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52 A Virtuous Mind the best Help Ser M. places, and of renown; but Mysteries are: II. revealed unto the Meek, Ecclus. iii. 19.

On the contrary, where there is a via tious Inclination and an Affection to Wickedness; there mens minds are not only blinded by the natural consequence of such a disposition, but God moreover withdraws his Spirit from them, and the Holy Ghost will not dwell in a Heart that takes pleasure in Unrighteousness. For into a malicious Soul Wisdom fall not enter, nor dwell in the Body that is subject unto Sin; For the Holy Spirit of Discipline, will flee deceit, and remove from Thoughts that are without Understanding, and will not abide when Unrighteousness cometh in, Wisd. i. 4. Nay, not only so; but, where men are obstinately incorrigible, God is represented in Scripture as justly giving them up in judgment to be deceived by the Evil One, that for a deserved punishment they may increase unto more Ungodliness, Rev. xx. 8, Satan is described as being let loose, that he may go out to deceive the Nations: And the destruction of Wicked

Ahab, is thus eloquently represented in a most lively Image by the Prophet Mi

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caiah, 1 Kings xxii. 19. I saw the Lord SER M. fitting on bis throne, and all the host of 11. Heaven fitting by him on his right band and on his left. And the Lord said, Wło skall perswade, (in the original it is, who skall deceive) Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead? and one faid on this manner, and another faid on that manner. And there came forth a Spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will perswade him ; And the Lord said, unto him, Wherewith ? And be faid, I will go forth, and be a lying Spirit in the mouth of all his Prophets; And be faid, Thou shalt perfwade bim and prevail alyo; Go forth, and do so. The Representation is highly figurative, and by no means to be understood literally; But the meaning is, that God justly permits Wicked men, when they obstinately refuse to hear Him, he permits them to be deceived by the Evil One to their own destruction. The like expression is ufed,

Fudg. ix. 23. God sent an Evil Spirit between Abimelech' and the men of Shechem : The meaning is, as it is explained in the following words, God permitted Abimelech to be deceived and dealt treacberously

E 3 ? with

SERM with by the men of Shechem, that his 11. cruelty and the blood which he had shed

might come upon him. 'Tis nothing more,
but an acknowledgment of the Justice
and Wisdom of Providence, in suffering
Wicked men to be judicially blinded, that
they may fall according to their deserts,
With him is Strength and Wisdom, the
Deceived and Deceiver are his ;-- He
removeth away the Speech of the Truffy,
and taketh away the Understanding of the
Aged from them: Job xii, 16, 20, The
Heathen World, because they did not like
to retain God in their Knowledge, there
fore God gave them up to Uncleanness,
and tą vile affections, and to a reprobate
(i. e, an undiscerning) mind, Rom. i, 24,
26, 28. 7oh. xi. 20. Deut. j. 30. Pba.
raoh, because of his obstinate Wicked-
nefs, God hardned his Heart, i. e. fuffered
his Understanding to be more and more
blinded, that he should not see the Ten-
dency of God's wonderful Judgments
worked in Egypt. The same Phrase is
used of the people of the Jews, IS. lxii.
17. Thou hast hardned our Heart from
thy Fear ; or, as it is, ch. vi. 10. Make
the Heart of this people fat, left they

understand

understand with their Heart, and convert Serm. and be healed. The Meaning is expressed 'II. at large, ch. xxix. 13, 10. Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth,

but have removed their Heart far from me; Therefore, bebold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people ; The Wisdom of their Wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be bid; The Lord bas poured out upon you the Spirit of deep Jeep, and has closed your eyes. And Ezek. Rom. xi. xiv. 5, 6, 9. Because tbey are all estranged 8. from me by their Idols, Therefore Jay unto the House of Israel, --- If a propket be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the Lord bave deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. The like expressions are used in the New Testament, concerning corrupt Christians; He that is unjust, let him be Rev. xxii. unjust still ; and be which is filthy, let him !!. be filthy ftill ; and be that is righteous, let bim be righteous fill; and be that is boly, Rev. xvii. let him be holy still. And God shall put it '7. into their hearts to deliver their Kingdom and Power unto the Beast. And 2 Thel: E 4

ii. 1o.

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Serm ii. 10. Because they received not the Love s , of the Truth, for this cause God

a ll send them strong Delufion, that they should believe a Lye ;. That they all might be damned who believed not the Truth, but had. pleasure in unrighteousness : And, 2 Tim. iii. 13. Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. All which passages, are as it were Paraphrases and Illustrations of the Words of the Text; None of the Wicked fall understand, bụt the Wise fall under

stand.

FROM what has been said, we may infer, ift, That Wicked men have no reason to complain, for their not being able to understand Religion ; and Infidels no Excúse, for their not believing it. For God who commanded the Light to fine out of Darkness, bath shined in our Hearts, to give the light of the Knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ : But if our Gospel, be bid, 'tis bid to them that are lost; In whom the God of this World bas blinded the minds of them wkịch believe not, left the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the Image of God, Should shine unto them, 2 Cor. iv. 6. 3, 4,

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