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in being what he is, it is impossible we should truly love and esteein 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 is seen, there can be no love. Love cannot be forced. Foreed 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 thein. Cant. vii. 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 necessary to lay a foundation of genuine love to him, implies not only
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, a 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 apprehen. sions 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 Chris. tian; 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 be. fore men. Matt. xxiii. 28.
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 New England, 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 FLAMING HOT,
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, cạnnot, 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 carnul 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 failen 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 sioners, 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 finding 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,
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 bas a much clearer sight and greater sense of what God is, immediately his native enmity works to perfection, and he blasphemes like a very devil: and that although perhaps he died full of seeining 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 be 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 may 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 üi. 6. Whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him. 3 John, ver. 11.
* 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 inoral excellency of his nature to pro. duce 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 : 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 reiigion, and blinds his mind against the truth. Many of the Antinomian principles take rise from this quarter.
that doeth evil hath not seen God. i John ü. 4. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Because wicked men have no sense of his glory and beauty, therefore they are said not to know God: For all knowledge without this is vain ; it is but the form of knowledge. Rom. ii. 20. It will never enkindle divine love. And, in scripture, sinners are said to be blind, because, after all their light and knowledge, they have no sense of God's glory in being what he is, and so have no heart to love him. And hence also they are said to be dead. They know nothing of the ineffable glory of the divine nature, and the love of God is not in them. John v. 42. and viii. 19. 55. 2. Another thing implied in love to God is esteem.
Esteem, strictly speaking, is that high and exalted thought of, and value for, any thing, which arises from a sight and sense of its own intrinsic worth, excellency, and beauty. So, a sense of the infinite dignity, greatness, glory, excellency, and beauty of the most high God, begets in us high and exalted thoughts of him, and makes us admire, wonder, and adore. Hence, the heavenly hosts fall down before the throne, and, under a sense of bis ineffable glory, continually cry, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of thy glory. And saints here below, while they behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are ravished; they esteem, they admire, they wonder, and adore ; and, under some feebler sense of the ineffable glory of the divine nature, they begin to feel as they do in heaven, and to speak their language, and say, “ Who is a God like unto thee! thy name alone is excellent, and thy glory is exalted above the heavens.”
This high esteem of God disposes and inclines the heart to acquiesce, yea, to exult, in all the high prerogatives God assumes to himself.
God, from a consciousness of his own infinite excellency, his entire right to, and absolute authority over, all things, is disposed to take state to himself, and honour, and majesty, the kingdoin, the power, and the glory; and he sets up himself as the most high God, supreme Lord, and sovereign Go
vernor of the whole world, and bids all worlds adore him, and be in a most perfect subjection to him, and that with all their hearts ; and esteems the wretch, who does not account this his highest happiness, worthy of eternal damnation. God thinks it infinitely becomes him to set up himself for a God, and to command all the world to adore him, upon pain of eternal dampation. He thinks himself fit to govern the world, and that the throne is his proper place, and that all love, honour, and obedience are his due. “ I am the Lord, (says he,) and besides me there is no God. I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another. And thus and thus shall ye do, for I am the Lord. And cursed be every one that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” Now, it would be infinitely wicked for the highest angel in heaven to assume any of this honour to himself; but it infinitely becomes the most high God thus to do. And when we see his infinite dignity, greatness, glory, and excellency, and begin rightly to esteem him, then his conduct, in all this, will begin to appear infinitely right and fit, and so infinitely beautiful and ravishing, and worthy to be rejoiced and exulted in. Psalm xci. 1. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice : let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof.
And a sight and sense of the supreme, infinite glory and excellency of the divine nature, will not only make us glad that he is Gon, and King, and GOVERNOR; but also exceedingly glad that we live under his government, and are to be his subjects and servants, and to be at bis disposal. It will show us the grounds and reasons of his law; how infinitely right and fit it is that we should love him with all our hearts, and obey him in every thing; how infinitely unfit and wrong the least sin is, and how just the threatened punishment : and, at the same time, it will help us to see that all the nations of the earth are as a drop of the bucket, or small dust of the balance, before him; and that we ourselves are nothing, and less than nothing, in his sight. So that a right sight and sense of the supreme, infinite glory of God, will make us esteem him, so as to be glad that he is on the throne, and we at bis footstool ; that he is king, and we his