« PreviousContinue »
and perfections, must fill their minds with the most fearful apprehensions. But as soon as they love him supremely, they will find that peace which passeth all understanding. David acknowledges before God that he found complete satisfaction in the love and enjoyment of him. “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” Whoever loves God supremely enjoys a blessed union and communion with him, which is a source of the purest and highest enjoyment. “He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” The only possible way to enjoy such a blessed union and communion with God, is to love hiin supremely; and this is a just and powerful reason why we should give our whole hearts to him. I must add,
5. It is in the highest degree reasonable that men should give their hearts to God, because there is nothing to hinder them from doing it, but what is entirely criminal and inexcusable. They must love some object supremely; and of course they must love God supremely, or some idol in his place. But there is no being or object in the universe, that deserves their supreme affection besides God; and therefore they must be wholly criminal and inexcusable, if they place their supreme affection upon any other being or object. In the first place, there is no object in the world to prevent their seeing God. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth his handy work. All the objects that present themselves to the eyes, and the ears, and the understanding of mankind, instead of excluding God from sight, bring him into view. God is to be seen in the flowers of the field and the fruits of the earth, in the earth itself and in all that lives and moves upon the earth. Whatever is beautiful and amiable in nature, displays the moral excellence and glory of the God of nature, and calls upon mankind to give him the supreme affection of their hearts. In the next place, when God is brought into view, he is the only object to be found, that is worthy of supreme affection.
What is the power, the wisdom and benevolence of man, in comparison with the power, the wisdom and benevolence of God, who is over all and above all, blessed for ever more ? Why should any man love the world and the things of the world, more than the Creator of the world? Why should any man place supreme trust in any prince or potentate on earth, instead of placing his supreme trust and confidence in the Lord Jehovah, in whom there is everlasting strength, and perfect benevolence ? When God challenges men to bring their strong reasons, why they forsake him and place their supreme affections upon inferior objects, their mouths are stopped, and their consciences plead guilty. No good reason can be given, why those who know God,
should not love and glorify him as God. Nor will it avail any to plead, in the last place, that their hearts are so selfish, and corrupt, and attached to the world, that they cannot love God supremely For this is implicitly acknowledging that there is nothing to hinder them from loving God supremely, but what is wholly criminal and inexcusable. If they are capable of loving themselves and the world supremely, they are certainly capable of loving God supremely. They are just as capable of placing their supreme affection upon God, as upon any inferior object. And if they place their supreme affection upon any inferior object, they are guilty of idolatry. The apostle says that covetousness, or supreme love to the world, is idolatry. It is setting up idols in the heart. This God forbids and condemns. As there is nothing that can prevent men from loving God supremely, but their criminal love to themselves and the world, so it is infinitely reasonable that they should renounce all their selfish, sinful and idolatrous affections, and give their hearts to God, who is supremely worthy of their supreme affection and regard.
1. If it be reasonable that men should give their hearts to God, then it is reasonable that all men should be really religious. All true religion consists in supreme love to God. This love is the fulfilling of the law. God requires nothing more nor less of any of mankind, than to give him the supreme place in their hearts. And if this be reasonable for one person to do, then it is equally reasonable that every person, without a single exception, should do it. The precept in the text applies to every individual person, who is capable of understanding it. The Father of spirits says to every one of his children, who is capable of understanding his language, “ My son, give me thine heart.” And this paternal command alone renders it reasonable for every one to obey it. It is not only clothed with infinite authority, but founded in the superlative excellence of the divine character. God is the proper, and the only proper object of that supreme homage of the heart, in which all true religion consists. All the reasons which have been mentioned for men's loving God supremely, are so many reasons for their being truly religious. Who will presume to say that the reasons which have been mentioned for men's loving God supremely, are not just and conclusive?
And if they are just and conclusive, then it is reasonable for all men to love God supremely; and consequently it is no less reasonable for all men to be religious, and give their hearts to God. But if it be reasonable for all men to be religious, how can it be reasonable for any to be irreligious ? How can it be reasonable for the young to walk in the ways of their hearts and in the sight of iheir eyes, and be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?
, How can it be reasonable for rich men to trust in their riches and say to themselves, We have goods laid up for inany years ; let us eat and drink and fare sumptuously every day? How can it be reasonable for great men to refuse to bow down and kneel, and pay religious and supreme homage to the Lord their Maker? How can it be reasonable for careless and stupid sin. ners, to say in their hearts, there is no God, or to say that the Lord hath forsaken the earth and will not do good, neither will he do evil ? How can it be reasonable for awakened sinners, who see themselves in the hands of an angry God who can save or destroy, and whose mercy they ardently implore, to refuse to give him their hearts? This they always do, while they stand and contend with their Maker and call him a hard master. These and every other description of sinners withhold their hearts from God. And though some of them will allow that it is reasonable that they should read, and pray, and perform every external act of religion, yet they all insist that God is unreasonable and requires too much, when he requires them to give him their hearts and love him supremely. So true is it, that "the understanding" of every sinner is darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in him, because of the blindness of his heart.”
