I will run the way of your commandments, when you shall enlarge my heart.
The occupation of the heart is the great thing in religion, not because, the heart being mastered, other parts may be overlooked, for religion is the nourisher and not the despiser of intellect, but simply because, in the first place, until the heart is carried there can be no real conversion, for the converted man loves God, and love is from the heart, and because, in the second place, the conquest of the heart involves as a natural and necessary consequence the conquest of the remainder of the man.
I. Supposing that by the heart, the whole soul, with all its powers and affections, is intended, HOW COMES IT TO BE TRUE THAT GOD BY HIS GRACE ENLARGES THE SOUL? We take a man's understanding. We are accustomed to think and to say, that through busying himself with scientific inquiries, through all these processes of discipline which are furnished by the study of abstruse and sublime things, through converse with history and with the writings of illustrious men, through the exercising itself on those difficult and unsolved problems which are presented by the mysteries of nature and the fortunes of nations, we are accustomed to believe that by these and similar means the human understanding may be made stronger and more comprehensive. And we are far enough from underrating these prescribed modes of enlarging the mind. But, nevertheless, we are clear upon the point, that nothing more enlarges the understanding than the grace which God pours in upon it when He is engaged in carrying on to perfection the work of sanctification. For, if it be the contemplation of noble and majestic things which causes the understanding to shoot up its stature, and to amplify itself on the right hand and on the left, so that the mind remains dwarfish through not being brought into contact with gigantic truth, where will you find us such a nourisher, such a magnifier of the understanding, as religion, seeing that through the operations of God's grace there is a comparative abandonment of a survey of the created, and a fastening of the gaze on the Creator Himself, and the spirit is carried into a region inaccessible to an unconverted man, and is engaged in climbing truths which are never surmounted by the loftiest intelligence, and thus brought precisely into that intercourse with the mighty and the colossal, which tells most on its powers, quickening them into rapid growth, and bringing to light unsuspected resources? God is so magnificent, so wonderful, that it must be an effort to the soul to take in any discoveries which He makes of Himself; but the very effort will be an improving and invigorating thing. The soul will grow, through her strivings to embrace the infinite; the understanding will dilate as more and more of Deity presents itself to the grasp; and thus, from the beginning to the end, God is enlarging the heart. It is one great characteristic of a righteous man that he is gradually conforming his own will to the will of his Maker. It would be Christian perfection to have no will but God's will; and though we do not say that this perfection is actually obtained by any of the righteous on the earth, yet there will be a continual advance towards the attainment, so that the identification of wills, if not in every respect complete, will daily become more and more accurate. And a man's will being thus gradually exchanged for God's, there must be going forward an enlargement of the will.
II. You will not require much proof that THE RUNNING THE WAY OF GOD'S COMMANDMENTS FOLLOWS THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE HEART. The enlarged heart includes, as we have shown you, an enlarged understanding and an enlarged will. The enlargement of the understanding supposes you more disposed to follow only what is good. The former, therefore, is the same thing as our discerning more and more of the demands of God's law; the latter is the same thing as our determining to act on the discernment. But what is this, save in so many words an enlarged heart producing an ampler obedience? The understanding is enlarged, so that we see more of what is demanded; the will is enlarged, so that we resolve on conforming ourselves to those discoveries of the understanding; and if we both find out more and more of what is to be done, and move more in the course which we ascertain to be right, then we are clearly advancing in the work of obedience. And if, yet further, both these results are to be traced to the heart's enlargement as a cause, who can avoid discovering the force of the connection — "I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart"?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.