THE DECEITFULNESS OF THE HEART.
Jeremiah xvii. 9. The heart is deceitful above all things.
That is deceitful which tends to mislead, or in which we cannot confide. A man who professes friendship for us when we are in perplexity, and who leads us into additional perplexity, deceives us. When a traveller has lost his way, and a stranger meets him and offers to conduct him, and leads him on a wrong course, or so that he falls among robbers, he deceives him. Professed friends are sometimes deceitful, and are beautifully compared by Job to a brook in the desert. "My brethren have dealt deceitfully as'a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away. Which are turbid by means of the [melted] ice, in which the snow is hid [by being dissolved]. In the time when they become warm they evaporate; when the heat cometh they are dried up from their place. The channels of their way wind round about; they go into nothing and are lost, The caravans of Tema look; the travelling companies of Sheba expect to see them. They are ashamed that they relied on them; they come even to the place, and are confounded." Job vi. 15—20. They are deceitful—because in Eastern climates, and in sandy deserts, such streams are dried up or are lost in the sand. In the winter, or in the rainy season, they are swollen. In summer, and in times of drought, they disappear. They sink away in the sand, or they wind along in the desert, until they grow smaller and smaller, and finally disappear. The weary traveller that had at some seasons of the year pitched his tent there, returns again, and expects again to find the gurgling fountain, or the running stream, but is disappointed. Its waters are dried up, and the brook has deceived him. A bow is deceitful. "They turned back," says the Psalmist, " and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers; they were turned aside like a deceitful bow." Ps. Ixxviii. 57. "They return," says the Prophet when speaking of the false and unfaithful Jews, " they return, but not to the Most High; they are like a deceitful bow." Hos. vii. 16. A bow is deceitful when the arms are of unequal length, elasticity, or strength, or when, from any cause, the arrow does not follow the aim of the marksman, and turns aside. He who flatters us, and who designs to take advantage of our vanity to ruin our virtue, or to obtain our property, is deceitful. The man who professes to be your friend, and who stabs your reputation in the dark; who professing friendship sets in motion a train of evil reports and inuendoes, and suspicions, whose source you cannot trace, and whose malignity you cannot meet any more than you can a "mist from the ocean," is deceitful. He cannot be trusted. 0 how full is the world of deceit and imposition! Thousands and millions are the dupes of imposition in various ways, and no inconsiderable part of the human family seem to live that they may practise fraud on their fellow-men.
But the heart is deceitful above all these things. It is more deceitful than the man who professes friendship for us in perplexity, and who imposes on us; than the false guide to the traveller; than the brook, the bow, the flatterer, the slanderer. It is more likely to lead us astray than any one or all of them. To illustrate this truth will be the design of this discourse; and my plan will be to mention a few things in which men are deceived by their own hearts.
I. I observe in the first place, that men impose on themselves respecting their own character; or that the heart practises a deception in regard to its natural tendency and disposition. The human heart is a great deep:—a deep so turbid by sin and agitated by passion that we cannot look into it far; a deep which no line yet has been long enough to fathom. I believe that the true representation of the human heart is in the Bible, and that the hearts of all men are reflected there. The account in the history of the Bible of the depravity of man is not more humiliating than is the account in Tacitus and Sallust, in Hume and in Gibbon; the account in the Sacred Poets is substantially the same as in Shakespeare and Byron; the account given by Paul is the same that you will find in the books of every traveller who has penetrated the dark regions of the heathen world. You admit the account to be true of the world at large, of other men; you take securities of others; you put padlocks and bolts on your stores; you guard your houses, as if you believed it were true. Others believe the same of you; and the Bible holds all to be substantially alike—all fallen and ruined.
And yet it is evident that men do not by nature attribute to themselves the character which is given of the human heart in the Bible. The Christian does. He believes that the account of the Bible is a fair representation of his own heart by nature, and of the heart of every other man. He has no more doubt of it than he has that the account there given of God is true. He has learned it by bitter experience; by the revelations of the Spirit; and it is to him a truth attested by many scenes of repentance, and by many tears. But the mass of men do not feel so. Perhaps you could scarcely offer a more signal affront to a man—do it as kindly as you «an—than to go to him, and apply to Aim as an individual, the account of the human heart in the Bible. Who will bear to be told, though you may go with all the influence of the tender relations of friendship, and all the influence that you can take with you from any official relation, that his mind is "enmity against God," that "in his flesh there dwelleth no good thing;" that he "is a hater of God;" that he is a " lover of pleasure more than a lover of God;" that he is-"living without God and without hope;" that his "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked?" You will hear it from the desk—for (1.) you believe that it is our official duty to make the statement; and (2.) the statement is of necessity so general that no one feels himself particularly intended. But would you hear it from me, if I should come to you alone, and if I should make the statements with all the tenderness that I could assume? With all the respect which you might have for me as a man or a minister, would you take it kindly, or would you allow it?
