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bestowed upon you, as think of keeping your heart in the love of God, after the thoughts and contemplations of the gospel have fled from it. It is just by holding these fast, and by building yourself up on their firm certainty, that you preserve this affection. Any man, versant in the matters of experimental religion, knows well what it is when a blight and a barrenness come over the mind, and when, under the power of such a visitation, loses all sensibility towards God. There is at that time a hiding of his countenance, and you lose your hold of the mani. festation of that love, wherewith God loved the world, even when he sent his only begotten Son into it, that we might live through him. You will recover a right frame, when you recover your hold of this consideration. If you want to recall the strayed affection to your heart-recall to your mind the departed object of contemplation. If you want to reinstate the principle of love in your bosom-reinstate faith, and it will work by love. It is got at through the medium of believing, and trusting;-Nor do we know a more summary, and, at the same time, a more likely direction for living a life of holy and heavenly affection, than that you should live a life of faith.
THE AFFECTION OF MORAL ESTEEM TOWARDS GOD.
PSALM XXVii. 4.
"One thing have 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 inquire in his temple."
IN our last discourse we adverted to the effect of a certain theological speculation about love, in darkening the freeness of the gospel, and intercepting the direct influence of its overtures and its calls on the mind of an inquirer. Ere we can conceive the love of gratitude towards another, we must see in him the love of kindness towards us; and thus, by those who have failed to distinguish between a love of the benefit, and a love of the benefactor, has the virtue of gratitude been resolved into the love of ourselves. And they have thought that there must surely be a purer affection than this, to mark the outset of the great transition from sin unto righteousness; and the one they have specified is the disinterested love of God. They have given to this last affection a place so early, as to distract the attention of an inquirer from that which is primary. The invitation of come and buy without money, and without price," is not heard by the sinner along with the exaction of loving God for himself, -of loving him, on account of his excellencies,-of loving him, because he is lovely. Let us, therefore, try to ascertain whether even this love of moral esteem is not subordinate to the faith of the gospel; and whether it follows, that because this affection forms so indispensable a part of godliness, faith should, on that account, be deposed from the place of antecedency which belongs to it.
And here let it be most readily and most abundantly conceded, that we are not perfect and complete, in the whole of God's will, till the love of moral esteem be in us, as well as the love of gratitude,—till that principle, of which, by nature, we are utterly destitute, be made to arise in our hearts, and to have there a thorough establishment, and operation,-till we love God, not merely on account of his love to our persons, but on account of the glory, and the residing excellence, which meet the eye of the spiritual beholder, upon his own character. We are not preparing for heaven,--we shall be utterly incapable of sharing in the noblest of its enjoyments, we shall not feel our. selves surrounded by an element of congeniality in paradise,there will be no happiness for us, even in the neighbourhood of the throne of God, and with the moral lustre of the Godhead made visible to our eyes, if we are strangers to the emotion of loving God for himself,-if additional altogether, to the consideration that God is looking with complacency upon me, I do not feel touched and attracted by the beauties of his character, when I look with the eye of contemplation towards him. I am without the most essential of all moral accomplishments in myself, if I am without the esteem of moral accomplishments in another ; and if my heart be of such a constitution that nothing in the character of God can draw my admiration, or my regard, to him—then, though admitted within the portals of the city which hath foundations, and removed from the torments of hell, I am utterly unfit for the joys and the exercises of heaven. I may spend an eternity of exemption from pain, but without one rapture of positive felicity to brighten it. Heaven, in fact, would be a wilderness to my heart; and, in the midst of its acclaiming throng would I droop, and be in heaviness under a sense of perpetual dissolution.
And let this convince us of the mighty transition, that must be described by the men of this world, ere they are meet for the other world of the spirits of just men made perfect. It is not speaking of this transition, in terms too great and too lofty, to say, that they must be born again, and made new creatures, and called out of darkness into a light that is marvellous. The truth is, that out of the pale of vital Christianity, there is not to be
found among all the varieties of taste, and appetite, and sentimental admiration, any love for God as he is,--any relish for the holiness of his character,-any echoing testimony, in the bosom of alienated man, to what is graceful, or to what is venerable in the character of the Deity. He may be feelingly alive to the beauties of what is seen, and what is sensible. The scenery of external nature may charm him. The sublimities of a surrounding materialism may kindle and dilate him with images of grandeur. Even the moralities of a fellow-creature may engage him; and these, with the works of genius, may fascinate him into an idolatrous veneration of human power, or of human virtue. But while he thus luxuriates and delights himself with the forms of derived excellence, there is no sensibility in his heart towards God. He rather prefers to keep by the things that are made, and, surrounded by them, to bury himself into a forgetfulness of his Maker. He is most in his element, when in feeling, or in employment, he is most at a distance from God. There is a coldness, or a hatred, or a terror, which mixes up with all his contemplations of the Deity; and gives to his mind a kind of sensitive recoil from the very thought of him. He would like to live always in the world, and be content with such felicity as it can give, and cares not, could he only get what his heart is set upon here, and be permitted to enjoy it for ever, though he had no sight of God, and no fellow. ship with him through eternity. The event to which, of all others, he looks forward with the most revolting sense of aversion and dismay, is that event which is to bring him into a nearer contact with God,-which is to dissolve his present close relationship with the creature, and to conduct his disembodied spirit into the immediate presence of the Creator. There is nothing in death, in grim, odious, terrific death, that he less desires, or is more afraid of, than a nearer manifestation of the Deity. The world, in truth, the warm and the well known world, is his home; and the men who live in it, and are as regardless of the Divinity as himself, form the whole of his companionship. Were it not for the fear of hell, he would shrink from heaven as a dull and melancholy exile.. All its songs of glory to him who sitteth on the throne, would be to his heart a burden
and a weariness;—and thus it is, that the foundation of every natural man has its place in that perishable earth, from which death will soon carry him away, and which the fiery indigna. tion of God will at length burn up; and as to the being who endureth for ever, and with whom alone he has to do, he sees in him no form nor comeliness, nor no beauty that he should desire him.
Now, is not this due to the darkness of nature, as well as to the depravity of nature? There is in our diseased constitution, a spiritual blindness to the excellencies of the Godhead, as well as a spiritual disrelish for them. The truth is, that these two elements go together in the sad progress of human degeneracy. Man liked not to retain God in his knowledge, and God gave him over to a reprobate mind; and again, man walking in vanity, and an enemy to God by wicked works, had his understanding darkened, and was visited with ignorance, and blindness of heart. We do not apprehend God, and therefore it is that we must be renewed in the knowledge of him, ere we can be formed again to the love of him. The natural man can no more admire the Deity through the obscurities in which he is shrouded, than he can admire a landscape which he never saw, and which at the time of his approach to it, is wrapped in the gloom of midnight. He can no more, with every effort to stir up his faculties to lay hold of him, catch an endearing view of the Deity, than his eye can by straining, penetrate its way through a darkened firmament, to the features of that material loveliness which lies before him, and around him. It must be lighted up to him, ere he can love it, or enjoy it, and tell us what the degree of his affection for the scenery would be, if instead of being lighted up by the peaceful approach of a summer morn, it were to blaze into sudden visibility, with all its cultivation and cottages, by the fires of a bursting volcano. Tell us, if all the glory and gracefulness of the landscape which had thus started into view, would charm the beholder for a moment, from the terrors of his coming destruction! Tell us, if it is possible for a sentient being, to admit another thought in such circumstances as these, than the thought of his own preservation. O would not the sentiment of fear about himself, cast out every sentiment of