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powerfully or so tenderly affected. And when we learn the assurance that he will yet he may have hitherto evinced nothing grant the heart's desire of those who will more than the workings of a mere instinct, stir themselves up to lay hold of him,which springs spontaneously within him, when we think that prayer is the natural and gives its own impulse to his words and expression of desire for an object which his performances, without a sense of duty man cannot reach, but which God is both having any share in the matter, or without able and willing to confer upon him,--then the will prompting the individual by any do we see how the very existence of the such consideration, as, let me do this thing love of gratitude may have had its pure and because I ought to do it.
holy commencement, in such a habitude of Let us now conceive the moral sense to the will as has the essential character of be admitted to its share of influence over virtue engraven upon it. “Keep yourthis proceeding. Let it be consulted on the selves,” says the Apostle, “in the love of question of what ought to be felt, and what God, by praying in the Holy Ghost," ought to be done, by one being, when an- ! But, again, there are certain doings of other evinces the love of kindness towards the mind, over which the will has a control, him. A mere instinct may, in point of fact, and by which the affection of gratitude draw out a return of love and of service may either be brought into being, or be susback again. But it is the province of the tained in lively and persevering exercise. moral sense to pronounce on the point of At the bidding of the will, I can think of obligation, and we speak its universal sug- one topic, rather than of another. I can gestion, when we say, that the love of grati-transfer my mind to any given object of tude ought to be felt, and the services of contemplation. I can keep that object steagratitude ought to be rendered.
(dily in view, and make an effort to do so, Now, to make this decision of the moral when placed in such circumstances as might sense practically effectual, and, indeed, to lead me to distraction or forgetfulness. And make the moral sense have any thing to do it is in this way that moral praise or moral with this question at all, the feeling of grati-responsibility, may he attached to the love tude must, in some way or other, be de- of gratitude. Ere the heart can be moved pendent either for its existence, or its by this affection to another, there must be growth, or its continuance, upon the will; | in the mind a certain appropriate object, and the same will must also have a com- that is fitted to call it, and to keep it in exmand over the services of gratitude. The istence, and that object is the love of kindmoral sense, in fact, never interposes with ness which the other bears me. I may enany dictate, or with any declaration about deavour, and I may succeed in the endeathe feelings, or the conduct of man, unless vour, to hold this love of kindness in daily in so far as the will of man has an influ- and perpetual remembrance. If the will ence, and a power of regulation over them. I have to do with the exercises of thought It never makes the rate of the circulation and memory, then the will may be responof the blood a question of duty, because sible for the gratitude that would spring in this is altogether an involuntary move- my bosom, did I only think of the love of ment. And it never would have offered any God, and that would continue with me in authoritative intimation, about the way in the shape of an habitual affection, did I only which gratitude ought to be felt, or ought keep that love in habitual remembrance. It to be expressed, unless the will had had is thus that the forgetfulness of God is some kind of presiding sovereignty overchargeable with criminality,--and it will both the degree and the workings of this appear a righteous thing in the day of judgaffection.
