صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

to truth, when we take in that very representation which he has made of himself. And now to account him infinitely glorious in being what he is, and to love him with all our hearts, because he is what he is, is the very thing which the law of God requires.

And, indeed, so plain is that representation which God has made of himself, by his works and in his word; and he is really so infinitely glorious in being what he is, that were not mankind, through their exceeding great depravity, entirely void of a right taste, and relish for true beauty, they could not but be even ravished with the divine Being. They would naturally feel as they do in heaven, and naturally speak their language, Holy, holy holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory! Isaiah vi. 3. But such is the vile temper of sinful, apostate creatures, that they are not only blind to the moral excellency of the divine nature, but are even in a stated, habitual contrariety to God in the frame of their hearts.

Rom. viii. 7. And hence, the manifestation which God has made of himself, can find no place in their hearts. John viii. 37. They cannot attend to things of such a nature, (ver. 43.) because so disagreeable to their taste; for, (ver. 47.) He that is of God, heareth God's word; ye, therefore, hear them not, because ye are not of God. It is hard to bring unregenerate men so much as to have right notions of what God is, because he is a Being in his nature so contrary and disagreeable to them. They do not like to retain God in their knowledge. Rom. i. 28. Men had rather that God was another kind of Being, different from what he really is, and more like themselves; one that would suit their. temper, and serve their interest: and, therefore, they frame such an one in their own fancy, and then fall down and worship the false image which they have set up. From hence it is, that all those false notions of God have which have always filled the world. to have right notions of what God is, representation which he has made of himself, by his works and in his word; yet they would be so far from accounting him infinitely glorious in being what he is, that they would see no form or comeliness in him wherefore they should desire.

taken their rise, But were men brought and to take in that very

[ocr errors]

him: but would feel the like malignant spirit towards him as the Jews did towards their prophets, and towards Christ and his apostles, only in a worse degree. The same temper which caused the exercise of such enmity towards their prophets, and towards Christ and his apostles, would have caused as great or greater towards God himself, had they but had right notions of him. And the clearer apprehension a sinner has of God, the more will his enmity exert itself; because a sinful nature and a holy nature are diametrically opposite to each other and, therefore, the clearest external revelation of God cannot bring sinners to love him. All the world will see just what kind of Being he is at the day of judgment, and that in a very plain and clear manner. But yet they whose nature it is to hate him for being what he is, will hate him still; yea, hate him more than ever: and, therefore, besides the external revelation which God has made of himself, by his works and in his word, there is an absolute necessity that he should internally reveal himself in his glory to the heart of a sinner, in order to beget divine love there. Which brings me to add,

[ocr errors]

Thirdly. God reveals his infinite glory in being what he is in the hearts of sinners, by his Holy SPIRIT. Matt. xi. 25. 27. By his works and in his word he has revealed what he is, and that in a manner sufficiently plain; even so plainly that there is no need at all of any further objective revelation; and he is really infinitely glorious in being what he is. Now, therefore, if we would rightly attend to that revelation which God has made of himself, we could not but have right apprehensions of him; and if we had a good taste for true beauty, we could not but be ravished with his glory; but we are naturally disinclined to right apprehensions of God, and are entirely destitute of a true taste for moral beauty. And hence we may learn what kind of inward illumination we stand in need of from the spirit of God. We do not need the Holy Spirit to reveal any new truths concerning God, not already revealed; for the external revelation which he has made of himself, is sufficiently full. We do not need to have the Holy Spirit immediately reveal all these truths concerning God over again to us, by way of objective revelation, or im

mediate inspiration; because the external revelation already made is sufficiently plain. We only need (1.) to be effectually awakened, to attend to those manifestations which he has made of himself in his works and word, that we may see what he is. And (2.) to have a spiritual taste imparted to us, by the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost, that we may have a sense of his infinite glory in being such. For these two will lay an effectual foundation in our hearts for that love which the law requires. By the common influences of the Spirit, we may be awakened to a realizing sight and sense of what God is; and, by the special and sanctifying influences of the Spirit, we may receive a sense of his infinite glory in being such. And also the sense of his glory will naturally cause us to see more clearly what God is; for a sense of the moral excellency of the divine nature fixes our thoughts on God; and the more our thoughts are fixed, the more distinctly we see what he is. And while we see him to be what he

