And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
~ Deuteronomy 30:6, Psalm 51:10
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
~ John 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17
A Heart of Flesh, by Richard Alleine (1611-1681). This is from his work, Heaven Opened.
I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
~ Ezekiel 36: 26.
The old heart is a stone, cold as a stone, dead as a stone, hard as a stone; hut I will take away the stone, and. give a heart of flesh.
A heart of flesh is a soft and tender heart; flesh can feel; any tiling that is contrary to it puts it to pain. Sin makes it smart; it cannot kick hut it is against the pricks; by its rebellion and resistance against the Lord, it receives a wound; it cannot hit but it hurts itself. A soft hand gets nothing by striking a hedge of thorns. A soft heart, when it hath been meddling with sin, is sure to smart for it. It can neither escape the pain, nor yet endure it; and what it cannot bear, it will take warning to avoid.
Flesh will bleed. A soft heart will mourn and melt and grieve when hard hearts are moved at nothing. Flesh will yield. It is apt to receive impressions. The power of God will awe it; his justice alarm it; his mercy melt it; his holiness humble it, and leave his stamp and image upon it. And as the attributes, so the word and works of God will make sign upon it. Who sets a seal upon a stone; or what print will it receive? upon the wax, the print will abide. God speaks once and twice, but man, hardened man will not regard it. Neither his word nor his rod, neither his speaking nor Ms smiting will make any impression on such hearts. It is the heart of flesh that hears and yields. And with such hearts the Lord delights to he dealing. ” The heart of this people is waxed gross,” Acts 28:27] they will not hear, they will not understand; and the next word is, Away to the Gentiles, they will hear. He will no more write his law on tables of stone: he will write in flesh; there the impression will take, and go the deeper; and therefore, wherever he intends to write, he prepares his tablet makes this stone flesh, and then engraves upon it. Particularly this tenderness admits of a double distinction.
I. Respecting the object of it. There is a tenderness as to sin, duty, and suffering.
1. As to sin. And this discovers itself both before the commission, and after the commission of it.
Before the commission. While it is under a temptation, or feels the first impulse to sin. A tender heart startles, starts back at the sight of a sin, as at the sight of a devil: ” How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 89: 9. This manner of speech presents Joseph as a man in a fright, startled at the ugliness of the sin. So David when he had an opportunity and a temptation to slay Saul, rejects it with a ” God forbid.” The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth my hand against the Lord’s anointed.” 1 Sam. 26: 11. And the tender conscience not. only shrinks at the higher and greater sins, but it resists the little ones, the smallest of sins. Is it not a little one? is no plea with it. Little or great, it is a sin, and that is enough.
There is also a tenderness as to sin after its commission; if it has been brought on by an act of sin, yet it cannot cease with it. The skirt of Saul’s garment was too heavy for David’s heart to bear. His heart smote him at once. 1 Sam. 24: 5. Sin in the review looks dreadful. Its pleasant flowers quickly turn to thorns; it pricks the heart, how much soever it pleased the eye. It ordinarily enters by the eye, and often runs out the same way it came in runs out in tears. ” When he thought thereon, he wept.” At least, it warns one and makes him more watchful afterwards. Thou seest what it is, take heed; take it for a warning, and do so no more. The pain of sin, if it do not force a tear, will set a watch.
2. As to duty. A tender heart will neither slight a sin, nor neglect a duty. It is loath to grieve and offend, and careful to serve and please the Lord. It would not that he should suffer by it, nor so much as lose his due. It watches against sin, and unto duty. It cares how to please the Lord, and its care is tender. It would not displease by its neglects or performances; all must be done that ought, and as it ought to be done. It will neither withhold its offering, nor will it offer an unclean thing. It considers not only what; but how. Both matter and manner, substance and circumstance, all must be right, or it is not at ease. It is not satisfied that it prays sometimes; it would never lose a praying time. God will not, and it cannot lose a duty. It would neither lose by non-performance, nor lose what is performed. It would neither leave undone, nor do amiss; any failing, not only in the matter, hut in the principle, end, affection, tender affection any failing pains it.
