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willing towards all; but then only doth it fulfil. the law, when out of regard to the law of God it obeys, and obeys out of love to him whose law it is. So then, the love of God in the heart is the spring of right and holy love to our neighbour, both, (1.) Because in obedience to him whom we love sovereignly, we will love others sincerely, because he will have it so. That is reason enough to the soul possest, and taken up with his love. It loves nothing, how lovely soever, but in him and for him, in order and subordination to his love, and in respect to his will; and it loves any thing, how unlovely soever, taking it in that contemplation. It loves not the dearest friend but in God, and can love the hatefullest enemy for him, Amicum in deo, & inimicum propter Deum, Aug. His love can beautify the most unamiable object and make it lovely. He saith of a worthless undeserving man, or thy most undeserving enemy,“ Love him for my sake, because it pleases
, me;" that is reason enough to one that loves him. (2.) There is that dilating, sweetening virtue in love to God, that it can act no other way to men but as becomes love. Base self-love contracts the heart, and is the very root of all sin, the chief wickedness in our corrupt nature; but the love of God assimilates the soul to him, makes it divine; and therefore bountiful, full of love to all. So these two contradict not, Love the Lord with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself. “ If all our love must go to God, what remains for our neighbour?” Indeed all must go upwards, and be all placed on him, and from thence it is resounded and regulated downwards to men, according to his will. But self-love brings forth pride, and cruelty, and covetousness, and uncleanness, and disdain of others, and all such kind of monsters; so it is the main breaking of the law.
All that can be said, will not persuade men to this, till the Lord by his love teach it and impress it on the heart. Know that this is the badge of Christ's followers, and his great rule and law given to them; and if you will follow him, that you may come to be where he is, then study this, that as our Lord Christ loved us, so also we ought to love one another.
REAT and various are the evils that lodge
within the heart of man. Hence proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, murders, and many other mischiefs, as our Saviour specifies there; they come forth apace, and yet the heart is not emptied of them. But was this heart thus at first, when it came newly forth of the hands of its Maker? Surely, no: Man was made upright, but he found out many inventions. Soon did the heart find the way to corrupt itself; but to renew itself, is as impossible as to have been the author of its own creation. Easily could it deface the precious characters of God's images, but it passes the art of men and angels to restore them. Only the Son of God, who for that purpose took on him our nature, can make us, according to the Apostle's phrase, partakers of the divine nature. It is he alone that can banish these unclean spirits, and keep possession that they return no more. Have not they made a happy change of guests, that have those infernal troops turned out of doors, and the king of glory fixing his abode within them! This is the yoice of the
gospel, Lift up your heads, ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may enter ina. But small is the number of those that open where this voice is daily sounded. Yea, some there are that grow worse under the frequent preachiny of the word, as if sin were emulous, and, as is said of virtue, would grow by opposition. The truth is, too many of us turn these serious exercises of religion into an idle divertisement. Take heed that
* Psal, xxiv. 7.
formality, and custom, and novelty, do not often help to fill up many rooms in our church. It were indeed a breach of charity, to entertain the fulness of your assemblies with ill construction; no, it is to be commended. But would to God we were more careful to shew our religion in our lives, to study to know better the deceits and impostures of our own hearts, and to gain daily more victory over our secret and best beloved sins. Let our intentions then be to meet with Christ here, and to admit him gladly to dwell and rule within us. If he conquer our inward enemies, those without shall not be able to hurt us. If he deliver us from our sinful lusts, he will stir our own distrustful fears. And that such may be the fruits of our meeting, let us turn ourselves towards the throne of grace, with humble prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ the righteous.
PSALM lxxvi. 10. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee : the remain
der of wrath shalt thou restrain.
What man is this (said the passengers in the ship) that even the winds and the sea obey him ? Christ suddenly turns a great tempest into a greater calm 6. Surely those are no ordinary words of command, that swelling waves and boisterous winds, in the midst of their rage, are forced to hear, and taught to understand and obey them. Therefore the holding of the seas in the hollow of his hand, the bridling of the wind, and riding upon the wings of it, we find peculiarly attributed to the Almighty. But no less, if not more wonderful is another of his
prerogatives, to wit, His sovereignty over all mankind, over th& divers and strange motions of the heart of
Admirable is it to govern those, both in respect of their multitude and irregularity. Consider we what millions of men dwell at once upon the
• Matt. viii. 27.)
face of the earth; and again, what troops of several imaginations will pass through the fancy of any one man, within the compass of one day. It is much to keep' eye upon them, and to behold them all at once, but far more to command and controul them all; yet if they were all loyal and willingly obedient, were they tractable and easily curbed, it were more easy for us to conceive how they might be governed. But to bound and over-rule the unruly hearts of men, the most of whom continually are either plotting or acting rebellion against their Lord, to make them all concur and meet at last in one end, cannot be done but by a power and a wisdom that are both infinite. That God (whose name we often mention, but seldom think on his excellency) is alone the absolute monarch of men's hearts, and the ruler of all their motions. He hath them limited while they seem most free, and works his own glory out of their attempts, while they strive most to dishonour him. Surely the wrath of mun shall praise thee, &c.
The Psalm is made up of these two differeut sorts of thoughts, the one arising out of particular experience, and the other out of a general doctrine. Those drawn from experience are set down in the verses preceding the text, and in it. With those that follow is the doctrine, with a duty annexed to it; which two are faith's main supporters. By past particulars verify the doctrine, and the generality of the doctrine serves to explain the particular experiences to all wise observers. There is not a treasure of the merits of saints in the church, (as some dream) but there is a treasure of the precious experiences of the saints, which every believer hath right to make use of; and these we should be versed in, that we may have them in readiness at hand, in time of need, and know how to use them, both to draw comfort from them to ourselves, and arguments to use with God.
The words contain clearly two propositions, both