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spirit within them;" and then it follows, “that they may walk in my statutes." There can be no right effects unless they proceed from a proper principle. We must be partakers of a holy nature if we would live a holy life; and without the power of godliness we shall not long retain the form.

3. No act of obedience will be acceptable to God without the heart. It is then that a value and excellency is stamped upon our duties, when we can say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man;" and without this our services will be fruitless services, our oblations vain oblations. As Christ is the one thing that we need, so the heart is the one thing that God requires. “Son,” says he, “ give me thine heart." We may pray, read, hear, and communicate ; be so watchful over our conduct, and circumspect in our actions, as to be able to say with the young man in the gospel, “ All these have I observed from my youth up:" but however early and constant our obedience may be, if the heart be wanting, all is wanting. Nothing is given, in truth, if that be kept back; so that if every moment of our life was filled up with acts of justice and benevolence toward men, and of piety and devotion towards God, yet without the religion of the heart, he might say to us, as he did to those of old, “Who hath required these things at your hand ?" An outward conformity to the divine laws will avail nothing without an inward conformity to the divine nature; and instead of meeting with God's approbation, it will expose us to his displeasure. “ This people,” says he, " draw near to me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me; therefore I will proceed to do a marvellous work; the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,” &c. God will contend with Ephraim, for Ephraim is a silly dove without heart.

II. I proceed to point out some things which must necessarily take place in the heart, in order to its keeping God's commands.

1. It must be broken for sin. There is a natural hardness

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in the heart, and habit in sin increases it. Hence we read of the heart's being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. It is necessary, then, that this hardness be removed ; or, as the Scripture expresses it, the heart of stone, the callous obdurate heart taken away, and a heart of flesh, a soft and tender heart, substituted in its room. Till this be done, the direction in my text can never be complied with; conscientious and evangelical obedience can never take place till the law be written upon the heart: and upon what heart does God write it?-certainly upon a heart prepared for that purpose, and made capable of receiving the impression, and therefore a heart of flesh. A sense of sin, and sorrow for sin, always precedes the acceptable practice of duty.

2. It must be broken off from sin. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus must make us free from the law of sin and death. Sin as a law must be obliterated before the holy and righteous law of God can be obeyed. The heart must be alienated from sin before it can be reconciled to duty. “Let the wicked forsake his way,” says the prophet, "and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and” then “let him return unto the Lord.” A course of sin and a course of obedience are as diametrically opposite to each other as light and darkness, heaven and hell. We must deny ungodliness and worldly lusts before we can live soberly,

, righteously, and godly; and abstain from all filthiness of flesh and spirit before we can perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. In a word, we must put off the old man to put on the new, and, as the Thessalonians did, turn from idols to serve the living God.

3. It must be opened to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. The same faith that opens the heart to Christ does also fit it for, and incline it to, every good work; thus we read of the obedience of faith ; and that charity which is the bond of perfection, and the fulfilment of the whole law, is said to be the fruit of faith unfeigned. The heart that is shut heart that is open to Christ will be shut against temptation. Till Christ is received into the heart there cannot be, when Christ is received into the heart there cannot but be, a conformity to God in the life; for he is there as a spring of action as well as the hope of glory. The more firmly we rely upon his atoning sacrifice, the more readily we shall submit to his kingly authority. In a word, without faith in Christ, as the grand medium of our access to, and acceptance with God, it is impossible to serve him in that manner which he requires. Hence, when the blessed Redeemer had been instructing his disciples to forgive their offending brother not only seven, but seventy times seven, which seems rather to be an act of charity than of faith, instead of saying, “Lord, increase our charity,” or love, they say, “ Lord, increase our faith;" for as the forgiveness recommended is the immediate fruit of love, so a holy sanctified love proceeds from faith; and the stronger our faith is the more fervent and disinterested will our love be.

4. It must be furnished with grace. By grace here, I do not mean faith, hope, love, or any other particular grace of the Spirit, but that internal vital principle of holiness, which is the root and foundation of all practical religion. The tree must be good before the fruit can be so.

A man must be in a state of righteousness before he can be filled with the fruits of righteousness. It is grace alone that can remove the darkness of the understanding and perverseness of the will; so that our oblations should be voluntary oblations, and our services reasonable services. There must be a holy disposition in order to a holy conversation; a renewed and sanctified heart, in order to an obedient and useful life. “ The root of the righteous beareth fruit.” The stony ground hearer, who had not this root, when persecution arose by reason of the word, fell away.

5, and lastly. In order to the heart's keeping God's commandments, at least, its growing capacity for that purpose, it must be gradually enlarged. God's commandments are exceeding broad, and therefore a narrow and contracted heart cannot keep them. Hence David, that constant and fervent suppliant at the throne of grace, says, “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Running implies swiftness, alacrity, and pleasure; and the words seem to intimate, that his motions at present were slow and languid, not such as they ought to be-not such as he wished them to be. To animate and quicken him, therefore, in his course,-to capacitate him for greater and more extensive usefulness, he begs for an enlarged heart. He had a gracious heart already, but he wanted an enlarged one; that is, either an enlargement of his understanding, as it is said of Solomon, that God gave him “wisdom, and understanding, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea-shore;" or rather, an enlargement of his affections, as the apostle says, “Oye Corinthians, our mouth is open to you, our heart is enlarged.” He wanted, and every good man does want, to have his heart dilated and expanded by the love of God, so that every action in the religious life may be more vigorous and lively, his motions more easy and natural; and that, as is said of the celestial luminary which rules the day, he may rejoice like a strong man to run his race. This seems to have been the happy experience of the prophet Habakkuk: “ The Lord God is my strength," says he ; and then it follows, " he will make my feet like hind's feet.”

From this subject we may,

1. Learn from whence it is that so many who make pretences to religion, and who would dislike to be ranked among the ungodly, yet are strangers to that kind of obedience which is recommended in my text. There is an external form, but no inward power; an outward regard is paid to the divine law, and that is all; there is a civil or moral deportment; but as for sincere cordial obedience, the very foundation of it is wanting. This is the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, which will never bring to heaven. 2. We may also learn, that true religion is not a sudden start or passion of the mind,-a violent effort that is soon exhausted, or a land-flood, that presently passeth away ; but by being habitual, it becomes abiding. It is wrought into the very frame of the soul; and as this is an immortal, so that is an immortal principle.

3. Let this internal love to, and delight in God's commands, be the object of our desire and pursuit. Herod feared John, and did many things: had he loved instead of feared, or feared God instead of John, he would have done all things.

It is said of those who were employed in building the walls of Jerusalem, that they diligently applied themselves to it, and speedily finished it; "for,” says the inspired writer, “they had a mind to work." O may the same mind be in us that was in them; for nothing will carry through the difficulties of religion but a holy delight in it! The love of God must be our motive: the joy of the Lord our strength.

Thou Parent of all good,

Preserve my soul from ill;
Do thou direct my heart and hand

To execute thy will.

My heart how weak and frail,

How sinful and unclean;
Renew it, Lord, and sow the seeds

Of holiness within.

From every earthly charm

Oh set my spirit free;
May I my time and strength devote,

My life, my all to thee.

In wisdom's pleasant ways

Help me to persevere ;
Till I shall reach the world of bliss,

And serve thee better there.

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