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any one individual, because deemed pre-eminent There is scarcely an object within the range of in wickedness. For the credit of our common human thought or feeling respecting which man nature we might wish it were possible to soften is not prone to err, and be mistaken? But down the terms in consistency with truth ; but most of all are we in danger of being deceived that may not be, for no expressions can be less in judging of ourselves. The generation that lable to misconstruction, than those which are existed in Solomon's days has never become here employed, by the great Searcher of hearts, to extinct—the generation that are pure in their describe the lamentable condition to which our own eyes, and yet are not washed from their hearts have been reduced through sin. What filthiness. We are apt to imagine that we excel that condition is we can only hope to know aright in moral beauty, and are rich in spiritual attainby divine teaching
inents, while, in God's sight, we are wretched, Men are represented in the bible, as 'deceivers, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' and being deceived,'hypocrites in regard to We approach the throne of mercy, not with the others, deluded in regard to themselves. From prayer, “God! be merciful;' but with the selfevery quarter are we exposed to the influence of gratulatory acknowledgment, “God I thank thee deception. We live in a deceitful world, where that I am not as other men;' and thinking ourwe tread on enchanted ground, and are in dan-selves to be something when we are nothing, we ger, every moment, of sinking into quicksands. deceive ourselves.' Riches are deceitful; they promise happiness, How frequently do men's hearts deceive them bat yield only anxiety. "Favour is deceitful, with regard to the nature of their religion! A fierce and beauty is vain ;' the notice of the great, persecutor will persuade himself that he is doing and the friendship of the good, are alike un- God service, when killing his people. A degraded satisfying and uncertain, and so is all honour, idolater will gave his first-born for his transgressave that which cometh from God. Yet these sion, the fruit of his body for the sin of his soul. things are but passive instruments of deception,He feedeth upon ashes ;' a deceived heart hath from which the heart takes occasion to deceive turned him aside, so that he cannot deliver his itself ; for it is in its own nature . deceitful above soul, nor say, 'Is there not a lie in my right all things.' Were it not, indeed, for the deceit-hand ?' fulness of our own weak and wicked hearts, neither How deceitful is the wicked heart as to the a deceitful world nor a deceitful tempter would fearful progress of indulged sin! Who upon
his prevail so much against us.
first entering upon a vicious course, ever duly Who knoweth the mind of a man, save the contemplated whither it would lead him ? A spirit of man which is in him ?' And yet it is prophet looked earnestly in the face of Hazael, precisely that, by which alone we can truly know and burst into tears. In fancy's eye he saw him ourselves, which may most mislead us in the mount the throne of Syria over the murdered study. The hearts of others we know not at all, body of his sovereign. Hazael shuddered at the and of our own the little knowledge we pos- thought of a crime so repugnant to his present feelsess, or can attain to, is limited, and very con- ings, and exclaimed, • What! is thy servant a dog fused. In watching the suggestions of the that he should do this great thing?' And yet mind, in analysing its feelings and motives, and he was not slow in fulfilling his predicted destiny. in reviewing its operations, we may be said to
How deceitful is the heart in blinding us to resemble him who saw men as trees walking,' our danger when we expose ourselves to the conso indistinct and erroneous are our perceptions. tagion of vice! Young persons, especially, imaYea, not only is the heart in itself deceitful, it gine they may “stand in the way of sinners,' and is full of deceivers. By him who alone knows yet be secure from sin. But • be not deceived; it , it is declared to be corrupt according to the evil communications corrupt good manners.' "Can deceitful lusts. Our every vicious principle, our
a man take fire into his bosom, and yet his every unhallowed propensity, our every depraved clothes be not burned ? Can a man go upon
hot habit, is a deceiver, and leads us into captivity coals, and yet his feet not be burned ? Did we as much by art as by violence. Sin, indeed, rightly know the weakness and treachery of generally, is represented as a deceiver; it dares our own hearts, instead of going to the full seldom appeal to the understanding, but insinu- length of what is lawful, we would hate the very ates itself into the affections, first intoxicating garments spotted by the flesh, and abstain not the soul, and then polluting it; and no wonder only from the practice, but from the bare “apthen that the deceitful heart should become so pearance of evil.' 'desperately wicked.
