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PART II. THE LIFE OF FAITH AND LOVE FOLLOWED BY THE CRUCIFIXION OF THE LIFE OF NATURE.


CHAPTER SECOND.


Remarks on unrestrained and inordinate Desires.


IF it is our purpose to devote ourselves to the Lord without reserve, it is important that we should look seriously and closely into the nature and degree of our Desires. It is true, desires are an essential part of our nature. As natural principles, such as the desire of life, the desire of food, the desire of knowledge, the desire of society, they have their place, their laws, their uses. But the difficulty is, that in the natural man, and also in the partially sanctified man, they are not adequately superintended and controlled by the principle of divine love. They multiply themselves beyond due limits; they are often self-interested, inordinate, and evil. So much so as sometimes to bring the whole man into subjection. Desires thus inordinate and selfish, which are characterized, among other things, by the fatal trait of inward agitation and restlessness, cannot be too much guarded against.

In support of the remark, which has just been made, we proceed to observe in the first place, that unrestrained desires always imply guilt.— The man, whose desires are unrestrained, is a man, that chooses to have his own way, lives his own life, operates upon his own stock; and, in a word, claims to be a God in his own right. It is obvious, that under a divine government there can be no virtue without subordination. The moment, therefore, that the desire, which is inherent in any creature, gets the ascendency and violates the law of obedience to the Supreme Ruler, that moment he is no longer the same being; but has undergone a change, as fatal as it is sudden, from truth to falsehood and from honor to guilt. How important is it, then, that the natural desires should be checked and subdued; and that they should be subdued to that point, where they shall be practically lost in the one preeminent and gracious desire, of knowing and doing the will of God.

(2.) — We should guard against irregular desires not only because they imply guilt, but because they tend to render one miserable. The laws of the mind are such, that irregular and inordinate desires can never be fully and permanently gratified. If they meet with a present gratification, they always lay the foundation for their own re-existence in the shape of subsequent and still stronger desires, which will fail of being gratified. A mind, which is under the dominion of such urgent but ungratified desires, can never be at rest, can never be happy. It is inwardly goaded onward, without the possibility of consolation and peace.

And it is in this manner, that Satan, impelled by desires which aim at supreme dominion without the possibility of ever being satisfied, is consumed inwardly and forever by a flame, that can never be extinguished. This, it is true, is not the only source of his misery: but it is a principal one. Desires, therefore, conform in this respect to the universal law, viz. that guilt always brings misery. Have we not, then, sufficient reason for saying, that all irregular and inordinate desires should be especially guarded against?

(3.) — We remark again, that all irregular and unsanctified desires stand directly in the way of the operations of the Spirit of God upon the soul; the obstacle they present being in proportion to the strength of the desire. God in the person of the Holy Ghost would immediately set up his dominion in all hearts, were it not for the obstacle presented by desires. God loves his creatures. And he wants nothing of us, but that we should remove the obstacles which shut him out of our hearts. It is self evident that desires and purposes of our own, in distinction from God's desires and purposes, inasmuch as they are not in the position of obedience and are not in the line of God's inward movements, are incompatible with his dominion in the soul. If, therefore, we would be without guilt and misery, if we would enjoy renovation and liberty of spirit, and would have God enthroned in our hearts as our king and sovereign, we must cease from desires. That is to say, we must cease from natural or unsanctified desires. We must desire nothing, on the one hand, out of the will of God; and must refuse nothing on the other, that happens to us in conformity to his will. And it is thus and thus only, that God can become to us an indwelling and paramount principle of life and action. Our All in All.