« AnteriorContinua »
This is his rest. The very prayer of the upright is his delight; Psalm xi. 7, "For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, his countenance doth behold the upright." Such a heart is pleasing to God; and it cannot be otherwise, for it is shapen out according to his mind. The person who has such a heart is another David, a man according to God's own heart. It is a heart which, as believing, pleaseth God; a heart well pleased with him, in which God is well pleased.
2. It is that heart without which the largest profession, and the most express covenanting with God, is little worth. Without this heart men do but as the Lord's enemies, they lie unto him. And it is a dangerous thing to lie unto the Lord, like Ananias and Sapphira, who died with a lie in their mouth. They take God's name in vain. The voice indeed is Jacob's, but the hands are Esau's. It is but mocking God, and juggling with the Holy One. It is but doing the work of the Lord deceitfully, and offering the blind and the lame for sacrifice, which will bring down a curse instead of a blessing. Let a man be at never so much pains in duties, yet still the one thing is lacking while they have not such a heart.
3. The want of this heart is very grievous to the spirit of Christ. The Lord doth thus, in the text, lament their want of it. If anything pierce the heart of God, it is when, with a covenanting people, there is wanting such a heart. What can be more grievous in a married lot than when the husband has not the wife's heart? Ezek. vi. 9, "I am broken, says God, with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a-whoring after their idols." There can be no contentment in that condition, as Haman said, "Yet all this availeth me nothing," Esth. v. 13. And a soul's grieving the Lord's Spirit, is a forerunner of the Lord's grieving them; Psalm xvi. 4, "Their sorrow shall be multiplied that hastens after another god."
4. God accepts of the duty, and is well pleased with the bargain, where there is such a heart; "O that there were such an heart in them!" There wants no more to complete the bargain betwixt them and me. Then, as they call me their God, so would I call them mypeople by a saving relation. But where such is not, the contract betwixt Christ and the soul is written indeed, but it is not signed. Would you know, then, if Christ be yours, with all the benefits of the everlasting covenant; why, if you have such a heart, you have Christ's heart, you are married to the Lord, and shall never be put away. A voice of the word without, and an echo to it of the heart within, closes the bargain; Psalm xxvii. 8, " When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." See also Jer. iii. 22. VOL. X.
5. Where there is such a heart God will be well pleased with the person, and accept the duty, though it have many defects; albeit he be not pleased with these defects, yet in mercy he will overlook them; "O that there were such an heart in them!" As if he had said, O if they were but honest in the main, I would not be severe on them for every escape. The Lord will use the indulgence of a father for such infirmities; Song v. 1, "I have drunk my wine with my milk." Milk, that is, he accepts the meanest work where there is such an heart. A groan, a tear, a breathing after the Lord, is accepted; as the father loves more the lisping child's expression of its affection to him, than all the towering compliments of a flattering tongue, 2 Chron. xv. 17; the eye of their faith, though, like a bleared eye, Song iv. 9; the fire of their love, though weak, ver. 10; the hand of their confidence, though a trembling hand; the anchor of their hope, though feeble, Psalm xlvii. 11; their feet of obedience, though lame, like Mephibosheth, yet shall they be set at the king's table; though their very sincerity be not without a mixture of hypocrisy, Gal. ii. 13, yet it holds weight in the balance; Christ takes their petitions, though not every way well drawn, blots out some, fills up other things in them, and gets them answered. Their will is accepted for the deed; their grief for want of will, for the will itself; all this where there is such a heart.
6. They will never prove stedfast in the Lord's covenant without such a heart; "O that there were such an heart in them!" They have spoke fair, but they will never keep a word they say, for they have not such a heart; Psalm lxxviii. 37, "For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant." The heart is the principle of actions; such a heart is the principle of perseverance; and there can be no stedfastness without a principle; Matth. xiii. 6, " And when the sun was up, they were scorched, and because they had not root they withered away." The tree which is set in the ground but does not take root in it, will be easily blown over. The house without a foundation cannot withstand the storm, Matth. vi. 23. They who have covenanted with God without such a heart, will make foul work, it will appear that the devil has gone down with the sop, their former lusts will be swallowed over Their last state will be worse than the again, 2 Pet. ii. 20—22. first. Their vows will be no stronger than Samson's withs; their resolutions, like the walls of Jericho, will fall down at the sound of the horn of temptation.
