Imatges de pàgina

tinction of this principle, if a love to God may Serm. be banished from among us, we turn all our religion into nothing else, but a mere piece of pageantry. How vain and foolish, how absurd and ridiculous things were the forms of religion, which we keep up from time to time, supposing this great radical principle was to have no place nor exercise among us! To come together, and make a shew of devotion to him whom we do not love, nor think our selves obliged to love, is nothing but inconsistency and contradiction. And those who come on such terms, as oft as they undertake to worship God, must needs offer nothing but the sacrifices of fools. But it is our business to defend this principle ; to vindicate it against every thing that can be alledged against it by those who would excuse themselves from the obligation to this duty, from their not seeing GOD.

And that we may the more fitly prosecute the present design, we shall endeavour to do these two things.

1. To shew the vanity and impertinence of this excuse for not loving God, to wit, our not seeing him.

II. To demonstrate the intolerable heinousness of this sin nothwithstanding, and to shew its hor, rid nature though God is not visible to us. Because persons are apt upon this ground or reason either totally to excuse themselves, as if there were no iniquity at all in it; as there are multitudes of


VOL. people who can pass over their days one after anI.

other, without any emotion of heart to love towards God at all: or else because if they cannot obtain of themselves against the clearest light to believe it is no sin ; yet they would fain have it to be only a peccadillo, or a very little one. « God, say they cannot expect much love " from those, who cannot see him! or that such 66 beings to whom he is invisible should mind “ him much, or concern themselves with him s from day to day!” Therefore, I fay, we shall endeavour both to shew, how most impertinently this is alledged as an excuse for not loving God, or how unreasonable it is to infer from his invifibility, that we are under no such obligation : and after that, to represent to you the hateful nature of the fin; or to thew, that if we love not God, it is not only a fin notwithstanding this pretence, but a most prodigious and horrid one too.

I. That we may evince to you the vanity of this excuse, or the impertinency of alledging that we are not obliged to love God, because we fee him not, there are these two things that we charge this excuse with, and shall labour to make out concerning it ; to wit, that it is both invalid, and absurd. It is invalid, because it hath nothing in it which a valid excuse ought to have, And it is monstrously abfurd, and draws most intolerable ill consequences after it, if such an excuse should be admitted in such a case,

1. ISHALL shew the insufficiency of this ex-Serm. cuse, or that it is vain and hath nothing in it

V. which a valid excuse should have. " We do “ not see God, therefore we are not concerned “ to love him.” This will easily be made out to you thus. Whenever any thing is charged upon us by a law, and the exception lies not against the authority of the lawgiver, but only the matter of the law as applied to us, no excuse can be valid in that case, but where the matter brought in excuse shall be able to prove one of these two things: either that what is injoined, is in it felf impossible to us, or at least that it is unfit and unreasonable to be expected from us.

But our not seeing God can never infer either of these. It neither renders our loving him impoffible; nor unfit and unreasonable, supposing it to be poffible.

(1.) OUR not seeing God doth not render our loving him impoffible. This it is needful for us rightly to understand before we proceed any further. The thing that we intend to make out to you is, not that it is possible to us to love God by our own natural power. You have heard already enough to the contrary. He can never be truly loved by us, till the spirit of love is given us ; which is also at the same time a spirit of power, and of a sound mind. 'Till then, I say, it is impossible that any should love GOD. But when he implants this principle in us, he doth not therefore render himself visible to our bodily eye, which is the seeing here meant; for


VOL. we must understand the word in the same sense I.

in both parts of the text. All that we have to evince then is, that our not seeing God as we do our brother, does not make it impossible for us to love him. So that our present inquiry is not concerning the power, that gives the principle of love ; but only concerning the means that should be made use of, in order to the begetting or planting that principle. Which being understood, the several considerations following will plainly evince to us, that our not seeing God doth not render it impossible for us to love him.

ist. CONSIDER that the sight of our eye is not the immediate cause, or inducement of love to any thing, but only a means to beget an apprehension in our minds of the loveliness of the object. And then it is, that is, upon the perception of this loveliness, that we are brought to love the object it self. For after the sight of the eye there must pass in the mind an act of the judgement upon the object, before we can be brought to love it; otherwise we should love or hate every thing that we see promiscuously, and not distinguish objects of love from objects of hatred. It is only the apprehension of the mind, even in reference to objects of sight, that brings us to love them. If there be any other means of begetting an apprehension in our mind concerning such and such objects, that they are lovely and fit to be loved, it is not necessary that we should see them with our eyes. To this we add,

reach of our eye.

2dly. There are other sufficient means to SE RM, possess our minds with an apprehension of the V. loveliness of an object, and more especially those objects that are never liable to the sight of our eye. We do not need to insist much on so plain a case. It is plain that there are sundry ways, by which the apprehension of the loveliness even of an invisible object, may come to have place in ús; invisible at least so far as to be out of the

To be a little particular here: There is, for instance, with respect to the unseen God naturally a divine impression upon the minds of men, by which, when they are put upon reflection, they must needs own that he is not only a lovely, but the most lovely and amiable object, and has the best right to claim their love. Whosoever they are that do acknowledge a GOD*, must also read such attributes and properties of the being of God ingraven there, importing that he is the first and supreme object of our love. No one that acknowledgeth a Gop but presently acknowledgeth too, that he is good; that he is true ; that he is holy; that he is wise ; and the like. And then his own heart must tell him, whether he will or no, that he ought to be loved above all.


• As Epicurus himself confefseth this to be a proleptick notion, that prevents every man's reason, so as that he needs not argue the matter with himself, but, if he will but read what is written in his own soul, must read THAT THERE 18 Å God. “ See more of this in the Author's Living Temple, p. 15. folio.".

« AnteriorContinua »