles ? In explaining this matter I shall need your attention, while I observe,
1.-What is the nature of faith or believing in general ? And this is, assenting to a thing as true, upon the report and testimony of others. What I see with my own eyes, what is made out to me upon the evidence of my own senses, I am not said to believe, but to know. Believing comes another way; and is my assent gained by being told a thing by others. A person of this place being in the neighbourhood, and seeing a house on fire, knows it; when he comes and informs us of it, we believe it; both he and we assent to the thing, that the house is on fire ; but then, he because he saw it, we because he told us of it. The one, upon knowledge ; the other, by faith.
2.-The only ground, therefore, of belief, is testimony. In which testimony two things are necessary to gain our assent to what is told us ; the first, that we think the person testifying a capable judge of the fact he relates ; the second, that we are satisfied he is honest in the relation he makes of it. person out of his senses, or a notorious liar, to tell
you such and such a thing, your assent would be either absolutely refused, or, at most, go no further than a suspicion that the thing might perhaps be. But did a person whom you judged a capable observer, and an honest relater, assure you of it, you would not withhold your assent.
Were a he saw
3.—The testimony upon which you give assent is different, according to the nature of the things testified of. Things human we assent to upon the testimony of man, if competent and faithful; but things divine we cannot assent to upon man's testimony (because the things of God no man knoweth), but upon the testimony of God.
Wherefore, though human testimony may well beget human faith, that is, belief concerning human things ; yet human testimony cannot beget divine faith, that is, belief of divine things. Man cannot know the things of God any further than he is told them by God himself, one way or other ; so that divine faith stards simply upon divine testimony.
4.—Human testimony being no ground of divine faith, therefore there is in the world what is called by that name, and is not ; as also there is what is called divine faith, and is so. There is in the world what is called divine faith, yet is not so, being what is taken up upon man's testimony. And this is the faith that is common in the world. The most believe the Scriptures, not from any real discernment that they are truly the record of God, but on no other footing than because they are currently received as such in the country and church in which they were born and bred ; just as the Turks believe the Alcoran to be a divine book, because every one about them says it is from God. This every sensible person sees to be mere prejudice, and which sets Christianity on that very footing, upon which all the various things that are called religion, throughout the divers nations of the world, may be alike justified ; since all they, as well as we, can say, it is the religion of my country, and all say it is the true religion. But possibly, though the absurdity be glaring, yet the true cause of such a false faith may not have been enough attended to, namely, the standing upon the incompetent testimony of man for the belief of divine things; and in the want of such a consideration, many, who have seen the absurdity of believing thus upon custom, may have run upon an absurdity not a jot less glaring, by taking it for granted there was no truth in Christianity, because the most of those who profess it are capable of giving no better a reason for their doing so. But,
5.-Besides this vulgar prejudice, misnamed faith, as standing only on .man's testimony, there is also true faith, standing on the testimony of God. And this is the faith here in question, the true saving faith, to which all the promises of the Gospel belong. Concerning this saving faith, four things must be noted, as abundantly sufficient to distinguish it from whatever else is called faith. (1.) The subject, or person, in whom it is wrought, an humbled sinner. The promises of the Gospel are absolutely confined to the humble ; so that neither he who is not brought to a sense of his lost estate as a sinner, nor even he who, awakened to a sense of his ruinous condition, is only desirous that he may not perish, can be the subject of this faith; but he who, besides seeing his danger, is convinced of the evil of his sins against the blessed God, their heinous guilt and deep demerit, and earnestly longs after reconciliation with him ; who, in opposition to the unawakened, knows himself to be a sinner ; and, in opposition to the only awakened, not alone desires to escape hell, and go to heaven, from a mere selfish regard to his own happiness, but rather desires the approbation, favour, and love of God, as his chief good ; this is the only person in whom this saving faith is ever wrought. (2.) The object, or the thing believed by this humbled soul, which is the promise, God in Christ, holding himself out to the sinner by and in the promise. God in Christ is the object upon which faith fastens ; none other can satisfy the humbled soul's occasions, nor in any sort fill up its desires. It is no true faith if Christ be not the supreme object of the soul's desire ; if there be a looking to other than him for hope or happiness. (3.) Besides the subject and the object, there is the testimony of God unto the promise, making out the truth of it to the humbled soul. The promise lies in the Scripture, which the Spirit opens and explains to the mind by his secret illuminations, in answer to the soul's inquiry, search, and prayer; making it plainer and plainer ; showing the suitableness of it to God's glory, and the soul's necessities; answering and silencing objections to the truth of it, and gaining a belief of it in the soul upon the authority of a faithful God, who cannot lie, and will not change. The testimony here is as immediately and directly God's, as a man's testimony to what he declares is his. And this God's testimony is not made out by any new revelation to the soul (that being merely an enthusiastical fancy, and a very dangerous opinion), but by casting light upon the promisc, explaining it, and making it out in the mind
by a rational discovery of the evidences upon which it stands, as they lie in the Scripture. Upon this follows, in the fourth place, the assent, which is always in proportion to the degree of clearness wherewith the divine testimony is made in the soul. But wherever it is gained in any degree it is saving, having the very same effects in kind, though not in degree, as when it is grown up to absolute assurance past all doubt ; and particularly warring against the fear of God's wrath, from a sense of guilt and unworthiness, which is the most proper office and business of faith. Having shown you now what the true nature of faith is, I would observe,
6.—That, according to the account given of it, it must needs admit of the division into weak and strong. The belief is in proportion to the testimony, which the Spirit may give with a convincing fulness all at once, if he pleases, as it looks as if he did in the case of St. Paul : but it appears by the Bereans that this is not always the case ; for it is said of them, that they “ searched the Scriptures daily whether these things were so ;" whereby it is manifestly implied, that God's testimony was not given them all at once in its satisfying fulness and incontestable evidence. And experience shows that this is ordinarily the case, as is most reasonable it should, to excite our care, diligence, prayer, and meditation, for increase in this great gift of God. God's testimony lies in the Scripture, to which we cannot assent any further than we know it. But this Scripture-testimony is of large extent and scope, in a competent knowledge of all which the mind must be instructed before it can attain unto such an assent as will admit of no doubt. And although it be the Spirit which makes out this Scripture-testimony, yet there is no reason to expect he will do it, but increasingly, in correspondence with our searching the Scriptures, and in answer to our prayers.
And therefore, to conclude, let me address a word of advice for the increase of faith.
First.-We should be abundantly diligent in humbling ourselves before God for our manifold and daily sins and provocations ; this is our duty; but the effect of it, in regard of increase of faith, is manifest, inasmuch as such exercises keep the soul awake to see its real vileness and utter want of Christ, and