7. Such an heart will fence the man against apostacy; "O that there were such an heart in them!" They would not then turn away from me; they would keep by their covenant: Luke vii. 15, " But
that on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Cleaving to Christ with constancy, without apostacy, is the very essence of such a heart. Gold is not gold but dross, if it do not continue in the fire. Men's hearts may get some light strokes of the Spirit, some fleeting motions of the same, and the heart still unsound as the stony ground. But the Spirit of God and of glory rest not on the heart, it is not such an heart: 2 John, ii. 27. "But the anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you;" the fire of true love will be preserved, though it flame not, whatever cools there may be taking place. Such an heart has learned so much of the grace of God as to deny worldly lusts, and all forsaken lovers, when they come to court the soul. Where such a heart is, there is the root of the matter in the man, Job, xix. 28.; and there is sap enough to keep in the life of it, Prov. xii. 3. "The root of the righteous shall not be moved. Yea, the Root of Jesse has engaged that this root shall not fail," John iv. 14. They are kept through the power of God. God is careful of the leaves of Christianity, Psalm i. 3. much more of real Christians themselves; therefore says Job chap. xvii. 9, " The righteous shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." Be their light never so weak, it will last, yea it will grow, and shine more and more unto the perfect day. It is the abiding seed of God.
Lastly, Such a heart enriches the man who has it; "O that there were such an heart in them!" they want no more to make them happy here and hereafter. Grace and glory, and all good, is the portion of those who have such an heart. Such an heart has taken Christ, is married and knit to him, and then Christ is yours, all is yours; pardon, peace, and every blessing; as he who gets a hold of the main link of a chain, draws all after him; "There the Lord commands the blessing, even life which never ends."
We shall conclude this discourse with beseeching you to be in earnest that you have such a heart. This is that which you all need, that without which you must be miserable for ever. It is a most invaluable blessing, what you should highly prize; what is precious in God's esteem, and what he is urgent with you that you may possess : "O that there were such an heart in them!"
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
DEUT. V. 29,
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children for ever.
HAVING considered, in the two preceding discourses, the first and second doctrines proposed from this subject, we now go on to
DOCTRINE III. and last, That the work of covenanting with the Lord is slight work, when it is not heart-work; or, That solemn covenanting with the Lord is but solemn trifling with him, when the work of covenanting is not heart-work.
In treating this point, we shall,
I. Produce some evidences, that solemn covenanting is often nothing but solemn trifling, and not heart-work.
II. Shew when solemn covenanting is not heart-work.
III. Shew how people come to make solemn covenanting but a trifling business.
IV. Shew the danger of trifling, and not making heart-work of this weighty business. And then,
V. Apply the whole.
I. To produce some evidences, that solemn covenanting is often nothing but solemn trifling, and not heart-work. It is of importance that you may be stirred up to take heed to the deceits which we may discover in this weighty business. With this view, we ob
1. That apostacy and defection from the good ways of the Lord, persons returning again openly to the same courses which they pursued before. This is an evidence, 2 Peter ii. 19-22; Matth. xii. 45,"Then the evil spirit goeth, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation." They who have no root soon wither away, Matth. xiii. 6. There are many who, since the revolution, have solemnly covenanted with the Lord at sacraments, and many who have done it, when they durst not so well avow it as now, who have given a sad account of themselves since that time,
having returned to their former courses of wickedness and profanity. Fallen stars were stars never but in appearance. To lose both life and leaf is a dreadful symptom; John xv. 6, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." Another evidence is,
2. When some lusts are maintained in Christ's room, as when an adulterous woman takes another man instead of her husband. There are some lusts from which the heart is never loosed, right eyes they cannot part with; this is secret apostacy from the Lord: Heb. iii. 12, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." When the Lord offers himself to sinners, he says, if you will take me, let these go their way. Some enter into a marriage-covenant with the Lord, but they give their hearts to other lovers, Psalm xiv. 4, (quoted before). This is hypocritical dealing with God, which is a disease in the vitals of religion, Psalm lxxviii. 37, (quoted above). Another evidence is,
3. Persons making their covenant with the Lord, a cover to their sloth, and a pander to their lusts. It is sad work which persons make of covenanting, when it serves only to conjure their consciences, who hence can sleep more securely in their sins. Many are never more light, vain, and frothy, than after such a work; a most shrewd sign of a whorish disposition: Prov. vii. 14, "I have peaceofferings with me. This day have I paid my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face." The covenant of God is a covenant of peace and war, which inclines the sinner to be at peace with the Lord's friends, and at war with his enemies. It makes the soul to say to former lusts, I have learned from the gospel, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world," Tit. ii. 12. Hence, Christ no sooner enters the heart, but he comes as Captain of the Lord's host; and the person's heart thus becomes the seat of war: Gal. v. 17," For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these two are contrary the one to the other." And these lusts which were formerly gold chains, are now turned into heavy iron fetters: Rom. vii. 24, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"—Another evidence is,
4. The barrenness of the lives of professors, nothing of the fruits of holiness appearing in their lives. We are, Rachel-like, barren, having no more but the leaves of a profession, the performance of external duties, to give us the name of Christians. Alas! fire from