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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 confider'd is the Degrees of Faith, and the difference of them. And that there are 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
m u Persons are infinitely various, and not Volume to be reduced to Theory; but suppo| XII.
sing a competent capacity in the Perfon, then the Degrees of Faith or Perswasion 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 Perswafion. 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 it 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 so doth the degree of perswalion wrought by it:
but God being both Infallible, and an True, and consequently it being im- Sermon possible that he should either deceive, · 1. or be deceived, his Testimony begets the firmest perswalion, and the highest degree of Faith in its kind. But then it is to be consider'd, that there not being a revelation of á 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 rests 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
s waded 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 perswalion, or the capacity of the Person that believes or is perswaded. If the thing believed be of great moment, the Ef fect 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 poffibly be totally defeated, by casting off the perswasion: for while it remains, it will operate and endeavour and strive to work its proper 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 perswafion 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 į of Argument that may perswade him
IV. For the Kinds of Faith they Sermon are several, according to the variety of Objects or things believed. I shall 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 folicitous, 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