There is a tenderness in point of suffering. A tender heart will not he careful what or how much, but why and upon what account he suffers; will neither sinfully shun the cross, nor run upon it unwarrantably. He waits for a call, and then follows. He is patient under the hand of the Lord, but not insensible; can be touched with an affliction, though not offended at it: ” The hand of the Lord hath touched me.” He suffers more than his own sufferings. His brethrens’ burdens all lie on his shoulders. He weeps in their sorrows, bleeds in their wounds, his heart is bound in their chains. As the care, so the trouble of all the churches comes daily upon him: ” Who is weak, and I am not weak; who is offended, and I burn not?” he espouses all the sufferings of Christ as his own. In all His afflictions, he is afflicted.
II. Tenderness may be distinguished in respect to —
The subject of it. There is a tenderness of the conscience, the will, the affections.
1. Tenderness of conscience consists in these three things: clearness of judgment, quickness of sight, and uprightness or faithfulness.
Clearness of judgment, when it is well instructed, and understands the rule, and can thence discern between good and evil. Heb. 5: 14. There is a tenderness that proceeds from cloudiness; a scrupulosity that fears every thing, stumbles at straws, starts at shadows; makes sins; picks quarrels at duties; and so sometimes dares not please God, for fear of offending him. This is ‘the sickness or soreness of conscience, not its soundness. It is the sound conscience that is truly tender.
Such a conscience has quickness of sight and watchfulness. “I sleep, hut my heart waketh.” It can espy the least sins and smallest duties. It can see sin in the very temptation; it can discover the least sin under the fairest face, and the least duty under the foulest mask. Call it singularity, nicety, cloud it with reproaches, yet conscience can discover light shining through all the clouds; and sees duty within, with whatsoever unhandsome face it he presented. Clearness of judgment consists in conscience’s understanding the rule; quickness of sight in applying the rule to cases and distinguishing them. The truly tender hath his eyes in his head, and his eyes open to discover and discern all that comes, be it good or evil, little or great. If but a thought comes in, “What comes there? says conscience; what art thou, a friend or an enemy? whence art thou; from God or from beneath? It will examine whatever knocks, before any free admission. 0, what a crowd of evils do thrust themselves into loose and careless hearts; the devil comes in in the crowd, and is never discovered. If the eye be either dim or asleep, there is entrance for any thing. Little do we think ofttimes who hath been with us, and what losses and mischiefs we have sustained while our hearts have been asleep, which, had they been wakeful and watchful, might have been prevented.
A tender conscience is also marked by upright’ ness and faithfulness , which discovers itself, In giving charge concerning duty. Look to it, soul, there is a duty before thee which God calls thee to; do not say, It is no great hurt to let it alone, it is no great hurt to do it, it is questionable whether it be a duty or -not; many wiser than I think otherwise. Do not say, It is a nicety, it is but a punctilio, it is mere folly and preciseness, and there will be no end of standing upon such small matters. See to it, it is thy .duty, beware thou neglect it not; the balking of the least duty is the neglecting of the great God of glory.
In giving warning of sin. Take heed to thyself, sin lies at the door, thou art under a temptation, the devil is entering upon thee. Do not say, it is but a little sin: little as it is, there is death and hell in it; look to it, it is sin, have thou nothing to do with it, keep thyself pure, and though it run upon thee, shake it off.
After the commission of sin, it gives a rebuke for it; reproving, judging, and lashing the soul for it. “Where hast thou been, Grehazi? say not thou hast been nowhere. Went not this heart with thee, and saw thee running after thy covetousness, gadding after thy pleasures, feeding thy pride, dandling thy lusts, playing the hypocrite, playing the harlot from thy God, pampering thy flesh, pleasing thine appetite? and where hast thou been? What hast thou done, soul? think not to excuse or mince the matter, it cannot be excused; thou hast sinned against thy God, and now bear thy shame.” This is our heart smiting us, 2 Sam. 24: 10; our heart condemning us: ” If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” 1 John, 3: 20.
2. Tenderness of the will consists in its flexibleness and pliableness to the will of God. And this is that tenderness wherein chiefly lies the blessing of a soft heart: a hard heart is stubborn and obstinate. Thy neck is as an iron sinew, and thy brow brass. Thou wilt not be ruled, there is no bending thee or turning thee out of thy course, thine iron is too hard. for the fire, it will not be melted; and for the hammer, it will not be broken; there is no dealing with thee, thou art an untractable piece, thou wilt neither be led nor driven; thy heart is set in thee to do evil, thy will is set upon sin, and thou. art set upon thine own will. Thou sayest, ” The word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not do; but we will do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth.” Jer. 44: 16, 17. ” Who is lord over us?” Psa. 12: 4; Jer. 2: 25. Thou sayest, ” There is no hope; no, for I have loved strangers, and after them I will go, come what will of it, say what thou wilt against it; be silent, Scriptures; hold thy peace, conscience; it is to no purpose to speak more, there is no hope of prevailing; we are resolved, we will take our own course.” These are hard hearts, stubborn, obstinate hearts.
