Imatges de pàgina
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ftate. It is indeed one reason why he is actually Serm. fo little loved in the world, but it is no sufficient

I. excuse. For the impoflibility of seeing God doth not render it impossible to love him, and to live in his love, while we are here in this world, dweling in the flesh. And this also is plainly grounded in the text ; for this vehement expoftulation of the Apostle, If any man do not love his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God wbom be bath not seen ? plainly supposes it to be an intolerable thing not to love God. And therefore hence he takes the advantage of inforcing the duty of loving our brother, because otherwise we should be convicted, and proved to be no lovers of God; taking it for granted, that this would be esteemed a most horrid thing, even at the very first sight. Otherwise his exhortation would have no force, nor pungency in it; but would be flat, and insignificant. Therefore he plainly supposes here, that though God's not being the object of sight doth render the exercise of love to him, upon that account, more difficult : yet it doth not render it impossible, or the neglect of it at all excusable ; but considers it as a thing to which men are most indispensibly obliged. This therefore will be my second head to discourse upon from this scripture. And then in the

Third place, My design is to shew you the absurdity of their profession of love to God, who do not love their brother also ; and how false and fulsom a thing it is for men to pretend

VOL to any thing of sanctity and religion, while they 1.

neglect the duties of the second table. Of these we shall speak in order, and begin now with the

First observation, That the impossibility of seeing God renders the exercise of our love to him more difficult, than the exercise of it towards man whom we do fee.

In this doctrine there are two branches, which are to be distinctly considered.

I. That it is more difficult to love GOD than our brother.

II. That one great reason of it is, that we cannot see God, as we do our brother.

1. As to the former of these, that there is a greater difficulty in the exercise of love to God than to men, we may collect from the common observation of the world. For it is very plain and evident, that the common course and practice of men shews what is more easy to them, and what lefs ; it plainly discovers which way they are moft inclined. This is the thing, which I understand here by difficulty; and it answers the intent and force of the Apostle's expression, How can be tbat loveth not bis brotber wbom be bath seen, love God whom he hath not seen? This plainly must be understood in a relative sense, and have respect to fome agent, and here must have reference to ourselves. It is less easy to us, that is, it is a thing which our nature in our present state doth less incline us to, actually to live in the exercise of love towards God, than

towards

towards men. And, I say, what men are more Serm. or less inclined to, is to be seen in their common I. course ; and from the common observation of the ftate and posture of the world we may gather, that men in general are less inclined to love God, than one another. And though it be very true, there is too little of love, kindness, and mutual affection among men, and a great neglect of justice, common honesty, and the other duties of the second table, which love must be understood to comprehend ; yet certainly the instances are not so rare of persons that are kind, courteous, affectionate, and well-humoured one to another, as of persons well-affected towards God. This is a thing which commands our affent even at the very first sight. Nay further, though it is also no less true, that men are too much lovers of themselves, to the exclusion not only of God, but of men too; yet certainly there is more of love to men, than to God, prevailing in the world. And to make this out, let us go to the usual evidences and expressions of love; such as mindfulness of others, trust in them, a readiness to be concerned for their interest, a ftudious care to please them, loving to converse with them, or seeking and being pleased with it, and the like. If we descend, I say, to the consideration of such evidences of love as these are, we shall find that man is generally better beloved, than God is. And that this may gain the greater poffeffion of our souls, let us a little consider these particular evidences of love, and then fee whether men are

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not

VOL: not generally more beloved by one another, than I.

God is by them; hereby weshall plainly see, what is most agreeable to their temper, and what not. And,

1. Mindfulness, or a kind remembrance of others, is a most natural evidence of love. But what! are men who transact affairs one with another, so apt to forget each other, as they are to forget God? 'It is given us as a common distinctive character of a wicked man, that he is one that hath not GOD in all his thoughts. For thus faith the Psalmist, The wicked in the pride of his countenance, that is, his heart expressing itself in the haughtiness of his countenance, and his supercilious looks, will not seek after God; God is not in all his thoughts. And by the same divine penman a wicked man, and a forgetter of God, are used as exegetical expressions. But there is many a wicked man that will kindly remember his friends, his relations, even his very companions in wickedness. And if we demand an account of ourselves, do we not find it more easy and familiar to us to entertain thoughts concerning our friends, and relations, from day to day, than we do to think of God? Are we not also more inclined to love them than God? What we love, we are not apt to forget. The defire of our soul is to thee, and to the remembrance of thy named. Our love to thee, which naturally works by desire, will not let us forget thee ; it is too deeply impressed and rooted in us ever to lose the remembrance of the object of our love. This is one thing that sheweth, that God is a great

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deal less loved by men, than they are by one ano-SERM. ther. Again,

I. 2. To be apt to trust in one another, is a very natural evidence and expression of love. Whom we hate, we cannot trust; whom we love intirely, we know not how to distrust. One of the characters of love is this, It bopeth all things, it believeth all things, it abhors to entertain a, jealous surmise of the person, who is the object of it. Now let the matter be tried by this also, and how much more ready are men to trust to one another, than they are to trust to God! What is there so vain, so uncertain, so unstable, which they are not more forward to repose their trust in, than in him? Therefore, faith the Apostle to Timothy, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded ; nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living Godf. Which charge implies the propensity of men's minds, rather to trust in the most fugitive, uncertain, vanishing shadows, than in God himself. This is an argument, that he hath but little love among men ; that he cannot be trusted; and that few will give him credit. But how fafely and quietly do men repose a trust and confidence in one another? And indeed if faith and trust were not natural to man, there would be no such thing as commerce, which is the bond of human fociety. The world must dissolve and break up ; all must live apart in dens, and caves, and wildernesses, and have nothing to do one with another,

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