« VorigeDoorgaan »
practically bid defiance to his power and justice : for, instead of immediately dooming all this lower world to blackness of darkness forever, he has sent his Son, his only begotten Son, from heaven, to bring us the news of pardon and peace, and, by his own death, to open a way for our return unto him, and to call and invite us to return: And now, with a liberal hand, he strews common mercies all round the world, among evil, unthankful, guilty, hell-deserving rebels, and fills the hearts of all with food and gladness; and sends forth his messengers to proclaim it to the ends of the earth, that it is his will that all his rebellious creatures lay down their weapons of rebellion—acknowledge the law, by which they stand condemned, to be holy, just, and good, and look to him through Jesus Christ for pardon as a free gift, and through Jesus Christ return unto him, and give up themselves to him entirely, to love him and live to him, and delight in him forever.
And while the world in general make light of all this, and go to their farms, and to their merchandize, and many are enraged and cry out against the messengers of peace, and stone some and kill others (Mat. xxii.)—that now he should, of his own sovereign good pleasure, according to his eternal purpose, seize here and there one, by his all-conquering grace, and stop them in their career to hell, and make them see and feel their sin and guilt, and own the sentence just by which they stand condemned, and bring them as upon their knees to look to free grace through Jesus Christ for a pardon, and through Jesus Christ to give up themselves forever to him—that now he should receive them to favor, and put them among his children, and become their father and their God, in an everlasting covenant, and undertake to teach and lead...to quicken and strengthen...to correct and comfort, and so to humble, and purify, and sanctify, and fit them for his heavenly kingdom ; and, while they are in this world, to give them all things that are best for them, and make all things work together for their good, and finally bring them unto, and possess them of eternal glory and blessedness, in the full enjoyment of himself forever ;—for a God of infinite
greatness, and glory to deal just so, with just such creatures, is the most amazing and astonishing grace; and lays infinite bonds upon believers to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and to live to him forever, and has the greatest tendency to animate them so to do: And thus, by these brief hints, we have a general view of the additional motives of a true and genuine love to God.
As God's bringing up the children of Israel out of Egyptleading them through the wilderness-driving out the heathen from before them, and giving them that good land which flowed with milk and honey, and covenanting to be their God, is used so frequently, by Moses and the Prophets, throughout all the Old Testament, as a motive to engage them to cleave to the Lord, and to him only and entirely, and forever; 60 God's sending his Son into the world, to save his people from their sins, their spiritual bondage, together with all he spiritual and everlasting blessings of the covenant of grace, are continually used in the New Testament, as arguments to engage believers not to live to themselves, but to him that died for them.-Only here let these things be remembered :
(1.) Tha a sight and sense of the infinite greatness and glory of God, from whom all good comes, and a sense of their own infinite meanness and unworthiness, makes all the mercies they receive, infinitely the more endearing and engaging : for the mer. cies themselves now appear unspeakably the greater, in that they come from such a God, and to such creatures ; and the infinite goodness of God shines the brighter in every mercy, and the freeness of his grace is the more conspicuous, on account of which he is infinitely amiable. The infinite greatness and glory of God, in general, ravishes the heart—the infinite moral beauty of the divine goodness and grace, in particular, ravishes the heart; and now, that such a God should shew such kindnesses to such a creature, is very affecting. Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, thut thou hast brought me hitherto ? says holy David .... And is this the manner of men, O Lord God ? No surely.... Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: For there is none like
thee, neither is there any God besides thee....II. Sam. vii. 18—22. God is loved for the kindnesses bestowed; but he is more loved for the infinite beauty of that goodness which is displayed in the bestowment of them, and for his being altogether such a one as he is. So the Queen of Sheba esteemed Solomon for the kindnesses he shewed her, but primarily, and much more, for his own personal excellencies : And his personal excellencies made her esteem his favors to her of much greater worth. That a glorious and ever-blessed God should treat sinners so, is infinitely endearing. Now these sensations, which a true believer has, and his love to God arising therefrom, must be vastly different from every thing which natural men experience, who know not God, and have no higher principle in them than self-love.
(2.) Let it also be remembered, that God designs, by all his dealings and kindnesses to his people, to bring them nearer to himself in this world, end 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, outward. ly 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 himself, 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 them. selves, because they are all so wisely calculated to bring them near to God. This is the kernel of all that tender
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 gear to God, is worth more than all the world ;-there is no por, tion like God....no comfort like that which is to be taken in him : He is the godly man's ALL, Psalm lxxiii. 25...,Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing on earth Idesire 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 shews to them, which mercy is infinitely magnified 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 ofwhether they be worldly good things, or great light, and comfort, and joy of a religious nature.
(3.) Let it also be remembered, that all God's gifts to his people are so many talents bestowed upon them, ultimately to be im. proved 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 honor and interest, and to do good. Now, in proportion as they love God, in the same proportion is his honor and interest, and the good and welfare of his creatures and subjects, dear unto
them. The interest and honor 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 his honor 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 him and serve him, seeking his interest, and honor, and glory; a remarkable instance of which we have in Ezra, that hearty friend to God, and to his honor 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, Avho, no doubt, 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 honor 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 honor.
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