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proper medicines to restore it, when disordered. efficacious remedy is gratefully received and carefully administered. Why are they less solicitous about their immortal souls? God has provided means of grace, and healing medicines, for every spiritual disease. There is balm in Gilead. There is a Physician there. Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered ?* It is, because the remedy is not sought for, nor applied. And why is it not diligently used? Because men dislike the means which infinite wisdom has ordained for their recovery. They have no relish for them; no faith in them. would rather remain in their state of natural corruption, and risk its consequences, than come to Christ, through the appointed means, to be saved out of it. Their language is, We love strangers, and after them will we go. We love our darling lusts, and will not part from them.
Throughout the Bible no mention is made of any secret decree of reprobation, sealing a portion of mankind to eternal death, irrespective of their character. Let no one, then, complain of natural incapacity, or of any necessity laid upon man to sin. The cause of human misery lies in man, and so does his destruction. The inveteracy of the will is the grand barrier between the sinner and Christ; and so strong is the current of the sinner's will to evil, that he cannot come to Christ, the Fountain of Holiness, in true faith and love, except the Father draw him by his grace and Spirit. But yet, notwithstanding this, every man has a natural power to use the outward means and ordinances of the gospel. He can hear the preached word. He can read the Scriptures. can offer up his daily supplications at a throne of grace, if not in words of his own, yet in suitable forms of prayer provided for him. Let these be duly and constantly performed on the warrant of the following delightful promises and assurances of God's holy word, and in due time a divine power will be
Jer. viii. 22.
communicated from on high. "If thou seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."* "Your heart shall live that seek God."+"Seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you."‡ "The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him."S"The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him."
Let sinners only persist in the use of the appointed means of grace, waiting with patient hope and perseverance for the promised blessing, and "he that shall come will come, and will not tarry;" "** for the Lord never said unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.†† No! the experience of all ages testifies to this sacred truth, that no one ever trusted in the Lord and was confounded.‡‡
Almighty God! who knowest the vileness of my nature, the stubbornness of my will, the darkness of my understanding, the depravity of my heart, and my proneness to seek for excuses to cover my sins; stretch forth thy mighty arm of salvation; and for thy tender mercy's sake in Jesus Christ my Lord, enlighten my mind, rectify my perverse inclinations, regulate my disordered passions, and make me a new creature to the praise and glory of thy grace. Impart a seeking spirit, to me thine unworthy servant, and to every perishing sinner of mankind. Carry on, O Lord, thy work of grace with power, till every soul be filled with gladness, and every mouth with praise; till Christ, the hope of glory, be formed in every heart; till all the world be subject to thy
*Deut. iv. 29.
+ Psa. Ixix. 32.
§ Lam. iii. 25. || Ezra viii. 22. **Heb. x. 37.
Hosea x. 12.
++ Isa. xlv. 19.
‡‡ Psa. xxii. 4, 5.; Isa. xlv. 17, 1. 7.; 1 Pet. ii. 6.
XLIII. THE SCRIPTURE VIEW OF THE PRESENT
STATE OF MAN.
"The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."—Psa. xiv. 2, 3.
AMIDST Conflicting opinions, and contradictory statements, it is only from the word of God that we can attain to a true knowledge of ourselves. And even this holy book would not instruct us to any saving purpose, without the divine illumination and teaching of the Holy Ghost. Hence, we see the necessity of reading the Scriptures, with prayer for the guidance of the Spirit, whose office it is to guide the followers of Christ into all truth,* as well as to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.†
We cannot read our Bible with any suitable degree of attention, without being struck with the great stress which is laid upon the inward state of the heart. In the very beginning of divine revelation, when the dreadful effects of the Fall began to deluge the earth with violence, it is recorded, that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." And again: "The Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."S
By the prophet Jeremiah,|| the Spirit of truth gives this humbling description of the inner man : The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of
*John xvi. 13.
Gen. vi. 5.
+ John xvi. 8.
his doings." Jesus, who needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man, hath declared, "That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness all these evil things come from within, and defile the man."*
The heart of man, whilst in a state of nature, is described throughout the Scriptures in a variety of ways, in order to impress the sinner with a deep sense of his wretched condition, and to convince him of the absolute necessity of an entire and radical change.
O! that beholding our native deformity, we may be led to loathe and abhor ourselves, and to seek to that gracious Giver of all good things, who alone can prepare us for his kingdom and glory. As holy men of old spake and wrote under the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost, so what they have recorded respecting the human heart, must be considered as the divine testimony.
Solomon declares, "Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil."+ "The heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."‡ "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live."§ What can be more decisive than such declarations? Who can look for holy principles and affections, holy motives and purposes, holy conduct and conversation, in, and from, a heart full of evil? Surely, if there were no other testimony, this alone is sufficient to cast down proud imaginations, and every high thing which exalteth itself, against the knowledge of God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.
Lord give me a humble spirit. thy testimony with self-abasement.
May I receive
Eccles. viii. 11.
thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name.
By the prophet Hosea, the Almighty declares of his professing people, that "their heart is divided."* This is highly displeasing to God, who hath said, "My son, give me thine heart."+ Not a part, but the whole, for the command is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart." And what can be more reasonable, more delightful, than to love, with supreme affection, the Author of our being, the God of our salvation, the Bestower of all our mercies ? But, foul ingratitude marks the character of our fallen nature. Thus God expostulates with the rebellious house of Israel; an expostulation extending to every creature, even to me; for how prone is my deceitful heart to evade the personal application under the wide extensive survey of human corruption:-"The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."§ "The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming but my people know not the judgment of the Lord." ||
This forgetfulness of God is the fruit of unbelief: "They consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness."** We sin, and forget the sin, but God remembers all our wickedness. Awful, awakening thought! Every impure imagination, every unhallowed affection, every wicked purpose, though unripened into action; every secret, and to men, unknown and unseen iniquity, is all remembered by that omniscient God, who will bring "every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil;"++ yea, who will judge the secrets of men's hearts by Jesus
Deut. vi. 5.; Matt. xxii. 37.; Mark xii. 30.; Luke x. 27.
§ Isa. i. 3.
|| Jer. viii. 7.
** Hosea vii. 2.
++ Eccles. xii. 14.