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149

dom which is profitable to direct. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may stand against the wiles of the devil. Let your loins be girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel. Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked.

150

SERMON VI.

ON THE DEVOTION OF THE HEART AND

LIFE TO GOD.

PROVERBS xxiii. 26. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe

my ways. My young friends, this is the endearing language of your Father in heaven. The sense of it is plain. · God addresses you as his children, and teaches you the whole sum of your duty to him. “My son," my daughter, “ give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Compliance with this demand is religion in principle and practice, in affection and conduct. If you would be truly religious, heart and life must be devoted to God. He requires your purest love, and your unreserved submission and obedience. In this discourse we shall invite your attention to the manner, subject,

and reasonableness, of the divine requisition contained in the text.

1. As to the manner, nothing can be more tender and endearing. The language is affectionate, and expressive of the feelings of a kind parent toward a beloved child. If you consider it as addressed by a holy God to his offending offspring on earth, it must make some impression on your minds. “My son”. What surprising, condescension in the infinite Majesty of heaven, that he should own apostate man in this relation! With the pity, as well as with the authority of a father, he calls us back to our duty, and, to encourage our return, reminds us of our relation and consequent obligation to him. The expression intimates his disposition to own, and treat us as his children, and to grant us the privileges and inheritance that appertain to this relation. It teaches that, as an earthly parent desires the honour and happiness of his children, so our heavenly Father regards our wel. fare with a benignant eye; and that, as our fathers according to the flesh claim our filial affection, so he, who is infinitely more worthy and kind than they, requires our undissembled. love. Every thing that the character of the most tender parent can suggest is implied in

God's addressing human beings as his childreis. The manner is gracious, and encourages our humble approach to him, as to a father, for every thing necessary to our own improvement and happiness. It indicates his readiness to for. give our offences, to pity our weakness, to supply our wants, to preserve our life, to direct our path, and to secure to us the inheritance of sons.

This compassion and goodness of God toward sinful men are strikingly illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son. The conduct of the father toward his returning child, and the language used on the affecting occasion, represent the tender mercy of our heavenly Father, and his willingness to receive us to favour, and to enrich us from the treasures of his goodness.

But, in order to our being objects of his com· placency, and subjects of his favour, like the prodigal, we must return from our wanderings, confess our sin, give him our hearts, and obey his commandments.

This leads us to consider,
2. The subject of the requisition in the text.
This requisition consists of two parts.

153 First, God demands the heart. My son, give me thine heart.” . The nature and extent of this demand merit attention.

The heart is the seat of the affections, and the spring of moral action. In demanding this, God claims our supreme love, and the consecration of all our moral powers and faculties to his honour and service. The first commandment requires us to “ love the Lord our God · with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength.” · This love to God, including its natural fruit, .“ is the fulfilling of the law;" it is the fundamental principle of true religion, and without it there can be no acceptable obedience. When persons give their hearts to God, they devote themselves and all their powers to him. The whole soul is inclined to him, as its chief good, the object of its highest esteem and most ardent desire. The affections of the heart are the wings on which it is carried toward God in the exercises of piety and obedience. Love, supreme love to him, which includes, or to which may be traced, every pure and holy affection, is the foundation and spring of all that is morally good in man. Different religious affections are only different modifications of true love to God, adapted to particular purposes; and may be

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