Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

give their hearts to God, they are apt to imagine, that they shall always keep themselves in the love of God, and never forget, nor forsake him. But many have been sadly disappointed in their early hopes and resolu. tions. The hearts of christians are like a deceitful bow, bent to blacksliding, and are not to be trusted, but to be kept with all diligence. God represents himself disappointed, when those, who have professed to be his dutiful children, withdraw their filial affection from him and falsify their profession. For he said,

Surely they are my people, children that will not lje. If we examine the feelings and conduct of God towards those, who had lost their first love, we shall find, that he manifested his peculiar displeasure towards them and often corrected them more severely than his real and open enemies. Saints are of all men the most unreasonable and inexcusable, for murmuring and complaining, like Job, Jonah and Elijah ; and acting like Aaron, Moses and Peter. Nothing can interrupt that supreme love to God, which is essential to the christian character, but directly opposite affections.--When christians do not love, they hate ; when they do not believe, they disbelieve ; when they do not obey, they disobey; and when they do not act for God, they act against him. And for them to hate him, whom they have loved supremely ; or to disbelieve him, in whom they have perfectly confided ; or to disobey bim, whom they have delightfully obeyed; or to act against him, for whom they have cordially and sincerely acted, must be peculiarly inconsistent, unreasonable and criminal. The best of men, therefore, have abun. dant reason and sometimes realize, that they have abundant reason, to feel as Job did, when he said to God, “ I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear ; but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."

6. If it be reasonable for men to give their hearts to God; then they may reasonably expect to meet his approbation and acceptance,when they do love him sincere. ly and supremely. It is not reasonable, that he should love them before they love him ; but after they do love him sincerely and supremely, they are truly amiable and worthy of his complacency and approbation. And they may assure themselves, that they are actually interested in his favor and entitled to share in the blessings of his kingdom. For he has promised to return to them, who return to him and to love them that love him and cause all things to work together for their good. Many are very anxious to know, whether they belong to the household of faith and are the children of God, and heirs with Christ to an heavenly inheritance. And for this reason, are often inquiring what are evidences of grace ; and sometimes they ask, what is the best evidence of grace. To this serious and important question, the whole tenor of this discourse replies, Supreme love to God. It is only for men to look into their own hearts, to know whether they are the children of God and heirs of eternal life. If they are conscious of loving God supremely, they need not doubt whether they are the children of God and subjects of his special grace. But nothing short of this can give them evidence that their hearts are really renewed ; for self-love can put on every appearance of supreme love to God, though essentially different from it. Here lies the greatest danger of men's deceiving themselves. But still it may be inquired, how shall men know whether

they do really give their supreme affection to God? I answer, by this infallible effect. Those, who give their hearts to God, or love him supremely, always give themselves to God, with all their interests for time and eternity. And this is what no self-love will do. It is only to apply this criterion to the heart, and it will confirm, or destroy the hope of any person. Let all then be entreated for their own sake, to apply this criterion to what they are conscious has passed and habitually passes in their minds, that they may determine whether they are friends, or enemies to God, they themselves being judges. And certainly it belongs to all, as reasonable creatures, to act this reasonablo part towards themselves.

SERMON XVIII.

THE TENDENOY OF THE GOSPEL TO ENLARGE TE

HEART.

II. CORINTHIANS, VI. 11..Our heart is enlarged.

ers.

The apostle preached the gospel with great suécess in Corinth, where he formed a large number of converts into a christian church, to whom he preached a year and six months. His long residence with them laid a foundation for his very strong attachment to them. But soon after he left them, they were led into errors, animosities and contentions, by false and corrupt teach

When he heard of their unhappy situation, he wrote his first epistle to them, to correct their errors and re-unite them in their former peace and harmony. Though this letter produced some good effects; yet new difficulties arose, which gave occasion to his writing to them again. This second epistle breathes a very tender and affectionate spirit. In the two preceding chapters and in the beginning of this, he speaks largely of his own views and feelings and sufferings in promoting the cause of Christ and the interests of his friends. And when he had wrought his own mind up to a high pitch of tenderness, he breaks forth in this pathetic language, “ O ye Corinthians, our mouth is opened unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence of the same, I speak as unto my children, be ye also enlarged.” The gospel had enlarged the heart of the apostle and he supposed,

it had a tendency to enlarge the hearts of the Corinthians, who had embraced it. His views and feelings were once confined to himself and to those persons and objects, which were the most nearly connected with his private, personal interests. But after he had heard and understood and loved the gospel, his heart expanded and he felt interested in every thing comprised in the great and benevolent scheme of man's redemption.And from this we may conclude,

That the gospel has a tendency to enlarge the hearts of all, who embrace it. I shall,

I. Consider what we are to understand by the heart's being enlarged ; And,

II. Show that the gospel directly tends to enlarge the hearts of those, who embrace it.

I. Let us consider what we are to understand by the heart's being enlarged.

The heart is something different from all the natural powers, or faculties of the mind and consists in free voluntary exercises, emotions, or affections ; and its magnitude is always in proportion to the ultimate and supreme objects, upon which it terminates. Every moral agent has some ultimate and supreme object in view, which is comparatively small or great ; and this object be it what it may, measures the magnitude of the heart. Self is the ultimate and supreme object of affection in every unsanctified heart. Every person in the state of nature desires and seeks his own separate, personal interest, or happiness above all other objects ; but every one, whose heart is renewed and sanctified, has a superior regard to the interest, or happiness of any other person, or being whose interest, or happiness appears of more importance than his own. But

« ZurückWeiter »