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sented, it feels complacence. If a proper object of gratitude be presented, it feels gratitude. If a vile and odious object be presented, it feels a proper displeasure, hatred, or aversion. These inward motions or exercises of the good heart, which are excited by the mere perception of objects, and which do not produce any external actions, are properly called affections, in distinction from all other emotions and exercises of the heart, which influence to action. And these immanent affections of the good heart are extremely numerous, because they are perpetually arising in the mind, whether the person be sitting, or walking, or speaking, or reading, or merely thinking. The good heart is often as deeply and sensibly affected by invisible, as by visible objects. Some of the purest and best affections of the good heart are put forth in the view of the character, perfections and designs of the Deity, and while the mind is intensely employed in contemplating things past, present, and to
Such holy and virtuous affections compose the largest portion of the good treasure of the good heart.
2. The good heart contains good desires. These naturally flow from true benevolence, in the view of any absent and distant good. The man of a good heart extends his good desires as far as his knowledge extends. He desires that God may be glorified, and that his creatures may be happy. He desires to do good to himself, and where his ability or opportunity of doing good fails, he desires that God would enable and dispose others to do good. Whenever he sees any attainable good, he sincerely desires that it may be obtained. Were his views as extensive as the views of the Deity, his benevolent desires would be equally extensive. But though his desires are bounded by the scantiness of his knowledge, yet they are very numerous and perfectly virtuous, and comprise a good share of the good treasure of his heart.
3. The good heart contains good intentions. It not only desires good to be done, but actually intends to do good. David had a good intention, when it was in his heart to build a house for the honor and worship of God. The desires of doing good, are different from the intentions of doing good. Good men may desire to do many things which they do not intend to do; and they may intend to do many things which they never do.
Some carry their intentions of doing good much farther forward than others. They intend to do many things for the benefit of individuals and the public, in days, and months, and years to come.
But very often they never find an opportunity, or a disposition, to carry all their good intentions into execution. Paul tells us, that he failed of fulfilling his good intentions. “ To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is
good, I find not.” It is true, however that the failure of good · men in fulfilling their good intentions, only proves their great imperfection or inconstancy in goodness. For their good intentions, whether they act agreeably to them or not, are good in their own nature, and belong to the good treasure of their hearts.
4. The good heart contains good volitions. These are imperative acts of the will, and have immediate influence upon external conduct. Neither good affections, nor good desires, nor good intentions, are inseparably connected with bodily exertions. But volitions are the next, immediate, and efficient cause of external action. When we put forth any bodily effort, we are conscious of a will or volition to move or speak. “ Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” A good heart will naturally produce good volitions, which are the immediate natural cause of good actions. It is in this sense, that “ a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeih forth good things.” Good volitions always go before good actions, because these derive all their moral quality from the volitions, from which they originate. If a man's hand or body moves without his own volition, that motion is not his action, and has no moral quality attached to it. All actions are voluntary motions, and take their moral quality from the nature of the volitions, which gave them existence. Holy and virtuous volitions render all the actions proceeding from them truly holy and virtuous. Such volitions, therefore, are to be numbered among the other good treasures of the heart. And lest it should be deemed an omission, I will add,
5. That the good heart contains good passions. These are, however, precisely the same as good affections, only raised to a higher degree. When any good affections rise to such a degree as to excite great sensibility of body or mind, they are then commonly denominated passions. Holy love may rise to admiration, hope, fear, joy, sorrow, grief, pity, compassion, indignation, anger, wrath, and even vengeance. Though God never admires, nor hopes, nor fears, yet he exercises joy, sorrow, grief, pity, compassion, indignation, wrath, anges, and holy vengeance. And all, or nearly all these holy passions Christ felt and expressed while he tabernacled in the flesh. He rejoiced, he grieved, he wept, and from time to time manifested pity, compassion, indignation, wrath and anger. Holy passions flow from holy affections; or in other words, holy affections, under certain circumstances, will naturally rise to holy passions.
I have now enumerated all the parts or parcels of the good heart. But you will observe, that I have not mentioned appe
tites as belonging to the good treasure. The reason is, they do not flow from the heart, nor stand connected with any class of moral exercises. There is nothing morally good or evil in hunger, thirst, or any natural taste. This does not depend upon a good or bad heart, but upon the constitution and state of the body. But good affections, good desires, good intentions, good volitions, and good passions, are all of a moral and virtuous nature, and belong to the good treasure of the heart.
II. Let us inquire what is to be understood by the evil treasure of the evil heart. If the good treasure of the good heart has been properly described, it will be easy to discover what is the evil treasure of the evil heart. It must be something directly opposite to the good treasure. As the good treasure consists in benevolence, so the evil treasure must consist in selfishness. And this selfishness naturally branches out into evil affections, evil desires, evil intentions, evil volitions, and evil passions. There is no moral evil but what may be found in one or other of these moral exercises, which contain all the treasures of wickedness in any wicked heart. The good heart and evil heart are both made up of exercises; but their exercises, whether affections, desires, intentions, volitions, or passions, are diametrically opposite in their moral quality. The good treasure of the good heart consists in the various modifications of benevolence, but the evil treasure of the evil heart consists in the various modifications of selfishness.
