Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the world, who has entire right unto, and an absolute authority over, all things, makes it appear infinitely fit that all things should be for him, and him alone; and that we should be entirely for him, and wholly devoted to him; and that it is infinitely wrong to live to ourselves, and make our own interest our last 'end. The same views which make the godly earnestly long to have God glorify himself, and to have all the world join to give him glory, thoroughly engage thein for their parts to live to God. After David had called upon all others to. bless the Lord, he concludes with, Bless the Lord, O my soul : And this is the language of heaven. Rev. iv. 11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power : For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created. And it was their maxim in the Apostles' days, Whether they ate or drank, or whatever they did, all must be done to the glory of God. 1 Cor. x. 31. And it was their way not to live to themselves, but to the Lord. 2 Cor. v. 15. Yea, Whether they lived, to live to the Lord; or whether they died, to die to the Lord. Rom. xiv. 7,8. This was what they commended. Phil. ii. 20, 21. And this was what they enjoined, as that in which the very spirit of true religion consisted. Eph. vi. 5, 6, 7. i Cor. vi. 20. Rom. xii. 1. & vii. 4.

All rational creatures, acting as such, are always influenced by motives in their whole conduct. Those things are always the most powerful motives, which appear to us most worthy of our choice. The principal motive to an action is always the ultimate end of the action : Hence, if God, his honour, and interest, appear to us as the supreme good, and most worthy of our choice, then God, his honour, and interest, will be the principal motive and ultimate end of all we do. If we love God supremely, we shall live tu hin ultimately; if we love him with all our hearts, we shall serve him with all our souls: Just as, on the other hand, if we love ourselves above all, then selflove will absolutely govern us in all things; if self-interest be the principal motive, then self-interest will be the last end, in our whole conduct: Thus, then, we see, that if God be highest in esteem, then God's interest will be the principal motive and the last end of the whole conduct of rational creatures; and if self be the highest in esteem, then self-interest will be

the principal motive and last end: And hence we may observe, that where self-interest governs men, they are considered in scripture as serving themselves. Hos, x. 1. Zec. vii. 5, 6. And where God's interest governs, they are considered as serving the Lord. 2 Cor. v. 15. Gal. i. 10. Eph. vi. 5, 6, 7. compared with Tit. ii. 9, 10. To love God so as to serve him, is what the law requires ; to love self, so as to serve self, is rebellion against the majesty of heaven. And the same infinite obligations which we are under to love God above ourselves ; even the same infinite obligations are we under to live to God ultimately, and not to ourselves. And therefore it is as great a sin to live to ourselves ultimately, as it is to love ourselves supremely.

4. And lastly. Delight in God, is also implied in love to him. By delight we commonly mean that pleasure, sweetness, and satisfaction, which we take in any thing that is very dear to us. When a man appears very excellent to us, and we esteem him, and wish him all good, we also, at the same time, feel a delight in him, and a sweetness in his company and conversation; we long to see him when absent; we rejoice in his presence; the enjoyment of him tends to make us happy: So, when a holy soul beholds God in the infinite moral excellency and beauty of his nature, and loves him supremely, and is devoted to him entirely, now also he delights in him superlatively. His delight and complacency is as great as his esteem, and arises from a sense of the same moral excellency and beauty. From this delight in God arise longings after a further acquaintance with him, and greater nearness to him. Job. xxiii. 3.-0 that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! Longings after communion with him. Psalm lxiii. 1, 2. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee : my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee. A holy rejoicing in God. Hab. iii, 17, 18. Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat ; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall

9

VOL. 1.

be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Finally, from this de light in God arises a holy disposition to renounce all other things, and live wholly upon him, and take up everlasting content in him, and in him alone. Psalm lxxiii. 25, 26. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. The vain man takes content in vain company; the worldly man takes content in riches; the ambitious man in honour and applause; the philosopher in philosophical speculations; the legal hypocrite in his round of duties; the evangelical hypocrite in his experiences, his discoveries, his joys, his raptures, and confident expectation of heaven: but the true lover of God takes his content in God himself. Psalm iv. 6,7. And thus we see what is implied in love to God.

