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At Thessalonica, when Paul, "as his man"ner was, went into the synagogue, and three "Sabbath-days reasoned with the Jews out of "the scriptures, *some of them believed, and "consorted with Paul and Silas."

At Athens, +" certain men clave unto him, "and believed."

At Corinth, "Crispus, the chief ruler of "the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all "his house; and many of the Corinthians "hearing, believed, and were baptized."

At Rome, t" some believed the things which "were spoken, and some believed not."

Thus have we the clear testimony of our Lord himself descending down with equal clearness through his apostles, to instruct us in the nature of faith. It were easy to enlarge this account, and to strengthen it by many authorities from every book of the New Testament. But this would be repeating what must be known to every one who peruses the sacred writings; whilst there could be little hopes of giving additional weight to the argument in the opinion of those, who can find means to elude a conclusion drawn from the uniform practice of the apostles, founded on the clearest testimony of our Lord.

The act of the mind then concerned in faith is simple, but the object is complex and extensive. The object of faith includes a great variety of matter, through which there runs one

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grand division that we must carefully attend to. It contains an history and a revelation; an history of the whole progress of redemption from the first unfolding of the design soon after the fall, till its completion in the death and resurrection of our Lord: and a revelation of whatever belongs to a future state, to heaven, and to eternity. When faith looks back on all that our blessed Saviour hath done and suffered for us, it is closely connected with gratitude and love; when it looks forward to all those scenes of bliss and glory that are in reserve for us, it is then more immediately united with trust and hope.

Faith we find appeared very early in the world, for Abel was possessed of this virtue, and by faith" offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." But the object of faith was at that time extremely different from that which is now presented to us. Creation was then almost the only great act of mercy that faith could look back upon: for t" through faith we "understand that the worlds were framed by "the word of God." The historical object of faith therefore was at first small; but as acts of divine mercy were multiplied, and the records of them enlarged, this part of the object increased. And as it increased, we find the promises of God, which were at first revealed in general terms, growing at the same time more distinct and explicit. The horizon, which bounds the view, enlarges as we advance for† Heb. xi. 3.

* Heb. xi. 4.

ward in the history of revelation, so that each succeeding patriarch or prophet had a fuller prospect both of the blessings and the promises of God, than those that went before him. The history of past, and the promises of future mercies, were still increasing together, till at length to us who have the happiness of seeing the work of redemption accomplished, and whatever concerns our eternal state placed in the clearest light, the object of faith is completely revealed, and appears before us in its full magnitude.

Faith then, in the early ages of the world, could have been little more than a belief and trust in the general promises of God. This agrees extremely well with that beautiful history of pristine faith, which we have in the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews. * "These all died in faith, not having received "the promises, but having seen them afar off, "and were persuaded of them, and embraced "them, and confessed that they were strangers "and pilgrims on the earth."

How thankful then ought we to be for those superior lights with which we are blessed; for that complete revelation, and that finished history of redeeming love which we enjoy! And if the holy men who lived in that dawn of revelation, could cheerfully sustain every difficulty by which their faith was tried, and could give such heroic proofs of their trust and dependance on God, how great must be the reproach * Heb. xi. 13.

to us if the Son of Righteousness shining upon us cannot warm our cold affections into some suitable expressions of gratitude and duty.

SECTION III.

Of the various kinds into which Faith hath been commonly distinguished.

THE distinction which hath been remárked in the object of faith, as looking back on the past, or forward on the promised mercies of God, and thus connected on one hand with love, on the other with trust, cannot escape us in reading the holy scriptures. Where ancient times are spoken of, we generally find the latter idea prevail. In the times of the gospel, we sometimes distinguish the one, and sometimes the other, and frequently faith is spoken of in its full extent, as comprehending both.

The reflex act of faith, or that which looks back on God's gracious dealings with mankind already past, is the first in order: it is that which first arises in the mind, and by which the other is introduced. It is the belief of God's mercies past, that can alone give any solid hopes, any well-grounded belief of mercies to come. This is the basis, and indeed the evidence, on which is built all our trust in the promises of God, all our hopes in futurity. And thus it is,

that faith, which is in one light, as it looks forward towards future happiness, "the substance "of things hoped for;" is in another, as it rests on the foundation of former mercies, "the ev"idence of things not seen."

This distinction, important as it is, doth not however affect the nature of faith. Its essence, as seated in the mind, is still the same; it is still a belief in the mercies of God, whether it may dwell on the records of his providence, and the history of redemption, or look forward into the boundless prospect of eternity. Just as vision is the same, however its object may be changed, whether the eye is cast downwards on the earth, or is lifted up to heaven.

This seems to be the only distinction that is well founded in scripture, or is of any consequence in the study of our religion. It hath been usual however to multiply distinctions, and men who can be satisfied with nothing that is plain and simple, fond of knowledge ostentatious rather than useful, would think you know little of your religion, if you do not speak familiarly of several different kinds of faith. For, besides the true living faith, we are told that there is a temporary faith, an historical faith, a speculative faith, and a faith of miracles. But all these distinctions, it is apprehended, are of no use to the plain and honest believer, and will appear upon inquiry, to be without any just foundation in scripture.

The notion of a temporary faith, as a distinct kind of faith, is taken from our Saviour's

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