The Plague of a Man’s Own Heart, What it is, to Whom Discovered 1 KINGS 8:38 by John Gill


The Plague of a Man’s Own
Heart, What it is, to Whom
Discovered
1 KINGS 8:38
by John Gill
(London: Wm. Hardcastle, 1814)
Thou hast given a standard to them that fear thee;
that it may be displayed because of the truth
— Psalm 60:4
SERMON 16
And The Encouragement Given To Such Persons To Expect
Pardon Of All Their Sins.
1 KINGS 8:38
Which shall know every man the plague of his own heart.

The whole verse reads thus: What prayer and supplication soever he made
by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the
plague of his own heart; and spread forth his hands towards this house (to
complete the sense, it follows) then hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling
place, and forgive, and do, etc.
THESE words are part of the prayer which Solomon offered up to God, at
the dedication of the temple. After he had addressed the divine Being, by
mentioning several of his attributes, and expressed his admiration that he
should dwell upon the earth among men; he requests of God, that not only
the present prayers might be graciously answered; but that all the future
supplications of the Israelites, whether as a body of people, or individuals,
might be regarded. In a more particular manner he entreats of the Lord,
that when those who shall he be sensible of the plague of their own hearts,
and distressed by it, apply to him for relief, that he would hear and forgive.
Thus the words I have read are introduced: now, what I shall endeavour to
do, will be,
I. To shew you what the plague of the heart is what is meant by it, and
what may be learned from it.
II. The knowledge that some persons have of the plague of their own
heart. I say, some persons; because it seems clear, from the very manner in
which the words are expressed, that all do not know the plague of their
own heart..3
III. What those persons may do, who are thus sensible of the plague of
their own heart. They may spread out their hands to the Lord, and look
towards his holy temple, in hope of having relief from thence; and even the
forgiveness of their sins.
I. I shall inquire what is meant by the plague of the heart; and what we
may learn from this expression, Which shall know every man the plague of
his own heart.
In the first place, this plainly suggests, that the heart of man is not whole
and sound. It is unhealthful; it is distempered; it is attended with a very
grievous disease; for what more grievous than the plague? The disease of
the heart of man is sin, and particularly indwelling sin; the sin of our nature,
which has its seat in the heart. Every sin is a disease, as is clear from what
the Psalmist says,
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases
(

Psalm 103:3).
Here diseases and iniquities are represented as the same; and the healing of
these diseases is signified by the forgiveness of iniquity.
Now as every sin is a disease, so more especially indwelling sin, or the sin
of our nature. This is a natural and hereditary disease to the sons of men;
there are some bodily diseases, which come immediately from parents to
children; and of this sort, in a moral sense, is the sin of our nature. We are,
by nature, children of wrath; and the reason is, we are by nature, sinners;
otherwise, we could not have been by nature children of wrath. Sin is
natural to us: it is as natural for one of Adam’s fallen race to sin, as it is to
do any act whatever. It is natural to men; it is derived to them in a natural
way. It is hereditary: we are conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; born
in sin, and so are called, transgressors from the womb. As our first parent
Adam was, and as our immediate ones are, so in course must their
offspring be; for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.
This disease is epidemical and universal; all are tainted and affected with it.
There are diseases in a natural sense which are called epidemical, which,
when they come into a village, a town, or a country, go through them; but
then, be they as epidemical or universal as they may, there are always some
that escape; but in this case, there is not one, no not one of Adam’s race.
For almost six thousand years there has not been one of Adam’s posterity.4
that has escaped this disease; except the man Christ Jesus, who descended
not from him; by ordinary generation; otherwise, all mankind have been
infected with this plague, this pestilential disease, sin. All, says the apostle,
are under sin. We have before proved, says he, that both Jews and
Gentiles; which is a division of all mankind into its proper parts, and
includes the whole,
we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all
under sin (

