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Ow I proceed to the second general, viz. the proofes
of a strong fairl, with the instances of a Wome faith an truth.
Three queries, how to know, 1. Whether our faith be great, 2. or little, 3. and yet true.
You see there are cwo parts of this, I will begin with the first, which respects the discoveries of faith in strength.
Concerning which take these things briefly. Signes of a great Signes of a and ftrong faith.
1. Confidence of eaße answers for great matters is an argument of a strong and grear faith. As in the Centurion, who came to Christ for the healing of his servant, who was sick of a palsey and grievously tormented, speak the word only and my fervant shall be healed. (that is) Though he be very weak, yet, I am confident that chy power is very strong, chou needest not to trouble thy person, one word from thy pleasure will heal him, Mattb.8.6,7,8. What saith Christ now of this faich? Scev, 10. Verily, I have not found so grear fairlo, no, not in 1frael. The more difficult we esteem things to be in God or Chrift, the weaker is our faith : Ifweimpose a different readinefle of help, or mercy, or pardon, on God, according to the different matter which we are putting up unto bim, this argues want of strength: For it is all one with God to pardon abundantly,as to pardon singly; and his power, is as able for the greatest difficully, as for the least trouble. But when the foul draws neer vnto him, and can beleeve great matters, as well as small things; that he will be merciful to great transgreffions, as well as compassionate to ordinary ixfir miiies;thàc he will subdue strong temptations, as well as weak glancings; that he willin time conquer the busiest inclination to sin, &c. this thews thar faiih is come to some strength.
26 Againe , a repetition of adherence and aftedfast following of Christ, notwithstanding the discouragemenes, which the foule may be ape to cake from Chrifts behaviour cowards ic., argues their fanh to be strong, and great, 2 Sam.23.1.6. They were the
three mighty men that brake ebrough the Hoft, and drew water
3. The more entirely the foul is carried to expectation from the fole strength of a Divine promise, the greater and the stronger is that faith. As in Abrahams cale; He wanted a fonnc, and God promised him an Isaac; Abrabam did not now fragger througlo unbelief, he did not consult the truth of it from his own natural abilities; How unable he was, chat
be negle&ed, but bon able God War to perform his own word, upon chis bis faith did pitch. And for ihis the cext faith, chac he was frong in faitb, Rom.4.20. Remember this, that the more sensible helps the soul needs to draw out tbe act of belorving, the weaker is the fairl; as the man is judged to be very weak, who cannot go without many crutches and holdings; But the more strength a naked promise hath with the Soule, when it alone pucs life and quietnesse into us, now faith is grown; As David said, The Lord is on my fide, I will not fear what man can do unto me. So when we can quarh all our troubles with the fight of a promise, I have Gods word for my pardon, bis word for my help, his Word for my comfort, I defire no better pay.master then God, no better security then his own promise; though all things stand contrary in sense and feeling, yet all is sare in Gods promise, and there I will settle, this argues a great faith.
4. The more ability a man hath to deny himfelf in ncare and great occurrences, the greater is his faith : Abraham in leaving of his countrey, parting with Ifaac : The more easily we can belecve great things, and part with great things, the stronger is our faith. There is nothing more hard then to give mp a mans self.
There is a threefold self.
Secondly, bis natural felf, in respect of the separation of soul and body.
Thirdly, his temporal self in respea of the comforts of this life. And it must be a strong fajib which must enable co strong denials of our felves, when a thing comes nearer.co che quick, eicher when God denies a man a special comfort, or draws off from him a special comfort; now to submit, now to be quict, I can do all things brough Cbrift that strengsbens me, faid Paul; I know how io wani, and how to abound, so be exalted and to be abafed, l bave learned in wharfoever fare I am ih
there. wirb to be contented,
To have the heare pleased with Christ alone, and Sacisfied. with his presence, mark it, the more entirely that the soul makes up its state in Christ, and the lesse power that the world inprints upon the heart in its changes, this imports the faith is come to strength. Strong faith is like a strong cree, which holds its body unmovable against great tempests, but weak faith is like a' plant which every winde makes almost to touch the ground.
