Imagens das páginas


not be at a loss then for an apt medium, by which our very refined temper of mind to behold him with the intellove is to be excited in us towards him.

lectual eye, and thereupon to love and embrace the blessed These two things are the same in effect with those that glorious God. And as while we converse with things that the apostle tells us we ought to be assured of, in order to are vain, our minds are vain; while with things that are our coming to God with acceptance, namely, that he is, earthly, our minds are earthly, and bear the impress and and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, image of those things with which we have most to do; Heb. xi. 6. We may easily understand how he is a rewarder, so, if we did but converse with spiritual things, or those if we compare this passage with what is said to Abraham, I which are above the reach of sense, it would be a means am thy exceeding great reward, Gen. xv. 1. God is at once to make our minds and hearts grow more spiritual, and both a rewarder, and reward to those whose hearts are to-consequently more fit for the love and converse of the wards him. He is a rewarder by communicating himself, and eternal, supreme, invisible Spirit. not by giving rewards alien and diverse from himself. And It is a mean base thing, since God hath furnished our it is necessary that we be assured, that he both is, and that natures with a thinking power, to use our thoughts only he is in this sense a rewarder, as being in himself the highest about those things that lie in common to us with brute excellency, or the supreme and best good. For without a creatures. “Can I, have I, a power to mind higher and persuasion concerning both these, it is intimated, that we nobler objects, and will I so vilely debase myself as not to cannot come unto him in an acceptable manner.

mind them! to mind only things that are earthly, drossy, Now loving him is one way of coming to him. It is and terrene! By this means I shall always keep myself in that by which the soul moveth to him in desire, and then an incapacity to have to do with God.” rests in him in delight. There can be no such motion in We should therefore consider with ourselves, that as we the soul towards God, without this double persuasion con- have faculties by which we are rendered capable of concerning him; namely, of his certain existence, and highest versing with men and visible things; so we have faculties excellency, as our terminative good. And you have heard too in our natures, whereby we are capable of conversing that we may be as sure of both these, as of any thing that with things that are not visible, and that are of a higher we see with our eyes. For if our eyes tell us, that any nature. It is easy to turn all the things of this visible state thing is in being, our minds tell us as certainly, that there into a dusky shadow to ourselves. We can clothe all the is an original being. And if we can be any way sure, that world with darkness, in a moment, only by shutting our there is such a thing as goodness and excellency in the eyes. And therefore as our eyes would signify nothing to world; we may be as sure, that there is an original excel- visible things, if we did not use them; so nor will our ency, an original good, which must needs be the supreme thoughts signify any thing in reference to the invisible good, and can be no where, but in the original supreme world, unless we employ them upon their more proper Being. For goodness and excellency are not nothing and and peculiar objects. therefore cannot come out of nothing, but must proceed We should also recollect with ourselves, that there is from the same fountain, from whence all being comes. snch a thing as an invisible world, which is the best and We are not more sure of any thing that our eyes inform noblest part of the creation of God. We ourselves, as to as of, than we shall be of this, if we do but consider, and the better part of our natures, belong to it. Therefore we use our understanding in the case.

should not behave as strangers, and unrelated to that world. So that we should endeavour once to fix the apprehension We should consider how glorious the invisible world is, of these things, as being most certainly true; and from our and recount who are its inhabitants, what are the affairs very souls should bless God, that we are at a certainty in and pleasures, the excellencies and ornaments of those inthese things; that we do not feel the ground loose under habitants. Let us think with ourselves, what vast numus, but are in this respect on firm ground, when we affirm berless myriads there are of glorious spirits, creatures of that God most necessarily is and is the highest and most God, that are composed all of mind and love, whose perexcellent good. And being once sure of this, it would be petual business and employment is to behold and adore very unreasonable to be recalling this matter into doubt, the great Father of spirits, the PATERNAL MIND, or REASON, or to be perpetually moving questions and disputes con- | as the heathen have called him, the original intellect, that cerning it in our minds. It is what we may be as sure of, is every where, and ALL IN ALL. as that there is a world in being, or that any thing is, that | We should think with ourselves, that the affairs of those we ourselves are, who being nearest to ourselves, may be innumerable multitudes of glorious spirits, and their pleasurest of our own being.

