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to waver in our faith of such a religion, and to withhold our assent from its
precepts; but when we clearly perceive that the sole tendency of Christ's religion is to promote peace and harmony in the moral system, to render our passage through this life comfortable, and present us with the most cheering prospect of a world of happiness to come, surely, instead of raising doubts in our minds, this consideration should strengthen our faith in a doctrine so flattering to our wishes, and confirm the other sanctions of historical evidence and confidence in the opinions and reports of others. It has all the qualities requisite to establish faith in our hearts ; it is agreeable to our reason, though some of the more mysterious parts are above our comprehension—it is agreeable to all our nos tions of the power, wisdom, and merciful goodness of the great Creator.
Before I conclude this examination of
the true meaning and extent of the religious faith that is required of us, it is proper to observe, that we must not confound matters of faith with matters of opinion ;-our belief, happily free from the numerous errors and clouds of darkpess that obscure the faith of
us, is in the unerring God alone, not in fallible man, mortal like ourselves, and of course, like us liable to err. There are several passages dispersed throughout the writings of the Apostles, which have afforded argument and opened a field of ingenuity amongst the learned of the different sects into which our holy religion is unhappily divided; but they are in general mere matters of opinion, and not substantial articles of faith--mysteries, which had better remain buried in impenetrable darkness, than be dragged forth to raise pious scruples in weak minds, and stagger that faith they attempt to confirm.
Genuine christianity requires not the belief of propositions that contradictor are above the reach of reason. Christ required no such belief from those who were willing to be his disciples ;-he says, 66 He that believeth on me hath everlast“ ing life;" but no where does he say, He that believeth not every word contained in the Old Testament, which was then extant, or every word in the New Testament which was afterwards to be written for the instruction of future gene. rations, hath not everlasting life.
The doctrine of the Trinity, as it is laid down in the Athanasian Creed, has been cavilled at frequently, and afforded matter of doubt to weak minds, and even of ridicule to the scoffers of our holy religion ; but where is the difficulty attending this mystery? or what is the faith required of us in this point, to believe that there are three Beings someway united in the divine essence, but in what manner this union is formed is not explained to us, nor is it necessary we should perplex our imaginations in the attempt to conceive it, because no information could enable us to comprehend these mysteries; not to know them, argues no defect in the human understanding, nor would the knowledge of them make us better Christians or better men. Our faith then, and the tenets of our holy religion, while we adhere to them, are pure and simple, and open to every capacity. That pure faith let us preserve inviolable, unshaken by the weak arguments of unbelievers, and untainted with the superstition of any
other religious sect.
Having dwelt so long upon this necessary point, the establishment of our faith, upon which the two other virtues recommended in the text particularly rely, the explanation of them must form the sub
ject of a separate discourse, I shall conclude this with exhorting you in the words of St. Paul, “ Hast thou faith, have it to • thyself before God;if thou shalt con66 fess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and u shalt believe in thine heart that God “ hath raised him from the dead, thou 66 shalt be saved; for with the heart, man 66 believeth unto righteousness, and with " the mouth confession is made unto sal66 vation.” That we may hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, and ever be able to give an account of the faith that is in us, may God grant,