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3. Reasons drawn from the thing; Sermon which may either be necessary and
I. concluding, or else only probable, and plausible.
4. The Authority and Testimony of some Credible Person. Now two things give Authority and Credit to the Relation, or Testimony, or Assertion of a Person concerning any thing; Ability, and Integrity. Ability, if he can be presumed to have a competent knowledge of what he relates, or afserts, or testifies; and Integrity, if he may be presumed to be honest in his Relation, and free from any design, or will to deceive. And to these Heads, I think all Arguments of Belief may be reduc’d.
II. The Second Thing to be consider'd is the Degrees of Faith, and the difference of them. And that there Degrees I take for granted, tho’I shall afterwards have occafion to prove it in a Divine Faith; and these depend perfectly upon the Capacity of the Perfon that believes, or is perswaded. Now, the Capacity, or Incapacity of
Persons are infinitely various, and not Volume
to be reduced to Theory; but suppoXII.
fing a competent capacity in the Perfon, then the Degrees of Faith or Perswalion take their difference from the Arguments, or Motives, or Inducements which are used to perfwade. Where Sense is the Argument, there is the highest and firmest Degree of Faith, or Perswasion. Next to that is Experience, which is beyond any Argument or Reason from the thing. The Faith, or Perswasion which is wrought in us by Reasons drawn from the thing, the Degrees of
are, as the Reasons'are: if they be necessary and concluding, it is firm and certain in its kind; if only probable, according to the degrees of probability, it hath more or less of doubting mix'd with it. Lastly, the Faith which is wrought in us by Teftimony or Authority of a Person, takes its degrees from the Credit of the Person, that is, his Ability, and Integrity. Now because all Men are Lyars, that is, either may deceive, or be deceived, their Testimony partakes of their Infirmity, and fo doth the degree of perswalion wrought by it:
but God being both Infallible, and
Sermon True, and consequently it being impossible that he should either deceive,
. I. or be deceived, his Testimony begets the firmest perswasion, and the highest degree of Faith in its kind. But then it is to be consider'd, that there not being a revelation of a revelation in infinitum ; that this is a Divine Testimony and Revelation, we can only have rational assurance; and the degree of the Faith, or perswasion which is wrought by a Divine Testimony will be according to the strength of the Arguments which we have to perswade us that such a Teftimony is Divine.
III. For the Efficacy or Operation of Faith, we are to consider that the things we may believe or be perswaded of, are of two sorts. Either, 1. They are such as do not concern me; and then the Mind refts in a naked and simple belief of them, and a Faith or Perswasion of such things has no effect upon me; but is apt to have, if ever it happen that the matter do concern me : Or else, 2. The thing I believe or am per
swaded of doth concern me; and then Volume it hath several Effects according to the XII. nature of the thing I am perswaded
of, or the degree of the perswasion, or the capacity of the Person that believes or is perswaded. If the thing believed be of great moment, the Effect of the Faith is proportionable, cæteris paribus; and so according to the degree of the perswasion: but if the Person be indisposed to the proper Effects of such a perswasion by the power of contrary habits, as it often happens, the Effect will be obtained with more difficulty, and may possibly be totally defeated, by casting off the perswalion: for while it re-, mains, it will operate and endeavour and strive to work its
effect. For Example, a Man may believe that Wine is very pernicious to him; and yet a strong inclination to it may render it very difficult for this perswasion to work its proper effect upon him, which is to leave off Wine, and may at length wholly defeat it, by furnishing him with some colour of Argument that may perswade him otherwise.
IV. For the Kinds of Faith they Sermon are several, according to the variety
I. of Objects or things believed. I shaft reduce them all under these two General Heads.
1. Faith is either Civil or Humane, under which I comprehend the perswasion of things Moral, and Natural, and Political, and the like: Or,
2. Divine and Religious, that is, a perswasion of things that concern Religion. I know not whether these terms be
proper, nor am I very solicitous, because I know none fitter, and tell
you what I mean by them.
The first kind of Faith concerning things Humane and Civil, I shall not speak of, it being besides my Design.
The second, which I call a Religigious and Divine Faith, comprehends three things under it, which are distinctly to be consider’d.
1. A perswasion of the Principles of Natural Religion, which are known