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Published by glennpease

"Without Faith it is impossible to please him.'''' — Hebrews xi.

"Without Faith it is impossible to please him.'''' — Hebrews xi.

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 01, 2012
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O FAITH.BY JOH WESLEY"Without Faith it is impossible to please him.'''' — Hebrews xi. G.1. BUT what is Faith ? It is a divine " evidence and conviction©f things not seen :" of things which are not seen now, whetherthey are visible or invisible in their own nature. Particularly it is adivine evidence and conviction of God and of the things of God.This is the most comprehensive definition of Faith that ever was orcan be given, as including every species of Faith, from the lowest tothe highest. And yet I do not remember any eminent writer, thathas given a full and clear account of the several sorts of it, amongall the verbose and tedious treatises which have been published uponthe subject.2. Something indeed of a similar kind has been written by thatgreat and good man, Mr. Fletcher, in his treatise on the various Dis-pensations of the Grace of God. Herein he observes, that thereare four dispensations that are distinguished from each other, by thedegree of light which God vouchsafes to them that are under each.A small degree of light is given to those who are under the Heathendispensation. These generally believed, " that there is a God, andthat he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." But a farmore considerable degree of light was vouchsafed to the Jewishnation : inasmuch as to them were intrusted the grand means of light,the oracles of God. Hence many of these had clear and exaltedVol. 7.— T210 d FAiTa.views of the natui-e and attributes of God ; of their duty to God a»aman : yea, and of the great promise, made to our first parents, an^transmitted by them to their posterity, that " the seed of the womaBshould bruise the serpent's head."
3. But above both the Heathen and Jewish dispensation, was thatof John the Baptist. To him a still clearer light was given : and hewas himself " a burning and a shining light." To him it was given,to "behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.'"Accordingly our Lord himself affirms, that " of all which had beenborn of women," there had not till that time arisen " a greater thanJohn the Baptist." But nevertheless he informs us, " He that isleast in the kingdom of God," the Christian dispensation, "is greaterthan he." By one that is under the Christian dispensation, Mr,Fletcher means, one that has received the Spirit of adoption ; thathas the Spirit of God witnessing " with his spirit, that he is a childof God."In order to explain this still farther, I will endeavour, by the helpof God,First, To point out the several sorts of Faith ; and, Secondly.To draw some practical Inferences.I. In the first place, I will endeavour to point out the several sortsof Faith. It would be easy, either to reduce these to a smallernumber, or to divide them into a greater. But it does not appeai-that this would answer any valuable purpose.1. The lowest sort of faith, if it be any faith at all, is that of amaterialist : a man who, like the late Lord Kaim, believes there isnothing but matter in the universe. I say if it be any faith at all •for, properly speaking, it is not. It is not " an evidence or convic-tion of God," for they do not believe there is any : neither is it aconviction of things not seen ; for they deny the existence of such .Or if, for decency's sake, they allow there is a God, yet they supposeeven him to be material. For one of their maxims is, " Jupiter estquodcunque vides." " Whatever you see, is God." Whatever yousee ! A visible, tangible god ! Excellent divinity ! Exquisitenonsense !2. The second sort of faith, if you allow a materialist to have any,is the faith of a Deist. I mean, one who believes there is a God,distinct from matter ; but does not believe the Bible. Of these wemay observe two sorts : one sort are mere beasts in human shape,
wholly under the power of the basest passions, and having "a down-right appetite to mix with mud." Other Deists are, in most respects,rational creatures, though unhappily prejudiced against Christianity.Most of these believe the Being arid Attributes of God : they be-lieve that God made and governs the world ; and that the soul doesnot die with the body, but will remain for ever in a state of happinessor misery.3. The next sort of faith is the faith of Heathens, with which I join that of Mahometans. I cannot but prefer this before the faithof the Deists^ because though it embraces nearly the same objects.O FAITH. 211vet they are ratliei- to be pitied than blamed for the narrowness of their faith. And their not beheving the whole truth, is not owing towant of sincerity, but merely to want of light. When one askedChicali, an old Indian Chief, "Why do not you red men know fismuch as us white men ?" He readily answered, " Because you havei/ie great word, and we have not."4. It cannot be doubted but this plea will avail, for millions oimodern Heathens. Inasmuch as to them little is given, of them littlewill be required. As to the ancient Heathens, millions of them like-wise were savages. o more therefore will be expected of them.than the living up to the light they had. But many of them, espe-cially in the civilized nations, we have great reason to hope, althoughthey lived among Heathens, yet were quite of another s[)irit, beingtaught of God, bj his inward voice, all the essentials of true reli-gion. Yea, and so was that Mahometan, an Arabian, who, a cen-tury or two ago, wrote the life of Hai Ebn Yokdan. The storj^eems to be feigned ; but it contains all the principles of pure reli-gion and undefiled.5. But, in general, we may surely place the faith of a Jew abovethat of a Heathen or Mahometan. By Jev;ish faith I mean, the faitliof those who lived between the giWng of the law and the comingof Christ. These, that is, those that were serious and sincere^

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