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trouble of mind, as nothing but effectual repentance and amendment can remove; yet, when amendment has really taken place, then the sorrow for what is past may reasonably be relieved by the assurance of pardon. For, tho’the great and principal promise of pardon is made indeed to unbelievers, at their conversion and being baptised; yet there is also sufficient encouragement given, even to 'relapsing finners, to repent. The despair then we condemn is a disorder which consists in a settled rooted persuasion, that we shall never obtain mercy, let us do whatever we can ; for it is no temper or state of mind worthy of blame to despair of mercy, while we continue in fin. But. The hope we have in God thro’ Christ Jesus is a remedy
... against this fin: for, as by despair the devil would Its remedy.
*y persuade a sinner he can never obtain mercy ; fo God does give a certain hope of eternal glory to all that will seek for mercy by sincere repentance and obedience thro' Jesus Christ. How then can a rational creature give up his reason so far, as to give himself up for lost, when the God that made him, and is to reward or punish him, doth promise his mercy to as many as will change their evil course of life; and walk in his ways ? Yet, we must not stop here: For, ,
IV. A third duty to God is Love. Now to love God is The Loveof to possess our minds with such a due sense and God, What. estimation of the excellencies and perfections which are in the divine nature, as may make us look upon God as our chief good; make choice of him as the only proper object of our happiness; and prefer his cause and interest before any thing else that may come in competition with it, Therefore our Saviour expressly declares it, as the first and great commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; that is, we are to serve God with all those faculties, which he has given us : Not that the love of God is to be exclusive of all other loves; but of all other rival affections; that, whenever the love of God and that of the world come in competition, the former undoubtedly ought to take place of the latter. Tolove the Lordwith allour heart signifies to love him with all sincerity, with an undissembled affection. To love God is not merely to do what he commands; but it is to do it, because he commands it. To love God with all our soul signifies to serve him with the whole soul, with an unreserved obedience. God is not to share a divided affection in our breast, an affection divided between piety and sin: but he is to reign unrivalled by any darling vice. To love God then with all our soul is the same as to have respect unto all his commandments. To love the Lord with all our strength is to put forth the active powers of the soul in loving and serving him. It is to rouze ourselves from all supineness and listless idleness. It is to quicken the wheels and springs of action, that moved on heavily before, It is to do well, without being weary of well-doing. It is to lay out our endeavours, that we may have a competent sense to discern, a sincere inclination to embrace, and a steady resolution to hold fast, what is best and most pleasing to the Deity. In fine,
We must love God sincerely and affectionately; we must desire to please him, and to perform his will; we Motirues to must desire to be made acceptable to him, and to it. become partakers of his favour and rewards, rather than of the unreasonable pleasures of unrighteousness: because all the reasons for the loving any object or thing in the world do more forcibly recommend to us the love of God. He is in himself most excellent, fit to be our chief happiness, and hath actually shewn himself our best friend : He has annexed a present as well as a future reward to a good life; and has so interwoven our duty and happiness together, that, while we are discharging our obligations to the one, we are at the same time making provision for the other: upon all which accounts our best love is due to him. .
His goodness and excellency tarnish all the beauty and excellence of creatures; there is none good, but God's excelone, that is God: because he is good in such a len.. sense, as none can be acknowledged good besides. He alone is perfectly, originally, necesarily, and unchangeably good: he has every excellence in the highest degree; almighty power, unerring wisdom, infinite goodness, unblemished truth, ipotless holinets ; every thing fit to raise the wonder, and engages the delight of men and angels ; and his glory shines out in the works of creation and providence. Power and wisdom may command dread and admiration : yet nothing but goodness can challenge our love and affection. He gave us our beings, and in the whole course of our lives his God's kind- goodness prevents numberless evils from falling ness to us. upon us; which, with all our reason and under, standing, we could by no means either prevent or avoid. And when we were fallen from that happiness, for which, at first, we were designed, he was pleased to restore us to a new capacity of it by sending his only Son into the world to die for us; the benefits of whose death and passion no man can lofe but by his own fault. He has endued us with reason and natural conscience, to distinguish between good and evil; and to forewarn us of the certainty of a future judgment. He has confirmed this natural conscience with the additional help of an express revelation : and, that sinners may, if possible, be brought to repentance, he, with much long-suffering and forbearance, defers their punishment; and, if they do repent, he forgives and pardons them, as a father receives a returning child. Again, ye cannot but love him, who is good, and does us good.
