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expanded, and he felt interested in every thing comprised in the great and benevolent scheme of man's redemption. And from this we may conclude,
That the gospel has a tendency to enlarge the hearts of all who embrace it. I shall,
I. Consider what we are to understand by the heart's being enlarged; and,
II. Show that the gospel directly tends to enlarge the hearts of those who embrace it.
I. Let us consider what we are to understand by the heart's being enlarged.
The heart is something different from all the natural powers or faculties of the mind, and consists in free voluntary exercises, emotions, or affections; and its magnitude is always in proportion to the ultimate and supreme objects upon which it terminates. Every moral agent has some ultimate and supreme object in view, which is comparatively small or great; and this object, be it what it may, measures the magnitude of the heart. Self is the ultimate and supreme object of affection in every unsanctified heart. Every person in the state of nature desires and seeks his own separate, personal interest or happiness, above all other objects, but every one whose heart is renewed and sanctified, has a superior regard to the interest or happiness of any other person or being whose interest or happiness appears of more importance than his own. But whether the heart be selfish or benevolent, it is either large or small, in exact proportion to the largeness or smallness of the objects upon which it terminates. The heart of every one extends just as far as his apparent interest extends, and increases in magnitude just as the knowledge of his interest increases, whether his in. terest be selfish or benevolent. The heart of a child increases as his knowledge increases. The heart of a youth increases as his knowledge increases. The heart of a man increases as his knowledge increases. There is nothing perceived by the understanding, but what affects the heart more or less. Men's hearts increase and enlarge as their capacities, their relations, their connections and spheres of action increase and multiply. Though there is undoubtedly a real difference in the natural capacities of mankind, yet they all admit of perpetual cultivation and enlargement. It is recorded of Christ that he increased in wisdom and stature, as well as in favor with God and
In childhood, the capacity is comparatively small; and the heart bears a near proportion to the capacity. This the apostle testifies of himself. " When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child." And he might have added that he felt as a child. His heart was no larger than his capacity. It is equally true of every person, through the whole course of his life, that his heart is bounded by his capacity. But as every person, from childhood to manhood, derives advantage from education, observation and experience, so his capacity, and consequently his heart must gradually enlarge. And after men come upon the stage of life, their relations, connections, and spheres of action increase and multiply, and of course their minds and hearts expand. More numerous and more important objects gain their attention and interest their feelings. When David was a shepherd, his mind and his heart were as small as his flock. When he became a general, his mind and his heart were as large as his army. And when he ascended the throne of Israel, his mind and his heart were enlarged in proportion to the number of his subjects, the extent of his kingdom, and the important interests of the nation. And it is expressly said of Solomon, that the largeness of his heart was equal to the capacity and strength of his mind. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore." These were uncommon instances of the progress
of the human mind and human heart; yet they are just and beautiful illustrations of the gradual growth of the understanding and heart of every person in the world.
The understanding of all men enlarges from stage to stage in life, and their hearts enlarge with the growth of their intellectual powers. It is true, indeed, the heart does not always keep pace with the progress of the capacity and knowledge. The reason is, some men do not interest themselves so much in what they know as others do, and consequently their hearts do not enlarge with equal rapidity. Every man regards and pursues some supreme object; and if his supreme object be low, mean, or unimportant, it will contract his mind and feelings in respect to all other objects, which are only subservient to that which is supreme. The man who makes property his supreme object, sees nothing in the universe superior to property, and esteems nothing important but what tends to promote property. The man who makes amusements his supreme object, sees nothing superior to amusements, and values every thing according to its tendency to promote and secure the frivolous objects of his wishes. Let such men have as much information as they will, their hearts must be small, in comparison with what they would have been if they had placed their supreme attention and affection upon greater and nobler objects, whether of a temporal, or spiritual nature. In a word, it
. may be laid down as a maxim, that every man's heart is in proportion to what he esteems his highest interest. This every
man knows to be so by his own experience. No man values himself more than his highest interest. And no inan values another any more than he supposes his highest interest to be. Hence the hearts of men increase and enlarge as fast as their capacities and knowledge increase, and no faster. Solomon says, “ He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase.” Every person wishes to increase his highest interest, whether he places his interest in temporal, or spiritual good. And the more his mind expands, the more important his highest interest will appear, and the more his heart will be enlarged, whether it be holy or unholy. As a man's heart is always where his treasure is, so his heart is as large and no larger than his supposed treasure. It is as easy to conceive of the largeness of a man's heart, as to conceive of the largeness of his interest. I now proceed to show,
