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be disagreeable to them, if they were only willing to know themselves. But this unwillingness to become acquainted with their hearts, is extremely great and renders it next to impossible to give them this important and necessary knowledge. It obstructed the instructions of the prophets, of Christ, of the apostles and of thousands of Christ's ambassadors since his day. Sinners will shut their eyes and stop their ears against the truth ; and if possible, remain ignorant of their own hearts. They cannot bear to see the total and incurable sinfulness and malignity of their hearts and the dreadful evils, which appear to be connected with such odious and destructive affections. To think of being holden by the cords of their iniquities and bound over by them to endless destruction, makes them shrink back from the knowledge of themselves; and in a manner, compels them to prefer darkness to light. They had rather rest in ignorance and ease than search into the corruptions of their hearts and discover such a source of guilt and wretchedness, as they carry about with them. This is one great difficulty in the way of their knowing themselves. But,
2. There is another thing, which renders it still more difficult for them to know their own hearts. It is what the scripture calls the deceitfulness of sin. All sin is selfishness and all selfishness is deceitful. For selfishness will put on ten thousand different appear
It will always change, as the circumstances of sinners change ; and dispose them to feel differently in every different situation. The desperate wickedness or selfishness of the natural heart is represented in the text, as the cause of its extreme deceitfulness; and its extreme deceitfulness is represented as the cause of
į the extreme difficulty in the way of sinners knowing
their own hearts. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked : who can know it ?” What sinner can know his own heart, which is totally corrupt, perfectly selfish and extremely deceitful ? How can he become acquainted with all its turnings and windings under all the situations and various circumstances, in which he is placed ; and amidst all the variety of objects, with which he is surrounded ? His heart will vary just as his outward circumstances and inward views vary. He will perpetually feel towards every being, every creature and every object, just as it tends to promote, or obstruct his own happiness. This is true of all sinners. They love or hate all objects just as they view them as having a favorable or unfavorable aspect, in respect to themselves. In partic
1. They love, or hate God, just as he appears friendly, or unfriendly to them. While he smiles upon them in his providence and grants them the desires of their hearts, they are well pleased with him. They rejoice that God is, that he governs the world and that he fills the earth with his goodness. They have no consciousness of the least enmity against him ; but are disposed to speak well of him and give thanks at the remembrance of his mercies. This was the disposition of the Israelites at the side of the red sea. They could joyfully join in celebrating the praises of God for their great and signal deliveranee. They sang his praise with gladness of heart. And all other sinners would have done the same under the same circumstances.--Their selfish hearts are always pleased with the favors God bestows upon them and they love him, so long as they think he loves them. And they are no less pleas. ed with spiritual than temporal favors. When they
. imagine God is disposed to forgive their sins and admit them to heaven, they will sensibly rejoice in the hope of eternal life. In a word, they will always love God, while they believe he loves them and intends to do them good. But on the other hand, whenever he appears opposed to them, their hearts are opposed to him.--Their selfish hearts dispose them to hate God himself, when he appears to stand, in the way of their happiness. This was exemplified in the Israelites, who sang his praises, but soon forgot his works. As soon as they perceived that he was an holy, sin-hating and sin-revenging God, disposed to destroy them for their unholy, selfish affections, they turned against him, murmured, com. plained and expressed their bitter opposition to him, by saying, he has brought us into the wilderness to destroy us. The selfish hearts of sinners always will dispose them to love or hate God, just as they view him friendly or unfriendly to them.
2. The hearts of sinners love or hate Christ, accordingly as he appears to be their friend or their enemy. This was verified through the whole course of his public ministry. While they viewed him as their friend and temporal deliverer, they flocked around him in multitudes wherever he went and rent the air with their hosannahs. But when he let them know his true character, his ultimate design and his real feelings, their selfish hearts immediately changed, their love turned to enmity and they zealously cried, “ Crucify, crucify him.” He knew what was in their hearts before they expressed it in words and deed ; and therefore refused to commit himself to those, who professed to believe in
him, to love and follow him. Though many followed him by land and by water and manifested peculiar love and attachment to him, yet they deserted him as soon as he exposed and condemned their selfish motives. This he did most plainly. Verily, verily I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but
, because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled.” And “ from that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him."
3. The hearts of sinners love or hate good men, just as they appear for them or against them. Job was the delight and admiration of sinners, while his heart and hand were opened in distributing numerous favors to them, which their needy circumstances required. But when he was no longer able to continue his favors to them, their love turned into neglect, contempt and reproach. Moses, at one time, was the object of universal love and veneration, but at another, the object of general disapprobation and complaint, among the selfish Israelites. At one time, sinners were ready to pluck out their eyes for Paul ; and at another, they hated him most heartily, because he told them the truth. When sinners are in distress of mind, they will fly to saints for instruction ; but when they become careless and secure, they will shun and avoid them. When they are in prosperity, they despise the prayers of saints ; but when they are sick, or in trouble and affliction, they will desire and value them. Indeed, whenever they view good men as their friends and benefactors, they love them ; but when they view them as opposed to their evil hearts and conduct, they hate them. This Christ told his disciples to expect from the world. “ If ye were of the world, the world, would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” And Solomon says, “ An unjust man is an abomination to the just; and he that is upright in the way, is abomination to the wicked.”
4. Sinners love and hate one another, just as they appear to promote or obstruct their interest. Herod and Pontius Pilate were entirely opposed to each other, as long as their interests interfered, but became friends as soon as their interests and designs coincided. Nations, who have been the most hostile to each other, will become friendly and enter into the most solemn compacts to continue so ; but they will not continue so any longer than they find it for their interest to continue their peace and amity. Careless and stupid sinners will generally unite in the neglect of their spiritual concerns; but when one and another are awakened to flee from the wrath to come and to seek eternal life, their warmest attachments are weakened, if not destroyed; and they view their former friends as enemies to them, as well as to all righteousness and studiously avoid their company and corrupting influence. For no persons appear more odious and dangerous than those, who would prevent their entering into the kingdom of God.
5. The hearts of sinners lead them to love or hate the world, in which they live, accordingly as it smiles or frowns upon them. While the seasons roll round favorably and produce plenty, peace, health and prosperity, they love the world and the things of the world; but when they are in trouble, sickness and distress, the world loses all its charms and they hate and renounce the objects, which they once loved and pursued,