The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. — Jer. xvii. 9. The heart here spoken of is the heart of man before he is bom of God. The truth here stated is

HEART OP MA ALL WRO G. 47 startling. Many sinners confess that in their words and actions they err, but they contend that their hearts are good. Others say their hearts are not exactly right, but they deny that they are base, and vile, and guilty. Others freely say they are sinners, but think they are not very bad. The text says that the heart of man is not only wrong, but very wrong. I. It is deceitful. It is very deceitful; it is deceitful above all things. It attempts to deceive God, and if he could not search it and try it, he would not know it. It often deceives our shrewdest neighbours. Worst of all, it deceives ourselves. It betrays men into the worst errors, follies, and sins. A fox is cunning and deceives the hounds; but the heart deceives others and itself too — itself more than others. It makes the foolish think they are wise ; the vile, that they are good enough; sinners, that they are righteous. It makes men blind with self-conceit. II. It is desperately wicked. You are invited to fix your minds chiefly on this truth. The heart of man without the grace of God is wicked. It is a wicked thing to be a sinner. Sin is not of a trivial

nature. The heart is all wrong, desperately wicked. In proof look at these things. Every sin, even the least, is committed against the goodness, kindness, holiness, authority, and excellent law of God. Eyery sin is against the only perfect law

48 HEART OP MA ALL WRO G. ever made, a law which is holy, just, and good in all its parts. If there is any truth in speaking of great and little sins, it is only this, that some sins are greater than others ; for no sin is in itself really small. All sin is against the great Jehovah. " There is no little God for us to sin against." Then some sins are solely and directly against God. This makes them very vile. " If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him : but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" 1 Sam. ii. 25. This makes acts of glaring hypocrisy so hateful to God. That which made the sin of Ananias so heinous, was, not that he had lied " unto men, but unto God," Acts v. 4. It is this which makes broken vows and promises so very sinful. Men "lie unto the Holy Ghost." The greatness of the sin of unbelief arises from the fact that it is directly against God. " He that believeth not God hath made him a liar," 1 John v. 10. You can insult no man more than by saying he does not speak the truth. He who does not believe God, does what he can to destroy confidence in his veracity. So also hatred to God proves the heart to be desperately wicked. Men cry, " Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us," Isa. XXX. 11. Men hate God with a mortal hatred, and would kill him if they could. They did

HEART OF MA ALL WRO G. 49 kill his Son, who was his express image. Then all ingratitude for Divine mercies is directly against God, So in all impenitence we despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and long-suflFering. In rejecting the Lord Jesus, we show proud contempt of God's wisdom and mercy in forming the plan of salvation, of Christ's love and pity in dying for us, and of the Spirit's grace and kindness in calling us to faith and holiness. All these sins are directly against God, and prove the heart desperately wicked. Men prove their hearts to be desperately wicked by sinning with great deliberation. They devise mischief. They plot iniquity. They think it all over. Men intend to have things as they are. They are warned, and called, and exhorted, and threatened; but they sin on. Some sins are very impudent. Such is every sin directed immediately against God. Of some God says, " Were they ashamed, when they had conunitted abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush; therefore they shall fall among them that fall," Jer. vi. 15. Some even " glory in their shame." All impudence in sinning shows that the heart is desperately wicked. The wicked also sin with the full consent of their own wills. Their " hearts are fully set in them to do 4


evil," Eccl. viii. 11. If one does wrong by mistake, some allowance must be made, but all who reject Christ do so of choice. Jesus said, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life." If men repent not, or hold fast the world, or turn away from God, they do so of choice. When the heart chooses these wicked ways, it must be desperately wicked. Diligence in sinning is proof of a very corrupt heart. And all the wicked are busy in evil. " They sleep not except they have done some mischief;" "They weary themselves to commit iniquity;" "The imaginations of the thoughts of their hearts are only evil, and that continually." In an unholy heart sin is a stream that never goes dry. Then men prove their hearts to be desperately wicked by the delight they take in sin. They "rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked," Prov. ii. 14. Sinners do not hate evil, nor look on Satan as a hard master. Some seem to have great pleasure even in the sins of others. Are not the hearts of such desperately wicked ? Again, many sins against man and all sins against God are wanton and unprovoked. " God tempteth no man." He never provokes any one to sin. God hates sin, and warns us against it, and gives good reasons why we should not conunit it, and says, Do

