« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
which so uniteth souls to God, and causeth them to live in the pleasures of his goodness. I dare not beg hard for more common knowledge: but my soul melteth with grief for want of love; and forceth out tears, and sighs, and cries ; ( when will heaven take acquaintance with my heart, and shine into it, and warm and revive it, that I may truly experience the delightful life of holy love! I cannot think them loathsome and unlovely, that are unlearned, and that want the ornaments of art. But I abhor and curse those hateful sins, which have raised the clouds, and shut the windows, and hindered me from the more lively knowledge and love of God. Would God but number me with his zealous lovers, I would presume to say, that he had made me wise, and initially happy. But, alas ! such high and excellent things will not be gotten with a lazy wish, nor will holy love dwell with iniquity, in unholy and defiled souls.
But if wisdom were justified of none but her children, how confidently durst I call myself a son of wisdom ? For all my reason is fully satisfied, that the learned ungodly doctors are mere fools, and that the lovers of God are only wise : and O that my lot may be with such, however I be esteemed by the doting and dreaming world !
CHAP. VI. INFERENCE 2. THE APTNESS OF THE TEACH
ING OF CHRIST, TO INGENERATE THE LOVE
OF GOD AND HOLINESS. If love be the end and perfection of our knowledge, then hence we may perceive, that no teacher that ever appeared in the world, was so fit for the ingenerating of true saving knowledge as Jesus Christ; for none ever so promoted the love of God.
1. It was he only, that rendered God apparently lovely to sinful man, by reconciling us to God, and rendering him apparently propitious to his enemies, pardoning sin, and tendering salvation freely to them that were the sons of death. Selflove will not give men leave to love aright a God that will damn them, though deservedly for sin. But it is Christ that hath made atonement, and is the propitiation for our sins, and proclaimeth God's love, even to the rebellious : which is more effectual to kindle holy love in us, than all the precepts of naturalists without this, could ever have been. His cross, and his wounds and blood, were the powerful sermons to preach God's winning love to sinners.
2. And the benefits are so many and so great which he hath purchased and revealed to man, that they are abundant fuel for the flames of love. We are set by Christ in the way of mercy, in the household of God, under the eye and special influence of his love; all our sins pardoned, our everlasting punishment remitted, our souls renewed, our wounded consciences healed, our enemies conquered, our fears removed, our wants supplied, our bodies, and all that is ours placed under the protection of Almighty Love; and we are secured by promise, that all our sufferings shall work together for our good. And what will cause love, if all this will not ? When we per ceive with what love the Father hath loved us, that of enemies, we should be made the sons of God, and of condemned sinners we should be made the heirs of endless glory, and this so freely and by so strange a means, as may assure us that this doctrine of love, is taught us from heaven by love itself.
3. And especially this work of love is promoted, by opening the kingdom of heaven to the foresight of our faith ; and shewing us what we shall enjoy for ever; and assuring us of the fruition of our Creator's everlasting love; yea, by making us foreknow that heaven consisteth in perfect, mutual, endless love. This of itself, will draw up our hearts and engage all our reason and endeavours, in beginning that work which we must do for ever, and to learn on earth to love in heaven.
4. And besides all these objective helps, Christ giveth to believers the Spirit of love, and maketh it become as a nature in us; which no other teacher in the world could do. Others can speak reason to our ears, but it is Christ that sendeth the warming beams of holy love into our hearts.
If the love of God and holiness were no better than common philosophical speculations, then Aristotle, or Plato, or such other masters of names and notions, might compare with Christ and his apostles, and Athens with the primitive church; and the schoolmen might be thought the best improvers of theology. But if thousands of dreaming disputers wrangle the world into misery, and themselves into hell, and are ingenious artificers of their own damnation ; if the love of God and goodness be the healthful constitution of the soul, its natural content and pleasure, the business and end of life, and all its helps and blessings, the cement of just societies, the union of man with God in Christ, and with all the blessed; and the foretaste and firstfruits of endless glory; then Christ the Messenger of love, the Teacher of love, the giver of love, the Lord and commander of love, is the best promoter of knowledge in the world. And as Nicodemus knew that he was a teacher come from God, because no man could do such works unless God were with him ; so may we conclude the same, because no man could so reveal, so cause, and communicate love, the holy love of God and goodness, unless the God of love had sent him : For love is the end and work of Christ, the fruits of his Word and Spirit.
TO BE THANKFUL TO GOD FOR THE CONSTI-
A LESSON. So excellent and every way suitable to our case is the religion taught and instituted by Christ, as should render it very acceptable to mankind. And that on several accounts.
1. The brevity and plainness of Christian precepts, greatly accommodateth it to the necessity of mankind. Í say his necessity, lest you think it but his sloth. Ars longa, vita brevis,' is the true and sad complaint of students. Had our salvation been laid upon learning a body of true philosophy, how desperate would our case have been !
For 1. Man's great intellectual weakness : 2. His want of leisure, would not have allowed him a knowledge that requireth a subtle wit and tedious studies.
1. Most men have wits of a duller sort : such quickness, subtlety, and solidity as is necessary to great and difficult studies, are very rare : so rare, as that few such are found even among the preachers of the Gospel : Of a multitude who by hard studies, and honest hearts, are fit to preach the doctrine of salvation, scarcely one or two are found of so fine and exact a wit as to be fit judiciously to manage the curious controversies of the schools. What a case then had mankind been in, if none could have been wise and happy indeed, but these few of extraordinary capacity. The most public and common good is the best. God is more merciful than to confine salvation to subtlety of wit : nor indeed is it a thing itself so pleasing to him as a holy heavenly heart and life.
2. And we have bodies that must have provi. sion and employment: we have families and kindred that must be maintained: we live in neighbourhoods and public societies, which call for much duty, and take up much time. And our sufferings and crosses will take up some thoughts. Were it but poverty alone, how much of our time will it alienate from contemplation ! Whilst great necessities call for great care and continual labour ; can our common, poor labourers, (especially husbandmen) have leisure to inform their minds with philosophy or curious speculations ?
Nay, we see by experience, that the more subtle and studious wits, that wholly addict themselves to philosophy, can bring it to no