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The heart, therefore, which is the seat of all moral exercises, consists in nothing but moral exercises. It certainly does not consist in perception, or reason, or conscience, or memory; for these are all natural faculties, which are totally destitute of every moral quality, to which praise or blame can be attached; but it may and does consist in loving and hating, in choosing and refusing ; for these are free, voluntary exercises, which are always right or wrong, and worthy of praise, or blame. Neither reason, nor scripture affords any ground to suppose, that the heart consists in a principle, or disposition, or taste, which is the root, or source, or foundation of all free and voluntary exercises. We never approve or disapprove of any thing in ourselves or others, but free, voluntary exercises ; and God requires and forbids nothing but free and voluntary exercises in his word. All that the divine law requires summarily consists in pure benevolence; and all it summarily forbids consists in pure selfishness. Benevolence is a free, voluntary exercise ; and selfishness is a free, voluntary exercise ; and every human heart consists in a train of free, voluntary, benevolent exercises, or in a train of free, voluntary, selfish exercises, or in a train of both benevolent and selfish exercises. A sinner's heart consists in a train of mere selfish affections ; but a saint's heart consists in a train of both benevolent and selfish exercises. The best of saints are imperfectly holy in this life ; and their imperfection in holiness consists in their sometimes having holy and sometimes unholy affections. Their holy and unholy affections are always distinct, and never blended together. Their holy exercises are never partly holy and partly unholy, but perfectly holy; and their unholy
exercises are never partly holy, but perfectly unholy. A train of holy and unholy affections forms the heart of a saint; but a train of constant, uninterrupted, sinful affections forms the heart of a sinner. Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is evil, only evil continually. The only proper notion of any human heart, as distinguished from all the powers or faculties of the mind, is a series of free, voluntary exercises or affections. And the only proper idea of a good man's heart, as distinguished from the heart of a sinner, is a train of both holy and unholy affections, or exercises. So that the heart of a saint essentially differs from the heart of a sinner in this one respect, that the heart of a saint has some holy, as well as unholy exercises ; but the heart of a sinner has no holy exercises at all. The next thing to be shown is,
III. That the heart of the saint needs to be united.
This appears from the description, which has been given of his heart.
It is composed of a series of both good and evil exercises, which are distinct from, and diametrically opposite to each other. His good exercises, therefore, may be disunited from one another, by the intervention of evil exercises ; and then his heart is divided. When his good exercises follow one another, in a constant succession, without any interruption by evil exercises ; then his heart may be said to be united ; but when his good affections are interrupted by those of a directly opposite nature ; then his heart is ununited and discomposed. The constant succession of good exercises may be sometimes longer, and sometimes shorter. Good men may be in * the fear of the Lord, or in the exercise of holy affections, from day to day, and from time to time, for a
long period, with very few interruptions. Or their good exercises may be interrupted from day to day, and from hour to hour, by evil exercises, for an indefinite time. A number of good affections may be followed by an equal or a smaller number of evil affections; or one good affection may be followed with one evil affection, in a rapid succession. In all these cases, the hearts of saints may be said to be disunited.Such interruption in the succession of their holy exercises, they all experience. They find their hearts divided, and first drawn one way, and then another; first fixed upon God, and then upon the world. This was evidently the case with David, when he prayed to God and said, “ Unite my heart to fear thy name.” It is owing to the contrariety of affections in the hearts of good men, that they are so often required to act with a perfect heart, with the whole heart, and with all the heart, and that they are so often blamed for acting not with a perfect heart. While Caleb, Hezekiah, Job, and other good men, persevered in obedience to the divine commands, they are said to serve God with a perfect heart ; but when Amaziah sometimes did, and sometimes did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord, he is said to serve him, but not with a perfect h:art. When good men act from discordant motives, they act from a disunited and imperfect heart. And how often do they find upon reflection, this mark of their moral imperfection ! But if their good affections followed one another in a constant and uninterrupted succession, their hearts would be united ;
; and being united, would be absolutely perfect. The perfect holiness of Adam in his primitive state wholly consisted in the constant and uninterrupted succession of his holy affections. The perfect holiness of just men in heaven consists in the constant and uninterrupted succession of their holy affections. Nor could there be the least moral imperfection in the hearts of good men in this world, if their affections were constantly holy, without any interruption by affections of an opposite and sinful nature. The reason, why the heart of a good man needs to be united, is because it is disunited by a contrariety of affections, and not because his affections are too weak, or low, or languid. If this were the case, there could be no propriety in desiring, as David did, that his heart might be united ; but only that his heart might be strengthened ; or his gracious affections raised to a higher degree of ardour. But if every holy affection be perfectly holy, without any mixture of sin; then the only way to raise the ardour of a holy heart, is to make the succession of holy affections more constant and less interrupted ; or in other words, to unite one holy affection so intimately with another, that there should be no time, nor room, for any sinful affection to intervene, interrupt, or cool the ardour of divine love. Having shown that it is necessary, that a good man's heart should be united : it only remains to show,
IV. That there is a propriety in his praying, that God would unite his heart.
All good men are conscious of their imperfections in holiness, and of their dependance upon God to carry on the good work, which he has begun in their hearts, whether their hearts consist in mere voluntary, moral exercises, or not. They are more willing than other men to acknowledge, that their hearts are in the hand of God, who can turn them whithersoever he
pleaseth, as the rivers of water are turned ; that the preparations of their hearts and the answer of their tongues, are from the Lord; and that it is God, who worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure. There is, then, no occasion of showing the propriety of their praying to God in general, for the sanctifying influences of his Spirit; but there is occasion, in this discourse, of showing the propriety of their praying to God in particular, that he would unite their hearts to fear his name, or to obey his commands. The propriety of this arises from their hearts being disunited, by a contrariety in their affections. On this ground, David felt the propriety of constantly praying to God, to unite his heart in holy affections, which he found were continually liable to be interrupted and disunited by selfish and sinful affections. He prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God : and re
, new a right spirit within me.” Again he prays,
Quicken thou me according to thy word. I will run in the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” Again he cries, “ Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” Each of these petitions implies, that he desired God to unite his disunited heart, by producing new holy affections in it, and thereby excluding unholy affections from it. And it is proper, that every good man should make the same petition, that God would unite his disunited heart, by producing new holy affections in it. For,
1. Every christian finds, that his heart is more or less disunited, in the manner that has been described. He finds, that not only his love, his fear, his faith and other gracious affections are sometimes what he calls