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should still be jealous of yourselves. But, Sirs, let conscience

, now deal honestly with you : Are there not many of you who are still in your natural state ? All your religion is an earth-borny, self-sprung thing. You have never been the subjects of a supernatural work of divine grace, nor felt such a great change in the temper of your minds ; and if this is your case, I must pronounce, that, however many amiable qualities you may be possessed of, and however fair a profession you make of religion, you have not the love of God in you ; for how should you have it, when it is not natural to you, and when it has not been implanted in you by an operation above nature ? Indeed, my brethren, if this be your case, you are plainly convicted this day of being destitute of the very first principle of all religion ; and pray admit the conviction : you may as well expect to be men without being born, as to love God without being born again. But,

2. If we love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, we frequently and affectionately think of him. This you know is the genius and tendency of love in general, to fix our thoughts upon its object; and the Psalmist often mentions this as an attendant of his love to God. How precious are the thoughts of thee unlo me, o God! how great is the sum of them ! if I should count them, they are more in number than the sand; when I awake I am still with thee. Psal. cxxxix. 17, 18. I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches. Psal. Ixiii. 6. My medita. tion of him shall be sweet. Psal. civ. 34. Isaiah represents the whole church as saying, The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee : with my soul have I desired thee in ihe night ; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early. Isaiah xxvi. 8, 9. This you see is the character of the lovers of God. And on the other hand, his enemies are characterized as persons who do not like to retain him in their knowledge, Rom. i. 28. who forget God; Psalm ix, 17. and I. 22. God is not in all their thoughts, Psal. x. 4. but they practically say unto the Ale mighty, depart from us ; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Job xxi. 14. The thoughts of an enemy are always ungrateful, especially if he is unable to avenge himself of his adversaries ; and the mind will turn every way to avoid them. But the thoughts of one we love, how sweet, how welcome, how often do they return! How often does the dear image of an absent friend rise to the mind ! and with what affectionate endearments! Unless you are entire strangers to this generous passion, you know, by experience, this is the nature and tendency of love.

And do not these things enable some of you to give a comfortable answer to this question, Lovest thou me ? You are often jealous of your love ; but if you love him not,.why do your thoughts make so many eager sallies to him? Once your thoughts could dwell within the compass of created nature, and fly from vanity to vanity, without attempting a flight to heaven. But now do they not often break through the limits of creation, in eager search after God as that supreme good? And with what affectionate eagerness do they at times dwell there? How do your souls delight to survey and gaze at his perfections, and contemplate the wonders of his works ! And how often do your thoughts hover round a crucified Jesus, and, as it were, cling and cluster to his cross, like the bees round the hive! You do not indeed think of him so frequently, or with such affectionate endearments as you should. But can you not appeal to himself, that the thoughts of him are welcome to your minds ; that you do at times dwell with pleasure in the delightful contemplation, even when your hands are busy about other things ; and that it is your dai. ly sorrow that your hearts are not more intimate with him, and pay him more frequent visits ? Does not your experience tell you, that you cannot always let your thoughts grovel in the dust, or run out in an endless chase of things below, but that, in some happy hours, they rise on the wings of love, and most affectionately cleave to your dear Redeemer? And your thoughts are not the cold speculations of a philosopher, but the warm, passionate, and heart-affecting thoughts of a christian. If this be your case, my brethren, take courage. You love the Lord Jesus Christ, and you may be sure he loves you, and will treat you as his friends.

But are there not many of you who may be convinced by those things, that you have not the love of God in you ? For are you not conscious that your affectionate thoughts are prostituted to some trifle in this lower world, and hardly ever aspire to him ? Nay, are not the thoughts of God, and things divine and eternal, unwelcome to you ? and do you not cast them out of your minds as you would shake a spark of fire from your bosoms? Do you not find yourselves shy of him, and alienated from him ! Do not those things give you pain which would turn your thoughts towards him ? You do not affect such subjects of meditation or conversation, and you soon grow weary and uneasy when your ninds are tied down to them! And what can be the cause of this, VOL. II.


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but a strong disaffection to God, and a secret consciousness that he is your enemy on this account! 0, Sirs, what can be more astonishing, or what can be a stronger evidence of enmity to God, than that men should live in such a world as this, and yet hardly ever have one affectionate thought of their great Author, Preserver and Benefactor ! His glory shines upon them from all his works, and meets their eye wherever they look ; his word exhibits him to their view in a still more bright and amiable light. It represents the Lord Jesus in all the love and agonies of his crucifixion, and in all the glories of his exaltation ; they are receiving mercies from him every moment of their lives ; for, in him they live, and move, and have their being : their own reason and consciences tell them that he is the most excellent and lovely being, and worthy of supreme and universal love, and they profess to believe it ; and yet he cannot, after all, gain so much as their frequent and affectionate thoughts! Their thoughts, those cheap and easy things, are ungratefully denied to him, who gave them a power of thinking! O what stupid indifferency about the supreme good, or rather what prevailing enmity is here! Can you pretend to be lovers of Jesus Christ while this is your case ? Can you excuse or extenuate this under the soft name of infirmity ? No, it is rank, inveterate, sullen enmity ; and a righteous God resents it as such. But,

