report," through terrors and temptations, through a sea and a wilderness, through fiery serpents and sons of Anak; yet if the heart love Christ indeed, and conclude that Heaven is its home, nothing shall be able totally to discourage it from hastening thither, whither Christ the fore-runner is gone before.

Secondly, The true love of Christ is grounded upon the evidence of that propriety which the soul hath unto him, and of that mutual inhabitation and possession which is between them: so that our love unto him, in this regard, is a kind of self-love (and therefore very strong), because Christ and a Christian are but one P. And the more persuasion the soul hath of this unity, the more must it needs love Christ. "For we love him, because he loved us first." And therefore our Saviour, from the woman's apprehension of God's more abundant love in the remission of her many and great sins, concludeth the measure and proportion of her love to him: "But," saith he, "to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little"."

Now true love of Christ and his kingdom, thus grounded, will undoubtedly manifest itself, first, in a universal extent unto any thing wherein Christ is present unto his Church.

First, The soul, in this case, will abundantly love and cherish the Spirit of Christ, entertain with dearest embraces, as worthy of all acceptation, the motions and dictates, and secret elapses of him into the soul; will be careful to hear his voice always behind him, prompting and directing him in the way he should walk; will endeavour with all readiness and pliableness of heart, to receive the impression of his seal, and the testimony which he giveth in the inner man unto all God's promises; will fear and suspect nothing more, than the frowardness of his own nature, which daily endeavoureth to quench, grieve, resist, rebel against this Holy Spirit, and to fling off from his conduct again.

Secondly, The soul, in this case, will abundantly love the ordinances of God (in which, by his Spirit, he is still walking in the midst of the churches); for the law is written in it by the finger of God; so that there is a suitableness and

Cant. ii. 16.

P John xiv. 23, and xvii. 21, 23.

r Luke vii. 47.

1 John iv. 16, 19.


coincidency between the law of God, and the heart of such a man. He will receive the Word in the purity thereof, and not give way to those human inventions which adulterate it, to that spiritual treason of wit and fancy, or of heresy and contradiction, which would stamp the private image and superscription of a man upon God's own coin, and torture the Scriptures to confess that which was never in them. He will receive the Word in the power, majesty, and authority thereof,-suffering it like thunder to discover the forest, and to drive out all those secret corruptions, which sheltered themselves in the corners or deceit of his heart. He will delight to have his imaginations humbled, and his fleshly reasons nonplussed, and all his thoughts subdued unto the obedience of Christ. He will receive the Word as a wholesome potion, to that very end, that it may search his secret places, and purge out those tough and incorporated lusts, which hitherto he had not prevailed against. He will take heed of hardening his heart, that he may not hear of rejecting the counsel of God against himself,-of thrusting away the Word from him,-of setting up a resolved will of his own against the call of Christ,-as of most dangerous downfals to the soul. Lastly, he will receive the Word in the spiritualness thereof, subscribing to the closest precepts of the law, suffering it to cleanse his heart unto the bottom. He will let the consideration of God's command preponderate and over-rule all respects of fear, love, profit, pleasure, credit, compliancy, or any other charm to disobedience. He will be contented to be led in the narrowest way, to have his secretest corruption revealed and removed, to expose his conscience with patience under the saving, though severest blows of this spiritual sword. In one word, he will deny the pride of his own wit; and if it be the evident truth of God which is taught him, though it come naked, and without any dressings or contributions of human fancy, he will distinguish between the author and the instrument, between the treasure and the vessel in which it comes, and from any hand receive it with such awful submission of heart, as becometh God's own word.

Thirdly, The soul, in this case, will most dearly love every member of Christ: for these two, the love of Christ, and of his members, do infallibly accompany one another. For though there be a far higher proportion of love due unto Christ than

unto men, yet our love to our brethren is, 'quoad nos' and 'à posteriori,' not only the evidence, but even the measure of our love to Christ. "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" saith the apostle. He that hath not love enough in him for a man like himself, how can he love God, whose goodness, being above our knowledge, requireth transcendency in our love? This then is a sure rule ;-he that loveth not a member of Christ, loveth not Him; and he who groweth in his love to his brethren, groweth likewise in his love to Christ. For as there is the same proportion of one to five, as there is of twenty to an hundred, though the number be far less; as the motion of the shadow upon the dial, answereth exactly to that proportion of motion and distance, which the sun hath in the firmament, though the sun goeth many millions of miles when the shadow (it may be) moveth not the breadth of a hand; so though our love to Christ ought to be a far more abundant love than to any of his members; yet certain it is, that the measure of our progress in brotherly love is punctually answerable to the growth of our love to Christ.

Which are

Thirdly, A true grounded love unto Christ, will show itself in the right manner or conditions of it. principally these three :

"Grace be

1. It must be an incorrupt and sincere love. upon all those that love the Lord Jesus, iv papoía, 'in incorruption' or sincerity, saith the apostle *; that is, on those who love not in word or outward profession and stipulation only, but in deed and truth, or in the permanent constitution of the inner man; which moveth them to love him always and in all things, to hate every false way, to set the whole heart, the study, purpose, prayer, and all the activity of our spirits against every corruption in us, which standeth at enmity with him and his kingdom.