As this is a matter pertaining to personal consciousness, I may make my appeal to each individual. Is this the estimate which you have placed on yourselves? Does your view of your own heart accord with that which is given of the heart in the Bible? Or is not the following rather the estimate which you have formed of yourselves: That you are moral, and amiable, and true, and just. That your imperfections—for all have them—are rather of the head than of the heart, and that your general aim is right and pure. That the original and prevailing bent of your mind is to goodness rather than to sin; and that you have greatly cultivated and improved this original tendency, and have added much to it that claims the confidence and love of your friends and of the world. That though you have been guilty of faults, yet they are minor faults, few in' number, and far between, that they have been more than corrected and compensated by a subsequent life of virtue; that they were not owing to any natural tendency to evil, but to your time of life, to the strength of temptation, or to a temperament signally susceptible and ardent; That you have a right to the confidence of the, world at large—having wronged no man, defrauded no man, killed no man, corrupted no man, slandered no man, and that the integrity of your character is not to be called in question. That the charges in the Bible of utter and total depravity, if applied to you, are harsh and severe; and that the plan of salvation, proceeding on the supposition of the utter ruin and corruption of man, is unnecessary for you—however needful it may be for others—and is to be regarded by you as medicine is by those in health. It is valuable for those who are diseased; it is unnecessary for the well. If such be your belief, then I need not say there is a radical difference between your views and those of the Bible about your natural character, and your need of a Saviour.
Is it not possible that your heart has deceived you on this point? Let me suggest a few things for your consideration.
One is, that if the Bible be true, there is no such native excellence of character as you suppose you possess;—for in the most solemn manner, the Bible declares the whole race to be guilty, and ruined, and lost;—and the Bible has such evidences of its truth and its divine origin as should lead yoti to suppose it possible that its account of the human character is correct.
Another consideration is, that multitudes of men who once had the same view of themselves which you have, have been convinced of their error, and have been led to accord with the account in the Bible. I allude to those who are now Christians. ,Once they were just as confident of their native purity as you are. They trusted just as much in their uprightness and integrity. They were just as much opposed to the doctrine of natural depravity. They cultivated the virtues and the graces of life, just as much and as successfully as you do. Many of them were upright, and moral, and honorable in the sight of men. They moved in the circles of fashion and of honor; they had the confidence of the world; they were without a stain on their external character; they thought, as you do, that their hearts were pure, and that the charges in the Bible were singularly harsh and unkind. But they have changed their opinions. They have seen their hearts in a different light. .They now admit that all that the Bible said of their hearts was true; and have yielded themselves to the overpowering evidence that they are by nature wholly prone to sin. Now, if they were deceived, you may be also. If they are now right in their views you are wrong. If their present estimate of character be correct, there is no such native tendency to goodness as you suppose, and you are deceived. They are among your best friends, and they have not assumed this new position from any desire to impose on others; but they have been constrained to it because they saw it was true.
Another consideration is, that there is nothing easier than to deceive ourselves in this matter. You have certain traits of character which are in themselves well enough, and which may be commendable, and you exalt them in the place of others which God requires. You have a disposition that is naturally amiable and inoffensive. So has a lamb, and a dove. Is this the love of God? Is that what the law requires? You are honest and upright towards men. Is this the love of the Creator, and is.this to be a substitute for repentance and faith? How inconclusive is the reasoning that is secretly going on in your mind on this subject. 'I have wronged no man, Therefore, I am the friend of God. I am amiable, accomplished, true, Therefore, my want of love to God may be excused. I am kind to others, Therefore, I need not pray, and if I neither pray nor worship my Maker, nor love my Redeemer, I shall be saved.' Is it not possible also to conceal offensive points of character from yourselves and from the world? Many an individual is refined and courteous in a circle like that in which you move, who would be a profane man or a gambler, a drunkard or a freebooter, were these restraints thrown off. Nay, I ean conceive that a man may appear very courteous, and refined, and virtuous here, and in an hour afterwards, with the dissolute and profane, may evince a totally different character. Much of the virtue of this world is the creation of"circumstances, not the result of principle—and is, therefore, no virtue at all. Many a man aims to conceal not , to eradicate the evil of his heart; and his smooth exterior, his plausible address, his winning manners, are the result of that concealment. Years may pass before the hidden fire shall burn, and before the depravity of the soul shall manifest itself by some tremendous deed of open guilt.—Again: we are flattered. Our parents flatter us; our friends do it; we do it ourselves. We love it. Our beauty, our strength, our skill in music, our.accomplishments, our learning are praised. Somebody will praise us; and we lay the flattering unction to the soul, and believe it, and feed upon it, and love it. We substitute this in the place of virtue, and forget while we drink it in that the Bible has said that the carnal mind is enmity against God. And it matters not whence it comes, or how valueless it may be in its source, or scarcely how bad may be the intention with which it is done. It is acceptable to us always; it is acceptable to us all. Praise,
"what heart of man
Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms!
