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true disciples: “ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
It is also a melancholy truth, that unbelief is not wholly eradicated from the hearts of believers. If it were, there would have been no need for this caution: “ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." And again ; speaking of the Israelites in the wilderness, St. Paul says, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." And then he adds this solemn warning: “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”
Those who are in the habit of observing the secret movements of their own spirit, will soon perceive how this subtle evil lies at the bottom of all their langour in devotion; their inertness in duty; their dulness in spiritual perception, and their declensions from the ways of God.
This acquaintance with our own heart, will lead us to the continued exercise of watchfulness and prayer, through the gracious influence of the Holy Ghost.
À consciousness of inbred sin will cause us to distrust ourselves, to look continually unto Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. This salutary fear, implanted in the heart through the covenant love of God alone can keep us from falling. We shall walk over the slippery paths of this sinful world with safety, when we tread with cautious step, “ leaning upon our beloved.”
This knowledge of our corruption, when taught by the Spirit of truth, in connection with the remedy provided to remove it, even the atoning blood of Jesus ; causes the soul who receives it, to sink deep in self-abasement; to rise high in heavenly affec
tions; to renounce the vanities of the world; and to grow in a daily meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.
How extensive then is the evil of unbelief. It blights the whole moral creation of God, producing sterility in every heart unrenewed by sovereign grace; whilst it sheds its baneful influence even the trees of righteousness which stand in the garden of the Lord.
Just in proportion as its influence is felt in the people of God, it operates like the chilling blast in the vineyard. The blossom is injured—the fruit is checked-yea too often withered.
To this root of bitterness may be traced all the wickedness of the world; all the evils which have abounded, and do abound in the visible church of Christ; all the declensions and falls, which have unhappily stained the lives of many, who by their deep repentance have proved themselves to be amongst the redeemed of the Lord.
Blessed Saviour ! thou who camest down from the throne of glory to die for poor perishing sinners, save me from the deadly sin of unbelief. • O! give me faith in thy precious blood.
Enable me to rely upon thee with the simplicity of a little child. On thee may I repose my soul, for thou didst
sins in thine own body on the tree. Lord, save me from self-righteousness; from the love of the world; from pride of heart; from fleshly indulgence. Keep
Keep me near to thyself. Wash me daily in thy cleansing blood from every contracted defilement.
Clothe me with the robe of righteousness, with the garment of salvation.
Cause me to rejoice in thee; to live in the light of thy countenance; to taste that thou art gracious; and to glorify thee by a growing conformity to thy mind and will.
In the hour of death and danger,
Jesus Christ was disregarded,
See his agonizing features ;
Still perhaps he may be gracious,
VI. ON THE TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF THE HEART.
The corruption of the human race after the fall, was radical and universal. “ God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Gen. vi. 5.
It would seem surprising, that any one should read this passage in the Bible, and yet deny the doctrine of human depravity, did we not know the natural blindness of the understanding by reason of sin.
A painful truth is however plainly stated; that the heart of man is evil. And that this solemn truth may be placed in the strongest light, it is further added ; that not only the thoughts, but the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart are evil.
By this declaration we learn how the fall has corrupted all the secret workings of the human mind; since the very outline or rude sketch of the thoughts is polluted.
If the fountain be thus poisoned, can we wonder at those deadly streanas which issue from it ?
All who know themselves, through the teaching of the divine Spirit, can testify to the truth of this scripture from their own experience : “ The heart knows its own bitterness."
0! that sovereign grace may cast down every proud and sinful imagination, which is contrary to the holy law of God, and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Some, contending for a portion of natural goodness, may perhaps say: True, the imagination is often defiled, but must we acknowledge no remainders of virtue ?
What saith the Scripture : “ every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is evil."
Allowing that this is true, yet may there not be some mixture of good with the evil ?
What saith the Scripture : “every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil.”
Admitting this, yet may there not be some intervals of goodness?
What saith the Scripture: “every imagination of the thoughts of a man's heart is only evil continually."
If this be indeed the state of man's heart, yet may not the innocent season of youth be an exemption from this awful charge?
What saith the Scripture: “the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” Gen. viii. 21. “ 'The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. Ps. lviii. 3. “ Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” Prov. xxii. 15. “ Childhood and youth are vanity." Eccles. xi. 10. And, as if determined to abase the pride of fallen man, and to place the doctrine of original sin beyond dispute ; David, speaking under the influence of the Spirit of truth, declares : “ I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.' Ps. li. 5.
Very many apposite and important passages might be adduced, all of which attest this solemn truth of original sin. “ Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? not one.” Job xiv. 4.
66 What is man that he should be clean; and he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous ?” Job xv. 14. 6. How can he be clean that is born of a woman ?" Job xxv. 4.
Hence we conclude, with divine inspiration, that we are by nature the children of wrath.” Ephes. ii. 3. That “there is none righteous, no not one." Rom. iii. 10.
0! my soul, cavil not with thy justly offended