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judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” "For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” Prov, viii. 17. Ps. vii. 11, and xi. 7. The reason of such opposite feelings towards these two classes of men, is implied in the very names by which they are distinguished. That the righle. ousness of the one, and the wickedness of the other, form the whole ground of the delight and abhorrence, which the Most High exercises towards them respectively, is made evident by this; that whenever any one belonging to the class of the wicked is transformed, and becomes possessed of the character of the righteous, he is no longer abhorred, but immediately becomes an object of divine complacency.
Let us go where we will, we shall find the assertion true, that holy beings exercise complacence in such as are holy, and in none else. In our apostate world, the saints have complacency in God; and for this very reason, because he is holy; while sinners, who remain under the dominion of sin, are for the very same reason displeased with him. Nothing is more common in the sacred writings, than to distinguish these two classes of men by their love and hatred of God. The saints are represented as loving God and delighting in him: but concerning sinners it is said, they do not like to retain God in their knowledge. Rom. i. 28. It is also manifest that the same holy character, which attracts the one class to him, is the very thing which drives the other from him. The saints exalt the Lord their God, and worship at his footstool, because he is holy. They glory in his holy name. They say of him, “ He is glorious in holiness." Ps. xcix. 5; cv. 3. Ex. xv. 11. But to those who are not recovered from the dominion of sin, “ His ways are always grievous. And that it is the holiness of his ways which render them grievous, is proved by this; they say to God's messengers, “Cause the HOLY ONE of Israel to cease from before us.” Ps. I. v. Isa. xxs. 11. The very thing which fills heaven with bless. edness, renders them unhappy.
The saints exercise the love of complacence towards their fellow saints, towards all of them, and none others. However strong their benevolent feelings are towards the impenitent, (and for some of them they can truly say that they have great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart, still they confine their complacency to such as are partakers of the divine nature. . David calls the saints, that are in the earth, the excellent, and then adds, In whom is all my delight. Ps. xvi. 3. In all these excellent characters he had delight; and to them was it restrict. ed. That love to the brethren, mentioned by the apostle John as a distinguishing mark of true grace, must mean a complacence in their holy character; for this alone is the love which is to be restricted to them. All those who have passed from death unto life, love their breth. ren in Christ, for the truth's sake that is in them. There are some of those, in whom they have no delight, that have every thing, except holiness of character, to draw forth their complacency. They have tal. ents, refinement, affluence, generosity, and a high standing in society ; and among this number there may be some who are allied to them by the tenderest ties of nature: and yet they can not feel that union of heart with any of them which they have with their brethren in Christ. But as soon as the most unlovely, among the enemies of the Lord, and
even among their own personal enemies, throw down the weapons of their rebellion, and give evidence of a holy character, they immediately become objects of their complacency. In the light reflected by the scriptures on this subject, several things are made very manifest.
1. That holiness is the bond of union among all beings of a holy character. Since every holy being loves with complacence every other such being, whether superior or inferior, whether in his own or any other world; and since, in this peculiar sense, he loves none else, it must be evident, that their holiness is the whole ground of their mutual love, that is, their delight in one another. Holiness, in the estimation of this whole class of beings, is that which constitutes their moral beauty or amiableness. The scriptures speak of the beauties of holiness, and of the beauty of the Lord,” and of his beautifying the meek with salvation ; ” which consists in expelling sin from their hearts by the introduction of holy affections. Ps. cx. 3; xxvii. 4; cxlix. 4. In holiness of character consists all the beauty of the Infinite Mind, and of all created minds.
2. This mutual complacency among holy beings is not a selfish or partial affection. There is in it no respect of persons ; character, ir. respective of the person possessing it, is the only thing which is re. garded as an object of delight. They do not love holiness in them. selves, because it is their own ; for they love it as much in others as in themselves. God has infinitely more complacency in himself than he has in his creatures; and for this reason, that he has an infinitely greater share of moral excellency. His children on earth do not love their own character because it is their own; for just so far as their charac. ter is unholy, it is in their own view unlovely, and they abhor them. selves. They not unfrequently have more delight and confidence in their brethren than in themselves, because they believe them to be pos. sessed of a greater degree of that which constitutes amiableness of character. According to the apostolic injunction, they “ esteem others better than themselves.” Phil, ii. 3. Rom. xii. 10.
