Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

love of God.

èat ; that is, is judged to have acted a miss: because he eateth not of faith: for, whatsoever is not of faiih, is fin. For, here the Apostle preffes what he had enjoined, verle 5, let every man be fully persuaded in his

own mind. From the

LXXIII. 3dly, The practice of Christian holiness Hows from the love of God, and consists in that very ambition, which we have recommended from 2 Cor. 5. 9, of doing what is acceptable to God. And in this, Christian holiness surpasses all the virtuous ac. tions of the Heathen, who were very justly, com. ;: mended, if what they did proceeded from the love of that virtue, they were acquainted with: but as that love did not ascend to God himself, but centered in a created, nay, and a very defective thing, such as their virtue was, it was not a holy love, but a via cious affection, which indirectly and sinfully terminates

in man himself. Jansenius LXXIV. Jensenius lib. 4. de ftatu naturæ lapfæ. Thews, C. 11. seq. has treated distinctly and at large on this, that the Gentiles subject: where he speaks to this purpose. “ This acted from

" therefore was the proper defect of philosophical kll-love. có virtue, even when purest, that, being delighted

" with a certain ruinous height of virtue, they earnest

iy desired it for this end, that they might be great “ in their own esteem, delight and please themselves;

whereas it became them to please God, or the “ truth, as Augustine speaks. This vice of self

pleasing so closely adheres to those, who feek not “ to please either God or men, that it is not possible

such persons should not fall into it.” To which he immediately subjoins : “ whoever lifts not up his

eyes to God, in order to please him from the beauty of virtue, but admires it alone, as the end of

good, the fairest and the most exalted; it is im“ posible, that either defiring it, he should not thence

please himself; or not willing thence to please

himself, he fhould defire it. Seeing it is altogeesther necessary, the foul of man should delight

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

« in something. With what other object, pray, can

a soul, alienated from God, be delighted, and “ looking down, as we suppose, with contempt on is the other meaner creatures, chan with what he

imagines to be most excellent among created

things? but this is the mind itself, now adorned " with virtue; which ornament it judges the moit becoming of all.

He therefore neceffarily pleases “ himself from his virtue,' who desires not by it to

please either God or other men." All which is found and solid.

LXXV. Christian 'virtue therefore has a deeper and beter original, than any love of virtue whatso- How the ever, or than any complacency in one's own actions. love of But faith, which represents God to the soul, as in- God

works in finitely good and perfectly toly, and the most boun

the saints. tiful rewarder' of good actions; as alfo his laws, as full of equity and juitice, enfiames the foul with the love of a gracious God, and of his most equitable laws, and to deem nothing preferable to, nothing more valuable than, by a conformity to those laws, to resemble him, in his measure, in holiness, and, in that resemblance, to please him. That God looking down, as it were, out of himself, and from heaven, may also find upon earth, what to delight himself in, as his copy: which is the highest pleasure of a holy soul. So that it loves not virtue for itself alone, but for God, whose image it is, and whom, in the practice of virtue, it pl-ales. From this love to God springs the practice of true holiness. LXXVI. I cannot but transcribe an excellent An excel.

lent palpassage of Clemens Alexandrinus to this purpose, who

fage ef Stromat. lib. 5. p. 532, thus gives us the picture of Clemens, a holy perfon. He who obeys the bare call, so so far as he is called, 1.bours after knowledge, nei"ther from fear, nor from pleasure. For, he does “ not consider, whether any profitable gain, or ex“ ternal pleasure, will ensue, but being constrained by the love of what is truly arniable, and thereby

cxcited

66

“excited to his duty, be is a pious worshipper of
“God. Were we therefore to suppose him to have
" received from God a liberty to what was forbid-
“ den, without any apprehension of punishment :

nay moreover, had he a promise of receiving the
- reward of the blefied; and besides, was he persuad-

ed, that his actions should escape the notice of “ God, (which by the way is impoffible) he could “ never be provailed with, to act contrary to right “ reason, after he had once chosen, what is really “ lovely and eligible of itself, and on that account to “ be loved and defired.” Than which nothing can be

said more sublime.
Another LXXVII. He would have a holy or fanctified
lib. 5. Po person do every thing from a principle of love. It
511.

becomes bim who is perfect, to be in the exercise of love,
and so endeavour after the divine favour and friendship,
while he performs the commandments by love. But this
love has not renown, nor any other advantage, but
virtue itself, pure virtue for its object; fo he frames
his life after the image and resemblance of God, no
longer for the sake of renown, or, as the philosophers
speak, tx1:44» of a splendid nome; ner from the view of
reward, either from God or men. Moreover, what
renders virtue amiable to him, is not that philofo-
phical agreement it has with right reason; but be.
cause he beholds in it a resemblance to God, than
which nothing can be imagined more amiable: for
thus he describes it, what is truly good, he calls, truly
desireable, saying, it is good by an affimulation to God
to become impafive and virtuous.

