Page images

whoever pretends to Know or Love him and keepeth not his Commandments, is a Lyar and the Truth is not in him; But whoso keepeth bis Word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected.

11. But Secondly, As the perfection of Love is Obedience, so on the other hand is Obedience also perfected by Love. That is, all the Duties that we perform must flow from this Fountain, must be deriv'd from this Principle, else they will be of little worth, and never rise to any degree of Perfection. Love, that Humbled God and made him like to Man in Nature, is That alone, which can Exalt Man and make him like to God in Holiness. 'Tis this must give Life and Spirit to all our performances; for 'tis this alone, which will make our Obedience have all the necessary qualifications to make it acceptable in the light of God. For

1st, It is this that will make our Obedience fincere; that is, will direct us to the true End and Scope, which we ought to have ever before our Eyes in all the good Adions which we perform, and that is to Please and Glorify. Almighty God. How many fair Outsides, and Shews of Religion, and Good Works, are there in the World desigo'd only for the World? A great many seemingly very good Actions aiming only at the Praise of Men, as our Saviour long ago has observ'd; and such as these will never be accepted by God, because they are Sacrifices without a Heart: there is wanting the true Soul and Life of all Obedience, the Love of God's Honour and Glory. For he, that for the sake of Applause, or Honour, or Inte:eft, or any other Motive besides This, do's the best Works in the World, do's them not because he Loves God, but because he Loves Himself, and therefore as our Saviour speaks, Verily in that he has his Reward.

2dly, This will make our Obedience, which is another necessary Requisite, Universal and Entire; not choosing only, and being eager for, such Duties, as are most agreeable to our Interests, or Inclinations, or Conftitutions; and neglecting

those, that run cross to any of these, out of a Vain and Impious thought of Compounding for Sins which we delight in, by condemning all those that we hate. No; since God's Authority, equally ftamp'd upon all his Laws, is equally slighted by the breach of any; Gince by every sin of what kind or degree soever, the same Majesty is violated, the fame Goodness despitefully us'd, and the same Love griev'd; Love to the Lawgiver will make us Esteem every Branch of his Law, as equally Obliging.

3dly, This

Bb 3


3dly, This will make our Obedience more Humble; for the nearer we draw to God by Love, the more of his Excellence we shall discover; and the more we see of him, the more humbly it will make us think of ourselves. I have heard of thee, says Holy Job, by the hearing of the Ear, but now my Eyes bave seen thee: Wherefore I abhor my self in Duft and

Asbes. Job 42. s. 'Tis the Nature of Love as of other Fires, the higher its Flame rises, the more to Tremble. But yet this is far from bating at all of its Activity or Heat: For,

4thly, This will make our Obedience Cheerful and Ready, which God highly Values and chiefly Efteems. If we knew how agreeable every Just and Virtuous Action is to the Inherent Perfections of the Divine Nature, and how much that most Excellent Being is pleas’d with such, as Resemblances (tho' very faint Ones) of his own Infinite Excellencies; Nay had we only diftant Surmises or dark Guesses, that he was herein delighted, such dim discoveries only, as Natural Light afforded, of this to the Wise Men and Philosophers of Old; Love would teach us eyen in such a State, without ftayany positive Law, to Offer him

up, of our own Accord, fuch services as the voluntary Expressions of our studying his Ple: sure: and even to prevent Obedience by Love, by first making it our greatest Satil



ing for

faction to please him out of our own Choice, before it became our Duty by his Command: Much less then will Love suffer us Now to be Remiss, or Cold, or Backward, in his Service; Now, when we have such clear Revelations from himself, how we may express our Affections to him, how kindly he will Receive them and how graciously he will Reward them.

Sthly, Love will make our Obedience Easy. This is the Love of God, says St John, that we keep his Commandments, and immediately adds, and his Commandments are not grievous. No certainly not grievous to those that Love him: * No Service too hard, no Undertaking too difficult for Love. And if low and earthly Love, conversant only about mean and perishing Objects, has with such wonderful Alacrity and Courage risen thro' such dangers, and overcome such difficulties, as would be incredible, were there not so many Inftances of it, as all Ages arę Witnesses of; How shall not the Divine and Heavenly Love of that Being, which alone is truly worthy to be lov'd whenever it takes pofsession of our Hearts, break thro' all obstacles that lye in the way of our Duty, overthrow all impediments that would stop our Course cowards God, and intercept our Union with the Beloved? This alone is able

Levis cft Labor Omnis Ainanti.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

to baffle all Temptations, encounter all Dangers, soften all Hardships. And where a Mind, not fir’d with this Celestial warmth, would find innumerable hindrances, and frame to itself insuperable difficulties ; Love either fees or regards them not, or with undaunted Resolution and irresistible Force Conquers and Triumphs over thein.

6thly, This alone can secure our Constancy and Perseverance under the severest Trials and cruellest Persecutions:, This it is that can gladly dye, rather than by Offend ing venture to lose that cheifelt Good, which it pants after and longs to Enjoy. Many Waters cannot drown it, and it is stronger than Death. In short, 'tis this would render our Obedience like to That, which we daily pray for, when we pray, Thy Will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven , that is, with an Obedience Pure, and sincere, and Universal, and Humble, and Cheerful, and Easy, and Zealous, and Conftant, as that of the Blessed Spirits above.

Lastly, Our Service to God, being produc'd by this Noble Principle, will naturally beget a juft Confidence and steady Faith, that the Glorious Reward promis'd to our fincere, tho imperfect Obedience, shall be as great as the Gospel teaches and we expect; nay infinitely greater than we can either defire or conceive. Eye has not feen,


« PreviousContinue »