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MATTHEW XII. 34.
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.
THE particular use to which the Saviour applies this remark, is as a criterion of sincere religion. He was reproving the uncharitable surmises of the Pharisees; and he brought the matter at once to this simple test. As a man is, so will he speak. The tenor of conversation determines the character; for he says, "Either make the tree good and its fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt; for a tree is known by its fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye being evil speak good things. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things."
It is not, however, my intention to enter upon` the examination of the text as a test of a character, as a means of discriminating between the evil and the good. I merely wish to present it before you as it affects one side of the question, and to lead you to consider from it, the rule which it suggests for the conversation of those who are really Christian. Out of the abundant treasure of his heart, the mouth of the good man speaketh good things. Here is an exhibition to us of the natural habit of the truly good man, in his intercourse with his fellow-men; and it presents to us some interesting points of inquiry. There is the subject that engages his heart: The abundance with which his heart is filled; and, The result of this on his conversation. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." A consideration of these several topics may, by the blessing of God, have a very important influence upon our own conduct and character. May the Spirit of the Lord, the giver of all good things, with whom is the preparation of the heart, and the answer of the tongue, impart through the instrumentality of the word, some lasting benefit to our souls.
Notice then, First, The subject which should occupy the Christian. It is the aboundings of grace. "Where sin hath abounded, there grace did much more abound." It is the work of God's unspeakable compassion in the redemption of lost souls, that should occupy the attention; for all things else are
infinitely below this. Nothing else can be compared with it. If the grace of God in the gospel be true, and it cannot be fairly questioned, then every fair mind must allow that there is nothing so worthy of our best attention.
There is an inconceivable richness in this scheme of redemption, which demands our admiration :— Salvation for the lost, life for the dead, holiness for the polluted, and eternal life for the condemned and perishing soul: "that as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." And the more we direct our attention to the grace of God, the more we ascertain of its abundance.
How full is the acquittal of the guilty condemned sinner! We were enemies to God, ungodly and helpless; and death reigned over us; and judgment was pronounced against us to condemnation ; and our own conscience tells us we have deserved it. And yet "by the righteousness of one," even our crucified Lord and Master, the "free gift comes upon us to justification of life," and we are reconciled to God by the precious blood of his own dear Son. To such creatures, so miserably lost, what could be dearer than a full, free, and irreversible pardon! But surely the blessing is enhanced when it flows to us through the bleeding heart of the giver; and when that which is life to us is death to him; when the curse and the pu
nishment of the Son of God are our complete acquittal. He was "made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
How abundant, also, is the provision for our deliverance from the power of sin. All the difficulty with which we have to contend is provided for; and we have only to come to the means of grace, and spiritual life, habitual holiness and purity, and all the graces of the Christian character, and the peculiar mercy of Christian steadiness and consistency, are really given to those who seek sincerely for such blessings. God imparts in the appointed means of grace the influence of his Holy Spirit, and that influence subdues sin, and generates every holy disposition, desire, and habit. There is the promise, and an ample one it is, "From all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you, a new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will put within you. And I will take away from you the heart of stone, and I will give you a heart of flesh." And again, "I will put my law into their minds, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people."
And the way of obtaining the promise is as distinctly marked out also. It is simply "looking unto Jesus;" looking by faith to this gracious Saviour, as St Paul says in 2nd Corinthians chap. iii. "We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same
image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord." If we look into the glass of God's word, and see his glory in Christ Jesus,-the contemplation of that glory shall work a holy change in us, and conform us to the image of God's holy and blessed Son.
How abundant also is the grace of God towards his people in their experience, in the history of their every day! How kindly and compassionately he deals with his children. "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him; for he knoweth their frame, he remembereth that we are dust." The dealings of God with Israel well represent his care of his believing people, "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness. He led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye; as an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them and beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead them." This is precisely the believer's experience of the gracious teaching and special providence of God. How many are the proofs which the holiest Christian gives of weakness and waywardness, of the original carnality of his heart:proofs that even yet, if he were left alone, he would return again to the evil from which he has been taken, and to the entanglements from which he has been delivered! And how abundant has been the grace, that silently, secretly, kindly, but effec