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God means to try men's hearts by all the changes which he causes them to experience. God meant to try Pharaoh's heart, by inflicting and removing judgments; and it is worthy of remark that the respite he gave him between removing and inflicting judgments, had the greatest tendency to harden his heart. God meant to try Abraham, by threatening to take away his beloved son Isaac. God meant to try Job, both by changing his circumstances from prosperity to adversity, and from adversity to prosperity again. These changes in respect to these men, produced the effects designed. The changes which Pharaoh experienced, tried his heart, and proved it to be deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, because it changed with every change of circumstances. The changes which Abraham and Job experienced, tried their hearts, and proved them to be right with God, because they remained the same under entirely different circumstances. All changes try men's hearts, because they prove whether they love God because he is good, or only because he is good to them; and whether they love their fellow men because they are friends to God, or only because they are friends to them. In a word, all changes in men's circumstances, whether great or small, whether from prosperity to adversity, or from adversity to prosperity, try their hearts, and give them opportunity every day to know whether they are in a state of nature, or in a state of grace.

4. It appears from the wickedness and deceitfulness of the human heart, that it is not strange that religious apostacy has prevailed so much in the world. Apostacy from the true religion soon began after the apostacy of Adam. The first instance was in his family. Cain was an apostate from the true religion. It continued to spread and prevail from that time until the earth was filled with error and violence. After the true religion was revived by the second father of mankind, all the branches of his family soon fell into idolatry, except Abraham. Though the true religion was preserved in his family, yet some branches of it apostatized, and conformed to an idolatrous world. Notwithstanding the strong bulwarks God placed around his people in Judea, yet they were perpetually apostatizing, until ten tribes at once forsook the true God and true religion, and gave themselves up to the grossest errors and delusions. While the apostles were living, the mystery of iniquity began to work, and many individual professors of Christianity made shipwreck of their faith, and turned apostates. Soon after, whole churches apostatized, and openly professed and maintained idolatry. And ever since that day, men have been apostatizing from Christianity to Mohammedism, Ari

anism, Socinianism, Unitarianism, Deism and Skepticism. So long as the hearts of men are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, there can be no dependence upon the mere profession of the true religion. A mere change of circumstances may lead them to apostatize from the doctrines, the duties and the belief of the true religion. Any errors are more agreeable to the natural heart, than the doctrines and spirit of true religion. It is not strange that men are so easily seduced to apostatize; for all seducers are of the world, and speak of the world, and therefore the world heareth them. It is not strange that there are so many apostacies in our churches at the present day. Many of them have been composed of those who never experienced a change of heart, nor professed to experience such a change; and all such professors are prepared to apostatize when apostate teachers creep in among them. The apostle, speaking of apostates, represents them as acting according to their nature. 6 It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow, that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” The heart that is desperately and incurably 'evil will lead men to pursue evil to their own death.

5. It appears from what has been said, that those are unwise who trust in their own hearts. Solomon does not hesitate to pronounce him a fool, who trusts in his own heart. Since the hearts of men are so extremely wicked and deceitful, they must be extremely unwise to trust them; especially since they have so often been deceived by them. But though they have found their hearts to be wicked and deceitful above all things, they will still trust in their goodness. They imagine that their hearts are so good that they shall never embrace an error which they have disbelieved, and never pursue an evil practice which they have avoided and abhorred. But how many have renounced doctrines which they once believed, and embraced errors which they once disbelieved and avoided! How many have pursued pernicious practices which they once avoided and detested! You can scarcely find an errorist in this land, who did not once believe the truth, and abhor the errors he has embraced. Most of the false teachers once believed the Bible and the doctrines contained in it to be true, and the sentiments they propagate to be false. Most of those who embrace their errors, once disbelieved and rejected them. The greatest corrupters of morals were once moral, and abhorred the evil ways they are now pursuing. Such seducers and corrupters have become what they are, by trusting in their own hearts. And all who trust in their own hearts are exposed to be led astray by the current of error and corruption. But every sinner is ready to think and say as Hazael did, when the prophet foretold his folly and his fate: “ What! is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?" " But God knows the hearts of sinners better than they do themselves. He tells them that their hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. He commands them to keep their hearts with all diligence, for out of them are the issues of life. And he forbids them to deceive themselves, or to be deceived by others.