sures and delights, are the same. Their business is to be And it would make strange confused work in the world, always beholding the Divine glory; and by adoration and if in reference to all the actions of man, they should be praise to return it to him, reflecting it back again to its own ever moving disputes about them, whether they really are Original. We should think with ourselves, what the lovely or are not. As if a man could not tell how to eat, but he ornaments and excellencies are of those blessed inhabitants: must fall a doubting presently, “Is this real food before we should consider their vast knowledge, their mighty me, or is it not ? or am I awake to eat it, yea or no?" Or power, their pure holiness, their profound humility, the beas if he could not tell how to converse with any one, about nignity, love, and serenity, that are every where to be found never so important a business, but he must fall a dispu- / among those happy beings. ting, “ Is this a real man, or but a spectre ? may it not be And when we have thought and considered all this, then only the umbra of a man ?" In short, what could be done, let us ask ourselves, Why am I a stranger to this invisiwhat business transacted in the world, if, about such plain ble world ?" For indeed we are strangers to it, while we matters, doubts must be perpetually raised?

are unrelated to God, and his Christ. But this is not Every man that hath understanding, as hath been said, our necessity, but our great folly, that we continue in so may be at as great certainty concerning the existence of the distant and unrelated a state. We are naturally aliens, supreme and first Being, as of any thing whatever. Nay, strangers, foreigners; but there are overtures made to us a great deal more, because his existence is supremely ne- by Christ, to become of the household and family of God, cessary. So that if I confine certainty to the eye, then I Eph. ii. 19. And this family is made up of heavenly ones, am sure of nothing but what I see. But I am certain that though part be in heaven and part on earth. Our Lord God always was of himself, and therefore is necessarily; Jesus Christ himself, besides his natural, hath an acquired and so, not to be, must to him be simply impossible. This, dominion and lordship over the whole of it. By him were therefore, would be one great supply to our not seeing him, all things made, both visible and invisible; (Col. i. 16 once to make the matter plain and clear, that he exists, 21.) and even besides that, by the blood of his cross, he is and that he is the most excellent and supreme good. become the Head over all principalities, and powers, and Which would be a great deal in our way. towards the thrones, and dominions; whether they be in heaven, or exercise of love to God, though we do not see him.

earth, or under the earth. 2. It will concern us much to use our thoughts in be So that if we be of those who profess themselves to be ing conversant with other invisible objects. For certainly, Christians, and are united to him, we are come to an innuminds and hearts that are continually busied about things merable company of angels, and the spirits of the just made of sense only, will be but in a very defective capacity, at perfect, Heb. xii. 22, 23. We are actually joined as meniall times, to converse with the invisible God. It needs a bers of that body, which is all but one community of glorious creatures above and holy ones here below, in whom blessed and glorious Object, he must be acknowledged to the beginnings and first principles of the new creature, and be the most lovely Object. We are not then at a loss for the work of sanctification, are to be found. So that we an object of our love, if we will but believe the record and may again demand of ourselves and ask, “Why do we testimony of the blessed God in his own word; and take estrange ourselves, and carry it as if we were unrelated to it as a revelation from heaven with so merciful a design. those invisible creatures ?" Those blessed spirits are con- How awful an acquiescence therefore doth that challenge tinually mingling with us, if we will believe the Divine and command! So that our hearts should readily suggest testimony concerning them. The angel of the Lord en- to us, that it is the greatest profaneness, if we do not with campeth about them that fear him, and delivereth them, reverence and veneration admit that testimony. Psal. xxxiv. 7. And what are all the angels, but minis In what honour and veneration had those poor deluded tering spirits sent forth for the good and service of them creatures the image that was said to have come down from who are heirs of salvation? Heb. i. 14. They are convers- Jupiter! Acts xix. 35. Why, God's own word is his own ant in our assemblies, as some understand that passage in lively image, a true representation of himself, which certhe first epistle to the Corinthians, where the woman is tainly came down from himself. He hath sent many on directed to have power over her head, that is, a vail, in this message; his own Son, his prophets, and apostles, on token of her subjection to power, “because of the angels;" purpose to draw men into communion and fellowship with (1 Cor. xi. 10.) though some understand this passage himself. These things, saith St. John, are written, that otherwise. And again, more expressly it is said, that we might have fellowship with the Faiher, and with his unto powers and principalities in heavenly places is known Son Jesus Christ, 1 John i. 3. And then he goes on in by the church the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. iii. 10. his epistle to tell them, that the message which the apos

