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the human understanding, to acquiesce in the decision of the great body of the Church to which we belong : remembering always, that that Church does not claim for itself that infallibility, which it denies to every other: conscious that at present we can know only in part those things which hereafter shall be more fully revealed.
From what has been said, the application of the latter part of the text, hold fast that which is good, becomes easy and obvious.We shall certainly do right to adhere stedfastly to these three things. First, the evidences of Christianity, upon which rests our belief in its truth in general. Secondly, its points of faith as received by our Church, by which we are connected with that particular branch of it established in these kingdoms. And lastly, its rules of practice, by which we should regulate our lives, in order to attain that holiness without which none shall see the Lord.
We should rely upon the evidences of Christianity, because almost the whole of the civilized world has now trusted to them for nearly two thousand years, and it is scarcely
possible to conceive, that had there been any error or defect in them, it would not before this have been detected and exposed. And because if we were to abandon it, its place could be supplied by no system to which any rational man could give any credence, or which could at all promote our happiness either in this world or in the next.
We should continue to receive with reverence those points of faith, which our Church has sanctioned after the most mature deliberation, because it is hopeless to expect that any further light will be shed
mysterious subjects, except the Almighty should, in his wisdom and goodness, deign to accord a further Revelation to mankind. Because those points of faith, though confessedly far removed from our comprehension, are not on that account the less likely to be true. Since we are surrounded on all sides, with objects submitted to our senses, whose origin, nature, and secret properties, defy our utmost sagacity to penetrate. The mystery of the Creation is more inconceivable by us, than that of our Redemption. The union of our souls and bodies is as inexplicable by reason, as the doctrine of the Trinity.
But above all, we should persevere in the practice of all those great moral duties, which were commanded and exemplified by our blessed Saviour himself. Without this, vain is our profession of our belief in his religion, either in its evidences or its doctrines. greatest heresy in the world (says Archbishop Tillotson) is a wicked life—and God will sooner forgive a man a hundred defects of his understanding, than one fault of his will !.” So true is this, that he whose life is at variance with the laws of the Gospel, can hardly be sincere in his profession of its faith ; and therefore frequently adds to his other sins, that of hypocrisy, the most odious of all vices, and that which was most frequently and most severely reprehended by its Divine Author.He who treats the Christian morality lightly, in comparison with its mysteries, affords a very suspicious proof of his sincerity ; and holds out a doctrine, very encouraging to the weakness and depravity of human nature.Let us hold fast therefore that which is really good, the example and the precepts of Jesus Christ. The more constantly we adhere to these, the more evidently will it appear
1 Works, vol. i. Sermon 31.
that we have obeyed the Apostle's injunction to prove all things necessary for our salvation, so far as the infirmity of our present condition will permit; and the more confidently may we look for the reward of our obedience, in the promised blessings of the life to come.
HEBREWS x. 23.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without
wavering : for he is faithful that promised.
It is remarkable that this reading in the original, stands upon the authority of but one manuscript, all the others literally translated would require, instead of “ the profession of our faith," the profession of hope !; but the Scriptural sense of faith and hope is so nearly the same, that our translators may well be excused for adopting the former, though the latter should perhaps in strictness have been preferred, as having the greater weight of authorities in its favour. But taken either way, we cannot help being struck with the necessity for such an exhortation from an