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sin, the practice of sin : it is the being brought to holiness, and to God. This you have never sought. Therefore I said you know not what salvation is. May the thought awaken you.
But lastly, there is consolation to be gathered from our subject; consolation for all true children of God. Wherein does it lie?
Christian, let me ask you, why do you prize the Gospel ? Is it not for this, that it brings you sanctification? Had the salvation of the Gospel been no more than freedom from guilt, damnation, and death ; had it left you in sin to serve Satan, and to be a worker of iniquity; what would you esteem it? No salvation at all!
You long for holiness. You pant after it. 0, to be perfect ! Well, you shall be so. This is Christ's design. His salvation has for its end just the thing which you desire. It is holiness. For this He loved you; for this He redeemed you ; for this He now cleanses and sanctifies you ; to make you glorious in holiness for ever.
Rejoice then, believer. Jesus will “ perfect that which concerneth you.” In his faith and love fight on against the devil, the world, and the flesh; yet a little season, and you shall be satisfied, for you shall “ awake up after his like
HEBREWS VIII. 10.
THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE
OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAITH THE LORD ; I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MIND, AND WRITE THEM IN THEIR HEARTS.
A precious promise this, my brethren, to all the people of God !
True, the house of Israel it was, to whom the promise first was made. But it does not belong to them alone. St. Paul is speaking here of a new covenant which the Lord will make with them. But then, what covenant is it? It is the covenant of the Gospel : the very same into which we are called, and of the blessings of which all the true Israel of God, all the faithful in Christ Jesus, do partake.
Therefore, while our text makes mention of Israel, and sets forth mercies yet in store for them, when they shall remember themselves, and be turned unto the Lord, it also serves to gladden the hearts of all believers, all of every kindred of the earth whom the Lord our God sh all call.
I place the words of our text, then, now before your minds, beloved Christian brethren,
in order that you may fix your thoughts in meditation on them, and see what grace is given to you of God in the covenant of his love in Jesus Christ. And although we have in the text but a part of the blessing of that covenant, yet I prefer to dwell on that alone, for, sure I am, there is full enough in it for our present discourse, and if only the mercy there specified be ours, all others shall come with it, even all “ the things that are freely given to us of God.”
This then is the promise of his new covenant, the promise He makes respecting all his chosen people ; " I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts."
I. Let me say, how do these words teach us what is THE NATURAL CONDITION OF THE HEART, even the heart of the Lord's own people.
The law of God, alas! is not there : and because it is wanting, therefore does the Lord declare that He will introduce it. Our natural state is one of lawlessness and disobedience.
Yes, brethren, it is too true. In one sense indeed the law of God may be said to be in our hearts, and in our minds; that is, we may have a knowledge of it, a sense of right and wrong, a perception of goodness and of sin, at least to some extent.
So St. Paul speaks of the very heathen, though living in ignorance of God's word,
yet as having “ the work of the law written in their hearts,” inasmuch as there is a sort of witness left in their own consciences, by which they may know, in no small measure, what they ought, and what they ought not to do.
In like manner, and to a much greater extent, we, who have the light of God's word shining all around us, and whose consciences cannot but be aware of what God has commanded, and what He has forbidden, must have thus far God's law impressed upon our minds, and written in our hearts.
And, indeed, there, sinner, lies thy criminality. Thou canst not plead ignorance. Thou canst not say, '
I knew no better.' God hath shewed thee what is good, and yet thou hast done what is evil.
But it is something beyond this which is meant in our text: something which by nature we have not: and the very terms of the text, conveying, as they do, a promise from God, that He will imprint his law upon his people's hearts, proves at once that it is a thing which without his grace they would not have had.
No, brethren, left to ourselves we shall never set up God's law within our souls. We have another law exalted there. It is the law of sin; the law of our own wills, our corrupt and evil wills ; this is the rule which we follow.
We may know, we do know, what God hath commanded: we know how He has required of us to love Him, “the Lord our God, with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and to have none other God."
Yet what have we done? We have not loved Him with all our hearts; we have set up idols in his place ; we have followed the devices and desires of our own depraved nature ; yea, as the Prophet speaks, “ All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way.”
Beloved brethren, have you ever been led deeply to feel this? Have you made confession of it sincerely and seriously before your God ? Have you looked into your hearts, and mourned to find the law of God not written there, as it ought to be? Has it grieved you to think how you have dishonoured God, by taking idols, and putting them into his place, and obeying laws exactly opposed to his law ?
It is one of the first signs and proofs of a saving change in any sinner's soul, when a sense of his wicked waywardness in this preference, not of his Maker's authority, but of his own inclination, not of God's commands, but of his own conceits, awakens him to shame, and sorrow, and unfeigned repentance, and he learns to abhor himself, and is heard to sigh and cry for his own vileness, and his language is, 'O for a new heart, O for a will subdued to God's will, O that my own proud, foolish, selfish spirit were brought down, and the law of my God set up, as it should be, in my soul !'
Brethren, it is well when a man begins so to feel, and so to speak. Perhaps some of you are actually at this moment in this state of mind. Then let me take them again to our text.
II. You will observe, that if the text shews us our natural state of lawless disobedience, it