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grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart," &c. This is spoken of as what prevented Zedekiah's turning to the Lord, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13.
« He stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart froin turning to the Lord God of Israel.” This principle is spoken of, as that from whence men are without the fear of God, and depart from God's ways : Isa. lxiii. 17. “ O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways? And hardened our heart from thy fear ?" And men's rejecting Christ, and opposing Christianity, is laid to this principle, Acts xix. 9. “ But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude.” God's leaving men to the power of the sin and corruption of the heart, is often expressed by God's hardening their hearts, Rom. ix, 18. “ Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” John xii. 40. “ He hath blinded their minds, and hardened their hearts.” And the apostle seems to speak of “ an evil heart that departs from the living God, and a hard heart,” as the same thing, Heb. iii. 8.
6 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation,” &c. ver. 12, 13. “ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God : But exhort one another daily, while it is called today ; lest any of you be hardened through' the deceitfulness of sin.” And that great work of God in conversion, which consists in delivering a person from the power of sin, and mortifying corruption, is expressed, once and again, by God's “ taking away the heart of stone, and giving an heart of flesh,” Ezek. xi. 19, and chap. xxxvi. 26.
Now by a hard heart, is plainly meant an unaffected heart, or a heart not easy to be moved with virtuous affections, like a stone, insensible, stupid, unmoved, and hard to be impressed. Hence the hard heart is called a stony heart, and is opposed to an heart of flesh, that has feeling, and is sensibly touched and moved.' We read in scripture of a hard heart, and a tender heart ; and doubtless we are to understand these, as contrary the one to the other. But what is a tender heart, but a heart which is easily impressed with what ought to affect it? God commends Josiah, because his heart was tender;
and it is evident by those things which are mentioned as expressions and evidences of this tenderness of heart, that by his heart being tender is meant, his heart being easily moved with religious and pious affection, 2 Kings xxii. 19.“ Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardst what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me, I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.” And this is one thing, wherein it is necessary we should become as little children in order to our entering into the kingdom of God,” even that we should have our hearts tender, and easily affected and moved in spiritual and divine things, as little chil. dren have in other things.
It is very plain in some places, in the texts themselves, that by hardness of heart is meant a heart void of affection. So, to signify the Ostrich's being without natural affection to her young, it is said, Job xxxix. 16. c She hardeneth her heart against her young ones, as though they were not hers." So a person having a heart unaffected in time of danger, is expressed by his hardening his heart, Prov. xxviii. 14. “ Happy is the man that feareth alway; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief."
Now, therefore, since it is so plain, that by a hard heart, in scripture, is meant a heart destitute of pious affections, and since also the scriptures do so frequently place the sin and corruption of the heart in hardness of heart; it is evident, that the grace and holiness of the heart, on the contrary, must, in a great measure, consist in its having pious affections, and be. ing easily susceptive of such affection. Divines are generally agreed, that sin radically and fundamentally consists in what is negative, or privative, having its root and foundation in a privation or want of holiness. And therefore undoubtedly, if it be so that sin does very much consist in hardness of heart, and so in the want of pious affections of heart, holiness does consist very much in those pious affections.
I am far from supposing that all affections do shew a tender beart: Hatred, anger, vain glory, and other selfish and self
exalting affections, may greatly prevail in the hardest heart. But yet it is evident, that hardness of heart and tenderness of heart, are expressions that relate to the affections of the heart, and denote the heart's being susceptible of, or shut up against
ain affections ; of which I shall have occasion to speak more afterwards.
