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moral character; and the mind will instinctively refer its actions to the moral standard. If what we have said before be in substance true, the perfections of Jehovah will so blaze out upon the intelligent powers of the soul, that not to make this comparison will be impossible. Were a voice from heaven repeating, in the solemn accents of Divinity, the commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, it would not in all probability produce an impression so deep or so vivid as will be experienced in eternity by the secret living consciousness of the soul that “the law is spiritual.” Could you be happy on earth with this claim, thus forcibly addressed to you ? Is not the quiet of conscience now experienced, much of it at least, the result of forgetfulness-because you do not consider ? Have you never experienced any uneasiness as you have felt this requirement urged upon you ? Have you not felt it to be a demand which you had no heart to answer ? Though sensible that it is right that you should be required to love God, and to love him supremely; still, have you never been sensible at the same time that it was painful to acknowledge the claim ? Has it not been the conviction of the understanding and conscience triumphing for the moment over a reluctant heart? But can you enter eternity, wbere this claim will never be forgotten, nor its justice doubted, but from the living remembrance of which and the acknowledged justice of it the heart revolts ? Where you shall feel the claim of God upon your affections, and yet not emotion of love be awakened, but the opposite? It shall only call into livelier action the secret hostility of the heart to such a being as God is, and to such a government as his. Can you, can any person, endure an endless existence like this? Are you aware that such must be your condition, if you die unreconciled to God? To say nothing of that punishment which God may inflict on you directly as the desert of your sins-or of the remorse which you must inevitably experience at the recollection of past offences, as it shall be suggested to the conscience of the different periods onwards in eternity: Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime wast guilty of this or that transgression, didst omit this or the other duty, or didst, on occasions which can never be forgotten, treat lightly the Divine mercies—to say nothing of your now, by a life of impiety, treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath ; can you as you are, unreconciled to God, venture into his holy presence ? You are now conscious of shrinking even from the remote intercourse which the worship of him on earth requires ; can you endure to be for ever with him ? Under these views death is a solemn event. It fixes charac
He that is holy will be holy still. He that is unholy will be unholy still. He that is holy will love God, for he is holy. And the more intimate the intercourse, the more fully will this affection be developed. The more God is seen and known,
and his goodness enjoyed, the deeper will be the well of love opened in the soul. And this will constitute an essential part of the Christian's heaven. But let it never be forgotten, that opposite emotions must be excited in the mind of one who does not love God. If the heart be alienated from him, the more God is known, the stronger will this alienation become. This must lay the foundation of the sinner's future suffering, and constitute no unimportant part of it. It is impossible, where a spirit of blasphemy has not already taken possession of the heart, properly to estimate such a condition.
The inference that, to be happy in the presence of God, the heart must be changed, is so obvious, that furthur confirmation is unnecessary. How important that a fountain of holy love be opened in the soul before death ; as that fixes character. After death comes the judgment. As the tree falls, so it lies. Ye must be born again. Nothing will avail but a new creature." And all this must be experienced before death. And as death is often sudden and unexpected, why delay? why not seek a new heart now? why not this instant offer the prayer, “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me ?"
O inquiring friend, what rich grace is seen in the way of life? You perceive your need of an essential change in your feelings towards God. You are doubtless convinced that nothing can effect this but the energy of the Divine Spirit, renewing and sanctifying the heart. But do you duly consider that God cannot, consistently with his character and the justice of his government, enter, by his Holy Spirit, your estranged and defiled heart, except through the mediation of Jesus Christ ? If we who were enemies are reconciled to God, it is by the death of his Son. Not only, therefore, ought we to lift up adoring hearts to our heavenly Father for his unspeakable gift, but to seek in prayer and by faith in Christ the aid of the Spirit. This is the richest fruit of his death. You can hardly be so ignorant of the nature of sin as to view yourself entitled to this spiritual aid. You are more liable to deem your wretched condition a plea, - a reason for its bestowment. It was the reason why the Son of God died. But had our peril and wretchedness been a ground for sending the Spirit, the sacrifice of God's onlybegotton Son would have been spared. Sensible therefore alike of your guilt and your helplessness, come as near to God as you now can by faith—come by the new and living way, which is ever open-come by the blood of Christ. Be assured of his willingness to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. But be also assured that he will grant this mercy only for Christ's sake. Then with his redeemed ones you shall in this life joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement; and when your spirits shall return to God, living in the likeness of God, your joy shall be full.
“I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always, even unto the end."Psalm 119: 112.
It is impossible to compress a truth with all its qualifications and explanations into one short sentence. The Psalmist here speaks of what he had done in order to secure his own obedience to God, and leaves out of sight for the time what God had done. He thinks of his state of mind, and of his own agency in its existence, without thinking of the agency of God which went before and enabled him to act. He might have said with equal truth, "Thou bast inclined my heart," and "I have inclined my heart ;for the one prepared the way for the other.
