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SERM. And then, on the other side: if you did really believe
that there is such a place in the world as we call Heaven ; a place of nothing but joy and comfort, of real pleasure and delight; a place as free from misery, and as full of happiness, as it is possible for us to desire; and that every soul here present, in and through Christ, may come to this place, and enjoy it for ever, so as never to feel any pain, or take any care more, but always to live as happily as he can wish to do :-did you, I say, really and firmly believe this, would not you all desire to come to so glorious, so blessed a place as this is ? Nay, would not you so desire it as to make it your constant business in this world to get thither? Would you think any duty too great to undertake, or any misery too heavy to undergo, or any thing too dear to part
withal for such a place as this? and if ye believed also that [Heb. 12. " without holiness no man shall ever see God,” nor come to
this place of rest, could you give any sleep to your eyes, or slumber to your eyelids, until your sins are subdued, and your souls sanctified by the grace of God? I do not think ye could. For a full persuasion and assurance of such transcendant happiness as this, must needs deaden your affections to all things else, and quicken them so towards Heaven, that your minds would never be quiet, nor your souls at rest, but whilst you are looking after it, and walking in the narrow path that leads unto it.
I might instance in several other particulars of the like nature, yea, in any thing that the Gospel treats or speaks of. But these may be sufficient to fix this great truth upon your spirits, that it is nothing but infidelity and unbelief in them
that hear it that makes the Gospel so unprofitable unto [Luke 13. them: for did you really believe, that “except you repent, 3.]
you must all perish,” you would not continue in your sins. Did you believe that whatsoever good things you asked, you might have them, you could not forbear asking: did you believe that God is always with you, and sees you, you would not dare to do any thing to offend Him: did you believe, that if you served God in the first place, He would provide all necessaries for you, you would not trouble your heads about any thing but how to serve God: did you believe that God will examine all your actions in the world to
come, you durst not but conform them to His laws in this : did you believe that the wicked shall be miserable and the righteous happy to eternity, you could not but endeavour to live as righteously as possibly you can in time. And, therefore, until you frame your lives according to the commands of the Gospel, whatsoever you may fancy to yourselves, you do not really believe it. I say it again, you do not really believe the Gospel, whatsoever profession you make of it, whatsoever pretences you make unto it, howsoever zealous you are in its behalf, you have no more real and true faith in it, than they that never heard of it. For true faith in the Gospel is quite another thing than the world is apt to imagine it; the Apostle tells us, “ This is the victory that 1 John, 5. overcometh the world, even our faith ;” and “ who is he*, D. that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God," as you read 1 John, v. 4,5.
From whence you may observe, that faith in Christ and His Gospel, is such a victorious grace that it conquers and overcomes all this world. For by faith we may clearly see into the vanity of all things here below, and the glory and excellency of those things that are above; so as to trample upon and despise the highest overtures that this world can make us, looking upon them as nothing, as less than nothing, in comparison of what is purchased and prepared for us by Jesus Christ in the world to come. And so there is a strong power and efficacy in true faith, so great, as he which hath it cannot but act according to it. And therefore we may conclude, that where a man doth not live up to the Gospel, it is most certain he doth not believe it.
Thus, therefore, you see the reason why the Word preached doth so seldom profit, even because it is not mixed with faith in them that hear it. Men hear the Gospel preached, but they do not really, they do not firmly believe it: for if they did, there wonld be no complaining in our streets of injustice and oppression; in our state, of sedition and rebellion; nor in our Church, of schism and faction; but all amongst us, having the Gospel so clearly dispensed to them, would soon become real and true Christians, eminent in their religion, justice, and charity, and in all graces and virtues whatsoever. Which, therefore, that you may all be,
SERM. let me advise you to begin here but to do that which ye all
profess, even to believe the Gospel. And let me tell you, there is nothing in the world that you have or can have more, no, nor so much ground to believe, as you have to believe it: for you have the infallible Word and Testimony of Almighty God Himself for it; and that too confirmed with many real and undoubted miracles, wrought on purpose to strengthen your faith in it; which, if seriously weighed, cannot but convince any sober, unprejudiced, and considerative person of the truth and certainty of it. And yet it is strange to consider what a rare thing it is to find a man that truly believes it. But this also adds to the confirmation
of it, it being no more than what was foretold by Christ Luke 18.8. Himself, saying, “ When the Son of Man cometh, shall He
find faith on the earth ?” Whence it seems, He did not only question, but foresaw at that time, that at His second coming He should find but little or no faith upon earth. And verily I fear, that if He should come now, He would find but very little faith amongst us. I speak not this to censure or discourage any of you, but to excite you all to a greater diligence, in using all means to confirm your faith, without which it will be in vain for me to preach, or you to hear. And, therefore, as you desire not to mispend your time in coming to hear the Gospel preached, but to be profited by what you hear, be sure to come with faith ; and to that end study all means imaginable to get your faith confirmed in the Gospel.
But then, you will say, How may we do that? Why, Eph. 2. 8. faith, you know," is the gift of God," and therefore you
must go to Him for it. And, being sensible of the greatness of your unbelief, or at least of the weakness of your faith,
beg of Him Whose gift it is, to bestow it upon you, praying Luke 17. 5. with the Apostles, “ Lord increase our faith," and humbly
confiding, that in and through Christ He will hear your
prayers; wait upon Him for His answer in His holy ordinRom. 10.17. ances; for, as the Apostle tells you, “ Faith cometh by
hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” So that, although the Word cannot profit us without faith, yet faith is ordinarily produced and confirmed in us by it; not by bare coming to hear a sermon, but by considering and meditating
upon what you hear, and upon the grounds you have to believe it: which, by degrees, will strangely confirm you in the belief of it; by which means you will soon learn the art of mixing what you hear with faith. And then you will find hearing the Word of God to be quite another thing from what it was heretofore : and it will make such impressions upon you, that you will soon excel and outstrip others both in your piety and devotions towards God, and likewise in your charity and justice to one another. And then you will live like Christians indeed ; and so believe in Christ now as to enjoy Him for ever.
SALVATION WHOLLY OWING TO FAITH IN CHRIST.
Acts, xvi. 31.
And they said [unto him,] Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
If you and I did but seriously bethink ourselves at this time, what we are, and what we have been ; what filth we contracted by coming through the loins of our sinful parents, and what actual transgressions we have added to our original pollution ; did we but recollect ourselves, and consider how many, and what great offences we have committed against the eternal God, since we received our beings from Him, how should we blush and be ashamed in His presence ! How should we abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes before Him! For we are all but as so many guilty malefactors, here assembled before the Judge of the whole world, guilty of transgressing His laws, and abusing His mercies, guilty of profaning His Sabbaths, and blaspheming His Name, guilty of the highest treason imaginable, even of actual rebellion against the universal Monarch, the supreme Lord and Governor of Heaven and earth; insomuch, that should He now enter into judgment with us, should He deal with us after our sins, and reward us according to our iniquities, He might justly condemn and frown us all out of the place we are in, into everlasting misery and torment.
Neither is this the condition only of some few persons amongst us, for we have all sinned ; we were all born in sin, and have lived in sin ; high and low, rich and poor, old and