ANother grace demonstrating the holy Spi∣rits saving habitation in us, is Love, to wit, sincere Love. God is Love, and where God dwelleth by his Spirit, he worketh Love, to wit, sincere Love to God, and sincere love to man for Gods sake. And this Love is a speci∣all work and fruit of the holy Spirit of God in man, as appears by the language of the Apo∣stle, My little Children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth;*And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him: and Gal▪ 5.•2. it is said, The fruit of the Spirit is Love.
More particularly, That sincere Love to God is a special work of the Spirit of God, and such as accompanies salvation, is evident by the great good that this grace is attended with, both here, and hereafter; here all things, how bad soever in themselves, work together for good unto them that love God, Rom. 8.28. And many promises of temporall and eternall good,* are made unto this grace, Psal. 91.14, 15, 16. A Crown of Life is promised unto it, Iam▪ 1.12.25. Much good attendeth this grace here, Page 22 but as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor eare heard, neither have entred into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, 1 Cor. 2.9▪ Such is the happiness, joy, and glory which God hath prepared for them that love him, that it cannot enter into us, till we shall enter into it: It must there∣fore needs be a special work of the Spirit of God in us, and a sure pledg of salvation.
He that sincerely loves God, hath that in him, which is a sure argument that he is greatly beloved of God, aI love them that love me▪ saith Christ, bWe love him because he first loved us, saith the Apostle. And must not that needs be a special work of the Spirit of G•d in man, which strongly argues the special Love of God towards man? surely, yes. But sincere Love to God, strongly argu•s special Love in God towards him that hath it, therefore sincere Love to God must needs be a speciall work of the Spirit of God in whomsoever it is.
That sincere Love to man, for Gods sake, is a speciall work of the Spirit of God in man, is evident by that which follows:
Sincere love to man, for Gods sake, in whom∣soever it is, is a real testimony of his Union with Christ, Regeneration and New-birth, and that he is indeed a true Disciple of Jesus Christ, as these Scriptures following plainly evi∣dence,
cThis is his Commandement, that we beleeve in the Name of his Son Iesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us Commandement, and he that keepeth his Commandement (dwelleth in him, and he in him)dHe that dwelleth in love, dwellth in God,*and God in him. If we love one Page 23 another, God dwelleth in us, and his Love is per∣fected in us, &c.
These Texts cleerly demonstrate, this Love to be a real testimony of Union with Christ, Love is of God, and every one that loveth,*is born of God.eWe know that we are passed from death unto life, because we love the Brethren, saith the Apostle. And these Texts plainly e∣vidence, this love to be a true testimony of our Regeneration and New birth.
Love one another, saith Christ, as I have loved you, meaning for the kind of Love,*By this shall all men know that you are my Disciples, if you have love one towards another. These Texts plainly demonstrate this Love, we speak of, to be a true Character of a true Disciple of Jesus Christ: And must not that needs be a special work of the Spirit of God in man, and a true testimony of his saving habitation in us, which is a real testimony of our Union with Christ, and Renovation by him, and depen∣dance on him? Surely yes. But sincere Love to man, for Gods sake, is eminently all this; therefore this Love must needs be a special work of the Spirit of God, and a sure testi∣mony of his saving habitation in whomsoever it is.
Sincere Love is a grace, without which all profession of Religion is but guilded Hypocri∣sie; where Love is, God dwels, but where it is not, the Devil dwels; the more Love, the more like to God; the less of it, the more like the Devil. Wofull experience shews, That those men which have great parts and gifts, and little or no Love, shew more of the Devils nature, then of Gods, and act more like the Page 24 Devil, then God, where they have power.
Love is the sweetest flower in all the garden of God, but it is a flower which the Devil can∣not indure the smell of, because he is not capable of it, and knows that where Love dwels, he must vanish; and therefore it is his main design to destroy Love, if possible, in all sorts and sects, and to root it up and banish it from the hearts of all men; The Devil is well content, that men should pray, preach, read, hear Sermons, and make a faire shew outwardly, provided this spring not from Love, nor tendeth not to the increase of Love, to God nor man; but if he see Love be the root and fruit of mens services, then he goes cunningly, and Serpent-like to work, to make breaches in this wall, that he may get in and destroy this flower, he deviseth wayes to di∣vide mens judgments, to the end he may de∣stroy this affection of Love out of their hearts; if he prevaile not this way then he will raise up jealousies to destroy Love and Charity, yea sometimes render the best of graces, the worst of vices; and as in tempting a Carnal man, he sometimes stiles lust, Love, so in tempting a spi∣ritual man, he somtimes stiles sincere Love, lust; and by these wiles makes a breach on Charity, to the end he may get into the garden of God, and root up this sweet grace of Love.
