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ed their testimony with their blood, and were enabled to add farther attestations by a variety of miracles, and the several gifts of the holy Ghoft, 1 John i. 1, 2. That
, which was from the beginning, says St. John, in the name of himself and of the other primitive disciples, which we have heard (with our own ears from Christ himself,) which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, (with a just care and concern that we might not be mistaken in a matter of such importance,) which our bands have handled, of the word of life ; i. e. concerning Christ : referring probably to that evidence already mentioned, which Christ was pleased to offer to Thomas and the rest of his disciples of the truth of his resurrection ; which though it was occasioned by an unreafonable incredulity in Thomas, yet was made by providence an occasion of giving a considerable assistance to the faith of after-christians. That, fays the Apostle, which we have feen and heard, déclare we unto you.
And this testimony given by the first disciples, is conveyed down to us in the written records of the New Testa. ment, which have been witte fled to, for the fubftance of the facts contained in them, by friends and enemics from age to age.
If; yet it should be faid, that we stand not however just upon the same foot for these things, as the first Christians did; yet while we fall short one way, we gain another. We have several evidences of the truth of the chriltian religion, which they of the first age could not have, in the accomplishment of many prophefies contained in the New Testament :
Such as the destru&tion of Jerusalem, with all the minute circumstances of agreement between the prophecy and execution : the rejection of the Jewish nation for so many ages, and with the most eminent marks of distinction: the extensive and quick propagation of the Gospel, answerable to what was foretold, notwithstanding the greatest oppositions, and by instruments very unlikely to conquer the world to the obedience of faith : the many fufferers of the professors of it, their courage and constancy, and yet the maintenance and growth of Christianity under all : the rise and progress of the man of lin: and other such proofs.
We have also the standing evidence of the power of the Gospel, in the inighty change it produces in the tempers and lives of fome in every age : would to God there were more fuch instances in our degenerate times to strike the world around with conviction and admiration ! Blessed be God that there are some. Those who actually feel the virtue of it, have the witness in themselves.
These things may shew, that in our present circumstances, faith in Christ is most reasonably claimed from us, though we have never feen hin.
3. Faith in Christ, upon the foundations we now have, is sufficient to supply the 'want of fight, for all practical purposes. If we are willing to believe the testimony of God, upon as full attestations that it comes from him, as we are entirely satisfied with in other cases, "we cannot want considerations fit to influence
us to every part of the christian life. The object of faith, the do&trine of the Gospel, contains abundant 6 evidence of things not seen,”. a full proof of them, though we see them not : by faith we receive that evidence or proof as God's testimony; and if we do it fincerely, we shall act and govern ourselves by it. We have those truths recorded in the Scripture which our Lord delivered by word of mouth; and the same credentials enrolled there for the use of all ages, which Christ then gave. If we are insensible of the obligations arising from these things in our present circumstances : whatever we may imagine, it may justly be concluded, that we should have been among the unbelievers in Christ's own time ; that the same prejudices and corrupt affections would have prevailed with us to reject Christ in person, which hin, ders us from entertaining him as offered in the Gospel.
4. We are called to believe many things concerning Christ, which none ever sáw; and therefore for those things at leaft we are upon a level with those who conversed with him in our world. His life and death, and resurrection and ascension, were indeed made objects of sense to fome; but his divine nature, and the designs of his death, were entirely matters of faith to them as well as to us. What Christ is now in heaven, what he is doing there, and what he will do when he shall come again the second time, ever were things out of the reach of sense, as they are now : eye hath not seen them, though the ear hath heard thein ; they
were believed upon the word of Christ and of his inspired apostles, and so they should be by us. These things which are as important in christianity as those which were once obvious to sense, and which have as great an influence upon the christian temper, were solely matters of faith to the first Christians as well as to us.
5. There is a peculiar excellence in the faith of Christians, as thus circumstanced ; that it is a faith in a Saviour whom they have not seen. The goodness of faith conlists in a readiness to believe and govern ourselves by the teftimony of God, as far as we can difcern it. There was nothing commendable in perfons believing that such and such facts came to pass, that such mighty works were done, which they faw with their eyes, and therefore could not but believe : but all that was morally good in their faith was, that they were led by these evidences to believe unseen things upon the testimony of God. The case is the faine now; the grace of faith is altogether a different thing from fight : and if our fenfible evidence be less than that of the first Christians ; yet as long as it is sufficient, our faith thus circumstanced fhews a more prompt inclination to take God's word, where we have ground enough to believe that he fpeaks, though we should not have such overbearing evidence as fome have had. The language of it is ; “ I am willing to know the co mind of God, howsoever he pleases to make “ it known to me; I prescribe not to him Is the way : 1 acquiesce in the method which sexhis wisdom, and goodness, and sovereignty “ chuses, for making me acquainted with it : : " as long as I am convinced that I have his 66 testimony, I would fall in with it, and guide * myself by it: and therefore I receive a Sa.
viour, who I am well assured comes from " him, though I have never seen him, as some "did.” This is a temper of mind honourable to God, becoming a reasonable creature, and one who is in earnest concerned for the interests of his soul.
6. We have encouragement to hope, that our faith in an unseen Saviour will be peculiarly acceptable. We not only find Christ praying before his sufferings for those " who should afterwards believe in him through the word” of his apofties, as well as for his pre: sent disciples : John xvii. 20. but also after his resurrection pronouncing a peculiar bleiledness upon thole' who should « believe in * him, though they saw himn not,” John xx. 29. Hereby we give glory to Ged, as strong in faith ; and God will accordingly honour Tuch a faith. The apostle writing to the Theffalonians, who were called into the kingdom and fellowship of the Lord Jesus after his leaving the world, tells them, 2 Theff. i. 10. that "he should come to be glorified in his faints, and to be admired in all them that believe, beCause (lays the apostle) our teftimony among you was believed.”
1. We may see the wisdom of divine providence, in adjusting the circuinstances of Vol. I. S