2. If it be reasonable that all men should give their hearts to God, then they have no reason to think hard of him for condemning and rejecting all their religious services, so long as they withhold their hearts from him. God does expressly condemn the religious services of all who refuse to give him the supreme affection of their hearts. He declares that the sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to him; and that when they spread forth their hands, he will hide his eyes from thein ; yea, when they make many prayers, he will not hear. And our Saviour addressing himself to the Pharisees, says, “ Wo
6 unto you;
ye tithe mint, and rue, and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." All sinners pass over the love of God, and neglect to give him the supreme affection of their hearts in their best services. These are not, as they imagine, negatively good, but positively evil. They flow from their hearts, which are enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. The hearts of sinners are as much in their prayers, as the hearts of saints are in their prayers. And as the hearts of saints render their prayers positively good, so the hearts of sinners render their prayers positively bad. When they pray, instead of expressing supreme love to God, they express supreme love to themselves; and instead of seeking his glory and the interests of his kingdom, they seek their own personal, private, selfish interest, in opposition to his glory and the highest good of the universe. This God abhors and condemns; and this they ought to abhor and condemn; and this they must abhor and condemn, before they can reasonably hope to be heard and accepted. When they are under genuine convictions and see the plague of their own hearts, they are sensible that their best services are highly displeasing to God; and that he may justly reject both them and their services for ever. Awakened sinners are extremely apt to think that they have good desires, and that they express good desires in seeking and striving for salvation; but this is only building their hopes upon their own righteousness, and resisting genuine convictions, justifying themselves, and condemning God for not hearing their ardent cries for mercy. But anxious sinners must renounce such self justifying and God condemning desires and prayers, before they can have any just ground to expect that God will save them from the destruction they fear and deserve. 3. If it be reasonable for men to give God the supreme
affection of their hearts, then it is reasonable to exhort them to exercise supreme love to God immediately. God is as worthy of supreme love now, as he ever will be. Sinners are as capable of loving him supremely now, as they ever will be. There is no station they fill, there is no business they are pursuing, there is no situation they are in, and there is nothing within or without them, which is any obstacle in the way of loving God supremely, at the present time, as well as at any future period. There is as much reason that they should give their hearts to God immediately, as that they should give their hearts to him at all. Every command which requires them to turn from sin to holiness, requires them to turn immediately. Every command which requires them to repent, requires them to repent immediately. And every cominand which requires them to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit, requires them to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit immediately. God says, “ Choose
, ye, this day, whom ye will serve;" and " to-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” If it be reasonable for sinners to obey these commands, it must be reasonable to exhort them to obey just as God requires them to obey. Those who are to warn them from him, and in his name, ought to warn them in his words, and not in their own. They have no right to give them leave to delay giving their hearts to God, any more than VOL. V.
to give them leave to delay reading his word, or calling upon his name, or doing any thing which he has required. And to intimate that they are doing their duty, while they are neglecting to give their hearts to God, which is the essence of all duty, is virtually teaching them disobedience and rebellion. But how often is this done! And how pleased are sinners, when their teachers teach them to delay loving God supremely for the pres. ent, which is really teaching them to delay for ever. It is taking off the whole force of the command in the text, “ My son, give me thine heart;" and of every other command in the Bible.
4. If it be reasonable for men to give their hearts to God, then every scheme of religion which allows them to withhold their hearts from him, is unreasonable, unscriptural, and essentially false. All true religion essentially consists in supreme love to God; and therefore every scheme of religion which allows men to withhold their supreme affection from him, is another gospel, and diametrically contrary to the gospel of Christ. Such false and dangerous schemes of religion were devised and propagated in Christ's and the apostles' days; and they have continued to be devised and propagated from that time to this. The Antinomians teach men to love themselves more than God, or to love him only for his favors, which is not loving him at all. They maintain that no man ought to love God before he knows that God will save him ; which is implicitly saying that men ought not to give their hearts to God until he gives his heart to them. Indeed, it is the fundamental principle of Antinomianism, that God is never to be loved supremely for what he is in himself, or for his supreme moral excellence; a principle subversive of all true religion. The Arminians teach men to love themselves more than God, and to keep their hearts to themselves, while they pay him mere external respect and obedience. They teach the same doctrine that the Scribes and Pharisees taught, which was, that all religion consists in mere external services, which may be performed without the least love to God. The Pharisee that went up to the temple to pray, and even Paul himself, thought he was blameless while he loved himself supremely, and externally honored God with a heart which was far from him. The Universalists teach men to love themselves more than God, and to love him only for the sake of salvation. They allow them not only to withhold their hearts from God, but to act them out as much they please in sin, with full confidence that nothing can separate them from the everlasting approbation and enjoyment of God. As all these schemes of religion deny the necessity of a change of heart and the duty of loving God supremely, they are essentially erroneous and fatally dangerous. They are rotten at the root, and directly calculated to deceive