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baptizing: one loveth not those who are for liturgies, forms of worship and church-music; and many love not those who are against them; and so of other things (of which more anon). -
Direct. viii. “Avoid the company of censorious backbiters and proud contemners of their brethren: hearken not to them that are causelessly vilifying others; aggravating their faults and extenuating their virtues.” For such proud, supercilious persons (religious or profane) are but the messengers of satan, by whom he entreateth you to hate your neighbour, or abate your love to him. And to hear them speak evil of others, is but to go hear a sermon against charity, which may take with such hearts as ours before we are aware.
Direct. 1x. ‘Keep still the motives and incentives of love upon your minds.’ Which I shall here next set before you.
Tit. 3. The Reasons or Motives of Love to our Neighbour.
Mot. 1. ‘Consider well of the image and interest of God in man.’ The worst man is his creature, and hath his natural image, though not his moral image; and you should love the work for the workman's sake. There is something of God upon all human nature above the brutes; it is intelligent, and capable of knowing him, of loving him and of serving him; and possibly may be brought to do all this better than you can do it. Undervalue not the noble nature of man, nor overlook that of God which is upon them, nor the interest which he hath in them.
Mot. 11. “Consider well of God's own love to man.” He hateth their sins more than any of us; and yet he loveth his workmanship upon them : “And maketh his sun to shine and his rain to fall on the evil and on the good, on the just and on the unjust".” And what should more stir us up to love, than to be like to God?"
Mot. 111. “And think oft of the love of Christ unto mankind; yea, even unto his enemies.” Can you have a better example, a livelier incentive, or a surer guide 2
Mot. Iv. Consider of our unity of nature with all men;’
• Matt. v. 45. v O L. VI, F F
suitableness breedeth and maintaineth love. Even birds and beasts do love their kind; and man should much more have a love to man, as being of the same specific form. Mot. v. ‘Love is the principle of doing good to others.” It inclineth men to beneficence: and all men call him good who is inclined to do good. Mot. vi. ‘Love is the bond of societies.” Of families, cities, kingdoms and churches; without love, they will be but enemies conjunct; who are so much the more hurtful and pernicious to each other, by how much they are nearer to each other. The soul of societies is gone when love is gone. Mot. v11. ‘Consider why it is that you love yourselves (rationally), and why it is that you would be beloved of others.’ And you will see that the same reasons will be of equal force to call for love to others from you. Mot. v1.11. “What abundance of duty is summarily performed in love And what abundance of sin is avoided and prevented by it!' If it be the fulfilling of the law, it avoideth all the violations of the law (proportionably). So far as you have love, you will neither dishonour superiors, nor oppress inferiors, nor injure equals: you will neither covet that which is your neighbour's, nor envy, normalice them, nor defame, nor backbite, nor censure them unjustly; nor will you rob them, or defraud them, nor withhold any duty or kindness to them. Mot. Ix. “Consider how much love pleaseth God; and why it is made so great a part of all your duty; and why the Gospel doth so highly commend it, and so strictly command it, and so terribly condemn the want of it! And also how suitable a duty it is for you, who are obliged by so much love of God!’. These things well studied will not be without effect. Mot. x. “Consider also that it is your own interest, as well as your great duty.’ 1. It is the soundness and honesty of your hearts. 2. It is pleasing to that God on whom only you depend. 3. It is a condition of your receiving the saving benefits of his love. 4. It is an amiable virtue, and maketh you lovely to all sober men: all men love a loving nature, and hate those that hate and hurt their neighbours. Love commandeth love, and hurtfulness is hatefulness. 5. It is a sweet, delightful duty: all love is essentiated with some complacence and delight. 6. It tendeth to the ease and quietness of your lives: what contentions and troubles will love avoid ' What peace and pleasure doth it cause in families, neighbourhoods and all societies ' And what brawling vexations come where it is wanting ! It will make all your neighbours and relations to be a comfort and delight to you, which would be a burden and trouble, if love were absent. 7. It maketh all other men's felicity and comforts to be yours. If you love them as yourselves, their riches, their health, their honours, their lordships, their kingdoms, yea, more, their knowledge, and learning, and grace, and happiness, are partly to you as your own. As the comforts of wife and children, and your dearest friends are; and as our love to Christ, and the blessed angels and saints in heaven do make their joys to be partly ours. How excellent, and easy, and honest a way is this, of making all the world your own, and receiving that benefit and pleasure from all things both in heaven and earth, which no distance, no malice of enemies can deny you! If those whom you truly love have it, you have it. Why then do you complain that you have no more health, or wealth, or honour, or that others are preferred before ..you? Love your neighbour as yourselves, and then you will be comforted in his health, his wealth, and his preferment, and say, “Those have it whom I love as myself, and therefore it is to me as mine own.’ When you see your neighbour's houses, pastures, corn and cattle, love will make it as good and pleasant to you as if it were your own. Why else do you rejoice in the portions and estates of your children as if it were your own The covetous man saith, “O how glad should I be if this house, this land, this corn were mine:” but love will make you say, ‘It is all to me as mine own.’ What a sure and cheap way is this of making all the world your own O what a mercy doth God bestow on his servants’ souls, in the day that he sanctifieth them with unfeigned love . How much doth he give us in that one grace : And O what a world of blessing and comforts do the ungodly, the malicious, the selfish and the censorious cast away, when they cast away or quench the love of their neighbours; and what abundance of calamity do
they bring upon themselves! In this one summary instance we may see, how much religion and obedience to God doth tend to our own felicity and delight; and how easy a work it would be, if a wicked heart did not make it difficult; and how great a plague sin is unto the sinner; and how sore a punishment of itself! And by this you may see, what it is that all fallings out, divisions and contentions tend to ; and all temptations to the abatement of our love; and who it is that is the greater loser by it, when love to our neighbour is lost; and that backbiters and censurers who speak ill of others, come to us as the greatest enemies and thieves, to robus of our chiefest jewel, and greatest comfort in this world 2 and accordingly should they be entertained.
Special Cases and Directions for Love to Godly Persons as such.
Tit. 1. Cases of Conscience about Love to the Godly.
WHoM we must take for godly, I have answered before, Chap. xxiv. Tit. 1. Quest. v. Quest. 1. ‘How can we love the godly, when no man can certainly know who is sincerely godly 2” Answ. Our love is not the love of God which is guided by infallibility, but the love of man, which is guided by the dark and fallible discerning of a man; the fruits of piety and charity we infallibly see in their lives. But the saving truth of that grace which is or ought to be the root, we must judge of according to the probability which those signs discover, and love men accordingly. Quest 11. ‘Must we love those as godly, who can give no sensible account of their conversion, for the time, or manner, or evidence of it?” Answ. We must take none for godly, who shew no credible evidence of true conversion, that is, of true faith and repentance; but there is many an one truly godly, who through natural defect of understanding or utterance, are not able in good sense to tell you what conversion is, nor to describe the manner in which it was wrought upon them, much less to define exactly the time or sermon when it was first wrought, which few of the best Christians are able to do; especially of them who had pious education, and were wrought on . in their childhood. But if the covenant of grace be wisely opened to them according to their capacity, and they deliberately, and soberly, and voluntarily profess their present assent and consent thereto, they do thereby give you the credible evidence of a true conversion, till you have sufficient contrary evidence to disprove it. For none but a converted man can truly repent and believe in God, the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, according to the baptismal covenant. Quest. 111. “But what if he be so ignorant that he cannot tell what faith, or repentance, or redemption, or sanctification, or the covenant of grace is ?’ Answ. If you have sufficient evidence that indeed he doth not at all understand the essentials of the sacramental covenant, you may conclude that he is not truly godly; because he cannot consent to what he knoweth not: ‘Ignorantis non est consensus:” and if you have no evidence of such knowledge, you have no evidence of his godliness, but must suspend your judgment. But yet mauy an one understandeth the essentials of the covenant, who cannot tell another what they are ; therefore his mind (in case of great disability of utterance), must be fished out by questions, to which his yea or no, will discover what he understandeth. and consenteth to: you would not refuse to do so by one of another language, or a dumb man, who understood yeu, but could answer you but by broken words or signs; and verily ill education may make a great many of the phrases of Scripture, and religious language as strange to some men, though spoken in their native tongue, as if it were Greek or Latin to them, who yet may possibly understand the matter. A wise teacher by well composed questions may (without fraud or formality) discern.what a man understandeth, though he say but yeaor no, when an indiscreet, unskilful man, will make his own unskilfulness and unchari