Therefore in that we do not entertain more frequent tles heard of him and declared unto them, was this-ihat thoughts, and exercise our minds more about what the God is light, and God is love, 1 John i. 5, &c. Surely then Scriptures reveal in this matter, we are certainly injurious such a Being is the most worthy of our esteem and love; to ourselves. We keep back our minds from being clari- and the message sent to men is most worthy of their acfied from earth and sensible things, by which they might ceptance, to wit, that such a God is offered to them for be raised up to the honour and advantage of being em their God. Thus men are acquainted with him by the reployed about the blessed God himself. For if we were velation they have of him in the Gospel, that so they may filled, all the day long, with becoming thoughts of the be drawn into a communion and fellowship with him, the state and condition of the affairs of the inhabitants of the life and soul of which is love. invisible world, how easy were it to fix upon God the 4. It is necessary, that we bend ourselves much to congreat Ruler of all, the Father of spirits !

template and study the nature of God, according to the And being of the same community, making but one so- discovery we have of him in his revelation. That which ciety with those blessed creatures, as being under the same we do know and believe, makes an impression upon us Head with them, we make a great schism in the body if only as it is improved by our thoughts; as it is considered we break off ourselves from them, and their employments or not considered. A great many things lie asleep in our and affairs, and involve ourselves with things that are visi- souls, and signify nothing to us, for want of actual thought. ble, and the objects of sense. Of all men in the world, the At certain times and seasons, therefore, we should say to sensualist is the greatest schismatic. He breaks himself off ourselves; “Well! I will now go on purpose, and sit from all the affairs and concernments of the invisible world; down, and meditate upon God. This shall be the business and wraps himself in this narrow sphere, as one quite cut of the present hour." For surely nothing can with higher off from God, and all that are more immediately convers- right lay claim to our entire thoughts, than the Author of ant with him. We, I say, quite rend ourselves from that all. And it is a strange piece of negligence, that he, with body, that happy society, if we do not apply ourselves whom we have such great concerns, and who is our All more to mind the concernments of that other world, and to in all, should be so seldom the subject of our solemn, have our spirits, thoughts, and affections, exercised and designed, purposed meditation ; that the thoughts of God carried up thither. And again,

should be casualties with us; that we should think of 3. It is necessary in order to supply our not seeing God, 'him only now and then by chance, and never find a time, that we most firmly believe the report and testimony that wherein we may say to ourselves, "I will now on set puris given of him in the Gospel of his Son. What we can-pose think of God.'' not know by our own eyes, we must be beholden for the How doth this correspond with the practice of the knowledge of to the report of others. And it is the busi- saints, who had communion with him of old ? as we find ness of the Gospel to make a report of God to us, and the the Psalmist intimating, that he thought of God on his errand of his Son into the world was to bring us this re- bed, and meditated on him in the night watches, Psal. port. He who best knew him, and from eternity was in Ixiii. 6. I would not here propound to you the indulging his bosom, "hath declared him;" (John i. 18.) and that on or gratifying a vain curiosity, inquiring into the unrepurpose for our relief in this case, because “no man hath vealed things of God; but would recommend to you the seen God at any time.” Since therefore God is invisible, study of those plain intelligible attributes of his, that are and we are creatures that depend so much upon sense, he obvious to the understandings of the generality of men, " hath spoken to us by his Son, the express image of his because the Divine Being is not capable of a strict and person," Heb. i. 3. So that it is by no mean one that he hath rigid definition. These are enough to suggest such a sent us an account of himself, though we cannot see him. notion of him, as renders him an object worthy of our

