« PrécédentContinuer »
they do really give their supreme affection to God? I answer, by this infallible effect. Those, who give their hearts to God, or love him supremely, always give themselves to God, with all their interests for time and eternity. And this is what no self-love will do. It is only to apply this criterion to the heart, and it will confirm, or destroy the hope of any person. Let all then be entreated for their own sake, to apply this criterion to what they are conscious has passed and habitually passes in their minds, that they may determine whether they are friends, or enemies to God, they themselves being judges. And certainly it belongs to all, as reasonable creatures, to act this reasonable part towards themselves.
THB TENDANOY OF THE GOSPEL TO ENLARGE TE
II. CORINTHIANS, vi. 11.- Our heart is enlarged.
The apostle preached the gospel with great suecess in Corinth, where he formed a large number of converts into a christian church, to whom he preached a year and six months. His long residence with them laid a foundation for his very strong attachment to them. But soon after he left them, they were led into errors, animosities and contentions, by false and corrupt teach
When he heard of their unhappy situation, he wrote his first epistle to them, to correct their errors and re-unite them in their former peace and harmony. Though this letter produced some good effects; yet new difficulties arose, which gave occasion to his writing to them again. This second epistle breathes a very tender and affectionate spirit. In the two preceding chapters and in the beginning of this, he speaks largely of his own views and feelings and sufferings in promoting the cause of Christ and the interests of his friends. And when he had wrought his own mind up to a high pitch of tenderness, he breaks forth in this pathetic language, “ O ye Corinthians, our mouth is opened unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence of the same, I speak as unto my children, be ye also enlarged.” The gospel
, had enlarged the heart of the apostle and he supposed,
it had a tendency to enlarge the hearts of the Corinthians, who had embraced it. His views and feelings were once confined to himself and to those persons and objects, which were the most nearly connected with his private, personal interests. But after he had heard and understood and loved the gospel, his heart expanded and he felt interested in every thing comprised in the great and benevolent scheme of man's redemption.And from this we may conclude,
That the gospel has a tendency to enlarge the hearts of all, who embrace it. I shall,
I. Consider what we are to understand by the heart's being enlarged ; And,
II. Show that the gospel directly tends to enlarge the hearts of those, who embrace it.
I. Let us consider what we are to understand by the heart's being enlarged.
The heart is something different from all the natural powers, or faculties of the mind and consists in free voluntary exercises, emotions, or affections; and its magnitude is always in proportion to the ultimate and supreme objects, upon which it terminates. Every moral agent has some ultimate and supreme object in view, which is comparatively small or great ; and this object be it what it may, measures the magnitude of the heart. Self is the ultimate and supreme object of affection in every unsanctified heart. Every person in the state of nature desires and seeks his own separate, personal interest, or happiness above all other objects; but every one, whose heart is renewed and sanctified, has a superior regard to the interest, or happiness of any other person, or being whose interest, or happiness appears of more importance than his own. But whether the heart be selish, or benevolent, it is either large, or small, in exact proportion to the largeness, or smallness of the objects, upon which it terminates. The heart of every one extends just as far as his apparent interest extends, and increases in magnitude just as the knowledge of his interest increases, whether his interest be selfish, or benevolent. The heart of a child increases, as his knowledge increases. The heart of a youth increases, as his knowledge increases. The heart of a man increases, as his knowledge increases. There is nothing perceived by the understanding, but what affects the heart more or less. Men's hearts in, crease and enlarge, as their capacities, their relations, their connections and spheres of actions increase and multiply. Though their is undoubtedly a real difference in the natural capacities of mankind, yet they all admit of perpetual cultivation and enlargement. It is recorded of Christ, that he increased in wisdom and stature, as well as in favor with God and man. In childhood the capacity is comparatively small; and the heart bears a near proportion to the capacity. This the apostle testifies of himself.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.” And he might have added, that he felt as a child. His heart was no larger than his capacity. It is equally true of every person, through the whole course of his life, that his heart is bounded by his capacity. But as every person, from childhood to manhood, derives advantage from education, observation and experience, so bis capacity, and consequently his heart must gradually enlarge. And after men come upon the stage of life, their relations, connections and
, spheres of action increase and multiply, and of course,
their minds and hearts expand. More numerous and more important objects gain their attention and interest their feelings. When David was a shepherd, his mind and his heart were as small as his flock. When he became a general, his mind and his heart were as large as his army. And when he ascended the throne of Israel, his mind and his heart were enlarged in proportion to the number of his subjects, the extent of his kingdom and the important interests of the nation. And it is expressly said of Solomon, that the largeness of his heart was equal to the capacity and strength of his mind. “ And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much and largeness of heart, even as the sand, that is on the sea shore.” These were uncommon instances of the progress of the human mind and human heart ; yet they are just and beautiful illustrations of the gradual growth of the understanding and heart of every person in the world. The understanding of all men enlarges from stage to stage in life, and their hearts enlarge with the growth of their intellect
It is true, indeed, the heart does not always keep pace with the progress of the capacity and knowledge. The reason is, some men do not interest themselves so much in what they know as others do, and consequently their hearts do not enlarge with equal rapidity.
Every man regards and pursues some supreme object; and if his supreme object be low, mean, or unimportant, it will contract his mind and feelings in respect to all other objects, which are only subservient to that which is supreme. The man, who makes property his supreme object, sees nothing in the universe superior to property and esteems nothing important, but