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caftaways; or to recover us to repentance, when we have fallen; or to fortify us against compliance in the hour of temptation. Thus we collect that faith is the principle of a christian under all events, and in every condition of humane life; bleffed are they that have not feen, and yet believe. Wherefore

It is ordained to govern all our thoughts, words, and actions, with a regard to another world; and by a firm perfwafion of abfent and invifible things; as the belief of a God, and his providence, his invifible grace, efpecially when in all our ways we have a regard to the promises of everlafting life, and the threatnings of eternal mifery; as the apoftle has largely proved by many examples, in the xith chapter to the Hebrews.

Yet,

For what

As to the objects of faith, they are fitted to work reafons. upon our minds on the account of their certainty and importance. We have all the affurance of the truth of them that we are capable of in this life, from the dictates of reafon, and the general consent of mankind; befides that, to affure us thefe reafonings are true, we have a moft credible revelation of these things in the gofpel of our Saviour; who gave a fenfible proof of his divine miffion in his refurrection from the dead. And,

As to the importance of them, every one muft own, that the highest hopes and the greatest fears, are fufficient fprings of humane actions; for what can concern us more than eternal happiness and eternal mifery? And,

Of hope.

VI. Thus we may obferve, that faith in God through Jefus Chrift, includes our obedience to his laws, and produceth in the heart of a fincere and true believer, an humble hope in his promises, which may be improved into a strong reliance and dependence upon the truth and goodness of the Lord, for his performance of thofe things promised on his part, which is a condition of our acceptance with him. So that an humble hope, the effect of faith, is a proper homage to God upon the foot of his infallible truth, that he neither can be mistaken himself, nor is under any temptation to deceive us. Whatever he fays, must be true, and accordingly claims our firm hope and dependence, tho* we can have no other evidence for it befides his testimony

tho

tho' we may not be able to account for the manner of it, or to folve every difficulty that may arife in the mind against it. We should indeed be very careful, that we have the teftimony of God to fupport our hope, that we have ufed the the best means in our power, both natural and appointed, to understand God's meaning: when we have done this, it is an effential branch of true godlinefs to believe and hope upon the fole authority of God, which are the only means to guard us against those two pernicious extreams, prefumption and defpair, which interrupt or destroy this duty. Therefore tho' the apostle has taught in general to hope all things, we must watch our own corruption, and not fuffer it to rely too much upon our own strength. For,

It's use.

VII. We are guilty of great prefumption, when we neglect thofe means of grace, which are established Prefumption. in order to enable us to perform our duty: When we rafhly run ourselves into temptations, prefuming upon our own ability to encounter them; and, even in those trials that the providence of God brings upon us, when we trust more to our own refolution than to his divine affiftance, and confequently remit that watchfulness and prayer, which are fo neceffary to fecure us; When we do not avoid those occafions, which by woful experience, we have found fatal to our virtue : When we are not jealous over our own hearts, and do not suspect that weakness and corruption, which makes us fo prone to be overcome when we are tempted.

This felf-confident temper often betrays us to undertake what we have neither capacity nor ability to perDangerous. form. It makes us neglect those previous meafures which are neceffary to accomplish what we defign. It teaches us by dear bought experience the frailties and infirmities of our nature. It frequently makes fhipwreck of a good confcience, and provokes God to withdraw his grace; which we lay fo little stress upon, in order to our preservation. And therefore,

To cure this fort of prefumption, we fhould confider the weaknefs and frailty of human nature, and the It's remedy. frequent inftances of it in our own conduct, and

how

Where grounded.

;

how unable we are of ourselves to do any thing that is good. To reflect upon those eminent examples that have been fatally betrayed by too great a confidence in themselves and which are fet up, as fo many marks for us to avoid those rocks upon which they split. That the praying not to be led into temptation, fuppofes not only an obligation in us to avoid dangerous occafions, but also a proneness in our nature to be overcome, when we are attacked. That the promises of God's affiftance imply, we cannot work out our falvation by our own ftrength; and that the means of grace, which are fo neceffary to fecure us, fhew that our fufficiency is of God; fuch a one hath this hope in him, that he purifieth himself even as he is pure. But he who hopeth for pardon of fins and eternal life, without that repentance and obedience, to which alone they are promised, is a prefumptuous hypocrite whose hope shall perish.