All reports signify as they are believed. They signify love and worship; while a multitude of things may be nothing where no credit is given to them. But what should supposed concerning God, which it is not necessary for us induce us to doubt, whether the revelation which Christ to be acquainted with. hath made to us of God, in his word, be true or no? What Consider then his wisdom, power, goodness, holiness, should make us imagine, that God should misrepresent and the like, which are his communicable attributes; and himself? What! doth he need to beguile us, his crea- add to these the incommunicable properties of his eternity, tures, whom he hath entirely in his power? the works of his his immensity, his self-sufficiency, his self-subsistence, his hands, whom he can wink and beckon into nothing? Do necessary existence, and so we have an account of God. you think he means 10 beguile us with specious representa-And then how excellent and glorious an Object both of tions of himself, otherwise than as the matter really is? love and worship have we before us! a Being of himself

Therefore we should thus consider with ourselves. "We originally perfect; who is essential wisdom, goodness, have not indeed seen God, nor is he liable to so mean a love, truth, righteousness, and holiness. In what a transthing as human sight. But we have an express discovery port should we be upon such a representation of God ! of him by his own Son, who came upon this very errand: We have his name often in our mouths when it is with and what he has said was not casually, and on the by, as us but as an empty sound; as if that great and venerable words dropped by chance; but he came for this very end, name signified nothing. He is near in our mouths, and that he might acquaint the world what God is, and give to ears, but far from our hearts; and then no wonder he is men an account of him, since he is not to be seen with eyes so little loved all the while. But would we once admit of flesh." And sure, upon the account we have of this to have our souls possessed with the apprehension of the import of that mighty and venerable name, which was when they observe any thing lovely, in such or such a regiven to Moses; how would it engage us to bow our headslation in another family; for instance, a dutiful, ingenuand worship him, who is "the Lord, the Lord God, mer- ous child ; " O had I such a one, how should I love him!” ciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness Why, you have an amiable description of your God; and and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, do not your hearts say within you, "If he were my God, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the how should I love him ?" And why is he not your God į guilty," Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. Our Lord told the Samaritan he offers himself to be yours, and has put no harder terms woman, “Ye worship ye know not what,” John iv. 22. So upon you, than that you receive him for your God. Comdo they, who make his worship nothing else but a ceremo ply then with his righteous law, “Thou shalt have no nious compliment; the mere bowing of the knee, and the other god but me," Exod. xx. 3.' Say therefore, “ Thou honouring him with the lip. But if it be the worship of shalt be my God wholly and alone.” As every covenant love, it is impossible then that we should worship we know is made up by a mutual stipulation, so his willingness and not what. For the interior faculties of the soul, as to love yours make the bargain. He hath declared his own wiland desire, cannot be wrought upon by a shadow. They lingness, do you but make out yours, and the matter is must be moved by something substantial, and set on work effected, so as that none can tear you asunder. by something which really exists. When therefore we And how pleasant a thing is it to have such a God your hear the name of God spoken, how should it make us stoop own to glory in, and to walk in his name! to be able to and bow before him! and into what an awful and pleasing say, “God, even my God, shall bless me! I need no other." commotion should it put all the powers of our souls at How high matter of triumph was this to the Psalmist! once ! But to go a whole day, and forget God; and to let Let it be told to the generations following, This God is many days pass, without ever choosing a time to think of our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto him on purpose, is a great iniquity. And while that ini- death, Psal. xlviii. 13, 14. As if he had said, We are wil. quity abounds, the love of such must needs grow cold. ling that this should be known, in the present and succeedAnd then again,

ing ages. Let it be transmitted to posterity. Let there be 5. We must take heed, that we entertain no horrid and a perpetual everlasting monument of this, that we have dismal thoughts of God, and that we believe nothing that had the Lord for our God. Thus a certain noble person is contrary to his own revelation of himself. Take heed would have an inscription put upon his tomb, without any lest the belief of a God suggest only a guilty enslaving further enlargement, to this effect, That he had been a serfear. I mean not the fear of reverence, which the angels vant 10 Queen Elizabeth, counsellor to King James, and owe and pay ; but that fear of horror, which is most friend to Sir Philip Sidney. By this it appears that he proper to devils, and is the product of a diabolical faith. would have all ages know whose servant, counsellor, and * The devils believe and tremble," James ii. 19. They friend he had been. a. In like manner should every good believe and are full of horror, as that word ppiocovoi sig- and pious soul declare to the present, and all future ages, pifies; do even shiver with the belief they have concern that THE LORD is his God. ing God. As “perfect love casteth out fear,” (1 John iv. 7. Let your souls be filled with this apprehension, that 18.) so such fear will always put out love. For a fear God is always and every where present. How sweetly proceeding from gross and horrid mispersuasions concern-moving are those thoughts of God's omnipresence in the ing God, must needs stifle all dutiful, ingenuous, loyal | 139th Psalm! They were so to the Psalmist, and they are affection to God.

