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secution of a doctrine. Many things might here be
I ft, None can truly love God, but such as are beloved of him. Many speak of the love of God, as is it were natural to them: but as true love is a spark of heavenly sire: so there is no love natural to man but the love of sin.
adly, That God hath a people in the world that love him, because they are loved oi him. There is in God a common love, whereby he loved the whole world; and a special love, whereby he loves the saints: and so there is in the saints a common love, by which they love all God's creatures; and a peculiar love that belongs to God only, whom they prize above all other things.
3dly, That divine love works freely. God does not trade with us upon any terms, conditions, or valuable considerations in and about 'us. We can neither buy heaven nor beg it; it must be given. Let not the greatest civilian presume; let not the greatest prodigal despair: God's love is sirst on the sield.
4thly, That as God and his saints love one another, so the reason of saints loving God, is God's loving them: there is no reason of God's love, but because he loves. But there is reason enough for Our love, because He loved us. The believer loves God upon God's account, and for good reason; God loves us without any reason, or any cause from without himself; but we have all the reason in the world, why we should love God, Many say, they love Christ, but they have not any reason for it; they that love him know why they do so. There are three things create love, viz. Beauty, interest, love. 1. Beauty; and O, but Christ is white and ruddy, and altogether lovely. 2. Interest; the more a man sees Christ, to be* * his own, the more he loves him. 3. Love; the love of God is the great parent of love; it begets love; "We love
him, because he sirst loved us." But having taken
this short view of the text, the doctrine I six upon i$ this.
Ob Sew* . Observ. God's love to his people is the source of their love to him. Their love is intluenced by the faith of his love; his love is the cause of theirs; "We love him, because he sirst loved us."
Now the general method that seems most native is,
I. To sp°ak of God's love to his people.
II. Of the saints love to God.
III. The influence his love hath upon theirs as, the cause of it.
IV. Apply the whole in sundry uses.
I. To speak of God's love to his people: and indeed to speak of it is to speak of that which is unspeakable and inconceivable, for it passeth knowledge; only we may notice a sew things that the scripture says of this love. I would osser some remarks concerning this love of God; and then shew more particularly, the import of this expression, "He sirst loved us."
lst, I would offer some remarks concerning the love of God.
Remark 1. That the fountain of this love is God the Father. Love begins in order of nature with the Father: hence, says Christ, "I will not say, that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you," John xvi. 26. Christ prays for all the fruits and emanations of the Father's love to his people; but not for the Father's love itself. You mistake greatly, Sirs, is you do think that Christ doth purchase and pray for the Father's love to his people; nay, it was the Father's love that sent' Christ to purchase all the fruits and communications of his love. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." The love of God cannot be purchased; there is no need of any mediation here; " I will not say, that I will pray the Father, in , this respect, for the Father loves you." Here is the fountain of the love. But,
Remark 2. That the channel through which the love of God does run from this fountain, is the Lord Jesus Christ. God's love does not vent itself towards any sinner, to the disparagement of his insinite holiness and
justice; justice; and theresore it vents and flows in and through Christ, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through saith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, for the remission of sins that are past," Romans iii. 23. God hath taken a marvellous way to manisest his love: when he would mew his power, he makes a world; when he would shew his wisdom, he puts it in a frame and form that discovered vast wisdom; when he would manisest the grandeur and glory of his name more, he makes a heaven, and puts angels„ arch-angels, principalities, and powers therein; and when he will manisest love, what will he not do? It is a pity we mould deny this love; because God hath taken such a great and mysterious way of manisesting it in Christ; his death, his blood, his righteousness; here is the channel.
