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lawfully do it, is fin. I fhall trouble Volume you with no more Inftances.
Now this being the general Notion of Faith, that it is a Perfwafion of the Mind concerning any thing,from hence by a Metonymy it comes to be put for the Argument whereby this Perfwafion is wrought in us. Hence it is, that among the Rhetoricians rises are any kind of Argument or Proof which Orators make ufe of to perfwade men; and there is one place in the New Teftament, where is feems to be used in this fenfe, or very near it, Acts 17. 31. Because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world, &c. whereof he hath given affurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, πίςιν παραχὼν πᾶσιν, having offer d faith to all men; that is, having given us this Argument for the proof of it, that he raised Chrift from the dead.
Sometimes 'tis put for the Object of this Perfwafion, or the matter or thing whereof we are perfwaded. And thus frequently in the New Teftament, the Gofpel, which is the Object of our Faith, the thing which we believe, is call'd Faith.
Faith. And thus you find it used in M Sermon that Phrase of Obedience to the faith, that is, to the Gofpel, Acts 6.7. Rom. 1. 5. 16. 26. And in this sense Faith, that is the Gofpel, is frequently oppofed to the Difpenfation of the Law, Róm. 3. 27, 31. 10. 6. Gal. 1. 23. He that perfecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. Gal. 3. 2. the hearing of the Gospel, is call'd, the hearing of faith; ver. 23. Before faith came; and ver. 25. But after that faith is come. Eph. 4. 5. There's one faith, that is, one Gofpel, which we believe. 1 Tim. 4. 6. Nourish'd up in the word of faith and of good doctrine.
The oppofites to Faith are Unbelief and Credulity. Unbelief, which is a not being perfwaded of a thing, is the deficient extream; or doubting, if it prevail to a degree of Unbelief: and Credulity, which is an eafinefs to believe things without any probable Argument to induce our perfwafion, is the redundant extream.
The feat or fubject of Faith is the Mind, or the Heart, as the Scripture ufually calls it. With the heart man believes,
believes, that is, with the Soul: for I Volume do not understand any real diftinction XII. of Faculties; but if you will diftinguifh them, the proper feat of this perfwafion is the Understanding; the immediate effect of it is upon the Will; by which it works upon the Affections, and the Life.
And Faith in this general Notion is not opposed to Error, and Knowledge, and Opinion: but comprehends all these under it. For if a Man be perfwaded of that which is falfe, he believes a Lye, as the Scripture expreffeth it; a Man may be certainly perfwaded of a thing, that is, firmly believe it, which is Knowledge; a Man may be probably perfwaded of a thing, that is, believe it with fome diffidence and uncertainty, and that is Opinion.
But for our better understanding of this general Notion of Faith, we will take into Confideration these Four things.
I. The Cause of it, or the Argument whereby it is wrought.
II. The Degrees of it, and the difference of them.
III. The Natural Efficacy and Operation of it.
IV. The feveral Kinds of it.
I. We will confider the Cause of Faith, or the Argument whereby it is wrought. Now all the Arguments whereby Faith may be wrought in us, that is a perfwafion of any thing, will I think fall under one of these Four Heads; Senfe, Experience, Reafon drawn from the thing, or the Authority and Teftimony of fome Perfon.
1. Sense. Hence it is commonly faid that seeing is believing, that is, one of the best Arguments to perfwade us of any thing. That Faith may be wrought by this Argument, appears both from the Nature of the thing, nothing being more apt to perfwade us of any thing than our Senfes; and from feveral expreffions in Scripture. I will inftance in one for all, Joh. xx. 8.
Then went in also the other Difciple Volume into the Sepulchre, and he faw, and XII. believed. And whereas Scripture oppofeth Faith to Sight, as 2 Cor. v. 7. We walk by Faith; and not by fight; Heb. xi. 15. It is the evidence of things not feen; we are to understand that only concerning a belief of the things of another World, which are Futurities, and invifible, which the Apostle is there fpeaking of; or of things which are of the fame nature with thefe, as things paft: not but that a Man may very well be induced to believe a thing by his Senfes.
2. Experience; which tho' it may be fenfible, and then it is the fame argument with Senfe; yet fometimes it is not, and then it is an Argument diftinct from it. As for Example, a Man may by experience be perfwaded or induced to believe this Propofition, that his Will is free, that he can do this, or not do it; which is a better Argument than a Demonftration to the contrary, if there could be