| How deceitful is the heart in filling us with an
overweening conceit of our own wisdom, and What is the grand characteristic of the old a presumptuous confidence in our own strength, heart, so deceitful and desperately wicked ? It whether for duty or trial, for service or suffer- is a 'stony heart. Take up a pebble, and feel ing! • He that trusteth in his own heart is a it. How cold! how hard ! how utterly destifool ;' so said the wisest of men, Solomon, and he tute of sensation and life! If you try to bend it, lived to exemplify the truth of the maxim in his it will break sooner than yield. If you strike it, own person. “Though all men,' said Peter to his it will resist, and seem almost to return the blow. Lord, “ be offended in thee, yet will I never be If you lay upon it a burden, it will be sensible of offended. I will go with thee to prison and to no weight. If you apply to it a seal, it will take death. Alas! in a few hours he denied, with no impression. You may break it, or grind it oaths and curses, that he had ever known him. to powder, still it has all the qualities of a stone,
How deceitful is the heart in concealing or a lump of insensible matter; without vital warmth, palliating the baneful effects of sin in this world, vital energy, or vital motion. and its dreadful consequences in the next! The Such-like, according to the testimony of God, sinner, in following his own heart's lusts, dreams of is the heart of every unrenewed sinner. It nothing but pleasure; he is tempted with the bait is as hard as the nether mill-stone—cold, obwhile the hook is kept out of sight. And even durate, seriseless, unsusceptible as the rocky adawhen, by a sense of sin's present bitterness, the mant. And hence when it is brought into conconscience is awakened to a sense of future danger, tact with any of the great spiritual truths of the how ingenious is the deceitful heart in devising the bible, there are no corresponding vibrations, no means of lulling it asleep into a false and fatal suitable emotions ; every thing about it betrays security. It suggests that the evil is not so very the torpor of insensibility and the chillness of great after all ; that there are many as bad, if death. not worse, than we are ; and that it will be time Now in the illustration that is here preenough to think of preparing for judgment when sented, of the vital change effected in regenerawe receive warning to die. But be not de- tion by the Holy Ghost, we may trace a striking ceived; God is not mocked; whatsoever a man | analogy between man's animal and mental econsoweth, that shall he also reap.'
omy. That organ in the human frame which Well might the prophet ask, “who can know we call the heart, our Maker has constructed of it?' Even a heathen has told us that · know a soft, elastic, fleshy substance, and it is necesthyself' came down from heaven. None can sary it should be so formed, in order that it fathom the heart's depths, or explore its windings, may carry on with regularity its important but the omniscient God, whose pure but mysteri- functions. Were it to lose any part of its flexious workmanship it originally was. •I, Jehovah, ble fleshy texture, the circulation of the blood search the heart, I try the reins.'
would be greatly impeded, if not altogether • Search me, O God, and know my heart; try stopped; and, as is well-known, this what me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be really happens in the fatal disease called the any
wicked way in me; and lead me in the way ossification of the heart. That disorder consists everlasting.'
in some parts of the heart becoming indurated or changed into a hard, bony substance, and by that means an impediment is given to its free
motions, and the energy of its action is gradTHIRTY-First Day.—EVENING.
ually diminished, until it wholly cease to beat. • A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit trated by his works.
