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open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins," &c. (Acts xxvi. 18); by a fuller illumination: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ the father of glory may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened,” &c. (Eph. i. 17, 18), otherwise we have not a heart to perceive, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear : “ Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear unto this day” (Deut. xxix. 4).
Secondly, The next thing that I shall observe is this,
That upon the supposition of this benefit he promiseth obedience: “I shall keep thy law.”
Doctrine.—They that have understanding given by God will keep his law.
1. That it is their duty, and they ought so to do, there is no question, for all knowledge is given us in order to practice, not to satisfy curiosity, or to feed pride, or to get a fame and reputation with men of knowledge, and understanding persons, but to order our walk : “For this cause we also since the day we heard it cease not to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that ye might walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. i. 9, 10).
2. That they will do so is also clear upon a twofold account: (1.) Because answerable to the discovery of good or evil in the understanding. There is a prosecution, and an aversation in the will ; for the will doth necessarily follow practicum dictamen, the ultimate resolution of the judgment: for it is õpečis uerà lóx8,-not a brutish inclination, but a rational appetite : God hath appointed this course to nature; therefore, when the judgment cometh to such a conclusion as is set down, Psalm lxxiii. 28, “But it is good for me to draw near to God," not only it is good, but it is good for me, the will yieldeth ; for conviction of the judgment is the ground of practice. I know conviction and conversion differ, and the one may be where the other is not ; but then it is taken for a partial conviction; the mind is not savingly enlightened and thoroughly possessed with the truth and worth of heavenly things : the most and greatest sort of men have but notions, a weak and literal knowledge about spiritual things, and that produceth nothing, they do not live up to the truth which they know. Others have besides the notion a naked approbation of things that are good. Video meliora, proboque, Deteriora sequor. They see better things and approve them in the abstract, but this doth not come to a practicum dictamen, it is good, and good for me, all circumstances considered thus to do. This is the fruit of spiritual evidence and demonstration, which always is accompanied with power (1 Cor. ii. 4). Carnal men think it is better for them to keep as they are, being blinded with their passions and lust; though they could wish things were otherwise with them. But a godly man's judgment being savingly enlightened, determineth it is good, it is better, it is best for me, it is better to please God than men, to look after Heaven than the world, &c. There is a simple approbation of good things, and a comparative approbation of them. Simple approbation is when in the abstract notion, we apprehend Christ and pardon of sins, and Heaven, good; but when compared with
other things, and considered in the frame of Christian doctrine, or according to the terms upon which they may be had, they are rejected. Many approve things simply, and in the first act of judgment, but disallow them in the second when they consider them as invested with some difficult and unpleasing terms, or compare them with pleasure and profit which they must forsake if they would obtain them; as the young man in the Gospel esteemeth salvation as a thing worthy to be inquired into, but is loath to let go his earthly possessions (Matt. xix. 21, 22). He would have these good things at an easy rate, without mortifying the flesh, or renouncing the world. But a godly man, that sets down and counteth the charges, all circumstances considered, resolves, “it is good for me,” as Boaz, liking the woman as well as her inheritance, took them both which his kinsman refused (Ruth iv. 9, 10); he would have the inheritance without the woman. They like Christ and his laws as well as the benefits that he bringeth with him. He doth approve things upon good knowledge, and cometh to a well-settled resolution. Another defect in wicked men is, because the judgment is superficial, and so comes to nothing. It is not full, clear, and ponderous ; it is not a dictamen, a resolute decree, not ultimum dictamen, the last decree, all things considered and well weigbed.
2. God's grace. God doth never fully and spiritually convince the judgment, but he doth also work upon the will, to accept, embrace, and prosecute those good things of which it is convinced: he teacheth and draweth; they are distinct works, but they go together ; therefore the one is inferred out of the other. Drawn and taught of God, both are necessary; for as there is blindness and inadvertency in the mind, so obstinacy in the will, which is not to be cured by mere persuasion, but by a gracious quality infused, inclining the heart, which by the way freeth this doctrine from exception, as if all God's works were mere moral suasion. The will is renewed and changed, but so as God doth it, by working according to the order of nature.
