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SER M.guinents to our minds, and bring them to otr ire.
Fourthly, the Spirit of God may be conceived to: work faith in us, by holding our minds intent upon : this evidence, till it hath wrought it's effect upon us And this I do not doubt, but the Spirit of God, out of his abundant grace and goodnefs to men, often
doth; and I believe many men have found their · minds kept intent upon such considerations, as have a mightily prevailed upon them, and been effectual to :) persuade them to entertain and obey the gospel ; and must acknowledge that their minds were awakened: by such considerations, and made attentive to them, : beyond their own inclinations to think upon such things, and in such a strange and unaccountable man- :: ner, as they cannot in reason but attribute fuperior influence, viz. to the holy Spirit of God.
Fifthly, by removing the impediments which hinder our effectual assent to the gospel. And in this and the last particular, I conceive, the work of the Spirit of God in the producing of faith, principally to consist; I say in these principally, not absolutely excluding the former. The great impediment to the belief and entertainment of the gospel, is the prejudice which the minds of men are apt to conceive against it, either upon account of their education in a contrary religion, or upon account of their lusts, or some worldly interest, to which the gospel is op posite. Now these are so many bars upon the uno derstandings of men, to keep out the truth from entering into them. The prejudice of a contrary 5 education, is a monstrous obstacle to religion. When men have believed otherwise from their youth, and have had contrary principles implanted in thein in their tender years, and have all their lives been pos
seft with contrary apprehensions of things; the clear-SERM.
CCXXIII. est truths that can be offered to them, come upon infinite disadvantage ; their understandings are tinc. tured, and put false colours upon every thing that is represented to them. And this was the case of the Jews, when the Messias came; they were poffest with prejudices against his mean appearance, and had . fashioned to themselves another kind of Messias, that should be a glorious temporal prince; and had been brought up in this apprehension; and this made them so invincibly obstinate against the reception of him, though the whole nation, when he came, were in expectation of him. And this was also the case of the Gentiles, when the gospel was first preached to them, they had been educated in a contrary religion, and were poffeft with quite other apprehenfions; which made the passage of the gospel infinitely
difficult. And I doubt not but that in the first pub· lifhing of the gospel, the Spirit did remarkably work : upon the minds of men, for the removing of these
prejudices, and thereby making way for the entertainment of the gospel. And though this prejudice be not now upon us in these parts of the world, who are brought up in the christian religion ; yet the lufts and interests of men are now great obstacles to the effectual entertainment of the gospel; and the Spirit
of God doth many times eminently appear in the s restraining and conquering the lufts of men, and re
moving those other prejudices which hinder them from embracing the truth.
Sixthly, the last way whereby the Spirit of God may be said to work in us an effectual belief of the gospel, is by furthering, and helping forward the efficacy of this persuasion upon our hearts and lives, in the first work of conversion and regeneration, and
SER M. in the progressive work of sanctification afterward;
both which the scripture doth every where attribute
I. We may learn from hence to attribute all the good that is in us, or that we do in any kind, to God. Every good thing is from God; fo St. James
tells us, that “ every good and perfect work comes *“ down even from the Father of lights." Much more are we to ascribe to the free grace of God all the revelation of fupernatural truth, which we cannot possibly come to the knowledge of, unless God of his free grace and goodness be pleased to discover it toʻus. And so likewise are we to ascribe to God, and the operation of his holy Spirit upon our hearts, 'Our belief of those truths, and assent to them. Considering the corruption and degeneracy of human nature, and the opposition of the lusts and prejudices of men to di'vine truth, we stand in need of the grace of God, and the operation of his Spirit upon our hearts, to bring us to a firm assent to the gospel: for as “ fesh and -“ blood could not reveal these truths to us," fo neither is it very apt to affent to them when they are revealed.
In the phrase of scripture, all good is attributed S ERM. - to God; and all spiritual good to the holy Spirit of
God working in us, and assisting us to the doing of it. As on the other hand, the scripture attributes all those fins that are committed in the world, to the influence of evil Spirits. “ He that committeth sin “is of the devil.” And though we do not know many times, how the Spirit of God worketh a good inclination in us, yet it is lafe to follow the phrale of scripture, and to ascribe all good to God, as in some way or other the author of it.
II. This doth not excuse the infidelity of men, that " faith is the gift of God.” For though no man doth believe without some infuence of the divine Spirit upon his heart, yet this does by no means excuse those who believe not, any more than it is an excuse to the infidelity of men, that the scripture attributes it to the devil, as in some sort the cause of it. He is said “ to blind the eyes of them that believe " not, left the light of the glorious gospel of Christ “ should shine unto them.” But the unbelief of men is a fault for all this; because the devil cannot blind our minds, unless we consent to it : he can only suggest false principles to us : but we may chuse whether we will entertain them or not: he can only tempt us to reject the truth ; but we may chuse whether we will do so or not. In this we are faulty, because we may resist the devil, and quench or repel those fiery darts which he cafts into our minds : but if we will consent to his temptations, and suffer ourselves to be blinded by him, the fault of our unbelief is our own, as well as his; and we are guilty of the infidelity. which we suffer hiin to tempt us to.
So on the other hand, though “ faith be the gift “ of God;" yet those that believe not are faulty
SER M. upon this account, that they quench and refift the CCXXIII.
blessed motions of God's Spirit, and the influence and operation of the Spirit of God, which accompany the truth of the gospel to the minds of men, and produce their effect wherever they are not opposed and rejected by the prejudice and perverseness of men. ,
III. Let us depend upon God for every good gift; and earnestly beg the assistance and influence of his holy Spirit, which is so necessary to us to beget faith in us, and to preserve, and to make it effectual upon our hearts and lives. Bread is not more necessary to the support of our natural life, than the holy Spirit of God to our spiritual life. .
For our encouragement to ask this gift of God's holy Spirit, our Saviour hath told us, that God is very ready to bestow him upon us. No father upon earth is more ready to give bread to his children that cry after him, than God is to give his Spirit to those that heartily and earnestly beg it of him. So our Saviour assures us, Luke xi, 11, 12, 13. “ if a son « shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will " he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he “ for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an “egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye then, being “ evil, know how to give good gifts unto your chilço dren; how much more shall your heavenly Father “ give the holy Spirit to them that ask him ?”
And now I have done with the first thing that I propounded, which was to open the nature of faith to you in general. I have been the longer upon this, because I thought it very material, and important to the settling of right apprehensions in us concerning religion, and divine things, and I have all along endeavoured to make things as easy and plain as the