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SERM.for the confirmation of which they were wrought; CCXXV.
and consequently a divine faith may be safely built upon such an assurance of miracks, as we may have from a credible history and relation.
Fifthly, that we are not now-a-days destitute of a fufficient ground of faith; because the doctrine of the gospel hath still the same confirmation that it had, viz. miracles : only we who live at this distance from the time when, and the place where they were wrought, have the knowledge of them conveyed to us, and come to be assured of them in another way. Those who lived in the age of CHRIST and his apostles had assurance of miracles from their own senses; and we are now assured of them by credible history and relation. Now though there ways be not equal, yet they are both sufficient to beget in us an undoubted assurance, and such as no prudent man hath any reason to doubt of. For a man may be as truly and undoubtedly certain, that is, as well satisfied, that a thing was done, from the credit of history, as from his own senses. I make no more doubt whether there was such a person as Henry the VIII. king of England, than I do whether I be in this place.
Sixthly, that now-a-days those to whom the gospel comes are under an obligation to believe; or that now-a-days there is such a sin as unbelief of the gospel. And I the rather note this, because there are some well-wishers to atheism, who out of prudence and regard to their own safety, chuse rather secretly to undermine religion, than openly to deny it. I grant indeed, that in our SAVIOUR's time, when such great miracles were wrought, those who saw those miracles (which they think no body did) were under an obligation to believe, and guilty of a great sin in
not believing the gospel : but now-a-days, when we SER M.
CCXXV. see no such miracles wrought for the confirmation of the gospel, there lies no obligation upon any man tQ believe it, and that now there is no such sin as unbelief. Now any man may with half an eye see the consequence of this assertion : for being once admitted, it doth as certainly destroy christian religion, as if men should deny that there was any such person as Jesus Christ, or that he ever wrought any miracles : for if to disbelieve the gospel be no fin, and consequently brings a man into no danger ; but on the other hand dangers and persecutions do attend the belief and profession of it; it were the greatest folly in the world for any man to believe ; unless this poffibly may be greater, for a man who does believe it, not to obey and live according to it. And if this were true, it were the greatest imprudence that can be, for any man to be a Christian. And if that were once admitted, there is all the reason in the world that christianity should be banished and extirpated, not only as useless and impertinent, but as a thing dangerous and pernicious to the welfare of mankind.
I shall therefore briefly prove to you, that it is now one of the greatest fins that men are capable of (ex
cept the sin against the holy Ghost) for thofe who i have the gospel fufficiently propounded to them,
to disbelieve it; I say, except the sin against the holy Ghost, which our Saviour tells us, was “ blar
pheming the Spirit of God,” whereby he wrought his miracles, and saying it was the spirit of the devil; and this fin men in a lower degree and proportion
may now-a-days be guilty of: for as the Pharisees who saw the works that Christ did, and acknowledged them to be miracles, did commit the fin against the holy Ghost, in ascribing those miracles
SER M.which were really wrought by the power of the holy CCXXV.
Ghost, to the devil; fo men now-a-days, who own the history of Christ's miracles as true, may be guilty of the sin against the holy Ghost, in a lower proportion, by maliously imputing those miracles to the power of the devil.
But excepting the sin against the holy Ghost, the greatest sin that men are now capable of, is to disbelieve the gospel when it is sufficiently propounded to them. Now the gospel is then sufficiently propounded, when there are sufficient grounds offered to per- ftio. fuade men to the belief of it; and I have already proved, that we now have sufficient ground to believe the gospel ; and if so, then whosoever hath these grounds offered to him, is under an obligation to believe it : for every man is bound to believe that, for which he hath sufficient ground and reason; and every man sins who neglects his duty, that is, does not do that which he stands bound to.
And not only whoever disbelieves the gospel, fins in so doing, but farther, he commits the greatest sin that now men are capable of. I say now capable of: for I doubt not but that it was a sin of a higher degree, for those who saw Christ's miracles to disbe
Of lieve, than it is for us who have only the relation of them. For by the same reason that “ he is more - blessed that believes, and hath not seen;" a greater curse belongs to him, “ who hath seen, and
doth “ not believe ;” and consequently such a person is guilty of a greater sin. But because we cannot now but see the miracles of Christ, the greatest sin that men in this age are capable of, is to disbelieve the gospel confirmed by miracles, whereof we are assured by credible relation. For the lin of disbelieving now hath thele two aggravations.
1. It is a sin against sufficient light and evidence : and in this it is equal to the sins which are committed against natural light.
2. It is a sin against the greatest mercies and blessings that ever were offered to the world: and in this it exceeds the fins against natural light. Whoever disbelieves the gospel, he rejects the offer of eternal life and happiness. And these two aggravations the apostle puts together, Heb. ii. 3. “ how “ shall we escape, if we neglect so great falva
tion, which at the first began to be spoken by the
LORD, and was confirmed unto us by them that “ heard him?" And if this be thus, it highly concerns us to enquire into the nature of this faith ; and this brings me to the
Seventh observation, that to believe that Jesus <" is the Christ, the Son of God,” is truly and properly christian faith. But the considerations of this I shall leave to the next opportunity.
justifies, and faves.
JOHN XX. 31.
is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing
CCXXVI. N my
, 1 pro
The seposed eight observations from them, six of which cond ferI have already dispatched, designing to discoate of mon on
this tart. thc
SE R M. the remaining two more at large. I proceed there
CCXXVI.fore to the
Seventh observation which I laid down, viz. that to “ believe that Jesus is the CHRIST, the Son of “ God,” is truly and properly christian faith. This is the description which is here given of christian faith.
In prosecution of this, I shall do these two things.
Secondly, prove that this is truly and properly christian faith.
First, what is included in believing “ that Jesus " is the Christ, the Son of God.” It signifies a firm and effectual persuasion, that JESUS, that is, the person the history of whose life and death is related in the gospel, “ is the CHRIST,” that is, the true Messias, promised and prophesied of in the old testament to be the Saviour of the world, and that he is “ the Son of God,” that is, “ the only begotten “ of the Father," who was sent by him into the world, and took our nature upon him, that he might purchase eternal happiness for us, and instruct us, and go before us in the way to it. So that fajth is a firm and effectual persuasion of, or assent to the whole gospel. Faith signifies christian religion, which comprehends an assent to the doctrine of the gospel, and a suitable life and conversation,
I say, a firm persuasion of this; for in the phrase of the new testament, none are accounted true believers, or said to have a true faith in CHRIST, who do not firmly continue in this persuasion ; and the owning and profession of it, notwithstanding all the Tufferings and persecutions' it might expose them to. And an effectual persuasion, for none are faid truly