Use.—By all means look after this Divine illumination, whereby your judgment may be convinced of the truth and worth of spiritual things. It is not enough to have some general and floating notions about them, or slightly to hear of them, or talk of them ; but they must be spiritually discerned and judged of; for if our judgments were thoroughly convinced, our pursuit of true happiness would be more earnest; you would see sin to be the greatest mischief, and grace the chiefest treasure, and accordingly act.
God enlightening the soul doth,
1. Take away carnal principles. Many men can talk well, but they are leavened with carnal principles, as (1.) That he may do as most do and yet be safe: “Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name ? &c., and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity" (Matt. vii. 22, 23). “ Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, much more the wicked and the sinner” (Prov. xi. 31—Exod. xxxii., &c.). (2.) That he may go on in ungodliness, injustice, intemperance, because grace hath abounded in the Gospel : “ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men: Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godlily in this present world" (Titus ii. 11, 12). And, " That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before hiin, all the days of our life“ (Luke i. 75). (3.) That he may spend his youth in pleasure, and safely put off repentance till age. But we are bid to “ Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them" (Eccl. xii. 1). And, when the rich man said to his soul, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry: God said unto him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee, then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided ?” (Luke xii. 20.) “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith), to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts," &c. (Heb. ïïi. 7). Men think it is a folly to be singular and precise, that it was better when there was less preaching and less knowledge, that small sins are not to be stood upon. But God enlightening the soul inaketh us to see the vanity and sinfulness of such thoughts.
2. There is a bringing the understanding to attend, and consider : there is much lieth upon it. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, so that “she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts xvi. 14); that is, weighed them in her heart.
SERMON XXXVIII. VERSE 34.— Yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. I come now to the last clause, “I shall observe it with my whole heart.” The point is :
DOCTRINE.—That it is not enough to keep God's law, but we must keep it with the whole heart.
Here I shall show you,-
First, God requireth the heart in his service; the heart is the Christian's sacrifice, the fountain of good and evil, and therefore should be mainly looked after: without this
1. External profession is nothing: most Christians have nothing for Christ but a good opinion, or some outward profession ; Judas was a disciple, but Satan entered into his heart (Luke xxii. 3). Ananias joined himself to the people of God, but Satan filled his heart (Acts v. 3). Simon Magus was baptized, but his heart was not right with God (Acts viii. 21). Here is the great defect.
2. External conformity is nothing worth. It is not enough that the life seem good, and many good actions be performed, unless the heart be purified; otherwise we do with the Pharisees, wash the outside of the platter, when the inside is full of extortion and excess (Matt. xxiii. 25, 26). It is the heart God looketh after : “For the Lord seeth not as man sceth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. xvi. 7). “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. iv. 23). Cast salt into the spring. As Jehu said to Jonadab, so doth God say to us, “Is thy heart right as my heart is with thy heart ?” (2 Kings x. 15.) We should answer, “ It is.” Men are not for obsequious compliances if not with the heart, so neither is God. Though thou pray with the Pharisce, pay thy vows with the barlot, kiss Christ with Judas, offer sacrifice with Cain, fast with Jezebel, sell thine inheritance to give to the poor with Ananias and Sapphira ; all is in vain without the heart, for it is the heart enliveneth all our duties.
3. It is the heart wherein God dwelleth, not in the tongue, the brain, unless by common gifts ; till he take possession of the heart all is as nothing. He dwelleth in our hearts by faith (Eph. iii. 17). The bodies of believers are temples of the Holy Ghost, yet the heart, will, and affections of man are the chief place of his habitation wherein he resideth as in his strong citadel, and from whence he commandeth other faculties and members, and without his presence there he cannot have any habitation in us; the tongue cannot receive him by speaking, nor the understanding by knowing, nor the hands by external working: “Out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. iv. 23); it is the forge of spirits : “He dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts vii. 48); and, “Do not I fill Heaven and earth, saith the Lord ?" (Jer. xxiii. 24.) He will dwell in thine heart and remain there, if thou wilt give thy heart to him.
4. If Christ have it not, Satan will have it. The heart of man is not a waste; either God is there framing gracious operations, or the Devil, who “ worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. ii. 2); will you give them to God to be saved, or to the Devil to be damned? Whose they are now they are for ever.