Upon the whole, I think it clearly and abundantly evident, that true religion lies very much in the affections. Not that I think these arguments prove, that religion in the hearts of the truly godly, is ever in exact proportion to the degree of affection, and present emotion of the mind : For undoubtedly, there is much affection in the true saints which is not spiritual; their religious affections are often mixed ; all is not from grace, but much from nature. And though the affections have not their seat in the body ; yet the constitution of the body may very much contribute to the present emotion of the mind. And the degree of religion is rather to be judged of by the fixedness and strength of the habit that is exercised in affection, whereby holy affection is habitual, than by the degree of the present exercise ; and the strength of that habit is not always in proportion to outward effects and manifestations, or inward effects, in the hurry and vehemence, and sudden changes of the course of the thoughts of the mind. But yet it is evident, that religion consists so much in affection, as that without holy affection there is no true religion ; and no light in the understanding so good, which does not produce holy affection in the heart : No habit or principle in the heart is good, which has no such exercise ; and no external fruit is good, which does not proceed from such exercises.
Having thus considered the evidence of the proposition laid down, I proceed to some inferences.
1. We may hence learn how great their error is, who are for discarding all religious affections, as having nothing solid or substantial in them.
There seems to be too much of a disposition this way, prevailing in this land at this time. Because many who, in the late extraordinary season, appeared to have great religious af
fections, did not manifest a right temper of mind, and run in to many errors, in the time of their affection, and the heat of their zeal ; and because the high affections of many seem to be so soon come to nothing, and some who seemed to be mightily raised and swallowed up with joy and zeal, for a while, seem to have returned like the dog to his vomit; hence religious affections in generał are grown out of credit with great numbers, as though true religion did not at all consist in them. Thus we easily and naturally run from one extreme to another. A little while ago we were in the other extreme ; there was a prevalent disposition to look upon alt high religious affections as eminent exercises of true grace, without much inquiring into the nature and source of those affections, and the manner in which they'arose: If persons did but ap· pear to be indeed very much moved and raised, so as to be
full of religious talk, and express themselves with great warmth and earnestness, and to be filled, or to be very full, as the phrases were ; it was too much the manner, without fure' ther examination, to conclude such persons were full of the Spirit of God, and had eminent experience of his gracious influences. This was the extreme which was prevailing three or four years ago. But of late, instead of esteeming and admiring all religious affections without distinction, it is a thing much more prevalent, to reject and discard all without distinction. Herein appears the subtilty of Satan. While he saw that affections were much in vogue, knowing the greater part of the land were not versed in such things, and had not had much experience of great religious affections to enable thein to judge well of them, and distinguish between true and false ; then he knew he could best play his game, by sowing tares amongst the wheat, and mingling: false affections with the works of God's Spirit : He knew this to be a likely way to delude and eternally ruin many souls, and greatly to wound religion in the saints, and entangle them in a dreadful wilderness, and by and by, to bring all religion into disrepute.
when the ill consequences of these false affectioris appear, and it is become very apparent, that some of those emotions which made a glaring shew, and were by many
greatly admired, were in reality nothing ; the devil sees it to be for his interest to go another way to work, and to endeavor to his utmost to propagate and establish a persuasion, that all affections and sensible emotions of the inind, in things of religion, are nothing at all to be regarded, but are rather to be avoided, and carefully guarded against, as things of a pernicious tendency. This he knows is the way to bring all relig. ion to a mere lifeless formality, and effectually shut out the power of godliness, and every thing which is spiritual, and to have all true Christianity turned out of doors. For although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection ; yet true religion consists so much in the affections, that there can be no true religion without them. He who has no religious affection, is in a state of spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the Spirit of God upon his heart. As there is no true religion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there is no religious affection. As on the one hand, there must be light in the understanding, as well as an affected fervent heart ; where there is heat without light, there can be nothing divinė or heavenly in that heart ; so on the other hand, where there is a kind of light without heat, a head stored with notions and speculations, with a cold and unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things. If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart. The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful things, as they often hear and read of, in the word of God, is undoubtedly because they are blind ; if they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise, than strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things.
This manner of slighting all religious affections, is the way exceedingly to harden the hearts of men, and to encourage them in their stupidity and senselessness, and to keep them in a state of spiritual death as long as they live, and bring