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thou follow him chearfully on the same encouragements that he looked to, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of God.
When thou shalt enlarge my heart.] In all beings, the heart is the principle of motion, and according as it is more or less perfect in its kind, those motions that flow from it, are more or less vigorous. Therefore hath the Psalmist good reason, to the end his spiritual course may be the stedfaster, and the faster, to desire that the principle of it, the heart, may be more enabled and disposed, which here he expresses by its being enlarged.
What this enlargement of the heart is, a man's own inward sense should easily explain to him. Sure it would, did men reflect on it, and were they acquainted with their own hearts, but the most are not. They would find the carnal natural heart, a narrow contracted hampered thing, bound with cords and chains of its own twisting and forging, and so incapable of walking, much less of running in this way of God's commandments, till it be freed and enlarged.
The heart is taken generally in scripture, for the whole soul, the understanding and will, in its several affections and motions; and the speech being here of an enlarged heart, it seems very congruous to take it in the most enlarged sense.
It is said of Solomon, that he had a large heart (the same word that is here) as the sand of the seashore; that is, a vast comprehensive spirit, that could fathom much of nature, both its greater and lesser things. He spoke of trees, from the cedar in Lebanon, to the hysop in the wall, and of great beasts, and small creeping things.
Thus I conceive, the enlargement of the heart compriseth the enlightening of the understanding. There arises a clearer light there, to discern spiritual things in a more spiritual manner; to see the vast difference betwixt the vain things the world goes af
ter, and the true solid delight that is in the way of God's commandments; to know the false blush of the pleasures of sin, and what deformity is under that painted mask, and not be allured by it; to have enlarged apprehensions of God, bis excellency, and greatness, and goodness; how worthy he is to be obeyed and served. This is the great dignity and happiness of the soul, all other pretensions are low and poor, in respect of this. Here then is enlargement to see the purity and beauty of his law, how just and reasonable, yea, how pleasant and amiable it is that his commandments are not grievous, that they are beds of spices, the more we walk in them, still the more of their fragrant smell and sweetness we find.
And then consequently, upon the larger and clearer knowledge of these things, the heart dilates itself in affection; the more it knows of God, still the more it loves him, and the less it loves this present world ; love is the great enlarger of the heart to all obedience. Then nothing is hard, yea, the harder things become the more delightful.
All love of other things doth pinch and contract the heart, for they are all narrower than itselt. It is framed to that wideness in its first creation, capable of enjoying God, though not of a full compres hending him Therefore all other things gather it in, and straiten it from its natural size, only the love of God stretches and dilates it. He is large enough for it, yea, it, in its fullest enlargement, is infinitely too narrow for him. Do not all find it, if they will ask themselves, that in all other loves and pursuits in this world, there is still somewhat that pinches ? The soul is not at its full size, but as a foot in a strait shoe, is somewhere bound and pained, and cannot go freely, much less run; though another that looks on cannot tell where, yet each one feels it. But when the soul is set free from these narrow things, and is raised to the love of God, VOL. III.
then is it at ease, and at large, and hath room enough; it is both elerated and dilated. And this word signifies a high-raised soul, and is sometimes taken for proud and lofty ; but there is a greatness and height of spirit in the love of God, and union with him, that doth not vainly swell and lift it up, but with the deepest humility, joins the highest and truest magnanimity. It sets the soul above the snares that lye here below, in which most men creep and are intangled, in that way of life that is on high to the just, as Solomon speaks.
Good reason hath David to join these together, and to desire the one as the spring and cause of the other. An enlarged heart, that he might run the way of God's commandments.
Sensible joys and consolations in God, do encourage and enlarge the heart, but these are not so general to all, nor so constant to any. Love is the abounding fixed spring of ready obedience, and will make the heart cheartul in serving God, even without those felt comforts, when he is pleased to deny, or withdraw them.
In that course or race, is understood constancy, activity and alacrity, and all these flow from the enlargement of the heart.
1. Constancy: A narrow enthralled heart, fettered with the love of lower things, and cleaving to some particular sins, or but some one, and that secret, may keep foot a while in the way of God's commandments, in some steps of them; but it must give up quickly, is not able to run on to the end of the goal. But a heart that hath laid aside every weight, and the most close-cleaving and besetting sin (as it is in that place to the Hebrews) hath stript itself of all that may faulter or intangle it, it runs, and runs on, without fainting or wearying, it is at large, hath nothing that pains it in the race.
2. Activity: Not only holding on, but running, which is a swift nimble race. It stands not bargaining and disputing, but once knowing God's
mind, there is no more question or demur. I made haste and delayed not, as in this Psalm the word is, did not stay upon why, and wherefore ; he stood not to reason the matter, but run on. And this love, enlarging the heart, makes it abundant in the work of the Lord, quick and active, dispatching much in a little time.
3. Alacrity : All done with chearfulness, so no other constraint is needful, where this overpowering sweet constraint of love is. I will run, not be hauled, and drawn as by force, but skip and leap, as the evangelic promise is, that the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desart
The spouse desires her beloved to hasten as a roe and hind on the mountains of spices, and she doth so, and each faithful soul runs towards him, to meet him in his way.
It is a sad heavy thing to do any thing as in obedience to God, while the heart is straitened, not enlarged towards him by his divine love; but that once taking possession, and enlarging the heart, that inward principle of obedience, makes the outward obedience sweet, it is then a natural motion, Indeed, the soul runs in the ways of God, as the sun in his course, which finds no difficulty, being naturally fitted and carried to that motion, he goes forth as a bridegroom, and rejoiceth as a strong man to
run a race.
This is the great point that our souls should be studious of, to attain more evenness, and nimbleness, and chearfulness, in the ways of God, and for this end we ought to seek above all things this enlarged heart; it is want of this makes us, bog, and drive heavily, and run long upon little ground. Oh! my beloved, how shallow and narrow are our thoughts of God? Most even of those that are truly godly, yet are led on by a kind of instinct, and carried they scarce know how, to give some attendance on God's
d Isa. xxxv. 6.
worship, and to the avoidance of gross sin, and go on in a blameless course. It is better thus, than to run to excess of riot and open wickedness, with the ungodly world. But, alas! this is but a dull, heavy, and languid motion, where the heart is not enlarged by the daily growing love of God. Few, few are acquainted with that delightful contemplation of God, that ventilates and raises this flame of love. Petty things bind and contract our spirits, so that they feel little joy in God, little ardent active desire to do him service, to crucify sin, to break and undo self-love within us, to root up our own wills to make room for his, that his alone may be ours, that we may have no will of our own, that our daily work may be to grow more like him in the beauty of holiness. You think it a hard saying, to part with your carnal lusts and delights, and the common ways of the world, and to be tied to a strict exact conversation all your days. But oh! the reason of this is, because the heart is yet straitened, and enthralled by the base love of these mean things, and that is from the ignorance of things higher and better. One glance of God, a touch of his love will free and enlarge the heart, so that it can deny all, and part with all, and make an entire renouncing of all, to follow Him. It sees enough in Him, and in Him alone, and therefore can neither quietly rest on, nor earnestly desire any thing beside Him.
Oh! that you would apply your hearts to consider the excellency of this way of God's commandments. Our wretched hearts are prejudiced, they think it melancholy and sad. Oh! there is no way truly joyous but this, They shall sing in the ways of the Lord, says the prophet. Do not men, when their eyes are opened, see a beauty in meekness, and temperance, and humility, a present delightfulness and quietness in them; whereas in pride, and passion, and intemperance, there is nothing but vexation and disquiet. And then consider the end of