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(2.) Let it also be remembered, that God designs, by ali his dealings and kindnesses to his people, to bring them nearaer to himself in this world, and to the everlasting enjoyment of himself in the world to come. He means, for the present, to humble them, and wean them from the world ; to make them more spiritually and heavenly-minded ; to bring them to be more acquainted with God, and more entirely to take up their rest and contentment in him ; and, therefore, all things are calculated, by his infinite wisdom and goodness, to attain this end. And this causes all the wise and kind dealings of God, outwardly in his providence, and inwardly by his Spirit, and that both by way of correction, as well as by way of consolation, to appear in a very affecting and engaging light to true believers. While they see what God is in bimself, and his infinite beauty in being such ; while they see how infinitely sufficient he is to be all things to them, and to do all things for them, and the blessedness of living wholly upon him, and trusting wholly in him; while they see God calculating all things to bring them to him, and actually find all things working this way, their obligations to love him and live to him appear infinitely binding, and their hearts are mightily engaged and animated. This view of things makes all their afflictions appear as great mercies; because they are so wisely calculated to bring them near to God. Psalm cxix. 71. This view 'of things adds an infinite value to all the kindnesses of God, over and above what they are worth merely in themselves, because they are all so wisely calculated to bring them near to God. This is the kernel of all that tender mercy and loving-kindness which they see in all their afflictions, and in all their comforts. Heb. xii. 10, 11. Rom. viii. 28. To be brought near to God, is worth more than all the world ; there is no portion like God; no comfort like that which is to be taken in him; he is the Godly man's all. Psalm 1xxiii. 25. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And. there is nothing on earth I desire besides thee. And now that such a God should take such methods with just such a creature, to bring him to the possession of such a good, is the most amazing goodness, and the most astonishing grace. Now here is a sense of the excellency of the divine nature in
general, and a sense of the moral beauty of the divine goodness in particular, and of the unspeakable mercy God shows to them, which mercy is infinitely magniyed in their account, from the value they have for God, as the portion of their souls, from all which their love to God takes its rise; whereby their love appears to be exceedingly different from any thing which natural men experience, who neither know God; nor relish communion with him, but are contrary to him in all things; and, only from self-love, are glad of the good things they receive from God, which good things they live upon and make a God of; whether they be worldly good things, or great light, and comfort, and joy of a religious Dature.
(3.) Let it also be remembered, that all God's gifts to his people are so many talents bestowed upon them, ultimately to be improved for God, whereby they are put under advantages to glorify God and do good in the world. And the more they have of worldly substance, of natural powers, of acquired accomplishments, and of the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, &c. the greater are their advantages to act for God, to promote his bonour and interest, and to do good. Now, in proportion as they love God, in the same proportion is his honour and interest, and the good and welfare of his creatures and subjects, dear unto them. The interest and honour of God lie nearer to the hearts of his people, than their parents, or consorts, or children, or houses and lands; yea, than their own lives. (Luke xiv. 26.) To be under advantages, therefore, to promote bis honour and interest, must, in their account, be esteemed an inestimable privilege.Hence, they love God for all things they receive from him, because by all they are put under such advantages to live to hiin and serve him, seeking his interest, and honour, and glory; a remarkable instance of which we have in Ezra, that hearty friend to God, and to his honour and interest. See Ezra vii. 27, 28. compared with the rest of the chapter. Now herein, again, their love to God for his benefits is evidently different from any thing which natural men experience, who have no higher principle than self-love, and are entirely actuated by it.
And as the love of the saint and of the hypocrite thus greatly differ in their nature, so do they also differ as greatly in their fruits and effects. Ezra loved God greatly for his kindnesses to him, because thereby he was put under advantages to do so much for God's glory, and for the good of his people. And now see how active he is for God, and how he exerts himself to do good, and to reform every thing that was amiss among the Jews, from the eighth chapter and on; while the hypocritical Jews, who, no doubl, were also greatly affected with the mercy of God, in their deliverance from their long captivity, were so far from being active for God, that they, not caring for his honour or his laws, committed great abominations. Ezra ix. 1. So the children of Israel, at the Red Sea, seemed to be full of love to God, as well as Moses; but as they had different sorts of love, so their carriage did as greatly differ afterwards, for the course of forty years; and no wonder : for the hypocritical Israelites only loved themselves, and cared only for their own interest; but Moses loved God, and cared, above all things, for his honour.
