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work; and souls truly embued with heavenly affections, will not fail to seek the powerful presence of the Spirit in this effort of love. It is a blessed endeavour when they, who are constituted by the Lord, “ the light of the world," labour to shed forth the supernatural rays that emanate from the divine life ; and yet more blessed when, by the attendant grace of the Holy Ghost, sinners are thus assisted in discovering their own condition, or saints cheered by stronger discernment of their regenerate state. It may be that the Lord will acknowledge the feeble attempt presented through these pages; his blessing is implored by the writer,-may he answer the appeal by speaking in this form to the enquiring solicitude of any precious souls desiring to ascertain the point to which their steps, as spiritual pilgrims, have been conducted !

As a preliminary in the course of subjects proposed for our consideration, it will be necessary, in the first place, to ascertain in what sense the scriptures make use of the phrase " The heart of man.” By comparing several passages which present this expression, we shall discover, that the Holy Spirit's evident design is to describe the source of man's desires-feelingspassions—sentiments, or actions. Thus it is said in Matt. xiii. 34. “ Out of the abundance of the heart, man speaketh : so in Prov. iv. 23. that « Out of the heart are the issues of life :” and again in Prov. xix. 21. “ In the heart of man are many devices.” In these and similar passages, the sense is quite clear; man being considered as giving forth, from this internal spring, the demonstration of his character and principles. In its original, the spring was pure and uncorrupt. The gracious Creator beheld his own work with complacent delight, pronouncing the testimony that it was very good.Consequently, desires, feelings, passions, sentiments, actions, must have been holy, and every issue from the heart in accordance with the nature of holy affections. Alas! this pure original is lost to man; and, according to the word of God, we behold the awful reverse. The creature made by him upright, has sought out many “ inventions :" he has departed from the simplicity of affiance in God; he ceases to content himself with the one only satisfying object, and must have many sources of delight, Inventions," that is, things without reality ; imaginary pleasures, and gratifications formed in the conceit of a vitiated heart. Eccl. vii. 21. Man's heart is, accordingly, from the time of its apostacy, described as giving forth a perpetual issue of evil, as it is written, “ The imaginations of the heart of man are only evil, and that continually,” Gen. vi. 5. An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil,” Luke vi. 45 : words spoken, not of one man, or of one generation of men, but of all men universally; for “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts," &c. Matt. vii. 21, 22. The

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Infinite mercy

heart” being “ deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Jer. xvii. 7.

This is an awful testimony of the native corruption of man, rendered still more affecting, and alarming to the reflective mind, by the further revelations from God, by which he has particularized some of its spiritual maladies, and exposed the hidden evil. To this revelation we are bound to give our decided attention. has afforded us the sight, and invited us by this means to consider well the misery to which we are reduced, and the absolute necessity of finding an almighty helper, if ever we would attain to that spiritual soundness -and final blessedness, belonging properly to man as created by and for God.

There is a hardness and insensibility, belonging to man's sinful heart, which is the constant subject of reproach and rebuke. He has no fear of God before his eyes, Psalm xxxvi. 1: he has no dread of transgression in his soul; the divine glory, the holy law, the final judgment, are alike contemned and disregarded ; and as a creature deliberately and voluntarily given up to impenitency, he refuses to hearken, pulls away the shoulder, stops the ear, and makes his heart harder than an adamantine stone, lest the words of the Lord should be heard or felt. Such lamentable evils are described thus in the sacred Scriptures, and not by any exaggeration of the evil. Alas! the visible course pursued by sin

his own

ners affords an incontrovertible evidence of the fact. The stony heart is manifestly thus insensible and obstinate ; and we behold the transgressor unalarmed by the terrors of the Almighty, untouched by the divine compassions of the Lord, unconscious of the disgrace and ruin awaiting him, and unmindful of the proclamation of gospel mercy. Thus man coolly determines to prosecute

way, regardless of revelation, and disdaining reproof.

By another affecting figure God has been pleased to proclaim to man his fearful loss of conformity to the divine nature, and his likeness to the fallen spirits. He is described as full of darkness. The ray of glory which illumined his soul when innocent, is now withdrawn, and spiritual light is extinguished. He loves to have it so; and is ever engaged in excluding every beam that would obtrude. He “ loves darkness rather than light, because his deeds are evil ;" delighting in the service of Satan, he seeks to shrowd himself beneath his mantle ; and would fain for ever shut out the troublesome light, which makes manifest what he would not behold. Thus, whether it shines through the word, or providence, or Christian profession; or seek to gain an entrance through the conscience, it is alike hated and resisted. John iii. 19. But this is not all : man is not only described as full of darkness, but as darkness ! The whole of his existence is, in a spiritual sense, under this dominion: he lives under the power of infatuated counsels and destructive passions, the nature and end of which he does not comprehend ; as it is written, “The way of the wicked is as darkness, they know not at what they stumble,” Prov. iv. 19 : “ because that darkness hath filled their hearts,” and their nature is entirely assimilated with that of Satan. Rom. i. 21 ; Col. i. 13.

But there is another foul accompaniment of this spiritual ruin. “ The heart is deceitful above all things ;” and whether we look to its developement in the things which relate to God, to man, or to himself, we see its wilful hypocrisy, and deep delusion. It is a traitor, confederate with Satan, and intent upon securing present ease, in present pleasure. Innumerable are its resources whereby to lull or persuade the soul into false peace. Sometimes by arguments which seek to justify evil : sometimes by vain pretences which would bribe the conscience to admit of temporary compliance with sin; and sometimes by a daring attempt to rest upon divine mercy, notwithstanding the indulgence of sin. Thus we hear and feel in ourselves, as sinners, reasonings which are subtle, imposing, and plausible, forged out of the heart's corruption, and greedily adopted as an excuse for rebellion. How many are daily engaged in uttering insincere expressions of good wishes, good intentions, future purposes, which mean nothing more than an excuse from immediate compliance with a known duty !-and how

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