Imatges de pÓgina


I fhall now proceed to explain the meaning of SERM. this exhortation, "to hold fast the profeffion of our "faith without wavering," by fhewing in the


Second place, what it is that is implied in the constant and steady profeffion of the true faith and religion namely, that when upon due fearch and examination, we are fully fatisfied, that it is the true religion which we have embraced, or as St. Peter expreffes it. ift epiftle v. 12. "that this is the "true grace of God, wherein we ftand;" that then we should adhere ftedfaftly to it, and hold it fast, and not fuffer it to be wrefted from us, nor our felves to be moved from it, by any pretences or infinuations, or temptations whatsoever. For there is a great deal of difference between the confidence and ftedfaftness of an ignorant man, who hath never confidered things, and enquired into the grounds of them and the affurance and fettlement of one, who hath been well inftructed in his religion, and hath taken pains to fearch and examine to the bottom, the grounds and reafons of what he holds and profeffeth to believe. The firft is mere wilfulness and obftinacy. A man hath entertained, and drank in fuch principles of religion by education, or hath taken them up by chance; but he hath no reafon for them and yet however he came by them, he is refolved to hold them faft, and not to part with them. The other is the refolution and conftancy of a wife man. He hath embraced his religion upon good grounds, and he fees no reafon to alter it; and therefore is refolved to ftick to it, and to hold faft the profeffion of it ftedfaftly to the end. And to this purpose there are many exhortations and cautions fcattered up and down the writings of the holy apostles; as that we fhould be

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SERM." unmoveable, established in the truth, rooted and LIX. "grounded in the faith," and that we fhould hold fast that which is good," and not suffer our felves to be carried to and fro with every wind of "doctrine, through the flight of men, and the cun"ning craftiness of thofe that lye in wait to de"ceive; that we fhould not be removed from him σε that hath called us unto the grace of CHRIST, "unto another gofpel; that we should stand faft in દ one spirit and one mind, ftriving together for the "faith of the gofpel, and be in nothing terrified by our adverfaries ;" and that, if occafion be, we fhould" contend earnestly for the faith which was "once delivered unto the faints;" and here in the σε text, that we should, "hold fast the profeffion of "our faith without wavering." For the explaining of this, I fhall do two things :


I. Confider what it is that we are to hold faft; namely, "the profeffion of our faith ;" and

II. How we are to hold it faft, or what is implied "in holding faft the profeffion of our faith, without wavering."

I. What it is that we are to hold faft; namely, "the profeffion of our faith;" i. e. of the chriftian faith or religion: for, I told you before, that this profeffion or confeffion of our faith, or hope (as the word properly fignifies) is an allufion to that profeffion of faith which was made by all those who were admitted members of the chriftian church by baptifm; of which the apostle makes mention immediately before the text, when he fays, " let us draw "near in full affurance of faith, having our hearts

fprinkled from an evil confcience, and our bodies "washed with pure water:" and then it follows, "let us hold faft the profeffion of our faith with




"out wavering." The profeffion of faith which we SERM. made in our baptifm, and which by the ancient fa-, thers is called the rule of faith, and which is now contained in that which we call the apostle's creed, and which is called by St. Paul, Rom. vi. 17. the "form of doctrine which was delivered to them;" i. e. to all Chriftians; and 2 Tim. i. 13. the form "of found words; hold fast, faith he, the form of "found words which thou haft heard of me, in "faith and love which is in CHRIST JESUS" and by St. Jude, "the faith which was once delivered "unto the faints."

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So that it is the firft and ancient faith of the chrif tian church, delivered to them by CHRIST and his apostles, which we are here exhorted to hold faft; the necessary and fundamental articles of the chriftian faith; and by confequence all those truths which have a neceffary connexion with those articles, and are implied in them, and by plain consequence are to be deduced from them. It is not the doubtful and uncertain traditions of men; nor the partial dictates and doctrines of any church, fince the pri mitive times, which are not contained in the holy fcriptures and the ancient creeds of the chriftian church, but have been fince declared and imposed upon the chriftian world; though with never fo confident a pretence of antiquity in the doctrines, and of infallibility in the propofers of them: these are no part of that faith which we are either to profefs, or to hold faft, because we have no reafon to admit the pretences, by virtue whereof thofe doctrines of practices are impofed; being able to make it good, and having effectually done it, that thofe doctrines are not of primitive antiquity; and that the church, which proposeth them, hath no more claim to infalA 4 libility,

SERM libility, than all other parts of the chriftian church, LIX. which fince the apostles time is none at all..

In a word; no other doctrines which are not, fufficiently revealed in fcripture, either in exprefs terms or by plain and neceffary confequence; nor any rites of worship, nor matters of practice, which are not commanded in scripture, are to be esteemed any part of that faith in religion, the profeffion whereof the apostle here commands all Chriftians" to hold fast "without wavering;" much lefs any doctrines or practices, which are repugnant to the word of God, and to the faith and practice of the first ages of Christianity; of which kind I fhall have occafion in my following difcourfe to inftance in feveral particulars. In the mean time I fhall only obferve, that that faith and religion which we profefs, and which by God's grace we have ever held faft, is that which hath been acknowledged by all chriftian churches in all ages, to have been the ancient catholick and apoftolick faith, and cannot (as to any part or tittle of it) be denied to be fo, even by the church of Rome herself.


I proceed to the


IId thing which I proposed to consider; namely, how we are to hold faft the profeffion of our faith, or what is implied by the apostle in this exhortation, "to hold faft the profeffion of our faith, without "wavering." And I think thefe following particulars may very well be fuppofed to be implied in it.

1. That we should hold faft the profeffion of our faith, against the confidence of men, without fcripture or reafon to fupport their confidence.

2. And much more against the confidence of men, contrary to scripture, and reason, and the common sense of mankind.

3. Against


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3. Against all the temptations and terrors of the SERM. world.


4. Against all vain promises of being put into a fafer condition, and groundless hopes of getting to heaven upon easier terms in another religion.

5. Against all the cunning arts and infinuations of bufy and difputing men, whofe defign it is to unhinge men from their religion, and to gain profelytes to their own party and faction. I fhall go over these with as much clearness and brevity as I can.

i. We should hold faft the profeffion of our faith, against the confidence of men, without fcripture or reafon to fupport that confidence. All religion is either natural or inftituted. The rule of natural religion is the common reafon of mankind: the rule of inftituted religion is divine revelation, or the word of GOD; which all Chriftians before the council of Trent did agree to be contained in the holy fcriptures. So that nothing can pretend to be religion, but what can be proved to be fo, one or both of those ways; either by fcripture or by reafon, or by both. And how confident foever men may be of opinions deftitute of this proof; any man that understands the grounds of religion, will without any more ado reject them, for want of this proof; and notwithftanding any pretended authority or infallibility of the church that imposeth them, will have no more confideration and regard of them, than of the confident dictates and affertions of any Enthusiast whatfoever; because there is no reason to have regard to any man's confidence, if the arguments and reasons which he brings bear no proportion to it. We fee in experience that confidence is generally ill grounded, and is a kind of paffion in the understanding, and is commonly made ufe of, like fury and force, to fup


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