26 OCTOBER (PREACHED NEW YEAR’S EVENING 1785)
Pray for a new heart
‘And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.’ Jeremiah 24:7
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Ezekiel 36:22–32
God is known by his Word. Though you doubt not there is a God, you do not know him unless you know him from Scripture—and especially in Christ. His outward signs give some idea of his wisdom, power and goodness, but too faint to impress the heart. His holiness and justice, his grace and love, are revealed in the work of redemption. God is in Christ revealing himself to the world and reconciling the world to himself. Yea, you may have some outward knowledge of all this, and yet not know the Lord. He must give you a heart, a new heart—the heart of stone cannot come to him. Here we must begin. Pray for a heart of flesh. Oh that moment when a divine light shines into the dark heart! Should that favoured moment be now to any of you, you will say with Jacob, The Lord is in this place [Genesis 28:16]. They shall know me. While ignorant of God, we cannot know ourselves. We are separated from him, degraded and blinded. And therefore though our souls are immortal, our capacities too great to be filled with anything short of himself, we are seeking the living among the dead, hewing out cisterns, and regardless of the fountain. This state is sinful. For he made us, and we are his property. His will should be our rule, our law, his power our life, his glory our end.
FOR MEDITATION: It is possible to approve and profess the gospel, and yet to be quite strangers to that change of heart, that new birth, that hidden and spiritual life of faith in the Son of God, which are essentially necessary to the character of a true Christian. If profession does not spring from the root of a broken and contrite spirit, a solid conviction of sin, and such a sense of the wretched, ruined state of a sinner as makes the Saviour precious and all in all to the soul, and leads to a renunciation of self in every view, and a separation from the spirit of the world—though it may seem to flourish for awhile, sooner or later, it will wither, and come to nothing. The true Christian is like a river where the stream, though not always of the same depth or rapidity, yet always runs, because it is fed from an unfailing spring.
John Newton to William Wilberforce, 1 July 1789
SERMON: JEREMIAH 24:7 [2/4] [FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE]