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wards christians, 2 Cor. vi. 11. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. He often speaks of his affectionate and longing desires, (1 Thess. ii. 8. Rom. i. 11. Phil. i. 8. and chap iv. 1. 2 Tim. i. 4.)
The same apostle very often, in his epistles, expresses the affection of joy, (2 Cor. i. 12. and chap. vii. 7. and ver. 9. 16. Phil. i. 4. and chap. ii. 1, 2. and chap. iii. 3. Col. i. 24. 1 Thess. iii. 9.) He speaks of his rejoicing with great joy, (Phil. iv. 10. Philem. 1. 7.) of his joying and rejoicing, (Phil. ii. 1. 7.) of his rejoicing exceedingly, (2 Cor. vii. 13.) being filled with comfort exceeding joyful, (2 Cor. vii. 4.) and always rejoicing, (2 Cor. vi. 10.) So he speaks of the triumphs of his soul, (2 Cor. ii. 14.) and of his glorying in tribulation. (2 Thess. i. 4. and Rom. v. 3.) In Phil. i. 20. he speaks of his earnest expectation, and his hope. He likewise expresses an affection of godly jealousy, 2. Cor. xi. 2, 3. And it appears by his whole history, after his conversion, that the affection of zeal, as having the cause of his Master and the interest and prosperity of his church for its object, was mighty in him, continually inflaming his heart, strongly engaging to great and constant labours, in instructing, exhorting, warning, and reproving others, travailing in birth with them; conflicting with those powerful and innumerable enemies who continually opposed him, wrestling with principalities and powers, not fighting as one who beats the air, running the race set before him, continually pressing forwards through all manner of difficulties and sufferings; so that others thought him quite beside himself. And how full he was of affection further appears by his being so full of tears in 2 Cor. ii. 4. he speaks of his many tears; and so Acts xx. 19. and of his tears that he shed continually, night and day,
Now if any one can consider these accounts given in the scripture of this great apostle, and which he gives of himself, and yet not see that his religion consisted much in affection, must have a strange faculty of managing his eyes in order to shut out the light which shines most full in his face.
The other instance I shall mention, is that of the apostle John, the beloved disciple, who was the nearest and dearest to his Master of any of the twelve, and who was by him admitted to the greatest privileges of any of them. He was not only one of the three who were admitted to be present with him in the mount at his transfiguration, and at the raising of Jairus' daughter, and whom he took with him when he was in his agony, and one of the three spoken of by the apostle Paul, as the three main pillars of the christian church, but he was favoured above all, in being admitted to lean on his Master's bosom at his last supper, and in being chosen by Christ as the disciple to whom he would reveal his
wonderful dispensations towards his church to the end of time. By him was shut up the canon of the New Testament, and of the whole scripture; and he was preserved much longer than all the rest of the apostles, to set all things in order in the christian church after their death.
It is evident by all his writings, that he was a person remarkably full of affection: his addresses to those whom he wrote to being inexpressibly tender and pathetic, breathing nothing but the most fervent love, as though he were all made up of sweet and holy affection. The proofs of which cannot be given without disadvantage, unless we should transcribe his whole writings.
7. He whom God sent into the world, to be the light of the world and the head of the whole church, and the perfect example of true religion and virtue for the imitation of all, the Shepherd whom the whole flock should follow wherever he goes, even the Lo Jesus Christ, was of a remarkably tender and affectionate heart; and his virtue was expressed very much in the exercise of holy affections. He was the greatest instance of ardency, vigour, and strength of love, to both God and man, that ever was. It was these affections which got the victory, in that mighty struggle and conflict of his affections, in his agonies, when he prayed more earnestly, and offered strong crying and tears, and wrestled in tears and in blood. Such was the power of the exercises of his holy love, that they were stronger than death, and in that great struggle, overcame those strong exercises of the natural affections of fear and grief, when he was sore amazed, and his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.
He also appeared to be full of affection, in the course of his life. We read of his great zeal, fulfilling that expression in the 69th Psalm, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, John ii. 17. We read of his grief for the sins of men, Mark iii. 5. He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts; and his breaking forth in tears and exclamations, from the consideration of the sin and misery of ungodly men, and on the sight of the city of Jerusalem, which was full of such inhabitants, Luke xix. 41, 42. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. With chap. xiii. 34. 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee: how often would I have gathered thy chil dren together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not? We read of Christ's earnest desire, Luke xxii. 15. With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. We often read of the affection of pity or compassion in Christ, (Matth. xv. 32. and xviii. 34. Luke vii. 13.) and of his
being moved with compassion, (Matth. ix. 36. and xiv. 14. and Mark vi. 34.) And how tender did his heart appear to be, on occasion of Mary's and Martha's mourning for their brother, and coming to him with their complaints and tears? Their tears soon drew tears from his eyes; he was affected with their grief, and wept with them; though he knew their sorrow should so soon be turned into joy, by their brother being raised from the dead; see John xi. And how ineffably affectionate was that last and dying discourse, which Jesus had with his eleven disciples the evening before he was crucified; when he told them he was going away, and foretold them the great difficulties and sufferings they should meet with in the world, when he was gone; and comforted and counselled them, as his dear little children; and bequeathed to them his Holy Spirit, and therein his peace, his comfort and joy, as it were in his last will and testament, in the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John; and concdlued the whole with that affectionate intercessory prayer for them, and his whole church, in chap. xvii. Of all the discourses ever penned or uttered by the mouth of any man, this seems to be the most affectionate, and affecting.
