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love and friendship to God; and it is that only which he regards. With faith, a man sees every thing, he receives every thing, he is content with every thing, he loves every thing, that comes from God: without faith, he sees nothing, he receives nothing, he is discontented with every thing, he hates every thing, if God has any share in it. Though a matter be incontestably proved, . even to the senses, it makes no difference: it is not received, unless there be in the heart that principle, which believes God on his own testimony.
The relations of things that are seen, may be proved and understood by the natural reason of man: but the relations between man and the things which are not seen, and the relations of those things between themselves, can be understood only by faith : they must be received on testimony, or not at all. If we wish to see a reason, why faith is so highly accounted of in the sight of God, we may take this one instead of all the rest. Virtue may be practised on worldly motives; and "being only between man and man, the most specious virtue may be practised in hypocrisy, and be good for nothing : but faith being between man and God, on whom it is not possi2 2
ble for us to impose, there can be no such thing as hypocritical faith in God. But when faith is established, then virtue comes in well: and therefore we are bid to add to our faith virtue. In short, there can be no duty to God, but when it is done to God, as to the Lord, and not unto men : Ephes. vi. 7. but God being invisible, nothing can be done as to him, but in faith. And farther, as nothing can be done towards God, nothing can be received from him but by faith. The light is without its power to the man that has no eye: no gift can be offered to him that has no hand to take it. Of the spirit of man faith is the eye and the hand, which some men have, and some have not; all men have not fuith, 2 Thess. iii. 2. How did it happen, when mercy went forth to all, that one sick man was cured, and another was not cured; but that the one had faith to be healed, and the other had not? No mighty work could be wrought, even by Omnipotence itself, where men had no faith to be wrought upon. Therefore faith gains all, and unbelief loses all. The Israelites in the wilderness fell short of Canaan, because of their unbelief: it is true they were guilty of many acts of ingratitude and disobedience: but the whole is laid to their want of faith: this was the cause of all: and so it is in every other man, with whom God is not well pleased; for without faith it is impossible to please him. Heb. xi. 6. And while faith is the root of all good, it is the only remedy against all the evils of life; it gives patience, and is the victory that overcometh the world. When the storm arises, and the waves toss themselves, it knows that Christ is with it in the ship: it levels all mankind, by making the gifts of the poor equal to those of the rich: it performs what human strength cannot accomplish; all things are possible to him that believeth. Mar. ix. 23.
I have said thus much to convince you, that in all the transactions betwixt man and God, faith is every thing: and that without it, the name of Christianity may remain, but the thing is lost.
We are now to ask what is the present state of faith in the Christian world? But for this inquiry we shall not be well prepared, unless we attend first to a plain distinction, which is of the utmost importance in our present subject. When we speak of reason, we mean the wisdom of man; and I know of none who will not give me leave thus to define it: but by the Gospel, we mean the
word of faith, or the 'wisdom of God." Between these two there is an essential difference; and the Scripture assures us in the plainest language, that, . ever since the entrance of sin, there has been an opposition. The manner in which God has thought proper to save mankind, is not approved by the wisdom of man. It is so contrary to his thoughts, and so mortifying to his wishes, that the preaching of it, being taken for foolishness, was seconded by the force of miracles; and even these were often found insufficient to make men receive it. And when it is admitted, it will always be in danger from the wisdom of man. There are in the world two interests, the human interest and the divine interest; and they can no more prevail both at once, than any other two parties in opposition. The one party rejoices to own, that man is wise with the word of God; the other boasts that man is wise without the word of God. The one raises high thoughts and imaginations, as so many strong holds and fortifications of human wisdom ; the other is mighty through God to the pulling them all down, 2 Cor. x. 4. that God alone may be exalted : what the one builds, the other demolishes. Take faith and reason for the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man, in which sense I have used them, and the opposition between them is undeniable : if that, then,. be true, which a foolish man hath said, that the present age is the age of reason ;, then it must follow, that it is not the age of faith; which is, indeed, what he means; and then our point is proved without farther trouble. In such persons as himself and his friends, the assertion is true in its fullest sense: reason is triumphant over faith ; that is, man has prevailed against God. And I wish, we could stop here ; but it is our duty to examine, how far faith is decaying in better people, and on what principles ? The attempt, I well know, is critical and dangerous; and, to some persons, I doubt not, it will give offence. But this we are not to . regard; for there never yet was the time or place, when good could be done to some without offence given to others. It was the fate of the Gospel, and of Christ the author of it. When the Apostles preached the Gospel at Jerusalem,“ say no more about it,” said the Jews: and the Devils said to their Master, “why art thou come to torment us?” As if his design, which was to save the world, had been only to torment them. Such considerations