Seeing then that this grace of sincere Love to God and man, is a speciall work of the holy Spirit of God, and a grace that he worketh in all those in whom he dwels savingly, to get a true testimony of the holy Spirits saving habi∣tation in thee, thou must diligently examine thy self, touching thy Love to God, and touch∣ing Page 25 thy Love to man: 1. Examine thy Love to God, see whether that be sound and sin∣cere, yea or nay, 2. Examine thy Love to Man, and see whether that be such as the Scripture makes a note of the holy Spirits saving habitation in us, yea or nay.
But how shall I know,*whether my Love to God be sound and sincere, yea or nay.
By Considering,* 1. What sincere Love to God is; And, 2. what the properties and effects of it are.
Sincere Love to God, is a spirituall affecti∣on, causing a man to prize God more,* and obey him rather then any thing in the world besides.
The properties and effects of sincere Love to God are these▪
1. Sincere Love to God is seated in the heart, in the midst of the heart, and it carry∣eth the whole heart and soul to God in obedi∣ence, as well as the whole outward man.
That sincere love to God is seated in the heart, in the midst of the heart, and carries the whole heart to God, will appear thus; That which God in his Word requires, and com∣mands, that true grace doth in its measure, and in a Gospel way give unto him: But God in his Word requires that we should Love him with the heart, with the whole heart, and soul; and,* Therefore this Command doth sufficiently intimate this truth, to wit, That sincere Love to God is seated in the heart, and carries the whole heart to God, &c.
Here note, 1▪ By the whole heart is meant, every faculty of the soul, the whole inner man, the heart wholly, sincerely, so as it is not di∣vided Page 26 between God and the world, between God and sinne, between God and Satan, as the hearts of all Hypocrites are, but is down∣right and wholy for God.
2. My whole heart may then be said to be carried to God, when I cleave to him in af∣fection, more then to any thing besides; ac∣count him my chiefest happiness, from a due consideration of his perfection; rejoyce in him above all things; feare his displeasure more then all persons or things; depend upon him for all things, and aime at his glory principally in all things.
Secondly sincere Love to God, is fastened upon God principally,* for that Divine excel∣lency and spirituall beauty which is in him,* and which he doth communicate unto his People, Because of the savour of thy good Oyntments, thy name is as Oyntment poured forth, therefore the Virgins love thee, saith the Text, Cant. 1.3. Spirituals and not temporals, as this Text shews, are the principall attractives of a sin∣cere and virgin-Love to Christ.
3. Sincere Love to God, is not guided by sense, but by faith, as the language of the Apostle f intimates; therefore saith the Apo∣stle, Whom having not seen, we Love, whom having not seen with Corporall eye nor in¦visible favours, you still cleave to in affection. This is further evidenced in holy Iob, who con∣tinued to love God, and obey him, even when he could not see one glimpse of his countenance, neither within him, nor without him, as ap∣pears by Iob 23.8, 9, 10, 11. verses. And this plainly shews, That his Love was guided by faith, and not by sense, as it is the proper∣ty Page 27 of sincere Love to be.
4. Sincere Love to God, is a very strong Love, Love is strong as death, Cant. 8.6. Sin∣cere Love to God will make a man to resolve, ••augre all opposition, to obey unto the death; it will constrain a man to do or suffer any thing, that God shall see good to impose upon him for tryall-sake, without repining in toung or in heart against God; it will make a man serve God with all his might, therefore saith the Apostle,*The Love of Christ constrain∣eth us: It beareth all things, it endureth all ••ings.
