« PreviousContinue »
besides this outward Evidence, which Volume the Spirit of God gives to the truth of XII.
the Gospel, with respect to which, the Faith of the Gospel is in a peculiar manner attributed to the Spirit of God; there is likewise an inward Efficacy and Operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men. Therefore,
Secondly, Faith is in a peculiar manner attributed to the Spirit of God in respect of the inward Efficacy and O. peration of the Divine Spirit upon the hearts and minds of those who sincerely and effectually believe and entertain the Gospel; I say who fincerely and effectually believe and entertain the Gospel; that is, who fo believe and entertain the Gospel as to obey it, and comply with it in their hearts and lives. For I doubt not but that there is so much Evidence for the Truth and Divine Authority of the Gospel, as is in it self sufficient, without any peculiar Operation of the Spirit of God, to silence all opposers, and to convince them fo far as that they cannot have any fufficient reason to
disbelieve it: but withal,I do not think, that this Faith doth become an abi-Sermon ding and effectual perswasion in any Person, without the special Operation of the Holy Ghost. Now that the Spirit of God can work this effectual Perswasion in the mind of Man, cannot be doubted by any Man who considers the vast power and influence which the Spirit of God, who made our Souls, and knows the Frame of them, can have upon the mind of Man: all the difficulty is about the manner of it; how this Faith is wrought in us by the Spirit of God. Now altho’ it were sufficient for us to know the thing, tho’ we were ignorant of the manner how it is done, and we might very well rest satisfied in this; that the Spirit of God works this, Faith in us, tho' we did not know how it does it; yet because many have taken upon them to state and determine the particular manner how it is done, it will be requisite, in order to the rectifying fome mistakes about it, to enquire more particularly into this matter.
Now all the ways that have been XII.
assigned, or which, I think, we can easily imagine, may be reduced to one of these fix heads. When we say the Spirit of God works Faith in us, we must conceive it to be done some or all of these ways.
1. By strengthning the Faculty, that is, raising and enabling our understanding to yield assent to the Gospel. Or,
2. By enlightning and discovering the Object, that is, the conclusion to be believed.
3. By propounding to us the Arguments, or Evidence whereby we may be perswaded of it. Or,
4. By holding our minds intent upun this Evidence, till it have wrought its Effect upon us. Or,
5. By removing the Impediments which hinder our assent. Or,
6. By farthering and helping for-Sermon ward the Efficacy of this Perswasion V. upon our Hearts and Lives. That the Spirit can work Faith in us, any, or all these ways, so far as they are consistent with one another, I make not the least doubt. For what Man who believes the infinite Power of the Divine Spirit, can make the least questi, on, whether it can raise and heighten our Faculties above their natural and ordinary pitch? or whether it can difcover an Object to us, with the greateft clearness and satisfaction? or whether it can offer to our minds the best Arguments, and the highest Evidence that a thing is capable of? or whether it can hold our minds intent upon the consideration of any thing? or whether it can remove all hinderances and impediments ? or whether it can make the perswasion of any
truth efhi fectual? No Man in reason can doubt
of the possibility of these. But the
question is, what reason we have to ☆ allert this, or that particular manner?
and what necefsity, and convenience
First of all, There seems no necessity XII. of afferting the first; tho' I will not
contend with any man that shall. For if this be true, that our understandings are naturally endowed with a fufficient power to assent to any truth that is sufficiently propounded to them; then there can be no necessity to assert, that the Spirit of God doth in the work of Faith, raise and elevate our understandings above their natural pitch. But I think it may easily be proved, that our understandings are naturally endowed with a sufficient power to assent to any truth that is sufficiently propounded to them; and that in such a case nothing hinders the assent of
but their own perverseness and obstinacy, which usually proceeds from oppofition of their Lusts, or Paffions, or intereft, to the truth which is propounded to them. For if mens understandings be not naturally endowed with a sufficient power to yield afsent to the Gospel, when it is sufficiently propounded to them, how can it be mens duty to believe it? or what Justice can condemn them for unbelief? But tho'