I Cannot Change My Own Heart Print
Written by James Hicks   
Monday, 18 February 2013 00:00

No. 81

Petersburg, Va.


If you are serious in saying, "I cannot change my own heart," yet can you not use God's prescribed means, in order to that blessed change? If you cannot act holily as a saint, can you not act rationally as a man? I appeal to your reason and conscience in some particulars. Is it impossible for you to attend upon the preaching of the gospel, which is God's power unto salvation, the seal by which he impresses his image, the glass though which his glory shines to the changing souls into the same likeness? Are you not as able to go to church as to the tavern; and to sit in the assembly of saints as of mockers? Is it impossible for you to consult the written word of God, and thence learn what you must be and do in order to blessedness?

Will not your eyes serve you to read the Bible as well as a playbook? Is it impossible to inquire of your minister, or a Christian neighbor, concerning the was and terms of blessedness? Cannot your tongue pronounce these words : "What shall I do to be save?" Yet further, Is it impossible to apply your thoughts to what you meet with suitable to your case, in attendance upon preaching, reading, or discourse? Have all such words a barbarous sound in your (y)ear. Can you not consider what they signify?  Can you no bethink yourself, Do the doctrines of God and Christ and the life to come, signify something, or nothing; or do they signify anything worth the considering, or that it is fit for me to take notice of?

And to proceed a little further, I pray you once more demand of yourself, and put your conscience closely to reply whether, when told that such things deserve your considera-




tion, it is not possible for your to use your considering power even about these things. Do but make this easy trial. See if you cannot select one hour on purpose, wherein to sit down by yourself alone, with this resolution: "I will spend this hour in consideration my eternal concerns" When you have obtained so much of yourself, set your thoughts at work - you will find them very apt to fly off from things you have no love for; but use your authority with yourself, tell your soul, "These things concern thy life." Taking these considerations along with thee, try if thou canst not think of these things, now actually suggested to they thoughts : Consider that thou hast a reasonable, immortal soul, which, as it is liable to eternal misery, is capable of eternal blessedness; that this blessedness consists in the vision of the blessed God, in being made like to him, and in the satisfaction that is thence to result to thee. Consider - what thy very objection supposeth - that thou findest the temper of thy spirit t be altogether indisposed and averse to such a blessedness. Is it not so; is not this thy very case? Feel now again thy heart : is it not at least coldly affected towards this blessed state?

Is it not then obvious to thee to consider, that the temper of thy spirit must be changed, or thou are undone; that inasmuch as thy blessedness lies in God, this change must lie in the alteration of thy dispositions, and the posture of thy spirit towards him? Further, Canst thou not consider the power and fixedness of thy aversion from God; and with how mighty a weight thy heart is held down from him? Try : lift at thy heart ; see if it will be raised God-ward and heaven ward. Dost thou not find it is as if thou wert lifting at a mountain; that it lies as dead weight, and stirs not? Ponder thy case in this respect. And then is it not to be considered, that thy time is passing away apace; that if thou let thyself alone, it is likely to be as bad with thee to-morrow as this day, and as bad the next day as to-marrow? If thy time expire and thou be snatched away in the state, what will become of thee?



Dost thou not therefore see a necessity of considering whatever may be most moving, and most likely to incline thy heart God-ward, and of pleading it more loudly and importunately with thyself? And canst thou not consider and reason the matter thus : "O my soul, what is the reason that thou so drawest back from thy God; that thou are so unwilling to be blessed by him ; that thou shouldst venture upon eternal perdition rather? What cause hath he ever given thee to dislike him? What is the ground of thy so mighty prejudice? Hath he ever done the hurt? Dost thou think he will not accept a returning soul? That would be to give the lie to his gospel; and it becomes not a perishing wretch so to provoke Him in whom is all its hope. Is the eternal glory an undesirable thing; or the everlasting burnings tolerable? Canst thou find a way of being forever blessed without God, whether he will or no; or is there a sufficient present pleasure in thy sinful distance from God, to outweigh heaven or hell? Darest thou venture upon a resolution of giving God and Christ their last refusal, or say thou wilt never hearken to them more; or darest thou venture to do what thou darest not resolve to do, and act the wickedness thou canst not think of, scorn eternal majesty and love, spurn and trample a bleeding Saviour?" Commune thus awhile with thyself; but if yet thou find thy heart relent nothing, thou canst yet further consider, that it lies not in thy power to turn thine own heart - or else how comest thou this to object? And hence, canst thou avoid considering that thou art in great straits; liable to perish, yea, sure to do so if thou continue in that spirit; and wholly unable to help thyself? Surely thou canst not but see this to be a most distressed case.

But I intend not to leave thee here; therefore let me furthermore demand of thee, What course wouldst thou take in any other distress, wherein thou knewsest not what to do to help thyself? Would not such an exigency, when thou findest thyself pinched and urged on every side and every way is shut



up to thee, that thou art beset with calamities and canst no way turn thyself to avoid them - would not such an exigency force thee down on thy knees, and set thee a crying to the God of mercy for relief and help? Is it impossible for thee to obey this dictate of nature - to represent the deplorable case of thy soul before Him that made it, and crave his merciful relief? Do not dispute the matter; thou canst not but see this is a possible and a rational course, as they case is. "Should not a people seek unto their God?" Fall down, therefore, low before him; prostrate thyself at the footstool of his mercy-seat. Tell him thou understandest him to be the Father of spirits, and the Father of mercies; that thou hast heard of his great mercy and pity towards the spirits of men in their forlorn, lapsed state; what a blessedness he hath designed for them; what means he hath provided to bring them to it. Tell him, thou only needest a temper of spirit suitable to the blessedness he invites thee to; thou canst not master and change thy sensual, earthly heart; thou knowest he easily can; thou are come to implore his help, that his blessed and Holy Spirit may descend and breathe upon thy stupid, dead soul, and may sweetly incline and move it towards him, that it may eternally rest in Him, and that thou mayest not perish, after so much done in order to thy blessedness, only for want of a heart to receive it. Tell him, thou comest upon his gracious encouragement, having heard he is as ready to give his Spirit to them that ask him, as parents to give bread to their craving children; that it is for life thou beggest; that it is not easy for thee to think of perishing for ever; that thou canst not desist and give up all thy hopes; that thou shat be in hell shortly, if he hear and help thee not. Cry unto him, with the publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner." And be sure that whosoever comes to him shall in no wise be cast out.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 14:54