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high above any thing of the nature of inspiration, or revelation of hidden facts by suggestion of the Spirit of God, which many natural men have had. What is the earnest and beginning of glory, but grace itself, especially in the more lively and clear exercises of it? It is not prophecy, nor tongues, nor knowledge, but that more excellent thing, charity that never faileth, which is a beginning of the light, sweetness, and blessedness of heaven, that world of love or charity. Grace is the seed of glory; the earnest of the future inheritance. What is the beginning or earnest of eternal life in the soul, but spiritual life? and what is that but grace? The inheritance that Christ has purchased for the elect, is the Spirit of God; not in any extraordinary gifts, but in his vital indwelling in the heart, exerting and communicating himself there, in his own proper, holy or divine nature. The Father provides the Saviour, and the purchase is made of him; the Son is the purchaser and the price; and the Holy Spirit is the great blessing or inheritance purchased, as is intimated, Gal. ii. 13, 14. and hence the Spirit is often spoken of as the sum of the blessings promised in the gospel*. · This inberitance was the grand legacy which Christ left bis disciples and church, in his last will and testament, John, chap. xiv. xv. xvi. This is the sum of the blessings of eternal life, which shall be given in heavent. It is through the vital communications and indwelling of the Spirit, that the saints have all their light, life, holiness, beauty, and joy in heaven: and it is through the vital communications and indwelling of the same Spirit, that the saints have all light, life, holiness, beauty and comfort on earth ; but only conmunicated in less measure. And this vital indwelling of the Spirit in the saints, in this less measure, is the earnest of the Spirit, the earnest of the future inheritance, and the firstfruits of the Spirit, as the apostle call it, Rom. viii. 22. where, by the first-fruits of the Spirit, the apostle undoubtedly means the same vital gracious principle, that he speaks of in all the preceding part of the chapter, which he calls Spirit, and sets in opposition to flesh or corruption. Therefore this earnest of the Spirit, and first-fruits which has been shewn to be the same with the seal of the Spirit, is his vital, gracious, sanctifying influence, and not any immediate suggestion or revelation of factst.
* “ Luke xxiv. 49. Acts i. 4. and chap. ii. 38, 39. Gal. ii. 14. Eph. i. 13.
Compare John vii. 37, 38, 39, and John iv. 14, with Rev. xxi, 6. and xxii. 1, 17.
† “ After a man is in Christ, not to judge by the work, is not to judge hy the Spirit. For the apostle makes the earnesi or the Spirit 10 be the seal. Now, ear. nest is part of the money bargained for ; the beginning of heaven, of the light and life of it. He that sees not that the Lord is his by thal, sees no God his at all. On therefore, do not look for a spirit, without a word to reveal, nor a word to reveal, without seeing and feeling of some work first. I thank the Lord, I do but pity those that think otherwise. li a sheep of Christ, oh, wander pol. Shep. ard's Par. P. I. p. 86.
And indeed the apostle, when (Rom. viii. 16.) he speaks of the Spirit bearing witness with our Spirit, that we are the children of God, sufficiently explains himself. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God: for ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear : but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father: the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God. Here, what the apostle says, if we take it together, plainly shews, that what he has respect to, when he speaks of the Spirit giving us witness or evidence that we are God's children, is his dwelling in us, and leading us, as a spirit of adoption, or of a child, disposing us to behave towards God as to a Father. And wbat is that, but the spirit of love ? There are two kind sof spirits of which the apostle speaks, the spirit of bondage, that is fear ; and the spirit of adoption, and that is love. The apostle says, we have not received the Spirit of bondage, or of slaves, which is a spirit of fear ; but we have received the more ingenuous, noble spirit of children, a spirit of love, which naturally disposes us to go to God, as children to a father. And this is the witness which the Spirit of God gives us that we are children. This is the plaiu sense of the apostle. The Spirit of bondage works by fear, the slave fears the rod; but love cries Abba, Father; it disposes us to go to God, and behave ourselves as children. So that the witness of the Spirit of which the apostle speaks, is far from being any whisper, or immediate suggestion; but is that gracious, holy effect of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the saints, the disposition and temper of children, appearing in sweet child-like love to God, which casts out fear. It is plain the apostle speaks of the Spirit, over and over again, as dwelling in the hearts of the saints, as a gracious principle, in opposition to the flesh or corruption; as in the words that immediately introduce this passage, ver. 13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die : but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live.
Indeed, it is past doubt with me, that the apostle has a more special respect to the spirit of grace, or of love, or the spirit of a child, in its more lively actings; for it is perfect love or strong love only, which so witnesses, or evidences that we are children, as to cast out fear, and wholly deliver from the spirit of bondage. The strong and lively exercises of evangelical, humble love to God, give clear evidence of the soul's relation to God, as his child ; which very greatly and directly satisfies the soul. And though it be far from true, that the soul in this case judges only by an immediate witness, without any sign or evidence; yet the saint stands in no need of multiplied signs, or any long reasoning upon them. And though the sight of his relative union with God, and being in his favour, is not without a medium, viz. his love; yet his sight of the union of his heart to God is immediate. Love, the bond of union, is seen intuitively; the saint sees and feels plainly the union between his soul and God; it is so strong and lively, that he cannot doubt of it. And hence he is assured that he is a child. How can he doubt whether he stands in a childlike relation to God, when he plainly sees a child-like union between God and his soul, and hence cries Abba, Father.
