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Good parents concerned for their chil
I CHRONICLES xxix. 19. Give unto Solomon my fon a perfeet heart.
HIS was the prayer of a godly parent for his son. It is part of the last
prayer of King David; or however the last publick prayer which he made, that is recorded in lcripture, and this petition comes in at the very close of that prayer ; so that it was probably one of the last petitions which David put up to heaven before his remove thither. One would expect that a prayer thụs circumstanc'd, that is, the last dying prayer of so great a man, and so great a Saint as David was, fould be something more than ordinarily folemn, and that the blessing which he prays for should be something of the greatest importance: and such, it seems, David thought was the blessing which he prays for in our text, viz. that Solomon his son might have a perfect beart. For this was a thing of great importance to David's
own comfort in dying ; - it would enable him to leave his throne and the world with the greater satisfaction, if he had reason to hope that his son, and successor in the kingdom would prove a good man: it was a thing of great and general importance to the whole nation, that their young King should tread in his good father's steps: and it was of infinite importance to Solomon himself, in order to his being blessed of God, both here and hereafter, that he should have a perfect heart. Here David prays like a good King, and a good Father; as a King for his successor, and as a father for his fon. In the latter of these two views of this prayer, I would recommend it as a pattern for parents to copy after; tis a prayer which you for your children, Lord give them perfect hearts. In this prayer, as it stands in our text, three things are to be considered. First, The blessing itself which is desired,
and that is a perfeet heart. Secondly, of whom this blessing is desired
and asked, viz. of God. Thirdly, By whom, and for whom this prayer
is made, viz. by David for his son Solomon. First, The blessing which is here desired is a perfe&t beart. It will be neceffary for me to explain, in a few words, what that signifies. Now the heart, in scripture language, commonly means quite another thing than what Anatomists mean by the same word: it
fignifies not any part of the body, but the soul; fometimes more particularly the affections and passions, but more commonly the heart means the whole soul, with all its faculties and powers, such as understanding, will, and affections. Men are said to believe with the heart; and we read of an understanding beart, as well as of loving with the heart; and the gracious disposition of the whole soul, as' it is renewed by divine grace, is called, by the Apostle, the hidden man of the heart. The heart then is the foul, which is the chief feat either of grace and religion, or of fin and wickedness. We must further inquire also, what is meant by a perfećt heart: and certainly this is not to be taken in the most strict and absolute fense, for such a perfect heart as Adam had before his fall, or as the man Chrift Jesus had, in neither of whom there was any imperfection or sin; for, alas! such a perfect heart is now no where to be found, nor ever to be expected in any 'of Adam's - posterity, on this side heaven. We must therefore necessarily understand this phrase' in our text in a lower and qualify'd sense : for it is not to be supposed that David pray'd without a prospect; tho’ the thing was to be sure extremely desirable, and what David would have most heartily wish'd, that his fon Solomon's heárt might be as perfect as Adam's ever was; yet David well knew that this would be but a vain wish: and sure he would not lo
lemnly pray for that for his fon, which hie
knew was never granted to any son of Adam. . But there is another and lower sense of this
word perfect, according to which good men care often in scripture called perfect men, and a gracious heart may be called a perfect heart. Thus Noah and Job are said to be perfeit men, -Gen. ix. 6. Fobi. 1. tho' neither of them were sinless men ; they both had their spots, and frailties, and imperfections. We read of Noah's being drunk once, a plain sign that he was not perfect; and Job freely acknowJedges for his part, that he was fár Thort of Sinless perfection, Job ix. 20. If I justifre „myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me : if I Say, I am perfeet, it shall also prove me perverse. A perfect heart therefore commonly means a gracious heart: a heart that is renew'd, and fan&tify'd, and set right towards God and heaven. Such a heart may be called perfect, and not improperly, for
1.) There is a perfection of parts, which may be truly ascribed to every gracious heart. In much the same sense that a new born child may be called a perfect man, every gracious heart may be called a perfect heart: for it is perfect as to parts, tho not in degree. As a little infant has all the limbs and members of a perfect man, so every regenerate foul has all the graces of a perfect saint there is every feature and lineament of the divine image, tho' as yet they are but faintly drawn, in
comparison with what they shall be. Thus, far a gracious heart is a perfect heart. But,
2.) The true meaning of perfect, as applied in fcripture to sinful men, seems to be fin--; cere or upright. As he who hates sin, and:strives against it, is said not to commit sin, 1. John iii. 9. so he that does really and truly desire and endeavour to do all his duty, is said to be perfect.
Thus Nathaniel is characterized by Christ who knew his heart and life, An Ifraelite indeed in whom there? is no guile, John i. 17. 'not that Nathaniel lived without fin, but there was no prevailing, no allowed guile in his heart: he: was a downright honest good man, without any arts of hypocrify or deceit. Such a one: was. Nathaniel, and such a one David defir'd that his fon Solomon might prove; that lie might have a perfe&t beart. Upon the whole then, a gracious heart is the perfect heart : which our text speaks of. And that any heart of man may be to, it must have the following properties, which I will just name to you. As
1.] A perfect heart must be a new heart, fo it is callid, Ezek. xviii. 31. that is, a renewed heart, new formed and disposed by the Spirit of God in the great work of regeneration. No man is born with a perfect heart, but quite otherwise: every man's heart is now by nature miserably depraved and polluted. The good and perfect heart must therefore be a renewed heart.