VIII. Yet we are not to be fo borne down Of despair. with our fins and mistrust the mercy of God, as to fall into the contrary fault, which is defpair. For, tho' it be true that fin is the faddeft flavery in the world; yet it must not break and fink mens spirits, and make them fo base and servile, as to deprive them of that courage neceffary to rescue themselves. And, as long custom and continuance in fin deprives us of our ftrength, fo it difcourageth our hopes, both of God's grace and affiftance, and of his mercy and forgiveness. The despair then we speak of, is a disorder which confifts in a fettled rooted perfwafion, that we shall never obtain mercy, let us do whatever we can; for it is no temper or state of mind worthy of blame, to despair of we continue in fin. Therefore,

mercy while The hope we have in God through Christ JeIt's remedy. fus is a remedy against this fin: for as by despair

the devil would perfwade a finner that he can never obtain mercy; fo God does give a certain hope of eternal glory to all that will feek for mercy by fincere repentance, and obedience through Jefus Chrift. So that though by fin we are at enmity with God, and thereby forfeit our present right; yet hope affures us, that our right to the enjoyments of heaven may be regained, if we will forfake the evil of our ways,

and

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and in earnest seek for falvation through the merits of the crucified Jefus. How then can a rational creature give up his reafon, fo far as to give himself up for loft, when the God that made him, and is to reward or punish him, doth promise his mercy to as many as will change their evil course of life? Yet, IX. Though faith and hope on the plaineft evidence are reasonable and neceffary duties to God; we may not, we must not ftop here; for, we must love God fincerely and affectionately: because all the reasons for the loving any object or thing in this world, do more forcibly recommend to us the love of God. This fupposes an apprehenfion of God as most amiable and good; for we love any thing under that notion: and God deferves our highest love, as being fupremely good. He is in himself moft excellent, fit to be our chief happiness, and hath actually fhewn himself our best friend; upon all which accounts our beft love is due to him. There fhould be the highest esteem and veneration for God, as he is in himself poffeffed of all poffible excellencies. We feel ourselves ready to esteem real worth, when we see it, even though we are not ourselves, direct gainers by it: we secretly value a man of steady virtue, a publick benefactor, a wife and a good prince, though we are not like to be the better for him ourselves, and have no knowledge of him, but by fame or history. And,

Upon what

Love of

God.

If we love and efteem a worthy man, fhall we not have the highest veneration for that bleffed being, who is light, and in whom there is no darkness at all? in whom all excellencies meet together, without any mixture or alloy, and without a poffibility of lofing them. His goodness and excellency tarnishes all the beauty and excellence of creatures; there is none good, but one, that is God: because he is good in such a sense, as none can be acknowledged good befides. He alone is perfectly, originally, neceffarily, and unchangeably good; he has every excellence in the highest degree; almighty power, unerring wisdom, infinite goodness, unblemished truth, fpotlefs holiness; every thing fit to raise the wonder, and engage the delight of men and angels. His glory fhines out in the works of creation and providence, and fo

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is laid open to every eye: and in the work of our redemption it is further manifefted to us fo, as eye hath not feen before, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man. And,

Tho' feveral of the divine attributes are awful, yet goodness only is amiable; and without it nothing else is fo. Power and wifdom may command dread and admiration, yet nothing but goodnefs can challenge our love and affection. Goodnefs is amiable for itself, though no benefit and advantage fhould from thence redound to us: but when we find the comfortable effects of it, when the riches of God's goodnefs, and long-suffering, and forbearance are laid out upon us, when we live upon that goodness, and are indebted to it, for all that we have and hope; this is a much greater endearment to us of that excellency and perfection, which was amiable for itself. We cannot but love him, who is good, and does us good; whofe goodness extends to all his creatures, and is exercised in fo peculiar a manner towards the sons of men, that it is called LOVE; and if God vouchsafes to love us, well may this be the first and great commandment, thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy foul, and with all thy ftrength. Moreover,

If we love him entirely, nothing that he comIt's power. mands will be grievous to us; nay, fo far from that, that the greatest pleasure we are capable of, will be to please him. Nothing is difficult to love. It will make a man deny himself, and crofs his own inclinations, to pleafure them whom he loves. It is a paffion of a strange power, where it reigns, and will cause a man to fubmit to those things with delight, which in other circumstances would feem grievous to him. Jacob ferved for Rachel seven years, and after that seven years more; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. Did but the love of God rule in our hearts, and had we as much real affection for him as fome men have for their friends, there are no fuch difficulties in religion but what fuch a love would conquer, and the fevereft parts of it would become eafy, when they were once undertaken by a willing mind. God's goodness is a powerful motive and argument to the love of God, and this is the most

proper

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