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* shouldst be willing to accept it? From this day I shall call it thine: and if the world or sin, or any
of my former tempters, should come as usual: so·liciting for my heart, I will tell them,.--" I have 'none to give : on such a New-year's Day I gave it
to God: and I would not take it out of his hands . again for the world."'.
What say ye now? Am I right in my guesses at the disposition of your minds at this instant?--The Lord enable me rightly to divide this word. of truth, that every one may receive his portion in due season.---The method I propose is, to show,
1. What is implied in giving the heart to God.
O Thou who hast the hearts of all men in thine hand, and canst turn them as the rivers of water are turned; be pleased so to influence the hearts of this people, that whatever thou demandest they may be disposed to give: that after this day there may not, in all this assembly, be one heart but what has “ holiness to the Lord'' engraven on it; not one heart but what is an habitation of God through the Spirit.
1. What is implied in giving the heart to God?
The heart is a principal part of the body, upon which animal life and motion intimately depend; and at the same time, it lies most remote from view: hence it is used in Scripture to express the “inner man,” comprehending the judgment, will, and affections : so that where the heart goes, all the rest follow. But, more particularly,
1. To give the heart to God, is to be sincere in our professions of love and duty.
Religion without sincerity, is like a body without à soul; not merely useless, but offensive. God de . šireth truth in the inward parts; and being a spirit; expects to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and that we lift up our hearts with our hands unto Him in the heavens. Hypocrisy is in all cases dishonourable: it is mean in the eyes of the world, where it is suspected; and our own hearts cannot but upbraid us whenever we are guilty of it. In common matters, where we have only to do with men, who can judge only by words and appearances, disguises and dissimulation may pass, may prosper : but in religion it is the greatest folly imaginable : for not only the external actions, but the secret springs and principles of them, -are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Ar this instant-now, that we are met together, with a professed design to worship him-he knows whether our hearts are upright before him: whether we act from a conscientious regard to his glory : or whether we are influenced by carnal motives, such as love of the praise of men, a desire of being thought religious, in order to cover and carry on our worldly and wicked purposes : whether we are, indeed, so weary of sin, and so resolved to follow Christ, as we pretend to be. The most plausible pretences are easily seen through; and if we are not what we appear to be, a Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on the wedding garment?” with all the disgraceful and direful consequences of such. a discovery, will sooner or later be the portion of
“ Cursed be the deceiver, which hath in
his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.” (Mal. i. 14.) Now, what greater deceit can there be, than to subscribe with our hands to the Lord, while our hearts are at the same time in close connection with the world and sin? Whatever you do, therefore, “ Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy : « Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of. your
Father which is in heaven :" and " Whatever. you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men:" for it is sincerity only can carry you through the many difficulties and discouragements to which a profession of Christianity will unavoida bly expose you. If, as the servants of Christ, ye do the will of God from the heart; if you are indeed. devoted to Christ, and united to Christ; if
you. abide in him, and his words abide in you : then you. have that within which will enable you to laugh at the shaking of any spear, and to rejoice in tribula, tion, and to take pleasure in infirmities, and to. count it all joy when ye enter into divers tempta. tions and trials, and to esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. But if you are Christians only in name and show, you. will be Christians only in sun-shine and fair weather;
ever tribulation or persecution aniseth because of the word, you will be offended; and, having no root in yourselves, must necess, sarily be :scorched, and wither and fall awayan I cannot be otherwise, where the form of godliness is taken up before the power of godliness haş, transs,
formed and sanctified the heart: - Think of this, Gòd thinks of it; and when he says, “My son, give me thine heart,” it is as if he were to say, I will not be put off with forms and compliments, and '“ bodily exercise, which profiteth nothing:" I will not be 'insulted with moving lips and bended' knees, while thy heart is far from me. I will have all the churches know, that I cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked. Therefore let me have thy heart; let me see that thou hast chosen me in the undissembled purposes of thy soul; and that, laying aside all guile änd hypos crisy, double-meanings and mental reservations, all thy desires are before me.'- I hope you can now appeal to him with Peter, and
" Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee:"
- I would not deceive thee if I could. If I know my own heart, I am sincere and unreserved in the dedication of myself to thee. But I am afraid to trust a heart which I have found so deceitful and desperately wicked : search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and If thou seest any secret wickedness in me, graciously discover it, and dispose and enable me to put it away. I think I entreat thy favour with my whole heart: O be merciful unto me, according to thy word.”
2. Giving the heart to God, is to love him supremely and ardently.
There may be a sincere regard, where it doth not rise high, nor warm and elevate the mind; but where the love of God is shed abroad in the heart abundantly, it is full of activity and spirit, and will be continually growing and enlarging,"tillik is in
some measure answerable to its divine object.--With respect to the world and the things of the world, it were neither wise nor safe to encourage warm and high-raised affections; for by leaning on broken reeds, and expecting living waters from broken cisterns, we should only subject ourselves to disappointment and vexation. But with respect to God there is no such danger; we can never love him too passionately, nor expect too much from him. Indeed, not to love him with all the heart, and all the soul, and all the mind, and all the strength, were to dishonour him, as if he were not worthy ofour supreme love, or, at least, as if we thought some other things were worthy to share it with him. But there must be no such halting between two opinions ; nothing must be permitted in opposition to or compe tition with God. Christ has decided this matter.: “ No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” (Luke xvi. 13.) And the Apostle tells us, that, “ whoso loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John ii. 15.) They are opposite in their nature, and can never reside and rule in the same heart together. When therefore God says, “ My son, give me thine heart," it is as if he said, --- I expect that thou shouldst have no other gods before me. Let me have thee entirely mine, without reserve or fluctuation. . I will never accept of a divided heart. If there must be one room kept for this lust, and another room for that, thou mayest keep the whole : I will never take up my abode in a heart where the world and sin are allowed inmates.'