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relations are founded upon the Spirit, and therefore we must do our duties upon considerations separate and spiritual, but never suffer temporal relations to impede our religious duties. Christian charity is a higher thing than to be confined within the terms of dependence and correlation, and those endearments, which leagues, or nature, or society, have made, pass into spiritual, and, like stars in the presence of the sun, appear not, when the heights of the Spirit are in place. Where duty hath prepared special instances, there we must, for religion's sake, promote them ; but, even to our parents or our children, the charities of religion ought to be greater than the affections of society: and though we are bound, in all offices exterior, to prefer our relatives before others, because that is made a duty; yet to purposes spiritual, all persons eminently holy put on the efficacy of the same relations, and pass a duty upon us of religious affections.
10. At the command of Jesus the water-pots were filled with water, and the water was, by his Divine power, turned into wine; where the different economy of God and the world is highly observable. “Every man sets forth good wine at first, and then the worse :” but God not only turns the water into wine, but into such wine, that the last draught is most pleasant. The world presents us with fair language, promising hopes, convenient fortunes, pompous honours, and these are the outsides of the bole; but when it is swallowed, these dissolve in the instant, and there remains bitterness, and the malignity of coloquinteda. Every sin smiles in the first address, and carries light in the face, and honey in the lip; but " when we have well drunk, then comes that which is worse,” a whip with six strings, fears and terrors of conscience, and shame and displeasure, and a caitive disposition, and diffidence in the day of death. But when, after the manner of the purifying of the Christians, we fill our waterpots with water, watering our couch with our tears, and moistening our cheeks with the perpetual distillations of repentance; then Christ turns our water into wine; first penitents, and then communicants; first waters of sorrow, and then the wine of the chalice; first the justifications of
• Συγγένεια γαρ οίκειοτέρα ή προς δίκαιοσύνης και πάσαν άλλην αρετήν ομιλία.Philo in Exposit. General.
correction, and then the sanctifications of the sacrament, and the effects of the Divine power, joy, and peace, and serenity, hopes full of confidence, and confidence without shame, and boldness without presumption : for “ Jesus keeps the best wine till the last;” not only because of the direct reservations of the highest joys till the nearer approaches of glory, but also because our relishes are higher after a long fruition than at the first essays; such being the nature of grace, that it increases in relish as it does in fruition, every part of grace being new duty and new reward.
THE PRAYER. O eternal and ever-blessed Jesu, who didst choose disciples
to be witnesses of thy life and miracles, so adopting man into a participation of thy great employment of bringing us to heaven by the means of a holy doctrine; be pleased to give me thy grace, that I may love and revere their persons, whom thou hast set over me, and follow their faith, and imitate their lives, while they imitate thee; and that I also, in my capacity and proportion, may do some of the meaner offices of spiritual building, by prayers, and by holy discourses, and fraternal correption, and friendly exhortations, doing advantages to such souls, with whom I shall converse. And since thou wert pleased to enter upon the stage of the world with the commencement of mercy and a miracle, be pleased to visit my soul with thy miraculous grace, turn my water into wine, my natural desires into supernatural perfections, and let my sorrows be turned into joys, my sins into virtuous habits, the weaknesses of humanity into communications of the Divine nature; that since thou“ keepest the best unto the last,” I may, by thy assistance, grow from grace to grace, till thy gifts be turned to reward, and thy graces to participation of thy glory, 0 eternal and ever-blessed Jesu. Amen.
1. NATHANAEL's faith was produced by an argument not demonstrative, not certainly concluding; Christ knew him when he saw him first, and he believed him to be the Messias : his faith was excellent, whatever the argument was. And I believe a God, because the sun is a glorious body; or because of the variety of plants, or the fabric and rare contexture of a man's eye: I may as fully assent to the conclusion, as if my belief dwelt upon the demonstrations made by the prince of philosophers in the eighth of his physics and twelfth of his metaphysics. This I premise as an inlet into the consideration concerning the faith of ignorant persons.
