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Herodias ; nor, with Agrippa, to become altogether Christians: but now forsake all for Christ; and expect, both in this world and the next, a rich and glorious equivalent?]
1 Luke xviii. 28–30.
THE DUTY OF GIVING THE HEART TO GOD.
Prov. xxiii. 26. My Son, give me thy heart. THIS address, however it may be considered in some respect as delivered by Solomon to his son, must certainly be understood as proceeding from Him who is Wisdom in the abstract, Wisdom personified, even from the Lord Jesus Christ, and as directed generally to all the children of men, but especially to those who regard him as their Sovereign Lord. And though the more immediate object of the address may seem scarcely suited to this view of it, (because those who are possessed even of incipient piety may seem less likely to fall into the snare which is there spoken of,) yet the caution is necessary for youth of all descriptions; and, as a general lesson, it teaches us, that there is no snare whatever into which we may not fall, if our hearts be not given up to God; and that the only sure way of being kept from sin of every kind, is, to give the heart to God.
Taking the words then as addressed by the Lord Jesus Christ to all who acknowledge his paternal authority, we will proceed to mark the extent and reasonableness of this command. I. The extent of it
To give our heart to God, implies that we give him, 1. The affections of the soul
[These should all center in him, and in him alone. Him we should desire as our supreme good, and in him should we delight as our chief joy - We should be able to say with David, “ Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides theeb.")
2. The confidence of the mind
a Prov. viii. 1, 22-32.
b Ps. lxxiii. 25.
[If there be any thing besides God in the whole universe, on which we rely, we do not really give our heart to him. To trust, though in ever so small a degree, in an arm of flesh, argues a departure of heart from God. We should confide altogether in his wisdom to guide, and his power to uphold us, in his goodness to supply our wants, and his truth to fulfil to us the promises of his word. We should " trust in him with all our heart, and not lean either to our own understanding or strength: we should consider him as alone able to help us, and as all-sufficient for our utmost necessities.] 3. The service of the life
[Without this, all else is vain. Obedience is the certain fruit of love to Godd; yea, it is altogether identified with it: “ This is the love of God, that ye keep his commandments e. To the man that has given his heart to God, no commandment can be grievous'.)
The extent of the command being ascertained, we proceed to shew, II. The reasonableness of it
To surrender up our whole selves to God, is called by St. Paul, “ a reasonable services.” And reasonable indeed it is ;
1. Because of his right over us as our Creator
[God " made all things for himself: all that we are, and all that we have, was given us by him, to be improved for his glory. How then can we with propriety alienate any thing from him? A potter feels himself entitled to the use of the vessel which his own hands have made: and has not God a right to all the services that we can render him? Of all that have truly given their hearts to God, it may be said, “ No man liveth to himself; and no man dieth unto himself: but whether we live, we live unto the Lord ; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord'sh."]
2. Because of his mercies towards us, as our Redeemer
[The Lord Jesus Christ has “redeemed us to God by his own blood;" and by this has acquired a new right over us. To this effect the Apostle says, “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price : therefore glorify God with your bodies and your spirits, which are hisi.” And in another place he
c Jer. xvii. 5. d John xiv, 15, 21. e 1 John ii. 3–5. f 1 John v. 3. & Rom. xii. 1.
h Rom. xiv. 7, 8. i i Cor. vi. 19, 20.
gives this as the duty of every man according to the dictates of his most deliberate judgment: “The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose againk.” Was he mistaken in his judgment? and are we at liberty to alienate from him what he has purchased at so great a price ?] 3. Because of his relation to us, as our Father
[If we profess to have been born again, and begotten to God by his word and Spirit, then are we yet further bound to him by the relation he sustains towards us :
" What manner of love is this, wherewith the Father hath loved us, that we should be called the sons of God!” Can we have learned to cry, “ Abba, Father!" and doubt whether the giving of our hearts to him be a reasonable service? The utmost then we can do to serve and honour him is no more than our bounden duty.]
