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SERM. A wrong to exclude any; to confine and appropriate VI. this great blessing; to engross, to inclose a common;
to restrain that by forging distinctions, which is so unlimitedly expressed.
The undertakings and performances of our Saviour did respect all men, as the common works of nature do; as the air we breathe in, as the sun which shineth on us; the which are not given to any man particularly, but to all generally ; not as a proper inclosure, but as a common--they are indeed mine, but not otherwise than as they do belong to all men.
A gift they are to all equally, though they do not prove to all a bleffing; there being no common gift, which by the refusal, neglect, or ill use of it may not prove a curse-a favour of death.
I Believe, &c.
Of justifying Faith.
Rom. v. 1.
Therefore being juftified by faith, we have peace with
God, through our Lord Jesus Chrif.
THEREFORE; that word implies the text to s IRM. be a conclusion (by way of inference, or of re- VII. capitulation) resulting from the precedent discourse; it is indeed the principal conclusion, which (as being supposed a peculiar and a grand part of the Christian doctrine, and deserving therefore a strong proof and clear vindication) St. Paul designed by several arguments to make good. Upon the words, being of such importance, I should so treat, as first to explain them, or to settle their true sense; then to make some practical application of the truths they contain.
As to the explicatory part, I should consider first, what the faith is, by which we are said to be juftified ; 2. what being justified doth import ; 3. how by such faith we are so justified ; 4. what the peace with God is, here adjoined to justification ; 5. what
that faith Vations : annquiry, I
SER M. relation the whole matter bears to our Lord Jesus VII. Christ; or how through him being justified, we have
peace with God; in the prosecution of which particulars it would appear, who the persons justified are, and who justifies us ; with other circumstances incident.
I shall at this time only insist upon the first particular, concerning the notion of faith proper to this place ; in order to the resolution of which inquiry, I shall lay down some useful observations: and,
1. First, I observe, that faith, or belief, in the vul
gar acception, doth signify (as we have it briefly deTop. 4, 5. scribed in Aristotle's Topicks) a opodpa urbanitos, an
earneft opinion or persuasion of mind concerning the truth of some matter propounded. Such an opinion being produced by, or grounded upon some forcible reason, (either immediate evidence of the matter, or sense and experience, or some strong argument of reason, 'or some credible testimony ; a for whatever we aflent unto, and judge true upon any such grounds and inducements, we are commonly said to believe,) this is the popular acception of the word ; and according thereto I conceive it usually signifies in holy Scripture; which being not penned by masters of human art or science, nor directed to persons of more than ordinary capacities or improvements, doth not intend to use words otherwise than in the most plain and ordinary manner.
Belief therefore in general, I suppose, denotes a firm persuasion of mind concerning the truth of what is propounded; whether it be some one single pro
a Aut proba esse quæ credis ; aut si non probas, quomodo credis ? Tertul. adv. Marc. v. 1.
"Otav záp nws misión, xai yoápopos airūs now ai apgai, inisatas. Arift. Etb. vi. 3.
'Αριστοτέλης το επόμενον τη επιστήμη κρίμα ως αληθές, το δε τι πίσιν είναι Grov. Clem. Strom. 2. p. 287.
"Ενιοι γαρ πιςεύεσιν εδεν ήτίον οίς δοξάζεσιν, ή έτεροι οίς επίσανται. Arift. Etb. vii. 3.
pofition, (as when Abraham believed, that God was S ERM. able to perform what he had promised; and Sarah, that VII. God, who had promised, was faithful,) or some system Rom. iv. of propofitions, as when we are said to believe God's 21.
: Heb. xi. word, (that is, all which by his prophets was in his 19, name declared;) to believe the truth, (that is, all the pro- Psal. cvi.
24. lxxviii. positions taught in the true religion as so ;) to believe zi. God's commandments, (that is, the doctrines in God's 2 Thes. ii. law to be true, and the precepts thereof to be good ;) Pralm cxix. to believe the Gospel, (that is, to be persuaded of the Working truth of all the propofitions aflerted or declared in Phil. i. 27. the Gospel.)
2. I observe secondly, that whereas frequently some person, or single thing, is represented (verbo tenus) as the object of faith, this doth not prejudice, or in effect alter the notion I mentioned; for it is only a figurative manner of speaking, whereby is always meant the being persuaded concerning the truth of some propofition, or propositions, relating to that person or thing: for otherwise it is unintelligible how any incomplex thing, as they speak, can be the complete or immediate object of belief. Beside fimple apprehension (or framing the bare idea of a thing) there is no operation of a man's mind terminated upon one single object; and belief of a thing surely implies more than a simple apprehension thereof: what it is, for instance, to believe this or that proposition about a man, or a tree, (that a man is such a kind of thing, that a tree hath this or that property,) is very easy to conceive; but the phrase believing a man, or a tree, (taken properly, or exclud. ing figures,) is altogether insignificant and unintelligible : indeed to believe, Tisellewy, is the effect rã na seit Jas, of a persuasive argument, and the result of ratiocination; whence in Scripture it is commended, or discommended, as implying a good or bad use of reason. The proper object of faith is therefore some proposition deduced from others by discourse ; as it is said, that many of the Samaritans believed in Chrift, John iv. 39. because of the woman's word, who testified that he tolik 14
John ii. 23.
John v. 45,
SER M. her all that ever she did; or as St. Thomas believed,
VII. because he faw; or as when it is said, that many beJohn xx. lieved on our Lord's name, beholding the miracles which 29: ... he did : When then, for example, the Jews are reExod. xiv. quired to believe Moses, (or to believe in Moses, after 31. xix. 9; the Hebrew manner of speaking,) it is meant, to be
"persuaded of the truth of what he delivered, as proceeding from divine revelation ; or to believe him to
be what he professed himself, a messenger or prophet 2 Chr, xx. of God. So to believe the Prophets, or in the Prophets,
(984232) was to be persuaded concerning the truth of what they uttered in God's name, (that the doctrines were true, the commands were to be obeyed,
the threats and promiles should be performed, the Luke xxiv. predictions should be accomplished : to believe all
... which the Prophets did say, as our Saviour speaks ; to A&s xxiv.
We believe all things written in the Prophets, as St. Paul.) 14.
So to believe God's works (a phrale we have in the Pl. Ixxviii. Psalms) fignifies, to be persuaded, that those works 32. did proceed from God, or were the effects of his Jer. xvii. 5. good providence: to believe in man (that which is so Plal. C viii. often prohibited and diffuaded) denotes the being 8, &c. persuaded, that man in our need is able to relieve
and succour us: lastly, to believe in God (a duty so often enjoined and inculcated) is to be persuaded, that God is true in whatever he says, faithful in performance of what he promises ; perfectly wise, powcrful, and good ; able and willing to do us good : the being persuaded, I say, of all these propositions, or such of them as suit the present circumstances and occasion, is to believe in God: thus, in fine, to believe on a person, or thing, is only a short expresfion (figuratively) denoting the being persuaded of the truth of some proposition relating, in one way or other, to that person or thing, (which way is commonly discernible by considering the nature, or state of such a person, or such a thing ;) the use of which observation may afterward appear.
3. I observe thirdly, that (as it is ordinary in like cases concerning the use of words) the word belief is