Fifthly, the weaker the arguments of diftruft grom in the heart; this is a ligne chat the faith is gosto a strengih. This I conje&ture, that the strength or weaknesse of faith is not to be judged by the multiplicity of distrustful arguments, but by the force and efficacy of them; It is possible that manifold arguments of feare, and doubts may presept themselves to che minde of a strong beleever, as well as unto the judgement of a 'weak beleever, but then, if faith be strong, it doth weigh them down, it doth prevaile cver them, (that is ) it brings the soul to Chrift; it cleaves still unto him. The fonl maintaines its title to Christ, and owns God in his promises, it will not cast away its hope, nor its strength, wherein the soul can habitually foyle the realonings which crofle its way, and can cleare up and vindicate its state, what God is to it, and Christ is to it, and what is hath received from them, this is an argument, that it is not weak but strong.
Sixchly, the more ease compliance with change of a mans condi. rion is an evidence of a faith which is more strong. There are several changes incident to mans temporal life, the Moon sometimes is ful,andanon it is in the Eclipse; our sen doch ebb and flow; sometimes prosperity (like the vandte of tbe Lord), shines upon us; by and by adverfiey (like the Winde) blows out the candle ; sometimes we abound and our mountain: seemes strong; anon we are stript and our mountaine is shaked; one while health and presence of friends; another while sicknesse and losle of all. Now in these changes , not to be changed, like the ship right up in a calme, but tosling and reeling in a itorme, but to be as the rock fixed and fetled, holding up, and rejoycing in the God of our salvation, and encouraging our (elves in tbe Lord oor God, and willing to be any thing; in any condition, yea, to blesse God for all as fob did. If i die, I shall go to God; If I live, I will serve my God; if I enjoy, I will be fruitful; If I want, I will be thankful; The more Passive the heart is, the more active and strong the faith is. Paul had been learning chat lesson; In every flate, therewith to be content.
O when a Christian can comply with contrary ftates, noc through an inlensiblene (se of Spirit, bue from an apprehension and approbation of divine wisdome, goodneffe , love and aniberity, his faith is singularly cleared and well improved.
7. The more satisfaction and quiescence that the foul barba in Christ alone, the greater is the faith ; when a naked Chrift, is the centre and loadstone, and the All in alle A's the Sunne to make day, I defore to know nothing but Christ crucified, said Paul, 1 Cor.2.2. Wbom bave I in heaven but i bee? and there is more upon earth shat I de fire besides thee , said Ajaph, Palme 73.25. I count all skings but loffe for the excellency of ebe knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, saich Paul again, Phil.3.8. Lord, let thy servant non depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen aby salvation, said Simeon, Luke 2.29,30. As when we come to beaven, we shall be so beavenly, that beaven alone will be enougb to us, and this shews perfe&tion; so whiles we live on carth, if Christ alone be heaven and carth to us; if he can fill our keerts, and satisfie them. O Lord Jesus, thou are righteousnesle ecoagh, fatisfađion enough, wisdome coougb, peace, and comfort, and pleasure enough co my soul : 0 this comes from great strength,
8. The more that the body of finne decases in Strength, the lesler, prevalency of it, this fhewes that faith is strong. When finne becomes more dead in its actions, or more ineffe&tual in its temptations; When a man can walk and not stumble, and reele and fall; he is now out-grown his former weaknesse; It thews weaknesse, when every stone makes thee apt to fall; It is a ligne the army is strong, wben the enemy many of them are Naine, and the rest are easily discomfited. Sinne is our enemy, and Christ is our general, and faith is our champion, and the more that finnes fall, it is an argument chat faith is become stronger. The victorious faith is much more chen the combating faith : Sinnes go down by believing; the more chat any grace is in vi&tory the more it is in strength. Indeed it argues truth of faich co refift, but to conquer finnes, this shewes strength, to wrestle is something, but co overthrow is more; to oppose fin, is not so much as to vanquish it.