Romans 3:9):
all under the power of sin; involved in the guilt of sin; and liable to
punishment for it. This is the case of all mankind: all have sinned in their
first head, Adam. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Yea, Jehovah himself is represented as looking down from heaven, taking a
survey of the children of men, of their qualities and actions; and the result
of this survey is, that
they are all gone out of the way, they are together become
unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one
(

Romans 3:10, 11, 12).
Now if there were any person free from this infectious disease, sin;
undoubtedly the omniscient eye of God would observe it. It is most
manifest, then, that there are none of all the individuals of human nature
that have escaped it: all are infected with it all; the body, and the members
of it: the soul, and all the powers thereof. It may be said, of men in general,
as it is of the body of the people of Israel, that the whole head is sick, and
the whole heart is faint. It is an epidemical disease.
It is a very nauseous and loathsome disease: the Psalmist speaks of it as
such,
My loins are filled with a loathsome disease (

Psalm 38:7).
He had respect to sin, or the fruit, and effect of it; for he had before
observed, that there was no soundness in his flesh, nor any rest in his
bones, because of his sin (

Psalm 38:3). This disease makes a person
loathsome to Jehovah; who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. This is
a disease that mankind are very early infected with; therefore, the apostate
sons of Adam are represented by an infant cast out into the open field, to
the loathing of its person in the day that it was born. Being infected with
such a disease as this, it cannot but be loathsome in the eyes of God: and.5
sin, that makes us loathsome in the sight of God, makes us loathsome in
our own sight too, when we are led to take a proper view of it. Hence
those words of the apostle Paul, who had a large experience of the nature,
force, and power of indwelling sin;
O wretched man, that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of
this death? (

Romans 7:24);
or from this dead body, which I carry about with me. Do but represent
unto yourselves how loathsome it must be for a living man to have a dead
body fastened to him, and be obliged to carry it along with him wherever
be goes; and to have it wherever he is. Just so it is with the people of God,
who have any knowledge of this pestilential disease, this body of death,
which they continually carry about with them.
This is a disease, also, that is mortal in itself, a deadly disease; as the
plague is generally supposed to be. There are diseases which are not unto
death; but the disease of sin is unto death. We read of one sin in particular
which is unto death. It is emphatically so, namely, the unpardonable sin;
because it is not forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to
come (

Matthew 7:32). But every sin is, in its own nature, deserving of
death.
The wages of every sin, is death (

Romans 6:23);
eternal death. This disease is incurable, except by the grace of God and the
blood of Christ. What Jeremiah says of the people of Israel, that their
bruise was incurable, and their wound grievous, because there was none
to plead their cause that they might be bound up, and they had no healing
medicines, may be said of all mankind, with respect to this disease of sin. It
is incurable by any methods they themselves are capable of making use of,
or others for them:
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound; then
went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb; yet could he
not heal you, nor cure you of your wound (

Hosea 5:13).
So let a sinner, that is diseased with sin, use whatever means he can, short
of Christ, and his blood, they will be all ineffectual. Christ is the only
physician that can cure the plague of the heart; and his blood is the
sovereign balm. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?
yes; and that Physician is Christ, that balm is his blood..6
Now the disease I am speaking of, is called the plague: the plague of the
heart. The plague is a distemper which, you all know, is very threatening,
wasting, and destroying; and exceeding shocking and distressing. It is
called the
pestilence that walks in darkness, and the destruction that wasteth
at noon day (