Remark 3. The streams of divine love that flow from this fountain, in this channel, are vatlly great; viz. Pardon, peace, sasety, adoption, justisication, sanctisication, audience of prayer, a blessing on all providences, and everlasting triumph in heaven. I cannot enlarge upon these, or any other of the streams that flow from this love of God; the streams are so many, so great, that we should lose ourselves there, as well as in the fountain, is we were to dive thereinto; only we are blessed in Christ with all spiritual blessings; and this love of God, and all the fruits of it, is to be enjoyed in the sellowship of the Spirit, 2 Cor. xiii. 13.; where we read of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Spirit; where Christ is sirst mentioned, because he is next to us, as being the channel through which the love of God is vented; and this love of God, and grace of Christ, is enjoyed in the communion and sellowstiip of the Holy Ghost; and that this love is from the Father, as the fountain; in the Son, as the channel; by the Holy Ghost, as the immediate conveyance.
Remark 4. The vessels into which these streams are vented, or this love is poured, are sinners; even to them it is declared that he is the Lord, " The Lord God mercisul and gracious, pardoning iniquity, transgression,
and and sin;" and that " God is love." This motto, that ** God is love," is inscribed on the gates of heaven; and none will think strange os that, because the love of God, in bringing any sinner of Adam's race there, is manisested to the highest. But we would think strange, is one should say, that this is even the inscription written upon the gates of hell, that " God is love;" why? his love to himself, and his own justice, is manisested there; yea, not only so, but millions are damned, because they slight redeeming love y and their conscience galls them, for contemning all the offers of love. But that which concerns us especially,.is, that we may read this inscription daily upon the beautisul gate of the temple; I mean, in gospel-ordinances, that " God is love;" for therein he manisests his love to sinners, even to sinners 'of Adam's samily, in the general dispensation of the gospel; and particularly to the' vessels of mercy, in the special operation of the Spirit upon them in the sulness of time; wherein he hath designed to pour out his Spirit, and so to pour in his love. But to omit many things here, I come,
2dly, To shew the particular import of this expression, "He sirst loved us." And,
1. It says, That his love is eternal love, and from everlasting: "He sirst loved us. I have loved thee with an everlasting love," Jer. xiii. 3.; as it is to everlasting, so it is from everlasting; as it will never have an end, so It never had a beginning, but it is as ancient as the eternal God is. O! what an amazing thought is this, that God should have had thoughts of love towards any poor sinners, like you and me, from the beginning of his Being, which is without a
beginning! But, to prevent mistakes, you would
know that the love of God is twofold; his love of \ destination, and his love of approbation: his love of desti- . nation and purpose, whereby he is said to have chofen us in Christ, besore the foundation of the world, that We should be holy; "Having predestinated us to the adoption of children," Eph. i. 4, 5.; and this love he' is said to manisest even besore a man's conversion, I John iv. 19. "In this was manisested the love of God
towards' towards us, because Gcd sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our
sin." 'Again, there is his love of approbation and
friendship: such as that spoken of, John xiv. 23. "If a man love me, and keep my words, my Father will love him; and we will come to him, and make our abode with him." Now, the object of the former love, to wit, the love of destination, is every elect foul, and that from all eternity, as well as in time, even before their conversion and union to Christ; the object of the latter, to wit, his love of approbation and friendstiip, is every believer united to Christ, to whom he begins to manisest his everlasting love personally; for, though he loved and approved os them from eternity in Christ, yet they cannot be said to be actually loved and approved in their own persons, till once their persona are united to Christ. Though God's love be everlasting and immutable as himself is, yet there is a time wherein he begins to manisest his love: there is no variation or shadow- of turning in God's love; all the change is in the person beloved, not in God. It is mere blasphemy to say, that God begins to love them whom besore he hated, in a proper and strict sense. It is true, the elect are children of wrath, even as others, by nature, whatever they are by divine destination, being ever the object of God's love in this sense; yet in some sense, he begins to love them, in respect of the manisesting of his love to them, and the outletting of his love upon them; when his love is taken, not so much for his immanent act, as for his transient act, not for any thing in himself, but for what flows from him to them; the love that is in himself is still the same, hut the acts of love that flow forth to- them, these begin to appear, when he manisests himself to them, as he does not to the world; when he comes to them for their salvation, and reveals his Son in them: and here also he is still besore-hand with them; "He sirst "loved us."
2. >" He sirst loved us;" it saysr that his love is ante.