II. That the gospel has a direct tendency to enlarge the hearts of those who embrace it. The gospel comprises the highest good of the universe; or, it is that wise and benevolent scheme which God concerted from eternity to promote the highest happiness and holiness of the intellectual system; and those who embrace the gospel, cordially approve of this great and good design. Their hearts unite with the heart of God, and they feel as he feels towards himself and all his rational creatures. They love the good that he loves, and desire to have it promoted in the very way that he has proposed in the gospel to promote it. The apostle says that God created all things according to his eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus; and that he will, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth. It is the great and glorious design of the gospel to bring all good beings to the most perfect union and happiness, or to put them into the everlasting possession of all good, through the medium of Christ. As soon, therefore, as any of the human race become cordially united to Christ, they embrace the gospel and become interested in all the blessings contained in it. The discovery and choice of this great good immediately expands their hearts. This our Saviour represents as the immediate effect of embracing the gospel. “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field ; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Those who embrace the gospel, immediately discover and secure that kingdom of God, which is the sum and comprehension of all good. Accordingly they are represented as being heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ to the same common and comprehensive interest of the universe. This is the language of Paul to the christians in Corinth. “All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or lise, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours : and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.” Now the gospel, which thus enlarges the interests of those who embrace it, must have a direct and perpetual tendency to enlarge their hearts. For their hearts necessarily expand in proportion to their knowledge of their great and ever growing interests. Here it seems proper to enter into particulars, and point out the various respects in which the gospel never fails to enlarge the hearts of those who embrace it. And,
1. It tends to enlarge their hearts towards God. It is the gospel, which gives the fullest and brightest display of his glory. It unfolds his designs, records his conduct, expresses his feelings, and makes the most perfect discovery of all his great and amiable perfections. It represents him as creating, upholding and governing all things, and filling the whole universe with his presence and goodness. So far as any of mankind, therefore, understand and love the gospel, just so far their hearts are enlarged towards God, the greatest and best of beings. They feel interested in his existence, in his perfections and in his blessedness; yea, all their interests centre in him. It is the language of their hearts, Whom have we in heaven but thee; and there is none upon earth that we desire besides thee. And as the gospel continually opens more and more the character, perfections and operations of the Deity, so it serves continually to enlarge the hearts of believers towards him. As they grow in the knowledge of the gospel, they grow in the knowledge of God, which never fails to expand and enlarge their hearts in every holy and devout affection. They feel more and more interested in his glory, and in every thing which tends to promote it.
2. The gospel enlarges the hearts of believers towards Christ. He is the great and glorious personage who is no where revealed but in the gospel. The light of nature discovers no Saviour for sinners. But the gospel reveals Christ, the second person in the ever blessed Trinity, as assuming human nature, and in that nature suffering and dying on the cross to atone for the sins of the world, and render it consistent with all the perfections of God the Father, to pardon and save the guilty children of men. It represents this same Saviour as possessed of every divine attribute, as seated at the right hand of God, and as Head over all things to the church. It displays his astonishing grace and condescension in laying down his life, that all true believers might live and reign with him for ever. As their knowledge of the gospel therefore increases, their love, their gratitude and their whole hearts are enlarged towards Christ. He appears more amiable, more glorious and infinitely more worthy of admiration and esteem, than any or all created beings. He appears to be the perfection of beauty and excellence, and altogether lovely. Accordingly the apostle prayed that the hearts of believers might be enlarged through faith in Christ. He besought God to grant " that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith ; that being rooted and grounded in love, they might be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Thus the gospel directly tends to enlarge the hearts of believers, by exhibiting to their view the great and glorious character of Christ, and what he has done and suffered for their good and the good of the universe.
3. The gospel enlarges the hearts of believers towards the church of Christ. Those who embrace the gospel, embrace all who apparently belong to the number of his friends and followers. They “ are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord." Those who are united to Christ through faith in the gospel, are also united with his whole family in heaven and earth, and with all who have been and shall be redeemed from among men. The gospel leads all who embrace it to extend their love of complacence to all the members of the church of Christ, whether they sit together in earthly, or in heavenly places. If one of these members rejoice, they all rejoice with it; or if one of these members suffer, they all suffer with it. Their enlarged hearts take in all the friends of Christ, in every age, and in every part of the world. Every true believer can say with David, " If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth : If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” And as the gospel continually enlarges the views of christians in regard to the church, so it continually enlarges their hearts towards it, and makes them feel more deeply interested in its prosperity.
4. The gospel enlarges the hearts of believers towards all