it therein strives for excellency and perfection: and this rule holds most true in religion, because when the soul loves that, it loves it under the apprehension of the greatest good, and therefore, by consequence, sets the strongest and most industrious desires of the soul upon it. Therefore the apostle saith, that "the love of Christ," namely, that love of him which is by the Holy Ghost shed abroad in our hearts,' constraineth us to live unto him, and to aspire after him 'who died for us and rose again.' Love is as strong as death; it will take no denial. It is the wing and weight of the soul, which fixeth all the thoughts, and carrieth all the desires unto an intimate unity with the thing it loves, stirreth up a zeal to remove all obstacles which stand between it,-worketh a languor or failing of nature in the want of it, a liquefaction and softness of nature to receive the impressions of it, an egress of the spirits, and, as it were, a haste of the soul to meet and entertain it. Whence those expressions of the saints in holy Scripture, "Comfort me with apples, stay me with flaggons, for I am sick of love: My soul breaketh for the longing which it hath unto thy judgments at all times".-The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. My soul thirsteth for God, yea, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?-We that have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, even the redemption of our bodies".-O that my ways were directed, that I might keep thy commandments; with my whole heart have I sought thee; I have stuck unto thy testimonies; I will delight myself in thy commandments; thy statutes have been my songs; my soul fainteth for thy salvation"," &c. By all which we see, that a true love of Christ doth excite strong desires, and an earnest aspiring and ambition of the soul to walk in all well-pleasing, and to be in all things conformable unto him. What the apostle saith of spiritual hope, we may truly say of love (which is the fundamental affection and root of all the

• Amor concupiscentiæ non requicscit in quacunque extrinsecâ aut superficiali adeptione amati, sed quærit amatum perfectè habere, quasi ad intime illius perveniens, &c. Aquin. la. 2æ. qu. 28. art. 2. vid. id. art. 4 et 5. y Psalm xlii. 2.

u Psalm cxix. 20. * Isaiah xxvi. 8. a Psalm cxix. 5, 10, 31, 47, 54, 81, &c.

t Cant. ii. 5. Rom. viii. 13.

rest); he that hath it indeed in him, "purgeth himself even as Christ is pure." The love of the world, and the things and lusts of the world, may, indeed, consist with the formal profession, but no way with the truth or power of a true love to Christ or his government. For love is ever the principle and measure of all our actions; such as it is, such likewise will they be too.

Fourthly, Something like love there may be in natural men unto Christ, grounded upon the historical assurance and persuasion of his being now in glory, attended by mighty angels, filled with all the treasures of wisdom, knowledge, grace, power, and other excellent attributes, which can attract love even from an enemy; and that he hath, and still doth procure such good things for mankind, in their deliverance from the guilt of sin, and from the wrath to come, as of which, might they but have an exemption from his spiritual government, and a dispensation to live according to their own lusts still, no man should be more greedily desirous. As Samson met the lion as an enemy, when he was alive; but after he was slain, he went unto him as to a table; there was only terror while he lived, but honey when he was dead :—so doubtless, many men, to whom the bodily presence of Christ, and the mighty power and penetration of his heavenly preaching, whereby he smote sinners unto the ground, and spake with such authority as never man spake, would have been unsufferably irksome, and full of terror (as it was unto the Scribes and Pharisees), can yet, now that he is out of their sight, and doth, not in person, but only by those who are his witnesses, torment the inhabitants of the earth, pretend much admiration, and thankful remembrance of that death of his, which was so full of honey for all that come unto him. For as particular dependencies and expectations may make a man flatter and adore the greatness of some living potentate, whose very image, notwithstanding, the same man doth professedly abominate in other tyrants of the world who are dead, or upon

b Quodlibet agens propter amorem agit quodcunque agit. Aquin. la, 2æ. qu. 28. art. 6. c Securus licet Æneam Rutulumque ferocem Committas : nulli gravis est percussus Achilles.-Quid refert dictis ignoscat Mucius, annon? Pone Tigellinum tædâ lucebis in illâ, Qua stantes ardent, qui fixo gutture fumant, &c. Juvenal. Satir. 1.

whom he hath not the same ends;-so the self-same reason may make men, in hypocritical expressions, flatter and fawn upon Christ himself who is absent, and yet hate with a perfect hatred the very image of his Spirit, in the power of his word, and in the lives of his people. The very Scribes and Pharisees, who blasphemed his Spirit, and contrived his death, could yet be contented to be gainers thereby; for so they confess, "It is expedient for us, that one die for the people."

