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he expects we should attend with an im- Serm. partial and unprejudiced mind (which is VIIthe proper Duty of Rational Creatures,) Lr>rv' to the Light he thinks fit to afford us. Why, even of yourselves, fays our Saviour, judge ye not what is right? Luk. xii. $j. They who do thus judge; who, with a mind desirous to do the Will of God, receive and embrace the doctrine of Truth j not carelefly, credulously, and implicitly; but with reason, with examination, with attention, with such impartial consideration and inquiry, as enables men to find (by observation and care) what Others are blind to, and to be ready always to give a reason of the Hope that is in them; These are the persons, whom the Scripture commends for their Faith; for having the Virtue of Faith j in opposition to the Vice of Infidelity, and to the Folly of Credulity. For, we walk by Faith, not by Sight, z Cor. v, 7. by a, rational perfwafion, not by Necejfity; Seeing (as St Paul elegantly describes itj Seeing) through a glass (through a defirying-glass) darkly, ^^ 1 Cor. xiii. j2. not beholding, as in a glass L 3 (as
S E R M. (as in * a looking-glass,) with open face, 2 Cor. iii. 18. And This is That which
• %ir**\» makes Faith and Hope to be Virtues; For Hope that is seen, is not Hope j for, what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we fee not, then do we with patience wait for it, Rom. viii. 25. The God of Nature, in whom we live and move and have our Being, and who is not far from every one of us, is not vijible to mortal eyes: But the Light of Nature affords reasonable men, very great Arguments to believe and trust in him; And This, is a commendable and well-grounded Faith. For Faith is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen: And the commendation of Moses's patience in Egypt, before God's revealing them himself to him, was, that he indured, as seeing him who'is invisible, Heb, xi. 27. The Evidences of natural reason and of the most demonstrable Truths, do not force themselves upon All men; But to the impartial and attentive, to the unprejudiced and confiderate> they appear in their fyll Strength;
and, for That reason, 'tis an Act of Vir- Sum. tue to be guided by them. For the same ^*reason, in matters of Revelation likewise; Blessed, says our Saviour, are they that have not seen, and yet have believed, Job.. xx. 29. That is: Not, they who are credulous, and believe without reason; but they who, like the Bereans, are convinced of the Truth by Searching into the grounds of it. The Trial of whose Faith, faith St Peter, will be found unto Praise and Honour and Glory at the appearing ofjesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though Now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. i. 7. This is the character the Scripture gives us of the Virtue of Faith, and the commendation of those who are eminent for having it. On the contrary, they who by prejudices and vicious inclinations are prevented from searching after the Truth, and, instead of attending to and examining what is Right, seek rather for Cavils industriously to evade the evidence and conviction of itj these are the persons L 4 whom
S E R M. whom the Scripture with the greatest: fe* VII- verity condemns for their infidelity, as be-r
<-rV%(J ing an evil and adulterous generation. The uncircumciston which is by nature, faith St Paul, if it fulfil the Law, stall it not judge thee, who by the letter and circumcijion dost transgress the Law? Rom ii. 27.
Mat. xii. And our Saviour; The men of Nineveh, il~ fays he, Jhall rife in judgment with this generation, and Jhall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and behold a greater than Jonas is here. Persons thus resisting the Truth, our Lord, after the first and second admonition, rejected; and refused to give them any further Signs: and commanded his Disciples in like manner, to stake ost the dust of their feet for a testimony against them, and not continue to cast their pearls before swine. God had dealt with the Jews of old, after the fame manner: PJ. lxxxi. 12. My people would no( hear my voice, and Israel would not obey me; So I gave them up unto their own hearts lusts, and let them follow their own imaginations. And to men in future Ages, who shall
"be be found of the same temper, the Scrip-Sirm. ture threatens that God, in just anger, *& shall even send them strong delusion, that ^v^J they may believe a Lye, 2 Th. ii. 11. The JZffeSl of mens being in this manner given up for their Abusing the divine patience, is thus expressed by the Psalmist. Ps lxxviii. 60. When God heard this, he was fivroth, and took fore displeasure at Israel: $0 that he forsook the tabernacle in Silo, even the Tent that be had pitched among men: He delivered their power into captivity, and their beauty into the enemy's band: He gave his people also over unto the sword, and was wroth with his inheritance. And by our Saviour in his affectionate lamentation over Jerusalem, Matt, xxiii, 37, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killejl the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto thee! How osten would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Baehold, your house is left unto you desolate.