5. Sincere Love to God, is an indearing affection, it indears Christ unto a man above all things in the world besides, so as he will willingly part with all things else, rather then Christ; Christ in his Merit, Christ in his Spirit, Christ in his Ordinances, and in his Ministers and People, is deare unto a sincere lover of Christ above all things here below; This is lively set forth unto us in the Parable of the merchant man, Mat. 13.44, 45, 46. He left all for the Pearl, the Pearl was dear unto him, and he was in Love with it; hence it was that he slighted all in comparison of it. That Love is an indearing affection, is further evident by the language of the Spouse in Love with Christ, Cant. 5.10. He is the chiefest of ten thousand, saith she, meaning of all; and like∣wise by the practise of the Saints, which have sincerely loved Christ, they have willingly part∣ed with their fine cloathing for his sake, and worn sheep-skins and goats-skins, they have parted with fine dwellings, and lyen in dens, and caves, they have parted with all, even to Page 28 their precious lives, Nay these also they have willingly laid down for his sake, in the cruellest way, that bloody persecutors could invent, refusing base deliverance, to advance the ho∣nour of Christ, when he called them forth to suffer, as appears Heb. 11. their Love to Christ did indeare Christ to them above all things.
Here Note, 1. That sincere Love to Christ is strong in all, but not in all according unto the same equal degrees; it indears Christ unto all that have it, above all things, But makes not all to declare it with the like forwardness and courage, nor to declare it at all times a∣like, as many instances in Scripture shew; According to the measure of our faith, so is our Love; if a man beleeve only as a bruised reed, as a weakling in Christ, his Love will only smoak as flax towards Christ, but if he be strong in faith, his Love will flame, it will de∣clare it self with much zeale and fervour of spirit.
2. That, that Love to Christ, which pre∣ferrs any one thing whatsoever before Christ, or subjoyns any one thing in the world coequal with Christ, is no sound sincere Love, neither is it worth any thing in Christ's account, as his own language shews', He that Loveth Father, or Mother more then me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth Sonne or Daughter more then me, is not worthy of me, Matth. 10.37.
3. That Love to Christ which fals off from Christ, when tryals, tribulations and persecu∣tions come, and will not beare the Cross for Christs sake, when he cals thereunto, is no Page 29 sincere Love, but an Hypocritical, as Christ shews, Mat. 10.38. He that taketh not up hi• Cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me: And further illustrates in the Parable of the ftony ground, Mat. 13.20, 21.
That Love to Christ which makes not a man to account all things but loss, and dross, and dung for Christ, and to set such a price on Chrift, and his hopes by him, that he resolves through the help of Christ, to part with any thing which may hinder him from doing Christ faithful service, how neare or dear soever it be, or ought to be, yea with life it self, or whatsoever contentments may indeare it unto him, when Christ cals him to it, is no sound nor available Love, as Christ shews when he saith, If any man come to me, and hate not his Father, and Mother, and Wife, and Children, and Brethren, and Sisters, yea, and his life al∣so, he cannot be my Disciple, Luke 14.26.
Hence it is evident, in the next place, That [ 6] sincere Love to God, is a very tender Love, yea, a Love more tender towards God then towards any thing else, besides God, Per∣sons or things, and will make a man willing rather to part with all, persons or things; How neare or deare soever, then with God; yea, so tender a Love it is,* as it will not suf∣fer a man to go in any way, though never so pleasing to flesh and blood, that he knows dis∣pleaseth the Lord, nor transgress the least of Gods Commandements with knowledg, with∣out grief of heart, as appears in the example of Ioseph and David. Ioseph sincerely loved his God,* and this Love constrained him to con∣temn Page 30 the carnall Love of his miftress, and the carnal pleasure proffered him by her, for fear of displeasing God. David sincerely Loved his God; and hence it was that his heart smote him,*for cutting off the lap of Sauls gar∣ment; a small matter one would think, yet (saith David) He is the Lords annointed. I have therefore transgressed his Commandement in laying violent hands on him, and was there∣fore grieved; his Love constrained him to grieve.
Hence it appeareth, in the next place, That [ 7] sincere Love to God, produceth and preserv∣eth a tender Conscience, a holy feare of God in the heart and soul, and a holy hatred of all sin, How shall I do this wickedness and sin against my God, saith the soul that sincerely Loves God, when tempted to sinne by the world, the flesh, or the Devil: God hates all iniqui∣ty, and he that fincerely Loves God, hates what he hates,* therefore (saith the Psalmist) you that Love the Lord, hate evill, to wit, be∣cause God hates it.