| ment, when they, who are thus forgetful of The first way, then, in which the will him, shall be turned into hell. It is this may have to do with the love of gratitude, which arms, with such a moral and condemis by the putting forth of a desire for the pos- natory force, the expostulation he holds with session of it. It may long to realize this moral Israel, “that Israel doth not know, that my accomplishment. It may hunger and thirst people do not consider. It is because we after this branch of righteousness. Even like not to retain God in our knowledge, though it has not any such power under its that our minds become reprobate ;-and, command as would enable it to fulfil such on the other hand, it is by a continuous effort a volition, the volition itself has, upon it, of my will, towards the thought of him, the stamp and the character of virtue. The that I forget not his benefits. It is by the man who habitually wills to have in his strenuousness of a voluntary act, that I conheart a love of gratitude towards God, is a nect the idea of an unseen benefactor, with man at least of holy desires, if not of holy all the blessings of my present lot, and all attainments. And, when we consider that the anticipations of my futurity. It is by a a way has actually been established, in combat with the most urgent propensities which the desire may be followed up by Jof nature, that I am ever looking beyond the attainment, when we read of the pro- this surrounding materialism, and setting mise given to those who seek after God,- 1 God and his love before me all the day long. There is no virtue, it is allowed, without , in life and in exercise, by such habits of voluntary exertion ; but this is the very thought as are of voluntary cultivation; and character which runs throughout the whole it nobly sustains an aspect of moral righwork and exercise of faith. To keep him-teousness onwards to the final result of its self in the love of God is a habit, with the operation on the character, by setting him maintenance of which the will of man has who is under its power, on a career of obemost essentially to do, because it is at his dience to God, and introducing him to an will that he keeps himself in the thought of arduous contest of principle, with all the God's love towards him. To bid away from influences of sense and of the world. me such intrusions of sense, and of time, If, to render an affection virtuous, the as would shut God out of my recollections; will acting under a sense of duty, should be to keep alive the impression of him in the concerned either in producing or in permidst of bustle, and company, and worldly petuating it; then the love of moral esteem avocations; to recall the thought of him and coming into the heart, as an involutary of his kindness, under crosses, and vexa- sensation, may, in certain circumstances, tions, and annoyances; to be still, and know have as little of the character of virtue as that he is God, even when beset with tempt- the love of gratitude. In this respect, both tations to impatience and discontent;never to these affections are upon a footing with loose sight of him as merciful and gracious; each other; and the first ought not to and above all, never to let go my hold of that have been exalted at the expense of the segreat Propitiation, by which in every time of cond. That either be upheld within us in trouble, I have the privilege of access with our present state, there must, in fact, be the confidence to my reconciled Father; these are putting forth of the same voluntary control all so many acts of faith, but they are just over the thoughts and contemplations of such acts as the will bears a share, and a the understanding; the same active exersovereignity, in the performance of. And, cise of faith ; the same laborious resistance as they are the very acts which go to ali- to all those urgencies of sense which would ment and to sustain the love of gratitude expel from the mind the idea of an unseen within me, it may be seen, how an affection and spiritual object; the same remembrance which, in the first instance, may spring in- of God sustained by effort, and prayer, and voluntarily, and be therefore regarded as a meditation. mere instinct of nature, or as bearing upon II. We now feel ourselves in a condition it a complexion of selfishness, may, in an- to speak of the Gospel, in its free and graother view, have upon it a complexion of tuitous character; to propose its blessings deepest sacredness, and be rendered unto as a gift; to hold out the pardon, and the God in the shape of a duteous and devoted strength, and all the other privileges which offering from a voluntary agent, and be, in it proclaims to believers, as so many articles fact, the laborious result of a most difficult, for their immediate acceptance; to make it and persevering, and pains-taking habit of known to men that they are not to delay obedience.
their compliance with the overtures of And if this be true of the mere sense of mercy, till the disinterested love of God gratitude, it is still more obviously true of | arises in their hearts; but that they have a the services of gratitude. “What shall I warrant for entering even now, into instant render unto the Lord for all his benefits ?" reconciliation with God. Nor are we to is the genuine language of this affection. It dread the approach of any moral contamiseeks to make a gratifying return of service, 1 nation, though when, after their eyes are and that, under the feeling that it ought to opened to the marvellous spectacle of a pleaddo so. Or, in other words, do we beholding, and offering, and beseeching God, holdthat it is the will of man, prompted by a ing out eternal life unto the guilty, through sense of duty, which leads him on to the the propitiation which his own Son hath Obedience of gratitude, and that the whole of made for them, they should, from that mom this obedience is pervaded by the essential ment, open their