See, then, how well the word of God is illus
As a hard and stony heart will I put within you ; and I will take away, could not possibly carry on the process of circulathe stony heart out of your flesh, and I will tion, so when He, whở makes all things new, engive you an heart of flesh, Ezekiel xxxvi. 26.
gages to renovate the old man, we perceive with How aptly and beautifully do God's promises what beautiful propriety he promises to take and man's prayers illustrate and respond to each away the ossified and useless organ,
and to substiother! He gives the command ; 'Make you a tute the heart of flesh-soft, muscular, pliable, new heart!' The command excites the prayer, regular in its movements, and thus capable of • Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew circulating through the new and spiritual man, a right spirit within me. The prayer draws' all the holy truths of his word, and all the forth the promise ; “A new heart will I give blessed influences of his grace. you, and a new spirit will I put within you.' Mark the Author of the change. It is none
other than God himself, He expressly and ing his estimate, both of men and things, viewing emphatically claims the work as his own. True them no longer in the deceitful twilight of religion, both in theory and practice, is of divine time, but in the manifesting light of eternity. original. It never would have had an existence He obtains, also, a new will, causing him to dein the world without the revelation of God, and light in the law of the Lord after the inward it never will have had an existence in our souls, man; and along with this new spirit he receives a unless by God's 'working in us mightily.' new heart, which implies the renovation of all the
Observe the completeness of the change. In feelings and affections of the soul, leading him to this disease of the heart all palliatives are inade- hate sin because of its turpitude, and to love quate ; the cure, to be effectual, must be radical. holiness because of its beauty, and to desire heaTo think of modifying and reforming a heart of ven because there the people are all righteous. stone were vain and hopeless. The induration Now as the characteristic of the old heart is, which has produced the callousness that is de- that it is a heart of stone, so the characteristic of scribed as being past feeling,' must be made to the new heart is, that it is a heart of flesh. No disappear; the ossified organ must be taken away, longer insensible to divine things, it is a soft and and a fleshy heart restored. Such, accordingly, feeling heart. Is it brought into contact with is the remedy here promised and provided. A the word of God? The tender heart, like that of new heart, a new spirit—that is what is be- good king Josiah, is humbled on hearing God's stowed on all who are born again. Designed words. Is it brought into contact with sin? The as they are for new work and a new world, heart that is waxed gross feels little; the conscience they must obtain a new nature. If any man be that is seared as with a hot iron feels nothing ; in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are but the tender conscience, like the apple of the passed away, behold all things are become new. eye, is offended with a mote. Is it brought unThe Testament Christ hath left us is a New Tes- der the influence of affliction? The same fire tament. We have in it a new and living way of which hardens the clay will melt the wax. My access to God; a new name, a new priesthood, a flesh trembleth because of thee, and I am afraid new commandment, a new promise ; new sacra- of thy judgments.' Is it led to view the sins of ments, a new sabbath, a new song. And we others? “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, look for a New Jerusalem, in the new heavens because men keep not thy law. Is it led to view and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. the miseries of others? It feels for them, and Now in order that we, ourselves, may be made with them, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and conformable to all these new and glorious arrange-weeping with those who weep. And the tender ments, we too must be made new. Hence the sympathising heart will always be accompanied command ; · Be transformed by the renewing of with the tongue of kindness and the band of your minds. Put off the old man, and put on bounty. the new; serve in newness of spirit, walk in Let us beware of mistaking the real nature of newness of life.' And hence the promise; “A this spiritual transformation. It is not a change new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will of creed, but of character; not new manners, but I put within you.'
a new mind. It is not to be confounded with Not, however, that in this promise of a new warm sensibilities, or temporary emotions. Phaspirit, there is any thing intended like a destruc- roah, Saul, Ahab, Judas, obtained another' tion of the soul's identity. The change spoken heart, but it was not a new heart. The new of is not a natural, but an intellectual and moral | heart is one that can feel after God, and find renovation. The faculties remain substantially him, and is sensibly alive to the 'powers of the same, but a new and spiritual influence is the world to come. It is the subject of new impressed upon them, a new and heavenly principles, motives, and aims; it glows with holy bias is given to them, and new, even divine love, it beats with holy ardour, it prompts to holy strength, is imparted, for their right direction, and obedience. their proper employment. The renewed spirit Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man has new perceptions, by which he sees himself as be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of a sinner, ruined indeed, yet redeemed, and dis- God.' Reader, how is it with you? Are you covers, in the gospel, the light of the divine glory renewed in the spirit of your mind? Are you in the face of Jesus Christ. He has a new un- grieved at the hardness of your heart? Here is derstanding, enabling him to discern spiritual a promise, full without limitation, and free withthings in a spiritual manner. Hence he recog- out exception. One thing only is requisite, but nises and adopts a new rule of judgment in form- that one thing is indispensable ; it is that you
plead the promise in prayer. For it is in refer- saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be ence to this very assurance that the declaration inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for is made at the close of the chapter ; "Thus them.'