so to all the saints. “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit ? It is the great art of the devil to possess men with the or whither shall I fee from thy presence? If I ascend up apprehension, if it be possible, that their case is the same into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, with his own, that so thereby they may make it their own. behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the mornIf the devils can once persuade men, that God is as unre-ing, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even concilable to them, as he is to themselves, who sinned with there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall open eyes, without a templer, and all at once in their own hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; proper persons; if they can, I say, but make men believe even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness This, then it is a most easy thing to keep the love of God hideth not from thee, but ihe night shineth as the day ; the from ever having any entrance into the soul. It is natural darkness and the light are both alike to thee,” Ps. cxxxix. to hate those whom we fear or dread; therefore, I say, the 7-18. And when the royal Psalmist considered, how fallen angels believe and tremble, believe, and are full of God insinuated himself into every bone of his flesh, and horror.

particle of his frame, saying, “Thou hast possessed my But, do you believe, and bless God? Believe him ac- reins, thou hast covered me in my mother's womb;" he tually reconciled, if you find your hearts do yield to him. breaks out at last into these words,“ How precious also Believe him willing to be at peace. Believe him when he are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum testifies, that whosoever cometh to him shall in no wise be of them!" cast out, John vi. 18. Believe him saying, “Though thou Let us then but habituate ourselves to the apprehension hast forgotten me, and hast set up thyself to be thine own of an every where present Deity, conceiving all things idol, and hast been perpetually affronting me; yet do thou filled with the Divine fulness, and ihis will supply the debut accept my Son, and of pardon in and through him, fect, or the want of seeing God. Let every creature, every and I will make thee my friend, my associate, and my place, every providence, put us in mind of God. Thus beson." Do but believe this, and try if it be in your power gins and ends the eighth Psalm, the design of which is, to : not to love him. This faith will certainly work by love. contemplate God in these things, regarding them all as the But take heed of believing what God hath never said; works of his hands; “How excellent is thy name, O Grad and what the destroyer of souls would make you believe in all the earth, who hast set thy glory above the heavens!" he hath said. For whatsoever thoughts tend to the making Psal. viii. 1,9. And what an ecstasy do we find Moses in, him unlovely, or not amiable in your eyes, have them far while he is celebrating a particular providence! “ Who is from you. And,

like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ? who is like thee, 6. Make him your own by an entire and cheerful choice, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?' and acceptance of him for your Lord and your God. How Exod. xv. 11. If then we did but labour to make this mightily doth relation, interest, and property command thought familiar to ourselves, that whithersoever we love! You cannot see him, it is true, but you may choose or wherever we are, we have a God to behold ; that there and apprehend him for your God; which relation, once are footsteps of God, every where, for us to take notice of, understood, will happily supply the want of seeing him.

or impressions and prints of his glory; this would habituate Sarely you would love your own child, your own father, us to his converse, and make the motions and exercises ot your own husband, or wife, though you were born blind love easy and familiar to us. This effect it had on the and could never see them. How many are apt to say, Psalmist in the 104th Psalm, who after a glorious descrip

a The noble personage here alluded to, is Fulke Crevill, Lord Brooke : whose funeral monument is yet remaining in St. Mary's church in Warwick, and has wait this inscription :


tion of God, thus closeth it up; “My meditation of him. And if we would but consider the matter, it is plain we shall be sweet, I will be glad in the Lord," Psal. civ. 34. cannot excuse our conduct to ourselves; much less to He had been viewing God, as he was to be seen in the God. For do not our consciences tell us, ihat nothing is works of his hands; and his spirit was now drenched so easy, nothing so ready? And it is likewise to be condeeply in the thoughts of God's active power and provi- sidered, what will be made of this one day. I make little dence, every where diffused in the world.

