« ZurückWeiter »
will help them to gain and enjoy the world and no more. When the service of God comes in competition with the service of mammon, they mean to neglect the service of God. But sincere believers feel and act differently. They will not neglect the service of God, to serve themselves. They mean to keep their hearts in subjection to God, and the world in subjection to their hearts. They maintain a constant warfare between benevolence and selfishness and always loathe and condemn themselves, whenever their selfishness gains the ascendency over their benevolence. Though Paul delighted in the law of God, after the inward man, yet he found a law, that when he would do good, evil was present with him, which made him exclaim, “O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” Whatever withdraws their hearts from God and his service is burdensome and hateful to real christians.
5. If the gospel enlarges the hearts of those, who embrace it ; then they sincerely and ardently desire to know more and more about it. " As new born babes, they desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” As soon as the understanding of any person is enlightened and his heart is enlarged, he immediately desires to know more and more about Christ, about God, about the moral state of this world and the moral state of the invisible and eternal world. And as the heart of every believer enlarges, his desires after greater and greater knowledge of God and divine truths continually increase. Though Paul had as clear and extensive knowledge of the gospel as any man, yet he regretted his remaining ignorance of it and ardently desired and endeavored to make greater advances
in the knowledge of it. And this is true of every true believer. He finds that the knowledge of the gospel extends his views and enlarges his heart towards God and all his works of creation, providence and grace. It is a dark sign, that any person has not rightly understood and embraced the gospel, if he imagines, that he has attained to a perfection of knowledge and grace. . The more a man has seen and known of this world the more he desires to see and know of it ; and the more those who have embraced the gospel, know of it the more they desire to know of it. As it enlarges their hearts and extends their views, they see more and more to be known of God, of Christ and of every thing, which stands conneeted with the great work of redemption, which he has undertaken, has carried on, and will continue to carry on, until it is fully and finally accomplished.
6. If the gospel enlarges the hearts of those who embrace it ; then it enables them to perform all the duties which it requires with great pleasure and delight. David says to God," I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.” The spirit of the gospel is a spirit of benevolence towards all beings in the universe and a spirit of complacence towards all holy, amiable and virtuous beings. And every one knows it is a pleasure to perform any duty towards one, to whom he feels benevolently ; and every one knows it is a pleasure to perform any duty towards one, to whom he exercises the love of complacence. The love of benevolence and the love of complacence, which the gospel inspires, prepares all who embrace it, to discharge every duty that it requires with pleasure and alacrity. It is a pleasure to those, who love God
supremely, to obey God universally. Christ loved God and therefore delighted to do his will. It is a pleasure to those, whose hearts are enlarged towards Christ, to obey all his commands. And it is a pleasure to all, whose hearts are enlarged towards the whole world, to perform every duty which the gospel requires them to perform towards even the enemies of all right
The spirit of the gospel prepares all, who embrace it, to obey it.
Finally, let all inquire whether they have ever embraced the gospel. This subject proposes an infallible test. Has it enlarged your hearts towards God, towards Christ, towards the friends of Christ, towards the cause of Christ and towards the enemies of Christ? What have you done more than others ?
more than others ? What have you desired more than others ? what are you willing to do more than others, who do not pretend to embrace the gospel? Have you been more obedient ? or have you been more benevolent?
PRAYER OF SAINTS FOR THE CONSTANT EXERCISE
OF HOLY AFFEOTIONS.
Psalm, Lxxxvi. 11.–Unite my heart to fear thy name.
The name of God in this, as in many other places of scripture, is expressive of the whole of the divine character and perfections. The fear of his name denotes that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom and which comprises all that love, esteem, veneration, homage and obedience, which are due from man to his creator. David's petition, therefore, appears to be a request, that God would prepare his heart to worship and serve him in a sincere and acceptable manner. But if this were his meaning, it may seem strange, that he should conceive his prayer in such uncommon and unintelligible terms. For where is the propriety of praying for an united heart? Is not the heart always united ?
Is it not something simple, undivided and incapable of being disunited and consequently of being united ? If he had prayed, that God would give him a good heart, a pure heart, a clean heart, or a wise and understanding heart, his expressions would have been easy and familiar and his meaning plain and obvious ; but when he prays that God would unite his heart to fear his name, it is not so easy to apprehend the propriety of the phrase, or the meaning of
the petition. To set this good man's prayer in a plain and profitable light, I shall endeavor to show,
1. That a good man has but one heart ;
IV. That it is proper to pray, that it may be united.
I. I am to show that a good man has not two hearts.
Though none may have said in so many words, that a good man has two hearts ; yet many have said what implies it. They have often asserted, that a saint has an old heart and a new heart ; that he has an old sinful principle and a new gracious principle ; that he has an old selfish disposition and a new benevolent disposition; and that he has an old bad taste and a new good taste. All these expressions convey the same idea and imply that everyone, who has been born again, or has experienced a saving change, has both a holy and unholy heart, or both a holy and unholy principle, or both a holy and unholy disposition, or both a holy and unholy taste ; which amounts to his having both a good and bad heart, at the same time. That this is their real meaning appears from their denying, that a new heart takes away any part of an old heart ; or that a new principle takes away any part of an old principle, or that a new disposition takes away any part of an old disposition, or that a new taste takes away any part of an old taste. They suppose, that the old heart, or the old principle, or the old disposition, or the old taste, remains entirely the same after, as before regeneration. This supposition plainly and necessarily implies, that every real christian, or sub