prospects which he unfolded, he dispelled the FIRST DAY.-MORNING.
darkness of heathenism, and the gloom of Juda• But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that the shadow of death, he caused light to arise.
ism, and upon them who dwelt in the region of are lost; in whom the god of this world hath
What a contrast to this Declarer and Revealer blinded the minds of them which believe not, of Deity, God manifest in flesh, the Light of lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, the world, is presented in the 'god of this world, who is the image of God, should shine unto the prince of darkness. He it was who led astray them,' 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.
our race at the first; and the whole world is still An object, though within the ordinary sphere of said to "lie in the wicked one.' He is the evil vision, may be rendered invisible to us in various spirit that even now worketh in the children of ways; as by the want of light to make it mani- disobedience, who'walk according to the course of fest, by the loss of eyesight to perceive it, or by this world, according to the prince of the power the intervention of other objects which conceal of the air.' As he leads them captive at his will, from the view. The glorious orb of day, how- and holds them as his bond-slaves, they may be ever conspicuous and splendid in itself, shines said to serve him as their lord; and hence not unto' the man who is blind, or who is im- he is called the prince of this world, the god of mured in a dungeon, where its cheering beams this world. Not that he is the world's rightful never enter.
And in like manner the object here governor-far from it; but how then does he rementioned by the apostle, though it not only stands tain his usurped and despotic authority? It is revealed in clearest brightness, but is itself the by blinding the minds of the unbelieving world, light which maketh manifest, yet by multitudes so that, (such is the emphatic import of the oriremains unperceived, for unto them it shineth ginal) “the illumination of the gospel of the not-from them it is hid.
glory of Christ may not beam upon them. Well What is the object in question? It is the does he know, that one single ray of light from light of the glorious gospel of Christ who is the heaven, one glimpse of the divine glory in the image of God.' The sun in the firmament ap- face of Jesus Christ, would break the charm, and pears an impressive emblem of the divinity-an shiver his yoke in pieces. He knows that if image of the resplendent lustre, the inexhaustible God is once pleased to reveal his Son' in a sinenergy, the all-pervading penetration, the ever- ner, that sinner will not continue submissive to present influence, the rich bounty, the unchange-satan's government a moment longer. And, able perpetuity of the “Father of lights,' the therefore, he has recourse to wiles and snares, Dispenser of all good. And in the absence of devices and depths, by means of which he makes revelation, we need scarcely wonder that this them account that their most perfect freedom illustrious display of the Deity should be adored as which is in reality the most inglorious vassalage, God. Yet here is one who looketh forth as the the severest bondage. morning, clear as the sun, fair as the moon, yea, The apostle had been describing the vail that altogether lovely, of whom it is said, 'Let all the is on the heart of an unbelieving Jew; but he angels of God worship him !' He is the image now intimates that besides the natural vail that of the invisible God, the brightness of his glory, is spread over all nations, Gentiles as well as and the express image of his person ; the Sun of Jews, satan employs other expedients to obscure righteousness, the light and life of men. In be- their views of gospel truth, and bar the entrance holding his gospel, the people who sat in dark- of gospel light into their minds. Of these the ness saw a great light. By the doctrines he most common and the most fatally successful, are preached, the precepts he inculcated, the exam- the things of this present world, which are fitly ple he exhibited, the death which he died, and the represented as a thick vail, woven by this world's god, and hung by him over the mind's eye of his to be lost and perish. The benighted traveller votaries. There is the vail of deceitful riches, is lost and perishes in the wintry storm. The the power of which is so great, that a rich man wanderers through the sandy and trackless plains can hardly see the attractive glories of the king- of the east, are lost in the depths of the intermindom of heaven, so as to seek to enter