whole soul, to the influcharacter of virtue. This is the love of ences of gratitude, and love the God who God, that ye keep his commandments. thus hath first loved them. This is the most gratifying return unto him, We conclude then with remarking, that mat ye do those things which are pleasing the whole of this argument gives us another In his sight. And thus it is, that the love of view of the importance of faith. We do not gratitude may be vindicated in its character say all for it that we ought, when we say of moral worth, from its first commence-that by faith we are justified in the sight of ment in the heart to its ultimate effect on God. By faith also our hearts are purified. the walk and conversation. It is originally It is in fact the primary and the presiding distinct from selfishness in its object; and principle of regeneration. It brings the it derives a virtuousness at its very outset, heart into contact with that influence by from the aspirations of a soul bent on the which the love of gratitude is awakened. acquirement of it, because bent on being 'The love of God to us, if it is not believed, What it ought to be; and it is sustained, both I will exert no more power over our affections than if it were a nonentity. They are ple to bear upon their hearers, which any the preachers of faith, then, who alone deal one of us may exemplify upon the poorest, out to their hearers, the elementary and and by which both HOWARD and Fry have pervading spirit of the Christian morality. tried with success, to sosten and to reclaim And the men who have been stigmatized as the most worthless of mankind. the enemies of good works, are the very This also suggests a practical direction to men who are most sedulously employed in Christians, for keeping themselves in the depositing within you, that good seed which love of God. They must keep themselves has its fruit unto holiness. We are far from in the habit, and in the exercise of faith asserting, that the agency of grace is not They must hold fast that conviction in their concerned, in every step of that process, by minds, the presence of which is indispensawhich a sinner is conducted from the outset ble to the keeping of that affection in their of his conversion to the state of being per- hearts. This is one of the methods recomfect, and complete in the whole will of God. mended by the Apostle Jude, when he tells But there is a harmony between the pro-his disciples to build themselves up on their cesses of grace and of nature; and in the most holy faith. This direction to you is same manner, as in human society, the ac- both intelligible and practicable. Keep in tual conviction of a neighbour's good-will view the truths which you have learned. to me, takes the precedency in point of or- Cherish that belief of them which you der of any returning movement of gratitude already possess. Recall them to your on my part; so, in the great concerns of our thoughts, and, in general, they will not fellowship with God, my belief that he loves come alone, but they will come accompame, is an event prior and preparatory to nied by their own power, and their own the event of my loving him. So that the evidence. You may as well think of mainprimary obstacle to the love of God is not taining a steadfast attachment to your the want of human gratitude, but the want friend, after you have expunged from your of human faith.
memory all the demonstrations of kindness The reason why man is not excited to he ever bestowed upon you, as think of the love of God by the revelation of God's keeping your heart in the love of God, love to him, is just because he does not be- after the thoughts and contemplations of lieve that revelation. This is the barrier the gospel have fled from it. It is just by which lies between the guilty and their of- holding these fast, and by building yourself fended Lawgiver. It is not the ingratitude up on their firm certainty, that you preserve of man, but the incredulity of man, that this affection. Any man, versant in the needs, in the first instance, to be overcome. matters of experimental religion, knows It is the sullenness, and the hardness, and well what it is when a blight and a barrenthe obstinacy of unbelief which stands as a ness come over the mind, and when, under gate of iron, between him and his enlarge the power of such a visitation, it loses all senment. Could the kindness of God, in Christ sibility towards God. There is at that time Jesus, be seen by him, the softening of a a hiding of his countenance, and you lose kindness back again, would be felt by him. your hold of the manifestation of that love And let us cease to wonder, then, at the wherewith God loved the world, even when preachers of the gospel, when they lay upon he sent his only begotten Son into it, that belief all the stress of a fundamental opera- we might live through him. You will retion ;-when they lavish so much of their cover a right frame, when you recover your strength on the establishment of a principle, hold of this consideration. If you want to which is not only initial, but indispensable; recall the strayed affection to your heart when they try so strenuously to charm that recall to your mind the departed object of into existence, without which all the ele- contemplation. If you want to reinstate ments of a spiritual obedience are in a state the principle of love in your bosom-reinof dormancy or of death ;—when they la- state faith, and it will work by love. It is bour at the only practicable way by which got at through the medium of believing, and the heart of a sinner can be touched, and trusting ;-nor do we know a more sumattracted towards God ;-when they try somary, and, at the same time, a more likely repeatedly to hold and to fasten him by direction for living a life of holy and heathat link which God himself hath put into venly affection, than that you should live a their hands-and bring the mighty princi- I life of faith.
