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As all sin lies in the departure of the heart from God, so all holiness is concentrated in this unreserved surrender of the heart to him. Herein lies the secret of holiness and of happiness.
When the heart is once truly given to God; when the affections flow delightfully towards him ; when the will is swallowed up in the divine will ; when the whole soul is devoted to the service of its Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer; then the fruits of righteousness will appear and abound; then joy and peace will gladden the heart; and hope and love will unite to prepare the believer for his eternal rest.
But, it is most awful to think how little the blessed God is regarded and obeyed by creatures whom he has endued with reason and reflection.
Man, although formed to shew forth the praises of Jehovah, is of all his lower works, the only creature who rebels against his sovereign will.“ The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider."
“ The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their coming ; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.” “ Hear now this, O! foolish people and without understanding ; which have eyes and see not : which have ears and hear not: fear ye not me? saith the Lord : will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree that it cannot pass it ; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail ; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone."
When we read the sacred pages of revealed truth, what an awful catalogue of crime meets our eye.
What unbelief, what pride, what sensual lust, what covetousness, what supreme attachment to the world, what daring independence and contempt of the Almighty, what entire forgetfulness of God, and abominable idolatries-what gross impurities, what envy, malice, cruelties, and love of blood, what deceit and fraud, what superstition, hypocrisy, and formality, what crimes of every name and character stain the history of our fallen race,
prove by an incontrovertible evidence, that we are born in sin, and are by nature the children of wrath.
For such a world of hateful sinners, JESUS DIED !
0! stupendous miracle of mercy ! angels desire to look into this mystery of love. But o amazing infatuation, man, for whom this mercy was provided, man, to whom this mercy is offered, man, who so greatly needs it, and who without it, must perish for ever, is careless and indifferent, yea, most awfully opposed to it!
We do not dislike mercy, but we dislike the channel through which it flows.
We do not dislike forgiveness, but we dislike the purity of heart connected with it.
We do not dislike heaven as a place of rest from toil and sorrow, but we dislike those dispositions and affections which alone can qualify us for the enjoyment of it.
Whilst we would gladly be saved from future misery, we cannot part with present sinful attachments: therefore we wilfully renounce the infinite joys of heavenly glory, and choose the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, with all their tremendous consequences in a future world. Awful delusion! Lord, save us from such a miserable choice and condition.
In the midst of this general aversion to the humbling, purifying, elevating doctrines and precepts of the Gospel, there is, in every age, “a remnant according to the election of grace," who most gladly and thankfully embrace the rich offers of mercy made to a lost world through the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God.
These happy souls receive Christ into their hearts by faith, obtain pardon and peace through his blood, and are renewed in the spirit of their minds through the power of the Holy Spirit.
They walk in humble fear and holy obedience; are admitted as heirs of glory into God's everlasting kingdom; and reign with Christ their Lord and Saviour for ever and ever.
Blessed Jesus! thou who art the kind Physician of souls, heal this fatal distemper of my fallen nature-an earthly mind. Spiritualize my affections -elevate my views—enlarge my heart. soul with thine own self. Let me not grovel here below, fond of the perishing vanities of time. Wean my heart from the fugitive enjoyments of sense, and fix my affections upon thyself, the eternal unchanging source of good.
O ! satisfy me with thy mercy and that soon. Hasten to help me, for thou art my God.
Short-sighted man can only see
To his all-searching piercing eye,
Wash me in Jesu's blood divine;
A monument of grace I stand,
Then let my soul for ever raise
VIII. ON KEEPING THE HEART.
When we are spiritually taught of God to know something of the desperate wickedness and deceitfulness of our hearts, we are prepared to feel the force of this exhortation :
Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”
Our blessed Lord has told us, that out of the heart proceed evil thoughts; from which we learn, that the heart is the fountain of all wickedness. Evil thoughts are the springs of evil actions. Therefore, till the fountain be cleansed, all the streams which issue from it must be impure.
The heart undergoes a wonderful change when renewed by the Spirit of grace. But, as man is rerenewed only in part, it becomes the constant duty and work of every believer to keep his heart with all diligence. Sinless perfection is the glory and blessedness of heaven. Here, the most holy servant of God finds daily need of deep humiliation.
“ He that is washed,” said our Lord to Peter, “ needeth not, save to wash his feet.” Daily contracted defilement needs daily washing. All the children of God labour to abound yet more and more in all knowledge and in all goodness. Forgetting
the things which are behind, they reach forth unto those things which are before; and eagerly press toward the
mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Uniting with holy David in sentiment and feeling, they can individually say: "I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love." 66 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O! Lord, my strength and my redeemer." And is this thy prayer, O! my soul? Art thou labouring to maintain a conscience void of offence both towards God and towards man ? Is “the thought of foolishness” distressing to thee? Canst thou with christian sincerity join in this prayer of the Psalmist: “ Search me, O! God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”?
The Scriptures declare: “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he:" this habitual inward state of the thoughts, determines his character in the sight of God.
Lord, give me grace carefully to observe my thoughts, and to watch and pray, lest being drawn into temptation through the wiles of the devil and the deceitfulness of my heart, I should grieve thy Holy Spirit, by whom thy people are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Evil thoughts are not our sins, when being injected by Satan, our will does not consent unto them, but hates and opposes them: and when we earnestly entreat the Lord to save us by his grace from these fiery darts of the wicked one.
But as the difficulty lies in ascertaining whether these evil suggestions spring from Satan, or the corruption of our nature; the safest way is to be