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Good parents concerned for their childrens fouls.
I CHRONICLES XXIX. 19.
Give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart.
HIS was the prayer of a godly parent for his fon. It is part of the last prayer of King David; or however the laft publick prayer which he made, that is recorded in fcripture, and this petition comes in at the very close of that prayer; fo that it was probably one of the laft petitions which David put up to heaven before his remove thither. One would expect that a prayer thus circumftanc'd, that is, the laft dying prayer of fo great a man, and fo great a Saint as David was, fhould be fomething more than ordinarily folemn, and that the bleffing which he prays for fhould be fomething of the greateft importance: and fuch, it feems, David thought was the bleffing which he prays for in our text, viz. that Solomon his fon might have a perfect heart. For this was a thing of great importance to David's B
own comfort in dying; it would enable him to leave his throne and the world with the greater fatisfaction, if he had reafon to hope that his fon, and fucceffor in the kingdom would prove a good man: it was a thing of great and general importance to the whole nation, that their young King fhould tread in his good father's fteps: and it was of infinite importance to Solomon himself, in order to his being bleffed of God, both here and hereafter, that he should have a perfect heart. Here David prays like a good King, and a good Father as a King for his fucceffor, and as a father for his fon. In the latter of thefe two views of this prayer, I would recommend it as a pattern for parents to copy after; tis a prayer which you should pray for your children, Lord give them perfect hearts. In this prayer, as it ftands in our text, three things are, to be confidered.
Firft, The bleffing itself which is defired, and that is a perfect heart.
Secondly, Of whom this bleffing is defired and asked, viz. of God.
Thirdly, By whom, and for whom this prayer
is made, viz. by David for his fon Solomon. First, The bleffing which is here defired is a perfect beart. It will be neceffary for me to explain, in a few words, what that fignifies. Now the heart, in fèripture language, commonly means quite another thing than what Anatomifts mean by the fame word: it
fignifies not any part of the body, but the foul; fometimes more particularly the affections and paffions, but more commonly the heart means the whole foul, with all its faculties and powers, such as understanding, will, and affections. Men are faid to believe with the heart; and we read of an understanding beart, as well as of loving with the heart; and the gracious difpofition of the whole foul, as it is renewed by divine grace, is called, by the Apoftle, the hidden man of the heart. The heart then is the foul, which is the chief feat either of grace and religion, or of fin and wickednefs. We muft further inquire alfo, what is meant by a perfect heart and certainly this is not to be taken in the most strict and abfolute fenfe, for fuch a perfect heart as Adam had before his fall, or as the man Chrift Jefus had, in neither of whom there was any imperfection or fin; for, alas! fuch a perfect heart is now no where to be found, nor ever to be expected in any of Adam's pofterity, on this fide heaven. We must therefore neceffarily understand this phrafe in our text in a lower and qualify'd fenfe: for it is not to be fuppofed that David pray'd without a profpect; tho' the thing was to be fure extremely defirable, and what David would have moft heartily wish'd, that his fon Solomon's heart might be as perfect as Adam's ever was; yet David well knew that this would be but a vain with: and fure he would not folemnly
lemnly pray for that for his fon, which he knew was never granted to any fon of Adam. But there is another and lower fenfe of this word perfect, according to which good men tare often in fcripture called perfect men, and a gracious heart may be called a perfect heart. Thus Noah and Job are faid to be perfect men, Gen. ix. 6. Fobi. 1. tho' neither of them were finless men; they both had their spots, and frailties, and imperfections. We read of Noah's being drunk once, a plain fign that he was not perfect; and Job freely acknowHedges for his part, that he was far fhort of finless perfection, Job ix. 20. If I juftifte myfelf, mine own mouth fhall condemn me: if I fay, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. A perfect heart therefore commonly means a gracious heart: a heart that is renew'd, and fanctify'd, and fet right towards God and heaven. Such a heart may be called perfect, and not improperly, for
1.) There is a perfection of parts, which may be truly afcribed to every gracious heart. In much the fame fenfe that a new born child may be called a perfect man, every gracious heart may be called a perfect heart: for it is perfect as to parts, tho not in degree. As a little infant has all the limbs and members of a perfect man, fo every regenerate foul has all the graces of a perfect faint: there is every feature and lineament of the divine image, tho' as yet they are but faintly drawn, in
comparison with what they fhall be. Thus far a gracious heart is a perfect heart.
2.) The true meaning of perfect, as applied in fcripture to finful men, feems to be fin-*: cere or upright. As he who hates fin, and · ftrives against it, is faid not to commit fin, 1.John iii. 9. fo he that does really and truly defire and endeavour to do all his duty, is faid to be perfect. Thus Nathaniel is characterized by Christ who knew his heart and life, An Ifraelite indeed in whom there is no guile, John i. 17. not that Nathaniel lived without fin, but there was no prevailing, no allowed guile in his heart he was a downright honeft good man, without any arts of hypocrify or deceit. Such a one was Nathaniel, and fuch a one David defir'd that his fon Solomon might prove; that he might have a perfect heart. Upon the whole then, a gracious heart is the perfect heart which our text fpeaks of. And that any heart of man may be fo, it must have the following properties, which I will just name to you. As
1.] A perfect heart must be a new heart, fo it is call'd, Ezek. xviii. 31. that is, a renewed heart, new formed and difpofed by the Spirit of God in the great work of regeneration. No man is born with a perfect heart, but quite otherwife: every man's heart is now by nature miferably depraved and polluted. The good and perfect heart must therefore be a renewed heart.