doubt but one very great part of the torture of hell, will lie We, in like manner, should always have such thoughts in a too late repentance; that we never loved what our injected into us, if we would but consider with ourselves, convicted consciences must needs have told us was most that wherever we are, still we live, and move, and have congruous, and fit to be loved. When an awakened soul our being in God. The whole earth is full of his glory. shall make reflection, and consider, what infinite reason By him all things consist. We can set a foot no where, there was for the loving of God, and yet it could never be but still we tread upon his ground, and are in his dominion. brought to it; we can conceive no sort of mental torture We cannot live, but by a vital influence derived from him. to be more tormenting than this. So that they, who live How much would this contribute to the facilitating the destitute of the love of God, and content themselves with exercises of love! By converse love insinuates itself into so doing, are busily preparing their own hell all their persons, they are captivated before they are aware. And days. Oh, how tormenting will be the reflection! “I lived there is no man of so morose, sour, churlish a nature, but a life's time in the world, and knew how reasonable a will have a sort of kindness for such, whom he converseth thing it was, how just and righteous to love God, and yet frequently with. Assiduous converse wins hearts. How I never did love him!” This will be a most amazing submuch more, when we have such an amiable object, should ject for thoughts to feed upon, and to find torment by, we associate with him! It will then ensue of course, that throughout an eternal state. And therefore we are the we shall be taken with him, and drawn by the cords of more concerned to be restless in our spirits, till we feel the love into the happy bonds.

fire so to burn within us, and can make our appeal to God, 8. And lastly, let us pray much and earnestly for the saying, Thou knowest all things, Lord! thou knowest Spirit of life and love, which is his own gift. Among the that I love thee, John xxi. 17 many excellent fruits of the Spirit you see love leads the van, Gal. v. 22. It is of considerable moment to state the case to ourselves thus; “ The love of God is one of the fruits of his own Spirit.” How intent then should we be upon this, that he who claims to be the Object of our love, is pleased to be the Author of it! even of that pure, refined

SERMON XI." love, that is fit to be set upon so glorious an Object. Whereas such a carnalized, impure, drossy love as ours, We have endeavoured from these words to evince to can never turn itself unto God; will always decline, and you the indispensable obligation there is upon us to the shun that blessed Object. He must form our love for him continued exercise of love to God, notwithstanding that we self, or it will never do.

cannot see him. This hath been doctrinally discoursed As he therefore makes our love the sum of his law, and of, and also insisted upon by way of use, and particular of all his precepts, so we should make it the sum of all our application of that doctrine; but before we pass from it, requests. For it is at once indeed both our privilege and it will be requisite to add somewhat further of a casuistiour duty. Both what we are to do, and what we are to cal import. enjoy, are all summed up in love. And if we make this! It is very plain, that though there are not many sincere the sum of our desires, how much of ingenuity would lovers of God in this world, yet there are few who pretend there be in this prayer, when we come to the Lord, and not to be so. They are apt to please themselves with the say, “Lord, if I should cast all my desires into one re-conceit that they love God, and so take the matter for quest, it is love! Love is the only thing. I beg only a heart granted, though there be nothing of any such affection in to love thee.” How much ingenuity is there, I say, in such their hearts at all. Others there are, who are apt to sus. a prayer! and how great also is the necessity of it! For pect that they do not love him in sincerity, and are too forwe can as soon pluck down a star, or create a new sun, as ward to conclude, that they have none of this Divine affecplant in our own souls this principle of love to God, with- tion, because they do not perceive it to work towards God, out his aid. Every good and perfect gift is from him; and as their love does towards other objects. Finally, there certainly this is good, and a matter of high excellency, to are others again, who are very prone to censure those that have the heart possessed with his love. We can never speak of more passionate workings of affection to God, as understand the love of God to us, till our souls are, as it mere hypocrites for this pretension. For since they expewere, trans-elemented into a love to him. God is love, and rience nothing of such workings on their own hearts, they he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him, think it impossible there should be any such thing at all in 1 John iv. 16.

