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Sermon II. The Degrees of it, and the difference of them.
III. The Natural Efficacy and
IV. The several Kinds of it.
I. We will consider the Cause of Faith, or the Argument whereby it is wrought. Now all the Arguments whereby Faith may be wrought in us, that is a perswasion of any thing, will I think fall under one of these Four Heads; Sense, Experience, Reason drawn from the thing, or the Authority and Testimony of some Perfon.
1. Sense. Hence it is commonly faid that seeing is believing, that is, one of the best Ărguments to perswade us of any thing. That Faith may be wrought by this Argument, appears both from the Nature of the thing, nothing being more apt to perswade us of any thing than our Senses ; and from sea veral expressions in Scripture. I will instance in one for all, Joh. xx. 8.
m Then went in also the other Disciple
poseth Faith to Sight, as 2 Cor. V. 7.
2. Experience; which tho' it may be sensible, and then it is the same argument with Sense; yet sometimes it is not, and then it is an Argument distinct from it. As for Example, a Man may by experience be perswaded or induced to believe this Propofition, that his Will is free; that he can do this, or not do it; which is a better Argument than a Demonstration to the contrary, if there could be
3. Reasons drawn from the thing ; Sermon which may either be necessary and
I. concluding, or else only probable, and plausible.
4. The Authority and Testimony of fome Credible Person. Now two things give Authority and Credit to the Relation, or Testimony, or Aflertion of a Person concerning any thing; Ability, and Integrity. Ability, if he can be presumed to have a competent knowledge of what he relates, or afserts, or testifies; and Integrity, if he may be presumed to be honest in his Relation, and free from any design, or will to deceive. And to these Heads, I think all Arguments of Belief may be reduc'd.
II. The Second Thing to be consider'd is the Degrees of Faith, and the difference of them. And that there are Degrees I take for granted, tho’I shall afterwards have occasion to prove it in a Divine Faith; and these depend perfectly upon the Capacity of the Person that believes, or is perswaded. Now the Capacity, or Incapacity of
Persons are infinitely various, and not Volume
to be reduced to Theory; but supposing a competent capacity in the Person, then the Degrees of Faith or Perswasion take their difference from the Arguments, or Motives, or Inducements which are used to perswade. Where Sense is the Argument, there is the highest and firmest Degree of Faith, or Perswasion. Next to that is Experience, which is beyond any Argument or Reason from the thing. The Faith, or Perswasion which is wrought in us by Reasons drawn from the thing, the Degrees of it are, as the Reasons are: if they be necessary and concluding, it is firm and certain in its kind, if only probable, according to the degrees of probability, it hath more or less of doubting mix'd with it. Lastly, the Faith which is wrought in us by Te. stimony or Authority of a Person, takes its degrees from the Credit of the Person, that is, his Ability, and Integrity. Now because all Men are Lyars, that is, either may deceive, or be deceived, their Testimony partakes of their Infirmity, and so doth the degree of perswalion wrought by it:
but God being both Infallible, and True, and consequently it being im
I. possible that he should either deceive, or be deceived, his Testimony begets the firmest perswafion, and the highest degree of Faith in its kind. But then it is to be consider'd, that there not being a revelation of a revelation in infinitum ; that this is a Divine Teftimony and Revelation, we can only have rational assurance; and the degree of the Faith, or perswalion which is wrought by a Divine Testimony will be according to the strength of the Arguments which we have to perswade us that such a Teftimony is Divine.
III. For the Efficacy or Operation of Faith, we are to consider that the things we may believe or be perswaded of, are of two sorts. Either, 1. They are such as do not concern me; and then the Mind rests in a naked and simple belief of them, and a Faith or Perswasion of such things has no effect upon me; but is apt to have, if ever it happen that the matter do concern me : Or else, 2 The thing I believe or am per