[ 8] Sincere Love to God makes a man love the whole will of God, I love thy Command•m•nts, saith David, above gold, yea, above fine gold: I esteem all thy pr•cepts, concerning all things to be right,*and hate every false way. This Language of David shews, That he loved the whole will of God, even that which did cross and con∣demn that sinne, which his nature was most prone to; and it is the nature of sincere Love to God, to make a man thus to love the Will of God.
A sincere Lover of God, loveth not the Word of God the less,* but ••e more for dis∣covering Page 31 his darling sinne, and so consequent∣ly he loves not, nor esteems not the faithfull Ministers of the Word the lesse, but the more for their faithfulnesse, in discovering and op∣posing sinne, predominate sinne whether per∣sonal or national.
Sincere Love to God is an obediential Love, [ 9] it makes a man Cordially obey the Will of God, rather then any thing in the world be∣sides. This is evident by the Language of Christ, gIf a man love me, (saith Christ, to wit, sincerely) he will keep my words. He that hath my Commandements, and keepeth them, He it is that loveth me, ibid. v. 21. And by the Language of his beloved Disciple, hThis is Love, that we walk after his Commandements. The great Character of sincere Love to God, set by Christ and his beloved Disciple, is obe∣dience, to wit, Cordiall obedience to all the revealed will of God; and hence it is evident▪ That sincere Love to God is an obedientiall Love.
That this Love leads a man to obey God [ 10] rather then any thing in the world besides, is manifest by the carriage of such in all ages of the world, in whose hearts the sincere Love of Christ hath dwelt; The three Children in Captivity,* being commanded of men to do what they were forbidden of God, chose ra∣ther to obey God then man. Peter and Iohn,* being forbidden of men, to do what they were commanded of God, reply, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you, rather then unto God, judge ye, and chose rather to obey God then man, as the words following shew: And thus it is with other sincere Lo∣vers Page 32 of God, if God and man, God and sin, God and Satan, come in competition, or opposition, all craving obedience: If sincere Love to God be in the heart, it will soone end the controversie, and cause a man to obey from the heart, God before all; sincere Love to Christ will make a man think Christ's yoke easie,*and his burthen light, his Commande∣ments not grievous; it will make a man o∣bey actively and passively, and resist unto blood, striving against sinne, as the Scripture speaks.
[ 10] Sincere Love to God mortifieth in us the love of the world, If any man Love the world the love of the father, (to wit, the sincere Love of the Father) is not in him, 1 Joh. 2.15. This language of Iohn, intimates thus much unto us, (to wit) That where the sincere Love of God dwels, it mortifieth the Love of the world, to wit, those things in the world, which are properly said to be of the world, and ene∣mies unto God, as all unchast Loves, Diabo∣licall Love, and inordinate Love of Carnall things, The lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life; all which are enemies unto God, and his grace in us, and cannot subsist with the Love of God, being contrary unto it.
[ 11] Sincere Love to God makes a man very sen∣sible of Gods dishonour, and grieve at it, as Ionathans Love to David, made him very sensible of the dishonour his Father did him, and grieve at it; so sincere Love to God makes a man very sensible of the dishonour done to God, and grieve at it, it makes him sensible of the dishonour done to God by o∣thers, Page 33 but most sensible of the dishonour done to God by himself, and grieve at it; This ap∣pears in David, David sincerely loved God, and this made him grieve at the dishonour o∣ther men did to God,* but most of all at the dishonour which himself had done to God,* the consideration of this made his heart pant, and his strength fail, and made him go mourning all the day long.
Sincere Love to God makes a man [ 12] prize the light of Gods countenance, and the apprehension of his Love in Christ, above all things in the world, Lord,*Lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me, this putteth gladness into my heart, more then corn and wine.*Let him kiss me with the kisses of his lips, for his love is better then wine. This is the language of sincere lovers of God and Christ, and a clear evidence it is of the truth asserted, and lively demonstrates the judgement and affection of a sincere lover of God and Christ.
