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not draw back from any labour; for “ the grace of Christ shall surely be sufficient for us:" nor need we fear any enemy; for we shall be “ more than conquerors, through Him that loved us."] 4. Keep your eye fixed on heaven, as your home
(What would ever divert your steps, or retard them for an instant, if you contemplated, as you ought, the blessedness that awaits you at the close of your journey? To be in your Father's house, in the very mansion prepared for you; yea, and in the very bosom of that Saviour, who went, as your forerunner, to prepare it—to have all your trials for ever terminated, and all your dangers for ever past, and all your labours for ever closed; and to have nothing but an eternity of bliss, such as no words can express, no imagination can conceive—what joy will you feel in the retrospect, what exultation in the prospect, and, above all, what recollections as arising from the stupendous mystery of redemption, whereby the whole has been accomplished for you! Set before you this prize; and then tell me, whether you will ever need any thing to carry you forward in your heavenly course. Truly, the contemplation of that glory will swallow up every thing else, even as the stars of heaven are eclipsed by the meridian sun. Joys will be no joys, and sorrows no sorrows—I mean, not worth being so accounted—if only you keep heaven in your view: for neither the comforts "nor the sufferings of this present life are worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in usi.” Moses, and Paul', and all the saints, yea, and even the Lord Jesus Christ himself", were animated by this thought: and, if it fully possess your mind, you can never faint, nor ever come short of the rest that remaineth for you..]
i Rom. viii. 18. m Heb. xi. 35.
k Heb. xi. 24-26.
1 Acts xx. 24.
UPRIGHTNESS OF HEART REQUIRED. 1 Chron. xxix. 17. I know also, my God, that thou triest the
heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. THE true way to form a correct estimate of our actions is, to consider the principles from which they flow: for it is very possible that an act, which may be highly esteemed amongst men, may be an utter “abomination in the sight of God," on account of the motives by which we have been actuated in the performance of it. Jehu obeyed an express command of God in destroying the house of Ahab; and was even rewarded by God for it; whilst yet he was also punished for it, because, in what he did, he was impelled only by his own pride and vanity, instead of consulting, as he should have done, the glory of his God. “Man looketh only on the outward appearance; but God looketh at the heart.” The efforts which David made in preparing for the erection of the Temple were amazing: yet, if they had proceeded from a desire of man's applause, they would have been of no value before God. But David sought only to glorify his God: and for his integrity, in this respect, he could appeal, yea, and did appeal, to the heartsearching God: “I know, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness:” and I can affirm, as in thy presence, that "in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things
a Luke xvi. 15.
From this striking and confident declaration, I shall take occasion to shew, I. What is here affirmed of God
Two things are here asserted respecting God: 1. His knowledge of the human heart
[“ The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” Nor is it a mere cursory view which he takes of the things that are passing in the world: he inspects them all : he marks the most hidden actions of mankind: he observes with accuracy the principles from which they flow. Not so much as a thought escapes his notice; no, nor the most fleeting “imagination of a thoughtf.” “He searches the heart, and tries the reins 8,” in order that not the slightest motion of the soul may escape him. He so "ponders the ways of men h," that not a turn in them is unobserved; and so
weighs their spirits",” as infallibly to ascertain the precise measure of every principle contained in them. In natural productions, this is done with a considerable degree of accuracy
b Compare 2 Kings x. 30. with Hos. i. 4.
o 1 Sam. xvi. 7.
by chemists: but no chemist can subject the heart of man to this process: that is the work of God alonek: but it is a work which he is executing every day, and every hour, over the face of the whole earth: and in his book of remembrance he records the result of his observations on every child of man'. In truth, if he did not thus search the heart, he would not be able to judge the world. But, seeing that “ all things are naked and opened before him, and that he is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart m," and that the darkest recesses of it are to him as clear as the light of day”, we may, without hesitation, say with Job, “I know that no thought can be withholden from thee."] 2. His love of uprightness
[He requireth truth in the inward parts P; and whatever is contrary to it, he utterly abhors. “He made man upright” in the first instance, and pronounced his work to be "very good?.” In his works of grace he seeks to restore to man that uprightness: and never will he look with complacency on any child of man, till that change is wrought. By uprightness, however, we are not to understand sinless perfection : for, if none but those who have attained that were objects of his love, there would not be found one upon the face of the whole earth; seeing that “there is no man that liveth, and sinneth nots." But, in desire and purpose, we must be perfect. There must be in us no allowed sin. “ Our heart must be right with Godt.” He will not endure “a divided heart u.” There must be in us a simplicity of aim and intention : no leaning to self; no corrupt bias; no undue mixture of carnal motives or principles: we must be “ without guile in our spirit*,” if we would approve ourselves to him. Where a person of this character is, God views him with pleasure, and listens to him with delight”. The testimony borne to Nathanael is a clear evidence of this. No human eye saw him “under the figtree;” nor could any person, who had seen him, have ventured to pronounce upon his character in such decided terms. But God had searched his heart, and “ found it perfect before hima." That his delight in such characters might be fully known, he has recorded it in his word; and, for the encouragement of all future generations, has borne witness to Nathanael, saying, “ Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guileb." k Rey. ii. 23.