HEART OP MA ALL WRO G. 51 not that abominable thing which I hate. To sin wantonly shows a desperately wicked heart. Another thing, that gives a deeper dye, is that the very nature of sin is to involve others with us in like ruin and corruption. The child easily follows

the bad example of the parent. One child leads another into wickedness. Those, whose age, talents, office, or profession give them a claim to respect or honour, have a great deal to answer for. A man cannot lead a wicked life without corrupting others and leading them to sin. Then there are times when any heart not desperately wicked would break oflF from sin. Here is a solemn meeting. Kiad calls and tender persuasions are used. God says, "Will ye steal and murder, and come and stand before me in this house ? " Jer. vii. 9, 10. Often does God come very nigh to men in their famiUes, and melts down their natural affections by some death or affliction, but they sin on, and will not give up their evil ways. The great guilt of the sin of Pharaoh was that he was made no better, but rather worse, by all the plagues that came upon him. The desperately wicked heart of some men is also often stout against God, even when others yield to his calls of mercy. The conversion of one sinner is

52 HEART OP MA ALL WRO G. a loud call to others to turn and live. Jesus proved the great wickedness of some when he said, " The publicans and the harlots believed John: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards that ye might believe him," Matt. xxi. 32. A conversion is a great event. The conversion of known sinners is a loud call to all around them. When men will not hear that, their hearts must be desperately wicked. . If you are now in your sins, you must have resisted many warnings, and some of them very solemn. I have known a man, who was warned bv three of his

dying children to quit his open wickedness, but he sinned on. How many Christians and ministers have warned you ! How many sudden deaths have warned you ! How many who have shown a serious concern for your soul, have gone to eternity ! And are you walking in the way they pointed out ? Another thing that proves men's hearts to be desperately wicked is that if they continue in sin a little longer, their doom will be for ever sealed. If sin is not pardoned and forsaken very soon, it will ere long be for ever too late. This shows the great folly and sin of now so acting as to make damnation certain. If you misspend this life, the next will come, and you will be wholly unprepared for it. Eternity is near. The Judge standeth before the

HEART OF MA ALL WRO G. 53 door. The day of grace will soon all be gone. Can any but a heart desperately wicked delay to make a choice of that which is good ? To crown all, every man in this land, who continues in sin, knows that he is doing wrong. Man's duty is plain. Before us all God has set life and death. His word and his providence have clearly pointed out the right way. ow " to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin," Jas. iv. 17. " That servant, who knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes," Luke xii. 47. It is a frightful thing to go on in sin with the light of truth flashing in our faces all the way. Where there is no law, there is no transgression. But where there are both law and transgression, the case is sad indeed.

REMARKS. 1. It is a dreadful thing to come short of heaven under any circumstances ; but to lose one's soul when there is no need of it is in the extreme dreadful. Lost men may call on the slighted Saviour, and will receive for reply, " Ye knew your duty, but ye did it not." If you lose your souls, and look into your own hearts for

54 HEART OF MA ALL WRO G. comfort, they will cry, " Ye knew your duty, but ye did it not." When shut up in darkness and despair, time ended, the day of grace closed and the hope of eternal life gone for ever, you will still hear the words, " Ye knew your duty, but ye did it not." 2. It is as clear as day that without a change of heart no man can be saved. There is in every natural heart a wickedness that is more or less desperate. In some cases it has gone frightful lengths. But in every case it is wholly opposed to God and holiness. "Ye must be born again." Eternal life cannot be enjoyed with a mind and heart estranged from God. There is no way of escaping eternal sorrow, unless we can be cured of the disease of sin. This can be done only in regeneration.



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