The Affection of Moral Esteem towards God.
"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all
the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”—Psalm xxvii. 4.
In our last discourse we adverted to the gether, to the consideration that God is effect of a certain theological speculation looking with complacency upon me, I do about love, in darkening the freeness of the not feel touched and attracted by the beaugospel, and intercepting the direct influence ties of his character, when I look with the of its overtures and its calls on the mind of eye of contemplation towards him. I am an inquirer. Ere we can conceive the love without the most essential of all moral acof gratitude towards another, we must see complishinents in myself, if I am without in him the love of kindness towards us; and the esteem of moral accomplishments in thus, by those who have failed to distinguish / another; and if my heart be of such a conbetween a love of the benefit, and a love of stitution that nothing in the character of the benefactor, has the virtue of gratitude God can draw my admiration, or my rebeen resolved into the love of ourselves. gard, to him—then, though admitted within And they have thought that there must the portals of the city which hath foundasurely be a purer affection than this, to tions, and removed from the torments of mark the outset of the great transition from hell, I am utterly unfit for the joys and the sin unto righteousness; and the one they exercises of heaven. I may spend an eterhave specified is the disinterested love of nity of exemption from pain, but without God. They have given to this last affection one rapture of positive felicity to brighten a place so early, as to distract the attention it. Heaven, in fact, would be a wilderness of an inquirer from that which is primary. to my heart; and, in the midst of its acThe invitation of " come and buy without claiming throng would I droop, and be in money, and without price," is not heard by heaviness under a sense of perpetual dissothe sinner along with the exaction of loving lution. God for himself,-of loving him on account And let this convince us of the mighty of his excellences, -of loving him because transition that must be described by the he is lovely. Let us, therefore, try to ascer- men of this world, ere they are meet for tain whether even this love of moral esteem the other world of the spirits of just men is not subordinate to the faith of the gospel; made perfect. It is not speaking of this and whether it follows, that because this af- transition, in terms too great and too lofty, Section forms so indispensable a part of to say, that they must be born again, and godliness, faith should, on that account, be made new creatures, and called out of darkdeposed from the place of antecedency ness into a light that is marvellous. The which belongs to it.
truth is, that out of the pale of vital ChrisAnd here let it be most readily and most tianity, there is not to be found among all abundantly conceded, that we are not per- the varieties of taste, and appetite, and sensect and complete in the whole of God's timental admiration, any love for God as will, till the love of moral esteem be in us, he is,-any relish for the holiness of his as well as the love of gratitude, -till that character, -any echoing testimony, in the principle, of which, by nature, we are ut- bosom of alienated man, to what is graceterly destitute, be made to arise in our ful, or to what is venerable in the character hearts, and to have there a thorough esta- of the Deity. He may be feelingly alive to blishment, and operation,--till we love God, the beauties of what is seen, and what is not merely on account of his love to our sensible. The scenery of external nature persons, but on acconnt of the glory, and may charm him. The sublimities of a surthe residing excellence, which meet the eye rounding materialism may kindle and dion the spiritual beholder. upon his own chia-/ late him with images of grandeur. Even rácter. We are not preparing for heaven, the moralities of a fellow-creature may en. We shall be utterly incapable of sharing in gage him; and these, with the works of the noblest of its enjoyments, we shall not genius, may fascinate him into an idolatrous feel ourselves surrounded by an element of veneration of human power, or of human congeniality in paradise, there will be no virtue. But while he thus luxuriates and happiness for us, even in the neighbourhood delights himself with the forms of derived of the throne of God, and with the moral excellence, there is no sensibility in his lustre of the Godhead made visible to our heart towards God. He rather prefers to eyes, if we are strangers to the emotion of keep by the things that are made, and, surloving God for himself,--if additional alto-rounded by them, to bury himself into a
forgetfulness of his Maker. He is most in more, with every offort to stir up his faculhis element, when in feeling, or in employ-ties to lay hold of him, catch an endearing ment, he is most at a distance from God. view of the Deity, than his eye can by There is a coldness, or a hatred, or a terror, straining, penetrate its way through a darkwhich mixes up with all his contemplations ened firmament, to the features of that maof the Deity; and gives to his mind a kind terial loveliness which lies before him, and of sensitive recoil from the very thought around him. It must be lighted up to him, of him. He would like to live always in ere he can love it, or enjoy it, and tell us the world, and be content with such felicity what the degree of his affection for the as it can give, and cares not, could he only scenery would be, if instead of being lighted get what his heart is set upon here, and be up by the peaceful approach of a summer permitted to enjoy it for ever, though he morn, it were to blaze into sudden visibility, had no sight of God, and no fellowship with all its cultivation and cottages, by the with him through eternity. The event to fires of a bursting volcano. Tell us, if all which, of all others, he looks forward with the glory and gracefulness of the landscape the most revolting sense of aversion and which had thus started into view, would dismay, is that event which is to bring him charm the beholder for a moment, from the into a nearer contact with God, which is terrors of his coming destruction ? Tell us, to dissolve his present close relationship if it is possible for a sentient being to admit with the creature, and to conduct his dis- another thought in such circumstances as embodied spirit into the immediate pre-these, than the thought of his own presersence of the Creator. There is nothing in vation. O would not the sentiment of fear death, in grim, odious, terrific death, that about himsels, cast out every sentiment of he less desires, or is more afraid of, than a love for all that he now saw, and were he nearer manifestation of the Deity. The only safe could look upon with ecstacy?world, in truth, the warm and the well and let the beauty be as exquisite as it may, known world, is his home; and the men would not all the power and pleasure of its who live in it, and are as regardless of the enchantments fly away from his bosom, Divinity as himself, form the whole of his were it only seen through the glowing fercompanionship. Were it not for the fear (vency of elements that threatened to deof hell, he would shrink from heaven as stroy him? a dull and melancholy exile. All its songs Let us now conceive, that through that of glory to him who sitteth on the throne, thick spiritual darkness by which every would be to his heart a burden and a weari-child of nature is encompassed, there was ness ;-and thus it is, that the foundation forced upon him a view of the countenance of every natural man has its place in that of the Deity,--that the perfections of God perishable earth, from which death will were made visible,-and that the character soon carry him away, and which the fiery Jon which the angels of paradise gaze with indignation of God will at length burn up; delight, because they there behold all the and as to the being who endureth for ever, lineaments of moral grandeur, and moral and with whom alone he has to do, he sees loveliness, were placed before the eye of his in him no form nor comeliness, nor no mind, in bright and convincing manisesbeauty that he should desire him.
tation. It is very true, that on what he Now, is not this due to the darkness of would be thus made to see, all that is fair nature, as well as to the depravity of na- and magnificent are assembled,--that whatture? There is in our diseased constitu- ever of greatness, or whatever of beauty can tion, a spiritual blindness to the excellen- be found in creation, is but a faint and ces of the Godhead, as well as a spiritual shadowy transcript of that original subdisrelish for them. The truth is, that these stantial excellence, which resides in the two elements go together in the sad pro- conceptions of him who is the fountain of gress of human degeneracy. Man liked not being,—that all the pleasing of goodness, to retain God in his knowledge, and God and all the venerable of worth, and all the gave him over to a reprobate mind; and sovereign command of moral dignity meet again, man walking in vanity, and an and are realised on the person of God, enemy to God by wicked works, had his that through the whole range of universal understanding darkened, and was visited existence there cannot be devised a single with ignorance, and blindness of heart. We feature of excellence which does not serve do not apprehend God, and therefore it is to enrich the character of him who sustains that we must be renewed in the knowledge all things, and who originated all things. of him, ere we can be formed again to the No wonder that the pure eye of an angel love of him. The natural man can no more takes in such fulness of pleasure from a admire the Deity through the obscurities in contemplation so ravishing. But let all this which he is shrouded, than he can admire a burst upon the eye of a sinner, and let the landscape which he never saw, and which truth and the righteousness of God out of at the time of his approach to it, is wrap-Christ stand before it in visible array, along ped in the glooi of midnight. He can no l with the other glories of character which