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the interests of a man, or indifferent to his welfare. « Now,” says he, “abideth
Faith, Hope, Charity ;” as if they did not merely exist in the catalogue of a man's virtues, and take their chance with those inferior qualities that are under the dominion of the passions, and are sometimes disregarded in the pursuits of business or pleasure, but should abide with him, take root in his heart and his understanding, and influence all his actions.
The true scriptural meaning of Faith has been so often misrepresented, according to the different opinions or inclinations of men, that it requires to be clearly explained to the understanding before we can expect it to influence the heart. The common definition of Faith is, “ the evi“ dence of things not seen;" and this is the manner in which St. Paul himself ex plains it. But this expression may be understood in too extensive a sense, and take from the merit of faith, by bringing it almost to a level with unbelief; it is pos. sible for us to believe too much, as well as too little, and both extremes should be carefully avoided. Faith is not a blind and unlimited assent to what we hear, but a' reasonable acquiescence—it is not to keep the understanding in subjection, and to demand an implicit belief of the mind, to what it neither perceives nor comprehends, but implies a free exercise of our sense and reason.
From the things which we have seen, we are enabled to form some judgment of those which we have not seen --We believe that they may and do exist, from the possibility of their existence, from the trust we repose in the fidelity of others, and from our being able to reconcile them to
To believe what we actually see, is not an act of faith, it has neither the requisites nor the merit of faith; it requires no degree of confidence, nor does it eren exercise the understanding ; on the other hand, to believe implicitly whatever is related without using our own judgment to detect the falsehood or confirm the truth, is an extreme equally absurd in itself, dangerous to the happiness of man and unacceptable to God. It is not the con, fession of the mouth alone, but the belief of the heart, which he demands; not the credulous assent of the ears, but the solid conviction of the understanding.
Having so far explained the meaning of this word Faith, as it is generally used in the Holy Scriptures, particularly in that passage from which the text is taken, let us now consider what articles of belief are included in that faith which is required of us; having determined how, let ụs also consider what we are to believe.
That confession of our faith, called the Apostles' Creed, which we constantly repeat in thc church service (too often, indeed, like many other parts of the divine worship, without considering the meaning, or feeling ourselves influenced by what we say), certainly comprehends in itself the whole extent of our faith, and that in very concise and intelligible terms; the other creeds occasionally used, being only a repetition of that, in more enlarged terms and with more extensive explanations. This creed consists in reality of two articles alone:the belief in God the maker of heaven and earth, and the belief in his Son the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind; for the other parts of which it is composed, do not form distinct articles of faith, but follow of course from the former, and are entirely dependent upon it. The same arguments and the same authority that prove the existence of our Saviour, confirm also the subsequent actions of his life, death, resurrection, and doctrines,
and the same reason justifies us in the belief of them; so that in fact we need only examine those two points--of the belief of a God, and the belief of a Redeemer; to establish our faith upon the surest foundation.
To believe that there exists an Almighty Being, who made heaven and earth, whom we call God, is indeed unworthy of the name of faith; for it is a fact that proves itself so clearly to our understanding, that there is no merit in believing what we could not doubt. No man indeed hath at any time seen God, but he is as visible to our understanding, as if he really appeared before our eyes-He is seen in all his works, and none but the fool ever said in his heart, “There is no “ God;" for we need only make use of our: reason to be convinced beyond all possibility of doubt; our own existence is proof incontestible of the existence of a