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.
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. ~ Jeremiah 24:7, Acts 16:14
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
~ Psalm 119:10
A Sermon on Psalm 119:10, by Thomas Manton.
The doctrine of the gospel is not only true, to work upon the understanding, but it is good, so as to move and draw the will: 1 Tim. 1:15, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,’ etc.. Not only ‘a faithful saying’—that is, a true doctrine—‘that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,’ but it is ‘worthy of all acceptation.’ It is an excellent doctrine to ravish the will.
Now, observe what a great deal of difference there is between men in believing. Some that hear the gospel, and have only a literal knowledge of it, so as to be able to talk of it, so as to understand the words and syllables, to know what it means; they may have some clearness of understanding this way, but there is not a sound assent. There are others affected so with the gospel, as by the common influence of the Spirit they may assent to the truths delivered concerning God and Christ, and salvation by him, yet do not give it entertainment in their hearts. These may be said to seek God, but not with the whole heart. A speculative, naked, and cold assent they may have, but that is not enough. It is not enough to see food that is whole some, but you must eat it. Nor is it enough to understand the gospel, and believe that it is true, but we must embrace it; it must be accepted, else we do not believe with the whole heart. The word is propounded to man as true.
Now, the truth made known may cause a speculative assent. This may draw profession after it; and this we call historical faith, because we are no more affected with the gospel than with an ordinary history which we read and believe. The word is propounded again as good, to move and excite the will. Now, there is a twofold good—the good of happiness, and the good of holiness. The good of happiness, that which is profitable and sweet. Then there is the good of holiness. Now, there are many that look upon the gospel as good and profitable, because it offereth pardon and eternal life; such comfort to the conscience, and such good to our whole souls.
We may be affected with it as a good doctrine. Naturally, man hath not only a sense of religion, but he hath a hunger after immortality and everlasting blessedness. Therefore, since the gospel doth so clearly promote happiness, it may be greedily catched hold of by those whose hearts are affected, while they look upon it under these notions; and they may be so far affected that they may for a while not only profess it out of danger, but when some danger doth arise they may defend their opinions with some care. Yet this is not with all the heart. Why? As soon as any great danger doth arise, out of which there is no escape, as gibbets, fires, racks, ignominy, and utter loss—as soon as persecution arose, saith Christ, all this ardour and heat of spirit which they did formerly seem to have, comes to nothing.
What is the reason it vanisheth? Because they receive the gospel rather upon those notions of interest and profit, than of duty and holiness; and the impression of the profitableness of the gospel, as a doctrine of happiness, was not so deeply rooted in them, not so durable, that the hope of the future good would be prevalent over the fear of present evil and danger. There may be some desires of heaven in a carnal breast, but they are easily blotted out by worldly temptations; but the true desires of holiness are lasting, and will prevail over our lusts.
3. Believing with all the heart implies uniformity of endeavours. Oftentimes the soul may be strongly moved and affected for the present, and carried out to the gospel under the notion of holiness; but it is but the lighter part of the soul that is so moved, not the whole heart, therefore it is not durable.
The people meant as they spake when they were willing to come under the obedience of the word. God gives them that testimony: ‘The people have well said; but oh! that there were such a heart in them,’ Deut. 5:28, 29. They may receive it, and may seem affected with it, and have a sense of reformation; but, saith the evangelist, Luke 8:14, ‘It brings no fruit to perfection.’ It was not so deeply rooted as to prevail strongly over their carnal distempers.
And, therefore, here comes in another sort of men, that are affected with the word as a holy doctrine. They may have a liking to the holiness of it, and have some consolation thereupon; they have their beginnings, and some good offers towards sanctification; but it brings nothing to perfection. They may have such a hope of heaven as that they may be said to ‘taste the powers of the world to come,’ Heb. 6:5, 6; yet because it is not deeply rooted in the heart, and only begets some raw motions, and moves the lighter part of the soul, and doth not show itself in a uniform course of obedience, therefore it is not with all the heart. It may be it was but for a time, or cast in upon some eminent trouble. Therefore that is only believing, and seeking God with all the heart, when the doctrine of life is so acknowledged to be true, good, and holy, as to be closed with upon that account; not only because of its suitableness to our eternal good and interest, but as it is a rule of our duty. And then it enters upon the heart when every faculty of it is subdued to God. It is not some colouring of the outside, but a deep dye when it soaks into the whole soul, and subdues the affections to God, which is manifested by a uniform course of obedience. Now David urgeth this to God as an argument, ‘I have sought thee with my whole heart.’
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
~ John 6:65-68
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
~ Hebrews 6:7
For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
~ James 1:11