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lawfully do it, is fin. I shall trouble Volume you with no more Instances. XII.
Now this being the general Notion of Faith, that it is a Perswasion of the Mind concerning any thing, from hence by a Metonymy it comes to be put for the Argument whereby this Perswasion is wrought in us. Hence it is, that among the Rhetoricians mistis are any kind of Argument or Proof which Orators make use of to perswade men; and there is one place in the New Teftament, where his seems to be used in this sense, or very near it, Acts 31. Because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world, &c. whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, πίσιν πειραχών πισιν, having offer’ά faith to all men; that is, having given us this Argument for the proof of it, that he raised Christ from the dead.
Sometimes 'tis put for the Object of this Perswalion, or the matter or thing whereof we are perswaded. And thus frequently in the New Testament, the Gospel, which is the Object of our Faith, the thing which we believe, is call'd
Faith. And thus you find it used in a that Phrase of Obedience to the faith, Sermon
I. that is, to the Gospel, Acts 6.7. Rom. 1. 5. 16. 26. And in this sense Faith, that is the Gospel, is frequently opposed to the Dispensation of the Law, Rom. 3. 27, 31. 10. 6. Gal. 1. 23. He that persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. Gal. 3. 2. the hearing of the Gospel, is callid, 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 Gospel, which we believe.
I Tim. 4.6. Nourish'd up in the word of faith and of good doctrine.
The opposites to Faith are Unbelief and Credulity. Unbelief, which is a not being perswaded of a thing, is the deficient extream; or doubting, if it prevail to a degree of Unbelief: and Credulity, which is an easiness to believe things without any probable Argument to induce our perswasion, is the redundant extream.
The seat or subject of Faith is the Mind, or the Heart, as the Scripture usually calls it. With the heart man
believes, that is, with the Soul: for I Volume do not understand any real distinction XII. of Faculties; but if you will distin
guish them, the proper seat of this perswasion 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 perswaded of that which is false, he believes a Lye, as the Scripture expresseth it; a Man
be certainly perswaded of a thing, that is, firmly believe it, which is Knowledge; a Man may be probably perswaded of a thing, that is, believe it with some diffidence and uncertainty, and that is Opinion.
But for our better understanding of this general Notion of Faith, we will take into Consideration these Four things.
1. The Cause of it, or the Argument whereby it is wrought.
II. The Degrees of it, and the dif. Sermon ference of them.
III. The Natural Efficacy and Operation of it.
IV. The several kinds of it.
I. We will consider 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 perfwasion of any thing, will I think fall under one of these Four Heads; Sense, Experience, Reafon drawn from the thing, or the Authority and Testimony of some Perfon.
1. Sense. Hence it is commonly said that seeing is believing, that is, one of the best Arguments to perswade 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 perswade us of any thing than our Senses; and from several expressions in Scripture. I will instance in one for all, Joh. xx. 8.
m Then went in also the other Disciple Volume into the Sepulchre
, and he saw, and XII. believed. And whereas Scripture op
poseth Faith to Sight, as 2 Cor. v. 7. We walk by Faith ; and not by Sight; Heb. xi. 15. It is the evidence of things not seen; we are to understand that only concerning a belief of the things of another World, which are Futurities, and invisible, which the Apostle is there speaking of; or of things which are of the same nature with these, as things past: not but that a Man
may very well be induced to believe a thing by his Senses.
2. Experience; which tho' it may be sensible, and then it is the same argument with Sense; yet sometimes it is not, and then it is an Argument distinct from it. As for Example, a Man may by experience be perswaded 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 Demonstration to the contrary, if there could be one.