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untary exercises, in his word. All that the divine law requires summarily consists in pure benevolence; and all it summarily forbids consists in pure selfishness. Benevolence is a free, vol. untary exercise, and selfishness is a free, voluntary exercise; and every human heart consists in a train of free, voluntary, benevolent exercises, or in a train of free, voluntary, selfish exercises, or in a train of both benevolent and selfish exercises. A sinner's heart consists in a train of mere selfish affections; but a saint's heart consists in a train of both benevolent and selfish exercises. The best of saints are imperfectly holy in this life; and their imperfection in holiness consists in their sometimes having holy, and sometimes unholy affections. Their holy and unholy affections are always distinct, and never blended together. Their holy exercises are never partly holy and partly unholy, but perfectly holy; and their unholy exercises are never partly holy, but perfectly unholy. A train of holy
, and unholy affections forms the heart of a saint; but a train of constant, uninterrupted sinful affections forms the heart of a sinner. Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is evil, only evil continually. The only proper notion of any human heart, as distinguished from all the powers or faculties of the mind, is a series of free, voluntary exercises or affections. And the only proper idea of a good man's heart, as distinguished from the heart of a sinner, is a train of both holy and unholy affections, or exercises. So that the heart of a saint essentially differs from the heart of a sinner in this one respect, that the heart of a saint has some holy, as well as unholy exercises, but the heart of a sinner has no holy exercises at all. The next thing to be shown is,
III. That the heart of the saint needs to be united.
This appears from the description which has been given of his heart. It is composed of a series of both good and evil exercises, which are distinct from and diametrically opposite to each other. His good exercises, therefore, may be disunited from one another by the intervention of evil exercises; and then his heart is divided. When his good exercises follow one another in a constant succession, without any interruption by evil exercises, then his heart may be said to be united; but when his good affections are interrupted by those of a directly opposite nature, then his heart is ununited, and discomposed. The constant succession of good exercises may be sometimes longer, and sometimes shorter. Good men may be in the fear of the Lord, or in the exercise of holy affections, from day to day, and from time to time, for a long period, with very few interruptions. Or their good exercises may be interrupted from day to day, and from hour to hour, by evil exercises, for an VOL. VI.
indefinite time. A number of good affections may be followed by an equal or a smaller number of evil affections; or one good affection may be followed with one evil affection, in a rapid succession. In all these cases, the hearts of saints may be said to be disunited. Such interruption in the succession of their holy exercises, they all experience. They find their hearts divided, and first drawn one way, and then another ; first fixed upon God, and then upon the world. This was evidently the case with David, when he prayed to God and said, “ Unite my heart to fear thy name.” It is owing to the contrariety of affections in the hearts of good men, that they are so often required to act with a perfect heart, with the whole heart, and with all the heart; and that they are so often blamed for acting not with a perfect heart. While Caleb, Hezekiah, Job, and other good men, persevered in obedience to the divine commands, they are said to serve God with a perfect heart; but when Amaziah sometimes did, and sometimes did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord, he is said to serve him, but not with a perfect heart. When good men act from discordant motives, they act from a disunited and imperfect heart. And how often do they find, upon reflection, this mark of their moral imperfection! But if iheir good affections followed one another in a constant and uninterrupted succession, their hearts would be united; and being united, would be absolutely perfect. The perfect holiness of Adam, in his primitive state, wholly consisted in the constant and uninterrupted succession of his holy affections. The perfect holiness of just men in heaven, consists in the constant and uninterrupted succession of their holy affec
Nor could there be the least moral imperfection in the hearts of good men in this world, if their affections were constantly holy, without any interruption by affections of an opposite and sinful nature. The reason why the heart of a good man needs to be united, is, because it is disunited by a contrariety of affections; and not because his affections are too weak, or low, or languid. If this were the case, there could be no propriety in desiring, as David did, that his heart might be united; but only that his heart might be strengthened, or his gracious affections raised to a higher degree of ardor. But if every holy affection be perfectly holy, without any mixture of sin, then the only way to raise the ardor of a holy heart is, to make the succession of holy affections more constant and less interrupted; or, in other words, to unite one holy affection so intimately with another, that there should be no time, nor room, for any sinful affection to intervene, interrupt, or cool the ardor of divine love. Having shown that it is necessary that a good man's heart should be united, it only remains to show,
