תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

to have more fear than love is consistent with sincerity of grace; yea, the weak Christian's love to God and holiness is joined with so much backwardness and averseness, and interrupted with weariness, and with the carnal allurements and diversions of the creature, that he cannot certainly perceive whether his love and willingness be sincere or not: he goeth on in a course of duty, but so heavily, that he scarce knoweth, whether his love or loathing of it be the greater. He goeth to it as a sick man to his meat, or labour : all that he doth is with so much pain or indisposedness, that to his feeling his averseness seemeth greater than his willingness, were it not that necessity maketh him willing. For the habitual love and complacency which he hath towards God and duty, is so oppressed by fear, and by averseness, that it is not so much felt in act as they.

3. A seeming Christian hath no true love of God and holiness at all, but some ineffectual liking and wishes which are overborne by a greater backwardness, and by a greater love to earthly things; so that fear alone, without any true effectual love, is the spring and principle of his religion and obedience. God hath not his heart, when he draweth near him with his lips : he doth more than he would do, if he were not forced by necessity and fear; and had rather be excused, and lead another kind of life. Though necessity and fear are very helpful to the most sincere, yet fear alone without love or willingness is a graceless state.

VI. 1. A Christian indeed doth love God in

these three gradations: he loveth him much for his mercy to himself, and for that goodness which consisteth in benignity to himself; but he loveth him more for his mercy to the church, and for that goodness which consisteth in his benignity to the church, But he loveth him most of all for his infinite perfections and essential excellencies ;-his infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness, simply in himself considered. For he knoweth that love to himself obligeth him to returns of love, especially differencing saving grace. And he knoweth that the souls of millions are more worth incomparably than his own, and that God may be much more honoured by them than by him alone: and therefore he knoweth that the mercy to many is greater mercy, and a greater demonstration of the goodness of God; and therefore doth render him more amiable to man.

And yet he knoweth that the essential perfection and goodness of God, as simply in himself and for himself, is much more amiable than his benignity to the creature; and that He that is the first efficient must needs be the ultimate final cause of all things: and that God is not finally for the creature, but the creature for God, (for all that he needeth it not,) . For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things.' And as he is infinitely better than ourselves, so he is to be better loved than ourselves : as I love a wise and virtuous person, though he be one I never expect to receive any thing from, and therefore love him for his own sake, and not for his benignity or usefulness to me; so must I love God most for his essential perfections,

though his benignity also doth represent him amiable. As he is blindly selfish that would not rather himself be annihilated or perish, than whole kingdoms should all perish, or the sun be taken out of the world; (because that which is best must be loved as best, and therefore be best loved :) so is he more blind who in his estimative complacential love preferreth not infinite eternal goodness before such an imperfect silly creature as himself (or all the world.) We are commanded to‘love our neighbour as ourselves,' when God is to be loved with all the heart, and soul, and might,' which therefore signifieth more than to love him as ourselves; (or else he were to be loved no more than our neighbour.) So that the strong Christian loveth God so much above himself, as that he accounteth himself and all his interests as nothing in comparison of God; yea, and loveth himself more for God than for himself: though his own salvation be loved and desired by him, and God must be loved for his mercy and benignity; yet that salvation itself, which he desireth, is nothing else but the love of God; wherein his love is the final felicitating act, and God is the final felicitating object; and the felicity of loving is not first desired, but the attractive object doth draw out our love, and thereby make us consequentially happy in the enjoying exercise thereof. Thus God is 'All and in all’ to the soul.

2. A weak Christian also loveth God as one that is infinitely better than himself and all things : (or else he did not love him at all as God.) But in the exercise he is so much in the minding of himself, and so seldom and weak in the contemplation of God's perfections, that he feeleth more of his love to himself, than unto God; and feeleth more of his love to God as for the benefits which he receiveth in and by himself, than as for his own perfections; yea, and often feeleth the love of himself to work more strongly than his love to the church, and all else in the world. The care of his own salvation is the highest principle which he ordinarily perceiveth in any great strength in him; and he is very little and weakly carried out to the love of the whole church, and to the love of God, above himself.

3. A seeming Christian hath a common love of God as he is good, both in himself, and unto the world, and unto him. But this is not for his holiness; and it is but a general ineffectual approbation and praise of God, which followeth a dead ineffectual belief: but his chiefest predominant love is always to his carnal self, and the love both of his soul and of God is subjected to his fleshly self-love. His chiefest love to God is for prospering him in the world, and such as is subservient to his sensuality, pride, covetousness, presumption, and false hopes.

VII. 1. A Christian indeed doth practically take this love of God, and the holy expressions of it, to be the very life and top of his religion, and the very life, and beauty, and pleasure of his soul;—he makes it his work in the world, and loveth himself (complacentially) but so far as he findeth in himself the love of God;--and so far as he findeth himself without it, he loatheth himself as an unlovely carcase: and so far as his prayers and obedience are without it, he looks on them but as unacceptable loathsome things. And therefore he is taken up in the study of redemption, because he can no where so clearly see the love and loveliness of God as in the face of a Redeemer, even in the wonders of love revealed in Christ. And he studieth them, that love may kindle love. And, therefore, he delighteth in contemplating God's attributes and infinite perfections; and in the beholding of him in the frame of the creation, and reading his name in the book of his works, that his soul may, by such steps, be raised in love and admiration of his Maker:and, as it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun,' or light, so is it to the mind of the Christian indeed to be frequently and seriously contemplating the nature and glory of God: and the exercise of love in such contemplations is most of his daily walk with God. And therefore it is, also, that he is more taken up in the exercises of thanksgiving, and the praises of the Almighty, than in the lower parts of godliness: so that though he neglect not confession of sin and humiliation, yet doth he use them but in subserviency to the love and praise of God; and rejoiceth in casting out every thing which becomes not a heart that is to entertain its God. He placeth not the chief part of his religion in any outward duties, nor in any lower preparatory acts; nor doth he stop in any of these, however he neglect them not. But he useth them all to advance his soul in the love of God; and useth them the more diligently, because the love of God, to which they conduce as to their proper end, is so high and

« הקודםהמשך »