4. Because of the utter worthlessness of all his competitors
[What is there worthy to be compared with him ? The whole creation is but as a broken cistern that can hold no water.” Shall we then, “ for any thing that is in it, forsake the Fountain of living waters?" Survey the choicest blessings that the world affords; and they are all “ vanity and vexation of spirit.” Are these then to stand in competition with him who is the unfailing and only source of all blessedness? The more we see the vanity of all created good, the more we shall see the reasonableness of giving our hearts to God alone. We must not only not love our father or mother more than him, but must “hate every earthly relative, yea, and our own lives also, in comparison of him ?."] ADDRESS-1. In a way of affectionate invitation
[In this view we may take the words of our text, even as an invitation to us from the Lord Jesus Christ to set our affections on him alone. And how astonishing is it that he will accept such hearts as ours! If we of ourselves had presumed to offer them to him, how justly might he have rejected and despised the offering! Yet behold, he solicits it at our hands! And what can such an offering add to him? Does he need any thing from us? or can we add any thing to him? O then admire and adore this astonishing condescension; and let him not woo your souls in vain.] 2. In a way of authoritative injunctionk 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
1 Luke xiv. 26.
[This command of Almighty God is not to be trifled with. Let none presume to withstand it, or to delay their obedience to it: for if we obey it not, we never can behold his face in peacem. Attend to it then; and see that ye obey it in truth. Give not to your God and Saviour a divided heart; for such an offering he will not accept : but give yourselves wholly to him; and so shall that promise be fulfilled to you; " I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”]
m 1 Cor. xvi. 22.
THE FOLLY OF VAIN EXCUSES. Prov. xxiv. 11, 12. If thou forbear to deliver them that are
drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it ? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?
OFFICIAL influence is a valuable talent: but to use it aright is often very difficult, and painful to the feelings. Hence those who are possessed of it, are apt to shrink back, when the exercise of it is likely to involve them in much trouble; and they will connive at abuses, which they cannot easily prevent. For such connivance they have excuses ever ready at hand; “ They were not aware of the circumstances;" or, “ They thought their interposition would be to no purpose. But power and responsibility are inseparable : and the magistrate who neglects his duty, must give an account of such neglect to God, and have his excuses weighed in the balance of the sanctuary. To succour the needy, and to relieve the oppressed, is a sacred duty, which no man can neglect, but at the peril of his soul: and to deceive ourselves with vain excuses is folly in the extreme.
We shall not however limit our views of this subject to magistrates, but shall extend them generally to all those excuses which men make for their neglect of acknowledged duties; and shall consider, 1. The excuses by which men deceive their own soulsNone are so hardy as to deny their obligation to serve God: yet the great mass of mankind will plead excuses for their neglect, 1. Of religious duties
[" They have not_time to attend to their spiritual concerns. Not time? For what then is their time given them? and what other business have they in comparison of this? But, if they would speak the truth, is not their disregard of religion to be traced rather to their want of inclination to spiritual things---- their want of faith in the divine records their want of all fear of God, and all concern about their souls? ---How vain then their plea of want of time, when their neglect arises from a total alienation of their hearts from God!] 2. Of moral duties
[The duties of sympathy, of compassion, of activity in succouring the distressed, are mentioned in our text. Now for the neglect of these duties, such as the visiting of the sick, the instructing of the ignorant, the relieving of the needy, and the comforting of the afflicted, men will plead ignorance, inadvertence, forgetfulness, inability. But is there not a great degree of criminality attaching to us, if we do not search out the poor and afflicted, on purpose to alleviate their distresses?
and is not the true cause of our supineness, that we have no love to our fellow-creatures, no zeal for God, no gratitude for redeeming love? - It is in vain to think that our neglects are venial under any circumstances, and more especially when they originate in cowardice, and sloth, and selfishness.]
Seeing then that such excuses are vain, let us mark, II. The folly of resting in them
Were there no God to call us into judgment, our delusions would be of less consequence : but there is a God by whom all our excuses will be weighed ; and he, 1. Will judge with truth
[He looketh not at the outward appearance; searcheth the heart and tries the reins,” and is privy to the most secret workings of our minds. We may easily deceive ourselves; but him we cannot deceive. See how forcible is the appeal made to us in our text. Can we have any doubt whether he sees our conduct, or forms a correct estimate of it? Let us remember, that “ he will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart;" and that, whatever our judgment be, his will be according to truth.]