therein. able wilderness, and being disappointed of the No less dangerous is the love of money to a poor expected well, lie down to die. The mariner man, whether it be money desired, or money to becomes a castaway and is lost, who approaches, the smallest amount possessed; a coin of the in the dark, a shore unknown, without a friendly basest metal placed upon the eye as effectually beacon to guide his course. Yet all these are but closes up its vision as a piece of silver or gold. faint and feeble representations of the dreadful Then there is the vail of worldly pleasure, the fate of the man who is lost, because the gospel is lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye,' the in- hid from him through the blindness of his mind. dulgence of which so brutities the soul in the Departing from the source of life, what can his world of sense, as to annihilate its perception of doom be but death? Shutting out the glorious the world of spirit. There is the vail of worldly light of heaven, what can be expected of him but honour, fame, and power, the ambitious “pride of that he be cast into outer darkness, and be there life,' which dazzles so as to blind, saying, "all this left to wander on, and be lost in the blackness of glory will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and darkness for ever? worship me.' And there is, too, what operates with Sinner! does the light of the glorious gospel scarcely less influence, the vail of worldly cares, shine to you ? Have the scales been made to corroding anxieties, and bitter disappointments, drop from your eyes, and the vail from your 'the sorrow of the world,' which worketh death,' heart? Has your spiritual vision been purged of and instead of opening up the mind to the light every film? Has He who, in creation, commanded and hopes of the glorious gospel, seals it up in the light to shine out of darkness, shined into the black darkness of despair.
your heart, to give you the light of the know. Nor are these the only methods the god of this ledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ; and world employs to hide the gospel from the wise in his light do you, in some measure, see light and prudent' who own his sway. There are clearly? Then be thankful for the privilege, and spiritual wickednesses, as well as 'fleshly lusts.' anxious to improve it. Let your light so shine One man he puffs up with a conceit that he knows before men, that they, seeing your good works, enough already, and may therefore neglect, with may glorify your heavenly Father. Beware lest, safety, all means of obtaining farther information. though once enlightened, satan again obtain the Another he stimulates to the gratification of his advantage over you, so as to blind your mind, and corrupt affections and depraved propensities, harden your heart. Pray habitually for the inwhether of flesh or spirit, that he may neither creasing illumination of the Holy Ghost, that by have leisure to study, nor inclination to under- more enlarged and heart-affecting discoveries of stand the great truths of the bible. Another he the grace and glory of Christ, who is the image fills with prejudice against the gospel of free of God, you too may be changed into the same grace, as not only erroneous in itself, but dero- image, from glory to glory, even as by the gatory to the dignity of human nature, and hostile Spirit of the Lord; and so shall your path be to the interests of morality ; while God's minis- that of the just, which as the shining light, ters are branded as hypocrites or madmen, and shineth more and more unto the perfect day. God's people as fanatics and fools. At one time satan will represent the Almighty as too merciful to punish, and at another time as too just to pardon; and thus he either lulls the soul into a false
FIRST DAY.-EVENING. security, or unhinges it by an enervating and cheerless despondency, which, though seen in
· Who hath delivered us from the power of darkdifferent persons, are both equally characteristic of
ness, and hath translated us into the kingdom them who believe not.
of his dear Son,' Col. i. 13. And what is the awful result of this spiritual Two dominions are here spoken of, and placed in blindness ? When the gospel is hid from a man, contrast—the kingdom of darkness, and the kinghe is lost. How can it be otherwise-seeing it dom of light. Every man in this world is the is the only gospel of salvation, and reveals the subject of one or other of these kingdoms; there only name given under heaven among men where is no middle state between them; he that is not by they can be saved? And it is no light thing with me,' says the Son of God, “is against me.