the world. There are therefore three sorts of persons that And now, after all this, would we be excused from the our present discourse must have reference unto. duty of loving God ? that is, from being happy, from liv. I. Such ignorant and careless souls as do, at random ing a life of pleasure, from solacing ourselves with the and without ever considering the matter, pronounce conimmense Good ? We should, methinks, as little wish to cerning themselves, that they are lovers of God; though be excused, as a poor indigent man from having all his if the matter be strictly looked into, they have no such wants supplied ; or a sick languishing person, from re- thing as a motion of love in their heart to God at all. turning to health and strength : or a hungry fainting per- II. Those that are prone to suspect, and conclude themson, from receiving convenient food; or a weary person, selves to have no love to God at all, because they do not from receiving refreshing ease and rest. Would we be find this affection to work with that fervour and constancy excused from having God for our portion, our health and that they think it should, and which they perceive on other strength, our rest and all in all? We cannot indeed see occasions. God; but will that excuse us, when so many things pre- III. Such as are very apt to suspect, and accuse others sent us with an idea and image of him? or when we have of hypocrisy or folly, who seem to express the most pasthe privilege of addressing ourselves to him by prayer?sionate and fervent love to God, and ihink that such an The Scriptures do not speak to us in this matter with any affection towards him cannot have place in a human intention or design to excuse us from this duty. There it breast. What therefore is pretended to be of a spiritual is intimated, that all the good, which concerns a man's and holy kind, must be resolved, they imagine, wholly present state, comes from love to God. All, says the apos-into enthusiasm ; or be attributed to the power of fancy, ile, shall work together for good, to them that love God, or imagination; or to the temper and disposition of the Rom. viii. 28. And with respect to the other world, it is bodily humours, and the various structure and fabric even that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it of the inferior parts of the body itself. To each of these Ontered into the heart of man to conceive, what God hath sorts, reference must be had in what is now to be dislajd up for them that love him, I Cor. ii. 9.

coursed upon at this time. * Preached November 1st, 1676.

· I. As to those who confidently give out themselves to be, it be any where, is to be discerned and felt, and must be lovers of God, though they never felt any motion of love a ruling principle; it is then a most absurd imagination, to him at all in their hearts, such things as these it would that such a principle should be in men, of which they have be very fit for them to consider.

no perception. For is it not absurd, that a principle, which 1. That it is a very rash and unreasonable, as well as is to have the conduct of a man's life, and so very great dangerous, presumption, for them to conclude there is that power in and over him in his whole course, should yet be in them which they have never perceived at all. For what neither discernible, nor felt? Indeed there are many might not one imagine or fancy upon such a pretence? thoughts and motions that stir in our minds, of which we Supposing it possible, must I believe every thing to be true take very little notice; nor can we in a little time say which is barely possible to be true? How many absurd positively, whether we have such a thought or no. But things should I then believe! For there are many things that a principle, which runs through the universal course that possibly may be, which yet it would be a very great of a man's life, and which of all things should most freabsurdity to believe are in reality. It is a known rule, quently come under his notice, should yet be neither felt that of things that appear not, nor exist, the same esteem nor perceived by him, is the most unimaginable of all is to be had. If then it no way appears, or however ap things we can conceive of. Therefore those who have so pears not to me, that I am a lover of God; with what con-hastily pronounced themselves to be lovers of God, and yet fidence can I pretend to it, or say that I am so ?

never felt any thing by which this love is to be discerned, 2. It is to be considered that it is a most natural thing are besought to think again, to allow the cause a rehearing, to men to be very indulgent to themselves, and to think to take it into new consideration, and not run away with u that of themselves, which none would think or imagine groundless conceit that they are what it so much concem. but themselves. It is natural to every wicked man to them actually to be, while they are only so in their own "flatter himself in his own eyes, until his wickedness be fancies and imaginations. found out to be hateful,” Ps. xxxvi. 2. Thus says the II. I now come to the next sort, namely, those who are Psalmist, “The transgression of the wicked saith within apt to judge themselves wholly destitute of sincere love to my heart," that is, suggests to me," that there is no fear God, because they do not find those passionate motions ci of God before his eyes," Ps. XXXVI. 1. And truly this does it towards him, as they do towards many inferior objectá. as effectually speak or declare, that he hath not the love of And there are sundry considerations, which will be very God in him; yet at the same time he flatters himself, as it requisite to be weighed in this case too. As there follows, in his own eyes, till the matter comes to be 1. That certainly the actual exercise of love towards plainly observable to every eye. Hence it may be very God may be often intermitted, when an habitual propenwell understood, how it comes to pass that men are so apt sion of heart towards him doth remain. The soul mas to judge themselves any thing, which it would be horrid frequently be put beside the direct acts and exercise o: for them not to be thought to be, only from the kindness this duty; and yet that virtue and principle, which hati. they have to themselves. For how horrid is it for any touched their hearts, and by gracious vouchsafement i man to admit himself to be no lover of God! Therefore seated there, may still habitually incline them the same he must needs think himself such, or affirm that as true, way. As the needle touched with the load-stone, is frewhich it were a horrid thing to confess and avow to be quently diverted from its direct tendency towards the false. And so, upon the matter, their love to God depends north; for being moved it shakes and quavers, and hati, upon, and runs into nothing else, but a partial and fond its various vibrations this way and that, yet there is a virlove to themselves.