Sincere Love to God makes a man [ 13] delight in communion with God by prayer, meditation, and the use of all his other Ordi∣nances here, and long for the marriage-day of the Lamb, to the end he might enjoy a more near Union, and sweet Communion with Christ his well-beloved, and be perfectly conformed unto his holy will, as the language of sincere lovers of God shew, iMy soul thirsteth for God, for the living God, when shall I come and appear before him,kOh God! thou art my God, early will I seek thee, my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, &c. lI have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is best of allmCome Lord Iesus, Come quickly
Page 34*This longing desire to depart and to be with Christ, and to have Christ come to consum∣mate the mysticall marriage, though it be a fruit of love, yet it is not an inseparable pro∣perty of sincere love, neither is it in all, that sincerely love God, nor in all in whom it is, is it at all times alike, but in those only which appre∣hend the love of God in Christ towards them, and at such time, as they apprehend it; and this is not every sincere lovers portion here, there∣fore a Christian ought not to judge his love to God unsound, onely because he wants this longing desire to be with Christ, and to have Christ come to consummate this mystical mar∣riage, but to have recourse to the foresaid properties of sincere love, for the tryall of his love, when this fails, and to such as follow.
[ 14] Sincere Love to God is a constant growing love, and an everlasting love, it holds out in all times and seasons, and variety of condi∣tions, prosperity and adversity, praise and persecution, health and sickness, plenty and poverty, liberty and bonds, yea, in death it self, and after death through all eternity; death doth not terminate this grace, but per∣fect it; therefore saith the Apostle of a sincere lover, nhe dwelleth in love, and of this love, oIt never faileth.
A man that sincerely loves God continues to love him, when he hides his face from him, and he cannot see him, nor one glimpse of his favor, neither within him, nor without him; yea, when he frowns upon him▪ and shewes himself marvelous unto him, as Iob speaks, and the Arrows of the Almighty stick fast in his soul, And Satan, and his own Conscience de∣luded Page 35 by Satan, tells him, He shall never see the face of God with comfort; And however God carryes himself towards him, yet he dares not from thence take leave to vary his carriage to∣wards God, but loves him still, for better, for worse, and obeys him to the utmost of his power: which shews in the next place,
That he that sincerely loves God, loves [ 15] him for nought.* That man may be said to love God for nought, who loves him princi∣pally for himself, and not for his, who loves him, because he is of all things most lovely, who had rather have God without all, then all without God, for his portion; Who had ra∣ther have a houseless Christ, a harbourles• Christ, a hated and a persecuted Christ, th•• all the honours, pleasures, and riches of the world without Christ; Who had rather have grace without glory, then glory without grace; Who had rather have the Gospel, and Go∣spel-Ordinances in power and purity, with po∣verty and trouble, then peace and plenty with∣out them; Who had rather Christ should reign, then himself; Who desires Christ may encrease, though he himself decrease; and truth live, though he die; Who preferrs the interest of God and Christ before his own interest▪ or any interest whatsoever; Who la∣bours more to get, and to keep a good consci∣ence, then a good estate in the world; In a word, he that loveth God, more then these earthly contentments, he, and he only, may be said to love God for nought, and to love him sincerely, as Christs language to Peter intimates, Lovest thou me, more then these? as if he had said, If thy love be not more to Page 36 me then to these earthly things, it's worth no∣thing in my account; if it be •ore to me, then to •hese▪ if it adhere to me with the loss of these •hat shews it is not for these, but for nought that thou lovest me, and this argues thy love sincere.
[ 16] Sincere Love to Christ is very industrious, and it makes the Subject in which it is very in∣dustrious in following after the Lord, and the things of the Lord; and the more it abound∣eth, the more industrious the soul is in follow∣ing after her beloved; this is evident by the lan∣guage, and practice of such, as have sincerely loved the Lord in all times, Ipfollow after, saith the Apostle. My soul followeth hardqafter thee, saith another sincere lover of God. Early will I seek thee, &c. and the Spouse in the Canticles,r sought night and day after her beloved: Mary Magdalens and other lovers of Christ,* were very industrious in seeking af∣ter him: All which evidently demonstrates the truth asserted (to wit) That sincere love is very industrious.