When the iron sinew is broken, when the rebellion and stubbornness of ‘the spirit is subdued and tamed, and made gentle and pliable, then it becomes a tender heart. There may be some tenderness in the conscience, .and yet the will be a very stone; and as long as the will stands out, there is no broken heart. Conscience may be scared and frighted. Conscience may fly upon the sinner with, ” What dost thou mean, soul; whither are thy rebellions carrying thee? look to thyself, hearken, or thou wilt be lost ere thou art aware.” But however God has conscience on his side, yet the devil still rides the will; and there sin takes up its rest. There is a twofold resting of sin in the soul: in peace and in power.
In peace: when it dwells and rules in the soul wittout disturbance or contradiction; when it carries all smoothly before it. “When God lets it alone, and conscience speaks not a word against it; when notwithstanding those armies of lusts fighting against the soul, there is not so much as one weapon lifted up’ against them; not a prayer, not a tear, nor a wish for freedom, nor the least fear concerning the issue: this is the most dreadful hardness.
…when, though it can have no peace, yet it hath still a place in the heart. Though it can have no quiet, but conscience is – ever quarrelling with it and warning it away, yet -it still holds its power over the will; the master of the house is content to be its servant. Oh, how many persons are there, even among the professors of religion, who carinot sin in quiet: they are proud, or passionate, or intemperate, or covetous, or false in “-their words and dealings; they are formal and hypocritical, and slight in their duties, but they cannot go on thus with any quiet. Conscience smites them for it, they feel many a pang and deadly twinge in their heart, insomuch that sometimes they cry and groan and roar in their spirits, for redemption, for deliverance from this false, this proud, this covetous and wicked heart. And yet, after all this the will remains a captive still, sin holds its power there, though it cannot reign in peace; though it cannot he proud, or play the hypocrite, or he covetous, or an oppressor, without some galls and gripes in the soul, yet on it goes, the same trade is kept up, the same course is held on. God commands, “Cast yo out, cast ye out, come off from all your wickedness and evil ways, and I will receive you.” But no, though conscience would, the will cannot come; whatever rendings and tearings, whatever terrors and torments and worryings such souls are at any time under; whatever stings and plagues and fires they find their sins to he in their souls and “bones; whatever wishings they wring forth that they were well rid of these plagues, while the will is still wrong there is a hard heart, desperately bard; there is none of this heart of flesh. But when the will is once broken loose from sin, when it will be content to let all go, and give up itself to the dominion of the Lord, there is a broken heart. “Now speak, Lord, and I will hear. Now call, Lord, and I will answer. Now command me, impose on me what thou wilt, I will submit. None but the Lord, none but Christ, no other Lord nor lover. I am thine. Lord, thine own; do with thine own, demand of thine own, whatever thou pleasest. What God will have me he, what God will have me do, that will I do and be. No longer what I will, but the will of the Lord he done.” When it is come to this, there is a tender heart, there is the blessing of a broken spirit; the stone he has taken away, he has given a heart of flesh.
Christians, never trust to tears, never talk of terrors, of trouble of conscience, of the passionate workings and meltings which at any time you feel within your spirits: though there be something in these, as you shall see more by and by, yet these are not the things you are to look at. A subdued, tractable, willing, obedient heart, that is the tender heart. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isa. 1: 19.
3. Tenderness of the affections. Of these I shall instance only three love, fear, sorrow.
(1.) The tenderness of love is seen in its benevolence and in its jealousy.
In its benevolence. Our goodness extends not to the Lord, but our good- will does. Our love can add nothing to him: ” Can a man be profitable unto God?” Job 22:2. “If thou be righteous, what givest thou to him?” Job 35: 7. Yet though it can add nothing, it “would not that any thing be detracted from him; while he can have no more, it would that he should have his own, all that is due, his due praise, his due honor and homage and worship and subjection, from every creature; it would have no abatement, not the least spot or stain upon all his glory. What is an affront to God, is an offence to love. ” Love Leareth all things,” saith the apostle, 1 Cor. 13: 7 all things from God, all things from men. And yet there are two things which love to God cannot bear his dishonor and his displeasure.
