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impossibility; for evidence is nothing but the perceptibility of the truth. and can we perceive that which is not perceptible ?
It is true, that evidence from Divine revelation is often without any evidence . ex natura rei :' but it may be nevertheless a fuller and more satisfying evidence.
Some say there is evidence of credibility, but not of certainty. Not of natural certainty indeed. But in Divine revelations (though not in human) evidence of credibility is evidence of certainty, because we are certain that God cannot lie.
And to say, I will believe, though without evidence of truth, is a contradiction or hypocritical self-deceit; for your will believeth not: and your understanding receiveth no truth but upon evidence that it is truth. It acteth of itself per modum naturæ,' necessarily further than it is sub imperio voluntatis ; and the will ruleth it not despotically: nor at all. quoad specificationem,' but only .quoad exercitium.' All there. fore that your will can do (which maketh faith a moral virtue), is to be free from those vicious habits and acts in itself which may hinder faith, and to have those holy dispositions and acts in itself which may help the understanding to do its proper office, which is to believe evident truth on the testimony of the revealer, because his testimony is sufficient evidence. The true meaning of a good Christian, when he saith I will believe, is, I am truly willing to believe, and a perverse will shall not hinder me, and I will not think of suggestions to the contrary. But the meaning of the formal hypocrite when he saith, I will believe, is, I will cast away all doubtful thoughts out of my mind, and I will be as careless as if I did believe, or I will believe the priest or my party, and call it believing in God. Evidence is an essentiating part of the intellect's act. As there is no act without an object, so there is no object . sub formali ratione objecti,' without evidence. Even as there is no sight but of an illustrated object, that is, a visible object.
II. The other extreme (of some of the same men) is, that yet faith is not true and certain if it have any doubtfulness with it. Strange! that these men can only see what is invisible; believe what is inevident as to its truth, that is, incredible, but also believe past all doubting, and think that the weakest true believer doth so too; Certainly there are various degrees of faith in the sincere : all have not the same strength! Christ rebuketh Peter in his fears, and his disciples all at other times, for their little faith.
* When Peter's faith failed not, it staggered, which Abraham's did not: “Lord, increase our faith," and “ Lord, I believe, help my unbelief,'' prayers approved by Christ, I will call a prevalent belief which can lay down life and all this world for Christ and the hopes of heaven, by the name of certainty, which hath various degrees. But if they differ • de nomine,' and will call nothing certainty but the highest degree, they must needs yet grant that there is true, saving faith, that reacheth to no certainty in their sense. Yea, no man on earth then attaineth to such a certainty, because that every man's faith is imperfect.
PUZZLED CHRISTIANS, FROM THE ERRORS
SOLICIT THEM TO THEIR SEVERAL PARTIES. It is the common outcry of the world, “How shall we know which side to be of? And who is in the right among so many, who all with confidence pretend to be in the right ?'
Answ. Your preservative is obvious and easy; but men usually bestow more labour and cost for error and hell, than for truth and heaven. Pre. tend not to faith or knowledge before you have it, and you are the more safe. SUSPEND your judgments till you have true evidence to establish them. 1. It is only Christians that I am now instructing; and if you are Christians, you have already received the essentials of Christianity, even the Baptismal Covenant, the Creed, the Lord’s-prayer, and Decalogue. And I need not tell you, that moreover you must receive all those truths in nature and Scripture, which are so plain, that all these dissenting sects of Christians are agreed in them. And when you have all these, and faithfully love and practise them, you are sure to be saved, if you do not afterward recieve some contrary doctrine which destroyeth them. Mark then which is the safe religion. As sure as the Gospel is true, he that is meet for baptism before God, is meet for pardon of sin ; and be that truly consenteth to the Baptismal Covenant, and so doth dedicate himself to God, is made a member of Christ, and is justified, and an heir of heaven. Your Church Catechism
saith truly of all such, that in baptism each one is made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an beir of heaven.' So that as sure as the Gospel is true, every true baptized Christian, whose love and life doth answer that faith, shall certainly be saved.
Ask all parties, and few of them but impudent designers can deny this. Well then, the Baptismal Covenant expounded in the Creed, Lord'sprayer, and Commandments is your Christian Religion. As a Christian you may and shall be saved : that a true Christian is saved, all confess. But whether a Papist be saved, is questioned by the Protestants; and so is the salvation of many other sects by others. You are safe then if you take in nothing to endanger you. And is it not wisdom then to take heed how you go further, and on what grounds, lest you overrun your safe religion ?
Object. But then I must not be a Protestant, for the Papists say, that they cannot be saved.'
Answ. A Protestant is either one that holdeth to the ancient, simple Christianity without the Paptists' manifold additions ; or one that positively also renounceth and opposeth those addi. tions. In the first sense, a Protestant and a mere Christian is all one: and so to say, that a Protestant cannot be saved, is to say, that a Christian as such cannot be saved. If it be the mere name of a Protestant that the Papist accounteth damnable, tell him that you will not stick with him for the name: you are contented with the old name of Christian alone.
But Protestantism in the second sense is not your religion, but the defensative of your religion ; as flying from the plague is not my humanity or life, but a means to preserve it. And so Protestants are of many sizes : some oppose some points, and some others; some more, some less, which the Papists have brought in: and yet they are not of so many religions.
But whoever condemneth you, if Christ save you, he doth but condemn himself as uncharitable. Christianity is certainly a state of salvation; but whether Popery be, or whether the Greek opinions be, or whether this or that difference and singularity stand with salvation, is the doubt. Cast not yourself then needlessly into doubt and danger.
Object. But then you will have us be still but infants, and to learn no more than our Catechisms, and not to learn and believe all that God hath revealed in his word.'
Answ. No such matter. This is the sum of what I advise you to.
1. Hold fast to your simple Christianity as the certain terms of salvation : 2. Receive nothing that is against : 3. Learn as much more as ever you can : 4. But take not men's words, nor their plausible talk for certifying evidence; and do not think if you believe a priest, that this is believing God: nor if his reasons seem plausible to you, and you are of his opinion, that this is Divine knowledge. do incline to one man's opinion more than another, tell him that you incline to his opinion, but tell him that you take not this for Divine knowledge, or any part of your religion. If you will needs believe one side rather than another, about Church History, or the matters of their parties'