Imatges de pàgina
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VOL.,

AGAIN, our own reasonings from the manifest 1. visible effects and characters of divine wisdom,

and power, and goodness, that are to be seen every where, may also beget an apprehension or. judgement in us that he should and ought to be loved. Do we live in a world full of the divine glory, that arrayeth and cloatheth everything we can caft our eyes upon; and do we want ground to perceive, that this is the lovely object that ought to captivate all hearts, and draw into a closure with it self the will of every intelligent creature? Moreover,

The express testimony of the Gospel is another means more apt ftill to beget this apprehension within us, that God is one we should love, and whose excellencies do every way intitle him, with a most indisputable right, to the highest degree and supremacy of our love. No man bath seen God at any time b. What then ? Is it therefore impossible that he should be loved Hath not bis only begotten son, who was in the bosom of the fatber, declared or revealed him? Surely he hath made such a declaration of him, given such a prospect and view of him to the world, as that every one who will believe a God, and receive his report, must confess him to be the most amiable and excellent being. Here all hearts ought to meet and unite ; and this ought to be the universal centre of love. He is in Chrift reconciling the world to himself ; giving mankind a lovely prospect of himself. And in him,

who John 1. 18.

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Eph. 1. 17.

V.

who is EMANUEL, God with us, he is ready Serm. to communicate himself, and to draw fouls into union with him, and to a participation of his own likeness and felicity. Who then is there but must acknowledge, that upon this representation he lays a just claim to our highest love? Finally,

THERE is also the inward revelation of the Holy Ghost, by which the want of seeing God is abundantly supplied. It is true, this spirit of wisdom and revelation, by which we come to the practical knowledge of God so as to love him, is but the portion of a few. But it is in the mean time the great fault and wickedness of every one who seeks it not, values it not, and makes it not his business, with an earnest and restless importunity to sue for it till it is obtained. God hath given no man any cause to despair ; but if he seeks that Spirit, by which he may be so known as to be certainly loved, he hath given him ground to hope that he hall have that knowledge of him, which shall be efficacious of that love. God has given no ground to any to despair, or fear that they shall seek in vain ; but as our Saviour says in this very case, If they seek they fall find, for he is more ready to give the Holy Spirit, than parents are to give bread rather than a stone to their children". And now that there are so many ways for conveying the apprehension into the mind, which is to be the immediate parent of love, to wit, that this object is most amiVol. I.

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able;

& Matth. vil.7-il.

VOL. able ; it is most evident, that the not seeing God, I.

doth not render it impossible for him to be loved. And we may further consider to this purpose,

3dly, That in sundry cases besides, other means than fight, do fuffice to convey such apprehensions into the mind, as to excite and raise proportionable affections in the soul. Then why should it not be so in this case ? For what can any man say why he ought not to be moved by such apprehensions concerning God, as are by other means brought into his mind than by sight? What! do you love nothing? do you never find your hearts taken with any thing but that which your eyes have seen? Is it an impossible thing, or what your ears never heard of, for a person to love only upon report, as being informed of such and such excellencies and perfections in the object? Have not many been taken with the description of a country they have not seen? Or do we think it impossible for a blind man to love his children, his wife, his friend? Do we imagine that such persons, because they can see nothing, can therefore love nothing? Do you not love your fife? You cannot see that, but only in the effects and in the effects also you may see the blessed God himself, who is the life of your life. And who can deny, that they have notions in their own minds of things that are altogether unliable to sight; which, if they will but ask themselves the question, they must acknowledge to be lovely, and which many are actually brought to love. For instance : the notions of truth; the abstract

ideas of this, and that, and the other virtue ; SERM. things that are never discoverable by the eye ;

V. who that considers, but must acknowledge a loveliness in them? And how many in fact are brought into a real and hearty love with such fair and orderly contextures of truth, when they see things do well cohere and hang together? The ideas of justice, fortitude, humility, patience, temperance ; how many are there that do really love and admire these virtues, though they only perceive the beauty and usefulness of them by the mind, .and in their effects ?

So then it is no impossible thing that there may be that apprehension in the mind concerning God, upon which he shall be confessed to be lovely, and that he ought to be loved though he is never to be seen. The case is the same as to other affections, and there is a parity of reason between them. If it was impossible to love any thing but what one fees, we are proportionably incapable of fearing, hating, or admiring any thing but what we see. But let any one ask himself the question, whether he is not many times offended at the mention of things he doth not fee : and whether his heart is not really afraid of things as yet invisible; or whether he hath not been many times raised into an admiration of sundry things, of which he has only heard the report. And again, I add in the next place,

4tbly, That many persons have lived in this world in bodies of Aesh as we do, exercising a holy love to God, notwithstanding they never G2

saw

VOL. saw him. Therefore it is no impossible thing; I. for what has been, may be, according to the old

maxim *. Do we think that there have been no lovers of God in the world, who have lived in bodies and depended on sense as we do? God knows there have been but few, in any time or age of the world ; yet have there not been some who have loved him, and have not loved their lives unto the death for his fake? What professions of love, what raptures of phrafe and expression do we find many times in Scripture from those whose hearts were full of, and overflowed with love? When the fire burned within, it could not be withheld from faming out. I will love thee, O LORD, my sirengib, says David; and again, I love the Lord, that is from my very bowels, because he hath beard my voice and my fupplications How full are the Psalms of these expressions! and we must suppose the Psalmist to be full of an answerable senfe. As the bart panteth for the water brooks, fo panteth my foul after thee, O God'! My soul fainteth for God, for the living God; wben shall I come and appear before God? How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of Hofts 8? One thing bave I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple ". For whom have I

in * Quod fieri potuit, poteft. e PT. XVIII. I. ÇXVI. 1. { x111. 1, 2. LXXXIV, I. xxy1l. 4.

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