For if we consider, upon what easy terms most of us now are Christians, we may possibly suspect, that either faith hath but little excellence in it, or we but little faith, or that we are mistaken generally in its definition. For we are born of Christian parents, made Christians at ten days old, interrogated concerning the articles of our faith by way of anticipation, even then when we understand not the difference between the sun and a ta!low-candle : from thence we are taught to say our catechism, as we are taught to speak, when we have no reason to judge, no discourse to discern, no arguments to contest against a proposition, in case we be catechized into false doctrine; and all that is put to us we believe infinitely, and without choice, as children use not to choose their language.
our children are made Christians, just so are thousand others made Mahumetans, with the same necessity, the same facility. So that, thus far, there is little thanks due to us for believing the Christian creed; it was indifferent to us at first, and at last our education had so possessed us, and our interest, and our no temptation to the contrary, that as we were disposed into this condition by Providence, so we remain in it without praise or excellence. For as our beginnings are inevitable, so our progress is imperfect and insufficient; and what we began by education, we retain only by custom: and if we be instructed in some slighter arguments to maintain the sect
or faction of our country-religion, as it disturbs the unity of Christendom; yet, if we examine and consider the account, upon what slight arguments we have taken up Christianity itself, as, that it is the religion of our country, or that our fathers before us were of the same faith, or because the priest bids us, and he is a good man, or for something else, .but we know not what,) we must needs conclude it the good providence of God, not our choice, that made us Christians.
2. But if the question be, Whether such a faith be in itself good and acceptable, that relies upon insufficient and unconvincing grounds ? I suppose this case of Nathanael will determine us: and when we consider that faith is an infused grace, if God pleases to behold his own glory in our weakness of understanding, it is but the same thing he does. in the instances of his other graces. For as God enkindles charity upon variety of means and instruments, by a thought, by a chance, by a text of Scripture, by a natural tenderness, by the sight of a dying or a tormented beast : so also he may produce faith by arguments of a differing quality, and by issues of his providence, he may engage us in such conditions, in which, as our understanding is not great enough to choose the best, so neither is it furnished with powers to reject any proposition: and to believe well is an effect of a singular predestination, and is a gift in order to a grace, as that grace is in order to salvation. But the insufficiency of an argument, or disability to prove our religion, is so far from disabling the goodness of an ignorant man's faith, that as it may be as strong as the faith of the greatest scholar, so it hath full as much excellence, not of nature, but in order to Divine acceptance. For as he who believes upon the only stock of education, made no election of his faith; so he who believes what is demonstrably proved, is forced by the demonstration to his choice. Neither of them did choose, and both of them may equally love the article.
3. So that since a small argument in a weak understanding, does the same work that a strong argument in a more sober and learned, that is, it convinces and makes faith, and yet neither of them is matter of choice; if the thing believed be good, and matter of duty or necessity, the faith is not rejected by God upon the weakness of the first, nor accepted upon the strength of the latter principles; when we are
once in, it will not be inquired by what entrance we passed thither; whether God leads us or drives us in, whether we come by discourse or by inspiration, by the guide of an angel or the conduct of Moses, whether we be born or made Christians, it is indifferent, so we be there, where we should be; for this is but the gate of duty, and the entrance to felicity. For thus far faith is but an act of the understanding, which is a natural faculty, serving indeed as an instrument to godliness, but of itself no part of it; and it is just like fire producing its act inevitably, and burning as long as it can, without power to interrupt or suspend its action ; and therefore we cannot be more pleasing to God for understanding rightly, than the fire is for burning clearly : which puts us evidently upon this consideration, that Christian faith, that glorious duty, which gives to Christians a great degree of approximation to God by Jesus Christ, must have a great proportion of that ingredient, which makes actions good or bad, that is, of choice and effect.
4. For the faith of a Christian hath more in it of the will than of the understanding. Faith is that great mark of distinction, which separates and gives formality to the covenant of the Gospel, which is a “law of faith.” The faith of a Christian is his religion, that is, it is that whole conformity to the institution or discipline of Jesus Christ, which distinguishes him from the believers of false religions. And to be one of the faithful signifies the same with being a disciple; and that contains obedience as well as believing. For to the same sense are all those appellatives in Scripture, “ the faithful, brethren, believers, the saints, disciples,” all représenting the duty of a Christian. A believer and a saint, or a holy person, is the same thing; brethren signifies charity, and believers faith in the intellectual sense : the faithful and disciples signify both; for besides the consent to the proposition, the first of them is also used for perseverance and sanctity, and the greatest of charity mixed with a confident faith up to the height of martyrdom.“ Be faithful unto the death, (said the Holy Spirit), and I will give thee the crown of life a.” And when the apostles, by way of abbreviation, express all the body of Christian religion, they call it " faith