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_" That foul monster, War, that we meet
Unprivileged from Thee!” In the train of this fell monster, are murder, adultery, rape, violence, and cruelty of every kind. And all these abominations are not only found in Mahometan or Pagan countries, where their horrid practice may seem to be the natural result of equally horrid principles; but in those that are called Christian countries, yea, in the most knowing and civilized States and Kingdoms. And let it not be said, this is only the case in Roman Catholic countries. Nay, we that are called Reformed, are not one whit behind them in all manner of wickedness. Indeed no crime ever prevailed among the Turks or Tartars, which we here cannot parallel in every part of Christendom. Nay, no sin ever appeared in Heathen or Papal Rome, which is not found at this day, in Germany, France, Holland, England, and every other Protestant as well as Popish country. So that it might now be said, with as much truth, and as few exceptions, of every Court in Europe, as it was formerly in the Court of Saul, “ There is none righteous, no, not one: they are altogether become abominable: there is none that understandeth and seeketh after God.”
5. But, is there no exception as to the wickedness of man's heart? Yes, in those that are born of God. that is born of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” God hath purified his heart by faith, so that his wickedness is departed from him. “Old things are passed away, and all things (in him) are become new." So that his heart is no longer desperately wicked, but “ renewed in righteousness and true holiness.” Only let it be remembered, that the heart even of a believer, is not wholly purified when he is justified. Sin is then overcome: but is not rooted out: it is conquered, but not destroyed. Experience shews him, first, Thať the root of sin, self-will, pride, and idolatry, remain still in his heart. But as long as he continues to watch and pray, none of
them can prevail against him. Experience teaches him, secondly, that sin (generally pride or self-will) cleaves to his best actions. So that even with regard to these, he finds an absolute necessity for the blood of atonement.
6. But how artfully does this conceal itself, not only from others, but even from ourselves. Who can discover it in all the disguises it assumes, or trace it through all its latent mazes ? And if it be so difficult to know the heart of a good man, who can know the heart of a wicked one, which is far more deceitful? No unregenerate man, however sensible, ever so experienced, ever so wise in his generation. And yet these are they who pique themselves upon knowing the world, and imagine they see through all men ! Vain men! One may boldly say, they know nothing yet as they ought to know. Even that Politician in the late reign neither knew the heart of himself nor of other men, whose favourite saying was, “Do not tell me of your virtue or religion: I tell you, every man has his price.” Yes, Sir R-; every man like you: every one that sells himself to the devil.
7. Did that right honourable wretch, compared to whom Sir R- was a saint, know the heart of man? He that so earnestly advised his own son, “Never to speak the truth? To lie or dissemble as often as he speaks? To wear a mask continually?” That earnestly counselled him, “ Not to debauch single women, (because some inconveniences might follow,) but always married women.” Would one imagine this groveling animal ever had a wife or a married daughter of his own? O rare Lord C! Did ever man so well deserve, though he was a Peer of the Realm, to die by the side of Newgate? Or did ever book-so well deserve to be burnt by the common hangman, as his Letters ? Did Mr. David Hume, lower, if possible, than either of the former, know the heart of man? No more than a worm or a beetle does. After “ playing so idly with the darts of death;” do you now find it a laughing matter? What think you of Charon? Has he ferried you over Styx? At length he has taught you to know a little of your own
heart! At length you know it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
8. One of the ablest Champions of infidelity, (perhaps the most elegant, and the most decent writer, that ever produced a System of Religion, without being in the least, obliged to the Bible for it,) breaks out in the fulness of his heart, “ Who would not wish that there was full proof of the Christian Revelation, since it is undoubtedly the most benevolent System that ever appeared in the world !” Might ke not add a reason of another kind; because without this, man must be altogether a mystery to himself. Even with the help of Revelation, he knows exceedingly little. But without it, he would know abundantly less. And nothing with any certainty. Without the light which is given us by the Oracles of God, how could we reconcile man's greatness with his meanness? While we acknowledged with Sir John Davies, “I know my soul has power to know all things,
Yet is she blind and ignorant of all:
Yet to the least and vilest things in thrall.” 9. Who then knoweth the hearts of all men? Surely none but he that made them. Who knoweth his own heart? Who can tell the depth of its enmity against God? Who knoweth how deeply it is sunk into the nature of Satan?
III. 1. From the preceding considerations, may we not learn, first, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool." For who that is wise would trust one whom he knows to be desperately wicked ? Especially, whom he hath known by a thousand experiments, to be deceitful above all things.? What can we expect, if we still trust a known liar and deceiver, but to be deceived and cheated to the end?
2. We may hence, in the second place, infer the truth of that other reflection of Solomon, “Seest thou a man that is wise in his own eyes; there is more hope of a fool than of him." For at what distance from wisdom must that man be, who never suspected his want of it? And will not his thinking so well of himself, prevent his receiving instruc
tion from others? Will he not be apt to be displeased at admonition, and to construe reproof into reproach? Will he not therefore be less ready to receive instruction, than even one that has little natural understanding? Surely no fool is so incapable of amendment, as one that imagines himself to be wise. He that supposes himself not to need a Physician, will hardly profit by his advice.
3. May we not learn hence, thirdly, the wisdom of that caution, “ Let him who thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall :" Or, (to render the text more properly,) Let him that assuredly standeth, take heed lest he fall. How firmly soever he may stand, he has still a deceitful heart. In how many instances has, he been deceived already! And so he may again. Suppose he be not deceived now, does it follow that he never will? Does he not stand upon slippery ground? And is he not surrounded with snares into which he may
fall and rise no more? 4. Is it not wisdom, for him that is now standing, continually to cry to God,“ Search me, O Lord, and prove me; try out my reins and my heart! Look well, if there be
any way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting ?” Thou alone, O God, knowest the hearts of all the children of men; O shew me what spirit I am of, and let me not deceive my own soul. Let me not “think of myself more highly than I ought to think.” But let me always “ think soberly, according as thou hast given me the measure of faith!”
HALIFAX, April 21, 1790.
THE HEAVENLY TREASURE IN EARTHEN
2 CORINTHIANS IV. 7.
« We have this Treasure in Earthen Vessels."
1. HOW long was man a mere riddle to himself! For how many ages were the wisest of men utterly unable to reveal the mystery, to reconcile the strange inconsistencies in him, the wonderful mixture of good and evil, of greatness and littleness, of nobleness and baseness! The more deeply they considered these things, the more they were entangled. The more pains they took in order to clear up the subject, the more they were bewildered in vain, uncertain conjectures.
2. But, what all the wisdom of man was unable to do, was in due time done by the wisdom of God. When it pleased God to give an account of the origin of things, and of man in particular, all the darkness vanished away, and the clear light shone. “God said, Let us make man in our own image.” It was done. In the image of God man was made. Hence we are enabled to give a clear, satisfactory account of the greatness, the excellency, the dignity of man. But man being in honour did not continue therein, but rebelled against his sovereign Lord. Hereby he totally lost not only the favour, but likewise the image of God. VOL. XI.