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2 THESS. ii. 11.
And for this Cause God fhall Send them Strong Delufion, that they should believe a Lye.
F all the fatal Effects of Sin, none looks fo dreadfully, none ftrikes so just an Horror into confidering Minds, as that every finful Action a Man does, naturally disposes him to another; and that it is hardly poffible for him to do any Thing fo ill, but that it proves a Preparative and Introduction to the Doing of fomething worse. Upon which Account, that notable Impreca-. tion of the Pfalmift, upon his own and the Church's Enemies, in Pfal. Ixix. 28. namely, That they may fall from one Wickedness to another, is abfolutely the bitterest and most severe of any extant in the whole Book of Y 3 God,
God, as being indeed the very Abridgment of that grand Repofitory of Curfes, the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy; and that with the Addition of fomething befides, and of so much a more killing Malignity, than all of them put together; by how much the Evil of Sin is confeffedly greater, than the Evil of any Suffering for it whatfoever. The like Inftances to which, we have in the Text now before us, of a Sort of Men, first cafting off the Love of the Truth, and from thence paffing into a State of Delufion; and lastly, fettling in a steady, fixed Belief of a Lye. By fuch wretched Gradations is it, that Sin commonly arrives at its full xp or Maturity. So that in Truth, it is the only Perpetual Motion which has yet been found out, and needs nothing but a Beginning to keep it inceffantly Going on. Accordingly, as every immoral Act in the immediate and direct Tendency of it, is certainly a Step downwards, and a very large one too; fo in all Motions of Defcent, it is feldom or never found, that a Thing fo moving makes any Stop in its Fall, till it is fallen fo far, that it is past falling any farther. And much the fame is the Cafe with a Man, as to his Spirituals; after he has
been long engaged in a Course of Sinning, his Progrefs in it grows infinite, and his Return defperate.
Now in the Words I have here pitched upon, as they ftand in Coherence with the precedent and fubfequent Verfe, there are thefe two Things to be confidered.
Firft. A fevere Judgment denounced against a certain Sort of Men; namely, that God would fend them fuch ftrong Delufion, that they fhould believe a Lye. And
Secondly. The meritorious procuring Caufe of this Judgment in the foregoing Verfe; to wit, their not receiving the Love of the Truth.
Where it is manifeft, that by the Words Truth, and a Lye, are not to be here meant, allTruth and Falfhood generally or indefinitely fpeaking, nor yet more particularly all that is true or false upon a philosophical Account. For thefe Truths or Falfhoods the Apostle does not in this Place concern himself about: But fuch only as belong properly to Religion, with reference to the Worship of Y 4
Almighty God, and the Salvation of Mens Souls. In a word, by Truth here, is meant nothing else but the Gospel, or Doctrine of Christianity; nothing being more frequent with the infpired Penmen of Holy Writ, than to express the Christian Religion by the Name of Truth; and that fometimes abfolutely, and without any Epithet or Addition, and fometimes with fome additional Term of Specification; as in Tit. i. 1. it is called, The Truth according to Godliness; and in Ephef. iv. 15. The Truth as it is in Jefus, with the like in feveral other Places. So that ftill the great ennobling Characteristick of the Gofpel, is Truth; Truth eminently and tranfcendently fuch; and for that Cause, by a diftinguishing Excellency, called the Truth; from whence, by irrefragable Confequence, it must also follow, that what foever is not Truth, can be no Part of Chriftian Religion. A Bottom fo firm and fure for Christianity to rest upon, that it cannot be placed upon a furer and more unfhakable; befides this farther Advantage accruing to it thereby, that as Truth and Goodness by an eternal, indiffoluble Union (as ftrong as Nature, or rather as the God of Nature can make it) ftand