Praise from the rivelled lips of toothless, bald
Decrepitude, and in the looks of lean
And craving poverty, and in the bow
Respectful of the smutched artificer,
Is oft too welcome, and may disturb
The bias of the purpose. How much more,
Poured forth by beauty splendid and polite
In language soft as adoration breathes!
Ah ! spare your idol! think him human still.
Task, B. II.
Another thought. Are you not deceived in your estimate of your own character in regard to the love of virtue. Let me ask a few plain questions. You say you love truth. Why then resist the truth as designed to bear on your own heart and to show yo,u what you are? You are amiable. Why not then love the Lord Jesus Christ? Has there been any one among men more amiable or lovely than he? You love purity. Why not then love God? Is there any one more pure than he? You are aiming to do right. Why then do you not pray in the closet, and in the family, as you know you ought to do? You are not opposed, you say, to God and his religion. Why then do you not embrace his gospel, and avow your attachment to him in the face of the world? Does the child that loves a father neglect his commands? Does he flee from his presence when he calls him? Does he mingle with his enemies, and choose that his name should be with his revilers? You have done no wrong. Will you tell me then why you are afraid to die? Why are you afraid of God and of the judgment seat? What has innocence to fear in death, or in the world beyond? What has a guiltless man to dread at the bar of a holy God? You are deceived. The paleness, and the terror, and the alarm of a dying man always prove that there is guilt within, and that he has something to dread after death. Few men know themselves. In all communities there is many a man who regards himself as a paragon of humility who is a model of pride; many a one who supposes he has no hostility to the Saviour, who would have joined in the cry "crucify him;" and many a man who supposes that his character is pure and his heart upright, who in other circumstances would show that that heart is a fountain of corruption, and is filled with evil.
II. Men deceive themselves in regard to their real attachments. The remarks which I have to make under this head and the others which follow, will partake of the nature of illustrations of the fact already adverted to, that men deceive themselves in regard to their character, and may be much more brief than the remarks under the first head. Men deceive themselves in regard to their real attachments. They usually flatter themselves that they have no improper attachment to their friends, to their children, to the world, to fashion, to fame, to property, to their pursuits. They think they hold to the doctrines of religion, and that they are not insensible to its claims. They are not infidels; they are not at heart opposed to the gospel. Is this so? Or are they allowing their hearts to impose on-themselves?
You think you have no undue attachment to a child. When the great Giver of life takes this child back to himself, are you willing to part with it? Are there no feelings of murmuring when you see that lovely babe beyond human help sinking in death? Is the heart always calm and submissive when the son advancing to manhood—soon to. be your pride and your stay, or the daughter blooming like the rose, is suddenly cut down like the.flower of the field? Is the eye serene; and is there no murmur tremulous on the lip; or no suppressed complaining in the heart? Does the sufferer always then say "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord?" Not always thus. "I am thankful," said one mother, when she lost a lovely child—in her view then the most lovely of all her children—" I am thankful that God has done his worst." Another fell in death, and she murmured still: A third also died—and she felt that the Lord had more that he could do—and then, taught to acquiesce, and brought to love him, she cheerfully said, "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be his holy name."