5. If you love any, you give him the heart; and you are wont to wish, that there were windows in your bodies that they might see the sincerity of your hearts towards them. Surely if you have cause to love any, you have much more cause to love God. No such friend as he, no such benefactor as he, if you consider what he hath done for us, what blessings he hath bestowed, internal, external, temporal, eternal. He hath given his Son the great instance of love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John iii. 16). His Gospel, that his love might be preached to us. His Spirit, that not only sounded in our ears, but is shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. v. 5). His Christ to save us, his word to enlighten us, his Spirit to guide and direct us, till we come to Heaven, where he will give himself to us an eternal inheritance. Certainly, unless void of all sense and common ingenuity, thou wilt say as the Psalmist, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me ?" (Psalm cxvi. 12.) What, indeed, wilt thou render to him ? love will tell thee; but lest thou shouldst miss, God himself hath told thee : “My Son give me thine heart” (Prov. xxiii. 26). There is no need to wish for windows in thy hody. He searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins : “ The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins” (Psalm vii. 9). And, “ Thou knowest the hearts of all the children of men” (1 Kings viii. 39). The whole world is to him as a sea of glass. He knoweth how much thou esteemest and honourest him. If thou givest him the whole world, and dost not give him thy heart, thou dishonourest him, and settest some. thing else before him.
6. This is that all may give him ; if God should require costly sacrifices, rivers of oil, thousands of rams, then none but the rich would serve him, and he would require nothing, but what many hypocrites would give him. Then the poor would be ashamed and discouraged, not being able to comply with the command. Yea, then God would not act like the true God, who “ accepteth not the person of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands” (Job xxxiv. 19). Say not, “ Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God ? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old, will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?” (Mic. vi. 6, 7;) but go to God and give him thy heart, this will make thy mite more acceptable than the great treasures of the wicked: “And he looked up and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites : and he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all; for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God; but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke xxi. 1-4). We read in Pagan story of one that when many rich scholars gave gifts to Socrates, every one according to his birth and fortunes, a poor young man came to him and said, “I have nothing worthy of thee to bestow upon thee, but that which I have I give, and that is myself; others that have given to thee have left more to themselves, but I have given all that I have, and have nothing left me, I give thee myself.” The philosopher answered, “Thou hast given me a gift indeed, and therefore it shall be my care to return thee to thyself better than I found thee.” So come to God; he needeth us not, but it is for our benefit we should give our hearts and selves to him. He knoweth how much it is for our advantage, that he should have our hearts to make them better, to sanctify and save them.
Secondly, The whole heart. Here I shall show you (1.) What it is to keep the law with the whole heart. (2.) Why we must keep the law with our whole heart.
Ist, What it is to keep the law with the whole heart. It is taken legally or evangelically, as a man is bound, or as God will accept what is required in justice, or what is accepted in mercy.
1. According to the rigour of the law. The law requireth exact conformity without the least motion to the contrary, either in thought or desire, a full obedience to the law with all the powers of the whole man. This is in force still as to our rule, but not as to the condition of our acceptance with God. This, without any defect and imperfection, like man's love to God in innocency, since the fall, is nowhere found but in Christ Jesus, who alone is harmless and undefiled, and will never thus be ful. filled by us till we come to Heaven. For here all is but in part, but then that which is in part shall be done away. Then will there be light without darkness, knowledge without ignorance, faith without unbelief, hope without despair, love without defect and mixture of carnal inclinations. All good motions without distraction. Here is folly and confusion ; here “flesh lusteth against the Spirit” (Gal. v. 17), in the best. They have a double principle, though not a double heart.
2. In an evangelical sense, according to the moderation of the second covenant; and so God, out of his love and mercy in Christ Jesus, accepts of such a measure of love and obedience as answereth to the measure of sanctification received. When God sanctifieth a man he sanctifieth him as to all the parts and faculties of body and soul, enlighteneth the understanding with the knowledge of his will, inclineth the heart to obedience, circumciseth the affection, filleth us with the love of God himself, and holy things. But, being a voluntary agent, he doth not this as to perfection of degrees all at once, but successively, and by little and little. Therefore,