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SUMMARY OF SERMON I.
HEBREWS, CHAP. III.-VERSE 12.
IF the causes of all the sin and mischief in the world were carefully sought, we should find the chief to be infidelity; either total or gradual: hence the use of dissuading men from it.
That infidelity is a sinful distemper of the heart, appears by divers express testimonies of Scripture, and good reasons grounded thereon: this illustrated. But the sinfulness will appear more fully by a consideration of its nature and ingredients; its causes; its properties and adjuncts; its effects and consequences.
I. In its nature it involves an affected blindness and ignorance of the most noble and useful truths; a bad use of reason; disregard of God's providence; abuse of his grace; bad opinions of him, and bad affections towards him: this fully shown.
II. With regard to its causes: 1. It commonly proceeds from negligence, drowsy carelessness, or a spirit of slumber with regard to religious matters. 2. From sloth, which indisposes men to undergo the fatigue of seriously attending to the doctrine proposed, of examining its grounds, and of weighing the reasons to believe it, &c. 3. From stupidity or dulness of apprehension not natural, contracted by voluntary indisposi
tions and defects; arising from the mists of prejudice, steams of lust and passion, &c. 4. From bad judgment, corrupted by prejudicated notions and partial inclination to falsehood. 5. From perverseness of will, which hinders men from entertaining notions disagreeable to their fond or froward humor; they are a faithless, because a perverse generation. 6. From hardness of heart, which is so often represented as an obstruction to belief; which hindered Pharaoh from hearkening to God's word. 7. Of kin to such perverseness of heart is that squeamish delicacy and niceness of humor, which will not let men entertain or savor any thing, anywise seeming hard or harsh to them, if they cannot presently comprehend all that is said, or if they can frame any cavil, or little exception to it: affected with this were the Apostles themselves in their minority. 8. With such a disposition is connected a want of love to truth; the which if a man have not, he cannot well entertain such notions as the gospel propounds, being nowise grateful to carnal sense, &c. 9. A grand cause of infidelity is pride, which interposes various bars to the admission of Christian truth, filling a man with vanity and an affectation of seeming wise above others, &c. contrary to the prime notions of Christianity, which all tend to debase human conceit: this topic enlarged on. 10. Another spring of infidelity is pusillanimity, or want of good resolution and courage; for Christianity is a warfare, &c. 11. Infidelity also arises from sturdiness, fierceness, untamed wildness of spirit: 12. Also from blind zeal grounded on prejudice, disposing men to adhere to that which they have been addicted to. 13. Infidelity issues from corruption of mind by any kind of brutish lust, irregular passion, or bad habit: faith and conscience are twins, inseparable from each other: if a man be covetous, he can hardly submit to that heavenly law which forbids us to treasure up treasures on earth: if ambitious, he will not approve that which teaches all kinds of humility, &c. 14. In fine, from
what spirit infidelity proceeds we may see by the principles, commonly with it espoused; and by its patrons; all which do rankly savor of baseness and ill-nature: this topic enlarged on.
III. Farther, the naughtiness of infidelity will appear by considering its effects and consequences; which are plainly a deluge of all mischiefs and outrages: for faith being removed, together with it all conscience goes; no virtue can remain ; nothing rests to encourage men in what is good, or restrain them from evil, &c. The consideration of which ills hath engaged statesmen in every commonwealth to support some kind of faith, as necessary to public order, traffic, and peace among
An infidel that hath any wit, might be persuaded for his own interest, safety, and pleasure, to cherish faith in others.
But it may be said, is there such a thing as infidelity in Christendom? are we not all Christians? all baptised into the faith, and professors of it?
This may be said but if we consider better, we shall find ground more than enough for this discourse; and that infidelity has a larger territory than we suppose: for to pass over swarms of atheistical apostates, many infidels lurk under the mask of Christian profession. It is not the name, or badges of religion that make a Christian, any more than the cowl makes a monk, or the beard a philosopher: there may be a creed in the mouth, when there is no faith in the heart: if no works be shown, no faith is to be granted concluding observations on this head.
I Believe, &c.
OF THE EVIL AND UNREASONABLENESS OF
HEBREWS, CHAP. III.-VERSE 12.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.
IF the causes of all the sin and all the mischief in the world were carefully sought, we should find the chief of all to be infidelity; either total or gradual. Wherefore to dehort and dissuade from it is a very profitable design; and this, with God's assistance, I shall endeavor from these words; in which two particulars naturally do offer themselves to our observation; an assertion implied, that infidelity is a sinful distemper of heart; and a duty recommended, that we be careful to void or correct that distemper: of these to declare the one, and to press the other, shall be the scope of my discourse.
That infidelity is a sinful distemper of heart appeareth by divers express testimonies of Scripture, and by many good reasons grounded thereon.
It is by our Saviour in terms called sin: 'when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin,-of sin, because they believe not in me' and, 'If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin :' and, 'If ye were blind, ye should not have had sin; but now ye say, We see, therefore your sin abideth.' What sin? that
of infidelity, for which they were culpable, having such powerful means and arguments to believe imparted to them, without due effect.
It hath a condemnation grounded thereon; 'He,' saith our Saviour, that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God:' but condemnation ever doth suppose faultiness. It hath sore punishment denounced thereto; God,' saith St. Paul, shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness;' and, our Lord, saith he, at his coming to judgment, will 'take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ;' whence among those, who have their part in the lake burning with fire and brimstone, the fearful, and unbelievers' (that is, they who fear to profess, or refuse to believe the Christian doctrine) are reckoned in the first place; which implieth infidelity to be a heinous sin.
It is also such, because it is a transgression of a principal law, or divine command; This,' saith St. John, is ǹ évroλǹ avrov, the command of him, That we should believe;' this, saith our Lord, is rò epyov Tou Оeou, the signal work of God, (which God requireth of us,) that 'ye believe on him, whom he hath sent:" that was a duty which our Lord and his Apostles chiefly did teach, enjoin, and press; wherefore correspondently infidelity is a great sin; according to St. John's notion, that sin is ȧvoμía, 'the transgression of a law.'
But the sinfulness of infidelity will appear more fully by considering its nature and ingredients; its causes; its properties and adjuncts; its effects and consequences.
I. In its nature it doth involve an affected blindness and ignorance of the noblest and most useful truths; a bad use of reason, and most culpable imprudence; disregard of God's providence, or despite thereto; abuse of his grace; bad opinions of him, and bad affections toward him; for
God in exceeding goodness and kindness to mankind hath proposed a doctrine, in itself' faithful and worthy of all acceptation,' containing most excellent truths instructive of our mind and directive of our practice, toward attainment of salvation