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Moral, and those called Positive : For, if the positive Duties are the Means and Instruments appointed by God for preserving true Religion and Morality, true Religion and Morality can never be at variance with the Means appointed to preserve them. And, as to the Obligation of observing these Duties, 'tis on all sides equal : For, since we are bound to obey God by all the Ties of moral Duty, and since the Institutions of Religion are of God's Appointment, whatever the Matter of the Institution be, the Obligation to obey is certainly a moral Obligation : Which, duly considered, will fhew, that the Text extends to all Parts of Religion, and that on these two Commandments bang all the Law and the Prophets.
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Take heed, Brethren, left there be in any of you
an evil Heart of Unbelief in departing from the living God.
Y2282*HE Words of the Text contain
an earnest Exhortation, asisevi. T
the first View : And the Subject of the Exhortation is ein
Faith towards God; for Faith is the Principle destroyed by an evil Heart of Unbelief. But Faith, as some think, is no proper Subject for Exhortation: For, if Faith is a mere Act of the Mind judging upon Motives of Credibility, 'tis as reasonable to exhort a Man to see with his Eyes, as to
judge with his Understanding; and the warmest Admonition will not enlarge the Sight, which will still depend upon the Goodness of the Eye, and the Distance and Position of the Object. In Faith the Case is much the same: If the Affections are thoroughly raised, and made eager to embrace the Faith, they may chance indeed to step in between the Premises and Conclusion, and make Men profess to believe, without knowing or considering the Reasons of belief; which is to destroy the Foundation of Faith : Or, if they keep their due Distance, and leave the Cause to be decided by Reason and Understanding, their Influence will be nothing, and they might as well have been left out of the Case; since Faith will follow the Judgnient the Mind makes upon the Motives of Credibility.
But then, if this be the true Notion of Faith, That it is merely an Act of the Mind assenting to a Truth upon Motives of Credibility, how comes it that in every Page we find the Praises of it in the Gospel ? What is there in this to deserve the Blessings promised to the Faithful ? Or, whence is it that the whole of our Salvation is put upon this Foot? Abraham, we are told, was justified by Faith, and by Faith inherited the Promises :
By Faith we become the Sons of Abraham, and Heirs together with bim of the Hope which is through Christ Jefus : By Faith we have Admittance to God, and are intitled through the Spirit of Adoption to cry Abba, Father : By Faith we are delivered from the Bondage of Corruption into the glorious Liberty of the Sons of God: By Faith we wait for the Adoption, to wit, the Redemption of our Body. But how come all these Prerogatives to belong to Faith, if Faith be nothing else but believing Things in themselves credible ? Why are we not said to be justified by Sight, as well as by Faith? for is there not the same Virtue in seeing Things visible, as in believing Things credible? is not the Understanding as faulty when it rejects Things credible, as the Eye when it does not perceive Things visible ? Tell me then, what is Faith, that it should raise Men above the Level of Mortality, and make them become like the Angels of Heaven ?
But farther; If Faith be only an Act of the Understanding formed upon due Reasons and Motives, how comes it to be described in Scripture as having its Seat in the Heart? The Apostle in the Text cautions against an evil Heart of Unbelief: And the same Notion prevails throughout the Books of Scripture,