3. This complacence, which holy beings have in each other, is an exercise of heart. It is not a mere assent of the understanding to the excellent nature of holiness, but a sweet delight in it. They who de. light in holiness, are thereby united in the bond of perfectness. They are of one heart and one soul, even though their number may amount to a multitude. Acts iv. 32. Such as have no complacency in holiness may be convinced that it nevertheless forms the only true excellency of character; for the word of God has declared, « The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor ;” and sometimes they witness the fruits of this superior excellency. Saul appears to have been fully convinced that David possessed an excellency of character which he himself did not, when he said, “Thou art more righteous than I." But his conviction differed widely from the complacency which Jonathan his son exercised towards the same person ; a description of which is given in these emphatic words : “ And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit unto the soul of David; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." } Sam. xviii. 1. The love of holiness produces the sweetest union of holy minds,
4. This bond of perfectness which unites holy beings, lays a foun.' dation for delightful intercourse. They love to think and speak of each other; especially to commune together. The psalmist spoke the mind of the whole renovated generation, when he said, in an address to God, "I am a companion of all them that fear thee." Ps. cxix. 63. They who are born of God love the society of their brethren; and they love it most, when they perceive them to make the clearest exhibition of that character by which they are distinguished from the men of the
The saints greatly delight in communion with God; and it is not merely because they are dependent on him, and can not live without his help. The enjoyment they have in prayer, arises very much from the advantage which this duty affords them of contemplating his holiness. And God himself takes pleasure in holding communion with his people, because of the holy beauty he sees in them. It is the Bride. groom of the church who says, “Let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”
5. This complacency which we are considering, is manifestly a right frame of heart. It is an approbation of that which in its nature is right. It is a love to the truth, and to those who have known the truth, for the truth's sake that dwelleth in them; and is therefore itself "truth in the inward parts.” It is self-evident that holiness is beautiful and lovely, in distinction from sin. The judgment even of the unholy will decide in favor of it: therefore the complacency which the regen. erate have in each other, and which is restricted to beings of a holy character, is a striking proof that they are in reality saints, or holy ones. Were they to exercise the same complacency towards men of an opposite character; were they to delight in the enemies of the Lord as they do in his friends, the evidence of a radical change would be lost. As to the love of good will, were we not to extend it to the wicked as well as the righteous, we could have no claim to the Christian character ; but the reverse is true of that kind of love of which we are now treating: for if we were to extend our complacency to the wicked as well as the righteous, there could be no evidence that we ourselves were righteous. It is spoken of as an evidence that our Re. deemer's character was excellent, that he loved righteousness and hated
I wish to have it kept in mind, every step we proceed in our search after the right way, that as soon as we have discovered any truth, in doctrine, in experience, or practice, we have discovered something that has all the word of God in its favor. The same inspired book, which every where requires us to exercise good will to all men, not excepting the vilest, does as uniformly restrict our complacency to the men who love God and keep his commandments. Were it not so, the Bible would be at variance with itself: but now it is harmonious. Of this we shall form a better conception, when we proceed to take a view of
The harmony between this Article of experimental religion, and the one going before it, with which we commenced the series, is very
manifest. Under that Article it was shown, that benevolent beings seek a general good, while those devoid of benevolence confine their regard to themselves. It was shown, that all true excellency of character consists in this expansive love, in its various branches; and that selfishness, which is its opposite, is comprehensive of all sin. With this exhibition of benevolence, as the foundation of experimental religion, what can be more harmonious than the complacency which has just now been described. In the order of nature, the love of benevolence precedes the love of complacency, both in the subject and object of the affection, that is, both in the one who loves and in the one who is loved. Holy complacency can not exist in your mind until benevolence is there to originate it; and it can not go forth towards your neighbor, until benevolence shall appear in him, to render him an attractive object.
Under the present Article it has been shown (and I trusl to every one's satisfaction) that holy beings confine their delight to such as are holy; though their good will is extended to all, irrespective of character. And is it not perfectly easy to understand why they do so! They confine their delight to the holy, because they extend their good will to all. They can delight in none, who are enemies to the infinite good they seek.
