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CH A P.
from a Passage in Dr. Clark. “ But above all,
pery and Superstition, is to be infinitely care-
of such a blind Faith and implicit Subječtion." “ Will they not be carried away, “by Inclination and worldly Hopes and Fears,
to turn Infidels first, and then implicit Be¢ lievers? first to believe, nothing, that they
may with the more Grace profess to believe
every Tbing,” according to the present Bishop of Winchester to
2. THE Solifidians and other Sectaries in devious Notions of the Chriftian Faich, danger, oufly mistake, and disturb the Harmony and * Postbum. Serm. Vol. VI. pag. 388.
+ See his Tracts from pag. 498, to 502.
Subordination, which God and his Gospel have CHAP. establish'd between that Faith, and the eternal
XVIII. Law of Reason; by exalting the former, which is but a Duty of the Means, upon the Ruins and Contempt of the perpetual Duty of the latter: As if there could be any Value or Virtue in the Means unapplied to, or ineffective of the End it was purposely ordained to produce, and so clearly proclaimed to be subordinate to the Accomplishment of. But this more properly belongs to another Subject, the true Christian Intention and Design of that Faith, where it is embraced.
3. The Deifts and others are guilty of making an open Rupture between Reason and Faith; by flattering and exalting naked unallifted Rea son to an Excess, beyond the Conditions of Humanity, and contrary to the common Sentiments of the Wiseft, and almost the general Voice of Mankind; who have been all sensible of a De. generacy in their moral Powers, and the Want of fome Redress. And now that complete Redress of, and Consolation to all those disquieting Ailments is come down from Heaven, and has display'd its healing Virtues and Uses, it must be very unkind and ungrateful to ply all its Force and Efforts, or play any conceited Artifice, Sophiftry, or Ridicule against its best and truest Friend ; that brings Knowledge to its Ignorance, and Relief to its Doubts, perfect Peace and Reconciliation between Enemies; and, if there is not a Fault on one side, mutual Love and Complacency, the original Felicity of our Being. The Wickedness and Folly of which Proceeding will better appear under the next Head.
III. The moral Virtue of Faith.
TAKING Faith in the Sense before describid, I proceed to shew how it is a moral Virtue, or what Share the Will of Man has in it, which makes him accountable to God for his Faith. It must be acknowledg'd on all Hands, that the original, permanent Use of our Faculties, Understanding, Will, and Affections is, to aslift us to attain the true End of Man, Happiness in this Life, and that which is to come. And it cannot be denied, that the Will is the ruling Faculty over all the rest, and, the Light of the Understanding being at hand and very much at its Command, constitutes it the moral Agent in every Man ; for every Man has the Argument of Experience within himself superior to all the Subtleties of Dispute, that he can freely chuse, or refuse, after all is said and done, with respect to the Object laid before him ; and be as certain of that Man-moving, self-determining Power in all his moral Actions, as he is of Motion ; tho* he is not able to answer the super-refin'd impertinent Objections against it.
Nor is there any outward Restraint upon his Liberty, but what he has the Freedom to throw off; nor yet any inward Hindrance or Fetters put upon it, but what is of his own occasioning; excepting always one Restraint, which he is not, nor ought not to be free from, and that is a Determination to Good : because that is che Perfection of Human Liberty and Choice as it derives from God, and is the Liberty of God him
felf, as I have before shewn*: Nor is there any CHAP. other Fate upon Man (the Fate of God himself XVIII. if it may be so express’d) excepting that hard Condition of being conditionally fated to 'his own Happiness according to the Circumstances and Opportunities put in his Power ; and, in order to render it bis Happiness, is still left to the Option of his own Choice, and the Result of his own Endeavours.
The Deifts allow this Fate and Destiny to Happiness, but in a very absurd Sense ; they oblige God to confer all the Happiness upon Man bis Nature is capable of, not as a Gift they would thank him for, or a Reward of his promising, but necessarily due to their Behaviour ; and so, they profoundly think, they secure and can extort Happiness, whilst they indulge them- , selves in the Neglect of some of the proper Conditions, and Qualifications. But God without Dominion including the Dependence of his Creatures upon his Will, and without subsequent Providence distributing Rewards and Punishments proportion'd to Deeds, and so appearing before all the World to distinguish the Good from the Bad, is nothing else but Fate or Nature, or some other insignificant Name exclusive of Go
But it is in vain to think of flattering or persuading him out of his righteous Government in giving eternal Life only in Christ Jesus, and denying it to those who knowingly reječi him.
THE Author of Christianity as old, &c. refolving, as he says, to go to the Bottom of this Matter, gives in this Account of Faith. “ Faith
* Page 26. of this Vol.
CHAP." confider'd in itself can neither be a Virtue, or XVIII. " a Vice, because Men can no otherwise believe
“ than as Things appear to them : Nay, can “ there be an higher Affront to God than to
suppose, he requires Men to judge otherwise “ than the Faculties he has given them, enable " them to do? Or what can be more abfurd " than to imagine, that God will Thew his Fa. “ vour to one for believing what he could not “ believe ; and his Displeasure to another for “ not believing what he could not believe? " And therefore Faich is only to be efteem'd “ by the Works it produces ; for the strongest “ Faith may be worse than no Faith at all. The “ Devils ebemselves (who are held the most wick“ed Beings in the Universe) believe and trem
This indeed is going to the Bottom of Infidelity.
cí ble *."
In answer to which, it is readily own'd, that the Understanding Faculty is passive in perceiving and judging of Truth, nor can it do otherwise than perceive and judge natural, or moral Truth, as it appears to it; any more than the Eye of the Body can help seeing and distinguishing its Objects when they are before it. Nevertheless, it is perfectly certain, that the Will has char controuling Power, as over the Eye of the Body, so over the Eye of the Mind, to turn it from one Object to another, and view one more attentively than another, just as it is, or is not, agreeable to it ; it can divert the Únderstanding from perceiving or judging, by recommending other Obje&s to employ it; it can withdraw the Attention so soon, that the Per,
* Page 44.