tue in it that will bring and reduce it io the right point 3. They should consider how obvious the mistake is, to again. Therefore it is not this or that act of love towards take a conviction of conscience in this case for an affection God, that gives the denomination; but the habitual proof the heart. That is, because they are convinced that it pension, and bent of the heart. A man then is to be esis a very reasonable and fit thing to love God, therefore teemed a lover of God, according as his heart stands hathey conclude, that they do love him. But how most irra- bitually propense to him. But if the denomination depend tional is the conclusion! They may as well conclude their upon this or the other act; then a man would cease to be approbation of any thing else, to be the possession of the a lover of God, as often as he loveth or thinketh of any thing itself. For instance, that they are rich, because they one else, or is diverted from it by this or that though never approve of riches; or that they are in very good health, so necessary an occasion. And again, because they approve of a sound habit of body. It is plain 2. It is very necessary, that we consider the act and the that ihis is all which the most can say, as to the bottom of passion of love as very distinguishable, or different things. their preience. They have nothing at all in them like the The act of love in a reasonable intelligent creature, is love of God, but only this conviction of conscience, that it nothing else but the complacential motion of the will tois fit he should be loved. Of this there is a necessary and wards this or that object, that is apprehended amiable, or unavoidable approbation imposed upon their judgment, worthy to be loved. The passion of love is the impression from the evidence of the thing itself. And as all men are made by an object, upon the animal and vital spirits of the convinced, that the obligation is indispensable, therefore brain and heart, which, being sensible, are reflected upon, they are willing to take it for granted, that they have the and by many are taken notice of (through a great mistake) love of God in them.

as if the very notion and being of love was placed there. 4. It follows, as another thing to be considered, that if Whereas the whole entire nature of Divine love is separathe love of God in itself be really a distinct thing, and dif- ble from that passion, and may be without it; otherwise ferent from such a conviction, then their love to him is if passion were of the essence of love, it were altogether reduced to nothing; for it is really nothing, distinguished impossible, that the separate soul should be capable of from such a conviction, or apprehension in their own loving God, or any thing else. This is a mere accident to minds. And under a notion of its being an affection of a our love, and a result that depends upon our present union finer kind and nature than to be obvious to common ob- with the body; which body is essentially necessary, neither servation, they have refined it quite away, even into a to our soul, nor to our love, for both may be without it. mere nothing. For doth not every man's own sense tell | And I add, him, that the love of this or that thing is quite another 3. That those acts which are performed, as I may call thing than a mental approbation of it? Or may not I be it, in the upper region of the soul, and which are more convinced in my judgment of the excellencies of one, to peculiar to its intellectual nature, are as truly discernible, whom I have yet å settled aversion in my heart? How as the passions are which rebound upon, and affect the many cannot endure such persons, of whom upon convic- body. The acts of the mind, and of the will, are no more tion they cannot say they are not excellent men ? And imperceptible than the passions; and it is as possible for certainly it will put every sober considerer of this state of me to be able to discern and feel the former, as the latter. the case upon quite new thoughts, when he shall find he cannot I as well tell that I think such a thought, if I do is not able to tell what the thing is, that he calls love to think it; that I intend and purpose such a thing, if I do God, if it must be distinguished from the mere conviction really entertain in my heart such a resolution ; as that I of the reasonableness of it.

feel the motions that affect my outward man? If therefore 5. It is also to be considered, that since love to God, if a person with a practical judgment esteems the blessed

« AnteriorContinuar »