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tion among men, are the chief things they defire and hope for ; and the contrary to these are what they principally fear. They “ walk in the fight of their eyes," as is faid of sensual youth, Eccl. xi. 9, But the thoughts of a true: christian have another turn : he hath obtained the notice of other things, beyond the reach of fense, and which relate to interests beyond this feen world ; and these appear to him of such realityand weight, as to command his principal attention.
Present sensible things have in themselves no farther reference than to our well or ill being in the present life :: but the things of which a christian is perfuad -ed, and by the belief of which he walks, are either the external state itself, or such things as in their tendency and consequence have an aspect on his everlasting well or ill being. * The things which are feen, are temporal ; but the things which are not seen, are eter-nal, 2 Cor. iv. 18.
(2.) They are juftly described in their true and proper nature, by this character, that they are things not seen. There is scarce a more comprehensive account to be given of them in: a few words, than this character contains.
Many of them are in themselves of a spiritual nature, and so not capable of being objects of sense. God himself is fo: hath seen him at any time” with his bodily eyes; and yet Moses is-said “ by faith to have seen him that is invisible," Heb. xi. 27. And it is the concern of a good man to - set the Lord always before him," Psal. xvi. 8. that isg to consider him as a near and constant specta
tor of his actions, and therefore to live and act as in his presence. The providence of God is out of fight, while outward events themselves are obvious to fense; and there. fore most people have little regard to the one, while they have their heads and hearts full of the other : but a faint principally attends to the invisible hand of providence in all events, whether prosperous or afflictive. The bleflings which are of principal account with a christian, come not within the verge of sense ; such as, an interest in the favour of God, the privilege of being admitted among his child. ren, the pardon of fin, the graces and comfort's of the Holy Spirit. And his most formidable enemies are invisible too; in-dwelling corruption, and the power and policy of the evil spirits : yet these are objects of faith, which excite his daily vigilance.
Several things which the christian believes, are above his comprehension ; not only now to be perceived by sense, but not to be seen thro' with the closest application of the eye of the mind : which are attended with many difficul ties he cannot folvc, as to the manner of their being, and yet he firmly believes them. This is the case of any of the divine perfections : the doctrine of the resurrection of the
and the diltinction of the blessed three, Father, Son and Spirit, which plainly runs through the economy of our falvation.
Some of the objects of faith are things past and gone. Though they were once seen by fomc, yet they are only offered to the faith of after-generations, and yet of the utmolt imM2
portance to be believed. Such are, the crea.
' tion of the world, the dispensations of providence in former ages; and, above all, the Son of God manifested in flesh; his life, and death, and refurrection and afccnsion into heaven ;, and the divine teftimonies borne to the Gofa pel-revelation. Only a few in one age and part of the world, had opportunity to see these things, they are matters of faith to such as come after them..
Other things are at a distance from us, beyond our world, too far for us to have any immediate perception of them.
Of this kind is the present state of the invisible world ; the happiness of holy angels, and of departed faints with Christ in paradise ; and the misery and torments of those dead in fin.
And lastly, many of them are future. They are now only to be discerned by faith, but hereafter will be seen. Such are, the fecond. coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the rewards and punishments which will ensue upon it. Everyon eye shall see the Redeemer, when he comes in the glory of his Father, even those who must: wail because of him. And the
And the great transactions, for which he comes, shall be managed upon the public stage in the view of all. But now we see them only through a glass darkly, and at a distance.
2. The kind of persuasion which a Chrif. tian hath conceyning these things, is expressed by faith, in opposition to fight. Now,
(1.) In a larger fenfe ; this may fignisy a perluasion upon any other ground belide the
evidence of fenfe ; so as to take in reason and testimony too. So it is sometimes taken in. Scripture. Some of the instances of faith given by the apostle, Heb. xi.. are to be known by reason as well as revelation. Thus the creation of the world may be demonstrated by reason, and yet we are fáid to understand it by faith, ver. 3 God's being and bounty are capable of the same proof, and yet the apostle mentions them as objects of faith, ver. 6. “ Without faith it is impossible to please God;, for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that: diligently seek him." The perfections of God may be proved from the nature and reason of things, Rom. i. 20.. 4. The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." Indeed if these could not be known antece. dent to faith, there could be no foundation of faith, no means of proving the credibility and authority of revelation..
Now a Christian, in many articles of his persuasion, walks by faith in this larger meaning of the word, in distinction from fense. He is far from renouncing the evidence of reason, as far as that will go. For truths within its province, he is glad of all the assistance and. light that he can have this way :- and for truths which he finds in Scripture, he endeavours to ftrengthen his faith by arguments from reasong as far as that can help him. But,
(2.) More strially and eminently, faith in Scripture signifies a persuasion founded upon
the testimony of God; upon a conviction that “ the testimony of the Lord is sure,” Ps. xix. 7. That God's declaring a thing to be true or good, is a sufficient proof of its being so, separate from any other argument.
Now for those truths, of which reason can make some discovery, a Christian believes them also in the proper sense, if he finds them in the word of God. Yea he mainly walks by faith for most of these ; because he finds them fet in a faller and more satisfying light in Scripture, than they could be by bare unaffisted reason And other truths, of which he could know. no. thing but by Scripture, he believes upon the fole testimony of God, as far as he hath made them known; as well as those truths to which reason gives.concurring evidence. Upon this foundation, spiritual objects appear real and fubftantial, though they come not within the notice of sense : an affent is given to the most fublime and mysterious doctrines, as far as he ean discern Gód's testimony, though reason cannot account for them : paft transactions, which God hath recorded for our use, are made present to the mind, and influential according to their nature and end : the most distant objects are brought down to the heart and affections :. and the things which are to be hereafter, are confidently expected. “ Faith is the substance, or the confident expectation; of things hoped for,” Heb: xi. 1.
II. I am to thew the fitness of faith to have a most powerful and commanding influence upon the whole of the chriitian temper. and life ; to be the principal of our walk.