And if God vouchsafe to love us, we must also shew our Fruit of love love of him, by first desiring to please him; and is a defire also by a desire to enjoy him. For the first token of pleafing. of any one's love is the doing what is thought most acceptable to the person loved : so that a true love of God will shew itself firit in keeping his commandments; for that is its description by St. John: and where this token is wanted, there can be no love of God. So that, if any one continues in a wilful breach of many, nay but of any one command of his, he is deceived in thinking that the love of God abideth in him. Because, as the excellency and kindness of God is most transcendent, so our love of him must be most fervent, and preferable to every other thing. If our love Loverf of God be sincere, we shall entertain high and adGd, when miring thoughts of him, according to those discofincere, veries, which he hath made of himself: we shall reverence him as the most perfect being: and give him
the the glory of his excellencies, as we turn our thoughts either to the works of nature in our creation, or to the wonders of grace in our redemption, or to the prospect of glory in the world to come. If we act in concert with that being, whose tender mercy is over all his works, by shewing mercy, as far as we can, in all ours: If we conscientiously endeavour to discharge all the duties he has injoined us, without reluctance; and to submit to all his dispensations, without murmuring: If we address ourselves to him with that holy fear, which awes the turbulent passions into composure; but does not depress the spirit, or beget an abject and unmanly way of thinking: If we, who look (or ought to look) up to him with reverence, as the great judge and lawgiver of the universe, chiefly delight to consider him under the endearing characters of a Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Benefactor: If we, before we compose ourselves to sleep, recommend ourselves to his almighty care, who neither slumbers nor sleeps : If we, as soon as we rise, recommend ourselves to his superintendency, who maketh his fun to rise upon the just and unjust; humbly desiring, that, as that sun dispels the darkness and unwholesome vapours of the night; fo he, the great sun of righteousness, who arose with healing in his wings, would drive us from allevil; allevil, whether of mind, body, or estate: If we commit all our concerns in general to his providence and fatherly goodness; and, upon every extraordinary emergency, make a more particular application to him for his direction, who never faileth them that seek him: If we do, these undoubtedly are the only genuine tests, and significant expressions of an undiffembled love to God: and they will procure for us the blessed effects of that infinite love, which, being stronger than death, disarmed death of its sting, and the grave of its victory. And such a soul will say, I see that God alone can be my portion; in his favur is my life; without that, though I had all the world, I Should be destitute and miserable. This love arises froin the fenfe of benefits received: It is like the filial love of a dutiful child to a tender and indulgent parent, upon a review of his care and kindness, in preserving him, providing for hiin, doing him all the good that lies in his power ; which engages him to study to requite his parents in the best man. ner he can. Such is the love of God found in a pious soul. And therefore,
Let those who, tho' they really love, and fear, and serve Who live in God in the course of a virtuous and religious life ; this love. yet, because they feel not in themselves that warmth of affection, which many enthusiasts pretend to, are afraid and suspect that they do not love God sincerely as they ought; be corrected, by considering that there is no other mark so infallible of the goodness of a tree, as the fruit, which it brings forth. It is not a religious mood or humour, but a religious temper. It is not to be now and then pleased with our maker in the gaiety of the heart, when, more properly speaking, we are pleased with ourselves. It is not to have a few occasional transient acts of complacency and delight in the Lord rising in our minds, when we are in a vein of good humour. But it is to have a lasting, habitual, and determinate resolution to please the Deity rooted and grounded in our hearts, and inAuencing our actions throughout. If they live in obedience to the commands of God, they need no other evidence of the fincerity of their hearts towards him : for all other signs may possibly be erroneous; but this is the very thing itself signified. Love of goodness, righteousness, and truth, is love of God: for God is goodness and truth; and he who loves these virtues, which are the moral perfections of the divine nature, does therefore love Godmost perfectly; because he loves those excellencies, for the sake of which God expects that we should love him above all things.
· The other fruit of love is the desire of enjoying: this is Delure of the case of all men. They desire the company of enjoying those they love: so he that sincerely loves God will not only be constant in prayer, meditation, hearing his word, and receiving the blessed facrament of the Lord's Tupper, with cheartulness and devotion ; but will earneitly wish to be diffolved, and to be with Christ in the glory of God the Father; with an intire resignation of this world, and all its enjoyments, to God's will and pleasure.