8. The religion of heaven consists very much in affection.There is doubtless true religion in heaven, and true religion in its utmost purity and perfection. But according to the scripture representation of the heavenly state, the religion of heaven consists chiefly in holy and mighty love and joy, and the expression of these in most fervent and exalted praises. So that the religion of the saints in heaven, consits in the same things with that religion of the saints on earth, which is spoken of in our text, viz. love and joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Now, it would be very foolish to pretend, that because the saints in heaven are not united to flesh and blood, and have no animal fluids to be moved (through the laws of union of soul and body) with those great emotions of their souls, that therefore their exceeding love and joy are no affections. We are not speaking of the affections of the body, but those of the soul, the chief of which are love and joy. When these are in the soul, whether that be in the body or out of it, the soul is affected and moved. And when they are in the soul, in that strength in which they are in the saints in heaven, it is mightily affected and moved, or, which is the same thing, has great affections. It is true, we do not experimentally know what love and joy are in a soul out of a body, or in a glorified body; i. e. we have not had experience of love and joy in a soul in these circumstances; but the saints on earth do know what divine love and joy in the soul are, and they know that love and joy are of the same kind with the love and joy which are in heaven, in separate souls there. The love and joy of the saints on
earth, is the beginning and dawning of the light, life, and blessedness of heaven, and is like their love and joy there; or rather, the same in nature, though not the same in degree and circumstances.* It is unreasonable therefore to suppose, that the love and joy of the saints in heaven differ not only in degree and circumstances, from the holy love and joy of the saints on earth, but also in nature, so that they are no affections; and merely because they have no blood and animal spirits to be set in motion by them. The motion of the blood and animal spirits is not of the essence of these affections, in men on earth, but the effect of them; although by their reaction they may make some circumstantial difference in the sensation of the mind. There is a sensation of the mind which loves and rejoices, antecedent to any effects on the fluids of the body; and therefore, does not depend on these motions in the body, and so may be in the soul without the body. And wherever there are the exercises of love and joy, there is that sensation of the mind, whether it be in the body or out; and that inward sensation, or kind of spiritual feeling, is what is called affection. The soul, when it is thus moved, is said to be affected, and especially when this inward sensation and motion are to a very high degree, as they are in the saints in heaven. If we can learn any thing of the state of heaven from the scripture, the love and joy that the saints have there, is exceeding great and vigorous; impressing the heart with the strongest and most lively sensation of inexpressible sweetness, mightily moving, animating, and engaging them, making them like to a flame of fire. And if such love and joy be not affections, then the word affection is of no use in language.-Will any say, that the saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father and the glory of their Redeemer, in contemplating his wonderful works, and particularly his laying down his life for them, have their hearts nothing moved and affected by all which they behold or consider?
Hence, therefore, the religion of heaven, being full of holy love and joy, consists very much in affection: and therefore, undoubtedly, true religion consists very much in affection. The way to learn the true nature of any thing, is to go where that thing is to be found in its purity and perfection. If we would know the nature of true gold, we must view it, not in the ore, but when it is refined. If we would learn what true religion is, we must go where there is true religion, and nothing but true religion, and in its highest perfection, without any defect or mixture. All who are truly religious are not of this world, they are strangers
This is evident by many scriptures, as Prov. iv. 18. John iv. 14. and chap. vi. 40. 47. 50. 51. 54. 58. 1 John iii. 15. 1 Cor. xii, 8—12.
here, and belong to heaven; they are born from above, heaven is their native country, and the nature which they receive by this heavenly birth, is an heavenly nature, they receive an anointing from above; that principle of true religion which is in them, is a communication of the religion of heaven; their grace is the dawn of glory; and God fits them for that world by conforming them to it.
9. This appears from the nature and design of the ordinances and duties, which God hath appointed, as means and expressions of true religion.
To instance in the duty of prayer: It is manifest, we are not appointed, in this duty, to declare God's perfections, his majesty, holiness, goodness, and all-sufficiency; our own meanness, emptiness, dependence, and unworthiness, our wants and desires, in order to inform God of these things, or to incline his heart, and prevail with him to be willing to shew us mercy; but rather suitably to affect our own hearts with the things we express, and so to prepare us to receive the blessings we ask. And such gestures and manner of external behaviour in the worship of God, which custom has made to be significations of humility and reverence, can be of no further use, than as they have some tendency to affect our own hearts, or the hearts of others.
And the duty of singing praises to God, seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame that these things have a tendency to move our affections.
The same thing appears in the nature and design of the sacraments, which God hath appointed. God, considering our frame, hath not only appointed that we should be told of the great things of the gospel and the redemption of Christ, and be instrucetd in them by his word, but also that they should be, as it were, exhibited to our view in sensible representations, the more to affect us with them.
And the impressing of divine things on the hearts and affections of men, is evidently one great end for which God has ordained, that his word delivered in the holy scriptures, should be opened, applied, and set home upon men, in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions on the scripture, and other good books of divinity; because, although these may tend, as well as preaching, to give a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men's hearts and affections. God hath appointed a particular and lively applica