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simplicity of revealed religiont. He supposes, that, if our love to God be influenced by the belief of our reconciliation to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, it is not genuine love to God, but self-love. From this opinion it would follow, that the Psalmist was only love ing himself, when he loved God as his strength, his rock, fortress and deliverer, his God and the horn of his salvation, his high tower, Psal. xvii. 1, 2. The first Christians according to this opinion, were only lovers of their ownselves, when the love of Christ, manifested in his giving himself for them, constrained them ; though, by this means, they lived not to themselves, but to him. God himself frequently inforces his commands with this dea claration, I am the Lord thy Godf; intimating that he would have them believe their special interest in him as a principal incentive to the obedience of love. .
+ This doctrine, " That God is to be loved for himself, and " That the manifestation, which he makes of himself in “ the hearts and consciences of his rational creatures, and in the “ works of creation, is a sufficient means of bringing them to love “ him for himself,” is no other than natural religion; and would, no doubt, have been verified in man, if he had continued upright.
But the way of bringing fallen men to the true love of God by ' means of faith in Jesus Christ as having loved them and given himself for them, is purely a matter of supernatural revelation. Hence it appears, that, if what Mr. Bellamy teaches, namely, that men attain true love to God, before the gospel come into view, were agreeable to fact, there would be no need of the gospel : natural religion would be sufficient. For they who love God for himself are, no doubt, truly blessed. Thus it is evident, that the doctrine which Mr. Bellamy would substitute instead of that which Mr. Marshal teaches, is rank Deism ; and is that which leads many professed Christians to hold, That the heathens may be saved by living according to the light they have; an opinion directly opposite to the Scripture, which assures us, that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh, no one of the human race, Jew or Gentile, without or within the church, be justified in the sight of God.
| Lev. xix. 3, 4, 10, 25, 31, 34, 36. xx. 7, 24. i
Mr. Bellamy represents the appropriating faith of the love of God in Christ to us as alienating the heart from God and “ leading it to seek its rest elsewheret.” The scriptures, on the contrary, represent the Lord's loving kindness to us in Christ, apprehended by faith, as the rest and refreshing of our souls, Psal. Ixüi. 3, 5. Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips. Psal. cxvi. 7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. Heb. iv. 3. We, who have believed, do enter into rest, that is, we enter into the promised rest in believing. Whom, have I in heaven but thee? says the Psalmist ; and there is none upon earth, whom I desire besides thee. Thus, he represents the exercise of supreme love to God. And how did he attain this exercise? By the appropriating faith expressed in the preceding verses : I am continually with thee ; thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory*,
* Dial. i. page 30.
* Psal. lxxiii. 23, 24, 25. It is true, that hypocrites may have a strong conceit, that God loves them, exciting such
natural emotions and affections, as they take to be love to God. · But that conceit is widely different from the faith, which be
lievers have, of the love of God in Christ to them, which is the means of producing in them true love to him. The conceit, which hypocrites have of God's love to them, is built upon a vain imagination; whereas the faith, which believers attain of the love of God to them in Christ, is founded upon his word. Hypocrites conceive God to be one like themselves, Psal. Í. 21. and his love to them to be such as connives at and countenances their continuance in the neglect of known duty or the practice of known sin. But the faith of true Christians apprehends the love of God in Christ as taking away their sins, 1 John iji. 5. Hypocrites imagine, that they love God, because they feel a sort of natural gratitude to God for his benefits; whilst they regard nothing in these benefits but the gratification of corrupt
- Farther, Mr. Bellamy represents the faith of God's love to us in Christ as leading persons to love the chi!dren of God a merely on selfish accounts; as because they love me, belong to my party &c.”
But it may be asked, How does this assertion com-- port with the numerous passages of scripture, which
hold forth the love of God towards us in Christ, as a principal motive to the love of the brethren ; whilst that love can be no such motive to any but those who believe it? John xv. 12. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ephes. v. 2. Walk in love, as Christ also hath Loved us. Coloss. iii. 13. As Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 1 John iv. 11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. According to these and other texts, the appropriating faith of the love of God in Christ to us is the most effectual means of kindling and maintaining in our hearts the fervent love of the brethren.