The benevolent heart cannot bear God’s dishonor. Love would have God to be God, to live in the glory of his majesty, in the hearts and eyes of all the world. His reproach is grievous to him that loves, for this is the cloud that takes God out of sight. He loves and honors, and would that God should be loved and honored of all; he fears, and would that the whole world, should fear him. He would receive in his own breast every arrow that is shot against his Maker; he would that his own name and soul might stand between his God and all reproach and dishonor. He would be vile, if so the Lord may be glorious: that God may increase, he is content to decrease. He is not so tender of his own heart and life, as of the holiness of his God. He would suffer and die, and be nothing, rather than that God should not be all in all. He would rather never think, nor speak, nor be, than not be, in word and thought and life, holiness to the Lord. But what or where would he not be, rather than his own hand should be lifted up against Jehovah.
To see the Lord robbed of his holiness, wronged in his wisdom, or his truth, or his sovereignty; to see sin, to see the world, set up in the throne, and the God of glory made to stand aside as insignificant; to hear that blasphemy, “God is not worth this lust, or not worthy this labor” and what less is said in every sin? is a sword in his breast. “The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” Love has tasted of God, it has fed on his fulness, it has its nourishment from his sweetness, it has been warmed in his bosom, all his goodness has passed before it; upon this it lives and feeds; and having found and felt what the Lord is, it is impatient that his goodness should be clouded or belied. Love kindled from heaven is keen, and the keen edge is a tender edge the least touch of what offends will turn it. “I am in distress, my bowels are troubled, my heart is turned within me, for I have grievously rebelled.” Lam. 1: 20. ” My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, “Where is thy God?” Psa. 42:3. Where is that care, that help, and that salvation of thy God thou trastedst in? Thy God is not such a one as thou boastedst him to be. When I remember, when I hear such things, my soul is poured out within me. Love is large; he that loves has a large heart, he can never receive or do too much; he would have all he can, and he would give all he hath to the Lord. He is tender how any thing be withheld that is due, how any thing be wasted elsewhere that might be useful to the Lord.
Nor can love bear his ‘displeasure. The displeasure of men it bears, and rejoices; the wrath and rage of Satan it bears, and triumphs; though all the world be displeased and provoked, if God smiles, it is well enough. Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me, and my heart shall be glad. Psa. 4. ” Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” Psa. 30: 7. Let him correct me, but Oh, not in fury; let him smite, but not frown; let him kill me, so he will but love me. And though he smite, though he kill me, yet will I love and trust in him. my God, let me rather die in thy love, than live in thy displeasure: there is life in that death, this life is death to me. Let me not be dead while alive; turn away thine anger which kills my heart.”
It is impatient of divine displeasure, and thence it is grievous to it that it does itself displease him thence it opposes sin, and condemns itself for it. Is tin’s thy kindness to thy friend? Lovest thou God, soul? “What, and yet provokest him thus daily; love, and yet neglect to seek and follow thy God; love, and yet so lame and so slow, and so heavy and so sparing in thy services to him? Is this a.ll thy love will do? Not deny thine ease, or thy pleasure, or thy liberty, or thine appetite, or thy companion, for the sake of the Lord; choose rather to please thy friend, or thy flesh, than to please God? Is this thy love? Is this thy kindness to thy friend? false heart, unworthy, unworthy spirit, how canst thou look thy God in the face? How canst thou say, “I love thee,” when thy heart is no more with him?
The tenderness of love is also seen in its jealousy. He that loves the Lord is jealous, and jealousy hath a tender edge; he is jealous, not of, but for the Lord not of his God, but of himself, lest any thing should steal away his heart from God. Love would be chaste, would not bestow itself elsewhere; and yet is in great jealousy lest it be enticed and drawn away. He that loves the Lord, has not any thing, whether wife, or child, or friend, or estate, or esteem, that gets near his heart, but he is jealous of them, lest they steal it away. ” Get you down,” he says, ” keep you lower; this heart is neither yours nor mine: my God, it is thine; it is thine, Lord, take it wholly to thee, keep it to thyself, let no other lovers be sharers with thee.”
(2.) There is a tenderness of fear. The tender heart is a trembling heart, and manifests the tenderness of fear in its suspicion and its caution.
