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therefore, are to be numbered among the other good treasures of the heart. And lest it should be deemed an omission, I will add,
5. That the good heart contains good passions. These are, however, precisely the same as good affections, only raised to a higher degree. When any good affections rise to such a pitch as to excite great sensibility of body or mind, they are then commonly denominated passions. Holy love may rise to admiration, hope, fear, joy, sorrow, grief, pity, compassion, indignation, anger, wrath, and even vengeance. Though God never admires, nor hopes, nor fears, yet he exercises joy, sorrow, grief, pity, compassion, indig. nation, wrath, anger, and holy vengeance. And all, or nearly all these holy passions Christ felt and expressed while he tabernacled in flesh. He rejoiced, he grieved, he wept, and from time to time manifested pity, compassion, indignation, wrath, and anger. Holy passions flow from holy affections; or in other words, holy affections, under certain circumstances, will naturally rise to holy passions.
I have now enumerated all the parts or parcels of the good heart. But you will observe, that I have not mentioned appetites as belonging to the good treasure. The reason is, they do not flow from the heart, nor stand connected with any class of moral exercises. There is nothing morally good or evil in hunger, thirst, or any natural taste. This does not depend upon a good or bad heart, but upon the constitution and state of the body. But good affections, good desires, good intentions, good volitions, and good passions, are all of a moral and virtuous nature, and belong to the good treasure of the heart.
II. Let us inquire what is to be understood by the evil treasure of the evil heart. If the good treasure of
the good heart has been properly described, it will be easy to discover what is the evil treasure of the evil heart. It must be something directly opposite to the
. good treasure. As the good treasure consists in benevolence, so the evil treasure must consist in selfishness. And this selfishness naturally branches out into evil affections, evil desires, evil intentions, evil volitions, and evil passions. There is no moral evil but what may be found in one or other of these moral exercises, which contain all the treasures of wickedness in any wicked heart. The good heart and evil heart are both made up of exercises; but their exercises, whether affections, desires, intentions, volitions, or passions, are diametrically opposite in their moral quality. The good treasure of the good heart consists in the various modifications of benevolence, but the evil treasure of the evil heart consists in the various modifications of selfishness.
It only remains to show,
III. That men are either good or evil, according to the good or evil treasure of the heart. This truth lies upon the very face of the text.
face of the text. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” The good treasure of the heart, which consists in good exercises, constitutes a good man; and the evil treasure of the heart, which consists
; in evil exercises, constitutes an evil man. The truth of this important point will clearly appear from various considerations.
1. That every man forms his opinion of himself, by the exercises of his heart. If a man be conscious of having good affections, good desires, good intentions, and good volitions and passions, he naturally forms a good opinion of himself, and believes, that all the world would form the same opinion of him, if they
could look into his heart, and see what passes there. But if, on the other hand, a man be conscious of hav. ing evil affections, desires, designs, and passions, he is constrained to condemn himself, and to believe, that every body would condemn him, if they could only discover the real exercises of his heart. Men may, indeed, judge amiss respecting the good or bad treasure of their hearts, but still they are constrained to form their opinion of themselves, by this, and no other criterion. They cannot believe themselves to be good, while they are conscious, that their hearts are bad; nor can they believe themselves to be bad, while they are conscious, that their hearts are good. No person presumes to judge of his own moral character, by his abilities, or by his professions, or by his external conduct; but by the exercises of his heart. This must be a convincing evidence to every individual, that it is the heart alone, which forms and stamps every moral character.
2. It is the dictate of common sense, that nothing can properly denominate men either morally good or morally evil, but that in which they are really active. They may be constrained to see, and hear, and feel, and taste, and even to remember and judge; and, in all such cases, they are neither active, nor accountable. But they are never compelled to love or hate, to choose or refuse, to rejoice or mourn, to hope or fear, to forgive or revenge. In all their affections, desires, intentions, volitions, and passions, they are altogether active, and justly deserve either praise or blame. As all their agency lies in their hearts, so their hearts alone render them morally good or morally evil. This is agreeable to the common sense of mankind in all cases, in which they have an opportunity to judge.
, Let a man be accused for any of his conduct, if he can only make it appear, that he acted from a good intention, he will be justified and approved. Or let a man be commended for any of his conduct, if afterwards it appears, that he acted from a bad intention or design, he will be universally condemned, rather than applauded. All mankind judge alike upon this şubject, and either praise or blame each other for the goodness, or badness of their hearts, in which their moral agency entirely consists.
3. The whole current of Scripture confirms the point under consideration. Solomon says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” That is, his heart forms his moral character, and constitutes him a good or bad man. And our Saviour himself says, “the light of the body is the eye: if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” By a single eye he means a good heart, and by an evil eye an evil heart.
In a word, he means to assert, in the most strong and striking language, that a good. heart makes a good man, and a bad heart makes a bad man. This truth is too plain to need any further illustration or proof. It is not only agreeable to scripture and common sense, but it is founded in the very nature of things. Even the Deity cannot constitute any other standard of moral character, than this of the good and bad treasure of the heart. The man of a holy heart must necessarily be a holy man, and the man of an unholy heart must necessarily be an unholy man. This is the only essential distinction, that can exist between a saint and a sinner.
Now, the subject which we have been considering, may serve to throw light upon some points of importance, which need to be better understood, than they commonly are.
1. What has been said may serve to give us a clear and just idea of the heart. Some suppose the heart is
something distinct, not only from perception, reason, and conscience, but also from all moral exercises. When they undertake to define the heart, which is very seldom, they sometimes call it a faculty, sometimes a principle, and more frequently a taste; but whether they call it by one or other of these names, they agree in maintaining, that it is something wholly distinct from all moral exercises, and the source from which they all proceed. But it appears from what has been said in this discourse, that the heart is so far from being a moral faculty, principle, or taste, and the foundation of moral exercises, that it wholly consists of moral affections, desires, intentions, volitions, and passions. These are the good and evil treasure, which compose the good and evil heart, and produce every good and evil action. This is representing the heart in the same light, in which our Saviour represents it
, in the text. He represents the heart as the immediate source of external actions. But if the heart be a faculty, principle, or taste, prior to and distinct from all affections, desires, volitions, and passions, then it cannot be the next, immediate cause or source of external actions. These immediately proceed from moral exercises, and not from a dormant, inactive principle, taste, or faculty. The Scripture gives us no account of any heart but what consists in the various exercises or modifications of benevolence, or selfishness. Nor is any other heart either necessary, or even conceivable. No other heart is necessary in order to men's doing good or evil. Perception, reason, and conscience, are all the natural faculties necessary to constitute a moral agent. These form a capacity for loving and hating, choosing and refusing, acting and neglecting to act. There is no occasion for a distinct faculty of will, as has been generally supposed, in or