23 JANUARY (PREACHED NEW YEAR’S EVENING 1770)
‘… Serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts …’ 1 Chronicles 28:9
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Deuteronomy 10:12–22
Serve with a perfect heart and a willing mind, otherwise you cannot serve him at all. You cannot serve two masters. He says, My son, give me thy heart [Proverbs 23:26]. If you will serve God you must renounce the service of sin and glorify him in your body and spirit which are his. And this service must be free, not by force or any constraint but by the constraint of love. A formal service, urged by slavish fears and performed for merely selfish ends, is not accepted. Without faith you cannot please him [Hebrews 11:6]. To draw near him with your lips is not enough. Therefore if you think of serving God, consider the argument—to pray for a perfect heart and willing mind. He searcheth and understandeth. He has a perfect knowledge of you, from your birth to this hour—your hearts and ways are all open to him. I am persuaded the best and the worst of you would blush and tremble to have some things of which your conscience reminds you, exposed to the view of this congregation—and yet what are we? Worms like yourselves! But thus you are exposed to the view of the heart-searching God. Do you not then see a necessity of his grace? And will not such a conviction engage you to give yourselves wholly to him? You may deceive men, and even yourselves, but not him. There is comfort as well as caution in this thought—he knows your fears, your wants, your disappointments, how long and how often you have been seeking happiness where it is not to be found. Therefore he invites, calls you, to know and serve him, which is life and peace. Unworthy and sinful as he sees you are, yet he opens a door of mercy and says, Seek ye my face and live.
FOR MEDITATION: May my heart be divested of all prepossession and self-seeking; may I be enabled to see and follow my duty; and may I maintain the comfortable testimony of a sincere, teachable and obedient conscience in thy sight. O may thy Spirit witness in my heart, and my conversation witness in the world, that I am indeed thy disciple, thine without reserve, thine and not another’s, thine and not my own—Amen.
Miscellaneous Thoughts, Friday 23 June 1758
SERMON: 1 CHRONICLES 28:9 [3/5] [FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE]