Imatges de pàgina

concerns them actually to be, while they are only SERM. so in their own fancies and imaginations.


II. I now come to the next fort, namely, those who are apt to judge themselves wholly destitute of sincere love to God, because they do not find those passionate motions of it towards him, as they do towards many inferior objects. And there are fundry considerations, which will be very requisire to be weighed in this case too. As,

1. That certainly the actual exercise of love towards God may be often intermitted, when an habitual propension of heart towards him doth remain. The soul may frequently be put beside the direct acts, and exercise of this duty ; and yet that virtue and principle, which hath touched their hearts, and by gracious vouchfafement is seated there, may still habitually in-, cline them the same way. As the needle touched with the load-stone, is frequently diverted from its direct tendency towards the north ; for being moved it shakes and quavers, and hath its various vibrations this way and that, yet there is a virtue in it that will bring and reduce it to the right point again. Therefore it is not this, or that act of love towards God, that gives the denomination ; but the habitual propension, and bent of the heart. A man then is to be esteemed a lover of God, according as his heart stands habitually propense to him. But if the denomination depend upon this, or the other act;


VOL, then a man would cease to be a lover of God,
I. as often as he loveth, or thinketh of any one else,

or is diverted from it by this or that though
never fo necessary an occasion. And again,

2. It is very necessary, that we consider the
act and the passion of love as very distinguishable,
or different things. The act of love in a rea-
sonable intelligent creature, is nothing else but
the complacential motion of the will towards
this or that object, that is apprehended amiable,
or worthy to be loved. The passion of love is
the impression made by an object, upon the ani-
mal and vital spirits of the brain and heart, which,
being sensible, are reflected upon, and by many
are taken notice of (through a great mistake) as
if the very notion and being of love was placed
there. Whereas the whole entire nature of di-
vine love is separable from that passion, and may
be without it; otherwise if passion were of the
effence of love, it were altogether impossible, that
the separate foul should be capable of loving
God, or any thing else. This is a mere acci-
dent to our love, and a result that depends upon
our present union with the body; which body is
essentially necessary, neither to our soul, nor to
our love, for both may be without it. And I

3. That those acts which are performed, as I may call it, in the upper region of the foul, and which are more peculiar to its intellectual nature, are as truly discernible, as the paflions are which rebound upon, and affect the body. The acts



of the mind, and of the will, are no more im-SERM, perceptible than the passions ; and it is as possible XI. for me to be able to discern and feel the former, as the latter. Cannot I as well tell that I think such a thought, if I do think it; that I intend and purpose such a thing, if I do really enter. tain in my heart such a refolution, as that I feel the motions that affect my outward man?. If therefore a person with a practical judgement esteems the Blessed God to be his highest and best good, and accordingly chooses him as such, and settles this resolution in his own soul, saying, “ This God shall be my God, my best and “ fupreme good, here will I seek my felicity, “ and take up my rest, and to him will I be an “ entirely devoted one for ever ;” In this per. son certainly lies the substance and essence of love. And is not this perceptible? are not such acts as these capable of being reflected on, and taken notice of, if men would but more frequently turn their eyes inward, and habituate themselves to converse with themselves ? But I further add,

4. That most certain it is, that during our abode in the body, the affections of the soul have more intimately an influence upon it. Such is the close and mysterious union between these two natures of flesh and spirit; that the influences between the one and the other are reciprocal. And therefore it is that the very temper or complexion of our souls doth so naturally, some way or other, represent it self in the outward man, as that it is very difficult, almoft impossible, to

VOL. hide and conceal what are the sentiments of our I.

spirits upon certain occasions. Whence it hath grown into a maxim, that the face is the cha. racter of the mind *. How hard is it for a man not to betray guilt in his countenance, if he has the sense of it in his own mind and heart t! And therefore we should consider with our selves, how our affections work towards God; even according to the usual way, wherein human affections are wont to shew and discover themselves. For I add,

5. That even spiritual, holy affections, such as respect the invisible God, and other inviGble objects, do frequently fo work in those pious fouls in whom they are, as to make very great and deep impressions upon the body, and are accompanied with such passionate expressions, as are discernible, even to the inferior senses which belong to the animal nature. Let passages of Scripture to this purpose be looked into. How was the Psalmist affected and wrought upon by one affection towards God, when he tells us, My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgements k. There is a proportion between fear and love, in this case. As for love, the same devout Pfalmist says, My soul tbirftetb for tbee, O GOD! yea my fleso longetb for thee! And again, My beart and my flesh crieth out for the living God ". Now these are not to be understood as mere rhetorical strains;

for * Vultus eft index animi. Heu, quam difficile eft crimen non prodere vultu !

m LXXXIV. 2.

PS. cxix. 120.



for indeed they are not so, but do plainly carry


XI. this signification with them, that though the flesh be more immediately incapable of desire, of thirsting, and longing after God, whereof the soul alone is primarily capable, yet, mediately, the flesh partakes thereof. That is, the heart and soul did so much long after God, that the flesh was affected and bore the impression of that vehement desire, which was in the soul, as in its original and proper seat. We are therefore to consider, that even the more passionate workings of love towards God are very agreeable to that kind of affection, which in respect to the object, and principle of it, is fpiritual and divine. And therefore,

6. It must further be added, that if persons be

very, apt to be passionately affected in other kinds, and towards other objects, but do always find themselves dull, and insensible of such motions towards God and invisible things, they have a great deal of reason to suspect themselves to be under a very bad distemper. Indeed, when persons are equally, and alike, unapt to feel such passionate resentments in their hearts towards any kind of objects, the matter is quite otherwise. But if they can ordinarily say, “ feel my love to work towards the creature, a “ relation, or other amiable object in this and " that passionate manner ; but I can feel no love “ working towards God," they are far from being in a good condition. They have, at least, a good deal of reason to suspect, that a distemper


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »