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men religious, we should hardly find fb, many wicked and sensual persons as we dp. The generality of men acknowledge the principles of religion, and the truths of the gospel. If you ask them whether they believe that there is a God, and that he knows the secrets of the heart, and will one day call men to an account for their actions; if you ask them whether they believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that he died for our sins, and rose again for our justification; that he is ascended into heaven, and will come from thence at the last day to judge the quick and the dead: I say, if you ask them whether they believe these things; they will answer in the affirmative, arid perhaps be not a little angry with you for seeming to call their faith in question. But here lies their unhappiness; that tho they dp in some sort believe these things, and cannot withold assent from them whenever they consider them; yet it very rarely happens that they do consider them. A croud of other thoughts presses into their minds, and excludes those of a religious kind. Their hearts are set upon the riches, the honours, and the pleasures of this life: worldly thoughts *. always. always remain with them, and are constant inhabitants in their souls; but holy and devout meditations visit them but seldom, and are like strangers and sojourners, who tarry a little while in a place, and after that perhaps are no more seen or heard of.
This is the deplorable case of men whose hearts God hath not enlarged. But when he enlargeth the heart, he brings divine truths to our remembrance, and causes them to make a deep impression upon the soul: he sets before us the evil of sin, and the beauty of holiness: he raises in our minds the ideas of his own attributes and perfections: he convinces us of the reasonableness and goodness of all his laws: he represents to us the worth and value of our immortal souls: he transplants our thoughts from earth to heaven* and extends our views beyond time to eternity. This is the first thing which God doth when he enlargeth the heart: he impresses divine truths upon our minds. But then,
2. To complete this enlargement, he stirs up holy resolutions within us. The understanding may be well. informed,' and be very conversant about divine M 4 things, things, and yet the will may have a vitious biass: for it doth not always happen that the affections are influenced by the understanding: and what the affections do not embrace, 'tis impossible the will should chuse. How many are there to whom that of the poet is ap^ plicable:
Video meliora proboque j
Their reason is on the side of virtue, but their passions are on the side of vice. Therefore when God enlargeth the hearts he changeth the course of the passions, and diverts them into a different channel. "What Solomon saith of the heart of kings, is equally true of the hearts of all men: they are in the hand of the Lord; as the rivers of water\ he turneth them whithersoever he will. Men are very often unsuccessful in their addresies to the passions: tho they speak with all the reason and eloquence that it is possible for men to do, yet they frequently fail of exciting the passions, and overcoming the will; for there are many persons who are like the deaf adder3 that Jlofpeth hfr ear, which will
Wt not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming ever Jo wisely, Psalm LVIII. 4, 5. But the things which are impossible with men, arepojfible with God: he hath an absolute dominion over the hearts of men, and can with the greatest ease stir up devout affections in them, and incline them to make holy and virtuous resolutions. And when he is pleased to do so, then I think he may very properly be said to enlarge the heart. I proceed now,
III. To shew you, that it is impossible for us to run the way of God's commandments, except God doth enlarge our hearts.
For this purpose it will be proper to consider the difficulties of a religious life. And let none be surprized that I speak of difficulties in religion: for, if there were none, our Saviour would never have represented it unto us under the metaphor of a Jlrait gate, and a narrow or a craggy way; nor would he have told us, that it is eqfier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Now the difficulty of religion arises from these three causes: the corruption of our nature; the temptations which assault us from without j and the evil habits whioh we ourselves contract. On these therefore I will now discourse; and thence argue the, necessity of a supernatural aid, or a divine enlargement, in order to the chearful discharge of our duty, i 1. 1 begin with the first j namely, the corruption of our nature.
As I am not for debasing human nature, to that degree to which some would debase it; so neither am I for exalting it to that pitch to which some would exalt it. That there ie in mankind a propensity to vice, and that this propensity discovers itself very early, are truths founded upon observation and experience *; and seem also to be countenanced by the word of
* Here the following lines were inserted ; but asterwards struck out again, with this realon assigned, that the author took for granted, scripture testimonies wouldbe more acceptable to a christian auditory.
"Several os the heathens were iensible of the depra"vity of human nature, and deeply lamented it. Cebcs "the Thebah, hath represented it under the figure os "a woman, whose name is Impojiure, who holds a cup