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Though truly, and properly, united to the Lord Jesus, by virtue of the renewed life in the soul, the communication from his fulness, will be more, or less manifested, according as this principle of divine love, from the Spirit's work, is shed abroad in the heart. Where there is the greatest emptiness of all creature enjoyments, there in proportion, will be larger space afforded, for the filling in of the Creator's love. And on the contrary, when the heart is swarming, with vain thoughts, like a cage of unclean birds, until these fly away, or more properly speaking are put to fight, what room can be found for the love of God?
. It becomes very sweet to observe, and indeed it is among the principle operations, by which the Holy Ghost, sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, the method he is pleased to adopt, for the accomplishment of so much mercy. In order to empty the soul, for the reception of divine things, he permits his people, not unfrequently, the gratification of their wayward desires, in the pursuit of one creature comfort, after another, on purpose, that from continual disappointment, they may be brought back, to seek happiness, where alone it can be found. For this end, he tinges all their comforts, with vanity; converts their very pleasures, into sources of pain; causes a bitter fruit, to grow out of the very plant, they had proposed to them
selves, much sweetness in: and by throwing down, one after another, all their false props of creature confidences, he brings them low in the dust before God, by way of preparing them, for the greater manifestations of his love.
We have a beautiful instance of this, exemplified in the case, of the Church of old. She said (saith the Prophet) I will go after my lovers, that gave me my bread, and my water, my wool, and my far, mine oil, and my drink. Strong expressions these to describe, the many wanderings of the heart, after its various idols. But what saith God to all this? I will hedge up thy way (saith the Lord) with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them: and she shall seek them, but she shall not find them. Then shall she say I will go and return to my first husband for then was it better with me than now. *
Here you see at once, an illustration, of that process of grace, by which the Holy Ghost, brings back the soul, and prepares it, for the full enjoyment of divine love. When he hath mercifully induced sorrow, and disappointment, and vexation; and sickened the heart, in the pursuit of all creature comforts : having thus driven all buyers and sellers out of the temple, a fit habitation is then formed, for Jesus himself to enter in. The heart melts under a deep sense, of its own folly, and ingratitude, towards God, and God's goodness towards him. And full of these impressions, the believer is driven to his knees, in prayer, to confess his vileness and God's mercy. His language then is; I have seen an end of all perfection. Whom have I . in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth, that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God, is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
* Hosea 2. 5. 6. 7.
These are precious testimonies, of the Spirit's influence, in confirmation of the doctrine of the text. The love of God, is indeed, shed abroad by his power, when all creature affections, are lessened, or removed, to make space, for the full reception of the Redeemer. And in proportion, as this blessed principle prevails, so all others die away. ; . .
You may therefore estimate, your own exact situation of character, in this particular, by this unerring standard. And depend upon it, according to the degree of estimation, in which the Lord Jesus is held by you, such more or
less, is the Spirit's operation of this blessed gift in the heart: for your affection can proceed, from no other source. In those happy souls, where this influence is largely extended, there will be no apprehension, no distrust, no deadness to divine things, no anxious solicitude for earthly pursuits, no spirit of bondage, no guilty frames; for perfect love casteth out fear. The Holy Ghost, sheds abroad the love of God, with such fulness, and sovereignty, that it sweeps away as an over powering torrent, all other considerations. ......
And hence it is, that true believers in Christ. in whose hearts this love of God prevails, as in their experience creature comforts have lost their sweetness, so afflictions loose their bitterness. While this love is uppermost, they can, and do enjoy Christ, in every thing, and without any thing. For in all circumstances, which concern them they see somewhat of Jesus. Are they blessed with children, friends, health, eying the hand of Jesus in the gifts, gives a relish to the whole. Are they deprived of them and stand defenceless, and alone: having the Lord for their portion, in him they have all. Reproaches unjustly thrown upon them, by the world, will hardly be felt, while the peace of God rules within. And the strife of tongues,