1 Ps. lvi. 8.
m Heb. iv. 12. n Ps. cxxxix. 11, 12. o Job xlii. 2.
p Ps. li. 6. 9 Eccl. vii. 29. r Gen. i. 26, 31, 8 1 Kings viii. 46. t Ps. lxxviii. 37. u Hos. x. 2.
x Ps. xxxi. 2. y Prov. xv 8, 9. z Prov. xi. 20. a 2 Kings xx. 3. b John i. 47.
Know, then, that “God has pleasure in uprightness." He has pleasure in it as a conformity to his Law, a correspondence with his own image, the very end and consummation of all his works.]
Such being the mind of Almighty God, let us consider, II. What effect the knowledge of it should produce
upon usNo subject whatever has a wider scope, or needs more to be seen in all its diversified bearings, than that before us. The consideration of God's omniscience, and of his exclusive approbation of what is holy, should operate forcibly on every child of man. It should operate to make us, 1. Humble in our review of our past lives
[Who amongst us could stand, if God were to enter into judgment with us? Who, if God should "lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet,” would be found to have been upright before him? Let us take even the best day of our whole lives, and try ourselves by the holy Law of God; or rather, not by the Law as it is in itself, but as it has been known and understood by us ? Let us take even our own standard of duty to God and man,
whether we have fulfilled — whether we have even striven to fulfil it? whether we have laboured, as men in earnest, to get our views of duty rectified and enlarged, in order that we might not, through ignorance, come short of it in any thing? Let us think whether we can appeal to the omniscient and heartsearching God, that we have studied his blessed word in order to learn his will, and cried to him for grace to enable us for the performance of it? In short, let us see, whether for one day or hour we have been truly upright before God, so as to have not a wish of our hearts comparable to that of pleasing, serving, glorifying him? If, then, we cannot stand this test even for the best day of our whole lives, what must have been our state taken in the aggregate, from the first moment of our existence to the present hour? Tell me whether it is possible for us to abase ourselves too much? Job, with all his perfection, "abhorred himself in dust and ashes :" tell me, then, what should be the posture of our souls before God? Verily, there should not be a day or an hour, throughout all our future lives, wherein we should not "put our hands on our mouths, and our mouths in the dust, crying, Unclean, Unclean !"] 2. Earnest in our desires to be found in Christ
c Job xlii. 6.
[Whither should such guilty creatures flee, but to the Saviour? to Him who has expiated our guilt, and wrought out a righteousness wherein we may stand accepted before God ? To think of procuring remission of our sins by any obedience of our own, were madness. Satan himself might attempt it as reasonably as we. O! with what joy should we hear of the provision made for us in the Gospel-of an incarnate God! of a sacrifice for sin! of a sacrifice commensurate with the necessities of a ruined world! of a free access to the Father through that sacrifice! of acceptance with Him, simply through faith in it as a propitiation for our sins! of every thing being treasured up in Christ for use, so that it may be secured against a possibility of being lost', and may " be received at all times, out of his fulness," through the exercise of faith and prayer 8! Let us but see in what light we stand before God, as viewed in ourselves, and we shall most cordially unite with the Apostle Paul, in “ desiring to be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, which is of the Law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ h."]
3. Watchful against the assaults of our great adversary
[Even in Paradise, whilst yet our first parents retained their integrity, did Satan prevail to beguile them. What, then, will he not do with us, if we be not constantly on our guard against him? He can “ the appearance of an angel of lighti:" how, then, can we hope to stand against his wiles, if Almighty God do not interpose to preserve us? It is not necessary for his purpose, that he should draw us into gross sin: he effects our destruction no less certainly, if he only “ beguile us from the simplicity that is in Christk.” If he succeed only so far as to keep us from being upright before God, he needs no more to ruin us for ever. Beloved Brethren, reflect on this, and cry mightily to God to arm you against him on every side'; that, whether he assume the violence of a lion, or the subtlety of a serpent", he may never be able to prevail against you.]
4. Faithful in examining every motion of our hearts
d Lev. xii, 49. Lam. iii. 29. f Col. iii. 3.
& John i. 16. i 2 Cor. xi. 14. k 2 Cor. xi. 3. m 1 Pet. v. 8.
n Rev. xii. 9.
e Col. i. 19.