2. It must be a principal and superlative love, grounded upon the experience of the soul in itself, that there is ten thousand times more beauty and amiableness in him, than in all the honours, pleasures, profits, satisfactions which the world can afford; that, in comparison or competition with him,

+ Eph. vi. 24.

1 John iv. 20.

the dearest things of this world, the parents of our body, the children of our flesh, the wife of our bosom, the blood in our veins, the heart in our breast, must not only be laid down and lost as sacrifices, but hated as snares when they draw us away from him.

3. It must be an unshared and uncommunicable love, without any corrivals: for Christ as he is unto us all in all, so he requireth to have all our affections fixed upon him. As the rising of the sun drowneth all those innumerable stars which did shine in the firmament before; so must the beauty of this sun of righteousness' blot out, or else gather together unto itself, all those scattered affections of the soul, which were, before, cast away upon meaner objects.

Lastly, True love unto Christ will show itself in the natural and genuine effects of so strong and spiritual grace. Some of the principal I before named, unto which we may add,

First, A universal, cheerful, and constant obedience to his holy commandments. "If a man," saith Christ, "love me, he will keep my commandments; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."" There is a twofold love; a love which descends, and a love which ascends; a love of bounty and beneficence, and a love of duty and service. So then, as a father doth then only in truth love his child, when, with all care, he provideth for his present education and future subsistence; so a child doth then truly love his father, when, with all reverence and submission of heart, he studieth to please and to do him service. And this love, if it be free and ingenuous, by how much the more, not only pure and equal in itself, but also profitable unto him the commandment is, by so much the more carefully will it endeavour the observation thereof. And therefore since the soul of a Christian knows, that as God himself is good, and doth good; so his law (which is nothing but a ray and glimpse of his own holiness) is likewise good in itself, and doth good unto those which walk uprightly; it is hereby inflamed to a more sweet and serious obedience thereunto; in the keeping whereof, there is for the present so much sweetness; and in the future so great a

u John xiv. 24.

x Psal. cxix. 68.

y Micah ii. 7. Isai. xlv. 19.

[ocr errors]

reward. "Thy word," saith the psalmist, "is very pure; therefore thy servant loveth it."a

Secondly, A free, willing, and cheerful suffering for him and his gospel. "Unto you," saith the apostle," it is given. in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." We see how far a human love, either of their country, or of vain-glory, hath transported some heathen men, to the devoting and casting away their own lives: how much more should a spiritual love of Christ put courage into us to bear all things, and "to endure all things" (as the apostle speaks ")" for him," who bare our sins, and our stripes, and our burdens for us, which were heavier than all the world could lay on! And this was the inducement of that holy martyr Polycarpe, to die for Christ, notwithstanding all the persuasions of the persecutors, who, by his apostasy, would fain have cast the more dishonour upon Christian religion, and, as it were, by sparing him, have the more cunningly persecuted that: "This eighty-six years," saith he, "I have served him; and he never, in all that time, hath done me any hurt; why should I be so ungrateful as not to trust him in death, who in so long a life hath never forsaken me?"-"I am persuaded, saith the apostle', "that neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Nothing able to turn away his love from us, and therefore nothing should be able to quench our love to him. "Many waters," that is, by the usual expression of the holy scriptures, many afflictions, persecutions, temptations, "cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”i


Thirdly, A zeal and jealous contention for the glory, tru worship, and ways of Christ. Wicked men pretend much

a Psal. cxix. 140.

b Phil. i. 29.

c Tertul.


Psal. xix. 7, 11. Apolog. cap. ult. a1 Cor. xiii. 7. e Ογδοήκοντα καὶ ἐξ ἔτη δουλεύω αὐτῷ, καὶ οὐδέ με ἠδίκησε· καὶ πῶς δύναμαι βλασφημῆσαι τὸν βασιλέα μου τὸν aeowkóra pe. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 4. cap. 14. Πῦρ, καὶ σταυρὸς, θηρίων τε συστάσεις, ἀνατομαὶ, διαιρέσεις, σκορπισμοὶ ὀστέων, συγκοπαὶ μελῶν, ἀλυσμοὶ ὅλου τοῦ σώματος, καὶ κόλασις τοῦ διαβόλου ἐπ ̓ ἐμὲ ἐρχέσθω, μόνον ἵνα Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐπιτύχω. Ignat. Ep. ad Rom. Ζῶν γὰρ γράφω ὑμῖν, ἐρῶν τοῦ διὰ Χριστὸν ἀποθανεῖν. ὁ ἐμὸς ἔρως ἐσταύρωται, &c. Ilid.

s Rom.

i Can

h Psal. lxix. 1, 2, and cxxiv. 4, 5. Isai. viii. 7.

viii. 38, 39. ticles viii. 7.

« ElőzőTovább »