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On Faith, Benevolence, &c.
Being a Farewel SERMON preached in
Twickenham-Chapel, June 20. 1742 ; and published at the Request of the Audience.
1 Timothy I. 19.
Holding Faith, and a good Conscience.
T H IS being the last Time, that I Serm.III.
shall speak to you in the Capaci
ty, which I now bear, of your Preacher and Minister ; I have chosen these Words, the Advice of St. Paul to Timothy, as containing the Sum and Substance of our Duty. In discoursing upon which, I shall throw together some few Thoughts; i
Ift, Upon Faith,
Serm.III. III dly, Take my Leave of you, with a
short Address to you,
I. The first Point is, that you would seriously consider the strong Evidences of your Faith ; Evidences so strong, that he would be deemed a Madman, who was not determined by much less in his secular Affairs. If any one should go about to disprove the Conquests of Alexander, he would be thought not to be in his found Mind : And yet there are much stronger Proofs for the Reality of the Miracles recorded in Scripture, and particularly in the New Testament; than there are for the Victories of Alexander, or even for the Being of such a Man.
Let it no more stagger your Faith, that there are so great a Number of Unbelievers; than it ought to influence your Practice, that there are so great a Number of wicked Men. Besides, you may be deceived, by mistaking second Qualities for first. A Propensity to think out of the common Road, may be by no Means the leading Quality among those that are stiled Unbelievers : It may bé only a secondary one, and subservient to a primary Defire, that of being in the Fashion. Those very Men, who now
affect to be thought Unbelievers, might, Serm. II. probably, if they had lived in the Times of the Grand Rebellion, have set up for
Saints : Because a reputed Sanctity was as • much the Mode of that Age, as Infidelity
is of this. There is a Torrent of Opinions peculiar to almost every Age: Men of light unbalanced Minds, like light Matter, are borne down by the Current ; and Men of folid Sense do not always meet with the Success, which they deserve, in stemming and opposing it. - The Principles of Chriftianity may be oụt of Fashion: But what they want in the Fashion, they make up in Weight, Solidity, and intrinsic Worth.
For one, that has been made a Proselyte to Deism, by Reading, Thinking and Studying, there are Multitudes, who become so by Conversation with those, who have no Way of keeping themselves in Countenance, but by discountenancing Religion. And what Wonder is it, that Persons should be laughed out of Religion, who never read foned themselves into it? A Man in his younger Years must be well-disposed, and of a serious thinking Turn, to converse at large, and yet continue a Christian: But if he be of a serious Turn, and impartially VOL. II. ; F.
Serm. III. weigh the numerous Proofs for it, he can
not but continue a Christian. For Christianity has too many and strong Appearances of Truth, for any, who deliberately and unbiassedly attends to them, to believe it an Imposture. It has been lifted as Wheat : And the Consequence is, that some few triAling Considerations, which had been formerly alledged in Favour of it, have been set aside, like the Chaft, which the Wind scattereth away from the Face of the Earth; but it's solid and substantial Arguments, like the good Seed, fall not to the Ground, but remain firm, without any debasing Mixtures.
To reject Christianity, because of the Difficulties with which it's Doctrines are attended; is to reject it as false for that, which seems to be an Argument of it's Truth. I will explain myself immediately. Christianity, supposing it's Truth, is a Revelation from God. — A Revelation from God must contain something of the Nature, Will and Counsels of God, as far as they relate to us.—Now the Will, Counfels and Nature of an infinite Being, must be, in a great measure, unsearchable to, and incomprehensible by, Beings of such a scanty Pittance of Understanding, as we have.-That is, they must be encumbered Serm. III. with infuperable Difficulties. To object Difficulties then against Christianity, is to make that an Argument against the Truth of Christianity, which Christianity, suppo hing it's Truth, must, in the Nature of the Thing, be attended with. The united Force of Unbelievers has never been able to invalidate the feveral Arguments that have been brought to prove the Truth of Revelation ; and while these prove it to be true, Difficulties cannot alter the Nature of Things; they cannot make that to be false, for the Truth of which we have forcible Proofs.
Listen not therefore to the Suggestions of designing Men. Under a Pretence of banishing your Apprehensions of a future Judgment, they will only dash your Hopes, and weaken your Expectations of a blessed Immortality; alarming those very Apprehenfions, which they promised to remove, by adding to your other Terrors, this new Fear, which will continually haunt you ; a Fear, left you have finned in dismissing your first Persuasion for very flight and frivolous Reasons. There may be several, who have just Sense enough to see there