LXXVIII. Yet we are not fo to understand these
Not ur.
lawful to things, as if, in the practice of holiness, we were not
have a re. allowed to pay any regard to our own advantage, and
gard to

that all love of ourselves ought in this case quite to advantage

disappear. We are not only allowed, but command

ed to love ourselves : nor are we bound to love our practice of neighbour, without a love for ourselves. And this holiness. is not a written, but a natural law, which we have

learned

our own

in the

[ocr errors]

learned from no other quarter, but have received it from nature herself: no man ever yet hated his own fless, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, Eph. 5. 29. We may also be lawfuliy stirred up to the diligent practice of holiness, by this love of ourselves. God himfelf, by this enticing motive, invites his people, promiling, that their lnbcur shall not be in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. 15. 58. And to what, pray, tend all those promises, by which he has recommended his commandments to us, but that being excited by a desire of them, we should more chearfully obey him ? Not to love the promised good, is to throw contempt on the goodness of a promising God. By the love of them not to be stirred up to piety, is to abuse them to some other purpose, than God ever intended. David himfeif confeffed, that the commandments of God were even on that account, more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold : sweeter also than boney, and the honey-comb; because in keeping of them there is great reward, Pf. 19. 10, 12. And the faith of Mofes is, for the same reason, commended, because he had a respel unto the recompense of the reward, Heb. 11. 26. Nay, that faith is required as necessary for all who come to God, whereby they may believe, that he is a rewarder of them, that diligently seek bim, verse 6.

LXXIX. But then, here also the love of ourselves But suborought to spring froin the love of God, be subordinate dinately

to God. thereto, and rendered back to him. We must not love God on our own account, so as to consider ourselves as the end, and God as the means, by which we are made happy in the enjoyment of him : but because we are God's property, whom we ought to love above all, and therefore, for his fake, we are bound to love ourselves. We are further to seek our own good, that therein we may taste the sweetness of the Lord, and that thereby we may be so much the more emproved and enriched as God's peculiar trea fure. Thus the love of ourselves is at last swallowed up

com

in that ocean of divine love. Of this we shall speak

a little presently. Nature, LXXX. Let us now consider the rule or standard reason and of holiness. Philosophers made the nature of man, made the right reason and the examples of excellent men, the fandard rule. A few of them spoke of the precepts of God, of virtue and of the example, which he gives us, but that, inby phylo- deed, in a very slender manner.

Of the nature of tophers.

man the emperor. Marc Antonine, speaks thus; lib. 8. $. 11; wherein consists a happy life? In doing those things, which human nature requires. They are for ever talking of right recfon, and of the examples of

illustrious men, see Seneca, Epift. 6. 11, 25. Epictetus LXXXI. Epiętetus speaks things more fublime adds the concerning the precepts of God, than could well mands of

have been expected from a Heathen. He protests God.

Arrian. lib. 3. c. 24, towards the end, that he would live and die before God; as thou hast required, says he, that as free, as thy servant, as knowing what thou commandest, and what thou forbiddest. And a little after, do not I wholly tend towards God, and his precepts and commands ? And lib. 4. c.7, I am fet et liberty by Gods I know, kis commandments. And in the fame book, ci şi I am set free, and am the friend of God, that I may wil, lingly obey him. And a little afier: wherefore I cannot transgress any of his commands. And to conclude ; these are Ediēts, I u$7 be the interpreter of, muft obey them, before the precepts of Maltrius and Caffius.

LXXXII. Sometimes also they have spoken of the to the ex- imitation of God, and of conformity to him.

Seneca ample of God,

de benefic. lib. 7.6. 31, let us imitate the Gods. Mari. Antonin. lib. 5. 9. 27, we must live with the Gods: and lib. 2. § 5, live a divine life. Clemens Storin, lib. 2. p. 403. Plato the philosopher defining happiness, says, it is an asimilation to God, as far as may be. See above,

chap. 5. sect. 2. All which LXXXIII. These things are spoken in a lofty ftrain : nevertheless, as they had not the knowledge

of

Othersal.

2

are not

« AnteriorContinuar »