Psalm 91:6).
It destroys its thousands and ten thousands, when God gives it a
commission; as in the case of David’s numbering the people. It was sent at
his own choice, and no less than seventy thousand persons were
immediately destroyed by it. Whenever we hear of the plague breaking out
in any of the countries abroad, to which our ships trade; we are always
alarmed, lest they should, with the goods brought from thence, bring that
dreadful distemper along with them; and all proper caution is taken to
prevent, it. Whenever we hear of it nearer our borders, in a neighboring
country, what an alarm does it give us? About forty years ago (This sermon
was preached, Sept. 19, 1762), or it may be somewhat more, some of you may
remember it broke forth in Marseilles, in France. What a consternation
were the inhabitants of this city in! How many meetings for prayer were set
up, and held for some time. But there is a plague nearer than this, it is in
the heart of every man, and yet little or no notice is taken of it. A plague of
more fatal consequences than a temporal disease is. The latter only
destroys the body, but this destroys the soul to all eternity, unless it is
cured by the grace of God, and the blood of Christ. It is the plague of the
heart; and we carry it about with us.
The word here made use of, is sometimes used of the plague of leprosy; as
in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the book of Leviticus. Persons
infected with that plague (after it was a clear case that so it was with them)
put a covering upon their upper lip, and cried, unclean, unclean
(

Leviticus 13:45). All sinners, like wise who are made sensible of the
leprosy of sin, and that they are infected with it, humbly flee to Christ, the
great physician, and say, as the leper in the gospel, Lord, if thou wilt, thou
canst make me clean. This leprosy of sin, is not only like that, which was
outward in a man; but like that got into a house, which could not be
removed ‘till the house was pulled down. Of this kind is the plague of the
heart; the leprosy of sin in us; for it is an inward, spreading one; there is no
removing of it ‘till this earthly house of our tabernacle is taken down.
Hence, says the apostle, We, in this tabernacle, do groan, being burdened..7
These hints may serve to give you some idea of the plague of a man’s
heart, indwelling sin and corruption. But,
Secondly. I shall give you a fuller view of this plague of the heart, by laying
before you the state and condition of the heart of man, according to the
scriptural account of it; which is this: A man’s heart is wicked yea,
wickedness itself. So it is said in

Psalm 5:9. Their inward part, that is,
their heart, is very wickedness. It is not only wicked, but wickedness itself;
not only wickedness, but extreme wickedness; that is, extremely wicked.
The carnal mind is said to be enmity against God (

Romans 8:7): not
barely an enemy to God, but enmity itself; which expresses the great
degree of enmity in the carnal mind of man, to God and all that is good.
Sin is not only sinful; but it is exceeding sinful: and it is made so to appear
to a truly enlightened mind, as it was to the apostle Paul; who tells us, that
sin by the commandment, became exceeding sinful. Such is the heart of
man. It is wicked, wickedness itself: it is sinful, exceeding sinful; yea, it is
the seat of all sin.
The corruption of nature, most properly the plague of our heart, is
represented by the apostle, as that which dwells in us:
It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me
(

Romans 7:17).
By sin that dwelt in him, he means not any particular sin, distinct from
others; but an assemblage of sins, corruptions, lusts, iniquities; for he
afterwards represents it, not only as a person, but as a law, having power
and authority; and, as a body, consisting of divers members, divers lusts
and pleasures (

Titus 3:3). The heart of man is like Babylon; a cage of
every unclean and hateful bird, and the hold of every foul spirit. It is the
seat and source of all sin. It is the forge, where all is hammered; for the evil
heart devises evil imaginations. There is the mint of sin; it comes from
thence. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
fornications, thefts, false-witness, blasphemies; these are the things which
defile a man (

Matthew 15:19, 20). Out of the abundance of the
wickedness of the heart, the mouth speaketh bad things. All the evil actions
of life have their rise from hence: and you may judge hereby of the
malignity of man’s heart, what a plague is there. It is so bad, that Jeremiah
says,
it is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.8
(

Jeremiah 17:9).
It is deceitful. There is deceitfulness in every sin: particularly in indwelling
sin, the corruption of our nature. The apostle cautions the Hebrews to
exhort one another daily, lest any of them should be hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin (

Hebrews 3:13). The old man is said to be corrupt
according to the deceitful lusts of which he consists. So deceitful is man’s
heart, and the lust that dwells there, that even the best of men have been
deceived thereby. Not only the apostle Paul was deceived by it, before his
conversion, agreeable to that saying, Sin, taking occasion by the
commandment, deceived me; and by it slew me: but even after conversion,
the best and wisest of men have been deceived by their own hearts, and the
deceitfulness thereof. For a man promises himself that in sinning, which he
never enjoys. He promises to himself a great deal of pleasure in sinning:
hence divers lusts and pleasures are joined together, as if they were one
and the same; or, as if men, in serving the one, enjoyed the other. This is
proposed, this is expected; but is it enjoyed? No; the pleasures expected
from sin, are all an illusion, all a dream; that fantastic pleasure which is
enjoyed, is a short-lived one. The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and
issue, at last, in bitterness and death. Sin, though it is rolled in the mouth,
and kept under the tongue as a sweet morsel, proves, in the end, as the
poison of asps.
Men promise themselves much profit in sinning, which they never enjoy.
This was the temptation of our first parents, with which they were imposed
upon, and deceived. Satan suggested they should be as Gods, knowing
good and evil. This was the bait, more knowledge; whereas, by dallying
with the temptation, instead of gaining more knowledge, they lost in good
measure, what they had. A man’s heart promises him much profit in
sinning; that he shall gain much riches in the way of illicit trade, and other
unlawful practices; but how frequently is he disappointed and were it
otherwise, What would it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and
lose his own soul?
Sometimes men propose to themselves and expect a great deal of honour
among ungodly men, by following their examples, and complying with their
customs; but how often are they disappointed! Besides, when the
conscience comes to be awakened, and when the apostle’s question is
regarded, What fruit had ye in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed?
they will readily acknowledge, they had none at all..9
A man proposes to himself liberty in sinning but does he enjoy it? No; he is
brought into more and more bondage.
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants
of corruption. Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he
brought in bondage (

2 Peter 2:19).
Whoever commits sin, is the servant of sin, the slave of it: Is Ephraim a
servant? is he a home-born slave? Verily he is and so is every ungodly
man.
They promise themselves peace; that they shall have peace, though they
walk every man after the imagination of his own evil heart, to add
drunkenness to thirst: but do they enjoy it? No: for while they are crying,
peace, peace, sudden destruction comes upon them. How deceitful is the
heart of man! That is promised which is never enjoyed. There is nothing in
a man’s heart to be trusted to: he that trusteth in his own heart, is a fool:
even he that trusts in the goodness of his heart, in the supposed integrity of
his heart, and of his conversation, which he supposes springs from thence.
Persons of this character, trust in themselves that they are righteous, and
despise others. They trust in themselves, that they are rich, and increased
in goods, and stand in need of nothing: when, at the same time, they are
wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; and will find
themselves most miserably deceived another day. The heart of man is
deceitful: the plague is in it; indwelling sin, and corruption. There is
nothing more deceitful than the heart of man. It is exceedingly wicked;
wicked to the highest degree of wickedness: which seems to be the
meaning of the expression.
All that is in the heart of man is wicked. The thoughts and the imagination
of the thoughts of the heart are so, according to

Genesis 6:5. So in

Matthew, chapter 15 verse 19, Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.
Men’s thoughts are evil. The thought of wickedness is sin; abominable in
the sight of God. The apostle therefore exhorts Simon Magus to pray that
the thoughts of his heart might be forgiven (

Acts 8:22). The sensible
sinner has reason to hope for this; therefore the wicked man is encouraged
to forsake his way, and the righteous man his thoughts, and to turn to the
Lord, who will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will
abundantly pardon (

Isaiah 55:7); both evil thoughts and evil actions.
Yea, the imagination of the thoughts is evil: the first formation of evil
thoughts; or those motions, as the apostle calls them, of sin, which are in.10
our members (

Romans 7:5), are evil. You read of some that thought
themselves wise men, and good men; but became vain in their imaginations,
and their evil hearts were darkened (

Romans 1:21): and of others, more
openly profane, that resolved to walk according to the imagination of their
evil hearts (Jeremiah 812). Every thought, and every imagination of the
heart, of man are evil.,
God is not in all their thoughts (

