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VOL.mitted from age to age to continue in this course,
whole bufiness of their lives is to express how much
Preached September 20, 1676.
I JOHN iv, 20. He that loveth not bis Brother, whom he bath seen; how can be love God, whom be bath not seen?
E have hitherto been shewing you from these words, That men are
to love God than one another, principally for this reason, because God is not the object of light as men are.
We are now to go on to the
Second thing observed from them, namely, That we are most indispensibly obliged to the exercise of this duty though we see him not, and therefore notwithstanding this excuse, it is a most intolerable thing not to love God.
This hath its manifest ground in the text, and doth fundamentally belong to the Apostle's reasoning in this place. For the argument or medium which he reasons from is this, that if we do not love our brother whom we have seen, then we cannot so much as love God whom we F4
VOL, have not seen. By which he endeavours to reI. present how grievous a thing it would be, if
Christians should continue in a mutual neglect of one another. Now all this would fall to the ground, and signify nothing, if they were disengaged from loving God upon the account of his invisibility. But the Apostle takes it for granted, that all men must esteem it a most horrid thing to be convicted of not loving God; otherwise his argument would be altogether to no purpose. For it might have been replied to him, “ Though we be convicted of this, that “ we do not love God, in as much as we do “ not love one another, yet what is the inconve" nience of such a neglect? We grant the whole, " but what are the ill consequences that follow
upon it ?” Now the Apostle doubts not but they would see the consequences, and that every man must needs take it to be an intolerably hateful thing to pass for one that is no lover of God. This therefore is supposed by the Apostle as a fundamental circumstance in his discourse, That not to love God, though we fee him not, is a most horrid hateful thing, as well as absolutely inexcusable,
Now as this is plainly to be collected, so it is very necessary to be infiited upon. For as it is apparent, that as men commonly do not love God, or at least are less disposed to it, because they see him not; so they are very apt to excuse and exempt themselves from guilt upon this account, “Why should I look upon it, says one,
* as so abominable a thing not to live in the Serm. “ exercise of love to God? He is out of sight, V. “ sure he expects no such thing from us who “ cannot see him, and who live at so great a « distance from him !"—What multitudes are there who can wear out the whole time of life, and never charge themselves with any fault all their days for not having lived in the love of God? As if the old heathenish maxim was their settled notion *, “ We have nothing to do with “ what is so far above us."
AND besides, this is not only the latent sense of most, or that which lies closely wrapt up even in the very inwards of their souls, to wit, that they have little to do with God, and, need not concern themselves about him ; but it is also what many have the confidence to speak out, and to declare in plain express words. It is very notorious that there are sundry persons in the world, not of one denomination or party only among the professors of the Christian name, who are not afraid to avow this very sense. Those who have made it their concern to look into the doctrines that have been handed about in the Chriftian world; do well know whose casuistical divinity this is, “ That we are not obliged to love God, “ unless it be once or twice a year.” Or as fome have presumed to say, “ If it be only once 46 in a man's life-time it may serve the turn,' as a worthy perfon, now removed from us, hath largely shewn; as also what the morals and
practical Qua fupra nos, nihil ad nos,
VOL. practical divinity of that fort of men are. And I.
another * of quite a different strain, who hath disciples more than a good many in our time, in his discourse of the human nature, would lily insinuate, that we are not obliged at all to formal direct acts of love to God, from this very paffage of Scripture in the next chapter of this Epistle, This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments a As if because the Apostle would there include all the external effects vir. tually in the principle, it was therefore fit to exclude the principle it self by the external effects. Nor indeed was there ever any time or age wherein the heart and life of practical religion and godliness were so openly struck at, as in our days, by the perverse notions of some, and the scorns of others : as if it was thought a very feasible thing to jeer religion out of the world and that men ought to be alhamed to profefs love to God, because they can have the impudence, and be so daring as to laugh at this and such like things.
We are therefore so much the more concerned to beftir our selves, and to look more narrowly into the very grounds and bottom of our own practice in the ways of religion. We are to consider whether indeed we have a reason to oblige us to be godly, yea or no; and especially is it incumbent upon us to defend this great principle and summary of all godliness, THE LOVE OF GOD. For certainly if we must yield to the ex