« AnteriorContinuar »
He had a ques
precise measure of duty which God requires in his law? And a short, but very clear and plain answer to all these questions we have before us in our text; which is the words of our blessed Saviour, and in which he does upon design declare what the sum and substance of the law is. tion put to him in these words: “ Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” To which he answers, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c.; this is the first. The second is like unto it,” &c. The ten commandinents are summed up in these two; and every duty enjoined in the law, and inculcated in the prophets, is but a deduction from these two, in which all are radically contain
A thorough understanding of these two will therefore give us an insight into all. Let us now, therefore, begin with taking the first of these into particular consideration. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. Here is, 1. The duty required, viz. love to God. 2. The grounds and reasons of the duty intimated— Because he is the Lorit our God. S. The measure of duty required-With all thy heart, &c.
In discoursing upon these words, I will therefore endeavour to show,
1. What is implied in love to God. II. From what inotives we are required to love him. III. What is the measure of love which is required.
SHOWING WHAT IS IMPILED IN LOVE TO GOD.
I. I am to show what is implied in love to God.
And, 1. A true knowledge of God is implied; for this lays the foundation of love. A spiritual sight of God, and a sense of his glory and beauty, begets love. When he that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in our hearts, and gives us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God; and when we, with open face, behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, then we are changed into the same image: the temper
and frame of our hearts become like God's, (to speak after the manner of men :) we begin to feel towards God, in a measure, as he does towards himself ; i. e, to love him with all our hearts. 2 Cor. iii. 18. & iv. 6. For now we begin to perceive the grounds and reasons of that infinite esteem he has of himself, and infinite complacency in himself, and why he commands all the world to love and adore him. And the same grounds and reasons which move him thus to love himself, and command all the world to do so too, enkindle the divine flame in our hearts. When we see God, in a measure, such as he sees himself to be, and have a sense of his glory and beauty in being 'what he is, in a measure, as he himtelt has, then we begin to love him with the same kind of love, and from the same motives, as he himself does; only in an infinitely inferior degree. This sight and sense of God discovers the grounds of love to him. We see why he requires us to love him, and why we ought to love him-how right and fit it is; and so we cannot but love him.
This true knowledge of God supposes, that, in a measure, we see Gud to be just such a one as he is; and, in a ineasure, have a sense of his infinite glory and beauty in being such. For if our apprehensions of God are not right, it is not God we love, but only a false image of him framed in our own fancy*. And if we have not a sense of his glory and beauty
* How false and dangerous, therefore, is that principle, “ That it is no matter what men's principles are, if their lives be but good.” Just as if that external conformity to the law might be called a good life, which does not proceed from a genuine love to God in the heart : or just as if a man might bave a genuine love to God in his heart, without having right apprehensions of him !-or just as if a man might have right apprehensions of God, let his apprehensions be wbat they will! Upon this principle, Heath. ens, Jews, and Mahomelans, may be saved as well as Christians. And, upon this principle, the heathen nations need not much trouble themselves to know which is the right God among all the gods that are worshipped in the world ; for it is no matter which God they think is the trie, if their lives are but good. But why has God revealed himself in his word, if right ap. prehensions of God be a matter of such indifference in religion ? and why did St. Paul take such pains to convert the heathen nations to Christianity, and so much fill up his epistles to them afterwards with doctrinal points, and be so strenuous as to say, “ If an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel, LET HIM BE ACOURSED," if right apprehensions of God, and right principles of religion, be a matter of such indifference ?-It is strange that snch a notion should be ever once mentioned by any that pretend to be Christians, since it is subversive of the whole Christian religion: making Christianity no safer a way to heaven than Paganism : Yea, such a principle naturally tends to make all those who imbibe it, leave love to God and faith in Christ out of their religion, and quiet themselves with a mere empty form of external duties : Or, in other words, it tends to make them leave the law and the gospel out of their religion, and quiet themselves with mere heathen morality; for a man cannot attain to love to God and faith in Christ, without right apprehensions of God and Christ : Or, in other words, å man cannot attain to a real conformity to the law, and to a genuine compliance with the gospel, unless his principles respecting the law and gospel are right : but a man may attain to a good life, externally, let his apprehensions of God and Christ, of law and gospel, and all his principles of religion, be what they will. Let him be a heathen, or Jew, a Mahometan, or Christian; yea, if a man be an Atheist, he may live a good life externally; for any man has sufficient power to do every external duty; and it is many times much to men's honour and worldly interest to appear righteous outwardly before men. Matt. xxiii. 28.
in being what he is, it is impossible we should truly love and esteen him for being such. To love God for being what he is, and yet not to have any sense of his glory and beauty in being such, implies a contradiction; for it supposes we have a sense of his glory and beauty when we have not: a sense of the beauty and amiableness of any object being always necessarily implied in love to it. Where no beauty or amiableness
there can be no love. Love cannot be forced. Forced love is no love. If we are obliged to try to force ourselves to love any body, it is a sign they are very odious in your eyes, or at least that we see no beauty or amiableness in them, no form or comeliness, wherefore we should desire or delight in them. Cant. viii, 7. In all cases, so far as we see beauty, so far we love, and no further.