Psalm 10:4);
nor, indeed, in any of their thoughts. His thoughts are not like theirs. His
are holy, theirs are unholy: his are thoughts of peace, theirs are thoughts of
evil. No good thoughts arise from the wicked heart of man. No good
things come out of this Nazareth; for there is no good thing in it. Every
imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is evil; only so, and always so.
The imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is said to be evil from his
youth (

Genesis 8:21): hence he is represented as like the troubled sect,
which cannot rest, continually casting up mire and dirt (

Isaiah 57:20).
The affections of the heart are inordinate; all out of course; run in a wrong
channel, and to wrong objects. Men are lovers of pleasure, more than
lovers of God.
Their hearts are set upon the world and the things of it; the lusts of the
flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life. The mind of man is
corrupted, depraved, distempered. There is vanity in it; hence men are said
to walk in the vanity of their minds. They are empty of all that is good; yea,
they are averse thereunto; for the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it
is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be. The mind is
darkened by sin, has no light into divine and spiritual things; is darkness
itself; calls evil good, and good evil; puts darkness for light, and light for
darkness. The understanding being depraved, it passes a wrong judgment
on things. Conscience being darkened, does not perform its office: being in
many seared, as it were, with a red hot iron; and in every one it is evil.
Happy those who have their hearts sprinkled, by the blood of Jesus, from
an evil conscience. Their will is stubborn and inflexible. It is not subject to
God’s law, nor to his gospel. It is like the adamant, and called a stony
heart (

Ezekiel 11:19). Now, by all this, and much more, which the
Scripture says on the subject, we may judge of the state of the heart of
man; and in a good measure learn what is meant by the plague of it. It must
be in a most sad condition, while under the influence of this pestilential
disease..11
Further. The plague of the heart is very deep and secret: it is an evil which
none are acquainted with but a man’s own conscience and God. Secret
sins, heart sins, these may be called the plague of the heart. Lord (says the
Psalmist) thou hast set our secret sins in the light of thy countenance
(

Psalm 90:8). Secret sins, which are in their own hearts; or, if
committed, none but God and their own hearts are privy to them. Yea,
there are some sins that a man himself is not privy to; they pass through his
heart, and he, not being always upon his guard, cannot take notice of every
thing that is done. Even a good man cannot; hence David says,
Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults
(

Psalm 19:12).
Or, the plague of the heart may denote such sins as are in a particular
manner predominant in a man’s heart. There are some sins which may be
termed a man’s own way (

Isaiah 53:6); constitutional sins, or sins which
most easily beset (

Hebrews 12:1). In some pride, in some the lust of
impurity; in others ambition, and so on. These are common and prevailing
sins in the hearts of men, and may he called the plague of their hearts; and
which give great distress to those who have the grace of God. They find
them to be a plague: indeed their daily experience proves it.
There is an expression in a parallel text where the same thing is intended,
though in somewhat different language.
Then (says Solomon) what prayer, or what supplication soever
shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every
one shall know his own sore, and his own grief, and shall spread
forth his hand in this house; then hear thou from heaven thy
dwelling place, and forgive (

2 Chronicles 6:29, 30).
What is called in Kings, the plague of his own heart, is here denominated
his own sore, and his own grief. This may a little enlarge our idea of the
plague of the heart. A man’s own sore, and his own grief. His sore; that
which gives him a great deal of pain and uneasiness, as a sore does. So the
corruption of nature does to a sensible sinner; when he is pricked to the
heart, wounded through a sense of sin, how grievous and intolerable is it!
The spirit of a man may sustain his infirmity, the outward infirmity of his
body; he may be able to bear it, with some degree of patience; but a spirit
wounded with a sense of sin, who can bear? This is a sore which is very
painful indeed! Every man his own sore, and his own grief. Sin causes.12
grief; and nothing more than the inward corruption of nature. David, we
find expressing his grief on this account.
I go mourning all the day long; for my loins are filled with a
loathsome disease, and there is no soundness in my flesh
(

