|« Prev||Sermon XXVI. Preached, October 25, 1691.||Next »|
We are saved by hope.
BUT now go on with the further directions that are to be given for the mentioned end.
Direction 2. That we compare with that expected heavenly state the present state wherein we are; and with the blessedness of the one, the wretchedness of the other. For if there be any ground for a better hope, there is nothing more likely to awaken it, (supposing we have such a ground before our eyes,) than to have our spirits effectually stung with the sense of the present evils wherewith we are beset, and with which we are continually infested. If we like our present state well, there is no place for hope, no room for it, or if it can have any place, it can have no effect; 351it will be a very faint, languishing hope, that we shall have for another state, if we are very well pleased with that wherein we are already; and therefore, as to our present state, we should bethink ourselves, and consider, whether, having such a future one in view as hath been represented already, as the ultimate, final object of our hope, we have reason to take up with that wherein we already are.
And this we are manifestly led to by the context, which, when the text tells us, “We are saved by hope,” doth conjunctly tell us, what the present state of our case is, in a twofold respect; in respect of this world, in which we live; and in respect of these bodies, to which we are now confined. The former whereof draws our thoughts to consider the remoter evils which do beset us; and the latter, those nearer and more pressing evils which are closely and continually urgent upon us.
1. In reference to the state of this world, can we think it a covetable thing, long to continue in such a world as this, when we have any ground in view, of a better hope, or the object of a better, represented to us? See how the state of the world is represented in what goes before, and which the text refers unto, that is, the creature (this inferior creation it must mean) is all subjected unto vanity, and is all groaning under the bondage of corruption, and travailing in pain together, until now. This being the case in this respect, saith the Apostle, “We are saved by hope.” We are here ingulphed in a world of miseries and sorrows; and all things round about, they are (as it were) in one degree, or another, under a pressure and languor; do not we behold the creation drooping? This lower world in which we are, may be seen (as it were) hanging the head, that a languishment is upon all things, the shadow of death hovering over all in every part, and yet subjected unto this state in hope; hope being in reference to the inanimate or irrational part to be understood but objectively. It is subjected to this state of things, but in hope; there being a prospect that it shall be redeemed, shall be recovered, so as to partake of the glorious liberty of the sons of God, whose manifestation doth approach. Now, when all this world is hoping for a better state of things, shall not we hope? We that have received the first fruits of the Spirit, as it after wards follows: or what? is impurity, misery, and wretchedness, become so much our element, that we are content to live still there, whilst all things are (as it were) expressing a sense round about us, groaning and travailing; and 352we pleased, we only pleased, to remain in such a state as this is? But to look upon the state of things in this world, more particularly.
(1.) We find it replenished with inhabitants, over whom, Satan hath universal dominion; he is called the god of this world, (the usurping god of it,) the “spirit that works in the hearts of the children of disobedience.” 2 Cor. iv. 6, and Eph. ii. beginning; as you know the scripture speaks in those places I refer unto. This is that which puts the world into paroxysms every where; it is under the power of the great destroyer, the Abaddon, the Apollyon, he, whose business it is to destroy, to tear all to pieces, as much as in him is. And hence, by consequence,
(2.) We find this world to be replenished with inhabitants full of atheism, and enmity against their Sovereign, and rightful Lord. All affecting to be without God in the world. And,
(3.) They are full of all unrighteousness, malignity, deceit, envy, wrath, as experience shews, from age to age, and from generation to generation if and never more than in this age. A world replenished with inhabitants, that are tearing one another to pieces every where, as they can have opportunity; such an account as is given of the inhabitants of this world, (Rom. i. latter end,) how exactly doth it suit the present state of things? And indeed, the ordinary state, more or less, in all times and ages? And again,
