« السابقةمتابعة »
SERM. it lead us to be happy too; not only because grace and CXXXVII.
glory, holiness and happiness, attend each other, but likewise in that our very happiness itself consists in the perforining this one duty, even in setting our affections upon things above, and not on those things which are upon the earth. For all the misery and trouble that befalls us here, ariseth only from our affections being placed here. For if you did not love and desire the world, you would neither be proud that you have it, nor sorry when you lose it; your hearts not being set upon it, they would not be troubled for parting with it.
And, therefore, let things fall how they will, your love and joy being only in Heaven, nothing upon earth can deprive you of it. Wherefore, as ever any of you desire to know what it is to be free from misery, or to be truly happy, set upon the performance of this duty ; " set your affections on things above, and not on things upon the earth :” which could we all do, what happy souls should we then be ! How should we laugh to see poor silly mortals trudging up and down the world encompassing both sea and land to search for happiness, and cannot find it; whilst we enjoy it in our own breasts, by having our affections placed upon God, and the things above. And whilst others trouble and
torment themselves with needless fears and jealousies about [Psal. 112. future events, “our hearts would be fixed, trusting in the
Lord :” whatsoever storms and tempests arise without us, there would still be calmness and tranquillity within; whatsoever happens in the world, to the grief and trouble of them that love it, would not touch or reach us, whose minds, whose thoughts, whose hearts, whose affections, are all above it. By this means we should live in Heaven whilst we are on earth, maugre all the opposition that men or devils can make against us. And it is not long but where our hearts now are, our souls shall be, even in the highest Heavens, rejoicing in the enjoyment of the Chiefest Good, and singing forth His praises for evermore.
OF KEEPING OUR HEARTS.
Prov. iv. 23.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues
As it is with the slaves in Turkey, and elsewhere, if they beget any children, they are born subject to the same slavery and bondage that their parents live in; so is it with all mankind. Our first parents being overcome and carried captive by the Devil, and sold under sin, all their posterity are born slaves and captives to sin and Satan : to sin that reigns and domineers over them, so that all the faculties of their souls, and members of their bodies, are in perpetual bondage and subjection of it; what that bids them think, or speak, or do, that they readily perform, without so much as resisting or opposing its commands: and if they be servants to sin, they cannot but be so to Satan too, being taken cap- 2 Tim. 2.26. tive by him at his will. This being the sad and wretched estate of all mankind by nature, the Son of God Himself, out of His infinite love and compassion towards us, was pleased to lay down His Own life, to ransom and redeem us from this spiritual thraldom and slavery. And He hath paid so great and acceptable a price for our release and freedom, that every one that is willing and desirous to have it, may most certainly attain unto it. It is true, if a man hath that love and affection for his sins, that he had rather continue in their service than to be freed from it, such a one
SERM. deserves to have his ear bored through, so as to remain a CXXXVIII. Exod. 21.6. slave for ever; as it was ordained in the law of Moses, con
cerning servants, so here: the coming of Christ is as the Isa. 61.1, 2. year of release, wherein God is pleased to proclaim liberty to
captive sinners. Now they that prefer their chains before their liberty, are justly condemned to perpetual drudgery : but such as, being weary of the service of sin, and desiring to be released from it, betake themselves to Christ, and
accept of the terms that He hath propounded for their reMatt.11.28. leasement, such He will surely give rest and freedom to; John 8. 36. and “ if the Son make them free, they shall be free indeed ;"
that is, they shall be really freed from the power and tyranny
of sin, so that it shall not any longer have dominion over Rom. 6. 14. them, “ because they are not under the Law, but under ver. 12. Grace;" it shall not “reign any longer in their mortal
bodies, that they should obey it in the lusts thereof."
Now, our blessed Saviour having at so dear a rate procured this releasement for us, so that, if it be not our own faults, we may all be actually possessed of it; it must needs be our interest and concern to mind it, and to use all means necessary to the actual enjoyment of it. And therefore, He having already purchased it for us, and being still both willing and ready to assist us in the prosecution of it, it must be our principal care and study to weaken the power and dominion of sin in us, and for that end to avoid, as much as we can, the actual commission of all sin, still trusting in, and depending upon Christ, for His assistance of us in so good and acceptable a work as this is : which, if we do, we cannot question but He will be always ready to aid and assist us, by the influence of His grace and Spirit. So that, although we cannot do it effectually by our own strength, yet if we do but what we can ourselves, He will be sure to enable us to live like Saints indeed ; so as not to indulge or allow ourselves in any one sin whatsoever, nor do any thing wilfully which we know to be offensive and displeasing unto God.
