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The Deceitfulness of the Human Heart.

The Deceitfulness of the Human Heart.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. NATHANAEL EMMONS, D. D

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ; who can know it ? Jeremiah, xvii. 9.
BY REV. NATHANAEL EMMONS, D. D

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ; who can know it ? Jeremiah, xvii. 9.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 06, 2014
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02/06/2014

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THE DECEITFULNESS OF THE HUMAN HEART. BY REV. NATHANAEL EMMONS, D. D The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ; who can know it ? Jeremiah, xvii. 9. This passage of scripture is very often quoted, and almost as often misunderstood and misapplied. All self deceivers are fond of believing that the heart is so wicked and so deceitful, that it is impossible for any to know whether they are in the state of nature, or of grace. They frequently say they sincerely desire to know their hearts, yet they are so extremely deceitful that it is utterly out of their power. It is, therefore, of great practical importance to exhibit the spirit of this text, and unfold its true meaning. It is evident that God is here addressing sin-ners, whose hearts alone are desperately wicked. And this being true, it naturally follows that they are the persons who find it so extremely difficult to know their own hearts. The prophet plainly supposes that the wickedness of their hearts is the ground of their deceitfulness ; and their deceitfulness is the ground of the difficulty in knowing them. So that the question in the text is, who among sinners can know the desperate wickedness and deceitfulness of their own hearts ? And this question leads us to conclude,
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That it is extremely difficult for sinners to know their own hearts. The truth of this proposition none will be disposed to dispute ; for saints know it to be true by their own experience, and sin-ners in general are fond of believing it to be true. I shall there-fore only attempt to show, I. What is implied in their knowing their own hearts ; and, VOL. IV. 70 554 SERMON XL. II. Why this is so extremely difficult for them to know. I. We are to consider what is implied in their knowing their own hearts. They are as conscious of their own hearts as saints are of theirs. They know that they have hearts, which are distinct from
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perception, reason, conscience, and all their intellectual powers and faculties. But this knowledge of their hearts is not that which is intended in the text. For in this sense they may per-fectly know their own hearts, while they remain entirely igno-rant of them in other important respects. This leads me to observe, 1. That their knowing their hearts in the sense of the text, implies the knowledge of their selfishness. It is this alone that distinguishes their hearts from the hearts of saints. Those who bear the moral image of God, have hearts of universal and dis-interested benevolence. But the hearts of sinners are wholly selfish. Saints love those who do not love them ; but sinners love those only who do love them ; and all the criminality of their hearts consists in their partial, interested affections. They may love all the objects that saints love, and hate all the objects that saints hate ; and yet all their affections be different, in their nature, from the affections of saints. Whether they love or hate good or bad objects, still their love and hatred are entirely sinful, because they are altogether selfish. This they are not apt to know, nor believe. They often think that however different they may be in other respects from saints, yet they do not differ from them in point of selfishness. They imagine they have both love to God and man, which does not arise from mercenary motives.
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