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cumstances, an extraordinairy coincidence of things in the course of men's thoughts, together with the subtil management of invisible malicious spirits, that nó philosophy or experience will ever be sufficient to guide us safely through this labyrinth and maze, without our closely following the clue which God has given us in his word. God knows his own reasons why he insists on some things, and plainly sets them forth as the things that we should try ourselves by rather than others. It may be it is because he knows that these things are attended with less perplexity, and that we are less liable to be deceived by them than others. He best knows our nature ; and he knows the nature and manner of his own operations; and he best knows the way of our safety; he knows what allowances to make for different states of his church, and different tempers of particular persons, and varieties in the manner of his own operations, bow far nature may resemble grace, and how far nature may be mixed with grace, what affections may rise from imagination, and how far imagination may be mixed with spiritual illumination. And therefore it is our wisdom, not to take his work out of his hands, but to follow him, and lay the stress of the judgment of ourselves there, where he has directed us. If we do otherwise, no wonder if we are bewildered, confounded, and fatally delud. ed. But if we had got into the way of looking chiefly at those things, which Christ and his apostles and prophets chiefly insisted on, and so in judging of ourselves and others, chiefly regarding practical exercises and effects of grace, not neglecting other things ; it would be of manifold happy consequence ; it would above all things tend to the convic. tion of deluded hypocrites, and to prevent the delusior of those whose hearts were never brought to a thorough compliance with the strait and narrow way which leads to life ; it would tend to deliver us from innumerable perplexities, arising from the various inconsistent schemes there are about methods and steps of experience ; it would greatly tend to prevent professors neglecting strictness of life, and tend to promote their engagedness and earnestness in their Christian walk; and it would become fashionable for men to shew
their Christianity, more by an amiable distinguished behavior, than by an abundant and excessive declaring their experiences; and we should get into the way of appearing lively in religion, more by being lively in the service of God and our generation, than by the liveliness and forwardness of our tongues, and making a business of proclaiming on the house tops, with our mouths, the holy and eminent acts and exercises of our own hearts; and Christians that are intimate friends, would talk together of their experiences and comforts, in a manner better becoming Christian humility and modesty, and more to each other's profit; their tongues not running before, but rather going behind their hands and feet, after the prudent example of the blessed apostle, 2 Cor. xii. 6, and many occasions of spiritual pride would be cut off ; and so a great door shut against the devil; and a great many of the main stumbling blocks against experimental and powerful religion would be removed ; and religion would be declared and manifested in such a way that, instead of hardening spectators, and exceedingly promoting infidelity and atheism, would, above all things, tend to convince men that there is à reality in religion, and greatly awaken them, and win them, by convincing their consciences of the importance and excellency of religion. Thus the light of professors would so shine before men, that others, seeing their good works, would gloria , fy their Father which is in heaven.
$1. FAITH is a belief of a testimony ; 2 Thess. i. 10. “ When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (becausc our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” It is an assent to truth, as appears by the 11th of Hebrews; and it is saving faith that is there spoken of, as appears by the last verses of the foregoing chapter : « And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise : God having provided some better thing for us, that they, without us, should not be made perfect." Mark i. 15. « Saying, The time is ful. filled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” John xx. 31. “ But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, ye might have life through his name.” 2 Thess, ii. 13. “ But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth."
§ 2. It is the proper act of the soul towards God as faithful. Rom. iii. 3, 4. “ For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect ? God forbid: Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thoų mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."
3. It is a belief of truth from a sense of glory and excellency, or at least with such a sense. John xx. 29. « Jesus saith' unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed : Blessed are they that have not seen, and yeţ