Most certainly that knowledge of God which is necessárý to lay a foundation of genuine love to him, implies not only right apprehensions of what he is, but also a sense of his glory and beauty in being such ; for such a knowledge of God as consists merely in speculation, let it rise ever so high, and be ever so clear, will never move us to love him. Mere speculation, where there is no sense of beauty, will no sooner fill the heart with love, than a looking-glass will be filled with love by the image of a beautiful countenance, which looks into it: and a mere speculative knowledge of God, will not, cannot, beget a sense of his beauty in being what he is, when there is naturally no disposition in our hearts to account him glorious in being such, but wholly to the contrary. Rom. viii. 7. The carnal mind is enmity against God. When natures are in perfect contrariety, (the one sinful, and the other holy,) the more they are known to each other, the more is mutual hatred stirred up, and their entire aversion to each other becomes more sensible. The more they know of one another, the greater is their dislike, and the plainer do they feel it. Doubtless the fallen angels have a great degree of speculative knowledge; they have a very clear sight and great sense of what God is: but the more they know of God, the more they hate him : i.e. their hatred and aversion is stirred up the more, and they feel it plainer. So, awakened sinners, when under deep and thorough conviction, have comparatively a very clear sight and great sense of God; but it only makes them see and feel their native enmity, which before lay hid. A sight and sense of what God is, makes them see and feel what his law is, and so what their duty is, and so what their sinfulness is, and so what their danger is: It makes the commandment come, and so sin revives, and they die-Rom. vii. 7,8,9. The clearer sight and the greater sense they have of what God is, the more plainly do they perceive that perfect contrariety between his nature and their's : their aversion to God becomes discernible: they begin to see what enemies they are to him: and so the secret hypocrisy there has been in all their pretences of love, is discovered; and so their high conceit of their goodness, and all their hopes of findiug favour in the sight of God upon the account of it, cease, die away, and come to nothing. Sin revived and I died. The greater sight and sense they have of what God is,
N. B. What is here said, may with a litle alteration, be as well appli. ed to some other sorts of men. So the Moravians say, They care not what men's principles are, if they do but love the Saviour.” So, in NewEngland, there are multitudes who care little or nothing what doctrines men believe, if they are but full of FLAMING ZEAL.
Just as if it were' no matter what kind of Saviour we frame an idea of, if we do but love him ; nor what we are zealous about, if we are but FLAMIYG HOT.
the plainer do they feel that they have no love to him; but the greatest aversion; for the more they know of God, the more their native enmity is stirred up. So, again, as soon as ever an unregenerate sinner enters into the world of spirits; where he has a much clearer sight and greater sense of what God is, immediately his native enmity works to perfection, and be blasphemes like a very devil: and that although perhaps he died full of seeming love and joy. As the Galatians, who once loved Paul, so as that they could even have plucked out their eyes and have given them to him ; yet, when afterwards they came to know more clearly what kind of man he was, then they turned his enemies. And so, finally; all the wicked, at the day of Judgment, when they shall see very clearly what God is, will thereby only have all the enmity of their hearts stirred to perfection. From all which it is exceedingly manifest, that the clearest speculative knowledge of God, is so far from bringing an unholy heart to love God, that it will only stir up the more aversion; and therefore, that knowledge of God which lays the foundation of love, must imply not only right apprehensions of what God is, but also a sense of his glory and beauty in being such*.
Wicked men and devils inay know what God is, but none but holy beings have any sense of his infinite glory and beauty in being such ; which sense in scripture-language, is called seeing and knowing. 1 John iii. 6. Whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him. 3 Jolin, ver. 11. He
* I grant that if all our enmity against God arise merely from our conceiving him to be our enemy, then a manifestation of his love to our souls will cause our enmity to cease, and bring us to love him; nor will there be any need of a sense of the moral excellency of his nature to produce it ; and so there will be no need of the sanctifying influences of the holy Spirit. A manifestation of the love of God to our souls will effectu. ally change us—and thus a man may be under great terrors from a sense of the wrath of God, and may see the enmity of his heart in this sense 4 and may afterwards have, as he thinks, great manifestations of the love of God, and be filled with love and joy ; and after all, never truly see the plague of his own heart, nor have his nature renewed : and a man's having experienced such a false conversion, naturally leads him to frame wrong notions of religion, and blinds his mind against the truth. Many of the Antinomian principles take rise from this quarter.