You think you have no undue attachment to wealth. How do you feel when you are embarrassed and when others are prospered? When wind, and tide, and fire, and tempest are against you, and when others grow rich? When your property takes to itself wings and flees away, while others are enjoying the smiles of Heaven? How do you feel when you are asked to aid the cause of humanity with a portion of your wealth? How do you estimate that property when compared with the wants of the world? There are the poor, and the ignorant, and the down-trodden whom you might relieve. There is a dying world in want of schools, and Bibles, and churches, and a preached gospel? There are millions of benighted men; millions under oppression; millions in slavery; millions who are the miserable victims of sensuality and vice—and a portion of your property might aid to set the captive free, and to open the prisons of them that are bound, and to knock off the chains of servitude, and to relieve suffering nations, and to proclaim salvation to the ends of the earth. Do you esteem any or all of these objects as at all comparable in value with the wealth which you hold in your hands? And if you do not, have you not affixed an inordinate estimate to that wealth, and formed an attachment for it which God cannot approve?
You think you have no undue attachment to the world, and that in the influence which that world has over you, you are showing no disrespect to the commands of God. Let me ask you, is any pleasure abandoned because he commands it? Is any place of amusement forsaken because he wills it? Do you listen to the voice of God when he warns you against the seductive influence of the theatre, the ball-room, and the pursuit of gain, and of ambition? Are they not pursued as if there were no God, and as if you were never to give account?
You suppose you have some attachment to Christians, and to the Christian religion. You would be shocked and offended to be called an atheist, an infidel, a scoffer. You admit the Bible to be true, and mean to be found among the number of those who hold that its doctrines are from Heaven. Yet does the heart never deceive you in this? Is not this the truth—for I make my appeal to your own consciousness? You admit the doctrines of the Bible to be true in general; you deny them in detail. The doctrine of total depravity as taught in the Bible, and as applicable to yourself—--do you believe it? The necessity of regeneration in order to be saved—do you. believe it? The fact that you can be saved only by the merits of the Lord Jesus, and not by morals, and by amiableness, and an upright life—do you believe it? The doctrine of the eternal punishment of the wicked— do you believe it? Step by step, and point by point, we might go over the doctrines of the Bible, and as we go along, the heart, if honest, would answer, 'No, I believe none of these things. I am not as guilty and corrupt as the Bible says I am; I am not in danger of eternal sorrow ; I do not deserve the unending wrath of God ;'—and the heart has deceived you.
You think you have no particular opposition to the duties of religion. But is not this the truth? You admit the obligation in general; you deny it in detail. Let me ask you, Do you pray? Do you conscientiously read the Bible? Do you repent of your past sins? Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you profess his name before men? Do you celebrate his death? Do you take up the cross? Do you cultivate meekness, and spirituality, and heavenly-mindedness? Do you live for heaven, and for eternity, and for God? Step by step, and point by point, we might go over the catalogue of Christian duties, and as we go along the conscience would answer, 'No; I do none of these things. Not one of the duties of the Christian religion do I perform as I know the Bible requires. Not one am I willing now to do.' The heart has deceived you in this. Am I saying more than your own consciences will bear witness to when I say that there is no argument, and no eloquence that could induce you this night to kneel down before God and pray?
III. In the third place, the heart is deceitful in regard to its power of resisting temptation. In the halcyon days of youth and inexperience, we think that .we are proof against all the forms of allurement, and we listen with no pleasureable emotions to those who would warn us of danger. Experience and aged wisdom find it not easy to get and retain the ear of the young while they portray the dangers of the youthful course, and warn against the alluring customs of the world. And the reason is plain. Those whom we would admonish have had no experience; and they suspect no danger. They confide in the.ir own powers; they see before them a smooth ocean on which they expect to glide without danger. A gallant ship with her sails all set leaves the port. She is new; and her virgin sails have not before been fanned by the breeze. The gale springs up, and gently swells all her canvass. Before her is the vast ocean—spread out as if to invite her. On her deck stands the young mariner— fresh from his home; buoyant with hope; his glad eye looking out on the new scene as the ship dances from wave to wave; and his heart beats with joy. How chilling now; how eold; how incongruous, is it for the weather-beaten seaman—the man of many voyages, to come and tell of rocks, and quicksands, and whirlpools, and furious tempests. How incongruous to suggest that the seams may open, or the canvass be stripped to ribbons, or that some unseen current may drift that beautiful vessel into unknown seas, where she may lie becalmed,
"Day after day, day after day,
With neither breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship,
Upon a painted ocean.
