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nature children of wrath, even as others ;” but when were you concerned about it? You would
and be very sorry
your parents were angry with you, and threatened to turn you out of doors, and never see you any more! But how much worse would it be if God should say to you, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting burnings.".
The hardness of the heart appears also in not being moved and melted with the goodness of God.Oh, how good is God to us all! He makes the sun to shine, and the flowers to spring, and the corn and herbs to grow. It is he who gives us food by day, and rest by night; and “his goodness should lead us to repentance." “ He has also so loved the world,” wicked as it is, “ that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And he has sent his ministers to us with the glad tidings of this salvation, and they warn us to flee from the wrath to come;they invite and beseech us to be reconciled to God. But how hard is the heart that remains unmoved with all this tender love and goodness! What should you think of a child who treated a dear father, or a kind mother, with neglect and scorn, after they had spoken and behaved in the kindest manner to him ? Would you not think him very brutish and wicked ? Well; thus sinners treat the blessed God, And have not
you done so ? It is God who has led and fed you all your days. He gave you kind parents and friends to care for you when infants, or you must have been starved to death, and perished for want.
He gives you clothes, and food, and health, and pleasure, and friends, and he does more, he gives you his gospel; he sends you the word of salvation, he gives you opportunity to learn, and read it, and hear it; and what return have you made for all his goodness ? Oh, that your hearts may, melt in godly sorrow for sin! May the Lord give you the heart of Aesh," the soft heart, the feeling heart, “ which trembles at his word,” and “ fears the Lord and his goodness!"Then will you be afraid of the least sin ; you will avoid all bad company; you will not dare to take the name of the Lord in vain; you will not play on the Sabbath day; nor will you behave badly to your parents, or any other persons. And if you have this soft heart, you will be very sorry for your sins ; and sorry to think you have offended God; and sorry to think that the blessed Jesus should suffer such shocking pains as he did for your sins.
II. The heart is by nature proud; but the new heart is humble. Man, as a creature, has no cause to be proud, much less as a sinner; yet we are all born proud. There never was a person born without a proud heart; though some do not show it so much as others. You that are children know how apt you are to be proud of new clothes, and fine things; and how fond you are of showing them to others; and as people grow up, they grow prouder; proud of beauty, riches, learning, or office; yea, proud of being religious. So you read of the Pharisee, who went up to the temple to pray, and with monstrous pride stood by himself, and said, “ God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, nor even as this Publican;" and then he boasted of his good works. But God abhorred this proud wretch, while he looked with compassion on the man whom the Pharisee despised; the poor publican, whose heart was broken for sin, and who had nothing to say for himself, but “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Even children are proud of their religion; they will boast of being better than their brothers and sisters; they love to tell of their faults and of their own goodness. My dear children, why do you hope to go to heaven? is it because you are not so bad as others ? because
you say your prayers and go to church or meeting? If so, you are proud; proud of your own righteousness, which the Scripture calls “ filthy rags.” Now who would be proud of filthy rags ? But the righteousness of Christ is like a fine clean white robe; is not that better? And would you not be glad to have it ?: Pray then to God to clothe you with it.
The new heart is a humble heart. The person who has it thinks so highly of the great and blessed God, the majesty of heaven and earth, that he shrinks, as it were, into nothing before him. He has such a view of the holiness of God, and his commandments, and such a sense of the wickedness and deceitfulness of his own heart, that he lies as it were in the dust, “ abhors himself and repents in dust and ashes.”
III. The heart is by nature worldly. All natural men are called in Scripture-Men of the world, whose portion is in this life: they think only of the world, they speak only of the world, and all their desires are worldly. “What shall we eat, what shall we drink, and how shall we be clothed ?" After all these, and only such things as these, do worldly men seek. In this case there is no heart for religion. “God is not in all their thoughts ;" and for the sake of the world they neglect the Gospel, and lose their own souls. They are " careful about many things " with Martha, but do not choose " the one thing needful” with Mary. Now this is a sad state to be in ! If we love the world, the love of God is not in us, 1 John ii. 15. If we mind - earthly things,” so as to make them our chief good, our end will be destruction,” Phil. iii. 19. And say now, my dear children, are not your hearts worldly? Though you are not engaged in worldly business, yet your little hearts love only the things of this world. Are not play and pleasure all you seek and delight in ? Perhaps you do not like prayer ;
do not pray
at all in secret, or satisfy yourselves with a few formal words, which you have got by heart, without feeling any desire after Christ, and grace, and salvation. And when your parents pray in their families, as I hope they do, you do not regard what is said : and when you are in the house of God, perhaps you do not mind what the minister says, or content yourself merely with remembering the text. But this is not religion. The worldly heart must be taken away, and you must have a heavenly spiritual heart, that delights in God and Christ, and prayer and praise ; in the word of God and spiritual conversation. Blessed be God, there have been many such children; perhaps you have read of them in Janeway's Token for Children.' The Lord make you like them! that so you may live to God, if you are spared to live longer; or made fit for heaven, if he should be pleased to remove you.
IV. The heart is by nature wicked; the Scripture says it is desperately wicked, Jer. xvii
. 9. And our Saviour says, Matt. xv. 19, Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, thefts, murders, and many other bad things. Now you know they must be in the heart, or they could not come out of it. Some people will tell you they have good hearts, even though they speak bad words, and do bad actions. But this is a mistake. A good tree bears good fruit ; and a sweet spring doth not send forth bitter waters. Now every person's heart is wicked by nature, and if some people do not commit such wicked actions as others, it is not because their hearts are better by nature, but because God would not let them be so wicked as they would; just as they chain up wild beasts, to keep them from destroying us. My dear children, you may see the truth of this in yourselves. You know how apt you are, or were once, to tell lies. Nobody told you how to tell lies., You did it naturally, Now is not that a proof of a wicked heart? Lying is a great sin; it is a work of the devil, who is “ a liar, and the father of lies.” Lying is so hateful to God, that he will not let any liars go to heaven, “ nothing that maketh a lie,” Rev. xxii, 15: but he says,
ch. xxi. 8, “ All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." O, pray to God to forgive you this great sin! You may know that your hearts are wicked by your going into a passion when you are crossed ; and great anger is a degree of murder in God's esteem, Matt. v. 22. But the wickedness of the heart appears most of all in its enmity against God; for St. Paul says, Rom. viï. 7, “the carnal mind is enmity against God;" and have not you shown this in your dislike of religion, in breaking the Sabbath, in taking the Lord's name in vain, in disobeying your parents, and in many other ways ? See then how needful it is that you should have a new heart; and the new heart is a pure heart. Jesus Christ says, Matt. v. 8, “Blessed
pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Now the heart is “ purified by faith.” When we see what a wicked heart we have, and are filled with grief and fear, then we fly for refuge to Jesus Christ. Then God pardons our past sins for his sake, and gives us his Holy Spirit to make us hate sin, and fight against it; to make us desire to know his will, and love to do it. Pray then with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ps. li. 10.-Remember that “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
V. The heart by nature is deceitful; yea the Scripture says, deceitful above all things. It calls good evil, and evil good. It cheats people with false pretences and vain excuses; so that the
of the wicked seems right to them, although it leads to destruction. There is scarcely any sinner, however great, that