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is as impoflible to us as the creation of a world, in which we can never have an hand. - (3) It supposes, that the promise of salvation being suspended upon believing, a thing as impracticable to us as the making of a new world, we shall as infallibly be damned, if God does not believe in, or for us, as we fhould be, if we were to make a world on pain of damna tion, and God would not make it in our place.(4) It supposes, that believing is a work, which belongs to God alone: for no man in his senses can doubt buc creating a world, or its tantamount, believing, is a work which none but God can manage.--(5) It supposes, that [if he, who believeth not the divine record, makes God a liar, and Mall be danined] whenever unbelievers are called upon to believe, and God refuses them the power to do it, he as much forces them to make him a liar and to be damned, as the king would force me to give him the lie and to be hanged, if he put me in circumstances, where I could have no chance of avoiding that crime and punishment, but by submitting to the alternative of creating a world.
- (6) It supposes, that when Christ marveled at the inbelief of the Jews, he shewed as little wisdom as I Thould, were I to marvel at a man for not creating three worlds as quickly as a believer can say the three creeds. — (7) That when Christ reproved his disciples for their uribelief, he acted more unreasonably, than if he had rebuked them for not adding a new star to every constellation in heaven.
(8) Thạt to exhort people to continue in the faith, is to exhort them to fomething as difficult, as to continue creating worlds.
And lastly, that when Chrift fixes our damnation upon unbelief [fee Mark xvi. 16, and John iii. 18. ] he acts far more tyrannically than the king would do, if he issued out a proclamation informing all his subjects, that whosoever shall not by such a time raise a new island within the British seas, shall be infallibly put to the most painful and lingering death.
Having thus exposed the erroneous sense, in which fome people suppose, that faith is the gift of God; I
beg leave to mention in what sense it appears to me to be so. Believing is the gift of God's grace, as culrivating the root of a rare flower given you, or raising a crop of corn in your field, is the gift of God's providence. -Believing is the gift of the God of Grace, as breathing, moving, and eating, are the gifts of the God of NATURE. He gives me lungs and air, that I may breathe ; he gives me life and muscles, that I may move ; he beftows upon me food and a mouth, that I may eat; and when I have no ftomach, he gives me common sense to see, I must die or force myself to take some nourishment or some medicine: but he neither breathes, moves, nor eats for me ; nay, when I think proper, I can accelerate my breathing, motion, and eating: and if I please I may even fasi, lie down, or hang myself, and by that means put an end to my eating, moving and breathing. - Again, Faith is the gift of God to a believer, as the prince of Wales is the gift of God to the queen : She bore him herself by the blessing of God upon her free marriage with the king, and by the wonders of providence, which capacitated her freely to become a royal mother.-Once more, Faith is the gift of God to believers as fight is to you. The Parent of good freely gives you the light of the fun, and organs proper to receive it : he places you in a world, where that light visits you daily: he apprizes you, that sight is conducive to your safety, pleasure, and profit: and every thing around you
bids your eyes and see : nevertheless you may not only drop your curtains, and extinguish your candle, but close your eyes also. This is exacly the case with regard to Faith. Free grace removes in part) the total blindness which Adam's fall brought upon us : Free grące gently sends us some beams of trath, which is the light of the fun of righteousness; it difpofes the eyes of our underitanding to see ghose beams ; it excites us various ways to welcome them ; it blesses us with many, perhaps with all the means of faith, such as opportunities to hear, read, enquire ; and power to consider, affent, consent, re
folve and re-resolve to believe the truth. But, after all, believing is as much our own act as seeing : We may in general do, suspend, or omit the act of faich; especially when that act is not yet become habitual, and when the glaring light, that fometimes accompanies the revelation of the truth, is abated. Nay, we may imitate Pharaoh, Judas, and all reprobates : we may do by the eye of our faith, what some report, Democritus did by his bodily eyes. Being tired of seeing the follies of mankind, to rid himself of that disagreeable fight he put his eyes out: We may be so averse from the light, which enlightens every man that comes into the world, we may so dread it because our works are evil, as to exemplify, like the pharisees, such awful declarations as these: Their
have they slosed, left they should fee, &c. — wherefore God gaus them up to a reprobare zird, and they were blinded.