So we start on the voyage of life, We natter ourselves that we are able to meet temptation. We confide in the strength of our principles. We trust to the sincerity of our awn hearts. Guileless ourselves—I do not mean guiltless in the sense that we have no propensities to evil, but guileless in the sense of sincere and confiding—we suspect no fraud in others. Suspicion is not the characteristic of youth. It is the unhappy work of experience; the influence that comes into our hearts, notwithstanding all our efforts to resist it, from long acquaintance with the insincerity of mankind. The world flatters us, and a thousand temptations adapted with consummate skill to the young, allure us. Professed friends meet us on the way and assure us that there is no danger. The gay, the fashionable, the rich, the winning, the beautiful, the accomplished, invite us to tread with them the path of pleasure, and to doubt the suggestions of experience and of age. We feel confident of our own safety. We suppose we may tread securely a little further. We see no danger near. We take another step still, and yet another, thinking that we are safe yet. We have tried our virtuous principles, and thus far they bear the trial. We could retreat if we would ; we mean to retreat the moment that danger comes near. But who knows the power of temptation? Who knows, when dangers shall rush upon us so that we cannot escape? There is a dividing line between safety and danger. Above thundering Niagara the river spreads out into a broad and tranquil basin. All is calm, and the current flows gently on, and there even a light skiff may be guided in safety. You may glide nearer and nearer to the rapids, admiring the beauty of the shore, and looking on the ascending spray of the cataract, and listening to the roar of the distant waters, and be happy in the consciousness that you are safe. You may go a little further, and may have power still to ply the oar to reach the bank. But there is a point beyond which human power is vain, and where the mighty waters shall seize the quivering bark, and bear it on to swift destruction. So perishes many a young man by the power of temptation. You may drink a social glass, you think, with a friend and be safe. One more glass, and you may be safe still, and another may be taken, you think, without danger. You may go to a theatre once, you suppose, and be safe. You may be pleased, and think you may go again, and be safe still. You are fascinated with the scenery, the action, the sentiment—and you go again. The acting, the sentiment, is not such as you saw and heard at the fire-side of your childhood; not such as a mother would love; not quite such as you would wish a sister to see. It is indelicate, as you would once have thought indelicate; and profane, as you now think profane. There are men and women there whom you would not like to see at your father's fire-side, and whom you would not allow to associate with a sister. You will be sensible of less and less horror at the indelicacy and profaneness there. There is a point where no young man is safe ; and where no unconverted heart is secure from the power of temptation. I need not describe the result. One allurement does not stand alone. None have been injured by staying away from such scenes. But 0, how many hearts have been broken as the result of a visit to such a place of allurement!
So you may go to a gambling room, you suppose, and be safe. Of playing yourself you have no intention. Ofthe place, the business you may have a deep abhorrence. But your friend plays and wins; and plays and wins again. With the same feelings you may go again. You feel still safe. You have no desire, no intention to play. But for pastime you venture a trifle—and win—and you win again and again, and begin to play deep—and you begin to lose—and are in debt—and wish to recover all— and are now seized by fiends in human shape who designed to devote you to poverty, to despair, to cursing, and to hell.—When Elisha the prophet met Hazael bearing a present to him from Ben-hadad of Syria, the man of God fixed his eyes upon the messenger, and wept. Why dost thou weep? said Hazael. Because, said the prophet, I know the evil that thou will do unto the children of Israel. Their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword. But what, said Hazael, is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing? 2 Kings, viii. 13. Scarce had he turned from the prophet before he murdered the King his master, and ascended the "throne, and was all that the prophet said he would be. *
And who can tell what he would be if subjected to temptation? Look upon the wretched and abandoned profligate. See the ruined gambler, the counterfeiter, the drunkard, the murderen Once they were what you are, confident in the strength of their virtue, with hearts bounding with hope, and with eyes bright with the visions of future honor and bliss. Far from the scenes of riot and dissipation; far from the gambling room, the theatre, the house of her " whose steps take hold on hell," is the path of safety. And if I address any who are now sailing along on the stream of pleasure, thinking that no danger is near, I conjure you while manly strength remains, to ply the oar and to reach the bank. As you value health, property, reputation, usefulness, heaven; as you value the happiness of father, mother, sister, wife, or child; as you regard the tears which a broken-hearted mother may shed over your grave, or the sorrows of a father whose heart may burst with swelling grief; as you would not bring down their gray hairs with sorrow to the grave or your own soul to death, I conjure you never to approach again the place-of temptation. Be sufficiently independent to act the man. Let conscience, and reason, and the law of God direct your steps; and with virtue, reputation, happiness, heaven in the eye, dare to say to temptation and the tempter, 'Henceforward I heed not your voice. I will be a man. I walk no more in the ways of sin. I tread no farther the path where many have fallen to rise no more.'
