Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Christian is what his heart is

Richard Sibbes continues from the Song of Songs in the fourth of his Bowels Opened series:
“I sleep, but my heart wakes, etc.” SONG 5:2.
He defines the heart as "all the powers of the soul, the inward man" and observes:
(1.) There is good and evil in a Christian. We are mixed. We can be sleepy. (2) A Christian may know how it is with himself. 
"In a dungeon where is nothing but darkness, both on the eye that should see and on that which should be seen, he can see nothing; but where there is a supernatural principle, where there is this mixture, there the light of the Spirit searches the dark corners of the heart. A man that has the Spirit knows both; he knows himself and his own heart. The Spirit has a light of its own..."
(3) We should acknowledge the good and the bad - not bearing false witness against ourselves, not denying God's work in us nor our sin. The Christian then (1) though sleepy knows themselves to be that (2) still sides with God (3) even when sleepy (4) has an awakeness of heart (5) remains inwardly awake
"there remains affection answerable to their judgment, which, though they find, and feel it not for a time, it being perhaps scattered, yet there is a secret love to Christ, and to his cause and side, joined with joy in the welfare of the church and people of God; rejoicing in the prosperity of the righteous, with a secret grief for the contrary."
What to do with this?
1. Magnify the goodness of God that continues in us by his Spirit. Consider God's mercy in doing good to us when there was nothing good in us.
2. Enter our hearts to find the grace of God. Like Peter say "Lord, you know that I love you".
(1) God's children never totally fall from grace: Though we may be drowsy our hearts are new. "There is always a seed remaining. An immortal seed that we are begotten by... there was life still in the root... a man may say of a Christian in his worst state, His life is in him still; he is not dead, but sleeps; 'his heart wakes.'"
(2) This is the testimony of Scripture and of God's people: "These two never fail on God's part, his love, which is unchangeable, and his grace, a fruit of his love; and two on our part, the impression of that love, and the gracious work of the new creature... There is always spiritual life... Let us comfort ourselves, therefore, in this for the time to come, that in all the uncertainty of things in this life we have today and lose tomorrow, as we see in Job, there is somewhat a saint may build on that is constant and unmoveable. 'I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed,'"
3. A Christian is what his heart is. God does not just want the heart but "...A sound Christian does what he does from the heart; he begins the work there. What good he does he loves in his heart first, judges it to be good, and then he does it... The church says "I sleep" but "So far as he says he is asleep, he is awake. Now, the church confesses that she was asleep by that part that was awake in her. Other men do not complain, are not sensible of their sleepiness and slumbering, but compose themselves to slumber, and seek darkness, which is a friend of sleep."
4. Being awake is a blessed state.

But, how do we keep our souls awake? (Tomorrow)

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