« PreviousContinue »
.sin, and I first tasted the blessedness of divine for. giveness, O what promises did I make that I would love him ! yes, that I would love him with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength ;-that I would never harbour any sin in myself, and that I would discountenance and discourage it all. I could in others ;--that I would spend my breath in publishing the riches of divine grace and mercy, and persuading all the world to come and taste and see how gracious the Lord is! But have I done so? I am confounded at the recollection of my unfaithfulness !-And again and again since that time, when under some particular affliction—when my life has been in danger, or something that was dear, to me as my lifehow did I pour out prayers and promises !
Oh, if the Lord would but spare me this time, I would - neyer, never forget the mercy: I would set the Lord always before me, and serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life. But I am quité ashamed at the difference between my promises and performances! O niy soul, was it.generous, was it just, to make promises when I was in distress, and forget them again the moment I was relieved! If God should so soon forget his promises, I must never expect another deliverance. y.
And thus have I given you a few examples of what I meant by self-communication; and by this time you will easily perceive that no man need
go abroad for company, or ever be at a loss for conversation. I will not stay to enforce this duty. now : I should imagine it must carry its own recommendation with it. It may seem dull and disagreeable at first. Few may like their heartse upon first ac
quaintance: nothing but upbraidings and recriminations may pass at the two or three first interviews. But if you persevere, you will by degrees grow better pleased with yourselves; you will relish no company so well as your own, and be glad to steal
away from the unedifying conversation of the world, to commune with your own heart.”
What a memorable day would this bė, if it should be the æra of your new acquaintance: if the stranger whom I have now introduced should from henceforth be companion and most intimate friend! Then I shall hope to see religion thrive in good earnest. Then you
will not be religious only when you are at church, or when you are in company : you will be as devout (shall I say, more devout ?)---when you are alone. Communing with your own heart is the best preparative for, and naturally leads to, communion with God, and then, too, I may hope that sermons, and this among the rest, will be longer remembered and better improved; for then you will
keep all these things, and ponder them in your heart."
III. When should we commune with our own hearts ?
When should we not? We cannot do it too often. There may be some extraordinary duties which are only necessary on extraordinary occasions; but this is a Christian's every-day's employment. In the morning, we should consider how we ought to spend the day: in the evening how we have actually spent it.
We must give an account of every day to God; but if we keep no ac count, how can 'we give one? It is the character of the godly man, that he meditates in the law of
God day and night. (Psal. i. 2.) He meditates--that is, he communes with his own heart about it. . And it was David's own practice: O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. cxix. 97:)
- But there are some special seasons when this duty may be performed to greater advantage; a few of them I shall endeavour to point out and recommend.
We should commune with our own hearts, 1. When we are most at leisure.
We may salute a friend as we pass him in a crowd: but we do not choose to talk with him in a crowd on busines; of importance. So we may exchange a word or two with our own hearts in the midst of other engagements—and to do this often implies and increases intimacy, and endearment;but, undoubtedly the fittest season for this duty is, when we are most disengaged from worldly incumbrances. When a person is engrossed by worldly thoughts and cares, he may indeed commune with his own heart, but what is the subject of their con: yersation ?--you will find it expressed in the 12th chapter of Luke: “ the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do ; I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestów all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” (ver. 16.) When the world is in the heart, nothing but the world can be talked of: I therefore mention, as the
first special season for communing with our own heart, when we are retired from the noise and hurry of worldly engagements. Let us enter into our closets, and, when we have shut the door against all intruders, say, “O my soul, it is my grief and burthen that I can be no more with thee in retirement; but I have now a little leisure, and I gladly embrace it, to discuss without interruption some subjects of infinite moment. They are subjects which ought not to be hastily determined, and in which my life and salvation are concerned : and therefore I have chosen this time, when we can con verse, and deliberate, and examine them freely and fully. There are depths in the Divine counsels and conduct towards me, which from a cursory view I cannot comprehend; and there are depths of wickedness in myself, which a slight and hasty look, will never fathom. Now, my soul, we shall have time to make the proper soundings, and take a more accurate survey of my spiritual state, than, I have ever yet done.'-One such sober scrutiny is worth a thousand hasty and inconclusive conversations,
2. When the conscience is any way awakened.,
Indeed, without this there is no prospect of the duty being performed to any good purpose. While the heart retains its native insensibility, it is utterly unfit for spiritual conversation. You may talk to it often, and upon subjects the most solemn, and it will answer you never a word-or it will give you an answer quite foreign to the purpose. , If, for exapple, you were to say,,,
: O my soul, I am uneasy,; I am greatly distressed at the way I am in: how shall J escape the damnation of hell? your stupid
hearts would reply, with all the unconcern imaginable, “ Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.?? So indisposed, so absolutely unqualified, is the heart of a natural man to talk about spiritual things. But when the Spirit of the Lord has been at work within, then the heart is serious and pliable, open and communicative : that is the time, therefore, which of all times should be improved. I hope that such is the present condition of many in this assembly. I believe that God, who knoweth all hearts, sees many among us this day weary and heavy laden" with a sense of sin; under deep convice tions, but hardly knowing whether to encourage or stifle them. To such I say, seize the favourable moment, and thus address your heart: -'0 my soul, I am glad to see thee so affected : it is with inexpressible delight I have heard thy secret sighs, and seen thee every now and then darting up an ejaculation to heaven. Tell me, how shall I
pre: serve thy present serious impression, and carry on the good work so happily begun? What must Į do to prevenit sin from again usurping the throne, and to be kept from falling back into my former ing sensibility ? Let us commune together upon this important and interesting subject.'
Many persons, when they have been under seri, ous impressions, instead of retiring and communing with their own hearts, have hastened to their vain companions, as if they had been flying from a dan, gerous' enemy; and, as soon as they could, haye be. gün some foolish talking and jesting, to drive away the religious gloom; and restore them to their for mergaiety and spirits. : I repeat it, many hopeful convictions have been stifled by a person's running