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good works. And this was the great thing wanting in the luke-warm Laodiceans. (Rev. iii. 15, 16, 19.)
I have mentioned but a few texts, out of an innumerable multitude, which place religion very much in the affections. But what has been observed may be sufficient to shew, that they who maintain the contrary, must throw away what we have been wont to own- for our Bible, and get some other rule by which to judge of the nature of religion.
5. The scriptures represent true religion, as being summarily comprehended in love, the chief of the affections, and the fountain of all others. So our blessed Saviour represents the matter, in answer to the lawyer who asked him, Which was the great commandment of the law ? (Matth. xxii. 37–40.) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. These two commandments comprehend all the duty prescribed in the law and the prophets. And the apostle Paul makes the same representation of the matter; as in Rom. xiij. 8. He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law. And verse 10. Love is the fulfilling of the law. And Gal. v. 17. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. So likewise in 1 Tim. i. 5. Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, &c. The same apostle speaks of love, as the greatest thing in religion, as the essence and soul of it; without which, the greatest knowledge and gifts, the most glaring profession, and every thing else which appertains to religion, are vain and worthless. He also represents it as the fountain from whence proceeds all that is good, in 1 Cor. xiii. throughout; for that which is there rendered charity, is in the original cycan, the proper English of which is love.
Now, although it be true, that the love thus spoken of, in: cludes the whole of a sincerely benevolent propensity of the soul towards God and man; yet, it is evident from what has been before observed, that this propensity or inclination of the soul, when in sensible and vigorous exercise, becomes affection, and is no other than affectionate love. And surely it is such vigorous and fervent love, which Christ represents as the sum of all religion, when he speaks of loving God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds, and our Deighbour as ourselves.
lodeed it cannot be supposed, when this affection of love is spoken of as the sum of all religion, that hereby is meant the act, exclusive of the habit, or that the exercise of the understanding is excluded, which is implied in all reasonable affection. But it is doubtless true, and evident from the scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love; and that in this divine affection--and habitual disposition to it, that light which is the foundation of it, and those things which are its fruits-consists the whole of religion.
From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that great part of true religion consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of them, and the fountain of all the others. From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in: and from the various exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude, anger, &c. From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections ; hence will arise an intense hatred and a fear of sin; a dread of God's displeasure; gratitude to God for his goodness; complacence and joy in God when he is graciously and sensibly present; grief when he is absent; a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is expected; and fervent zeal for the divine glory. In like manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other virtuous affections towards them.
6. The religion of the most eminent saints of whom we have an account in the scripture, consisted much in holy affections.- I shall take particular notice of three eminent saints, who have expressed the frame and sentiments of their own hearts, described their own religion, and the manner of their intercourse with God in the writings which they have left us, and which are a part of the sacred canon.
The first instance is David, that man after God's own heart; who has given us a lively portraiture of his religion in the book of Psalms. Those holy songs are nothing else but the expressions and breathings of devout and holy affections ; such as an humble and fervent love to God, admiration of his glorious perfections and wonderful works, earnest desires, thirstings, and pantings of soul after him; delight and joy in God, a sweet and melting gratitude for his great goodness, an holy exultation and triumph of soul in his favour, sufficiency, and faithfulness; his love to, and delight in the saints the excellent of the earth, his great delight in the word and ordinances of God, his grief for his own and others sins, and bis fervent zeal for God, and against the enemies of God and his church. And these expressions of holy affection of which the Psalms of David are every where full, are the more to our present purpose, because those psalms are not only the expres sions of the religion of so eminent a saint, but were also, by the direction of the Holy Ghost, penned for the use of the church of God in its public worship, not only in that age,
but in after ages; as being fitted to express the religion of all saints, in all ages, as well as the religion of the psalmist. And it is moreover to be observed, that David, in the book of Psalms, speaks not as a private person, but as the Psalmist of Israel, as the subordinate head of the church of God, and leader in their worship and praises; and in many of the psalms, he speaks in the name of Christ, as personating him in these breathings forth of holy affection; and in many others he speaks in the name of the church.
Another instance I shall observe, is the apostle Paul ; who was, in many respects, the chief of all the ministers of the New Testament; being above all others a chosen vessel unto Christ, to bear his name before the Gentiles. He was made the chief instrument of propagating and establishing the Christian church in the world, and of distinctly revealing the glorious mysteries of the gospel, for the instruction of the church in all ages; and (as not improbably thought by some) was the most eminent servant of Christ that ever lived, and received the highest rewards in the heavenly kingdom of his Master. By what is said of bin in the scripture, he appears to have been a person full of affection; and it is very manifest, that the religion he expresses in his epistles, consisted very much in holy affections. It appears by all his expressions of bimself, that he was, in the course of his life, inflamed, actuated, and entirely swallowed up, by a most ardent love to his glorious Lord, esteeming all things as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of him, and esteeming them but dung that he might win him. He represents himself as overpowered by this holy affection, and as it were compelled by it to go forward in his service, through all difficulties and sufferings, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. And his epistles are full of expressions of an overflowing affection towards the people of Christ: he speaks of his dear love to them, 2 Cor. xii. 19. Phil. iv, 1. 2 Tim, i. 2. of his abundant love, 2 Cor. ii. 4.; and of his affectionate and tender love, as of a nurse towards her children, i Thess. ij. 7, 8. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. So also be speaks of his bowels of love, Phil. i. 8. Phileni. 5. 12. and 20. of his earnest care for others, 2 Cor. viii. 16. of his bowels of pity or mercy towards them, Phil. ii. 1.; and of his concern for others, even to anguish of heart, 2 Cor. ii. 4. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote unto you with many tears; not that you should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. He speaks of the great conflict of his soul for them, Col. ii. 1. and of great and continual grief he had in his heart from compassion to the Jews, Rom. ix. 2. He speaks of his mouth being opened, and his heart enlarged towards christians; 2 Cor. vi. 11. Oye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. He often speaks of his affectionate and longing desires, (i 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. ånd 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 cxpectation, 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 tlirough 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, ver. 31.
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 bim in the mount at his transfiguration, and at the raising of Jairus' daughter, and whom he took with him when he was in bis 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 be 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 bis 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 Lord 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, und 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