Psalm 38:6, 7);
and so all good men do. They are like the doves of the valley, every one
mourning for his own iniquity; especially the sin of his nature, which is his
own. Hence Jabez’s prayer to the Lord, was, Keep me from evil, that it
may not grieve me (

1 Chronicles 4:10): the corruption of nature, and its
breakings forth.
This is what Solomon calls a man’s sore and grief; because it produces
grief to the people of God. They are grieved, because it is contrary to the
holy nature of God, and his righteous law; against the Lord, who is their
Maker, their Benefactor, their God, and Father: against him, who hath
shewn so much favor to them, and expressed so much love towards them.
It cuts them to the heart that they should sin against this God; and that his
name should be dishonored in any measure by them, as it is by sin. It
causes the enemy to open his mouth; and the way of truth is evil spoken of.
This grieves the people of God: and because hereby the Holy Spirit of God
is grieved,
Grieve not the Holy Spirit (

Ephesians 4:30):
and then the apostle goes on to mention various sins whereby the Spirit of
God may be grieved. He who convinces them of sin, of righteousness, and
of judgment; he who hath been their comforter, and is the Spirit of faith in
them, the Spirit, of adoption to them, and the earnest of their heavenly
inheritance; that he should be grieved by them is grievous to themselves.
So, likewise, because hereby they are deprived of communion with God.
Iniquity, in this respect, separates between God and the soul. They are
filled with confusion, distress, and contrition of mind, as Peter was through
his fall. But thus much may suffice for the opening of the plague of the
heart. From all this somewhat may be gathered, and your own experience
will furnish you within more, upon this humiliating subject. But
II. There is a knowledge of this. Some persons have a knowledge of it,
and some have not. This is supposed in the text, by “All thy people Israel,
which shall know, every man the plague of his own heart.” That is, as many.13
of them as shall know the plague of their own hearts; suggesting, that all
do not. Some do not know this. Carnal men do not. Only spiritual persons,
that are under the influence of the Spirit of God, who convinces of sin, of
righteousness, and of judgment. As for others, they know nothing of the
plague of their own heart. They may possibly know something of the
nature of sin, the difference between moral good and evil, by the light of
nature, the laws of men, and the general notions obtained among men; but
they know nothing of the spring of evil actions, of indwelling sin, the
fountain of iniquity. To this they are strangers; and more especially such as
are grown up to work all iniquity; whose consciences are cauterized, or
seared with a hot iron. All those who are whole, know not the plague of
their own hearts. The whole need not a physician, but those that are sick.
The former need a physician as much as the latter; but they know not that
they stand in need of one. The reason of which is, they do not know the
plague of their own hearts; and therefore, in their own apprehensions, they
need no physician. It is quite the reverse, however, with those that are sick;
that is, who are sensible of the sickness: for, otherwise, all men are sick;
but our Lord means, them that are sensible of it, as Ephraim was: “When
Ephraim saw his sickness” (

Hosea 5:13). Now those who are sensible
of their sickness, feel their need of a physician; but those who are insensible
of sickness, are like him, whom the wise man describes as upon the top of
a mast; who says,
They have stricken me, and I was not sick; they have beaten me,
and I felt it not (

Proverbs 23:35).
So it is with such insensible sinners as are whole in their own esteem.
Those who think themselves increased in goods, and in need of nothing, do
not know the plague of their own hearts. Those who imagine they need no
repentance, do not know the plague of their own hearts. The pharisee
knows not the plague of his own heart: for his language is, I am not as
other men are. The apostle Paul did not know the plague of his own heart,
at the time to which he refers, when he says, Touching the righteousness
which is in the law, blameless. The perfectionist knows not the plague of
his own heart; if he did, he would not say, he is free from sin. Job says,
If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so
clean; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own cloths
should abhor me (

