|« Prev||Sermon XXXVIII. Yea, I shall observe it with my…||Next »|
Yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.—Ver. 34.
I COME now to the last clause, I shall observe it with my whole heart. The point is—
Doct. That it is not enough to keep God’s law, but we must keep it with the whole heart.
Here I shall show you—
1. That God requireth the heart.
2. The whole heart.
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. 22. 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 out side of the platter,’ Mat. xxiii. 25, 26, ‘when the inside is full of extortion and excess.’ It is the heart God looketh after: 1 Sam. xvi. 7, ‘For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart;’ Prov. iv. 23, ‘Keep 355thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.’ Cast salt into the spring. As Jehu said to Jonadab, so doth God say to us: 2 Kings x. 15, ‘Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?’ 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 Pharisee, pay thy vows with the harlot, 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: Eph. iii. 17, ‘He dwelleth in our hearts by faith.’ 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: Prov. iv. 23, ‘Out of it are the issues of life.’ It is the forge of spirits: ‘He dwelleth not in temples made with hands,’ Acts vii. 48; and Jer. xxiii. 24, ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.’ 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 them 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: John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life;’ 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, Ps. cxvi. 12, ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?’ What indeed wilt thou render to him? Love will tell thee; but lest thou shouldst miss, God himself hath told thee: Prov. xxiii. 26, ‘My son, give me thine heart.’ There is no need to wish for windows in thy body: ‘He searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins;’ Ps. vii. 9, ‘The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins;’ and 1 Kings viii. 39, ‘Thou knowest the hearts of all the children of men.’ The whole world is to him as a sea of glass. He knoweth how much thou esteemest and 356honourest him. If thou givest him the whole world, and dost not give him thy heart, thou dishonourest him, and settest something 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, Micah vi. 6-8, ‘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?’ But go to God and give him thy heart, this will make thy mite more acceptable than the great treasures of the wicked: Luke xxi. 1-4, ‘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 of her penury she hath cast in all the living that she had.’ 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.
1. 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 fulfilled 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’ in the best, Gal. v. 17. 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, as long as we are in the world there is somewhat of ignorance in the understanding, perversity in the will, fleshliness and impurity in the affections, flesh and spirit in every faculty, like water and wine in the same cup; but so as the gift of grace doth more and more prevail over the corruption of nature, light upon darkness, holiness upon sin, and heavenliness upon our inclinations to worldly vanities; as the sun upon the shadow of the night till it groweth into perfect day: Prov. iv. 18, ‘The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.’ Therefore, when a man doth heartily apply himself to the things of God, and, acknowledging his defects, doth go on ‘from faith to faith.’ Rom. i. 17, from love to love, and from obedience to obedience, Heb. vi. 10, and doth study to bring his heart into a further conformity to God, not looking back to Sodom or turning back to Egypt, God accepteth of these desires and constant and uniform endeavours, and will ‘spare us as a man spareth his only son that serveth him,’ Mal. iii. 17—as a son, an only son, that is obsequious for the main, though he hath his failings and escapes. There is in them integrity, but not perfection; all parts of holiness, though not degrees: as in the body every muscle and vein and artery hath its use. Thus all Israel is said to seek the Lord with their whole desire: 2 Chron. xv. 15, ‘And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire.’ It is said of Asa, that ‘he sought the Lord with his whole heart, yet the high places were not taken away.’
2. Now, the reasons why we must keep the law with our whole heart are these following:—
[1.] He that giveth a part only to God giveth nothing to God, for that part that is reserved will in time draw the whole after it. The devil keepeth an interest in us as long as any one lust remaineth unmortified; as Pharaoh stood hucking; he would fain have a pawn of their return; first their children, then their flocks and herds, must be left behind them. He knew this was the way to bring them back again. So Satan hath a pawn, and knoweth that all will fall to him at last: Hosea x. 2, ‘Their heart is divided, now shall they be found faulty;’ halting between God and idols. When men are not wholly and solely for God, but divided between him and other things, God 358will be jostled out at last. Grace is but a stranger, sin is a native, and therefore most likely to prevail, and by long use and custom is most strongly rooted. Herod did many things, but his Herodias drew him back into Satan’s snare. A bird tied by the leg may flutter up and down and make some show of escape, but he is under command still. So may men have a conscience for God, and some affections for God, but the world and the flesh have the greater share in them. Therefore, though they do many things, yet still God hath no supreme interest in their souls; and therefore, when their darling lusts interpose, all God’s interest in them signifieth nothing. As for instance, a man that is given to please the flesh, but in all other things findeth no difficulty, can worship, give alms, findeth no reluctancy to these duties, unless when they cross his living after the flesh, which in time swalloweth up his conscience and all his profession and practice. A man addicted to the world can deny his appetite, seem very serious in holy duties, but the world prevaileth, and in time maketh him weary of all other things.