And whereas the apostle says, the Spirit bears witness with our spirits : by our spirit here, is meant our conscience, which is called the spirit of man; Prov. xx. 27. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly. We elsewhere read of the witness of this Spirit, or of conscience, 2 Cor. i. 12. For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience. And 1 John iii. 19–21. And hereby do we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him., For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. When the apostle Paul speaks of the Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit, he does not mean two separate, collateral, independent witnesses, but that by one, we receive the witness of the other. The Spirit of God gives the evidence, by infusing and shedding abroad the love of God, the spirit of a child, in the heart; and our spirit, or our conscience, receives and declares this evidence for our rejoicing.
Many mischiefs have arisen from that false and delusive notion of the witness of the Spirit, that it is a kind of joward voice, suggestion, or declaration from God to a man, that he is beloved, pardoned, elected, or the like, sometimes with, and sometimes without a text of scripture; for many have been the false and vain (though very high) affections that have arisen from hence. It is to be feared that multitudes of souls have been eternally undone by it; I have therefore insisted the longer on this head. But I proceed now to a second characteristic of gracious affections.
The first objective ground of gracious affections, is the transcend
ently excellent and amiable nature of divine things, as they are in themselves ; and not any conceived relation they bear to self, or self-interest.
I say, that the supremely excellent nature of divine things is the first, or primary and original objective foundation of the spiritual affections of true saints; for I do not suppose that all relation which divine things bear to themselves, and their own particular interest, are wholly excluded from all influence in their gracious affections. For this may have, and indeed has, a secondary and consequential influence in those affections that are truly holy and spiritual; as I shall shew by and by.
It was before observed, that the affection of love is as it were the fountain of all affection; and particularly, that Christian love is the fountain of all gracious affections. Now the divine excellency of God, and of Jesus Christ, the word of God, his works, ways, &c. is the primary reason, why a true saint loves these things; and not any supposed interest that he has in them, or any conceived benefit that he has received, or shall receive from em.
Some say that divine love arises from self-love ; and that it is impossible in the nature of things, for any man to love God, or any other being, but that love to himself must be the foundation of it. But I humbly suppose, it is for want of consideration they say so. They argue, that whoever loves God, and so desires his glory, or the enjoyment of him, desires these things as his own happiness; the glory of God, and the beholding and the enjoying of his perfections, are considered as things agreeable to him, tending to make him happy; he places his happiness in them, and desires them as objects which, if obtained, would fill him with delight and joy, and so make him happy. And so, they say, it is from self-love, or a desire of his own happiness, that he desires God should be glorified, and desires to behold and enjoy his glorious perfections. But then they ought to consider a little further, and inquire how the man came to place his happiness in God's being glorified, and in contemplating and enjoying God's perfections. There is no doubt, but that after God's glory, and beholding his perfections, are become agreeable to him, he will desire them, as he desires his own happiness. But how came these things to be so agreeable to him, that he esteems it his highest happiness to glorify God, &c. ? is not this the fruit of love? Must not a man first love God, or have his heart united to him, VOL. V.
before he will esteem God's good his own, and before he will desire the glorifying and enjoying of God, as his happiness? It is not strong arguing, because after a man has bis heart united to God in love, and, as a fruit of this, he desires his glory and enjoyment as his own happiness, that therefore a desire of this happiness must needs be the cause and foundation of his love, unless it be strong arguing, that because a father begat a son, therefore his son certainly begat him. If after a man loves God, it will be a consequence and fruit of this, that even love to his own happiness will cause him to desire the glorifying and enjoying of God; it will not thence follow, that this very exercise of self-love, went before his love to God, and that his love to God was a consequence and fruit of that. Something else, entirely distinct from selflove, might be the cause of this, viz. a change made in the views of his mind, and relish of his heart; whereby he apprehends a beauty, glory, and supreme good, in God's nature, as it is in itself. This may be the thing that first draws his heart to him, and causes his heart to be united to him, prior to all considerations of his own interest or happiness, although after this, and as a fruit of it, he necessarily seeks his interest and happiness in God.
There is a kind of love or affection towards persons or things, which does properly arise from self-love. A preconceived relation to himself, or some respect already manifested by another to him, or some benefit already received or depended on, is truly the first foundation of his love; what precedes any relish of, or delight in, the nature and qualities inberent in the being beloved, as beautiful and amiable. When the first thing that draws a man's benevolence to another, is the beholding of those qualifications and properties in him, which appear to him lovely in themselves, love arises in a very different manner, than when it first arises from some gift bestowed by another, as a judge loves and favours a man that has bribed him; or from the relation he supposes another has to him, as a man who loves his child. When love to another arises thus, it arises truly and properly from self-love.
That kind of affection to God or Jesus Christ, which thus properly arises from self-love, cannot be a truly gracious and spiritual love; as appears from what has been said already. For selflove is a principle entirely natural, and as much in the hearts of devils as angels; and therefore surely nothing that is the mere result of it, can be supernatural and divine, in the mannerobefore described*. Christ plainly speaks of this kind of love, as what is nothing beyond the love of wicked men, Luke vi. 32. If
"There is a patural love to Christ, as to one that doth thee good, and for thine owo ends; and spiritual, for himself, whereby the Lord only is exalted." SHEPARD's Par. of the Ten Virgins, P. I. p, 25.