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ginning to pray and disposes them to neglect it after they have once begun. Every prayerless person in this house knows whether this be true or not; and whether he is one, who desires and endeavors to break all the bands and cords, by which he is bound to God. Every sinner either neglects to pray, or prays amiss, to his own self-condemnation and confusion. In what a wretched and guilty condition are all sinners.
7. If all sinners are under natural, moral and legal obligations to God; then they are all, without exception, bound to be religious, or to fulfil their obligations to their maker, who has made them rational, immortal and accountable creatures. These divine obligations lie with all their weight upon children, upon youth, upon all men, whether rich or poor, high or low, learned or unlearned. No age, no condition, no secular concerns, can dissolve their obligations. But how many sinners practically deny their obligation to be religious and expect that they shall generally be allowed this privilege, without any censure or disapprobation of any, but a few bigoted religionists, or over-orthodox preachers ! How many would be ashamed to be found reading the bible seriously, or calling upon God devoutly, or attending public worship statedly? Do not such, by their speaking, reasoning and acting, plainly show, that they endeavor to break every religious obligation and desire to live without God in the world ? Has God then misrepresented their character and conduct in his word ? If not, they are his perfect enemies and deserve to be treated as his enemies forever. This he will, sooner or later, make them see and feel.
Finally, if sinners are bound to God, by bands and cords, which they cannot break, nor cast away ; then it is their immediate and imperious duty to cease from contending with their maker ; and to become cordially reconciled to the bands and cords, by which he has bound them to himself. David did this. He said to God sincerely, “ O how love I thy law ?” Paul felt and expressed the same spirit. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” If
become reconciled to your obligations to God, they will prove a source of perpetual blessedness. But if you persist in hating and opposing them, they will prove a source of self-condemnation and misery forever. I now ask, what you intend to do ? And God may treat you, according to your present resolution. But are you willing he should ? If you refuse to submit to God and to the bands and cords, by which you are bound to him as surely as you live and as God lives, he will be bound, by his own goodness, to punish you forever and
“ And what wilt thou say, when he shall punish thee.”
GIVING THE HEART TO GOD A REASONABLE
PROVERBS, XXIII, 26.-My son, give me thine heart.
Mankind are reasonable creatures ; and the religion, which God enjoins upon them, is a reasonable service. But yet it has always been found extremely difficult to reason with men upon religious subjects...Solomon was the wisest of men and understood religion, as well as any other art, or science. And in the latter part of his life, after he had thoroughly investigated the laws of nature and examined the principles and practices of mankind, he turned preacher ; and no mere man ever preached better upon the subjects which he handled. But though his observations were very weighty, though his illustrations were very striking, and though his words were wisely chosen and, like goads, extremely pointed; yet it does not appear, that they very often produced any genuine convictions and saving effects. There was the same difficulty then, that there is now, in reasoning upon that relig. ion, which God requires, and which is altogether disagreeable to every natural heart. Were it not for the moral depravity of human nature, it would be as easy to convince men, that they ought to love God, as it is to convince them, that a child ought to love his parent, or that a servant ought to love his master. But so long as the carnal mind remains, which is enmity against God, it is extremely difficult to convey light and conviction to the understandings and consciences of sinners, upon the disagreeable subject of religion. This is the principal difficulty in the way of making every one feel his obligation to obey the precept in the text---“ my son, give me thine heart.” God here speaks, with paternal affection and authority, to every one of liis undutiful and disobedient children ; and they are all under indispensable obligations to hear and obey his voice. It is, therefore, proposed,
1. To explain the precept in the text; and, II. To show the reasonableness of complying with it.
I. The first thing to be considered is the import, or proper meaning of giving the heart to God.
1. This implies the exercising of love to him. To love and to give the heart, signify the same thing.--No man is ever said to give his heart to any object, without loving that object. Men may attend to a thousand things, converse about them, and reason upon them, without loving them, or giving their heart to them. But when they love any object, they may then be said to give their heart to it. Men may believe the being of God and see the displays of his perfections in his word and providence, while they exercise no love to him, but withhold their hearts from him. So our Lord teaches, “ This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” As not giving the heart to God is not loving him, so giving the heart to God must mean actually loving him.
2. Giving the heart to God implies not only loving him, but loving him for what he is in himself. Men may love God for his favors, without loving his true
character. The Israelites loved God for opening a passage through the Red Sea and delivering them from the enemies, that pursued them, while they were real enemies to his amiable character and glorious designs. Satan supposed, that Job might have loved God for the smiles of his providence, while he had a heart to curse him for his frowns. Our Lord reproved those, who loved him for the loaves and fishes, but hated his character and doctrines. It is as common now, as ever it was, to love God and Christ from mercenary motives ; but this is not truly giving their hearts to their creator and redeemer. For mercenary love always terminates upon the good bestowed, or expected; and not upon the bestower.
God is never truly loved, but only when he is loved for what he is in himself. True love to God terminates upon his truly amiable and excellent character. It is natural for sinners to love those, who love them. And whenever they imagine that God loves them and intends to save them, it is as natural for them to love him, as any other supposed benefactor. But this is really loving themselves and not God; and is actually keeping their hearts to themselves, instead of giving them to him. Therefore it is necessary to observe,
3. That giving the heart to God implies loving him supremely. The expression,“ to give God the heart," naturally denotes supreme affection. It has this meaning when applied to inferior objects. When Judah pleaded for the return of Benjamin, he told Joseph, that his father loved Benjamin ; and to express the strength of his affection for him, he subjoined, that his " father's life was bound up in the life of the lad.” To express strong and supreme affection in a parent towards a