As far as they are benevolent, they invariably seek the diffusion of happiness, which, indeed, is all comprised in seeking the glory of God.
No consideration can induce them to relinquish this ultimate end. Were the Christian to be told, that the pursuit of his darling object would cost him his life, his religion, if in suitable exer. cise, would prepare him to reply, “I am ready not to be bound only, but to die, for the name of the Lord Jesus.” While benevolent beings are earnestly seeking the advancement of the great and everlasting kingdom of Jehovah, they look around the universe, to see who are united with them in seeking this glorious object; and just as many as appear to give evidence of loving what they love, and seeking what they seek, they spontaneously delight in, and receive into the number of their friends.
To say, complacence is exercised by all holy beings towards those of the same character, is to say, that benevolent beings delight in one another on account of their benevolence. The way is now prepared for us to see why they have such a sweet, uniting affection towards each other. It is not merely because they have one kind of character; for this is true of beings who are selfish, who are nevertheless described as “ hateful and hating one another." The reason is this: benevolent beings agree in loving supremely a common object; and one infinitely worthy of concentrating all their affections. Selfish beings agree in this; that every one seeks his own things. Here are as many centres as there are individuals. The thing is illustrated in the world of nature, by what is called the attraction of repulsion. But benevolent beings, like the planets, are all drawn around a common centre; or, like the different particles composing the same body, they cleave toge. ther and become one. If you prefer Jerusalem above your chief joy, you must of necessity be pleased with every man who gives you evi. dence that he does the same; and so long as your confidence in his sincerity shall remain, your pleasedness with his character must also
remain. And who can help seeing, that if it is right to exercise good will towards the whole universe, it must of course be right to exerciso complacence towards all who give evidence of possessing that disin. terested affection ? And if it is right to exercise the love of complacence towards these, on this very account, it must be equally proper to withhold it from all those who possess a different character. A displeasedness with the character of wicked men, as well as complacency
towards those that are good, is evidential of a sanctified heart : “ Do to not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am I not grieved with U those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred; I
count them mine enemies." Ps. cxxxix. 21, 22. This was not a ha. tred excited by malice; but the hatred which holiness has towards sin. All such as are not recovered from the depravity of nature, are at
heart hostile to the kingdom of Christ. To exercise complacency to1 stwards men of their character, would be incompatible with supreme
love to Christ and attachment to his holy cause.
The correctness of this second Article rests on that of the first ; and this can not be gainsayed, while the truth of that is acknowledged. If disioterested benevolence is a holy affection, constituting the root of all that experimental religion which is approved by the word of God, it is most certain that complacency, extended to all the benevolent, and to them alone, must be one of its first and most natural branches.
This branch of experimental religion, I am persuaded, will be found to agree with the doctrines of the gospel, particularly as they are exhib. ited under Part I. It agrees with the first doctrine, which relates to the existence and perfection of God. While benevolence contemplates the Deity as infinitely great, and says, Let him be glorified,—let him be blessed forever! complacence contemplates him as infinitely good, and makes him the object of supreme delight. His benevolent regard to the interests of the universe, altogether surpasses the united benev. olence of men and angels ; he is, therefore, the grand object of holy complacency. Holy creatures delight themselves in the Lord, and that not merely because he has commanded them, and they must do it, or expose themselves to his eternal displeasure ; but their love is without dissimulation. They are sincere when they say, “There is none holy as the Lord :" and when they call God their “ exceeding joy." 1 Sam. ii. 2. Ps. xliii. 4.
Passing over the second Article of doctrines, as not being sufficiently different from the first to be here distinctly noticed, let us see how this branch of experience agrees with the third, namely, that which relates to the perfection of the law. The law is not a moral agent, and is not therefore holy in the same sense with its divine Author;
but as a bright expression of his holy nature, it must be an object of delight to all those who have complacency in holy beings. David said, “O how love I thy law!” and Paul, “ I delight in the law of God after the inward
A law so calculated to secure the honor of the Supreme King, and to promote order and happiness among his subjects, must be de. lighted in by all who wish well to the interests of the universe. The whole of revealed truth is of the same pure nature as the law, and is therefore adapted to please the taste of all such as are born of the Spi. rit. Each one can say, “ Thy word is very pure; therefore thy ser.