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only admitted the being of a God, and ascribed the creation of the universe to Almighty Power, the immediate operations of which never can be discovered by our senses, and are faintly conceived by our imaginations, then, surely, our faith would be incomplete and unprofitable. For before we can be anxious to please him before we can come to him from a sense of duty-before we can exert all our faculties in fulfilling the purposes for which we seem to be placed here with the capacities of rational and moral creatures, it is necessary for us to have a well-grounded expectation of distant things ; to have examined seriously, and admitted unfeignedly, the proper proofs of things not seen; to look to the arrival of these things from the direct appointment of that God to whom we come with affiance, because we have been taught to believe, not only that he exists, but that in due time he will manifest himself as the rewarder of those who are sincere in their faith, fervent in their devotions, and steadfast in their obedience.
The sacred writer had, in the foregoing chapter, laid down this general maxim—the just shall live by Faith ; and in this chapter he adduces from the Old Testament various examples of faith, exercised on various occasions, and ascertained by various marks of God's approbation. But it will become you to take notice, that in all these examples he represents faith to you, not merely as an opinion deeply lodged in the mind, and often expressed by the tongue, but as a principle of conduct; and that he enumerates actions themselves as the evidences and effects the decisive evidences and the legitimate effects of faith. Enoch so walked as to please God; Noah prepared an ark; Abraham went to a place which he should receive for an inheritance, not knowing whither he went, but determined, we read, to obey; and in that obedience was involved voluntary departure from his native land, and voluntary abandonment of his primary interests in it. In the same spirit he conquered parental affection, and was prepared to offer up Isaac. In the same spirit Moses resolved rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. In the same spirit, Gideon, Samson, David, Jephtha, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and waxed valiant in fight. In the same spirit with which these men acted, others were contented to suffer; they had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, and were actuated by a fixed and lively confidence in God. Many of them, it is true, experienced only temporal protection ; but that protection having been promised to them by the deity, and attained from causes which fell not within the ordinary course of human affairs, was the direct and proper object of their persuasion, that he was able and willing to rescue them from evil. Others, who obtained a good report through faith, might be influenced by the prospect of future reward; for by such means alone, it is probable, could they have been supported, when they were destitute, afflicted, tormented. But to us Christians, who have received the promise which they did not receive, and for whom better things were provided, the belief of God as the rewarder of those who seek him, is more sure as a doctrine, and carries it with stronger obligations as well as clearer directions upon all those points of experience and practice, by which we may so please God as to attain the recompence of eternal life. Thus you see, that of faith, even according to the scriptural sense of the word, there are many kinds, many degrees, and many corresponding rewards—that in all of them the assent of our judgment is accompanied by the consent of our willthat this consent leads us to perform the known commands of the deity—and that the ground of obligation to that performance lies not in the solitary conviction that God is, but in the concomitant reliance we have on his justice and mercy, as our judge.
My hearers, plain and unadorned on a slight view as may be the language of holy writ, it contains the very profoundest principles, which the very wisest sages have professed to investigate; and upon large, deep, and impartial inquiry, it will even be seen, that the most indissoluble connection and the most perfect harmony subsist between that, which the Christian maintains upon the ground and obligation of faith, and that, which the true philosopher defends, as the deduction of well-directed and unprejudiced reason. Hence indeed we may account for the extravagant and licentious opinions, which have been asserted with so much indecent eagerness, and propagated with such dangerous effects in the present age. As long as Christianity was believed and revered, the enemies of our cause were aware that the human mind was better prepared to explore and appreciate the evidences, which human reason itself is able to discover for the defence of natural religion ;—while that evidence was investigated honestly and seriously, it gave additional strength to the commands and promises of revelation, and cooperated with them on enlarging the boundaries of buman knowledge, and promoting the noblest interests of piety and virtue. We are not therefore to wonder, that some persons, who would estrange us from our trust in a Redeemer, have endeavoured to efface every vestige of the proofs, which had been usually adduced with success for the providential character, the moral government, and even the existence of the Deity. In abstract speculation, indeed, men may be supposed to infer, from the order and beauty of the natural world, that the origin of it must be referred to an intelligent cause, and that the conclusions of our understandings extend no further. But in all reasoning upon the duty and happiness of man from the constitution of his nature, we must attend, not to insulated particulars, but to connected generalities; not to conjectures upon what may be, but to the evidence of what is ; not to visionary refinements in theology, but to the ordinary course and visible properties of action. Experience then proves that in the secret, though disguised conviction of the infidel, and in the avowed and well-founded motives of the Christian, the human mind is impatient of being confined within the narrow boundaries which have sometimes been despotically prescribed to it, — that, when convinced that God has been our maker, we are solicitous to inquire whether he be also our
preserver,-that, when accustomed to ascribe to his wisdom and goodness every physical event, by which temporal good is produced and temporal evil alleviated, we are irresistibly led to examine upon what grounds he is to be revered and obeyed as the future judge of our actions. Thus, while the profound and solid premises laid down in my text were generally received—while the long train of moral and religious considerations which result from them were inculcated in the elaborate writings of the learned, and, to every practical purpose, sufficiently understood by the unlearned—while men were disposed to measure their proper and supreme good, not by precarious and exclusive calculation of temporal utility, but by their possible capacities of enjoyment in some future stage of existence, adapted to their different degrees of merit under all actual circumstances, whether in a state of unassisted nature, or in a state of special redemption-while their conscious dependance upon a Deity induced them to look upon his approbation as the only intelligible and effectual ground for expecting happiness upon the whole-while the deeds of which he would approve were supposed to be of indispensible and unalterable obligation—while accountableness of men made them anxious to discover the real will of that Being to whom they were to account, as well from the dictates of uncorrupted natural as the authority of revealed religion-while their rewardableness was allowed to belong to actions, or events generated by actions, performed, you will observe, in direct and voluntary conformity to the commands,