[ 17] Sincere Love to God and Christ, makes the soul unsatisfied in thinking and speaking of the divine Excellencies, Wisdome, Beauty and Ma∣jesty of God and Christ: Love of what kind soever, delights in the comtemplation of the object which it fastens on; the soul delights to be still thinking and speaking of her Beloved, whatever it be,* as every ones experience can te•• him; the soul that sincerely loves God doth no less: See an instance of this in the Spouse in the Canticles, she thinks of her Beloved, a•d speaks of her Beloved,* as one unsatisfied with the thoughts and praises of him, as one resol∣ved Page 37 to win (if it were possible) all the world, to love what she loved; and this lively demon∣strates the sincerity of her love, and the nature of sincere love.
Sincere Love to God is a soul-warming affe∣ction, [ 18] it warmeth that heart, in which it is, with a spirituall heat, with a holy zeal for God, and the things of God; yea so warmeth it, that many waters cannot quench it, nor floods drown the fire, which it kindleth within:* This is evident by the zeal of those, which have sin∣cerely loved God in all ag•s, we may take all the Saints for an example of this, but I will in∣stance only in Moses, and P•ul; Moses,* who was the meekest man upon the earth, had his spirit so warmed with the love of God in his heart, tha• the fire of zeal brake forth in an unquenchable flame in him, when he saw God dishonoured, and an Idol magnified by the people of God. And Paul's spirit was hereby so stirred within •im,* when he saw the people given to Idola•ry, that he could not forbear to reprove it, whatever he underwent for it; All these had their hearts so warmed with the love of G•d, that neither water nor bloud, could quench the flame that love had kindled; which evidently demonstrates this love to be a heart-warming Affection.
Though sincere Love to God do warm the hearts of all, in whom it is,* with a zeal of God, yet doth it not warm the hearts of all alike, according to the measure and degree of love in the heart, such is the zeal that issueth out of it.
Sincere Love to God is a soul-humbling af∣fection, [ 19] it thinks it can never do, nor suffer Page 38 enough for God, and thence it is, that it doth not glory in any doing or suffering, it comes stil short of what it should do, and what it would do, and therefore is not puffed up with what it doth, but rather humbled by its failings; Knowledge puffeth up, but love casteth down the soul.
Sincere Love to God is a heart-softening af∣fection, [ 20] as is evident by the carriage of Nathan towards David, when the Lord sent Nathan to awaken David,* and call him to repentance; What did Nathan, but labour to set an edge on David's love, by setting the loving kind∣ness of the Lord before him, as one knowing, that if any thing melted his heart, this would do it, and this we see did it, which plainly shews, That love is a heart-softening affection. This is yet farther evident in other of the Saints, Iosiah loved his God, and hence it was that his heart melted, when he considered, how he and his people had offended God by walking contrary to his statutes; Mary Mag∣dalen sincerely loved Christ, and hence it was that her heart was so mollified and melted, for the sinne she had committed.
*Love softeneth the heart in which it is; no∣thing more, nothing so mollifying as love; love delated, and love apprehended mollify∣eth the heart, as oyl doth the hand.
The way to encrease sorrow for sinne, is to encrease love to God; grief is but an effect of love, love is the leading affection to grief, an∣ger, hatred, and desire; grief springs not so naturally from any thing, as it doth from love, there is no grief so kindly, none so pier∣•ing, none so lasting and wasting, as that the 〈◊〉 springs from pure love.
Page 39Object. But this property of love makes me to question the truth of my love, for I find my heart is hard, I cannot grieve for sinne, as I should, or as I would.
Answ. Softness of heart hath other appea∣rances, besides grief, it shews it self in yeeld∣ing to walk in the statutes of the Lord, and keep his ordinances, and do them, inflexibili∣ty and readiness to obey the known will of the Lord, without standing out against any part of it, and to these a child of God should have recourse in such case.
Sincere Love to God is a sinne-abating af∣fection; [ 21] This I gather from the propheticall prediction of Jesus Christ,* concerning these times, Because iniquity shall abound,*the love of many shall wax cold; hence it is evident, That the abounding of iniquity, springs from the totall want or decay of love; if love did a∣bound, iniquity could not abound, it would a∣bate the force of it; love is therefore called a breast-plate.
While the Church of Ephesus continued in her first and fervent love, we read of no com∣plaints of her, but when her love abated, her in•quity abounded.
