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by Works, whenever he uses that Word in a Moral Sense *.—Still it remains to be answered, how our Faith can be imputed to us for Righteousness? But I hope the Answer cannot now be difficult. Faith in Christ is naturally productive of Evangelical Obedience. It induces us to accept the gracious Offers of the Gospel, and to comply with the Terms proposed in it; and, by this Means, enable9 us to obtain the Promised Rewards.—St. Paul then is never to be understood, as opposing Faith to Go/pel Righteousness: since that can no way intitle us to Christ's Heavenly Kingdom, but by making us good Subjects to him upon Earth. But Faith is opposed to universal and perfect Righteousness, and declared sufficient to supply the Want of it. In sherr, such a Belief of the Dctfrines, as makes us obedient to the Laws of the Gospel, shall attone for all our Offences against the more rigorous Law of Right Reason.—St. james, on the other hand, means by Good Works, a sincere Obedience to the Evangelical Law j and he therefore affirms, with great Reason, that Faith without Works is dead.
It may be proper to take Notice, while I am upon this Subject, that, however the Moral Excellence of Faith depends on the ManF 2 tier
* So in otter Places he understands by Work. Universal Obedience to (he Jenuisb Law; such an Obedience as is not confident with any the minutest Deviation ; much less with enormous Sins, tho' afterwards repented of and forsaken.
ner in which it is acquired, yet the Good Effects of it do not. A Belief of the Doctrines of Christianity, tho' perhaps merely the Effect of Education, and altogether unsupported by rational Arguments, may yet be of great and excellent Use in enlightening Men's Minds and reforming their Manners.—Capacity and Opportunity for a diligent Examination may make it our Duty to try the Principles of our Religion, and to search them to the very Bottom. But I am forced to agree with a late Writer, however I may differ from him in other Things, that such an Inquiry is not ordinarily to be expefledi The Bulk of Mankind have in all Ages taken their Religion up* on Trust. This may have been partly their own Fault t but, in some Degree, it cannot well be otherwise.—Should any one try the Experiment with a rude, honest, illiterate Christian, and lay before him, in as plain a Manner as possible, the Evidences for and against his Religion; he might indeed perplex, but he wouid find it very difficult to inform him. Such a Procedure could have no other Effect with Men unus'd to Thought and Reflection, but only to unsettle all their Principles, and to tear up their Prejudices and
their Virtue together. -If it be thought
safer for such Persons only to study the Evidence on the Side of Revelation, this can by no means amount to a rational Search j since,
right right or wrong, they are sure to be convinced.-After all it must be confessed that the State and Circumstances of the lower Part of the World do not usually qualify them for Researches of this Nature. The Authority of Wise and Good Men is often the best Argument they arc capable of discerning: and yet this Argugument would hold, with equal Strength, for any Established Religion, that ever existed.— But notwithstanding the Generality of Christians believe on weak and insufficient Grounds; notwithstanding many of them have acquired their Faith without any Merit of their own: yet so long as their Belief has the same Influence on their PraStice, the Ejjicacy of that Prattle? can thereby suffer no Diminution. Though their Faith be less meritorious, yet the Virtue springing from it will, on that Account, be neither less valuable, nor less rewarded.
I Have only to add that Faith, in a more restrained Sense, is sometimes considered as the Means of Salvation.—That this Word &equently signifies an actual Reflection upon God's Promises, and a firm Belief that he will certainly perform them, is what I have already observed in the preceding Section. — In this Sense the Proposition I am now maintaining is more peculiarly true; both because our Opinion of God's Veracity eminently conduces to our moral Improvement; and because no F 3 Opinions Opinions can iustuence our A6lions% unless they are frequently present to our Minds. — Upon the whole, I presume it sufficiently appears, that Faith is the best Means to make us holy, and by consequence, to make us happy: that, though it" will not work in us Universal Righteousness j it is sufficient to engage our Complyance with the gentler Terms of the Go/pel, and therefore sufficient to procure Salvation.
NECESSITY is a relative Word j implying an inseparable Connexion either natural or factitious, between the Terms id related. To affirm therefore that Faith is necessary, is a Manner of speaking not sufficiently determinate. Before it can be known jfrhat Truth there is in such an Affirmation, she particular Ends must first be specified, to which this Necefijty is supposed to belong.—• Now we may say, in general, that Faith is. necessary for our Admission into Christ's Kingdom; either his Kingdom upon Earth, or his heavenly Kingdom. In other Words thus j Without Faith in Christ we can neither enter into Covenant \Vuh him, nor enjoy the BeneJits of that Covenant: we cannot obtain the peculiar Privileges of his Church and People, either in this Lise, or the Life to come. These being evidently dijlinti Ends, will require a distinct and separate Consideration.
Th E Privileges peculiar to the Members of the Christian Church, during their Continuance here on Earth, are either external or Mk ternal. A Man is said to be admitted to the outward Privileges of the Church, when he is fostered to partake in her public Worflrip, aud to join with her in a public Observance of the positive Institutions of Jejiis Christ. The inward Advantages belonging to Christians are those powerful Assistances of the Holy Spirit, which our Lord himself has graciously promised to his own peculiar Flock and People. Both the one and the other are Means of Grace, that is Means of Improvement in Christian Virtue, and indeed receive their whole Value from this single Consideration.— By what Rules, and in what Measures the Spirit of God is communicated to Believers, and how large a Share of Faith is requisite to entitle us to it; arc Points neither easy, nor needful to be determined. If we apply to the Scriptures, we shall only meet with general Declarations; if we apply to Reason, we shall soon be convinced, that these Things are entirely out of her Province —I shall only, therefore, consider the Faith of a Christian, as it is F 4 relative