« AnteriorContinuar »
V. In what sense it may be said to Sermon be Divine Faith.
I. Whether it may truly and properly be call’d Faith, or not? If the general Notion of Faith which I have fix'd before, viz. that it is a Periwasion of the Mind concerning any thing, be a true Notion of Faith, then there is no doubt but this may as properly be call’d Faith, as any thing can be; because a man may be periwaded in his mind concerning these things, that there is a God, that our Souls are immortal, that there is another State after this Life.
But besides this, if the Scripture speaks properly, as we have reason to believe it does, especially when it treats professedly of any thing, as the Apostle here does, then this question is fully decided : for it is evident to any one that will but read this Verse, out of which I have taken my Text, that the Apostle doth here in this place speak of this kind of Faith, that is, a belief or perswafion of the Frinciples of
Natural Religion. For after, the ApoVolume stle had said, that Without Faith it is XII. impossible to please God; he immediate
ly instanceth in the belief of the Principles of Natural Religion, as necefsary to the pleasing of God, that is, to make a Man Religious. He that cometh to God, must believe that he is; there is the Existence of God, the first Principle of Natural Religion: and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him; which implies the other two, the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State ; for if good Men shall be Rewarded, there must be a Subject capable of such Rewards, which brings in the Immortality of the Soul; and there must be a reason for these Rewards, which because they are seldom bestow'd in this World, there must be a Season when they Thall, which brings in a Future State after this Life. So that whoever denies that a perswasion of these Principles of Natural Religion may properly be called Faith, he quarrels with the Apostle, and does not correct me, but the Scriptures.
II. What are the Arguments where-Sermon by this Faith or Perswasion of these
II. Principles of Natural Religion is Wrought? You may remember that I reduc'd all those Arguments whereby any kind of Faith or Perfwasion is wrought in us, to these four Heads; Sense, Experience, Realons drawn from the Thing, and the Testimony or Authority of some Person. Now a Faith or Perswasion of these Principles cannot be wrought in us by Sense: for No Man hath seen God at any time, and being a pure Spirit, he cannot be the object of any Corporeal Sense. Nor can the Soul, or any mode of its Existence, fall under any of our Senses: nor a Future State; because Sense is only of things prefent. Nor can it be wrought in us meerly by Experience: for no Man can conclude from any thing he experienceth in himself, that there is a God, unless he be first perswaded of it by other Arguments: and the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State, are things which none in this Life can experience. Nor can the Authority or® Testimony of any Person
me be the Argument that induceth that olume Perswasion. Not any Humane AuthoXII. rity: for these things are of such Con
sequence, and so much depends upon them, that is, the belief of them puts us upon
many things, which Men would not do if they did not believe them, as particularly the venturing of our Lives upon the account of Religion, and all our Worldly Interests, if occasion call for it; that it were a fond thing to take Matters of such Moment and Importance upon any Man's bare word, without other afsurance of them. Nor can the Testimony or Authority of God be the Argument that perswades me of the Existence of a God.
I grant that for the other two, the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State, it is an excellent, and may be a sufficient Argument. Tho' that these may be proved likewise by other Arguments without a Revelation, is evident in the Heathens, who by the Light of Nature did alent to them without a Revelation. But a Divine Revelation cannot possibly be an Argument inducing me to believe the Existence of a God, for this plain Reason; because a Divine Revelation can be a no Argument to any that is not per
Sermon swaded that it is a Divine Revela
II. tion: but before I can be perswaded that any Revelation is from God, I mutt be perswaded there is a God; and if so, there is no need of this Argument to prove to me that there is one: and therefore you do not find it any where reveal'd in all the Scripture, that there is a God. The Scripture often declares that Jehovah is the true and living God, and that besides him there is no other : but it doth not reveal, but every where suppose, that there is one.
It remains then that it must be another kind of Argument whereby we must be perswaded of the Ex: istence of a God, and that is by such Reasons as may be drawn from things themselves to perswade us hereof; as either from the Notion and Idea which we have of a God, that he is a Being that hath all Perfections, whereof necessary Existence is one, and consequently that he must be; or else from the Universal confent of all Nations, and the geneD 2