In its suspicion. The fearful are suspicious; they look further than they see; he that is in dread, will be in doubt what may befall him, he suspects a surprisal; every bush is a thief, every bait he fears may have a hook under it. There is a foolish and causeless fear; and there is a prudent and holy fear: this fear is a principle of wisdom. Psalm 111: 10. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil,” Prov. 22: 3, but fools go on; the snare is never nearer than to the secure; bold, venturous sinners never want for woe, the devil may spare his cunning when he has to do with such. Nothing that looks like sin offers itself to a tender heart, but he presently suspects it; every pleasant morsel, every pleasant cup, every pleasant companion that comes, any thing that tickles and gratifies the flesh, he looks through it ere he will touch it, lest it betray his soul from God.” There may be a snare in the dish, a snare in my cup, a snare in my company; and what if there should.” He feeds himself with fear, dwells, walks, converses, works, recreates himself with a trembling heart and jealous eye.
His fear also appears in his caution. Fear is wary: some commanders have set their scout- watches unarmed, that fear might make them watchful. A fearful Christian will take heed what and whom he trusts; he dares not trust himself in such company as may he a snare unto him. He dares not trust his heart among temptations, he will keep the devil at a distance, he will not come near where his nets do lie. Blessed is he that thus feareth always. the unspeakable mischief, the multitudes of sins, that we run upon through, our secure hearts. “I never thought of it, I never dreamed of any such danger. Oh, I am undermined, I am overreached, I am surprised; my foot is in the snare, the gin hath taken me by the heel, my soul is among lions, sin hath gotten hold on me, my heart is gone ere I was aware, the enemy has come in and carried it away, has given it to lust, to the world, to pleasure, to divide it among themselves; my faith has failed, my conscience is denied, my love is grown cold, my grace withered, my comforts wasted, my peace broken; and my God, Oh, where is he gone? Woe is me, the evil- that I feared not is come upon me; had I feared, I had not fallen. that I had been wise, had kept my watch, had stood upon my guard; had I thought, had I Thought, I had escaped all tliis danger.” Christians, be wise in season, and take heed of the fool’s too late, “Had I known it.”‘
(3.) There is a tenderness of sorrow. Sorrow is the melting of the heart, the stone dissolved; sorrow is the wound of the heart: a wound is tender, love is tender, and therefore so is godly sorrow, which is the sorrow of love; you may call it a love-sickness. Love is both the pain and pleasure of a mourning heart, it is love that wounds, and love that heals; it is both the weapon and the oil; this sorrow hath its joy, the melted is the most joyful heart; it is love that makes it sad; it weeps because it loves: and it is love that makes it glad too; it therefore joys because in its sorrows it sees that it loves. It is love that makes the wound, the occasion of this sorrow being love abused. “What hast thou done, soul? Whom hast thou despised? Against whom hast thou lifted up thyself? Thou hast sinned, thou hast sinned, and hast thereby smitten and grieved thy God that loves thee, and whom thou lovest. Thou hast but one friend in heaven and earth, and him thou hast abused; to please thy lust, thou hast pierced thy Lord, thou hast transgressed his commandments, trampled upon his compassions, and broken his bonds: his greatness and his goodness, his law and his very love have been despised by thee; him who loved thee hast thou smitten. Is this thy kindness to thy friend? vile, ungracious, unkind, unthankful, unnatural heart, what hast thou done?
Put all this now together, and you have the heart of flesh which the covenant promises, a tender heart, a heart that is tender of sin and duty, that carefully shuns sin, or is sure to smart for it; that neither slights sin nor duty, that says not of the one or the other, It is hut a little one; that can feel sufferings, but not fret at them: a tender conscience, that will neither wink at sin nor excuse the sinner, that will not hold the sinner guiltless nor say unto the wicked Thou art righteous, that will not be smitten but it will smite again, that will give due warning arid due correction: a flexible, tractable heart, that will not resist and rebel; that says unto the Lord, “What wilt thou have me to do? and will not say of any thing God wills, Any thing but this: a willing, ductile heart, stiff against nothing but sin, that a word from heaven will lead to any thing: a heart of love, that bears goodwill to the Lord and all that he does or requires, in which good- will lies radically every good work; that says not of any duties or sufferings, This is too great, or of any sin, This is nothing; that would be any thing or nothing, so Grod may be all; that would rather be displeased than displease; that is not displeased when God is pleased: a trembling heart, that fears more than it sees, and flies from what it fears; whom fear makes to beware: a melting heart, a mourning heart, that wounds itself in the wounds it hath given to the Lord and his name; that can grieve in love, and can love and grieve where it cannot weep. In sum, it is a heart that can feel, that can bleed, that can weep; or at least that can yield and stoop where it cannot weep, nor feel but little; that will easily be commanded where it is not sensibly melted: this is a soft heart, this is the heart of flesh: “I will take away the stone, and give them a heart of flesh.”