The following passage, taken from Dr. Owen's treatise on communion with God, will serve for a proper conclusion of this letter. « Flesh and blood,” says he, L' are apt to have very hard thoughts of God; to think, 16 that he is always angry, yea implacable ; that it is
self. Whereas believers are brought to the exercise of true love to God by means of faith apprehending such a manifestation of God's love to them in Christ as serves most eminently to display the glory of his holiness, goodness, truth, and other perfections of his nature, 2 Corinth. iv. 6. Thus, they love God for himself as well as for his benefits : for, though the faith of God's love to them in Christ is the neans of kindling love to him in their hearts ; yet, as their love to him is supreme love, it can have no other proper ground, than his infinitely glorious excellencies, or what he is in himself.
pot for poor creatures to draw nigh to him;' that no
thing in the world is more desirable than never to "come into his presence, Isai. xxxiii. 16. Who amongst 6 us shall dwell with devouring fire? who amongst us 66 shall dwell with everlasting burnings ? say the sinners i in Zion. Luke xix. 21. I knew that thou wast an “ austere man, saith the evil servant. The Lord takes *6 nothing worse at the hands of his people, than such “ hard thoughts of him, knowing full well what fruit à this bitter root is like to bear; what alienation of « heart, what drawing back, what unbelief and tergi“ versation in our walking with him."
« Consider then, in the first place, that the receive “ ing of the Father as he holds out love 'to the soul, « gives him the honour he aims at and is exceeding - acceptable to him. He often sets forth his love in van eminent manner, that it may be so received. He ?commendeth it to us, Rom. v. 8. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us !”;
« But some may say, Alas! how shall I hold communion with the Father in love? I know not at all o whether he loves me or not. And shall I venture to o cast myself upon it? How if I should not be accept66 ed? Should I not rather perish for my presumption, « than find sweetness in his bosom? God seems to me 6 as a consuming fire and everlasting burning, so that “I dreact to look up unto him.". . : '“ I know not what may be understood by this knowsing of the love of God. Though it be carried on by « spiritual sense and experience; yet it is first i'eceived 6 PURELY BY BELIEVỈNG. Our knowing it is just, our « believing it as revealed. We have known and believed - the love thai God hath to us: God is love, I John iv. 16. This is the assurance, which, at the very en-... 4 trance of walking with God, thou mayst have of " this love. He who is truth hath said it. And what..
ever thy heart or satan says, unless thou wilt take it « up on this account, thou doest thy endeavour to make 6 him a liar who hath spoken it, 1 John v. 10." .
“I can believe, that God is love to others; for he “ hath said, He is love. But that he will be so to me, “ I see no ground of persuasion. There is no cause, no “ reason in the world why he should have one thought 6 of love or kindness towards me; and therefore I dare 6 not cast myself upon it to hold communion with him “ in his special love.”. • “ He hath spoken it as particularly to thee as to any “ one in the world. With regard to a cause of love, “ he hath as much to fix it on thee as on any of the “children of men ; that is, none at all without himself. “ So that I shall make speedy work with this objection. “ Never any one from the foundation of the world, “ who believed such love in the Father, and made re“ turns of love to him again, was deceived. Neither " shall any to the world's end be deceived in so doing, 6 Thou art then in this upon a most sure bottom. If “ thou believest and receivest the Father as love, he “ will infallibly be so to thee, though others may fall « under his severity.”
“ But I cannot find my heart making returns of I love unto God. Could I find my soul set upon him; " I would then believe his soul delighted in me."..
“ This is the most preposterous course that possibly " thy thoughts can pitch upon, a most ready way to rob “ God of his glory. Herein is love, saith the Holy " Spirit, not that we loved God, but that he loved is