(4.) They are still more liable to disturbance from it, who would have least to do with it; to wit, those that are most intent upon wickedness, every where are most mischievous to them who have any savour or impression of goodness upon them, so that it is to them that are such a very hell. It is to themselves very much their own element. The world is such as they make it themselves, and in very great part affect to have it; but to them that have received an impression from above, and are begotten with a principle that suited them to be inhabitants of another world, it is of all others most troublesome, mischievous, and disquieting, to them; and therefore, they of all others have much the more reason to be weary of it, and to cherish the hope (when they have any ground for it) of being in a better state, a better world, ere it be long. And if we lastly consider,
(5.) The dreadful ruin that will befal this world, in the tract of time, and before a perfectly good state can obtain or have any place; now much soever things may be better 353in the meantime; yet there is an universal ruin to be before there can be a perfect and thorough restoration. And the world is groaning, and travailing in pangs, and will be, more or less so, even to that end, that consummation or things, that day, when all is to be (as it were) purged with fire, “and pass away with a great noise.” “When the heavens shall be rolled up as a scroll, (these lower heavens,) and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth, with all things therein, be consumed and burnt up.” 2 Peter iii. Notwithstanding all such ruin, we look “for a new heavens, and a new earth;” according to God’s own promise, we look for new heavens, and a new earth, a new universe (as it were) composed, and made up of heaven and earth, wherein righteousness shall dwell. Now the wretched state of things, in the meantime, should mightily sublimate, and heighten, and invigorate the hope of that glorious state, that is to be expected afterwards. And then, if we consider,
2. The nearer, and more closely pressing evils that are upon us, as we are in such bodies, as these we do now % inhabit, and dwell in, even that should mightily enliven hope, and put it upon a more vigorous exercise, for those are the evils that we are stung with continually; and to these we find there is a more immediate reference, in what goes before the text, not only they, (the rest of the creation which are, by an elegant rhetorical prosopopeia, represented as having sense, and having hope; a sense of the present evils, and a hope of a better state, not only they,) “but we ourselves also (verse 23,) who have received the first fruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption; to wit, the redemption of our bodies; for we are saved by hope.” These are the next following words: not only they, not the rest of the creation only; but we ourselves also, (much more, it must be understood,) who have received the first fruits of the Spirit, do groan, waiting for the adoption, that is, the manifestation of the sons of God, mentioned before in the 19th verse, when our adoption shall be declared, when the sons of God shall look like themselves, and like their Father, whereas now they look very unlike him. It is as if the Apostle had said, Do you think they shall always dwell so meanly as now they do? No; they are waiting for the adoption. What is that? To wit, the redemption of the body; the time when their bodies shall be redeemed from under all the evils by which they are now, continually, from time to time infested, and 354by which, they are debased, and made mean, and vile, as they are called “vile bodies,” Phil. iii. 28, or the bodies of our humiliation. As if he should have said, What? Do you think that the sons of God, when they are manifested, and declared to be his sons, shall dwell so meanly as now they do, in such cottages as these, such vile bodies as these? No; we groan within ourselves, (under the present pressures, while we are in these bodies,) waiting for the adoption; to wit, the redemption of our bodies from under all those evils that make them so mean and inglorious things, and so unsuitable to the state of the sons of God. And if we consider those nearer evils, which partly we suffer in these bodies, that is, whereof they are the immediate subjects, and which partly we suffer by our being in them, they ought to have that pungency with them to our sense, as to awaken hope in us, if there be any such thing, and if we have any ground of it in view.
1. For the former sort of these evils, which we suffer in these bodies, to wit, which they themselves are the immediate subjects of; truly, while we have the prospect of a better state than that, and the hope of it in view, it is mean, and vile, and unworthy, not to have that hope of it live, and be often excited, and raised up in us; for what infirm things are these bodies? How much infirmity do they suffer in themselves? How are these earthly tabernacles shattered from day, to day? Shaken with agues, burnt with fevers, drowned with dropsies, harrassed and torn in pieces with stones, stranguaries, cholics, and such kind of painful diseases? Though these are lesser things, they are not nothing. The sons of God are to wait in hope, and with groans, (groans full of hope, not of despair,) for the adoption; that is, the redemption of these bodies, and are in great part to be saved by this hope; it is the hope of a better state, even in this respect, which must draw us off from the present bodily State.