Thus we see, not only what additional obligations believers are under to love God with all their hearts, but also how, and in what manner, they influence and excite them so to do: and what I have offered effectually obviates the common plea of formalists and all self-seekers, That all the saints in scripture are represented as loving God for his benefits ; whence they argue, that they are right, and their religion genuine, which results merely from self-love, and the fear of hell, and hope of heaven, or from a confident persuasion that their sins are pardoned. For it is evident, that true saints do not love God for his benefits, por eye their own happiness, in the same manner that such men do; but in a manner altogether different. Saints know the God they love, and love him, primarily, for what he is in himself, and because he is just what he is. But hypocrites know not God, nor love him; but are, in all things, contrary to him, and are only pleased with the false image of God they have framed in their fancies, merely because they think that he loves them, and has done, and will do, great things for them. Saints are affected with the divine goodness itself, for the moral beauty there is in it; but
hypocrites are affected only with the fruits and effects of divine goodness to them, as tending to make them happy. Saints love God for his benefits, under a real sense of their infinite unworthiness of the least of them; but so it is not with hypocrites. Saints love God for all the streamsof divine goodness, because they are designed, and actually do lead them up to God, the fountain, who is the portion of their souls ; but hypocrites live upon the streams, disrelishing the fountain. Saints love God dearly for all his gifts, because by them they are put under such advantages to live to God, to promote his interest and honour, and to do good in the world; but hypocrites are confined within the narrow circle, self. The love of saints to God animates them to live to God, and to exert themselves to promote his honour and interest, and to do all the good they can; but the hypocrite, after all bis pretended love to God, cares not what becomes of his interest and honour, if it may but go well with him, his friends, and party. So that, while true saints love God for his benefits, they act, in a gracious manner, conformable to the law of God, and to the reason and nature of things; whereas, all the love of the most refined hypocrite is merely the workings of a natural self-love, in a manner directly contrary to the law of God, and to the reason and nature of things; and is nothing but mere mockery. Psalm lxxviii. 34, 35, 36, 37. Zech. vii. 5, 6.
Thus we have gone through the two first general heads, and see what is implied in love to God, and from what motives we ought to love him. And, from the whole, we may learn so much of the nature of true religion, as that, with much evidence and certainty, we may conclude,
First. That all that seeming love to God is counterfeit, which arises merely from men's corruptions being gratified. As wben ambitious men are, by God's providence, raised to high degrees of honour, and worldly men are prospered in all which they put their hands uuto, and herefrom the one and the other rejoice and bless God, and seem to love him, and verily think they are sincere. This is all hypocrisy ; for, in truth, they only love their corruptions, and are glad they are gratified. And, accordingly, instead of improving all their riches and honour for God, to advance his interest and honour in the world, they improve all only for themselves, to proinote their own ends; and care not what becomes of God's honour, and interest, and kingdom; and commonly such njen show themselves the greatest enemies to the cause of God, and to the religion of Christ : and should God but touch all they have, they would curse him to his face.
Secondly. We may be equally certain, that all that seeming love to God is counterfeit, that arises merely from legal, self-righteous spirit. As when a man, only because he is afraid of hell, and has a mind to be saved, sets biinselt to repent, and reform, and do duties, and tries to love God and aim at bis glory, to the intent that he may make some ainends for past sins, and recomiend himself to the divine favour, and so escape hell and obtain heaven. And when be has grown so good, as to have raised hopes of attaining his end, he is ravished at the thoughts, and rejoices, and blesses the Lord, and loves him. It is plain all this is hypocrisy; for the man, in truth, only loves himself, and is concerned merely for his own interest; but does not care at all for God, his glory, or honour: for, if there were no heaven nor hell, such would serve God no more. Children will work for their parents, without being hired, because the love thein; but hirelings will not strike a stroke if there is no money to be gotten ; because they care for nothing but their own interest.-Hence this sort of hypocrites are wont to say, that if they once believed that God had made no promises to the best they can do, they would never do more. And further, it is piaioly all hypocrisy; for, if their consciences but fall asleep, so that they are troubled no more with the thoughts of another world, they will leave off their duties, let down their watch, break all their resolutions, and be as bad as ever : and hence their doctrine of falling from grace probably took its rise. And their hypocrisy is still more evident, in that thev are commonly so much concerned to find out what the least measure of saving grace is, and so strenuous in pleading for great abateinents in the law: for, from hence, it is plain, that all they are after is oniy to get just grace enough to carry them to heaven; as a lazy hireling, who is for doing but only just work enougla