« ElőzőTovább »
tions. But on the other hand, there are some who suppose, it is a good evidence that affections are from the sanctifying and saving influences of the Holy Ghost. Their argument is, that Satan cannot love; this affection being directly contrary to the devil, whose very nature is enmity and malice. And it is true, that nothing is more excellent, heavenly and divine, than a spirit of true Christian love to God and men; it is more excellent than knowledge, or prophecy, or miracles, or speaking with the tongue of men and angels. It is the chief of the graces of God's Spirit, and the life, essence, and sum of all true religion; and that by which we are most conformed to heaven, and most contrary to hell and the devil. But yet it is ill arguing from hence, that there are no counterfeits of it. It may be observed, that the more excellent any thing is, the more will be the counterfeits of it. Thus there are many more counterfeits of silver and gold, than of iron and copper: there are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about to counterfeit common stones? Though the more excellent things are, the more difficult it is to make any thing like them, in their essential nature and internal virtue; yet the more manifold will the counterfeits be, and the more will art and subtilty be exercised and displayed, in an exact imitation of the outward appearance. Thus there is the greatest danger of being cheated in buying medicines that are most excellent and sovereign, though it be most difficult to imitate them, with any thing of the like value and virtue, and their counterfeits are good for nothing when we have them. So it is with Christian virtues and graces; the subtilty of Satan, and men's deceitful hearts, are wont chiefly to be exercised in counterfeiting those that are in highest repute. So there are perhaps no graces that have more counterfeits than love and humility; these being virtues wherein the beauty of a true Christian especially appears.
But with respect to love, it is plain by the scripture, that persons may have a kind of religious love, and yet have no saving grace. Christ speaks of many professing Christians whose love will not continue, and so shall fail of salvation, Matth. xxiv. 12, 13. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Which latter words plainly show, that those spoken of before, whose love shall not endure to the end, but wax cold, should not be saved. Persons may seem to have love to God and Christ, yea to have very strong and violent affections of this nature, and yet have no grace. This was evidently the case with many graceless Jews, such as cried Jesus up so high, following him day and night, without meat, drink, or sleep; such as said, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest, and cried Hosan
na to the son of David*.-The apostle seems to intimate, that there were many in his days, who had a counterfeit love to Christ, in Eph. vi. 24. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ IN SINCERITY. The last word, in the original, signifies in incorruption; which shews, that the apostle was sensible there were many who had a kind of love to Christ, which was not pure and spiritual.
So also Christian love to the people of God may be counterfeited. It is evident by the scripture, that there may be strong affections of this kind, without saving grace; as there were in the Galatians towards the apostle Paul, when they were ready to pluck out their eyes and give them to him; although the apostle expresses his fear that their affections were coming to nothing, and that he had bestowed upon them labour in vain. Gal. iv. 11,
Persons having religious affections of many kinds, accompanying one another, is not sufficient to determine whether they have any gracious affections or no.
Though false religion is wont to be maimed and monstrous, and not to have that entireness and symmetry of parts, which is to be seen in true religion; yet there may be a great variety of false affections together, that may resemble gracious affections.
It is evident that there are counterfeits of all kinds of gracious affections; as of love to God, and love to the brethren, as just now observed; so of godly sorrow for sin, as in Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, and the children of Israel in the wildernesst; and of the fear of God, as in the Samaritans, who feared the Lord, and served their own Gods at the same time, (2 Kings xvii. 32, 33.) and those enemies of God we read of, Psal. lxvi. 3. who through the greatness of God's power, submit themselves to him, or, as it is in the Hebrew, lie unto him, i. e. yield a counterfeit reverence and submission: so of a gracious gratitude, as in the children of Israel, who sang God's praise at the Red sea, (Psal. cvi. 12.) and Naa
Agreeable to this Mr. STODDARD observes, in his Guide to Christ, that some sinners have pangs of affection, and give an account that they find a spirit of love to God, and of their aiming at the glory of God, having that which has a great resemblance of saving grace; and that sometimes their common affections are stronger than saving. And supposes, that sometimes natural men may have such violent pangs of false affection to God, that they may think themselves willing to be damnel. Page 21. and 65.
+ Exod. ix. 27. 1 Sam. xxiv. 16, 17. and xxvi. 21. 1 Kings xxi. 27. Numb. xiv. 29, 40.
man the Syrian, after his miraculous cure of his leprosy, (2 Kings v. 15, &c.)
So of spiritual joy, as in the stony-ground hearers, (Matth. xiii. 20.) and particularly many of John the Baptist's hearers, (John v. 35.) So of zeal, as in Jehu, (2 Kings x. 6.) and in Paul before his conversion, (Gal. i. 14—Phil. iii. 6.) and the unbelieving Jews, (Acts xxii. 3-Rom. x. 2.) So graceless persons may have earnest religious desires, which may be like Balaam's desires, which he expresses under an extraordinary view of the happy state of God's people, as distinguished from all the rest of the world, (Numb. xxiii. 9, 10.) They may also have a strong hope of eternal life, as the Pharisees had.