is, and see his infinite glory in being such, hereby a divine love is naturally enkindled in our hearts. And thus, 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 so we all, with open face, behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image. 2 Cor. iii. 18. iv. 6. A sight of the moral excellency of the divine nature makes God appear infinitely glorious in every respect. Those things in God, which before appeared exceeding dreadful, now appear unspeakably glorious. His sovereignty appears glorious, because now we see he is fit to be a sovereign, and that it is fit and right he should do what he will with his own. His justice appears glorious, because now we see the infinite evil of sin; and a consideration of his infinite understanding and almighty power enhances his glory. And while we view what he is, and see his greatness and glory, and consider his original, entire, underived right to all things, we begin to see why he assumes the character of most high God, supreme Lord, and sovereign Governor of the whole world; and we resign the throne to him, and take our places, and become his willing subjects; and our hearts are framed to love him, and fear him, and trust in him through

Jesus Christ; and we give up ourselves to him, to walk in all his ways, and keep all his commands, seeking his glory. And thus a sight and sense of the infinite dignity, greatness, glory, and excellency of the most high God, lays the first foundation for a divine love. God's being what he is, is the primary reason that he requires us to love him with all our hearts; and it is the first motive of a genuine love.

I might now pass on to consider the additional obligations we are under to love God; but that it may be profitable to stop a while, and a little consider the nature and properties of this first and greatest, and most fundamental obligation; and take a view of some important consequences necessarily following therefrom. And here,

1. This obligation is binding antecedently to any consideration of advantage or disadvantage; of rewards or punishments; and even prior to any consideration of the positive will and law of God himself.

2. It is infinitely binding.

3. It is eternally binding.

4. It is unchangeably binding.

5. It is that from which all other obligations originally derive their binding nature.

1. This obligation which we are under to love God with all our hearts, resulting from the infinite excellency of the divine nature, is binding antecedently to any consideration of advantage or disadvantage; of rewards or punishments, or even of the positive will and law of God himself. To love God with all our hearts, naturally tends to make us happy; and the contrary, to make us miserable; and there are glorious rewards promised on the one hand, and dreadful punishments threatened on the other; and God, as Governor of the world, has, with all his authority, by his law, expressly required us to love him with all our hearts, and forbidden the contrary; and all these things are binding; but yet the infinite excellency of the divine nature lays us under bonds prior to any consideration of these things. So that if our interest did not at all lie at stake, and if there had never been any express law in the case, yet it would be right, and our indispensable duty, to love God with all our hearts. His being infinitely

VOL. I.

13

lovely in himself, makes it our duty to love him; for he is in himself worthy of our highest esteem, He deserves it; it is, in the nature of things, his due: and that antecedent to any selfish consideration, or any express law in the case. To suppose the contrary, is to deny the infinite amiableness of the divine nature, and to take away the very foundation of the law itself, and the very reason of all rewards and punishments. For if our supreme love is not due to God, then he is not infinitely lovely; and if he does not deserve to be loved with all our hearts, why does he require it? And if, in the nature of things, it is not right and fit that we should love him, and the contrary unfit and wrong, what grounds are there for rewards or punishments? So that it is evident the infinite excellency of the divine nature binds us, and makes it our duty, antecedent to any consideration of advantage or disadvantage, rewards or punishments, or even of the positive will and law of God, to love God with all our hearts; and therefore our love must primarily take its rise from a sense of this infinite excellency of the divine nature, as has been before observed; and that seeming love, which arises merely from selfish considerations, from the fear of punishment or hope of reward, or because the law requires it, and so it is a duty and must be done, is not genuine; but is a selfish, a mercenary, and a forced thing. How evidently, therefore, do those discover their hypocrisy, who are wont to talk after the following manner : "If I am elected, I shall be saved, let me do what "I will; and if I am not elected, I shall be damned, let me "do what I can: and therefore it is no matter how I live." And again, after this sort: "If I knew certainly that God "had made no promises to the duties of the unregenerate, as

[ocr errors]

some pretend, I would never do any more in religion." Surely they had as good say that they have no regard at all to the infinite excellency of the divine nature, but are entirely influenced by selfish and mercenary motives in all they do: they do not seem to understand that they are under infinite obligations to love God with all their hearts, and obey him in every thing, resulting from God's being what he is, and that antecedent to all selfish considerations; such know not God 1 John iii. 6.

« السابقةمتابعة »