Lastly, A false love to Christ may be grounded upon a false conceit of love to his ordinances. For as it is certain, that he who loves the word and worship of Christ, as his, doth love him too, who is the author of them;-so it is certain likewise, that that love which is sometimes pretended unto them, may indeed in them fix upon nothing but accidental and by-respects. "This people," saith the Lord to his prophet, "come and sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness." Here is love in pretence, but falsehood in the heart: What then was it in which they did thus love the prophet? That presently follows: "Thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument." That is, it is not my will which in thy ministry they at all regard, but only those circumstantial ornaments of graceful action and elocution, which they attend with just a like proportion of sensual delight, as an ear doth the harmony of a well-tuned instrument. For as a man may be much affected with the picture of his enemy, if drawn by a skilful hand, and yet therein love nothing of the person, but only the cunning of the workman who drew the piece;-so a man who hates the life and spirit of the word of God itself, as being diametrically contrary to that spirit of lust and of the world which rules in him, may yet be so wonderfully taken with that dexterity of wit, or delicacy of expression, or variety of learning, or sweetness of speech, and action,-or whatsoever other perfection of nature or industry in the dispensers of that word, are most suitable to his natural affections, -as

d Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32.

that he may from thence easily cheat his own conscience, and ground a mispersuasion of his love to God's word, which yet indeed admireth nothing but the perfections of a man. Nay, suppose he meet not with such lenocinia' to entice his affection, yet the very pacification of the conscience, which, by a notorious neglect of God's ordinances, would haply be disquieted, or the credit of bearing conformity to ecclesiastical orders, and the established service of God in his church, or some other the like sinister respect, may hold a man to such an external fair correspondence, as, by a deceitful heart, may easily be misconstrued a love of God's ordinances. Nay, further, a man may externally glory in the privilege of God's oracles; he may distinctly believe, and subscribe to the truth of them; he may therein hear many things gladly, and escape many pollutions of the world; and yet here hence conclude no clearer evidence of his love to Christ in his word, than the unbelieving Jews', or Herod, or Ahab, or Simon Magus, or the foolish virgins and apostates (all which have attained to some of these degrees), could have done.

For the clearing, then, of this great case,-Touching the evidence of a man's love to Christ,-we must first know, that this is not a flower of our own garden,-for every man, by nature, is an enemy to Christ and his kingdom,—of the Jews' mind, "We will not have this man to reign over us." And the reason is, because the image of the old Adam which we bear, is extremely contrary to the heavenly image of the second Adam, unto which we are not born, but must be renewed. And this is certain, our love is according to our likeness: he who hath not the nature and spirit of Christ, can never love him or move towards him. For love is like fire; 'congregat homogenea,' it carrieth things of a nature to one another. Our love, then, unto Christ, must be of a spiritual generation; and it is grounded upon two causes.

First, Upon the proportion which is in him unto all our desires or capacities; upon the evidence of that unsearchable and bottomless goodness which is in him, which makes him the fairest of ten thousand,' even altogether lovely.

Jer. vii. 4. Rom. ii. 17, 20. xxi. 27, 29. i Acts viii. 13.

f Hos. ii. 2, 3. g Mark vi. 20.
k 2 Pet. ii. 20.

h 1 Kings




For that heart which hath a spiritual view of Christ, will be able, by faith, to observe more dimensions of love, and sweetness in him, than the knowledge of any creature is able to measure. In all worldly things, though of never so curious and delicate an extraction, yet still even those hearts, which swim in them and glut upon them, can easily discover more dregs than spirits. Nothing was ever so exactly fitted to the soul of man, wherein there was not some defect, or excess, something which the heart could wish were away, or something which it could desire were tempered with it :-but in Christ and his kingdom, there is nothing unlovely. For as in man the all that is, is full of corruption, so in Christ the all that he is, is nothing but perfection. His fulness is the centre and treasure of the soul of man; and therefore that love which is thereupon grounded, must needs be in the soul as a universal habit and principle, to facilitate every service whereby we move unto this centre; for love is the weight or spring of the soul, which sets every faculty on work; neither are any of those commandments grievous which are obeyed in love; and therefore it is called "the fulfilling of the law." True love unto Christ keeps the whole heart together, and carries it all one way; and so makes it universal, uniform, and constant in all its affections unto God; for unsteadfastness of life proceeds from a divided or double heart ". As in the motions of the heavens, there is one common circumvolution, which 'ex æquo' carrieth the whole frame daily unto one point from east to west, though each several sphere hath a several cross-way of its own, wherein some move with swifter, and others with a slower motion; so though several saints may have their several corruptions, and those likewise in some stronger than in others, yet, being all animated by one and the same Spirit, they all agree in a steady and uniform motion unto Christ. If a stone were placed under the concave of the moon, though there be fire, and air, and water between, yet through them all it would hasten to its own place; so, be the obstacles never so many, or the conditions never so various, through which a man must pass, "through evil report and good

1 Eph. iii. 18, 19. feror. Aug.

n James i. 8.

Amor meus pondus meum; eo feror quocunque

« ElőzőTovább »