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as destructive to their present and future peace. Their love and hatred of the world, is always correspondent to their hopes or fears from it. If it smiles upon them while they are stupid, they love it ; but if it frowns upon them, while they are awakened, they hate it. If it smiles upon them, while they are young, they are charmed with it; but if it frowns upon them when they are old, they are sick of it and hate it. Their love or hatred of the world always vary as their inward views and the different stages and circumstances of life vary
6. They love and hate their own hearts, as they appear to promise good or threaten evil to them. While their hearts afford them pleasure, they are pleased with them. They love their stupidity, impenitence and unbelief. They have their pride, self-sufficiency, independence and every selfish affection. But when these selfish exercises plunge them in disappointment, trouble and adversity and threaten them with future and eternal ruin, then they hate their hearts, wish to restrain them and would give all the world to get rid of them. Their hearts are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Their hearts, in which they once trusted as very good, appear to be what God told them they were, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked and destructive of all peace and hope.
7. Their hearts lead them to love or hate the means of grace, accordingly as they appear to do them good or hurt. The bible, the sabbath, the preaching of the gospel, are disagreeable to them, while they are in pursuit of worldly happiness. They despise, neglect, and resist these means of grace in the days of inward peace and outward prosperity ; but when they turn their attention to their eternal interests and soberly seek the salvation of their souls, all the means of grace appear extremely precious. They highly value the bible, the sabbath and the preaching of the gospel. They can find time to read the bible, they can find ways to get to the house of God and they can listen to the voice of divine truth ; and after they have heard it, they find time to meditate and call upon God for mer. cy. The same selfish hearts, which led them to neglect, will lead them to improve every means and advantage they enjoy, to promote their spiritual and eternal good.
8. They love or hate convictions accordingly as they appear to have a favorable, or unfavorable aspect upon their future happiness. As long as they think they can be happy without them, they hate them and do all they can to quench the Spirit and restrain the painful reflections of their awakened consciences... But when they are persuaded that they are necessary to promote their conversion and salvation, they ardently seek to cherish and increase them. They are afraid of saying, or doing, or neglecting any thing, which has a tendency to lessen or destroy their convictions, or drive them back into their former state of stupidity. Though they hate to realize their guilt and danger, yet they had rather suffer these painful feelings, than to be left to pine away in their sins for
9. They love or hate heaven according to the views they have of it. When they view it as a place of perfect and perpetual happiness, they love it and desire to take up their everlasting residence in it. But when
they view it as a place of pure and perfect holiness, they hate it and rather run the risk of everlasting separation from it, than to enter into the presence of a holy God and into the society of perfectly holy beings. And when they view it as the happy residence of those, who are elected to eternal life, their hearts rise in sensible enmity to God and to his chosen people.
Thus it appears, that the hearts of sinners perpetually change, as the circumstances, relations and connection of things change, without any regard to their natures. They love the same beings and the same objects at one time, and hate them at another ; and they love the same things in them at one time, and hate theni at another. They may one day, or one hour, love what saints love ; and the next day, or the next hour, hate what saints continue to love. They never know how they shall feel in respect to any object, in any future time. Their hearts can put on the appearance of all holy affections at one time ; and at another time put on the appearance af all unholy and selfish affections. As their hearts appear better at one time, than at another ; so they are very apt to think that they are better than they are. For though their affections vary so often, yet they never alter their nature ; though they are always selfish, yet they often appear disinterested ; and though they are always enmity to God, yet they appear very often to be friendly to God and to all other beings. This mutability of their hearts renders them deceitful above all things. And this deceitfulness of their hearts is that, which renders it so extremely difficult for them to know, that they are totally and desperately wicked.
IMPROVEMENT. 1. We learn from what has been said, that there is
, but one way for men to know their own hearts. They cannot know them from the mere consciousness of har. ing free, voluntary exercises. All men good and bad are conscious of what passes in their own minds.When they love or hate, choose or refuse, they are conscious of having these exercises of heart, whether they are or are not conscious of the moral nature of them. Nor can they know whether their moral exercises are right or wrong, good or evil, merely from knowing that they have all the various species of affections, which are common to mankind in general : such as love and hatred, joy and sorrow, hope and fear, submission, patience and confidence. All men exercise love and hatred, joy and sorrow, hope and fear, submission, patience and confidence, at certain times and under certain circumstances. This variety of affections forms no essential distinction between saints and sinners, and therefore affords no criterion, by which men may determine whether their hearts are good or evil. Nor can they determine this point by merely having the same species of religious affections, which are common to good and bad men. Sinners may love God, or love Christ, or love heaven, as well as love any other objects; and they may exercise every species of religious affections, that saints exercise. Sinners may counterfeit every religious exercise. How is it possible, then, you will ask, for men to know whether their religious exercises are true or false? There is one way and but one, to determine this great point ; and that is, to inquire why they love or hate, rejoice or mourn, hope or fear, or why they exercise submission, patience, and confidence
If you love God, inquire why you love him. If you love Christ, inquire why you love him. If you love heaven, inquire why you love that glorious place. If you exercise submission, inquire why you exercise it. If you exercise patience, inquire why you exercise it. If you exercise confidence, inquire why you exercise it. If
you love God for what he is in himself, or on account of his intrinsic and supreme excellence ; you have true love to him, which is essentially different from the love that sinners ever exercise towards God. For they love him only for his love to themselves. If you love Christ for the supreme excellence of his divine nature and holy conduct, you have true love to him, which is essentially different from the mercenary love of sinners. If
you love heaven, because it is a holy as well as happy place, your love is hely, and essentially different from the selfish love of sinners in desiring heaven only as a place of happiness. If you exercise submission to God, because you choose that he should dispose of you for his own glory, through every period of your existence, you exercise true submission, which is essentially different from the submission of sinners, in case they know or believe that he will certainly save them. If you exercise patience, because you are willing that God should afflict you as long as he sees best to afflict
you, you exercise true patience, which is essentially different from the patience, which arises from mere necessity, which is all the patience that sinners ever exercise. If you trust in God, because you choose to trust in him, rather than trust in yourselves, or in any of your fellow creatures, you place a confidence in him, which sinners durst not to do. Thus all men may know their own hearts, notwithstanding their extreme mutability