And now, that this is a right representation of the nature of that love which is required in the first and great commandment of the law, upon which chiefly all the law and the prophets hang, is manifest, not only from the reason of the thing, and from what has been already said, but also from this, that such a love to God as this lays a sure and firm foundation for all holy obedience. That love to God is of the right kind, which will effectually influence us to keep his commands. John xv. 14. 1 John ii. 3, 4, 5. But it is evident, from the nature of things, that such a love as this will effectually influence us to do so. As self-love naturally causes us to set up self and seek self-interest, so this love to God will naturally influence us to set up God and seek his interest. As delight in the world naturally makes us seek after the enjoyment of the world, so this delight in God will naturally influence us to seek after the enjoyment of God: and while we love God primarily for being what he is, we cannot but, for the same reason, love his law, which is a transcript of his nature, and love to conform to it. If we loved him only from self-love, from the fear of hell, or from the hopes of heaven, we might, at the same time, hate his law: but if we love him for being what he is, we cannot but love to be like him; which is what his law requires. To suppose that a man loves God supremely for what he is, and yet does not love to be like him, is an evident contradiction. It is to suppose a thing supremely loved; and yet, at the same time, not loved at all : so that, to a demonstration, this is the very kind of love which the Lord our God requires of us. So, saints in heaven love God perfectly, and so the good man on earth begins, in a weak and feeble manner, to love God : for there is but one kind of love required in the law; and so but one kind of love which is of the right sort: for no kind of love can be of the right sort, but that very kind of love which the law requires. There is, therefore, no difference between their love in heaven, and ours here upon earth, but only in degree.

SECTION II.

SHOWING FROM WHAT MOTIVES TRUE LOVE TO GOD

TAKES ITS RISE.

II. I now proceed to show more particularly from what motives we are required thus to love God. Indeed, I have done this in part already; for I have been obliged all along, in showing what is implied in love to God, to keep my eye upon the first and chief ground and reason of love, namely, what God is in himself. But there are other considerations which increase our obligations to love him and live to him; which ought, therefore, to come into the account. And I design here to take a general view of all the reasons and motives which ought to iofluence us to love the Lord our God; all which are implied in those words, The Lord thy God. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, i. e. because he is the LORD and our God.

1. The first and chief motive which is to influence us to love God with all our hearts, is his infinite dignity and greatness, glory and excellency; or, in one word, his infinite amiableness. We are to love him with all our hearts, because he is the LORD; because he is what he is, and just such a Being as he is. On this account, primarily, and antecedent to all other considerations, he is infinitely. amiable; and, therefore, on this account, primarily, and antecedent to all other considerations, ought he to appear infinitely amiable in our eyes. This is the first and chief reason and ground upon which his law is founded, I AM THE LORD. - (Exod. xx. 2. Leo. xix.} This, therefore, ought to be the first and chief motive to induence us to obey. The principal reason which moves him to require us to love him, ought to be the principal motiveof our love. If the fundamental reason of his requiring us to love him with all our hearts, is because he is what he is, and yet the bottom of our love be something else, then our love is not what his law requires, but a thing of quite another nature. Yea, if the foundation of our love to God is not because he is what he is, in truth, we love him not at all. If I feel a sort of respect to one of my neighbours, who is very kind to me, and either do not know what sort of man he is, or, if I do, yet do not like him, it is plain, it is his kindness I love, and not his person ; and all my seeming love to him is nothing but self-love in another shape: and let himn cease being kind to me, and my love will cease: let him cross me, and I shall hate him. Put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face, (Job. i. 11.) said the devil concerning Job; and, indeed, Job would have done so, had not his love to God taken its rise from another motive than God's kindnesses to him. But why need I multiply. words ? For it seems even self-evident that God's loveliness ought to be the first and chief thing for which we love him.

Now, God is infinitely lovely, because he is what he is; or, in other words, his infinite dignity and greatness, glory and excellency, are the result of his natural and moral perfeclions. So that it is a clear sight and realizing sense of his natural and moral perfections, as they are revealed in his works and in his word, that make him appear, to a holy soul, as a Being of infinite dignity and greatness, glory and excellency. Thus, the Queen of Sheba, seeing and conversing with Solomou, and viewing his works, under a sense of the large and noble endowments of his mind, was even ravished ; and cried out, The one half was not told me! And thus the holy and divinely enlightened soul, upon seeing God, reading his word, and meditating on his wonderful works, under a sense of his divine and incomprehensible perfectious, is ravished with his infinite dignity, majesty, greatness, glory, and excellency ; and loves, admires, and adores ; and says, Who is a God like unto thee!

« AnteriorContinuar »