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one thing may be the love of God. An enlightened discerner of the heart may look into you, and say, with our Saviour in the text, "I know you that you have not the love of God in you."
It is no test whatever of your love to God, that you tolerate him, when he calls upon you, to do the things which your natural principles incline you to do, and which you would have done at any rate. But when he claims that place in your affeetions which you give to many of the objects of the world,when he puts in for that share of your heart which you give to wealth, or pleasure, or reputation among men,-then is not God a weariness? and does not the inner man feel impatience and dislike at these grievous exactions; and when the will of God thwarts the natural current of your tastes and enjoyments, is not God, the moment of urging that will, with all the natural authority which belongs to him, a positive offence to you? . How would you like the visit of a man whose presence broke up some arrangement that you had set your heart upon; or marred the enjoyment of some favourite scheme that you were going to put into execution? Would not you hate the visit? and if it were often repeated,—if the disappointments you received from this cause were frequent and perpetual,-if you saw a systematic design of thwarting you by these galling and numerous interruptions, would not you also cordially hate the visitor, and give the most substantial evidence of your hatred, too, by shunning him, or shutting him out? Now, is not God just such a visitor? O how many favourite schemes of enjoyment would the thought of him, and of his will, if faithfully admitted to the inner chambers of the mind, put to flight! How many fond calculations be given up about the world, the love of which is opposite to the love of the Father. How many trifling amusements behooved to be painfully surrendered, if a sense of God's will were to tell upon the conscience with all the energy that is due to it. How many darling habits abandoned, if the whole man were brought under the dominion of this imperious visitor; --how many affections torn away from the objects on which they are now fastened, if his presence were at all times attended to, and he was regarded with that affection which he at all times demands of us!
This may explain a fact, which we fear must come near to the conscience of many a respectable man, and that is, the recoil which he has often experienced, as if from some object of severe and unconquerable aversion, when the preacher urges upon his thoughts some scriptural representations either of the will or the character of God. Or take this fact in another way, and in which it presents itself, if not more strikingly, at least more habitually; and that is, the undeniable circumstance of God being shut out of his thoughts for the great majority of his time, and him feeling the same kind of ease, at the exclusion, as when he shuts the door on the most unwelcome of his visi tors. The reason is, that the inner man, busied with other ob. jects, would positively be offended at the intrusion of the thought of God. It is because, to admit him, with all his high claims. and spiritual requirements into your mind, would be to disturb you in the enjoyment of objects which are better loved and more sought after than he. It is because your heart is occupied with idols, that God is shut out of it. It is because your heart is after another treasure. It is because your heart is set upon other things. Whether it be wealth, or amusement, or distinction, or the ease and the pleasures of life, we pretend not to know; but there is a something, which is your god, to the exclusion of the great God of heaven and earth. The Being who is upholding you all the time, and in virtue of whose preserving hand, you live, and think, and enjoy, is all the while unminded and unregarded by you. You look upon him as an interruption. It is of no consequence to the argument what the occupation of your heart be, if it is such an occupation as excludes God from it. It may be what the world calls a vicious occupation,-the pursuits of a dishonest, or the debaucheries of a profligate life,-and, in this case, the world has no objection to stigmatize you with enmity against God. Or it may be what the world calls an innocent occupation-amusement to make you happy, work to earn a subsistence, business to establish a liberal provision for your families. But your heart may be so given to it, that God is robbed of his portion of your heart altogether. Or it may be what the world calls an honourable occupation,-the pursuit of eminence in the walks VOL. IV.-8
of science or of patriotism; and still there may be an exclusion, or a hatred, of the God who puts in for all things being done to his glory. Or it may be what the world calls an elegant occupation, even that of a mind enamoured with the tastefulness of literature; but it may be so enamoured with this, that the God who created your mind, and all the tastes which are within it, and all the objects which are without it, and which minister to its most exquisite gratification,-this God, we say, may be turned away from with a feeling of the most neauseous antipathy, and you may give the most substantial evidence of your hatred to him, by ridding your thoughts of him altogether. Or, lastly, it may be what the world calls a virtuous occupation, even that of a mind bustling with the full play of its energies, among enterprizes of charity and plans of public good. Yet even here, wonderful as you may think it, there may be a total exclusion and forgetfulness of God; and, while the mind is filled and gratified with a rejoicing sense of its activity and its usefulness, it may be merely delighting itself with a constitutional gratification,-and God the author of that constitution, be never thought of, or if thought of according to the holiness of his attibutes, and the nature of that friendship, opposite to the friendship of the world, which he demands of us, and the kind of employment which forms the reward and the happiness of his saints in eternity, even the praise and the contemplation of himself,-if thought of, we say, according to this his real character, and these the real requirements that he lays upon us, -even the man to whom the word yields the homage of virtue may think of his God with feelings of offensiveness and disgust.
