« PreviousContinue »
trouble our Heads so well and throughly to consider and meditate upon them, that they may affeet and season our minds and hearts. This is evidently the root of our wickedness and impenitence, chat we do not believe what God hath told us.
Let us therefore take heed of unbelief. The things which God hach commended to our Faith, are no Trifles, but matters of the greatest weight, and such as may juftly command our most serions thoughts as long as we live. They are things, on the belief whereof depends no less, than our eternal bappiness ; and all Men must grant, that nothing can more deserve our best confideration, than how we may be eternally bappy, and escape becoming eternally miserable. The matters that God in his Word hath informed us of, and di. rected us about, are of no less moment than everlasing 709, and everlafting Torment; and there's no Man in his right Wits, who can think thefe are things to be figbted and dallied with. One would think it worth any Man's chief care and pains ( whatever else he may have to do ) to confider, what reafons may be given for the belief or disbelief of things of this nature. Indeed, were the matters revealed unto us by God, things which could neither greatly profit nor burt us, whether we believed them or no ; how much soever the sense of God's Authority thould sway us, yet we could not find any reason in the nature of things to be otherwise than very indifferent about them; whether they be true or false, we could not be greatly concern'd to know it. But see. ing they are such as hath been said, it can be no indifferent matter to any one that is not a fool or madman, which of them is like to fall to bis
share , Thare ; or whether there be any such things or no. And therefore now that we are told of them, is it possible that we should have so little regard to our own Safety, whatever we have to God's Glory, as not above all things to make an impar. cial Enquiry into the truth of them ? o, let us take heed, left there be in any of us an evil beart of unbelief, in departing from the living God, Heb. 3. 12. The Apostle there tells us the truth of what we are now considering, That it is our not believing God which keeps us from repenting, and being safe. Speaking of the Rest which God promised good Men, he assures us, that want of Faith will certainly keep Men from entring into it, v. 18. To whom (faith he) Gware be, i. e. God, that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? This Rest, which he sware they should not enter into, was the Typical rest of the Israelites in the Land of Canaan, figuring to us our final Reft, after all the Troubles and Travels of this Lite, in the Kingdom of Heaven, We see (faith he again v. 19.) they could not enter in because of unbelief. And again, ch, 4. 2. The Word preached did not profit them, wot being mixed with Faith in them that heard it. Let us labour therefore( faith he, v. 11.) to enter into that reft, that, V. 9. remaineth for the People of God, lef any Man fall after the Same Example of Unbelief.
Secondly, We observe, That the wicked Man's pretence for his unbelief, is want of fufficiens evidence. He wants one to bear witness of the things reveal'd, some fuch Person as Lazaras from the Dead, to convince him that these things are true. And, indeed, what is it that we more commonly hear from the Mouth of Profane Men, than such Questions as these. Who can tell (Tax
they) whether these things are true or false? Such things as these you tell us of, and it is no News to hear a great deal of talk about them, but, low can it be made unquestionably evident, that thereare any such things? What Demonstrations can be given us of such a Being, as God? How can it be made undeniably evident, that the Scripture is the word of God? How can we be assured, that all is not a fiktion and contrivance of crafty men to have their ends upon us? Till we can be assur'd of these things by some clearer evidence to assure us of the truth of what we are told concerning things to come, we think it not wisdome to forgo the things present. Why should we forbear to take our pleasure in this World, which now we. Taft, and Feel, and See, and are sure of, in hope of that which no Man can allure us that we thall ever enjoy, or for fear of what, for ought we know, will never be.
This is the pretence for infidelity, and wickedness, and these are the questions and disputings not of Reason, but of Luft. How easily can such People believe, where they have a mind to believe, tho' the evidence they have, is not comparable to that they have in the matter now in hand ? Where evidence is wanting, whecher a thing be, or no; it must needs be as unreasonable, to believe without evidence, that it is not, as that it is. And yet these Men who pretend the want of evidence, pretend also to believe the things pot to be, of "the Being, or not Being, whereof, they say they can have no evidence. When, by this, is evident enough, thar neither their belief, nor disbelief, is "grounded on Reafon, but only on Affection and Luft; whereby they are prejudic'd against the belief of what they love not, and therefore would 'nor have to be true,' They have ('ris plain )
no reason for their unbelief, but for want of Reason to alledge for the wicked courses they take, are forc'd co fly to a foolish pretence, for a colour of Reason. For why? If they shall confess that they believe these things, or look upon them as things credible; they must openly proclaim themselves Fools, for living as they do, and running wittingly on their own eternal Damnation. That therefore they may Sin on, and not seem to confefs themselves Fools, and Madmen for doing so, they have no other shift left, but a pretence, that they cannot believe for want of evidence. Let us have (say they) but a clear demonstration of the Truth, and we will believe it as well as others.
But, alass, whilą they would thus at once enjoy their Sins, and avoid the juft imputation of Folly, they give all considering Men as plain a demonstration of their Folly as Men can do: • They have evidence enough for Faith, if not for Science, and defiring more, they are just as reasonable as a Blind-man, who walking in a dangerous path, wherein if he go, he is told he shall. shortly fall into a Pit, out of which he can never be taken alive; will walk on still, notwithstanding all that can be said or done to convince him, pretending he wants evidence enough of the truth of what is told him, because he sees not the Pit; and therefore he will not believe there is one, till some Body do, what none can do, let him see it. Faith is the Evidence of Things not seen. Heb. 11, 1. And Things not seen admit not of such demonstrations as chele People call for. They would Jee what is not yet to be seen, before they come thither, where they niay be seen. As tho' öne would not believe there is such a place as NewEngland, when you have told him he is invited
They.de, and delind-man, wb.co, he is he can
thither by a Friend to an Inheritance there left him, and may certainly have it, if he will be lieve and go for it. But whatever proof you give him of the truth you tell him, he puts all off with this, that it is no demonstration, for he fees no such Country. And who can be such a fool, as to imagine he should, 'till he have so much faith as to believe him that told him of it, so far at least, as to go thither where he may see it?
Well, but these Masters of Reason cannot be convinced, say what you will, till such Arguments be brought as fhall compel their consent ; that is, such as fo necessarily, and evidently conclude the Truths commended to their belief; as that they can no longer deny their affenting to them; and nothing less than an evident impoffibility that it should be otherwise, will serve their turn. And herein again is their folly manifefted to all wise Men; for, upon the same account, they may as reasonably fay, that they shall be no longer masters of Reason, should they believe themselves to be the Sons and Daughters of their own Parents ; or that either their's, or any other's Estates, are their own rightful Inheritance ; for no such reasons can be produced to convince them of this, as will make it evidently impoffible that it should be ot berwise. But such Men have no mind to part with their Estates, because wich. out them they could not live at the Sumptuous rate, as now they do; and therefore they can believe them their own, without such cogent Reasons, as they think necessary to make them yield. to be good.
It may be yet, that some of these Infidels may grant us thus much: That seeing Faith is the Substance of things hoped for, Heb. 11. 1. and these