What we feel is not enough, if we do not hope too, for though we feel very great grievances and pressures in these bodies, which they themselves are the immediate subjects of; yet, notwithstanding, we are so much naturally in love with this flesh, and this bodily state, that we shall rather endure all this, than change, if we have not a better hope in view; if our souls be not erected, and raised up within us, to consider, What! I was not made for an eternal inhabitation in such a body as this; and though I am to be patient of an abode in it, I must not be fond of it; I must 355endure it, but not take pleasure in it, when I know it belongs to me as an inheritance; and as I am an adopted one, one of God’s sons, to be otherwise provided for, in point of habitation hereafter. “We know, that if this earthly house of our tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens;” and therefore “we groan within ourselves, not to be unclothed, but clothed upon.” They are not so much groans of sense, as of hope: though they are excited, and raised by sense at first, they are heightened and improved by hope. If it were not for hope, we should groan like beasts under such a burden; but when we have so great hope in view before us, that doth quite change the nature of these groans, and maketh them, not only rational, but holy ones; groans of men, and groans of saints, to wit, for such a bodily state, or such a state, as to these bodies, as wherein we shall be more capable of serving and enjoying the blessed God for ever, the great object of our worship and hope. But then,
2. For the evils which we suffer by our being in these bodies, they are of a far higher nature than those that we suffer immediately in them, or whereof they are the immediate subjects themselves. How mighty an influence hath the very temper of these bodies upon our minds, to pervert, corrupt, and deprave them, to bring in upon us, and to continue and renew from time to time in us, whatsoever is most pernicious and prejudicial to the nature, and the proper, and the genuine operations of an intelligent, immortal spirit. For,
(1.) It is by our being in these bodies, that our minds are diverted from those noble employments and exercises, wherein we should be continually taken up about higher things; these very bodily senses, which let in divine light and glory upon us, let in vanity, and befool and betray us from day to day; so that we have cause to complain, (as a worthy person whom I knew did,) Oh! how are we deafened by these ears of ours? and how are we blinded by these eyes of ours? that we cannot hear the voice of God calling us to heaven, to his eternal kingdom and glory; that we cannot behold the divine light that shines through all things! How are we, by these very senses of ours, made insensible, may we truly say? To our very tastes, the best and most valuable things are rendered tasteless, and without savour and relish to us. This is what we do immediately owe to these very bodies, and our bodily abode, 356our being confined for this time to these bodies. And again,
(2.) Not only are our minds diverted, but darkened by an influence from these very bodies, in very great measure, so as that all our apprehensions of things, which are of a spiritual and divine nature, they have a terrene tincture upon them; our thoughts are gross, our conceptions are carnal, they smell and savour of the earth in which we dwell, and which makes up our house and habitation for us, incloseth these intelligent, immortal spirits of ours. While it encloses them, it imparts a terrene tincture to them, and makes all our thoughts and conceptions of things gross, earthly, and carnal, like themselves, in which these souls of ours are rather indeed prisoners than inhabitants. And,
(3.) Hence it is also, that our affections become alienated from divine and spiritual things, and in so great a measure, dead to them. The things of this earth we can savour, bodily things we can affect, we can love them, we can desire them, we can delight in them; but things that are of a divine and heavenly nature, towards these we are all dead. A total death passeth, and binds every affection of our souls, till divine grace comes to shew what miracles it can work. Saith God, I can make a clod of clay love me, I can put the tincture of heaven even upon earth itself. Till (I say) a divine, almighty power be exerted, every thing that is of a spiritual and heavenly nature will be disaffected perpetually by us. I can taste no sweetness in any such thing, might the poor soul be forced to say, even from its own continual experience, and often renewed trials of itself. They that are after the flesh, will only savour the things of the flesh, and not the things of the Spirit: and it is only the exertion of Almighty power, by the Divine Spirit, that gives victory to our spirits, so as that they shall not be always under the dominion of the fleshly principle; where these spirits come to recover their own dominion, where light, and reason, and judgment, come to be efficacious, and to have their proper power and government restored.
It is by the influence of the Divine Almighty Spirit, that any are regenerated into this state, otherwise we should be mere compositions of flesh, and nothing else, as is expressed concerning the state of unregenerate men, compared with the state that they are brought into by regeneration. “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh;” (speaking of whole human nature,) it is but flesh; “but that which is born of the 357Spirit, is spirit.” John iii. 6. There is nothing in us (as it were) that doth deserve the name of spirit, till such time as the regenerating power of the Divine Spirit comes to be exerted, and put forth in us: that, indeed, will create something in us that is fit to be called spirit. “That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit:” there is spirit producing, and spirit produced; otherwise, and not till then, a man deserves to be called nothing but a lump of flesh, and so towards things that are spiritual and divine, there is no inclination at all. But then,
(4.) There is strong and unitive propension in these souls of ours, and by their abode in this flesh, to those things that are terrene and carnal, of a nature like their own. And that completes the wretchedness of our case, that to all things that are most suitable to us, we are dead; but to those that are most unsuitable, and farthest beneath us, to them only we live, to them we are alive: and it is a miraculous work of divine power and grace to make it be otherwise with us, while we are in these bodies. This is that which is certainly to be considered by us with the bitterest regret. Have I that affection in my nature, that is capable of being placed upon God, upon heaven, and upon unseen glory? And what? Is it drawn down by this bodily abode, and union with this body, to terrene and earthly things? Into what agonies should it put us to think of this? Have I that love in my nature, that is capable of uniting to my highest and best good, and instead of that, doth it only unite me with a clod, with a piece of clay, with this base and impure earth? How unsufferable a thing, how little to be borne by them, who understand themselves, to be born of God! and who, though they are to live awhile in these bodies, yet it is but a life that hovers continually upon the shadow of death, a kind of dying life, they are (as it were) between death and life. Life there is, and that life, if it be, or wherever it is, will commence, will be eternal life at length. But in what a faint image, in the mean time, and in what a continual struggle, so that there is always reason for those outcries, “Oh, wretched men that we are! who shall deliver us from the body of this this death?” That pathetical self-bemoaning of the Apostle suits our common case, though we have not that sense of it, that he expresseth, Rom. vii. 24.