There is nothing monstrous in all this, to the men of our world, seeing that they have each a share in that deep and lurking ungodliness, which has both so vitiated our nature, and so blinded all who inherit this nature, against a sense of its enormity. But only conceive how it must be thought of, and how the contemplation of it must be felt, among those who can look on character, with a spiritual and intelligent estimation. How must the pure eye of an angel be moved at such a spectacle of worthlessness,-and surely, in the records of heaven. this great moral peculiarity of our outcast race must stand en
graven as that, which of all others, has the character of guilt most nakedly and most essentially belonging to it. That the bosom of a thing formed should feel cold or indifferent to him who formed it,-that not a thought or an image should be so unwelcome to man, as that of his Maker, that the creature should thus turn round on its Creator, and eye disgust upon him, that its every breath should be envenomed with hatred against him who inspired it,-or, if it be not hatred, but only unconcern, or disinclination, that even this should be the real disposition of a fashioned and sustained being, towards the hand of his Preserver,--there is a perversity here, which time may palliate for a season, but which, under a universal reign of justice, must at length be brought out to its adequate condemnation. And on that day, when the earth is to be burnt up, and all its flatteries shall have subsided, will it be seen of many a heart that rejoiced in the applause and friendship of this world, that, alienated from the love of God, it was indeed in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Nor does it palliate the representation which we have now given, that a God, in the fancied array of poetic loveliness-that a God of mere natural perfection, and without one other moral attribute than the single attribute of indulgence-that a God, divested of all which can make him repulsive to sinners, and, for this purpose, shorn of all those glories, which truth and authority, and holiness, throw around his character-that such a God should be idolized at times by many a sentimentalist. It would form no deduction from our enmity against the true God, that we gave an occasional hour to the worship of a graven image, made with our own hands—and it is just of as little significancy to the argument, that we feel an occasional glow of affection or of reverence, towards a fictitious being of our own imagination. If there be truth in the Bible, it is there where God has made an authentic exhibition of his nature,--and if God in Christ be an offence to you-if you dislike this way of approach—if you shrink from the contemplation of that Being, who bids you sanctify him in your hearts, and who claims such a preference in your regard, as shall dispossess your affections for all that is earthly-if you have no relish for the intercourse
of prayer, and of spiritual communion with such a God- if your memory neither love to recal him, nor your fancy to dwell upon him, nor he be the being with whom you greatly delight yourself, the habitation to which you resort continually,―then be assured, that amid the painted insignificancy of all your other accomplishments, your heart is not right with God; and he who is the Father of your existence, and of all that gladdens it, may still be to you a loathing and an abomination.
Neither does it palliate the representation which we have now offered, that we do many things with the direct object of doing that which is pleasing to God. It is true, there cannot be love where there is no desire to please; but it is as true, that there may be a desire to please where there is no love. Why, I may both hate and fear the man, whom I may find it very convenient to please; and to secure whose favour, I may practice a thousand arts of accommodation and compliance. I may comply by action-but instead of complying with my will,
I may abominate the necessity which constrains me. I may be subject to his pleasure in my person, and in my performances ---but you would not say, while hatred rankled within me, that I was subject to him with my mind. A sovereign may overrule the humours of a rebellious province, by the presence of his resistless military-but you would not say that there was any loyalty in this forced subordination. He may compel the bondage of their actual services—but you would not say, that it was in this part of his dominions, where the principle of subjection to him existed in the minds of the people. We have already affirmed, that though our will went along with a number of performances, which in the matter of them were agreeable to God's law-this was far from an unfailing indication of love to God; for there may be a thousand other constitutional principles, the residence and operation of which in the heart may give rise to these performances, while there was an utter distaste, and hostility on our part to God. They may be done, not because God wills the doing, but because the doing falls in with our humour, or our interest, or our vanity, or our instinctive gratification. But now we are prepared to go farther, and say, that they may be done, because God wills the doing, and.