6. We learn from what has been said, that sinners are never under genuine convictions until they see the desperate wickedness and deceitfulness of their hearts. There is a very great difference between awakenings and convictions. Sinners are often awakened to see their danger, while they are entirely ignorant of the plague of their own hearts, or that incorrigible obstinacy which is incurable and desperate, and which no means nor moral motives will remove. Accordingly we find awakened sinners anxiously inquiring what they shall do in order to obtain regenerating grace. They think their hearts are already so good that they are willing to do all that is reasonable for them to do in their present situation. They are willing to read and pray, seek and strive, to enter into the strait gate, which is all they suppose God can reasonably require. And they have courage to seek and strive, because they imagine they are sincerely doing their duty, and their hearts are growing better; for they have stronger and stronger desires to be saved. But when the Spirit of God sets home the commandment upon their hearts, which requires disinterested love, and forbids all selfish views, desires and exercises, they are convinced that all their seekings and strivings, hopes and fears, have been entirely selfish and sinful; and instead of recommending them to God, have only exposed them to his greater displeasure. Then sin revives, and their hopes die. Then they see that their selfish hearts have deceived them, and that their selfishness is desperate and incurable. They despair of men and means. They realize that they are out of the reach of all secondary causes, and that they are entirely in the sovereign hand of God, who alone is able to save or destroy, and who will either save them, or leave them to perish with their eyes wide open. They are not prepared to see and feel the grace of God in renewing their hearts and breaking the cords of their iniquity, until they have such genuine convictions of the nature and criminality of their selfish hearts. But sinners under mere awakenings are in the most dangerous situation. It is then their hearts become deceitful above all things, and powerfully persuade them that they are not so guilty as others, and that God will hear their cries


for mercy, and graciously pardon and save them, because they have become better than they once were, and better than others now are. It is always owing to the deceitfulness and blindness of the heart, that sinners ever gain and cherish a false hope. Hence,

7. There is a plain reason why saints are more concerned about sinners than they are about themselves. Saints know that sinners carry about with them hearts full of selfishness and deception, which will lull them into stupidity and security, and dispose them to resist awakenings and convictions, and all means used with them to awaken and convince them.

They know that they will reform and relapse, resolve and re-resolve, and still trust in their own hearts, and endeavor by some means or other to establish their own righteousness. It was such a view of the desperate depravity and deception of the human heart, that excited the deep concern of Paul for the sinners in his day. He says: “ Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” Saints fear that sinners never will be awakened ; and if they are awakened, that they never will be convinced; and if they are convinced, that they never will be converted. They know that while they continue under the entire dominion of a heart full of selfishness and deception, they will love to deceive themselves and to be deceived, and will resist every thing that is said to them or done for them to undeceive them. Though at one time and another they may put on promising appearances occasioned by the change of circumstances, yet they know not what they may be, or what they may do in time to come. For there is no deception in respect to sentiment or practice, that they are not liable to believe and pursue. They see their feet stand on slippery places, and are fearful they will soon slide into destruction. In this light they view sober, regular sinners; and in this light they view the vain, trilling and profane. And it would be well, indeed, if christians were more concerned about sinners than they are; and they would be more concerned about them if they were more concerned about themselves. Let all search and try their hearts; for it is vain to try to conceal them. God says he knows them: “ I, the Lord, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”



THERE is a sin unto death.-1 JOEN, v 16

The apostle is here speaking upon the subject of prayer. He encourages all who believe in Christ, to call upon God with freedom and confidence. He assures them if they pray according to the will of God, either for themselves or others, their prayers shall certainly be heard and answered. But he observes that it is not their duty to pray for any who are known to have committed the sin unto death, because that is a peculiar sin which God has determined never to forgive. 5 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death." According to this representation of the sin unto death, it is evidently that sin which our Saviour said should never be forgiven, and that which is commonly called the unpardonable sin. Here it may be proper, first, to point out the peculiar properties of this sin; and then, to inquire why it is unpardonable.

Though few, perhaps, have ever committed the unpardonable sin, yet many have been greatly exercised with apprehensions

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