Page images


Centre to which they both tend and in which they both meet, that from theie agreeing in this one Third, and receiving both their Spirit and Life, as it were from this com, mon Principle, The Apostle seems to look upon em as all One, to confound the One with the other. For as foon as he had laid it down for a Rule, He tbat faith I knowo bim and keepeth not his Commandments in a Lyar, He immediately subjoins, But whefo keepetb His Word, in Him is the Love of God perfected. Where the Natural Connexion shewa us, that He ases these words, as if they were Synonymous and Expressive of the fame Thing. So impossible it seem'd, to this burning as well as shining Light, to Know God and not to Love Him too. But how inseparable soever they may seem to be, as often meeting in the same Subje&t; yet they may be consider'd by the Mind as distinct, both as to the manner of their Operations, which are not only different bat directly Opposite to that of each other, and as to their Precedency or Priority, whereby Knowledge both in Nature and Grace goes before Love. As to their manner of working, the Philosophers tell us, and we may our selves observe, that in the Operation of Knowledge, the Things that we apprehend move as it were and transport themselves towards us; in a manner as if they went out of their proper place

[ocr errors]

: . A a 3


to range themselves in our Underftanding. On the contrary, in the working of Love, our Soul do's as it were go out of it self, eager to be join'd with that it Loves. Thus the things that we know, we make our Own, and take poffeffion of, as it were, as they flow into our Understanding; but the things that we Love make us their Own, take pofsession of Us, thro' the Affection by which we willingly give up our felves to them. Thus by the Knowledge that God is pleas'd to Communicate of himself, He comes into Our Soul and gives himself to Us; and on the other fide, we make ourselves Hís, and give our selves to Him, by the means of that Love we bear to him. But his Good. ness being Infinitely greater , and bearing no proportion or comparison to the scantyness and weakness of that of his Creatures; in this Entercourse between God and our Souls, He ever is the first, He ever prevents our Backwardness and Coldness, which is the Reason that Faith is ever produc'd before Charity, Knowledge before Love; since God always gives himself first to Us, before we can give our selves to Him.

But waving these speculations, which may perhaps seem too nice ; since our Holy Apostle, who beft understood their Nature, joins them both together, or indeed makes thein all one in the words of my Text, calling

That That the Love of God in the latter, which he had calld Knowing him in the former Verse; I shall forbear further to diftinguilh them, but suinm them up both together in Love. Both because by the whole Tenqur of each of these Epiftles, That seems to be chiefly intended by the Apostle, and because Love naturally and unavoidably presupposes and includes Knowledge. For tho we may Know many things, as we are afsur'd the Devils do even God himself, without Loving; yet it is impossible to Love without Knowing, as impossible as it is also, either to Know or Love God aright without keeping his Commandments. He that faith I Know him and keeperb not his Commandments is a Lyar, and the Truth is not in him. But nohoso keepeth his words, in him verily is the Love of God perfe&ted.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

From which words I shall endeavour to shew.

I. That Obedience is the Perfection of the Love of God.

11. That on the other hand, the Love of God only can make our Obedience Perfect.

III. And Lastly, Lay before you the Infinite Obligations which we have to the Love of God, and earnestly exhort you to express it in keeping his Commandments.

I. Obe.

3:11. Obedience is the true and perfect Love of God, which confits not in suddain transient Acts of Complacency and Delight in his Perfections, but a firm purpofe and fercled Resolution to perform his Will. To make this a little more diftinct, we may observe, that God may be said to be lovd by us in a double manner; either confider'd in his Nature as he is the chiefeft Good, or in the exercise of his. Dominion as he is the supreme Lawgiver of the World. The Love of God as he is the chiefett Good, is a desire of Union with God, and enjoying the Divine Goodness: But the Love of God confider'd as a Lawgiver, is the keeping of bis Commandments. For to Love a Lawgiver, as fuch, is nothing else buc to Obey his Laws. God consider'd in the first respect, is Lov'd Necessarily and Unavoidably; For there is a Natural Force and Neceflity, that 'All should Love the Highest Good, nor is it possible for any One to hate or despise Good consider'd as Good. But when we look upon God in the second Respect as a Lawgiver, commanding on one hand divers things ungrateful to Flesh and Blood, and on the other promising Eternal Rewards for the Temporal performance of them; if we then love God it is not with a Necessary but with a Voluntary and Free Love. Because Man, being set as it were in



the middle between the Enjoyment of the Present Seeming Good, with which often his Obedience to the Commandments of God will not confift, and the Hopes of the Real but Future Good, which that Obedience would procure, has freedom of choice which to prefer, and by that choice to express whether he Loves or Hates the Lawgiver and the Law, Now as things that are unavoidable and necessary, cannot be the proper Subjects of a Command, but only those that are Voluntary and in our Power: fo we shall find quite through both the Old and New Testament, that whenever the Love of God is commanded, it is in this latter Sense; That This is the constant Scripture Notion of it, namely an Actual performance of all his Holy Laws. Not that this by any meaus 'excludes the Love of God in the Other Sense, as he is the Fountain and Fullness of all Perfection, but rather supposes it, and has it for its Foundation: The Love of God, as the Supreme Good, being the grand incitement to Love him, as the Supreme Lawgiver. It is not to be deny d, but with all possible Thankfulness to be acknowledg‘d, that throughout the Holy Scriptures, especially in the Poetical and Devotional parts of them, the Infinite Essencial Perfections of God, his Power, his Wisdom, his Goodness, and all his other Glorious 9000


« PreviousContinue »