It only remains to show,
III. That men are either good or evil, according to the good or evil treasure of the heart. This truth lies upon the very face of the text. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” The good treasure of the heart, which consists in good exercises, constitutes a good man; and the evil treasure of the heart, which consists in evil exercises, constitutes an evil man. The truth of this important
: point will clearly appear from various considerations.
1. Every man forms his opinion of himself, by the exercises of his heart. If a man be conscious of having good affections, good desires, good intentions, and good volitions and passions, he naturally forms a good opinion of himself, and believes that all the world would form the same opinion of him, if they could look into his heart, and see what passes there. But if
, on the other hand, a man be conscious of having evil affections, desires, designs and passions, he is constrained to condemn himself, and to believe that every body would condemn him, if they could only discover the real exercises of his heart. Men may, indeed, judge amiss, respecting the good or bad treasure
of their hearts, but still they are constrained to form their opinion of themselves, by this, and by no other criterion. They cannot believe themselves to be good, while they are conscious that their hearts are bad; nor can they believe themselves to be bad, while they are conscious that their hearts are good. No person presumes to judge of his own moral character, by his abilities, or by his professions, or by his external conduct; but by the exercises of his heart. This must be a convincing evidence to every individual, that it is the heart alone, which forms and stamps every moral character.
2. It is the dictate of common sense, that nothing can properly denominate men either morally good or morally evil, but that in which they are really active. They may be constrained to see, and hear, and feel, and taste, and even to remember and judge; and, in all such cases, they are neither active, nor accountable. But they are never compelled to love or hate, to choose or refuse, to rejoice or mourn, to hope or fear, to forgive or revenge. In all their affections, desires, intentions, volitions and passions, they are altogether active, and justly deserve either praise or blame. As all their agency lies in their hearts, so their hearts alone render them morally good or morally evil. This is agreeable to the common sense of mankind in all cases in which they have an opportunity to judge. Let a man be accused for any of his conduct; if he can only make it appear that he acted from a good intention, he will be justified and approved. Or let a man be commended for any of his conduct, if afterwards it appears that he acted from a bad intention or design, he will be universally condemned rather than applauded. All mankind judge alike upon this subject, and either praise or blame each other for the goodness or badness of their hearts, in which their moral agency entirely consists.
3. The whole current of scripture confirms the point under consideration. Solomon
“ As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” That is, his heart forms his moral character, and constitutes him a good or bad man. And our Saviour himself says, “ The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness." By a single eye he means a good heart, and by an evil eye an evil heart. In a word, he means to assert, in the strongest and most striking language, that a good heart makes a good man, and a bad heart makes a bad man. This truth is too plain to need any farther illustration or proof. It is not only agreeable to scripture and common sense, but it is founded in the very nature of things. Even the Deity cannot constitute any other standard of moral character, than that of the good and bad VOL. V.
treasure of the heart. The man of a holy heart must necessarily be a holy man, and the man of an unholy heart must necessarily be an unholy man. This is the only essential distinction that can exist between a saint and a sinner.
Now the subject which we have been considering, may serve to throw light upon some important points, which need to be better understood than they commonly are.
1. What has been said may serve to give us a clear and just idea of the heart. Some suppose that the heart is something distinct, not only from perception, reason and conscience, but also from all moral exercises. When they undertake to define the heart, which is very seldom, they sometimes call it a faculty, sometimes a principle, and more frequently a taste; but whether they call it by one or other of these names, they agree in maintaining that it is something wholly distinct from all moral exercises, and the source from which they all proceed. But it appears from what has been said in this discourse, that the heart is so far from being a moral faculty, principle, or taste, and the foundation of moral exercises, that it wholly consists of moral affections, desires, intentions, volitions and passions. These are the good and evil treasure, which compose the good and evil heart, and produce every good and evil action. This is representing the heart in the same light in which our Saviour represents it in the text. He represents the heart as the immediate source of external actions. But if the heart be a faculty, principle, or taste, prior to, and distinct from all affections, desires, volitions and passions, then it cannot be the next immediate cause or source of external actions. These immediately proceed from moral exercises, and not from a dormant, inactive principle, taste, or faculty. The scripture gives us no account of any heart but what consists in the various exercises or modifications of benevolence, or selfishness. Nor is any other heart either necessary, or even conceivable. No other heart is necessary in order to men's doing good or evil
. Perception, reason and conscience, are all the natural faculties necessary to constitute a moral agent. These form a capacity for loving and hating, choosing and refusing, acting and neglecting to act. There is no occasion for a distinct faculty of will, as has been generally supposed, in order to put forth external actions, or internal exercises. Though the natural
, faculties of perception, reason and conscience are necessary to form a capacity, and to lay men under moral obligation to exercise right affections, desires, intentions, volitions and passions ; yet these moral exercises do not spring from, or grow out of, any or all of those natural faculties. It is God who worketh in men both to will and to do. Moral exercises flow from a divine