IV. That there is a propriety in his praying that God would unite his heart.
All good men are conscious of their imperfections in holiness, and of their dependence upon God to carry on the good work which he has begun in their hearts, whether their hearts consist in mere voluntary moral exercises, or not. They are more willing than other men to acknowledge that their hearts are in the hand of God, who can turn them whithersoever he pleaseth, as the rivers of water are turned; that the preparations of their hearts and the answer of their tongues are from the Lord; and that it is God who worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure. There is, then, no occasion of showing the propriety of their praying to God in general for the sanctifying influences of his Spirit; but there is occasion in this discourse, of showing the propriety of their praying to God in particular, that he would unite their hearts to fear his name, or to obey his commands. The propriety of this arises from their hearts' being disunited by a contrariety in their affections. On this ground David felt the propriety of constantly praying to God to unite his heart in holy affections, which he found were continually liable to be interrupted and disunited by selfish and sinful affections. He prays, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.” Again he prays, “Quicken thou me according to thy word. I will run in the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Again he cries, “ Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness." Each of these petitions implies that he desired God to unite his disunited heart, by producing new holy affections in it, and thereby excluding unholy affections from it. And it is proper that every good man should make the same petition, that God would unite his disunited heart, by producing new holy affections in it. For,
I. Every christian finds that his heart is more or less disunited, in the manner that has been described. He finds that not only his love, his fear, his faith and other gracious affections are sometimes what he calls low and languid, but actually interrupted by directly opposite exercises. He finds opposition, instead of submission; unbelief, instead of faith; the love of the world, instead of love to God; and aversion to duty, instead of delight in it. These are positive exercises of sinful affections, which are diametrically opposed to positive exercises of grace. He knows, by sensible experience, that his holy affections are not merely low and languid, but actually interrupted and excluded by the existence and interference of sinful affections, which divide and distract his heart, and disturb his peace and comfort in every duty and enjoyment. Now nothing can re
move this painful effect without removing the cause; and nothing can remove the cause, but the removal of sinful affections; and nothing can remove sinful. affections, but gracious affections, and nothing can unite the heart, but the increase of gracious affections. If it be proper, therefore, that christians should
pray that they may delightfully, constantly and faithfully perform every duty, then it is proper that they should pray that God would unite their hearts, by giving them such holy affections as will exclude every sinful exercise. This leads me to observe,
2. That it is proper for christians to pray that God would unite their disunited hearts, because no external means or motives will produce this effect, without his special influence. They may read the Bible, hear the gospel preached, and constanily attend all external duties and divine ordinances, and be tried with both mercies and afflictions, and still their hearts remain disunited, unless God exerts his special power to produce gracious affections in them. No external means or motives can produce holy love, or holy fear, or holy faith, or any other holy affection, without the special and powerful exertion of divine grace. As it exclusively belongs to God to produce the first, so it exclusively belongs to him to produce the second, and every succeeding exercise of grace in the heart of a christian. pears from the experience and language of one of the best of men, that though he sought, he never found perfection in holiness in his probationary state. Paul
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Such perfection in holiness he ardently desired, in order that his disunited heart might be united, and freed from the distressing conflict between his holy and unholy affections. He says, “ © wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He knew that no speculative knowledge, that no external means or motives, could remove his inward conflict, his spiritual warfare, and give him that peace which the world could not give nor take away. He felt the propriety and necessity of praying that God would renew, enlarge and purify his heart, by more constantly producing and increasing right affections in it. If the speculative knowledge which Paul possessed, and the means of grace which he enjoyed, were insufficient to produce those holy affections which were necessary to unite his disunited heart, then no christian has any ground to depend upon the speculative knowledge which he possesses, and the means of grace which he enjoys, to unite his disunited heart. The moral imperfection of every christian throws him into the sovereign hand of God, to mould and form his heart as he sees fit. And this renders it not only proper, but necessary, that every christian should pray that God would unite his disunited heart, and give him that peace which passeth all understanding. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, in the Christian race, but of God that showeth mercy. The strongest, as well as the weakest christians, are equally and constantly dependent upon God to give them more love, more faith, more submission, more zeal and more fortitude to fight the good fight of faith, to perform every good work, and to finish their course with joy.
1. If every christian has but one heart, and that heart consists in moral exercises, then no person is passive in regeneration. Those who maintain that men are passive in regeneration, found their opinion entirely upon the supposition that in regeneration a new principle, disposition, or taste, is created in the mind, which is prior to, and the foundation of, all holy exercises. And were this supposition true, it would be equally true that men are passive, and not active, in regeneration.
If a new principle, or a new disposition, or a new taste, be produced in their mind without their activity, and previous to their exercising love, or faith, or any other holy affection, then they must be entirely passive in passing from spiritual death to spiritual life. But if every human heart, whether good or evil, consists in moral exercises, then there is no occasion of God's implanting a new, dormant, passive principle in regeneration, in order to produce a new holy heart. In order to give a man a new heart, all that needs to be done is to produce new holy affections, in which he must necessarily be active. We cannot conceive that a man should be turned from sin to holiness, without his own activity in exercising holy affections instead of sinful ones. Were it true that men are passive in regeneration, there would be no propriety in God's requiring them to make a new heart and a new spirit; or in requiring them to exercise love, repentance, faith, or any other holy affection; until he had actually produced a new passive principle in their minds. For, if a new heart consisted in a new passive principle, it would be as absolutely and naturally impossible for them to make a new heart, as to make a new understanding, or any other new natural faculty of the mind. But if a new heart consists in new holy