Now mark the connection. What we have hinted to us of this sad present state of our case, doth immediately precede here. We are groaning with the rest of a groaning world, 358that are all in travailing pangs, being subjected in hope unto vanity, and corruption, and bondage. “We also that have received the first fruits of the Spirit,” we are groaning too, with the rest of the world, “waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body,” when we shall dwell like the children of God. It is our consideration of the wretchedness of our” present case, in these respects, that must awaken hope in us, and make the exercise of it more lively and vigorous: that the being gradually habituated to so low, and mean, and abject a state as this is, may not quite sink us, as it must do, if hope be not kept alive, and maintained in us; an hope, that though things are in these respects very sad and grievous, yet they shall be better; the case shall be mended; we shall be in a better world, and in better bodies than these are; bodies that shall have more favourable influences upon intelligent minds and immortal spirits, or less noxiousness than these bodies have.
That is the second direction; with the representation which we have of the heavenly state, let us consider and inspect the wretchedness of our present state on earth, as we dwell in this lower world, and as we dwell in such bodies as these that we now inhabit. And,
Direction 3. That this hope may be cherished, and kept alive in us, to our actual salvation, let us carefully avoid unsuitable and unscriptural, horrid thoughts of God, upon whom this hope of ours must terminate. Nothing will so depress and stifle this hope, upon the influence whereof so much depends, as to have black, and dark, and horrid thoughts of God, beyond and contrary to what his own representation of himself in his word gives ground for. Now nothing is more natural than,
1. For persons that are yet altogether in their sins, impure creatures throughout, to represent to themselves an impure deity. Nor again,
2. Is there any thing more natural, when souls begin to be a little awakened, and stirred to mind their own concernments, than to entertain and admit thoughts of an horrid and dreadful being, which they put the name of God upon, and which (as they know God is to be the object of their worship) they clothe with such apprehensions of him, as makes their worship savour of nothing else but a kind of dread, that always possesses their spirits, so as that they worship only like slaves; not like the children of God, not like his sons, but as those that are afraid of a tormenting lash perpetually; that are allured by no love, no goodness, 359no kindness, no apprehension of his love. And nothing doth more directly tend to destroy the hope that should be in us, and whereby we are to live.
And pray do but consider this one passage, “Be not thou a terror to me; thou art my hope in the evil day.” Jer. xvii. 17. I only note it to shew the inconsistency of these two things, God’s being a terror to us, and his being our hope. While we make him a terror to ourselves, we cannot make him our hope: the prophet prayeth, “Be not a terror to me,” for then my hope in thee is lost, thou art to be my only hope in an evil day. And what will become of me, if he that is to be my hope, should be my terror? and if that be a thing so much to be deprecated, that God do not make himself a terror to us, truly it ought to be avoided, our making him a terror to ourselves; and for the same reason; because he is our only hope, and he cannot be our hope, while he is a terror to us. And then,
Direction 4. The next direction will be, that which I hinted at the last time, and I told you upon what occasion, to wit, that we maintain in ourselves a just love to our own souls, and a desire of their salvation. This the series of the discourse naturally leads to; and I have found it necessary to speak very distinctly to it, as having met with bills, once and again, that suggest this case; a fear that all that is done, in a way of obedience, should be from a motive of self-love, and a desire and design of their own salvation; and not so principally, for the glory of God therein. Now what I shall say to this, will lie under these two general heads.
