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man, he has no true religion, no spiritual or saving goodness; and continuing thus, with all his attainments, he must perish forever,
Let us consider a little more particularly, wherein such a dis
tinguished character is nothing.
First, Without love, his profession of religion is nothing :
The profession of such a person must surely appear to the highest advantage. The brilliancy and lustre of such gifts and performances, must stamp authenticity on his profession; but without love, all is tinsel and show, a sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal, The profession is only lypocrisy in the sight of God.
Secondly, All his experiences in religion are nothing, while destitute of love. Love is the life and soul of everything of this kind. What exercises, terrors or comforts, sorrows or joys he may have had, without this he will be lost forever.
Thirdly, All his works are nothing, his prophesyings, his prayers, praises, almsgivings, charities and sufferings, will procure him no acceptance with God. His services, however arduous, illustrious or beneficial, will procure him no future reward. If this were not the case, it could not be said, that a person who gave all his goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burned, in witness of the truth of his religion, was still nothing.
Fourthly, His hopes and expectations of salvation are nothing without love. His expectations are delusive, and his hopes will perish when God takes away his soul. In one word, let his accomplishments, endowments, works and experiences, his good offices, sufferings, and trials be what they may, without love the Person wist be nothing at last.—I proceed,
Secondly, To consider on what grounds this Apostolic doctrine depends. This rests upon two general principles.
First, That holy love is the christian spirit of every act, duty,
%«orfc or service, that is of a gracious or virtuous nature, This, is-an invisible principle which renders any performance, exercise or duty, virtuous and well pleasing to God. Every- commanded act is holy or otherwise, as it originates from this principle of divine love, or from some other source. If it flows from another fountain, however specious in appearance in the eyes of men, it is spurious and odious in the ali penetrating eyes of Jehovah. Love is the salt which seasons every acceptable sacrifice. If this, be so, nothing more plain, that whatever a person may be af to priyiledges, advantages, gifts, exercises or works, all is nothing without love. There is no virtue or grace in all his actions, and where these are absent, all is absent that is acceptable to God, or gives any title to divine favour. Persons and actions are in God's sight, as the principles which give them complexion or ac. tuate them. If these be evil or. wrong, all is nothing in the divine view and estimation..
Secondly, Another ground of this doctrine is, that without love, all a person's services and duties in religion are insincere, and only seeming virtues. Surely mere seeming virtue, or insincere religion, cannot profit any man. Whatever sums of seeming gold a man hath cannot enrich liim. A small quantity of that which is real, is of more use than chests full of that which is only apparent. So.a. small measure of true grace, is of more va. }uc than a world of hypocrisy. Therefore, whatever abundance of apparent goodness or seeming religion a man. hath, he is nothing.
Where there is no love to God or man, there can be Bo genuine Kspect to either. Respect is the first effect or operation of love. And where love is wanting, there is no true respect, for no effect can exist without its cause. And the degree of real respect is uniformly as the degree of love—neither more nor less. Hence, where no respect is, there can be no sincerity in all the services we render, however pompous, expensive and showy they maybe. The performance of religious duties, supposes respect to God j *nd where this is not, the former must surely be hypocritical or delusive. Can that be a sincere duty where there is no love 2 If so, a person may sincerely serve God without any regard to him. And this amounts to the same as saying, a man be gracious without any grace. To be a little more particular on this subject.
As to worship, homage, praise and adoration, of what profit ean they be unless seasoned with love? Worship is, or ought to be, respect of a creature to its creator; but there can be no expression or exercise of that which is not in the heart. We are informed upon this point, “They are the true worshippers, who “worship in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to “worship him.” All other homage is of no esteem in the divine tight. The very pagans love the idols they adore. And is it Fossible that christian praise, prayer and adoration, can have any virtue in it which is not offered in love?
Sometimes men, under the light and preaching of the gospel, *ake fits of reformation; yet however specious and observable this reformation and amendment of life and manners may be ; *nd however useful to families, comfortable to cennections, or beineficial to neighbourhoods; what religion can be in it, or what Avail is it of, in the view of the heart searching God, where it ineither arises from, nor involves any respect or love 2 It wears a good face and appearance, but the fatal worm of selfishness, pride and hypocrisy lies at the root.
Faith is the mighty grace of the gospel. He that hath it shall be saved, and without it we must perish. But we read of a dead faith, a faith which is alone, &c. These kinds of faith are ever represented as having no virtue or saving efficacy in them. What is it that makes their solitariness and death Nothing but their want of love, Had they love in them, they would be justifying, efficacious, saving and pleasing to God. But a destitution of this $nscribes death on their nature and all their operations.
Justifying and saving faith is an act of the soul, whereby it falls into the line of the covenant of grace, and becomes united to Christ Jesus and one with him in the constitution of saving sinners. A thousand unions are formed in the animal and vegetable worlds, and it would be very improper for me to introduce into the pulpit, the radical principles of what is stiled natural philosophy.—But this I will venture, among natural, moral and christian philosophers, that love is the union in the whole spiritual kingdom of intelligences. The union of angels from the highest to the lowest grades is love; and the union of sinners with them, by a mediator, is the same affection. The union of all intelligences is love. Hence this conclusion, all faith of whatever complexion, temporary, historical or miraculous, is nothing without it is impregnated with love. All that is stiled faith in the scriptures destitute of this quality, it can only assume the name and put on the garb, it is destitute of life and virtue, without this divine infusion. Attend to the apostolic assertion in our text, though I have all faith, all sorts and kinds of faith in their highest degrees and measures, so that by the opening of my mouth, I could remove mountains, what are all these wonderful and mi. raculous powers, “Without charity, they are nothing 2" If we are blessed with saving and justifying faith, love forms its virtue and acceptableness. This is the intention of the sacred oracles when they speak of receiving the truth in the love of it.” A taste for gospel truth is the real ground of its reception. When this taste is wanting love cannot be present, hence every quality and thing which lays the foundation in the heart of the sinner, is placed at an infinite remove. Without faith, and this faith seasoned with charity, all is nothing,
All pretentions of obedience to the law, or subjection to the gospel, are nothing without love. The sincerity of submission to both, consists in love; without it all is show and pretence, and without it, all is insincerity and hypocrisy. Hence all that is tormed obedience, only wears the appearance, therefore there cats be no value or saving virtue in it.
It is readily granted, the external conduct, as well as internal feelings, must go to constitute the nature of gospel faith or christian obedience. Every thing of this nature must be free and unconstrained. Constraint or violence is the destruction of virtue, hence freedom, willingness, and ready obedience enters into all the faith and duty of the gospel.—Hence all conduct and behaviour, exercises and experiences, however well adjusted and handsomely expressed, can be of no value with God, without charity or love. All seeming religion hath no goodness in it. “Thot “I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and “all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could tes *move mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing.”
O that love to God, Christ Jesus, and our follow men might be so inwrought in our souls by the power of almighty grace, that every feeling and exercise of the mind; every duty and the whole tenor of our conversation may be impregnated there with, directed thereby, and offer up a sweet and acceptable savour to the nostrils of the Most High. Let us admit the sentiments of heaven, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and “have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling “ cymbal.”
Many are ready to think, if the laws of God are materially and externally complied with, obedience is performed. It is true the material and external part of obedience is of absolute necessity, but the internal and invisible part of the performance is of equal importance, which consists in an holy respect to God, and if this be absent, there is no obedience in the divine sight. Moreover all acceptable obedience is a free and cheerful offering, but if due affection be wanting, all appearances of this complexion originate from some species of force and constraint, and can possibly
have no virtue or holy goodness in them. Thus all appearances