There was a time, however, in the life of the godly man when he could not have used this language, “ I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes.” He felt the binding force of the spiritual law, but he found himself to be carnal, sold under sin. And this bondage was a bondage of his will; such a bondage that the occasional longings which he felt to escape from it were powerless, and his struggles to do right were without fruit. From these efforts of his unassisted nature to turn the current of his own will he discovers his weakness, as well as the misery of being in thraldom to sin. And when he finds that this bondage of his will to sin has been removed, experience has taught him that he did not make himself willing, that a mightier than he broke the chain of his captivity. He now cries out to God, “ Thou hast inclined my heart to perform thy statutes; thou hast worked in me to will and to do of thy good pleasure."
Thus the original inclination of his heart to obedience comes from God, as he feels and owns with gratitude. He has therefore become possessed of a new moving power; and just as a lame man when cured by a physician may say, “I walk," or "I run," so may he say, when he contemplates his efforts to be obedient after his conversion, “I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes." Nor can he ever lose sight of the cause which has rectified his will and has imparted to him this new power, any more than the lame man can attribute to himself the recovery from his infirmity. But there is this difference between the lame man and him. I'he former can go about without the physician, and perhaps will never need to call for his aid again during life. It is a past fact, and it may be an isolated fact in his history that a strength beyond his own gave him the use of a lost power. But it is not true that the godly man can incline his heart to perform the sta. tutes without the aid of God. And whether this continual aid of God is necessary to sustain his new nature because of its weakness in the state of trial on earth, or whether-what is more probableno finite being, man or angel, can go alone upon a path of virtue, but the security of all must consist in their taking hold of God's arm-whencesoever this necessity arises, it is real, and found to be real in his constant experience. If he thinks to say, “I can incline my heart to perform thy statutes," because at one time in my history thou madest me inclined by thy power, such a feeling, which cuts the cord binding him to a present God, is the prelude to a fall. When therefore he uses language like that in the text respecting what he has done or can do, it is always used with the tacit understanding that a supply of power for such exertions of his own comes from the Omnipotent fountain. He is now like a man who has no money of his own, but is allowed to use the dame of a rich friend to an unlimited extent. He can say, without the least shadow of boasting or self-confidence, "I will engage in such and such a transaction involving very large liabilities;" he shrinks from no outlay because it is vast, and calls the operation his own; knowing all the while that he is nothing but a poor man sustained by the unfailing capital of another. And the good man is often found to have such a confidence in the strength of an ever-present God, that he is not afraid to calculate upon the future, and to affirm what his conduct will be in certain contingencies where he may
exposed to trial. He says, “I can do all things,” but he always adds, if not in word at least in thought, " through Christ Jesus which strengtheneth me.
Thus the power of the Christian to sway his own will always implies a co-operation of the Divine Spirit and himself. What he does, as his part of the labor, consists not in simple desiring or longing, however intense. There is no inclining his heart by the simple will to incline it. That is not consistent with the nature of a rational being, and lies beyond the reach of finite power. In order to do what the Psalmist speaks of in the text, hard work upon himself must have gone before. He must have brought the truth of God before his reason, his conscience, and his feelings; he must have roused his sluggish soul, as he would rouse a sleeper amid the flames; he must have meditated long enough upon the Divine Word to have it exclude other thoughts, and occupy his soul. When after such efforts he finds his heart roused into an inclination or tendency towards obedience, he can very truly say, “I have inclined my heart," because his actings were the cause without which the inclination would not have taken place. But he knows full well that these labors would not be crowned with success without the presence of a higher cause in its fulness of power.
From these first reflections suggested by the text we pass on to the remark that it is his heart which the Christian inclines or bends to the performance of duty. Not merely his choice, taking all things into view, moves in that direction; not merely his conscience; but his heart, as including all the free and glad movements of his nature. This indeed is admitted in all our systems of theology, and in all our treatises upon religious experience, that a religion without affections is worth nothing; but after all we need to feel how important the affections are for the elevation of Christian character as well as for its enjoyment. Although Christianity at the root is alike in all, there may be said to be two sorts of Christians: one class to a great degree contemplate the life of the soul as a series of duties, and are controlled by the feeling of obligation; the other class regard the essence of religion as lying in feeling towards God, which they seek to arouse by acts of me. ditation and worship. It is obvious that the habits of thinking of both classes are attended with peculiar dangers. The one class is liable to slide down to a dead routine of duties, and their religious life scarcely rises higher, as it sometimes appears, than that of the moralist who frets and chafes at the restraints of obligation. The other class is peculiarly prone to self-deception, and when sincere,
apt to be satisfied with the deliciousness of religious emotion without going farther. But still, supposing the men of both these types to be real followers of Christ, I have no hesitation in saying that the man with a heart has risen to a higher level than the man with a conscience. For it is quite possible that the conscience shall recognize a moral law without taking into full view the living, personal Law-giver. We are in great danger, when we act from a sense of duty, of living amid abstractions; of separating in thought the part we have to act in the world from the great Author of the natural and moral system. It seems as if there