1. To evince to you, from the ground in the text, (“We are saved by hope,”) that there ought, and must be in us a principle of self-love, to wit, love to our own souls maintained, and kept in exercise all along. And,
2. I shall say somewhat to the doubt, and shew whether this self-love be the principal mover, yea or no, of hope in these souls; or how they may yet discern that it is not the principal mover. For the
1. That there ought to be such a principle of love to our own souls, that must be exercised in us, through the whole of our course, upon the very ground here expressed in the text, that “We are saved by hope,” consider the following things.
(1.) If there be not such a love to our own souls, that shall put us upon this earnest desire and endeavour of their salvation, there can be no hope of it; for there is no hope of that, which we desire not. What a man desires not, he 360cannot hope for; therefore hope with reference to the business of our salvation, would be simply impossible, naturally impossible, if there were no such love to ourselves, or to our own souls, as should make us to desire salvation; for that which we desire not, it is naturally impossible we should hope for. And,
(2.) Supposing such love to ourselves as should make us desire our own salvation were an unlawful thing, it would by consequence make the hope of our salvation an unlawful thing too: and so to say, we are to be saved by hope, were to be saved by a sin, and the whole business of our salvation were to be carried on continually by a continued sin, through the whole of our course; than which, you may easily apprehend, nothing could be imagined or spoken more absurd.
(3.) We are bound to endeavour, in hope, the preservation of the health and life of these bodies: and much more are we to endeavour, in hope, the eternal life and salvation of our souls.
(4.) We should in our whole course (if we should make it our business to suppress such desire and hope as this) counteract the law of our own nature; and we must know the law of our own nature is God’s own law: he that is the Author of our nature is the Author of the law of nature; and there is no principle more natural to us than love of ourselves. And,
(5.) We should not only contradict the law of original nature, but we should act against the continual dictates of the new nature, wherein the principle of this self-love is a governing thing. “He that is born of God, keepeth himself, that the evil one toucheth him not.” 1 John iii. 18. He loves his own life, is careful for his own life; he keep eth himself, that he may avoid mortal touches from the evil one, who is continually seeking to destroy that precious life, that is now from God himself sprung up in the soul, and in respect whereof he is now said to be born of God. And again,
(6.) It were quite to subvert the whole gospel constitution, which doth apply itself directly to the principle of self-love in the whole dispensation of it, as supposing that natural to men, and that they should be unnatural, and monsters towards themselves, if they act not according to it. What mean all the gospel invitations, and promises, and threatenings, but to apply themselves immediately and directly to the principle of self-love in men, apprehending that they 361should have some regard to themselves, and to the concernments of their own souls? It supposeth this, when our Lord breathes forth such sweet and alluring invitations as those; “Come unto me, all ye that are weary, and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. xi. latter end. What would that signify, if a man were not to desire rest for his own soul, and life and blessedness for his own soul? “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come and drink of the water of life; incline your ear, and come unto me, hear, and your souls shall live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David.” Isaiah lv. 1. What would all this signify, if I were not to take care for, and desire the life of my own soul? And so also all the threatenings of the gospel were lost upon men, if they were to have no dread of perishing; and no hope, no desire, of being eternally saved. “He that believeth, hath ever lasting life; but he that believeth not, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” All these were thrown away upon them, who were not to allow themselves, either in a desire or dread, in reference either to the death or life of their souls. But then,
2. To answer the doubt, I will only say these things very briefly to you; that is, whether self-love be the predominant principle, so that any have reason to think all their obedience proceeds from self-love, more than from a desire of God’s being glorified in their salvation. Why,
(1.) I would desire such to consider, that the blessedness of heaven doth very principally lie in perfect sinlessness, in being perfectly free from sin. And so, in being as perfectly like God, as we are capable: “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John iii. 2. That implies perfect sinlessness; consider that in the first place. And,
(2.) Sin is the only thing by which God can be dishonoured. “In breaking the law, dishonourest thou God.” Rom. ii. 13. He can be dishonoured by nothing but sin. And,
