SATURDAY AFTER LOW SUNDAY
ON THE GROUNDS OF FAITH
Consider first, that divine faith is grounded always upon God’s infallible truth, inasmuch as every assent of divine faith is given by the soul upon the motive of divine revelation: she believes all these truths because God has taught them, who is the truth itself and who cannot deceive, nor be deceived. Whosoever believes upon any other motive, and not upon the testimony of God, may have an opinion indeed of heavenly truths, or human faith concerning them, but falls short of divine faith, which wholly builds itself upon God’s truth. And therefore, divine faith carries with it a greater and higher degree of certainty than any human sciences whatsoever; because nothing can be so certain, as that truth itself cannot lie, and that what God has taught must needs be true. See then, my soul, what kind of assent God expects thou shouldst yield to all the truths he has revealed; he expects thou shouldst bow thyself down to them, earnestly embrace them, and firmly adhere to them as most certain and divine.
Consider 2ndly, that though the only proper motive upon which a Christian believes with divine faith the truths of religion be divine revelation, or the word and testimony of God, either contained in the Scriptures, or conveyed down by tradition; yet, as this testimony or revelation first delivered to the saints, must come to us recommended by such evidences as may be sufficient to convince us that God has spoken indeed, and has revealed these truths, and does require our assent to them as divine, therefore this sovereign Truth has been pleased to set such marks upon all the truths that come from him, and has stamped them in such a manner with his broad seal, as may fully satisfy all sincere seekers and lovers of truth of their coming indeed from his divine majesty so that it would be highly unreasonable for them not to yield to them that assent of faith which is due to divine truths. Of this nature are all the prophecies and miracles, and other arguments of credibility upon which the Christian religion is grounded, together with the innumerable tokens of divine favour, which recommend to us that illustrious society of the catholic church of Christ, which bears testimony to the divinity of all these truths.
Consider 3rdly, by descending to particulars, some of the many strong and weighty arguments and motives that give force to the testimony and authority of this church of Christ, considered as an illustrious society, bearing witness to those truths which she delivers as having received them from God himself. This great and most ancient society is, and has been for 1700 years, spread far and near through all the world; she was foreshown and foretold long before by many plain and glorious prophecies; she was established by Christ and his Apostles, by signs and wonders and innumerable miracles, the gift of tongues, and other gifts of the Spirit of God; she was miraculously propagated in a short time throughout the world, in spite of all the opposition of the whole earth and hell; she has been maintained ever since by the blood of millions of martyrs, and by the saintly and miraculous lives of millions of other servants of God in all ages and in all nations; she has been embraced and followed by all the best and wisest of men, and defended by the most goodly and learned; she has in fine, all this time held forth the light of God to the whole world, by her constantly and fervently preaching all holiness, by the purity and sanctity of her doctrine, and by the efficacy of it in the conversion of innumerable sinners, in the withdrawing thousands of all conditions from the broad way of the world to a recluse and penitential life, and inspiring thousands of her children with a desire of wholly dedicating themselves to divine love; so that she has at all times, and in all places, produced many eminent saints, whose whole lives have been standing miracles of divine grace, and standing testimonies of the truth of that faith and church which they all professed. These and many other arguments and motives of credibility loudly proclaim to all mankind, that the hand of God and his truth is, and always has been, with this illustrious society of the church of Christ; and that she is entirely to be credited in the testimonies she bears to the divine revelations of all that she proposes as matters of faith.
Conclude with giving thanks to the goodness and all-wise providence of the Almighty, who has not only revealed to his church his heavenly truths, for the healing our souls from all their maladies and bringing them to the very fountain of health and life, which is with him; but also has given that illustrious authority to her whom he has made the guardian and depository of his truths that if we are sincere in seeking we can not well fail of finding both her and them. But then remember that the faith of divine truths, how infallible soever, will never bring thee to God, except it be a living faith that works by charity in Jesus Christ, Gal. v. 6.