Sivut kuvina

form the whole moral character? So does love. Does a good heart comprise all that the law requires? So does love. Does a good heart produce every holy affection and virtuous action? So does love. There is not a single quality in a good heart, which cannot be found in love. Nor can a good heart be described, without describing that very love, which is the fulfitling of the law. Whoever, therefore, attempts to distinguish true love from a good heart, or a good heart from true love, undertakes a task, which the Scripture will never enable him to perform.

3. If true love be the good heart, which God requires; then false love or selfishness is the bad heart, which God condemns. A bad heart is directly opposite to a good heart. And if a good heart consists in benevolence, a bad heart must consist in selfishness. This conclusion is supported by the description, which the sacred writers give of a bad heart. They represent it as productive of moral blindness. The Apostle says of sinners, “Their understanding is darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of the heart.And again he says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God." These representations agree with the declaration of Christ. “If thine eye, that is thine heart be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.Now, it is found by universal experience, that selfishness has the same tendency to blind the mind with respect to God and duty. We never pretend to confide in our own judgment, nor in that of others, when we believe, that either they or we are under the influence of selfish feelings. In this respect, selfishness and a bad heart are exactly alike.

And so they are in another respect. A bad heart is the source of all evil affections and actions. This our Savior expressly asserts. “An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Such are the natural fruits of an evil beart: and such, the Apostle tells us, are the fruits of self-love. “In the last days, says he, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their ownselves.This is selfishness, which, he proceeds to say, shall make men "covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitore, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." According to these deseriptions of self-love and a bad heart, it appears, that they are one and the same thing. Selfishness is all the evil heart, that we ever find described in Scripture, that we ever see acted out, or that we ever feel in our own breasts. We must conclude, therefore, that a bad heart wholly consists in selfishness, which is inimical to God and man, and which is productive of all moral evil.

4. It appears from what has been said in this discourse, that many entertain very wrong

very wrong ideas upon the subject we have been considering.

Some suppose, that a good heart essentially consists in a good principle, taste, or relish, which is totally independent of the will. They imagine, that Adam was created with such a good principle, taste, or relish; which was the source of all his holy exercises and actions, before the fall. And upon this ground they suppose that regeneration consists in implanting a new principle, taste, or relish in the mind, which is the source of all the holy exercises of the subject of grace. But this sentiment is totally repugnant to the law of love. This law requires no such principle of holiness, but holiness itself. This law requires nothing which is pervious to love, but love itself. This law requires no dormant, inactive, torpid disposition, inclination, or taste, but the free, voluntary exercise of true benevolence.

Some suppose, that a bad heart tonsists in a bad principle, disposition, or inclination; which is entirely distinct from sinful, voluntary exercises. They represent a corrupt nature or depraved heart, as the source of all sinful affections and passions. And they maintain, that this corrupt nature is conveyed from Adam to all his posterity, who, they suppose, are morally depraved, before they have one sinful exercise, volition, or affection. But it appears from what has been said in this discourse, that all sinfulness consists in the various exercises and modifications of self-love. The divine law condemns these exercises and nothing else. And our consciences concur with the sentence of the law, and condemn us for sinful exercises only. Hence we intuitively know, that we never did derive a morally corrupt nature, or a morally corrupt principle, or a morally corrupt heart, from Adam. All our sin is personal, and consists in our own free and voluntary exercises.

Some suppose, that sinners are under no obligation to exercise that love, which the law requires, until they have a new principle, disposition, or inclination implanted in their minds, by the regenerating influences of the divine Spirit. But if there can be no such thing as an holy principle, disposition, or inclination, which is distinct from true love, or the exercise of real benevolence; then they may be obliged to have that love, which the law requires, before they are regenerated as well as afterwards. Their obligation to love

[ocr errors]

God does not depend upon any holy principle, which is distinct from love; but upon their natural capacity to love all the proper objects of benevolence. They are as able to love God, before they are regenerated as afterwards; and therefore are as much obliged to love God, before they are born again, as after they have been made the subjects of special grace.

Some suppose that sinners are passive in having a , new heart, or in becoming real saints. But if a new heart does not consist in a principle of holiness, but in the exercise of holiness or true benevolence; then the sinner may be as active in beginning to be holy, as in continuing to be holy; in turning from sin to holiness, as in perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Some suppose, that, after men are regenerated, they have two hearts, an old heart and a new one, which co-exist in their minds, and constantly produce diametrically opposite affections. The new heart, they suppose, is a new principle, which constantly produces holy affections; and the old heart is an old principle, which constantly produces unholy affections. And upon this ground, they suppose, there is a continual warfare in the minds of good men, between their old and new heart. * But if the new heart consists in that love, which the law requires, and ihe old heart consists in that love, which the law condemns; then saints never have properly two hearts, but only one; which is sometimes holy and sometimes sinful. This is agreeable to their daily experience. They find their heart

. to be like a deceitful bow. It may be one hour in a holy and heavenly frame; and the next hour in a frame entirely different. But they are never conscious of loving and of hating God, at one and the same time.

* It is not denied, that there is a spiritual warfare in the minds of true christiang; but only that this warfare does not arise from two distinct opposite hearts,

[ocr errors]


Some suppose that good men are better than their free and voluntary exercises are. They imagine, that saints may have grace in principle, while they have none in exercise. But since love is the fulfilling of the law, there is no foundation for this sentiment. Saints have just as much grace as true love, and no more. They are just as good as their holy exercises are, and no better. Whenever they exercise any selfish affection, they as really transgress the divine law, and fall under the divine displeasure, as if they never had possessed one gracious affection, or benevolent feeling. Such sentiments as these, which are founded on a dormant principle of grace, which is distinct from every gracious exercise, must appear entirely groundless, if love is the fulfilling of the law, and comprizes the whole duty of man.

5. Since love answers all the demands of the law, sinners have no excuse for not obeying any one of its precepts. God has furnished them with all the natural faculties, which are necessary in order to under. stand and perform their whole duty. And all that he requires of them is, to exercise true love or real beneyolence to the extent of those natural powers, which they already possess. It is true, he requires them to make themselves a new heart; but the new heart, which he requires them to make, consists in love. It is true, he requires them to be perfect; but the perfection, which he requires them to have, consists in love. It is true, he requires them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; but all this cleansing consists in love. It is true, he requires them to repent, to believe, to submit, and to deny themselves; but all the repentance, faith, submission, and self-denial, which he requires, consists in love. In a word, there is not a single duty enjoined upon sinners, but what true

« EdellinenJatka »