And as men, while in a state of nature, are capable of a resemblance of all kinds of religious affection, so nothing hinders but that they may have many of them together. And what appears in fact, abundantly evinces that it is thus very often. Commonly, when false affections are raised high, many of them attend each other. The multitude that attended Christ into Jerusalem, after that great miracle of raising Lazarus, seem to be moved with many religious affections at once, and all in a high degree. They seem to be filled with admiration; and there was a shew of high affection of love; also a great degree of reverence, in their laying their garments on the ground for Christ to tread upon. They express great gratitude to him, for the great and good works he had wrought, praising him with loud voices for his salvation ; and earnest desires of the coming of God's kingdom, which they supposed Jesus was now about to set up; and they shewed great hopes and raised expectations of it, expecting it would immediately appear. Hence they were filled with joy, by which they were so animated in their acclamations, as to make the whole city ring again with the noise of them; and they appeared great in their zeal and forwardness to attend Jesus, and assist him without further delay, now in the time of the great feast of the passover, to set up his kingdom.
It is easy, from the nature of the affections, to give an account why, when one affection is raised very high, that it should excite others; especially if the affection which is raised high, be that of counterfeit love, as it was in the multitude who cried Hosanna. This will naturally draw many other affections after it. For, as was observed before, love is the chief of the affections, and as it were the fountain of them. Let us suppose a person, who has been for some time in great exercise and terror through fear of hell; his heart weakened with distress and dreadful apprehensions, upon the brink of despair; and who is all at once delivered, by being firmly made to believe, through some delusion of Satan, that God has pardoned him, and accepts him as the object of his
dear love, and promises him eternal life. Suppose also, that this is done through some vision, or strong imagination suddenly excited in him, of a person with a beautiful countenance smiling on him-with arms open, and with blood dropping down-which the person conceives to be Christ, without any other enlightening of the understanding to give a view of the spiritual, divine excellency of Christ and his fulness, and of the way of salvation revealed in the gospel. Or, suppose some voice or words coming as if they were spoken to him, such as these, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee; or, Fear not, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom, which he takes to be immediately spoken by God to him, though there was no preceding acceptauce of Christ, or closing of the heart with him. I say, if we should suppose such a case, what various passions would naturally crowd at once, or one after another, into such a person's mind? It is easy to be accounted for, from the mere principles of nature, that a person's heart, on such an occasion, should be raised up to the skies with transports of joy, and be filled with fervent affection to that imaginary God or Redeemer, who, he supposes, has thus rescued him from the jaws of such dreadful destruction, and received him with such endearment, as a peculiar favourite. Is it any wonder that now he should be filled with admiration and gratitude, his mouth should be opened, and be full of talk about what he has experienced? That, for a while, he should think and speak of scarce any thing else, should seem to magnify that God who has done so much for him, call upon others to rejoice with him, appear with a cheerful countenance, and talk with a loud voice? That, however, before his deliverance, he was full of quarrellings against the justice of God, now it should be easy for him to submit to God, own his unworthiness, cry out against himself, appear to be very humble before God, and lie at his feet as tame as a lamb; now confessing his unworthiness, and crying out, Why me? Why me? Thus Saul, who, when Samuel told him that God had appointed him to be king, makes answer, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me? Much in the language of David, the true saint, 2 Sam. vii. 18. Who am I, and what is my father's house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? Is it to be wondered at, that now he should delight to be with them who acknowledge and applaud his happy circumstances, and that he should love all such as esteem and admire him and what he has experienced? That he should have violent zeal against all who make nothing of such things, be disposed openly to separate, and as it were to proclaim war with all who are not of his party? That he should now glory in his sufferings,
and be very much for condemning and censuring all who seem to doubt, or make any difficulty of these things? And, while the warmth of his affections last, that he should be mighty forward to take pains, and to deny himself, and to promote the interest of a party favouring such things? Or that he should seem earnestly desirous to increase the number of them, as the Pharisees compassed sea and land to make one proselyte*? I might mention many other things, which will naturally arise in such circumstances. He must have but slightly considered buman nature, who thinks that such things as these cannot arise in this manner, without any supernatural interposition of divine power.
As from true divine love flow all Christian affections, so from counterfeit love naturally flow other false affections. In both cases, love is the fountain, and the other affections are the streams. The various faculties, principles, and affections of the human nature, are as it were many channels from one fountain. If there be sweet water in the fountain, sweet water will flow out into those various channels; but if the water in the fountain be poisonous, then poisonous streams will also flow into all those channels. So that the channels and streams will be alike, corresponding one with another; but the great difference will lie in the nature of the water. Or man's nature may be compared to a tree with many branches, coming from one root: if the sap in the root be good, there will also be good sap distributed throughout the branches, and the fruit brought forth will be good and wholesome; but if the sap in the root and stock be poisonous, so it will be in many branches, and the fruit will be deadly. The tree in both cases may be alike ; there may be an exact resemblance in shape; but the difference is found only in eating the fruit. It is thus, in some measure at least, oftentimes between saints and hypocrites. There is sometimes a very great similitude between true and false experiences in their appearance, and in what is expressed by the subjects of them; the difference between them is much like the difference between the dreams of Pharaoh's chief butler and baker. They seemed to be much alike, insomuch that when Joseph interpreted the chief butler's dream, that he should be delivered from his imprisonment, and restored to the king's favour, and his honourable office in the palace, the chief baker had raised hopes and expectations, and told his dream also. But he was wofully disappointed; for though his dream was so much like the happy and wellboding dream of his companion, yet it was quite contrary in its issue.
"Associating with godly men does not prove that a man has grace: Ahithophel was David's companion. Sorrows for the afflictions of the church, and desires for the conversion of souls, do not prove it. These things may be found in carnal men, and so can be no evidences of grace. (Stoddard's Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 82.)