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a sentiment, begins to claim for itself a supremacy over the will, and to establish itself as a principle of action. God grant it may be so with you and me! It is a poor and cheap thing to hear of the Love of God (and a poorer and cheaper to speak of it) without a heart in some measure kindled, or at least longing to be kindled, thereby. Pray we therefore with our Church; Ο God, who hast prepared for them that love Thee such good things as pass man's understanding; pour into our hearts such love towards Thee, that we, loving Thee above all things, may obtain Thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
OF THE WAY IN WHICH GOD HAS MADE THE PRECEPT
OF DIVINE LOVE PRACTICABLE TO US BY THE INCAR
"He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."
JOHN xiv. 9.
T has been shown in the preceding Chapters that God's infinite fulness corresponds to man's deep wants, and that man stands to God in the relationship of a son to a father. Whenever God is truly represented to man, this correspondence, this relationship, subsisting still in the groundwork of human nature, though covered and hidden by the rubbish of sinful and worldly lusts, wakens up an echo from the heart,— an echo which says, however confusedly and indistinctly, "Verily, Thou art my Father."
It must be admitted, however, that this echo, the result of the correspondence and relationship aforesaid, is of itself and by itself more of a sentiment than of a principle. Let us understand the difference. A senti
ment is a right and pure feeling on a moral or religious subject, which does not (or rather need not) go beyond feeling, which need not determine the will, or exert any decided influence over the character. Right sentiments make a man more amiable, without necessarily making him a better man. They render him an object of complacency, and perhaps of compassion, while they do not necessarily reform him. A principle, on the other hand, if it have something less of tenderness and of poetry, has more hardness of resolve than a sentiment, has a stronger element of the will in it. Now it is quite clear that if the love of God is to exert over us a practical influence (and unless it does this, it certainly can be of no avail in the matter of our salvation), it must become a settled principle of character within us. A fine and generous emotion, if it be nothing more than emotion, how will it ever struggle with the manifold corruptions of a heart "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked"? how will it ever renew a nature, which in its first germ and rudiment is depraved, a nature "shapen in wickedness and conceived in sin"? Such emotion would be as if a little tongue of earthly flame had been applied to Elijah's sacrifice, after it had been steeped in water three times. The flame might have played for a moment on the victim and the wood, but finding every material soaked, upon which it could naturally kindle, would have collapsed; would never have prevailed, as did God's lightning from heaven, against "the wood, and the
stones, and the dust," or have "licked up the water that was in the trench."
The powerlessness of the love of God, considered as a mere sentiment, consists very mainly in the indefiniteness of the Object of love. "No man hath seen God at any time." It is not merely that we have not seen Him with our bodily eyes, it is not merely that an image of Jehovah was never painted upon mortal retina; but no finite mind has (apart from Christ) a definite conception of the Divine character. "God is Light," and "God is Love," these are blessed and precious truths; but if these assurances stood alone, if no other exhibition of God had been made to us than what is conveyed in descriptions of this sort, there would have been room for the remark that Light and Love are mere abstractions, and abstractions are powerless over the character and will of man. Were it not for the exhibition which He has made of Himself in Christ, we could only conceive of God as of an aggregate of abstractions; that is to say, we draw a notion of goodness, mercy, justice, love, truth, holiness, from our own little sphere and our own limited experience, and to the sum total of these notions we give the name of God. Add to this that the idea, when we have formed it, however captivating it may be, is not free from contradictions, perplexities, and mysteries insoluble. To state one of these perplexities. If God is to become an object of attraction to the human heart, we must think of Him as endowed with affections and sympa
thies. But what does affection, what does sympathy mean, as it exists in the Divine Nature? We know not, nor in our present state can we know. On the one hand, we cannot imagine God to be the subject of those turbulent, restless, and disquieting emotions which we call passions; for this would be to represent Him to ourselves as imperfect, and to detract from His infinite blessedness. Yet we have no notion of passions and affections but such as is drawn from our own nature and experience; and thus we must either be content to think of God as moved by these, (which we see clearly to be wrong), or must think of Him as passionless, (which perhaps would be worse practically, even if more correct theoretically). For according to the constitution of our nature, it would be impossible to fix our affections on a wooden God, touched by no sympathy, and susceptible of no emotion.-Again, in thinking of God, we are forming an idea of the Infinite; and the Infinite transcends all thought and baffles all conception. If we indulge in speculations on such a subject, we shall soon be dazzled and blinded, and forced to confess that "clouds and darkness are round about" the great Object which we investigate. In short, the perfections and nature of God are to the human understanding what the sun in his full meridian splendour is to the human eye. No eye can look upon the sun in his strength without being blinded. Excess of light would superinduce
And the reason of man, as infirm in the