Job 9:30, 31).
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (

1 John 1:8):.14
but good men know the plague of their own hearts; being enlightened by
the Spirit of God, convincing them of sin, of righteousness, and judgment.
Such as are made light in the Lord, and made acquainted with salvation by
him; are made light, so as to know themselves and the plague of their own
hearts. Those in whose hearts God has commanded the light to shine, not
only see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; but they see the
vileness of their nature, and the corruption of their hearts and that they
know this, appears from the ingenuous confession of sin, which they make;
not only of the outward actions of sin, which they commit; but also of
indwelling sin. For while they are confessing the one, they are naturally led
to the other; as the Psalmist was,
I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me
(

Psalm 51:5).
This appears from the groanings of the saints; for they groan being
burdened, burdened with indwelling sin. So David says, (when speaking of
sin, on which account he had no rest in his bones),
My groaning is not hid from thee (

Psalm 38:9).
Saints, under the New Testament speak the same language (for the people
of God, under different dispensations, have the same experience in this
respect).
O wretched man that I am, (says the apostle), who shall deliver me
from the body of this death! (

Romans 8:24).
It appears by the feeling they have of a law in their members, warring
against the law of their minds; fighting one against the other; so that they
cannot do the things that they would. It appears from their non-dependence
upon any religious duties performed by them; for however outwardly
religious they may appear, in the sight of others, they are sensible of
imperfection in their services; they know there is not a just man upon
earth, that does good, and sinneth not; that there is strange distraction of
mind, wanderings of thoughts, and a mixture of sin even in their most holy
things. They cannot, therefore, depend upon any thing done by them; but
acknowledge, when they have done all they can, that they are but
unprofitable servants. It appears also, by their prayers against the plague
of their own hearts. This leads us to consider,.15
III. What those persons may do, who are sensible of the plague of their
own hearts. They may spread out their hands to the Lord, and make
supplication to him, under a sense of their great depravity. They may pray
that the Lord would keep them from the plague of their own hearts; that it
may not break forth to the grieving of their souls, or the dishonor of the
divine name; and that they be not destroyed thereby. Was David, when
reflecting on the power of his enemy, induced to say, I shall one day perish
by the hand of Saul? So the saints, when they behold the force of
corruption in them, fear they shall some day perish thereby: yet in the midst
of all their discouragements, they can spread out their hands to God, and
pray that he would mortify those corruptions of nature. Though the Lord
hath said, he will subdue their iniquities; it becomes them to pray that no
iniquity may have dominion over them: that this house of Saul might grow
weaker and weaker, while that of David grows stronger and stronger: that
the inward man might be renewed day by day, and the old man put off,
according to the former conversation: that though it be not destroyed, it
may be weakened; and also, that the Lord would grant fresh manifestations
of forgiving love, for sins of heart, as well as of life and conversation.
Upon the whole, this may serve to humble us before the Lord; when we
consider what we are, what we have about us, and what is in us; namely,
the plague of the heart. It is enough to humble the proudest heart, when
sensible of it; and cause the words of Job to be adopted, Behold, I am vile,
what shall I answer? I have heard of thee, by the hearing of the ear; but
now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I repent and abhor myself in dust and
ashes.
This also may lead us to wonder at the grace of God, that he should have
any regard to such diseased and corrupted creatures as we are; and that
God should dwell upon earth, in the hearts of sinful men, as in verse the
twenty-seventh. This is marvelous grace, indeed! This may lead us, who
know the plague of our own hearts, to be thankful to God, that he has not
left us to that blindness persons are under the influence of, who talk of the
goodness of their hearts; and see no need of the cleansing blood of Jesus,
that healing balsam. Blessed be God, he hath not left us to this. Such
neither know the disease, nor the physician; neither know the plague of
their own hearts nor how they are to be cured of it. God, blessed be his
name! hath opened our eyes to see our disease; and hath shewn us who the
Physician is. Let it then be our great concern, to shew forth the praises of
him, who hath called as out of darkness, into his marvelous light.

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