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kindness to me, or traffic with me. Forgive me all those
Lord, sanctify and forgive all, that I have tempted to evil by my discourse or my example: instruct them in the right way, whom I have led to error, and let me never run further on the score of sin: but do thou blot out all the evils, I have done, by the spunge of thy passion, and the blood of thy cross; and give me a deep and an excellent repentance, and a free and a gracious pardon, that thou mayest answer for me, O Lord, and enable me to stand upright in judgment; for in thee, O Lord, have I trusted; let me never be confounded. Pity me and instruct me, guide me and support me, pardon me and save me, for my sweet Saviour, Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
A Prayer for Patron and Benefactors.
O Almighty God, thou fountain of all good, of all excellency both to men and angels, extend thine abundant favour and loving kindness to my patron, to all my friends and benefactors: reward them and make them plentiful recompence for all the good, which, from thy merciful providence, they have conveyed unto me. Let the light of thy countenance shine upon them, and let them never come into any affliction or sadness, but such as may be an instrument of thy glory and their eternal comfort. Forgive them all their sins; let thy Divinest Spirit preserve them from all deeds of darkness. Let thy ministering angels guard their persons from the violence of the spirits of darkness. And thou, who knowest every degree of their necessity by thy infinite wisdom, give supply to all their needs by thy glorious mercy, preserving
their persons, sanctifying their hearts, and leading them in the ways of righteousness, by the waters of comfort, to the land of eternal rest and glory, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
OF CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
RELIGION, in a large sense, doth signify the whole duty of man, comprehending in it justice, charity, and sobriety: because all these being commanded by God, they become a part of that honour and worship, which we are bound to pay to him. And thus the word is used in St. James, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." But, in a more restrained sense, it is taken for that part of duty, which particularly relates to God in our worshippings and adoration of him, in confessing his excellences, loving his person, admiring his goodness, believing his word, and doing all that, which may, in a proper and direct manner, do him honour. It contains the duties of the first table only; and so it is called godliness", and is by St. Paul distinguished from justice and sobriety. In this sense I am now to explicate the parts of it.
James i. 27.
Of the internal actions of Religion.
Those I call the internal actions of religion, in which the soul only is employed, and ministers to God in the special actions of faith, hope, and charity. Faith believes the revelations of God: hope expects his promises: and charity loves his excellences and mercies. Faith gives us understanding to God: hope gives up all the passions and affections to heaven and heavenly things: and charity gives the will to the service of God. Faith is opposed to infidelity, hope to despair, charity to enmity and hostility: and these three sanctify the whole man, and make our duty to God and
a Tit. ii. 12.
obedience to his commandments to be chosen, reasonable, and delightful, and therefore to be entire, persevering, and universal.
The acts and offices of Faith are,
1. To believe every thing, which God hath revealed to us: and, when once we are convinced, that God hath spoken it, to make no further inquiry, but humbly to submit; ever remembering, that there are some things, which our understanding cannot fathom, nor search out their depth.
2. To believe nothing concerning God, but what is honourable and excellent, as knowing that belief to be no honouring of God, which entertains of him any dishonourable thoughts. Faith is the parent of charity; and whatsoever faith entertains, must be apt to produce love to God: but he, that believes God to be cruel or unmerciful, or a rejoicer in the unavoidable damnation of the greatest part of mankind, or that he speaks one thing and privately means another, thinks evil thoughts concerning God, and such, as for which we should hate a man, and therefore are great enemies of faith, being apt to destroy charity. Our faith concerning God must be, as himself hath revealed and described his own excellences: and, in our discourses, we must remove from him all imperfection, and attribute to him all excellency.
3. To give ourselves wholly up to Christ, in heart and desire, to become disciples of his doctrine with choice (besides conviction), being in the presence of God but as idiots, that is, without any principles of our own to hinder the truth of God; but sucking in greedily all that God hath taught us, believing it infinitely, and loving to believe it. For this is an act of love, reflected upon faith; or an act of faith, leaning upon love.
