Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

-}

VOL. your selves necessitated to admit and conclude, I. that love there is not meant of love to God alone,

but of that love which diffuses and spreads it self duly according as the objects are presented or do invite; in which the divine goodness is found, in himself primarily, and derived to this or that creature, and especially to such as bear, as was said, the more lively image and representation of his goodness.

We are not therefore to think, that love to God is one gracious principle, and love to our brother is another gracious principle: but we must know, that it is one and the same gracious principle of holy love which works towards this or that object, according to the excellency and amiableness thereof; that is, proportionably to what I see of divine goodness in it, which is the formal reason of my love. Holy love is the affection of love fanctified; which affection is not many but one, but yet turns it self towards this or that object according as the object claims and requires.

And therefore we find expressly that love to our brethren is resolved into the spirit of holiness, as its original cause, which is the thing that I would mainly, and principally inculcate, that so it may not be looked upon as a thing of an inferior nature; since we are too apt to look with a diminishing eye upon this duty of love to our brethren. It is really one of the fruits of the spirit of holiness, a part of its production in renewed souls. See how expressly the Apostle Peter speaks to this purpose. Seeing ye bave purified

your

your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit, un- Serm. to unfeigned love of the brethren; see that

XIV. love

ye one another with a pure beart fervently . So again we are told, that the end of the commandment is charity (or love, for it is the same word that is rendered sometimes one way and fometimes the other) out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned By the end of the commandment is meant the perfection, the top, the sum of it; or that which does virtually include all that liech within the whole compass of the commandment. And what we are to understand by the word commandment, which is expressed indefinitely, we may see in what follows; namely, that it is the same thing with the . law. The law, says the Apostle, is not made for a righteous man; but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for finners, for the unboly and profane, &ck. which supposes the commandment and law here to be meant of the law in its extent, as it comprehends both tables; not only our duty to God, but to our brother also. And therefore that love which is the coronis and very sum of it, goes to both. Now it is said concerning this love, taken 'thus extenfively, that it must proceed out of a pure heart, and faith unfeigned. It must proceed from that faith, which is peculiar to the regenerate sons of God. They that believe are born of Godi And as many as received him to them gave the power VOL. I.

R

to

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

.

i

VOL. to become the sons of God, even to them that be-
I.

lieve in his name; which were born not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of Godk. Now this same faith is the im.
mediate production of the spirit in the work of
regeneration. It works out into love, and even
into that love, which exercises it self upon our
brother. Love to him, I say, must proceed
from faith unfeigned. Therefore when the ex-
ercise of love was required by our Saviour, in for-
giving an offending brother; and the question
was put, how often they should forgive? and he
replies, unto seventy times seven; presently the
disciples, as knowing the great need and exigency
of the case, faid Lord increase our faith! There
needs much faith in order to the exercise of such
love.

WHERETORE this love is in most necessary
connexion with what is intimate to the new crea-
ture, and what most essentially belongs unto the
conftitution of it. It is part of the work of re-
generation, and of that holy creature, which is,
when produced, called the new creature. You
find therefore in that Scripture ", where several
graces of the spirit are mentioned together, that
brotherly kindness comes among the reft, in con-
junction with faith, patience, and the like.

Y E A and to evince this a little farther you find that in this very Epistle in which is our text, love to our brother, even an indigent brother,

is k John i. 12, 13

I Luke xvil. S. 2 Fet. 1. 5, 6, 7,

is called by the name of love to God; that is, Serm. not with reference to him considered as the ob

XIV. ject (though in some respects as was faid before God may be considered as the object too) but in reference to him as the original and author of this love. He that bath this world's good, faith the Apostle, and seeth his brother have need, and Jhutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him o? It is as if he had said, it is plain, that this divine love, which God is the author of, and of which this poor indigent brother is an object, is not in him, if he has no bowels of compassion towards him at fuch a time, when the exigency of his case calls for relief.

The Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians, that concerning brotherly love they needed not that he should write unto them, for (faith he) you your selves are taught of God to love one another o Sure we are not strangers to the inport of that expression in Scripture, or what it is to be taught of God. The expression is paralleld by those which represent men as drawn by him, efficaciously moved, and acted by his almighty spirit. Every one, faith our Saviour, that hath beard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me P. That hearing, and learning of the Father, is expounded by that of being drawn, or powerfully attracted by the Father. Therefore the meaning of this expression, You have been taught of God, is this ; your hearts have R2

been
Jolin 111. 17.
iTheffiv. 9.

i Joha VI. 45.

a

VOL. been powerfully drawn by God into the exercise
I.

of this love to one another. You need not that I
write to you concerning this matter, for ye are
taught of God. As in another case it is said,
(the passage is taken from the Prophet Jeremiah 9)
They shall not teach every man bis neighbour and
every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for
all shall know me from the least to the greateft'.
The same form of expression you see is used here,
and must be taken in the same sense.

In the second Chapter of this same Epistle of
John', we read of an unction of the Holy Ghost,
by which the spirits of those who belong to GOD
are so seasoned, and tinctured, that they are even
connaturalized unto the truth; and this is the
way of God's teaching, even to love, as well as
any thing else. It is a mighty potent work of
that spirit of holiness, by which men are taught
to love. He teaches so as none besides does.
His way of teaching is by working in us the
things that we are taught. And therefore they
who think that whatsoever is required of good-
ness and holiness, may be the product only of
human endeavour and acquisition, are to under-
stand that we cannot do so much as this, without
being taught so to do by the mighty power and
spirit of God; not so much, I say, as truly to
love men as such, upon whom the stamp and im-
pression of God's holy image is to be found. And
indeed, they who think that all may be the effect

of

[merged small][ocr errors]

.9 Jerem. XXXI. 31-35.

ver. 20.

? Heb. viii. 11.

« AnteriorContinua »