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quickening grace of God; and that the pardon of our sins and the glories of heaven-blessings to which by nature we can lay no title-are the free gifts of his mercy, through Jesus Christ. Let us then, when we have done all, acknowledge that we are unprofitable servants"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.” “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." And that God would thus work in us, and enable us to work, let us beseech him in the language of the church :“Grant to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “Lord, we pray thee, that thy grace may always prevent and follow us; and make us continually to be given to all good works, through Jesus Christ our Lord." SERMON XX.
Psalm lxxvii. 6.
I commune with mine own heart, and search out my spirit.
The active spirit of man will always be employed; the exercise of thought and reflection is inseparable from the human mind; and therefore there is no man who does not, in a greater or less degree, commune with his own heart, and search out his spirit. The objects indeed on which this meditation may be exercised are various. In the choice of them also, men are unhappily directed, not by the sober voice of considerate reason, not by the divine guidance of religion, but by the caprices of a wayward fancy, and by the powerful suggestions of corrupt passion. The thoughts of their minds, that should aspire after spiritual and immortal truths and blessings, are therefore principally confined to the degrading and short-lived objects of time and sense.
And yet, brethren, on this communion with our heart depend the perfection or the degradation of our nature in the present life, and our eternal happiness or misery in the life which is to come. If our thoughts are occupied solely or principally with the plans of sensual gratification ; if wealth, honour, and pleasure alone engross our affections; if worldly pursuits and enjoyments be thus the objects
of our supreme attention, our souls will be degraded from their true perfection and happiness in the present life, and totally disqualified for the pure and spiritual joys of the kingdom of heaven. Not in this sensual, degrading, and corrupting communion with the heart did the psalmist indulge: it was that holy meditation which was calculated to advance the dignity, the purity, and the perfection of the soul, and to qualify it for immortal joys—“ He communed with his own heart.” · Let us then consider the duty of communion with our hearts, in reference,
1. To the subjects on which it should be exercised; and,
2. To the motives which should lead to it.
1. We should commune with our own hearts, and search out our spirits, with regard to our spiritual character and destiny.
What are we? and for what are we designed ? These are surely the first and the most important subjects that should engross our thoughts, and which should awaken our earnest and supreme solicitude. Are we the mere creatures of sense, made to obey only the mandates of the passions ? Do we hold no higher rank in the scale of being than the brutes, which, prompted only by appetite, and guided only by instinct, pursue, with undeviating course, sensual gratifications? Are our views designed to be confined solely to this transitory and corrupting world, in which those numerous paths which seem to invite to the bowers of pleasure, all terminate in the dreary waste of disappointment and vanity? Is the bright sun of our being to light up only a few short and clouded
years, and then to sink for ever in the darkness of eternal night? Is the arm of death, which no power can arrest, no art elude, to wither the powers of our nature and extinguish all our joys? No, surely. Reason, consciousness, the voice of God speaking to us in his holy word, assure us that we possess a nature far exalted above the brutes that surround us; that the spiritual agent which stirs within us, is sprung from a divine source—from that infinite, spiritual, eternal, perfect Being, who formed us after his own image; that we are distinguished by high and vigorous powers of intellect, not to be bounded by the narrow limits of corporeal existence, but to range through the infinite world of intelligences, and to ascend from the gross and sensual objects around us, to the contemplation of spiritual and immortal objects—to reach even the eternal Fountain of truth and felicity, and in the adoration and love of the greatest and best of Beings, to find all its powers perfected, all its affections gratified, all its hopes realized. Yes; reason, conscience, the word of God, teach that
this life is but the commencement of our existence, · the present world but the threshold of our being;
and that, when translated from this transitory life and this perishing world, we shall be ushered into a perfect and endless existence, and into that celestial world which, through the revolution of ages, , shall know no period. Reason, consciousness, the word of God assure us, that we were made for the knowledge and service of our Almighty Makerfor the fulness of felicity in his holy presence.
Let us then hold frequent communion with our hearts, brethren, on our high rank in the scale of
being, on the exalted destiny which the Almighty has assigned us.
Yet, alas! in communing with our hearts concerning our spiritual character and state, truths humiliating and painful will force themselves upon
Formed originally with powers which both fitted and prompted us to aspire after the knowledge and enjoyment of the infinite Fountain of truth, goodness, and felicity, the view of our present character and condition will force us to exclaim_" How is the gold become dim! how is the fine gold become changed! The crown is fallen from our heads-Wo unto us, for we have sinned!" Our nature degraded and corrupted by transgression, we are obnoxious to the displeasure of Him who is great in power and inflexible in justice, and who will not spare the guilty. There is “a law in our members warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin.” “ When we would do good, evil is present with us.” Conscience bears her testimony, that, in disobeying the dictates of reason, we have violated the righteous laws of Him who made, and rules, and is to judge us. Serious and faithful communion with our hearts will force on us the lamentable truth, that we are sinners, undeserving of the favour of our God, and obnoxious to his displea
“ Wretched men that we are, who shall deliver us from the body of this death ?”
Thus, then, we should commune with our hearts,
2. Concerning the means of release from the bondage of sin, and of securing our spiritual perfection and happiness.