Well then, seeing Christ hath done so great things for us, that now there is none of us but by His assistance may mortify and subdue the strongest sin or corruption that hitherto hath reigned in us, so as for the future not to obey
it in the lusts thereof; let us therefore, in His Name, set ourselves in good earnest against our sins, and resolve to use all means imaginable to keep them under, that so, while others content themselves with professing the Name of Christ, we may be Christians or Saints in deed and truth, and manifest ourselves to be so both to God, to men, and our own consciences, by conforming our lives and actions wholly to the laws and commands of God.
For which end I know nothing more necessary to be observed than what the wise man prescribes in the words I have now read, “ Keep thy heart with all diligence ; for out of it are the issues of life:" for could you but do this, even keep your hearts aright, you would soon restrain the prevalency of sin, and alter the whole course of your life and conversation for the better, so as to keep yourselves unspotted from the world, and free from the wilful commission of any known sin; as I shall shew in the sequel of this discourse.
In order whereunto, I desire you to observe, that these words do naturally divide themselves into two parts ; here is the wise man's counsel or advice, and then the reason of it: his counsel is, to “keep thy heart with all diligence ;" and the reason is, “ for out of it are the issues of life.”
The first part contains not only wholesome, but very necessary advice, which every holy and good man cannot but observe; for without observing of this, he cannot be a holy and good man. For he that doth not diligently keep his own heart, can neither be secure from falling into gross sins, nor yet be fitted for the due performance of any holy duty. So that this advice is not given only to some particular person, or persons, in the world; but all men, of whatsoever rank, or age, or temper, or condition, they be, are equally concerned to receive and follow this counsel, even to “keep their hearts with all diligence;" which, notwithstanding, no man can do, unless he first knows what it is to do so: and therefore, I shall endeavour to unfold unto you the true meaning and purport of this divine counsel, or admonition, as clearly as I can. And for that end shall search into the true notion and sense of each expression in it. Considering,
1 Sam. 24.5. 1 John 3.20.
SERM. 1st. The subject,“ the heart.”
2dly. The act,“ keep thy heart.”
I. The first thing to be considered is the subject, “the heart;" which sometimes in Scripture is put for the material heart, the seat of natural life, the primum vivens, and ultimum moriens : yet it is more usually put for the immaterial and spiritual part of man, even his soul; which, though philosophers generally assert it to reside principally in the head, the Scriptures make the heart to be the chief seat of it, where it exercises its power, and exerts its several
operations : and therefore the heart in Scripture is used for Gen. 6.5. all the faculties of the soul; for the understanding, for the Luke 2. 19. memory, for the conscience, for the will and affections: as,
:"the Lord opened her heart;" that is, moved her will, and Acts 16. 14. inclined her affections to embrace the truth she heard.
And as the heart in Scripture dialect thus sometimes sig
nifies one, sometimes another faculty or operation of the Matt.12.35. soul; so is it frequently put for the whole soul, and for all
· its powers and faculties together. And so it is to be understood in my text, of the mind, the thoughts, the conscience, the will, and all the several motions and affections of the soul, whereof the heart is the chief seat or chamber where they reside; or, if you will, the shop where they are framed and fashioned by the soul. And therefore, this advice of the wise man,“ to keep our hearts,” intimates to us, that we are not to look only to the outward actions of our lives, to varnish and adorn them with the specious shows of piety and religion. Though this be all that the ordinary professors of religion do, who take a great care to avoid all gross and scandalous crimes, or at least so to hide and palliate them, that the world may take no notice of them; but in the meanwhile indulge themselves in any secret and heart sins, as covetousness, envy, malice, uncharitableness, hypocrisy, mistrust of God, and the like; as if such as these are, were not altogether as dangerous and damnable as the most atrocious and horrid vices that the most debauched person in the world can be guilty of. This, therefore, is that which the wise man here would have us to beware of, even to look to our inward, as well as our outward man;