Oh, what a blessing is such a heart; what a plague is a hard heart. Oh, what prisoners are the men of this world: in prison under Satan, in prison under sin, hound under’ a curse, shut up under unbelief and impenitence: the hard heart is the iron gate that shuts them in that they cannot go out. Romans 2: 5. Oh, what a hospital is this world he come of blind and lame and sick and crippled and wounded creatures. Whence are all the calamities and distresses that befall them, but from the hardness of their hearts? The stone in their hearts breeds all their diseases, brings all their calamities; hath blinded their eyes, and broken their bones, and wasted their estates: there is not one misery that befalls them, but they may write over it, This is the hardness of my heart. Oh, what a Sodom is this world become, for wickedness as well as for wrath; what drunkenness, what adulteries, what oaths, what blasphemies, and all sorts of monstrous sins do everywhere abound: whence is all this, but from the hardness of men’s hearts? If you say, “It is from other causes; it is from unbelief, from ignorance, from impotence, from temptations,” let it be granted; yet still it is from hardness of heart. They are wilfully ignorant, willfully weak, willfully run into temptations; they shut their eyes and stop their ears, they will not see, they will not believe. Oh, what losses do they sustain: how many Sabbaths are lost; how many sermons are lost; how many reproofs, counsels, corrections, are lost; a gospel lost, and souls thereby likely to be lost for ever. Oh, what prodigies are they become, under all this sin and misery. and yet merry, jolly, laughing, and singing and sporting and feasting and braving it out, as if nothing ailed them. Feeling nothing of all that is come upon them, and fearing nothing of all that is coining. Warn them, reprove them, beseech them, it is all but preaching to a stone. It may be you have sometimes wondered to see a company of thieves in prison, drinking and carousing and making merry, when they know that in a few days they must be brought out and hanged. “When thou wonderest at these, wonder at thyself. “What bitter complaints do we sometimes hear, even from the best of saints. “0 this hard heart; this stubborn spirit. I cannot mourn, I cannot stoop, I cannot submit.” Why hast thou hardened our heart from thy fear?’ Isa. 63: 17. Or why hast thou left us, or given us up to a hard heart? Why hast thou not softened and humbled and broken us? Thou hast humbled us, and we are not humbled broken us, and we are not broken; thou hast broken our land, broken our peace, broken our backs, but the stone is not yet broken. for one breach more, Lord; our hearts, our hearts, let these be once broken; ‘our streets mourn, the cities of our solemnities mourn, the ways of Zion mourn. Oh, when wilt thou give us a mourning spirit?” What sorrow-bitten souls are the saints for their want of sorrow. ” I mourn, Lord, I lament, I weep; but it is because I cannot mourn or lament as I should: if I could mourn as I ought, I could be comforted; if I could weep, I could rejoice; if I could sigh, I could sing; if I could lament, I could live; I die, I die, my heart dies within me, because I cannot cry; I cry, Lord, but not for sin, but for tears for sin; I cry, Lord, my calamities cry, my bones cry, my soul cries, my sins cry, ‘ Lord, for a broken heart,’ and behold, yet I am not broken. The rocks rend, the earth quakes, the heavens drop, the clouds weep, the sun will blush, the moon be ashamed, the foundations of the earth will tremble at the presence of the Lord, but this heart will neither break nor tremble. for a broken heart. If this were once done, might my soul have this wish, ‘ thenceforth my God might have his will: what would be hard, if my heart were tender? Labor would be easy, pains would be a pleasure, burdens would be light. Neither the command nor the cross would be any longer grievous, nothing would be hard but sin. Fear, where art thou? come and plough up this rock. Love, where art thou? come and thaw this ice, come and warm this dead lump, come and enlarge this straitened spirit, then shall I run the way of his commandments.”
Brethren, how little, how very little of this tenderness is there to be found in most Christians. The sacrifice of God is a broken heart; Oh, how far must the Lord go to find himself such a sacrifice. We do but cast stones up to heaven when we lift up our hearts: it is a wonder that such hearts as we carry do not break, that our marble weeps not; that if nothing else will do it, our hardness doth not make us relent; that we should so labor under, and complain of, and yet not be sick of the stone.
