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of the Holy Doctrines that it taught, as to be able to Attract the Will; and make itself as Affectionately Embrac'd out of Love to it's Goodness, as Stedfastly Believ'd for the Evidence of its Truth. A Religion so Spiritual, fo Holy, so Pure, every way so Worthy of God; fo Righteous, fo Charitable, so Mercyful, every way fo Beneficial to Man; so Expressive of the Divine Nature, and so perfective of the Human, even without the assistance of the Open and Sensible Demonstration of Prophecys Fulfilld, and Miracles Perform’d, muft needs carry along with it such an inward and Rational Conviction of its Own Excellence, as to make it appear not only worthy of all Men to be receiv d, 1 Tim. 1.15. but Such as by None other than God himself could have been reveald; Being not only a Copy of his Will but his Nature, not the Arbitrary Declaration of his Uncontrollable Power, but the very Express Image and Reflection of his Essential Holyness. So Infinitely did it exceed all that ever pure Nature, or Reason Unenlighten'd from above, could aspire to, all that the Wiseft Philosophers and Moralists ever taught, or the best Lawgiyers, and Founders of Republicks ever Enjoin'd. It might reasonably have been expected that so Excellent a Religion as this, without so prodigious a Ma
nifestation of Divine Power, as Visibly and Constantly attended on it and gave Witness to it, should upon the account of it's Own Worth, if not from Conviction, yet from Inclination, have been with Open Arms Embrac'd, should have made an Easy and Gentle, but a Powerful and Effectual Conqueft over the Hearts of Men. But the Effect was quite contrary: This Excellent Goodness of the Gospel which ought to have recommended it without the help of any Other Arguments, was the chief reason that all the Other Arguments, which else must needs have taken place where they did not take place, prov'd Ineffectual. Indeed wherever the Soil was in any ways agreeable to the Heavenly Seed, there it took root downward and bore Fruit upward, in some Thirty, in some Sixty, in fome a Hundred Fold, as our Saviour in the Parable of the Sower sets forth, where he manifestly resolves the Causes of the Reception of the Gospel into Honesty and Goodness of Heart (Luke 8. 15.) The same which after Him the Apostle likewise do's, Rom. 10. 10. affirming that 'tis with the Heart, that is from the good Dispositions of an Obedient Will and well order'd Affections, that Man believeth unto Righteousness. But on the contrary, where the will and Affections were deprav'd, where Ambition, Pride, Avarice, Sensuality,
or any other commanding Lusts had got Possession and Dominion over the Heart, there all the Powerfullest Demonstrations of Predictions fulfill'd, and wonderful Works wrought, were not able to gain Credit to the Word. How Can ye Believe, says Our Saviour to the Pharisees possess d with the Spirit of Ambition and Pride? The more Spiritual, and Meek, and Pure, and Holy, the Doctrine was, the more Averse were Carnal Minds to entertain it; and that One Heavenly Sermon on the Mount, which Our Saviour Preach'd, was enough with Earthly minded Men to obstruct the Conviction of all the Miracles that he wrought. As Unwilling as any Man was to part with his Vices; so Unwilling was he to receive the Law against them; All the Light of Truth could not convince those who receiv'd not the Love of the Truth, as the Apostle speaks; 2 Thess. 2. 10. who believ'd not the Truth, because they had Pleasure in Vnrighteousness. v. 2. Thus it far'd with the Gospel at its firft appearance in the World; and the same entertainment it has met with ever since, even down to the dregs of Time into which we are fallen, Only with this difference, that What was in Them to whom the Gospel was first Preach'd, bare Infidelity; in Us who have been born where the Light of the Gospel has so long shin'd, is
downright Apoftacy: As the Apostle here hints to the Converted Hebrews, whom he therefore calls Brethren; For in a Brother, any
One that has ever given up his Name to Chrift, an Evil Heart of Unbelief, is no lefs than. λποσηναι λπο τ8 Θεέ ζωντος. Highly necessary therefore Now, if ever, is this Caution in the Text. Take heed Brethren left there be in any of You an Evil Heart of Unbeliefs and Ye'turn Apoftates from the Living God.
The Heart in Holy Scripture is by an easy Figure of Speech familiar enough in Human Writings allo, taken either for the Understanding, the Reason, the Wisedom; or the Will, the Affections and Desires of Man. But more frequently, and here particularly, according to the best Expositors, for the latter. Wherefore from the Words thus understood, I shall Endeavour Two Things;
I. First, To shew that Unbelief chiefly proceeds from an Evil Heart; that is, from å Rebellious Will, from Corrupt Affections, and Vicious Inclinations.
II. Secondly, To enforce therefore this Caution of the Apostle, that We take especial heed left there be in Us such an Evil Heart: and that both for the Inexcusable Folly and the Unexpressible Danger of it.
1. First, I am to shew that Unbelief proceeds chiefly from an Evil Heart. And to satisfy us how natural a Fruit Infidelity is of an Evil Heart, it will not be amiss to consider in general, how powerful a Sway Men's Wills and Inclinations have in all Things else over their Belief. And how Powerful and how Universal that Influence is, a very small measure of Experience and Observation will suffice to inform us. Every Day and every Place and every Business we meet with in the World abundantly Supply us with Instances of it. What absurd and incredible Stories will pass Current with Men, that have a Mind they should be true? And what Difficulties can they Discover in most probable and likely Relations, if they heartily wish them to be false? What Certainty, what Evidence can prevail or gain admittance, when Interest or Passion shuts the Door to all Belief? There is Nothing in the World that Men agree so well in universally acknowledging the Truth of, as the Principles and Conclusions of the pure and unmix'd Mathematicks : But Mr Hobbes's Reason for this is remarkable enough, which is, he says, because Men care not much in that Subject what is Truth, as a thing That crosses no Man's Ambition, Profit or Luft, And the Only Cause, why none have ever