[2.] The whole man is God’s by every kind of right and title; and therefore, when he requireth the whole heart, he doth but require that which is his own. God gave us the whole by creation, preserveth the whole, redeemeth the whole, and promiseth to glorify the whole. If we had been mangled in creation, we would have been troubled—if born without hands or feet. If God should turn us off to ourselves to keep that part to ourselves which we reserved from him, or if he should make such a division at death, take a part to heaven, or if Christ had bought part 1 Cor. vi. 20, ‘Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s ‘if you have had any good work upon you, God hath sanctified the whole in a gospel sense, that is every part: 1 Thes. v. 23, ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;; not only conscience, but will and affections, appetite and body. And you have given all to him for his use: ‘I am my beloved’s;’ not a part, but the whole. He could not endure Ananias, that kept back part of the price; all is his due. When the world, pleasure, ambition, pride, desire of riches, unchaste love, desire a part in us, we may remember we have no affections to dispose of without God’s leave. It is all his, and it is sacrilege to rob or detain any part from God. Shall I alienate that which is God’s, to satisfy the world, the flesh, and the devil? It is his by creation, redemption, donation. When our flesh, or the world, or Satan, detain any part, this is, with Reuben, to go up unto our father’s bed.
Use 1. First, to reprove those that do not give God the heart in their service; secondly, not the whole heart.
1. Not the heart, but content themselves with outward profession: Jer. xii. 2, ‘Thou art near in their mouth, but far from their reins.’ God is often in their speech, but they have no hearty affection. Never was there an age higher in notions and colder in practice of Christianity. The heart is all; it is the terminus actionum ad intra, et fons actionum ad extra. It is the bound of those actions that look inward; the senses report to the phantasy, that to the mind, and the 359mind counsels the heart: ‘If wisdom enter the heart,’ Prov. ii. 10. It is the well-spring of those actions that look outward to the life: Prov. iv. 23, ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life;’ Mat. xv. 19, and Prov. iv. 4, ‘Let thy heart retain my words; keep my commandments and live;’ then other things will follow.
2. It reproves those that do not give God the whole heart, for he requireth that, and surely all is too little for so great and so good a master. God will have the heart, so that no part of it be left to others, or for ourselves to dispose of as we will: the true mother would not have the child divided, 1 Kings iii. 26. God will have all or nothing, he will not part stakes with Satan; but Satan, if he cannot have all, will be content with a part. But who are they that do not give God the whole heart?
[1.] Those that are for God in their consciences but not in their affections. Conscience many times taketh God’s part. Their affections are for the world, but their consciences are for God, as convinced men that do some outward work commanded in the law, but they have no love to the work. This will not serve the turn, for whatever is done by constraint, or the mere compulsion of a natural conscience, can never hold long. Nature will return to its bias again, however men force themselves for a while to comply with something which God hath commanded. They do not take up his ways by choice, but upon compulsion and the urgings of conscience, which they no way liked.
[2.] Those that have their affections divided between God and the world, halting between two, they have some affection to spiritual things, the favour of God and holiness as the only means to make them happy, but the world and their lusts have the greater share. They are troubled a little, would have the favour of God, but upon their own conditions. The prevailing part of the soul bendeth them to carnal interests; as the person that was told that he must take up the cross and follow Christ, he is offended, Mat xi. 21; the young man turned away discontented when he heard the terms, Mat. xix. 21, 22. They like God’s offers, but not his conditions to come up fully to his mind. They are loath to enter into gospel bonds. These do not entirely give up themselves to God; they have but an affection in part to the comforts of the gospel, but not to the duties of the gospel.
[3.] Those that will do many things, but stick at one part of their duty to God. Men may suffer much for God, sacrifice some of their weaker lusts, but whilst any one sin remaineth unmodified there is possession kept for Satan; as Saul destroyed the Amalekites, but kept the fattest of the cattle, and spared Agag. Herod will not part with his Herodias: Ps. xviii. 23, David saith, ‘I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.’ Either some lust of the flesh, or of the eyes, or pride remaineth. There are some tender parts of the soul which are as the right hand and the right eye, men are loath to have them touched. They do not unfeignedly comply with God’s whole will.
Use 2. To press you to give up the whole heart to God in a course of obedience.
Let us believe in God with all the heart: Acts viii. 32, ‘If thou 360believest with all thy heart, thou mayest,’ &c.; and Prov. iii. 5, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thy heart.’ This is the main thing of Christianity, when there is not only a naked assent, but when we embrace Christ with the heart, and there is a full and free consent to take him to all the uses for which God hath appointed him. So for love: Deut. vi. 5, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’ When we delight in God, and find full complacency in him as our all-sufficient portion, without reserving any part of our hearts for other things. So for obedience: 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, ‘And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.’ But now, how shall we know that we give God all the heart in an evangelical sense?
Ans. 1. When our purpose is to cleave to God alone, and to serve him with an entire obedience both of the inward and outward man, purely and sincerely, without hypocrisy: Ps. li. 6, ‘Behold thou desirest truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom;’ and Phil. iii. 3, ‘For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.’
Ans. 2. When we do what we can by all good means to maintain our purpose, and are watchful and diligent, and serious in this purpose: 2 Kings x. 31, ‘Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart, for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam which made Israel to sin.’ See the contrary in Paul: Acts xxiv. 16, ‘And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men.’ They bent all their studies and fervency of their spirit this way, with all earnestness of endeavour to come up to God’s law.
Ans. 3. When we search out our defects, and bewail them with a kindly remorse, Rom. ii. 29; when we run by faith to Christ Jesus, and sue out our pardon and peace: 1 John ii. 1, ‘My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not; and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’
|« Prev||Sermon XXXVIII. Yea, I shall observe it with my…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version