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It was not the design of the gospel to make men Christians in name, but Christians in deed and truth: to teach them to get victorious over their corrupt inclinations, and to subdue the flesh to the spirit. Wherefore, my brethren, “ Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” And let us put a due esteem and value upon the scriptures, as being verily persuaded that they are the word of God. Let us read them with seriousness and consideration, and talk of them with reverence and simplicity; and not, as is too much the case, make them the subject of ridicule. The contempt they meet with from libertines and idle people, and the scandalous liberty that many Christians (if they can be called such) have taken in perverting them to the most wicked purposes, is too well known.
Every intelligent person will easily discover the fatal consequences of the abuse of scripture: for when a man begins to lessen his esteem for them, he will not read them with that seriousness - and attention which is requisite, in order to
induce him to follow the rules they prescribe : and when once he makes them the standard of - wit and humour, they will soon cease to be the rule of his life and actions.
But, my brethren, I am persuaded better things of you. I know you believe the gospel, and will rest satisfied with the assurance St. Paul has given you, that he received it by the reyelation of Jesus Christ.
MARK, xi. 22.
Have Faith in GOD.
FAITH is undoubtedly the essence of Christianity. It is therefore highly reasonable that we should endeavour to get a true notion of it; and the more so, as it has been misrepresented, not only by weak Christians, but by ignorant and designing men.
Malicious libertines despise it, and make it the subject of ridicule. Weak Christians mistake it, and represent it in a very false and absurd light.
Thus faith, which is the principal support and foundation of religion, suffers as much by its injudicious friends as it does by its malignant enemies. The weak Christian gives himself up to a blind credulity without reason or consideration, and is therefore justly termed an enthusiast. The malicious libertine, by an obstinate and capricious humour, denies every thing that wants the evidence of sense to support it; and therefore is very justly styled a
Hlity Westly ter by an
sceptic. Now, in order that we may arrive to a true notion of faith, I shall make it the business of this discourse,
First, To shew what it is that we, as Christians, are bound to believe.
Secondly, I shall point out wherein this doctrine of faith is misunderstood by the friends and by the enemies of christianity.
Lastly, I shall conclude with some inferences suitable to the subject.
First, then, I am to shew what it is that we as Christians, are bound to believe.
In order to this, I shall take notice of several very remarkable instances of faith, recorded in scripture, for our instruction... The 11th chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews treats entirely of faith. It begins with telling us, that “ Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Now it is very evident, that the things hoped for by, the patriarchs were the rewards that God had promised to the upright, as we shall see very plain when we read this chapter, which is as follows. “ By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive as an inheritance, obeyed." 6. Through faith also Sarah had a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” “ By faith Isaac blessed Jacob und Esau concerning things to come."-“ By faith Jacob when he was a dying blessed both the sons of Joseph.” “ By faith Joseph when he died, made mention of the departing of the