When St. Paul fays, that cbriftians believe accordo ing to the working Ged's mighty power, which he througkt is Chrift, when he raised him from the dead; he chiefly alludes to the refurre&ion of Chrift, and the out-pouring of the Holy Ghoft; the former of these wonders being the great object of the chriflian faith, and the latter displaying the great priviledge of the christian dispensation. To fuppofe therefore, that no body savingly believes, who does not believe according to an a&tual, overwhelming display of God's almighty power, is as unscriptural as to maintain, that God's people no longer believe, than he actually repeats the wonders of Easter-day, and of the day of Pentecost. Is it not clear, that the apostle had no such notions,, when he wrote to the Corinthians ? I declare unto you the gospel, which I preached unto you, which you have received, wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory-(if ye hold fast, as the original means) what I preached unto you, unlefi ye have believed in vain.
'For I declared unto you, &c. that Christ died for our fins, that he was buried, and that he rose again according to the scriptures, &c. Jo we preach, and so ye believed. Again, how plain is
the account, that our Lord and his forerunner give us of faith and unbelief! Verily we speak that we do know, and teftify that we have seen, and ye receive not our witness-What he (Chrift) hath feen and heard, that he testifieth, and no man (comparatively) receiveth his testimony : but he that hath received his testimony, hath jer to his seal that God is true. This is as intelligible as the following lines of the 22d hymn in the Rev. Mr. Madan's collection :
Ye need not one be left behind,
Two things have chiefly given room to our miftakes, respecting the strange impoffibility of believing : The first is our confounding the truths, which cha. racterize the several gospel-dispensations. We see, for example, that a poor besotted drunkard, an overreaching greedy tradesman, a rich sceptical epicure, and a proud ambitious courtier, have no more tatte for the gospel of Christ, than a horse and a mule have for the high-seasoned dishes that crown a royal table. An immense guiph is fixed between them, and the christian faith. In their present state they can no more believe in Christ, than an unborn infant can become a man without passing thro' infancy and youth. But, altho' they cannot yet believe in Chris, may they not believe in God according to the import of our Lord's words, Ye believe in GOD, believe also in A1E ? If the pharisees COULD NOT believe in Christ, it was not
because God never gave them a power equal to that which created the world; but, because they were practical atheists, who actually rejected the morning light of the jewish dispensation, and by that means abfolutely unfitted themselves for the meridian light of the christian dispensation. This is evident from our Lord's own words: I know you, that ye have not the love of God, or a regard for God in you. I my Father's name, and ye receive me not, tho’ you might do it ; for, if another shall come in his orun name, him ye will receive. How can YE BELIEVE, who receive horour one of another ? &c. There is one that accuseth you, even Mofes, in whom ye trust. For, had ye believed Moses, and submitted to his dispensation, ye would have believed ME, and submitted to my gospel. But if ye believe not his WRITINGS, how shall ye believe MY WORDS?
The second cause of our mistake about the impossibility of believing now, is the confounding of faith with its fruits and rewards.; which naturally leads us to think, that we cannot believe, or that our faith is vain, till those rewards and fruits appear. But is not this being ingenious to make the worst of things ? Had Abraham no faith in God's promise, till Isaac was born? Was Sarah a damnable unbeliever, till she felt the long-expected frait of her womb fir there? Had the woman of Canaan no faith, till our Lord granted her request, and cried out, О woman great is thy faith, let it be done unto thee .even as thou wilt ? Was the centurion an infidel, till Christ marveled at his faith, and declared, he had not found. such faith no not in Ifrael? Was Peter faithlefs, till his master said, Blessed art thou Simon bar Jonah ? &c. Did the weeping penitent begin to believe only when Christ said to her, Go in place, thy faith hath.Javed ther? And bad the apostles no faith in the promise of the Father, till their heads were actually crowned with celestial fire ? Should we not diftinguish between our fealing the sruth of our dispensation with the seal of our faith, according to our present light and ability ; and between God's sealing the truth of our faith with the seal of his