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“Blessed Lord, thou shalt have the whole: I will keep back nothing from thee. My warmest affections shall henceforth be consecrated to thee. No one deserves them better, no one can reward them so well, I love thee, because thou lovedst me first. I shall never love thee with an ardour equal to tbine excellencies and my own obligations; but thou shalt have my best. [ should hate myself, if I preferred not thee above my chief joy."
3. Giving the heart to God implies, that we are perfectly free in the surrender we make.
A gift is not that which is wrested from a man against his will; but what comes freely and cheerfully, of his own motion, and with full consent. Whatever is done in religion merely by the terrors of natural conscience (though religion frequently begins here; and the terrifying apprehensions of hell and damnation have been the means of melting some hearts, on which love could make no imprèssion)---but, I say, if our religion never rises higher than this, we do not come up to what God requires. Our hearts, in that case, are rather surprised than surrendered, and upon the first temptation would probably desert again, No, we are to yield up ourselves to God. It must be our own act and deed, God loves a cheerful giver. It should be an unconstrained, as well as an unreserved surrender : and when we set about it, it must not be with cold. ness and indifference ; much less with reluctance or drawing back, as if we had rather be excused; but with alacrity and joy, as if (and it is really the case,) as if we were going to receive a favour, and not to confer one ---When God says, “ My son, give me thine heart," it is as if he said, -.-' I could have die
manded, and forcibly seized it whether thou wouldst or not; but I had rather have it with thine own consent; I had rather it should be a free-will offering.'
Gracious God, it is a free-will offering : I do consent. I never was more willing to do any thing in all my life, than I now am to give my heart to thee. I would not but do it for the world. I have long wished to do it, but could not. When I would have done good, evil was present with me. But, now that thou hast wrought io me both to will and to do, I can do it freely—I cannot help doing it. Oh! it is sweet to run the way of thy commandments, when thou dost thus enlarge my heart !!
4. Giving the heart to God, implies a resolution to serve him, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our lives,
What we give, is no longer our own. When we give it, to be sure, it is not our design, and when it is given, it is not in our power to recal it. So when we give our hearts to God, we put them out of our own possession, and make over all our right in them to God, with a tacit, if not an actual and express, declaration, that they shall be his for ever and ever. To offer our hearts to God only for such a time, or for such a duty, is only lending them : but, though God condescends to accept our hearts when they are given, he will never submit to borrow. His gifts to us are “ without repentance ;" and so should be ours to him. We should say, like Ephraim; • What have I to do any more with idols?” (Hos. xiv. 8.) And soin effect we do say, when we give our hearts to God :- Lord, we have been for a great while off and on: sometimes professing religion, at "other times scoffing at it: sometimes vowing everlastiøg
løve and fidelity to thee; and then stretching out our hands to strange gods. But now our hearts ane fixed; :0 God, our hearts are fixed, trusting in thee. We are come to a resolution to give thee our hearts fully, perpetually, beyond the power of revocation: We declare before all the world that we are not our own; and are ready to bind ourselves by the strongest engagements, to glorify thee in our bodies and in our spirits, which are thine.
Il. What is implied in God's demanding the heart?:
1. It implies strong affection on his part. Men do not usually claim what they are indifferent about. If it be offered, they will accept of it; but if it be with held, it gives them no concern. So, if God had been inditferent about our hearts(and most astonishing it is that he should be otherwise ! considering what our hearts are; how indifferent-worse than indifferent, low averse, how full of enmity against him. One would think, if hearts so worthless and corrupt had been offered him, he would have rejected them with infinite contempt and indignation )-But, I say, if God had been ins "? different about our hearts, he never would have solis cited for them. Perhaps (we might think,) if with all humility we were to kneel down, and with tears and importunity beseech him to accept of them, he might: vouchsafe to take them ; but if we do not, he will never inquire after them, nor care whether hie hạş them or not. But the language of the text is not the language of indifference: My son, give me thine heart:"-s03kind! so-pathetic ! as if he were:
asking an alms; as if he could not bear to be denied :-there is love in every word.
It is a common saying, and never used with greater propriety than here, • That love requires love. Now, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son." His heart's love was bound up in Christ; and yet he freely gave him up. And he expects our hearts in return.
What better proof can you wish for of his particular kindness for you, than his asking for your hearts ?
hearts? He doth by that say, as in Jer. xxxi. 3, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” And shall such drawings be ineffectual? Shall we wantonly throw away our hearts upon every vanity that solicits them, and suffer them to be a cage of unclean birds, a harbour for every lust, and the property of every bold invader, as if we cared not who had them; when, at the same time, God hath done so much to gain them, and even now condescends with so much tenderness to ask for them?
2. Shameful backwardness is implied on our part.
No man makes a formal demand of what he is sure will be offered him without it: and if God had foreseen that all men, after a little indulgence of fleshly lusts, would of their own accord think on their ways
and turn their feet unto his testimonies; and that they would encourage one another in religion as much as ever they enticed one another to sin, saying, “Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant never to be forgotten :" -I say, if the Lord could have depended on our voluntarily giving our hearts, he needed not to have
demanded them. But, alas' ! " the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek after God. They are
are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Ps, xiv. 2.) · . Indeed, bad as the world is, there are few so abandoned, as, when God makes his suit to them, to tell him in so many words, “We have nothing to give thee.' Something or other most men would offer. But what is it? Why, some offer to give God their tongue. They will talk about religion from morning to night, in all companies, seasonable or unseasonable. They will dispute about religion, and be strenuous in defence of this and the other doctrine; and no one shall outdo them in extolling "the unsearchable riches of Christ.” And this, they hope, will suffice.
Others will offer to give God their ear.-Oh, they will be “ swift to hear.” They will run every where, any where, where any thing is to be heard. Never shall any preacher come, let him be who he will or what he will, but they will be some of his hearers. They will hear a sermon every day in the week, and two or three times a day, if they can: and surely, they hope, this will do.
Others, again, will offer to give God their hand. -Oh how good they will be to the poor! They will not be so close-fisted as some are, when they are called upon for their charity: they will be ready to communicate ; and, in this respect, whatever their hand findeth to do, they will do it with their might. And, surely, “charity will cover a mul