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CHA P. IV.

General Directions how to live by Faith.

§ 1. Examine the Evidences of Chriflianity. § 2. Confider Faith as neceffary, labour to get it, and view the Examples of it. § 3. Attend to the Defign and Tendency of Faith. § 4. Take Faith in its comprehenfive Nature, and its Reference to Baptifm. 5. Avoid unfcriptural Expreffions concerning Faith, and the fubftituting Opinions inflead of Practice. 6. Take Faith in its juft Connections. $7. Confider the Ufefulness of human Faith, and that God is Truth. § 8. Especially exercife Faith in Self-Denial. $9. Obferve the Operations of divine Grace. 10. Converfe with eminent Believers. 11. And expect this Life to be very fhort.

N Order to apply Faith to its proper Office in the divine Life, it is of great Importance to have it well founded. Faith is an A&t of Reafon, and believing is a kind of knowing; even a knowing by the Teftimony of him whom we believe, because we have fufficient

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Reason to believe him. It will, therefore, not a little contribute to the ftrengthening our Faith, if we contemplate the Perfections of God, and the Nature of our own Souls, and confider our Relation and Duty to God, and how much we have faiJed in our Duty, and have thereby exposed ourselves to his divine Refentments: If we likewife confider, how the Wisdom, Power, and Goodnefs of God are difplayed, not merely in the Works of Creation and Providence, but more efpecially in the grand Scheme of our Redemption; and what abundant Proofs we have, that the Doctrine of our Redemption was really delivered to us by Chrift and his Apoftles: If we compare Chriftianity with all other Religions in the World, and feriously think that none but God himself could poffibly be the Author of it. If we fairly examine the feveral Evidences of Gospel Truths fo as to answer the Objections of Infidelity: If we trace the Accomplishment of Scripture in the Difpenfations and Events of Providence, and especially in the Operations of Grace on the Minds of Men. And farther to ftrengthen our Faith, it is indifpenfibly neceffary, to keep our Hearts loofened from fenfible Objects, to think and fpeak much of Heaven and other invifible Realities, to live in no one allowed Sin, to pray carnestly for Faith, and to take Head that our Faith works · by Love."

§ 2. When we have done all we can to have our Faith ftrengthened and confirmed, we must remember that the principal Thing is to use and exercife it. For this Purpose take the following Directions.Expect Nothing to be well done in your Hearts and Lives without Faith. You may as well

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go about your bodily Labour without Eye-Sight, as about your spiritual Work without Faith. No Sin is to be otherwife conquered, nor any Worship, or Acts of Mercy, or Juftice, or of worldly Bufiness to be acceptably performed. For without Faith it is impoffible to pleafe God (a).' — Make it your conftant Care to get Faith. Think not that God will reveal his Mind to you, as in Vifions; nor merely ftir up your Faith in Prayer, or under a Sermon, while you take no Care of it at other Times. But you must by Faith continually dwell and walk with God. Be frequent in fecret Meditation. Tho' under Melancholy you cannot fo well attend to this Duty, yet to a healthful Perfon it will greatly affift the Operations of Faith. How fhould Things unfeen affect ourHearts, without the ferious Exercife of our Thoughts? How fhould we fearch into Gospel-Myfteries, or converfe with God, or walk in Heaven, without fome retired Contemplation? It abftracts the Mind from Vanity, lifts it up above the World, and engages it in the Work of Faith.Fix deep on your Minds the Examples of Chrift, his Apoftles and Martyrs. Think how much they were fuperior to the Pleasures, Wealth, and Glory of this World. See in that Cloud of Wit

neffes,' what good Company you have with you in the Life of Faith. Paul had well fudied the Life of Chrift, when he took Pleasure in Infirmities, in Reproaches, in Neceffities, in Perfecutions, in Diftreffes for Chrift's Sake (b); and counted all Things but Lofs for the Excellency of the Knowledge of Chrift Jefus his Lord, for whom

(a) Heb. xi. 6.

(b) 2 Cor. xii, 10.

whom he had fuffered the Lofs of all Things, and counted them but Dung, that he might winChrift, and that he might know' even the Fellowship of his Sufferings, being made conforma⚫ble unto his Death (c).' As the General and Soldiers make up one Army, and engage in the fame Warfare, therefore was the Captain of our Salvation made perfect thro' Sufferings; for both he that fanctifieth, and they who are fanctified, are all of one (d).'

§3. Remember that the principal Ufe of Faith is, to raise the whole Heart and Life from Things vifible and temporal, to Things invifible and eternal. Many think that Faith is only to look at the Death and Righteoufnefs of Chrift, and the Pardon of Sin, and the Promife of that Pardon; and that God and Heaven are to be looked at by fome other Kind of Faith. But tho' Faith is to comfort us against the Guilt of Sin, by affuring us of our Juftification; yet it is principally opposed to walking by Sight (e).' According to this Defign of Faith, Chrift tried the rich Man, whether he would fell all that he had and diftribute unto the Poor,' for the fake of having Treasure in Heaven (f).' Thus Chrift made it neceffary in his Difciples, to deny themselves, and take up their Crofs (g).' And when Paul defcribes the Life of Faith, he fays, Our light Af•fliction, which is but for a Moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal Weight of Glory; while we look not at the Things which C are feen, but at the Things which are not seen; for the Things which are feen, are temporal, but the Things which are not feen, are eter'nal

(c) Phil. iii. 8, 10.
(e) 2 Cor. v. 7.
(g) Mat. xvi, 24.

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(d) Heb. ii. 10, 11, (f) Luke xviii. 22.

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nal (b).' It is not only the Effect, but the very Nature of Faith, to overcome the World (i).' Remember alfo that another principal Tendency of Faith, is to kindle the Love of God in the Soul. Faith working by Love,' is the Defcription of Chriftianity (k). As Chrift came into the World to recover apoftate Man to God, that Man might love God, and be beloved by him; therefore, if we would live by Faith, we must receive the deepest Apprehenfions of the Love of God,' who 'fo loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whofoever believeth in him fhould not. perish, but have everlasting Life (1).' O that miftaken Chriftians were rectified in this Point ! How much would it tend to their Holiness and Peace! Begin here, and firft ufe your Faith upon God's giving Christ, in Order to kindle the Love of God within you, and reckon this a Work which Faith has daily to do; you would then find, by exciting and exercifing this holy Love, that your Affurance of your perpetual Intereft in Chrift would be fooner obtained, than by fearching for Evidences of Pardon, before you feel your Love to God; or by fearching for your Love to God, before you have endeavoured to exercife it. He that believeth the Love of God to himself, and his perfonal Intereft in Chrift, before he himself really loves God, does not believe, but prefume. For if by God's Love to you, you mean his Love of Complacency in you, as living Members of Chrift; to believe this, before you fincerely love God, is to believe

(h) 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18,
(k) Gal. v. 6,

(i)
(1) John iii. 16.

John v. 4.

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