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ways continued to sin freely and voluntarily. The reason why they have not always loved God, is because they have hated him without a cause.
The reason why they have not come to Christ, is because they would not come to him, that they might have life.--Such free, voluntary enmity to God and to Christ, is unspeakably criminal and admits of no excuse ; and is the very thing for which they deserve eternal death.--And of course, it lays them under no natural inability to love God supremely, or to believe in Christ immediately. They can act as freely in loving, as in hating God and in believing in Christ, as in rejecting him. They have no excuse for neglecting to do their first work, till a more convenient season. God now commands every one, who is in the state of nature, to put away his native depravity and immediately comply with the terms of mercy, which he has proposed in the gospel. He does not allow him to plead his old, obstinate heart as an excuse ; but requires him to put off the old man and put on the new and walk in newness of life the residue of his days. Life and death are now set before every one ; and his free choice must determine his eternal destiny.
I must not conclude this discourse, without applying it to parents in particular, who are deeply concerned in it, not merely on their own account, but more especially on account of their children. These are committed to their peculiar care and instruction. Notwithstanding their children have so many amiable natural qualities, which excite their most fond affections; yet they are by nature depraved and children of wrath.--Their hearts are fully set in them to do evil and soon as possible, they go astray, speaking and acting wrong. They carry about with them evil hearts, which expose them to run into the paths of the destroyer, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience... And it depends, under God, upon parents whether they shall avoid every evil and false way and pursue the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.... You do, in a very important sense, carry the tempo ral and eternal interests of your children in your own hands. And can you bear the thought that they should perish forever, through your guilty negligence? God has required you to give up your children to him, and bring them up for him. It never more concerned parents to instruct and restrain their children faithfully, than at this day. All the duties of parents are very nearly connected ; but there seems to be a more visible connection between the duty and happiness of parents, in respect to their children than in respect to almost any other duty. If you neglect your duty to your children, your children will very probably correct you for your neglect, in ways that will pierce your hearts with the keenest sorrow and anguish.--But have you any reason to expect, that you shall take proper care of your children, if you do not take proper care of yourselves? You must give God your hearts, before you can give your children to him, or expect that he will teach you to teach them. Will you for a moment, anticipate the tremendous consequences of neglecting yourselves and your children! Be entreated to avoid those tremendous consequences and resolve to do all in your power, to prepare yourselves and your children for the kingdom of glory.
TEE DECEITPULNESS OF THE HUMAN HEART.
JEREMIAH, xvII. 9.-- The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked : who can know it?
of scripture is very often quoted ; and almost as often misunderstood and misapplied. All selfdeceivers are fond of believing, that the heart is so wicked and so deceitful, that it is impossible for any to know whether they are in the state of nature, or of grace. They frequently say, they sîncerely desire to know their hearts, yet they are so extremely deceitful, that it is utterly out of their power. It is, therefore, of great practical importance to exhibit the spirit of this text and unfold its true meaning. It is evident, that God is here addressing sinners, whose hearts alone are desperately wicked. And this being true, it naturally follows that they are the persons, who find it so extremely difficult to know their own hearts. The prophet plainly supposes, that the wickedness of their hearts is the ground of their deceitfulness; and their deceitfulness is the ground of the difficulty in knowing them. So that the question in the text is, who among sinners can know the desperate wickedness and deceitfulness of their own hearts? And this question leads us to conclude,
That it is extremely difficult for sinners to know their own hearts.
The truth of this proposition none will be disposed to dispute; for saints know it to be true by their own experience ; and sinners in general are fond of believing it to be true. shall therefore only attempt to show,
1. What is implied in their knowing their own hearts; And,
II. Why this is so extremely difficult for them to know.
I. We are to consider what is implied in their knowing their own hearts.
They are as conscious of their own hearts as saints are of theirs. They know that they have hearts, which are distinct from perception, reason, conscience and all their intellectual powers and faculties. But this knowledge of their hearts is not that, which is intended in the, text. For in this sense, they may perfectly know their own hearts, while they remain entirely ignorant of them in other important respects. This leads me to observe,
1. That their knowing their hearts, in the sense of the text, implies the knowledge of their selfishness. It is this alone, that distinguishes their hearts from the hearts of saints. Those, who bear the moral image of God, have hearts of universal and disinterested benevolence. But the hearts of sinners are wholly selfish. Saints love those, who do not love them ; but sinners love those only, who do love them ; and all the criminality of their hearts consists in their partial, interested affections. They may love all the objects, that saints love and hate all the objects that saints hate ; and yet all their affections be different, in their nature, from the affections of saints. Whether they love or hate
good or bad objects, still their love and hatred is entirely sinful, because it is altogether selfish. This they are not apt to know, nor believe. They often think, that however different they may be, in other respects, from saints, yet they do not differ from them in point of selfishness. They imagine they have both love to God and man, which does not arise from mer
But they cannot be said to know their own hearts, until they know that all their desires and affections are of a selfish nature and actually flow from love to themselves.
2. The knowledge of their hearts implies the knowledge of their desperate, incurable wickedness. Their hearts are selfish and so selfish, that no means, or mere secondary causes can cure them. For their selfishness does not arise from ignorance of themselves. And other beings and objects, but from their placing their supreme love wholly on themselves. No intellectual light or moral motives, which can be exhibited before them, will have the least tendency to alter or meliorate their hearts. Were it possible for them to have a clear, just and comprehensive view of themselves, of God, of Christ, of all the truths in the bible and of all things in this and in every other world, it would only serve to excite love to themselves and make them sensible, that they valued their own interest and happiness more than the interests and happiness of the universe. And though they should feel the impropriety and criminality of such selfish affections, yet this would have no tendency to destroy their feelings, or to make them truly benevolent. Hence their hearts are desperately wicked. There is no hope of their ever becoming better, from any motives that can be set before them, or