(3.) Let such consider, do they desire perfect sinlessness? yea or no: and let them deal faithfully with their souls in that particular. Do I desire to be perfectly free from sin? or do I hate every thing of sin, so as to long for nothing more, than perfectly to be free from it? Let their own conscience give an answer to them concerning this, whether they can sincerely say, they do desire nothing so much as perfect freedom from sin; they do desire to be rid of that, by which alone they do dishonour God. And you must know, that sin, in the very nature of it, is more dishonourable 362to God, than it can be hurtful unto them: it is both dishonourable to God and hurtful to us; but the principal thing is a dishonour to God, as it is against him first. It is against us but secondarily, and in the lowest place. Let them then bethink themselves; suppose sin did not hurt me, yet do I not hate it, and do not I desire to be perfectly free from it, as a thing that dishonours God, and as it inclines me to dishonour him? And it is an uncreaturely thing, as it is a vile thing, to have that in me which is an opposition and contrariety in its own nature to the Best of beings, the most perfect and most excellent of beings. And then,
(4.) That the blessedness of heaven further lies in the soul’s entire satisfaction, and acquiescence in God, which is the thing we mean by enjoying him. Fruition is the soul’s rest. The blessedness of the heavenly state lies in the soul’s perfect rest and acquiescence in God, as the best and most satisfying good. And hereby it is plain, that we honour him the most that we are capable of doing, for if the soul do perfectly rest satisfied in God, as the best and most excellent good, we do thereby voluntarily acknowledge him in the most significant (to wit, in a practical) way, to be, (what really he is, as he is God,) the best good, the most comprehensive, and the most absolutely perfect good. The soul doth most honour him, in enjoying him, more than it is capable of doing any other way; for my continual enjoying him, to wit, my continual rest and satisfaction in him, as the best good, is my practical owning him as such. And that is honouring him, when I draw off from all things else, and say, You are not good enough, you have not that excellency in you that is suited to the nature, excellency, and capacity of my soul. Then you betake yourself to God, and there you eternally acquiesce, and take up your satisfaction and rest. This is to confess, actually and practically, that he is all that, which all the creation besides is infinitely short of to you. And so to do, is to glorify and honour him, the most that you are capable of as creatures. In our enjoying him, we glorify him most. And then, lastly,
(5.) As that which is so clear and sure (as I think) to put all out of doubt, if any can say that they hate sin, as the worst of all evils that can exist, or be in being; and do love God as the best of all good, as can also exist, and be in being: this hatred of sin as the worst evil, and this love of God as the best and highest good, must proceed from the operation of his own Spirit; none could ever hate sin 363as the worst of evils, and love God as the best of goods, but by the peculiar operation of the Holy Ghost. Now if the Holy Ghost does produce these great effects in any, you may be sure he can do God no wrong in these productions of his: he governs his own productions equally. The Spirit of God can never be the author of any one’s doing God wrong. That you should desire a good for yourself, more than for glory to him, when such operations in you, as hatred of sin, and love of God, do proceed from his own Spirit, that Spirit will never be the author of irregular motions, so as that you should desire your own felicity more than the glory of God.
And, therefore, though these things lie mixed in you, there is love to God, and love to yourselves: and there ought to be both, but you cannot tell which is predominant, by an immediate inspection and view of the effects; look to your cause, and these effects could proceed from no other cause, but the operation of the Divine Spirit; that is, you could never hate sin, but from the Spirit of God. You find that you do hate it, but you do not know whether it be because it is most dishonourable to God, or because it is hurtful to you: yet, I say, your hatred of it proceeds from the Spirit of God. And again, you do love God, but so love yourselves, and your own salvation, that you have one interest in the matter: you love him, in order to your enjoyment of him; you love him, in order to your fruition of him, which is a good to yourselves, and so it ought to be. But you know not which desire is more predominant, which you desire or covet more, that you may be happy, or God be glorified in your fruition of him I say, this supreme love to God is not the work of your own spirit, you could not love God above all, (if it were even for your own enjoyment of him only,) but by the help of his Spirit. And the Spirit of God, when that is immediately at work, will be sure to do right between him and you. It will not let you love yourselves more than God, when that love is the immediate production of that Spirit, living and acting in you. And we can be surer of nothing than we are of this, that there can be no hatred of sin, as the worst of evils, nor love of God, as the best of goods, but from the Divine Spirit. And if it be from a Divine Spirit, that Spirit will not be the author of so irregular a motion in us, that we should design ourselves, more than him, in these things. And so much I take to be exceeding clear and plain, in reference to this doubt; and it is very unreasonable that any should trouble 364themselves much about it, but fall admiring and blessing God, that hath made them hate sin as the worst of evils, and a thing by which he is dishonoured; and to love God as the best good, which is as inseparable from the eternal enjoyment of him, as that enjoyment is from their eternal adoring and glorifying of him in that state. There are many other directions remaining, but no more at present.
|« Prev||Sermon XXVI. Preached, October 25, 1691.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version