3. If you love God and the Lord Jesus Christ, you delight in communion with them. Friends, you know, delight to converse together, to unbosom themselves to one another, and to enjoy the freedoms of society. They are fond of interviews, and seize every opportunity for that purpose ; and absence is tedious and painful to them. If you are so happy as to have a friend, you know by experience this is the nature of love. Now, though God be a spirit, and infinitely above all sensible converse with the sons of men, yet he does not keep himself at a distance from his people. He has access to their spirits, and allows them to carry on a spiritual commerce with him, which is the greatest happiness of their lives. Hence God is so often said, in the scripture, to draw near to them, and they to him, James iv. 8. Heb. vii. 19. Psalm lxix. 18. and lxxiii. 28. Heb. x. 22. Lam. iii. 57, and St. John, speaking of himself and his fellow-christians, says, Truly our fellowship 28 with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. ! John i. 3. This divine fellowship is promised by Jesus Christ to all his friends, John xiv. 21, 23. He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him ; we will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. This mystical fellowship is peculiar to the friends of God; and others know nothing of it. They are represented as poor strangers and aliens, that have no communication with God. Eph. ii. 12. Col. i. 21. He is shy of them and they of him : they keep at a distance from one another like persons disaffected. -This communion on God's part consists in his communicating to his people the influences of his grace, to quicken them, to inflame their love, to give them filial boldness in drawing near to him, in assuring them of his love to them, and representing himself to them as reconciled and accessible. And on their part it consists in a liberty of heart and speech in pouring out their prayers to him, a delightful freedom of spirit in all exercises of devotion, in returning him love for love, and dedicating themselves to him. Thus there is a kind of interchange of thoughts and affections, mutual freedoms and endearments, between them. And O! how divinely sweet in some happy hours of sacred intimacy! This indeed is heaven upon earth : and, might it but continue without interruption, the life of a lover of God would be a constant series of pure, unmingled happiness. But, alas ! at times their Beloved withdraws himself, and goes from them, and then they languish, and pine away, and mourn, like the mourning turtle that has lost his mate. This intercourse with God may be a strange thing to some of you ; and to vindicate the want of it, you may give it some odious name ; enthusiasm, fanaticism, or heated imagination. But I must tell you, if you know nothing of it, your temper and experience is entirely different from all the friends of God, and, therefore, you cannot rank yourselves in that happy number.

Now the ordinances of the gospel are, as it were, the places of interview, where God and his people meet, and where they indulge those sacred freedoms. It is in prayer, in meditation, in reading or hearing his word, in communicating at his table ; it is in these and the like exercises that God communicates, and, as it were, unbosoms himself to those that love him ; and they enjoy the freedom of children and friends with him : and on this account they delight in those ordinances, and take pleasure in attending upon them. The workings of their hearts in this respect, you may discover in David, when, by the persecution of Saul, or the rebellion of his son Absalom, he was banished from the stated ordinances of public worship. Psal. xlii. 1, 2, 4, and Ixxxiv. throughout, and xxvii. 4.

And now, my brethren, to come nearer home, have not some of you experienced the sacred joys of communion with God? And were not those the sweetest hours of your life? Have you not found it good for you to draw near to him ? And when he bas withdrawn his presence, how have you languished and mourned, and could never be easy till he was pleased to return to you? Do you not also find a sacred pleasure in the institutions of the gospel, because there you hope to meet your God, and enjoy communion with him ? Is this the principle that prompts you to pray, to hear, and perform every religious duty ? Then you may appeal to a heart-searching God, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.

But does not this view of the matter give the conscience of some of you reason to condemn you? You have neither known nor desired this fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ. Alas! you know nothing of those freedoms of divine friendship: and you have no prevailing pleasure in devotion. You either neglect the duties of religion, or else you perform them from custom, education, constraint of conscience, or some other such principle. Let me point out one instance as a specimen; and that is secret prayer and closet devotion. Nothing can be more expressly commanded than this is by Christ, Matt. vi. 6. and is this your daily practice? Is this the most pleasant exercise of your life? Or is it a mere formality, or a weariness to you? My brethren, inquire honestly into this matter.

4. And lastly, If you love the Lord Jesus Christ, you earnestly study and endeavour to please him by a life of universal obedie ence. Love is always desirous to please the person beloved ; and it will naturally lead to a conduct that is pleasing. This, then, you may be sure of, that if you love Jesus, it is the labour of your life to please him. The grand inquiry with you is not, will this or that please men ? will it please myself? or will it promote my interest ? but, will it please my God and Saviour ? If not, I will have nothing to do with it. This is the standing rule of your practice : Let others consult their own inclinations, or the taste of the age ; let them consult their own secular interest, or the applause of mortals ; you consult what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Rom. xii. 2. See also Eph. vi. 6. 1 Pet. jji. 17. Heb. xiii. 21. and if you may but please him, it is

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