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from quite another source; and, so far from thinking the Scriptures complete, yoų were ready to pronounce them materially defective; you would have had some such texts as these in your Bible--viz. · Thus saith the Lord, Whosoever he be of you that would be my disciple, if there be any particular sin that he is more than ordinarily fond of, and cannot consent to part with, I allow him to indulge it with moderation, and it shall not be imputed to him ;'-- or, “Thus saith the Lord, If any one of my commandments be disagreeable to flesh and blood, and you cannot bring yourselves to like it, I allow you to pass it by, and only charge you to be more diligent in your observance of the rest.' Did not you
wish there were some such texts as these; and did not you dislike your Bibles, because you could not find them ?---But now that you are transformed, by the renewing of your minds,” your veneration for the scriptures rises high. Now, the more you are acquainted with them, the better
you like them. Now you esteem God's precepts, concerning all things, to be right. You would not have any thing added to his word, or taken from it, for the world. You have felt its power in subduing your stubborn wills, softening your flinty hearts, and spiritualizing your carnal and corrupt affections; and you believe that the word which could do this, can do any thing. Now you can take the Bible in your hand, and bid defiance to dangers, death, and devils. None of these things move you. In the Bible you have an antidote against the most overwhelming calamities, a cordial in the deepest distress, and an infallible directory in the greatest perplexities. In the Bible you are taught how to live, and how
to die, and have the animating discovery of eternal life and blessedness.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter.--The will of God is “good," "acceptable," and “ perfect;" and the great end of your being transformed was to qualify you to“ prove” it---that is, to examine, to understand, to approve, and to obey it. If therefore, you would give good evidence that you are not conformed to this world; that you do not love and live as they do ; but are transformed by the renewing of your minds, and act from higher and nobler principles ;---if you would make it appear that you are indeed born again, born from above; and that you are actually passed from darkness to light, from death to life, and from the power of Satan unto God, it is not a few good words, nor a few good works either, that will prove it: you must hate every false way; you must be fruitful in every good word and work: you must be stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord: in short, you must be perfect, and stand complete in the whole will of God,
Psalm iv. 4.
Commune with your own heart.
I BEGUN the year with calling upon you, in the name of your heavenly Father, to give him your hearts ;---fondly hoping that I did not call in vain; that in consequence of it many were prevailed upon to yield themselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead.” You were next ex borted, that ye should not be conformed to this world, but be “ transformed, by the renewing of your minds ; that ye might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Exhortations, admonitions and counsels, of various kinds and of high importance, offered themselves; and many of them so pertinent, so necessary, so particularly urgent, that it was not easy to determine which deserved the preference: but I was resolved to meddle with none of them, before I had introduced.... must I say, a stranger ?...to your acquaintance; -one whom it infinitely concerns you to know and to be intimate with ;-one who has been always at your side, and yet, through an unhappy prejudice, whom you have hitherto affected not to
see or speak to ; --- one who has it in his
power to be the best friend, or the bitterest enemy, according as you use him; one whose good word will do you more good upon your death-bed, than the applauses of all the world; and whose reproaches will differ little from the worm that never dieth, All the world are fond of new acquaintance; and most are proud of a connection with the great, though thereby they expose themselves to frequent disappointments and no small mortifications; for such are generally difficult of access, and must be waited upon and flattered, and borne with in all their humours : and, after all, are easily affronted; and when affronted, are often implacable : · They are not at home-or they are engaged-or they are indisposed-or they—- In short, a thousand things may prevent our intercourse with them. Such are the inconveniences of aspiring after great acquaintance. But the acquaintance which I now recommend, the stranger that is presently to be introduced, is always to be spoken with, and ever ready to give the best proofs of undissembled friendship. I dare say you guess who this stranger is: if you do not, our text will tell you his name“ Commune with your own HEART.”
It would be of little consequence to detain you with a critical inquiry into the particular occasion of this Psalm. It was composed by David when he was under some great trouble ; though what it was, it is not easy precisely to determine. Nor need we, indeed, be solicitous about it: it is enough to observe, that David thought the best refuge in a time of distress was prayer.
“ Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast en
larged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.” (ver. 1.) The counsel of our text, to whomsoever it was immediately spoken, equally concerns us all; and therefore I shall proceed to explain and enforce it, under the following general heads :
I. What it is to commune with our own hearts.
II. What we should commune with our hearts about.
III. When we should commune with our own hearts.
IV. Why should we commune with our own hearts.
V. How should we commune with our hearts.
Let us inquire,
Remember it is your own heart that you have now to do with. There is much discoursing with other men, and much discoursing of other men's hearts—a great deal too much sometimes--prying into them, judging them, censuring them. But the communication here recommended is to be with your own heart, and not with another's. Communication supposes two persons at least; but here, a man's own heart must supply the place of both. It is what we call soliloquy. Here is the soul's inquiry into itself, and of itself. There is something proposed, by way of question, from the soul to itself; as it is expressed in Psal. Ixxvii. 6: I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with my own heart, and my spirit made diligent search.” And then there is the soul's answer to itself-for in communication there must be