changes and chances of this mortal life would not affright us, when the Sovereign of the world is our protector. All the duties of religion, instead of being a burthen, would be our delight. We should delight to lay all our wants before him whom we love; we should deny ourselves without pain, when we know we please our God by doing so. Nay, repentance itself, that bitter duty, would become a pleasure, when it would have this certain effect, to make us love God more passionately, who is so good as to forgive us our trespasses.

Lastly; how easily should we, on all occa sions, know the will of God, being assured of this by our Lord himself:-He that desires to do the will of God, shall know the doctrine whether it be of God.

II. You see, good Christians, what it is to love God, and the happiness of such a state. You cannot but think it a very desirable grace, and such as every body should strive to be possessed of. And this, in the second place, is what I would propose to your consideration; namely, how we may possess our hearts with the love of God.

Now, as the end of all true religion, from the beginning, was to plant the love of God in the world; so it is the peculiar excellency of the Christian religion, where it is in good earnest embraced, to do this most effectually. For the Christian religion gives us the most worthy thoughts of God; that he is great and good in himself, and that he is good to us. For even when we were enemies unto him he loved us;


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proposing terms of pardon, and patiently bearing with our neglect of them. For he sent from heaven his beloved Son, with full power to estab lish an everlasting righteousness amongst men; not such a righteousness as the Jewish nation contended for, which consisted in outward ordinances; but such as is proper to make us partakers of the divine nature.

What a wonderful instance and discovery of divine love have we in the gospel!-God united to our nature, setting us an example how we ought to walk so as to please God; teaching us humility, self-denial, and submission to the will of God, as the only graces which can procure his favour here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Here (that is, in the gospel) we have a full and free pardon of all our sins, upon the most reasonable conditions; here we are assured that a sincere endeavour to please God will be accepted, instead of a perfect obedience; here we have liberty and authority to call God our Father, and encouragement to go to him upon all occasions. In short, the gospel (as St. Paul* calls it) is the law of the spirit of life; that is, it does not only teach us a set of principles and outward ordinances, but it is such a dispensation as will frame the heart to the love of God obliging to true and substantial holiness, and enabling us to prosecute it, by giving us all the encouragement and assistance we shall ask and stand in need of.



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And though no religion ever was, or can be, without outward ordinances, yet in the Christ

Rom. viii. 2.

ian dispensation, all these aim at establishing the love of God in the hearts of Christians. We are dedicated to God in baptism, that the spirit and love of God may take possession of our hearts, before the world bewitches us. We are often called upon to receive the Lord's-Supper, that the love of God and of Christ, in our redemption, may not be forgotten in the midst of distracting business. We do not look upon or use these as charms that will benefit us with out an holy life; but we look upon them as means appointed by God, for creating and preserving his love in our hearts.

We have the same opinion of all other duties. If a Christian renounces the world, it is because the Spirit of God has told him,* That if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. If a Christian fasts, or prays, or denies himself, it is not that he thinks these things in themselves well-pleasing to God, but only so far as they help to prepare our souls for the love of God, which of all things is the most ac ceptable to God. If a Christian submits to the ministers of Christ's kingdom, though they are men of like passions with himself, yet it is be cause the gospel assures him, that they are ministers of God for his good, if he obeys them as such; that God is by them reconciling men to himself; that they have the power of binding and loosing; and that Christ has promised to be with them unto the world's end.

In one word; the Christian religion is most proper to make us humble, by convincing us

* 1 John ii. 15.

of our own weakness, inconstancy, backsliding, ignorance, and proneness to all wickedness.

When it has done this, it encourages us to look up to God in Jesus Christ; to depend upon his love and goodness for light to know, for a will to choose, and for power to do, the will of God. It bids us do what is in our own power, and that God, seeing our sincerity, will still supply us with more grace, till we come to love him as we should do with all our heart, and soul, and strength, which, as has often been said before, is the end of the Christian religion, and of all its ordinances.

III. The fruits and effects of which will be very visible in the lives of all those who have the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. For where the love of God is the ruling principle of a Christian's life, there will follow,

1st. A cheerful submission to God's will in all outward dispensations of his providence, believing that his infinite wisdom and goodness always orders what is best for his creatures, whether it be for correction or instruction.

2dly. An entire obedience to his commands; as knowing, that this is the love of God-thus it will express itself, that we keep his commandments.

3dly. This will be followed by an hearty concern to know the will of God, that we may not displease him whom we love, by doing what he would not have done.

4thly. There will be a careful use of the means of grace which God has appointed; for though the love of God is more than whole

burnt-offerings and sacrifices, yet these being helps to the love of God, a Christian dare not neglect even the outward ordinances at the peril of his soul.

5thly. We shall be very jealous of the honour of God, and abhor all such principles, company, or conversation, as any way tend to lessen his esteem amongst men.

6thly. We shall love and value all that is good in any of his creatures, knowing that so much is the image of God in them.

7thly. We shall be well-pleased when things go as God would have them; that is, when piety and justice, and peace and charity, are encouraged and prosper.

8thly. We shall be every day less and less fond of, and concerned for, the world, till at last we think nothing too valuable to be parted with for his sake whom we love so entirely.

9thly. We shall be cheerful under all outward afflictions, faithfully believing, that the Lord preserveth all them that love him.

And lastly; We shall serve him with the love of children, not of servants or slaves, who look upon the duties of Christianity, as they do upon the rents and services which they owe to their temporal lords; they do them with pain and reluctance; they sometimes shift them off, and in their hearts wish they were free from them; while a true lover of God serves him with pleasure, and takes delight in approaching him.

And are these the marks, are these the fruits and effects of a sincere love of God?

What reason then have we all to blush, and be

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