4. To believe all God's promises, and that whatsoever is promised in Scripture, shall, on God's part, be as surely per
b Demus, Deum aliquid posse, quod nos fateamur investigare non posse. St. Aug. 1. xxi. c. 7. de Civitat.
formed, as if we had it in possession. This act makes us to rely upon God with the same confidence, as we did on our parents, when we were children, when we made no doubt, but whatsoever we needed, we should have it, if it were in their power.
5. To believe also the conditions of the promise, or that part of the revelation, which concerns our duty. Many are apt to believe the article of remission of sins, but they believe it, without the condition of repentance, or the fruits of holy life: and that is to believe the article otherwise, than God intended it. For the covenant of the gospel is the great object of faith, and that supposes our duty to answer his grace; that God will be our God, so long as we are his people. The other is not faith, but flattery.
6. To profess publickly the doctrine of Jesus Christ, openly owning whatsoever he hath revealed and commanded, not being ashamed of the word of God, or of any practices enjoined by it; and this, without complying with any man's interest, not regarding favour, nor being moved with good words, not fearing disgrace, or loss, or inconvenience, or death itself.
7. To pray without doubting, without weariness, without faintness, entertaining no jealousies or suspicions of God, but being confident of God's hearing us, and of his returns to us, whatsoever the manner or the instance be, that, if we do our duty, it will be gracious and merciful.
These acts of faith are, in several degrees, in the servants of Jesus; some have it but as a grain of mustard-seed; some grow up to a plant; some have the fulness of faith: but the least faith, that is, must be a persuasion so strong, as to make us undertake the doing of all that duty, which Christ built upon the foundation of believing. But we shall best discern the truth of our faith by these following signs. St. Jerome reckons three",
Signs of true Faith.
1. An earnest and vehement prayer: for it is impossible, we should heartily believe the things of God and the glories of the gospel, and not most importunately desire them. For
Dial. adver. Lucif.
every thing is desired according to our belief of its excel lency and possibility.
2. To do nothing for vain-glory, but wholly for the interests of religion, and these articles we believe; valuing not at all the rumours of men, but the praise of God, to whom, by faith, we have given up all our intellectual faculties.
3. To be content with God for our judge, for our patron, for our Lord, for our friend; desiring God to be all in all to us, as we are, in our understanding and affections, wholly his.
Add to these;
4. To be a stranger upon earth in our affections, and to have all our thoughts and principal desires fixed upon the matters of faith, the things of heaven. For, if a man were adopted heir to Cæsar, he would (if he believed it real and effective) despise the present, and wholly be at court in his father's eye; and his desires would outrun his swiftest speed, and all his thoughts would spend themselves in creating ideas and little fantastic images of his future condition. Now God hath made us heirs of his kingdom, and coheirs with Jesus: if we believed this, we would think, and affect, and study accordingly. But he, that rejoices in gain, and his heart dwells in the world, and is espoused to a fair estate, and transported with a light momentary joy, and is afflicted with losses, and amazed with temporal persecutions, and esteems disgrace or poverty in a good cause to be intolerable; this man either hath no inheritance in heaven, or believes none; and believes not, that he is adopted to be the son of God, the heir of eternal glory.
5. St. James's sign is the best: "Shew me thy faith by thy works." Faith makes the merchant diligent and venturous, and that makes him rich. Ferdinando, of Arragon, believed the story told him by Columbus, and therefore he furnished him with ships, and got the West Indies by his faith in the undertaker. But Henry the Seventh, of England, believed him not; and therefore trusted him not with shipping, and lost all the purchase of that faith. It is told us by Christ," He that forgives, shall be forgiven :" if we believe this, it is certain we shall forgive our enemies; for none of us all but need and desire to be forgiven. No man can possibly despise, or refuse to desire, such excellent glo