IV. Once more. The heart deceives itself in its promises of reformation and amendment. I cannot dwell on this. Permit me to ask of you, how many resolutions you have formed to repent and be a Christian—all of which have failed. How many times have you promised yourself, your friends, and Godr that you would forsake the ways of sin and live for heaven—all of which have failed. How.often have you fixed the time when you would do this? And yet that time has come and gone unimproved. At one time you resolved to repent and be a Christian when you had enjoyed a little longer the ways of sin.- God granted you the desires of your heart, but the time has not come when you were willing to be his. At.another time you. resolved to repent should you be laid on a sick bed. You were sick, but you then found—what you will always find—that a sick bed is no good place tQ prepare to die. Then you resolved, and in solemn covenant promised God, that if you should recover you would devote your life to him. You rose from your, bed, and you forgot him. At one time you resolved to be a Christian when you should be seN tied in life; then when you had more leisure; then when the cares of life should cease. At twenty, at. thirty, at forty, at fifty years of age you may have resolved to turn to your Maker should you reach those periods—but on some of you the snows of winter have fallen, arid yet a deceitful and a deceived heart is pointing you to some future period still. It deceived you in childhood; it deceived you in youth 5 it deceived you in manhood; it deceives you in old age. It has always deceived you as often as you have trusted it in all circumstances of life—and yet you trust it still. It has deceived you oftener than you have been deceived by any and all other things—oftener than we are deceived by the .false friend; oftener than the traveller is deceived by his faithless guide; oftener than the caravan is deceived by the vanished brook; oftener than the bow deceives the hunter; oftener than you have been deceived by any and all other men. There is no man whom you have not trusted more safely than your own heart; no object in nature that has been as faithless as that:—and I appeal to you if it is not deceitful above all things.
In conclusion, I make three remarks: • (1.) There is danger of losing the soul. The heart has deceived you in all the journey of life thus far; it has deceived you on all the points pertaining; to salvation; it is 'still deceiving you. It has deceived you about your own character; about your real objects of attachment; about your power to resist temptation; about your resolutions for eternity. 'It has deceived you whenever and wherever you have trusted it on these points, and it is now deluding you with vain promises and expectations about the future. What shall hinder it from playing this same game, till death shall close the scene, and you shall go'to a world where delusions are unknown?
(2.) The heart of man is wicked . You have a heart which you yourself cannot trust. It has always deceived you. You have a heart which your fellow-men will not trust. They secure themselves by notes, and bonds, and mortgages, and oaths, and locks, and bolts;—and they will not trust you without them. You have a heart which God regards as deceitful and depraved, and in which he puts no confidence, and which he has declared to be "desperately wicked." But who does confide in the heart of man? The tempter, the seducer, the Devil. The tempter knows that men maybe led astray. The seducer knows that allurements may be presented so strong as to undermine our virtue, and lead us to ruin. And the great adversary of God, practised in wiles, and understanding fully the human heart, knows that that heart may be led into sin. And I ask whether that heart in which neither God nor man; in which neither we nor our friends can put confidence, is a heart that is good and pure? Is it such a heart as is fitted for heaven? I answer no—and you respond to my own deep conviction when I say it must be renewed.
(3.) Finally, I would warn you affectionately of danger. . I would conjure you to wake from these delusions to the reality of your condition I would beseech you to look at truth, and be no longer under the control of a deceived and a deceitful heart. Life is too short to be playing such a game. There are too great interests at stake to be thus the prey of delusions. Death and the grave cannot be made a foot-ball with which to amuse ourselves; nor are heaven and hell mere creations of the fancy. Of all places, the earth is the least proper to be made the scene of deceptions. In the world of despair—if delusion were possible—it would mitigate pain, and would endanger nothing. Nothing there can be worse, even in imagination, than the reality. But here every thing is at stake. You play and sport on the verge of a precipice from which if you fall you rise no more. Death is real; and the grave is real; and hell is real'; and the judgment is real. Not one of them is the work of fancy; not one can be changed by the imagination. It will be no fiction when you come to die^ it will be no delusive pageant when you shall stand at the judgment seat; it will be no day-dream when you shall hear the Judge solemnly say, " Depart accursed into everlasting fire." You pass on through scenes of affecting reality to another world. O go not to awake first to the reality of the scene Avhen these.eyes shall have closed on all the vain pageantry of this world, and when you will have awaked from your deinsion only to say " the harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and I am not saved."