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these Things are debating: And, though they can only be tried at the Bar of Reason, yet
the Heart will be Counsel on one side or other: And even in these Cases there is Reason to remember the Apostolical Admonition, Take heed, left there be in you an evil Heart of Unbelief.
Proceed to consider the Cha-
What may be proper to be said on this Subject may be reduced, I think, under these three Heads :
First, To Thew, that it is for want of Faith, considered as a Principle of Religion, that Men depart from the living God.
Secondly, That Faith cannot be a Principle of Religion, until it has its Effects and Operations in the Heart.
Thirdly, That the Motions and Operations of the Heart are in great measure under our own Power and Government.
And from hence it will evidently appear, how much it is the Business and Concern of a religious Life to be watchful over the Heart, to guard against all such Affections as will destroy the Influence of Faith, and render the Heart uncapable of receiving the Impressions of the Spirit of God.
First then, We are to fhew that it is for want of Faith, considered as a Principle of Religion, that. Men depart from the living God. What is meant by departing from God, will appear by comparing this with other equivalent Expressions made use of in this Chapter. In the eighth Verse the Apostle introduces the Holy Ghost speaking in the Language of the Psalmist, and thus fore , warning the People, Harden 1100
your Hearts. In the tenth Verfe God complains of the rebellious Israelites in the Wilderness, saying, They do always err in their Hearts, and they have not known my. Ways. In the Verse immediately after the Text the Apostle thus, explains his Meaning: But exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, left any of you be hardened through the Deceitfulness of Sin. So then, to be hardened in Heart, to err in Heart, not to know or walk in the Ways of God, to be hardened through the Deceitfulness of Sin, are one and the fame
Thing as departing from the living God : And the Meaning of these figurative Expressions is clearly explained at the seventeenth Verse: But with whom was he grieved forty Years? was it not with them that had finned? As Sinners are said to depart from God, so those who forsake Sin, and are converted, are said, in the Language of Scripture, to turn to God. Of the holy Baptist, who came preaching Repentance from dead Works, it was foretold, That he Mould turn many to the Lord their God, Luke' i. 16. And the Apostles Paul and Barnabas thus describe the Purpose and End of their Mif, sion: We preach unto you, that ye should turn from these Vanities unto the living God, Acts
The Propriety of these Expressions will appear, if we consider God, under the Representation made of him by our Saviour in the Parable of the Prodigal, as the Father of the Family; and Sinners as prodigal Sons, who, weary of their Father's Government, forsake his House, and reduced by Luxury and Riot, enter into the Service of strange Masters, till the Sense of Want and their own Misery brings them back to beg Ada mittance again into their Father's House. Thus the Nations of old forfaok the Service