Broken hearts, yielding and relenting spirits, tender consciences, Oh, where are they? afraid of sin, tender of transgressing, or mourning under it? when shall it once be? Our lusts no more broken; our pride, our passion, our envy, our earthliness, no more broken; so venturous on temptation, so bold on sin, such liberty taken to transgress, such mincing and palliating, and excusing of sin as we find is this our brokenness? We are tender, it is true; but of what? Of dishonoring God, of abusing grace, of neglecting duty, of defiling conscience, of wounding our souls? No, it is of our flesh that we are so tender tender of labor, tender of trouble, tender of our credit, of our name and reputation: a tender shoulder we have, a tender hand, a tender foot; they can bear nothing, and do nothing; nothing can touch our flesh, nothing can touch our idols, our ease, or our estates, but we shrink and smart, and are put to pain. God may be smitten, and we feel it not; the gospel may be smitten, the church may be smitten, conscience may be smitten, and it moves us not. We can fear an affliction, fear a reproach; that we so much feared a temptation or a sin. We cannot lack bread but we feel the want; we cannot want clothes, or a house, or a friend, but we feel it; we cannot want our sleep, our quiet, our pleasure, our respect from men, but we feel it; any thing that pinches our flesh pierces our heart. We cannot pine, or languish in our bodies, but we feel it; a fever or an ague, a consumption, dropsy, or any bodily sickness, O, it makes us sick at heart; a froward yoke-fellow, an unthrifty servant, an ill neighbor, a scoff, a slight cannot be borne; but 0, how much sin can be borne! “While our flesh will bear nothing, how much can conscience bear, and never complain.
Christians, consider. When our flesh must be thus caressed, whatever corne of it must be tenderlv fed, must have soft raiment, soft lodging, soft usage be dealt gently with, though to maintain it conscience must be racked, and racked, and wasted; when our wills cannot be crossed, our appetites cannot be denied, but a tumult follows, the soul is in an uproar, and conscience meanwhile must be denied, and. sent away in silence; when the word works no more, when the prints of it are not received, the power of it is resisted; when the rod works no more, when our stripes make no sign, when the lashes on our backs touch not our hearts; when we remain so vain and so wanton, so wilful, carnal, and earthly, after the Lord hath been preaching and chastising us into a better frame; when we stand upon our terms, keep our distances, our animosities, our heats and heights of spirit, our censurings, our quarrellings one with another, Christian with Christian, professor with professor, after the Lord hath been beating us together to make us friends, and all to teach us more humility and charity is this our brokenness? Is this our tenderness, when upon any of the -Lord’s rougher dealing with us, smiting our faces, throwing us on our backs, trampling us in the dirt, we are yet no more brought on our knees? Is this our brokenness, when the Lord hath been awakening us out of sleep, putting his spurs and goads in our sides to quicken us on our way; calling to us, “Arise, sleepers, stir up your spirits, sluggards, mend your .pace: I will not be put off as I have been; no more such loitering and idling and trifling and halting as hath been; I must have another manner of service, of praying and hearing and walking and working, than hath been: be zealous and amend; more labor, more care, more watchfulness, more activity, more of the spirit and soul of what you profess?” “When the Lord hath been thus goading and spurring us on, and though our flesh feels, yet our hearts will not feel, nor answer the goad or spur, is tins an evidence of tenderness?
When great duties offer little, and lesser are none; when great sins are infirmities, and little ones are nothing; when lying and defrauding, when false weights, false wares, and false dealings, when defaming, backbiting, tale-bearing, railing, reviling, do stand for little more than ciphers; when fellowship and familiarity with evil men in their sins, and compliance with or connivance at their wickedness; when sinful corn-tings and complimentings of such, to the hardening them in their ways, do pass for virtues and ‘civilities; when frothy, wanton discourse and communication, when scoffing and making a sport at the sins or infirmities of others, when sinful, vain jesting, wherein rather conscience than wit must be denied when all these pass for our ornaments rather than our evils, where is our tenderness?
And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
~ Jeremiah 32:39
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
~ Ephesians 2:10
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
hat they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
~ Ezekiel 11:19-20
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
~ Matthew 13:5
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
~ 2 Corinthians 3:3