Sincere Love to God will abate sinne in a [ 22] Person, Church, or Nation, if it be in the Per∣son, Church, or Nation.
Sincere Love to God, is an establ•shing af∣fection; This I ga•her from the language of Page 40 the Apostle, 2 Thes. 2.10, 11. Because they received not the love of the truth, t•at they might be saved, for this cause God shall send them strong delusions to believe lies, &c. Hence it is evident, That had these (of whom the A∣postle speakes) received the love of the truth, had they sincerely loved the God of truth, they had continued in the truth, in the know∣ledge of it, in the belief of it, in the obedience of it, and neither totally nor finally aposta∣tized from the truth; which strongly argues, love is an establishing affection.
The knowledge of the truth, without love of the truth (to wit) sincere love,* is utterly unavaileable unto salvation; The knowledge of the truth without love of the truth, is un∣valed to uphold in the profession, and obe∣dience of the truth.
He whose judgement is unsound, is in dan∣ger to be corrupt by flatteries, as the Prophet Daniel speakes; but he whose love is unsound, is in more danger to be corrupt by flatte∣ries.
He whose love is sound, may through frail∣ty fall, and through fear of some corporall e∣vil, become guilty of partiall apostacy; but he shall never fall away totally nor finally from the God of truth,* nor from the truth of God: By all which it appears, that love is an esta∣blishing affection.
[ 23] Sincere Love to God, is not lessened by en∣crease of knowledge, but encreased with it; He that loves God sincerely, his knowledge doth not lessen his love to God, or the Ordi∣nances of God, or the Ministers of God, but encreaseth it; his love doth abound more and Page 41 more, as his knowledge doth abound more and more; This is sufficiently intimated by the lan∣guage of the Apostle, Phil. 1.9.
He whose light doth not encrease,* but ra∣ther decrease his love, hath cause to question his love, and his light too.
Finally, Sincere Love to God, alwayes [ 24] produceth sincere love to man for Gods sake; This is evident by the language of the Apostle, If any man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother,*whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen? As if the Apostle had said, It is impossible for that man to love God sincerely, which loveth not his brother; if a man love God, this love will constrain him to love his brother, it will produce love to man for Gods sake; This is farther intimated, ver. 21.
By these few Proper•ies, Effects, and Ap∣pearances of a sincere love to God, I con∣ceive a Christian may judge aright of his love to God, and so consequently of his conditi∣on.
Quest. But how shall I know, whether my love to man be sound, and such as demonstrates the holy Spirits saving habitation in me, or not?
Answ. By considering, 1, What sincere love to man is: And, 2, What the Appea∣rances of it are.
Sincere Love to man,* demonstrating the holy Spirits saving habitation in the soul, is a free affection of the soul, delated on man for God, and according to the rules of God gi∣ven in the holy Scriptures.
And it is manifest thus, it issueth out of the Page 42 love of God, and is carried to man for God, for Gods sake,* as the Apostle plainly shews, By this we know we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his Commandements, &c. As if he had said, By this we know, that our love towards man is sound, and such as de∣monstrates the holy Spirits saving habitation in us, even by this, that it issueth out of the love of God, as the spring and fountain of it, and is delated on man, for Gods sake, for so much that phrase [keep his Commandements,] im∣plies.
God commands us to love one another, and to aim principally at his glory herein;* now when a man doth this, when he makes Gods Commandement, the efficient cause of his love towards his brother, and Gods glory the finall cause of it, then doth he love him for God, for Gods sake.
A mans love to his brother, then issues out of the love of God, and the Commandement of God is the efficient cause of it, when he loves him, because God commands him so to do, and out of love to God commanding.
A man then makes the glory of God the fi∣nall cause of his love towards his brother, when he therefore delates his love upon him, that he may acquire and gain honour to God and his Gospel, which he hath called him to the profession of thereby, and makes this his ut∣most scope, and ultimate end in loving him.
[ 2] Secondly, That love to man, which demon∣strates the holy Spirits saving habitation in the soul, is a love squared by, and congruous to the rule of God (to wit) the holy Scrip∣tures.
Page 43That love which is squared by, and congru∣ous to the rule of God, is an universall love, a love which extendeth it self to all athe Saints, yea to allbmen, good and bad, yea to verycene∣mies, because God requires this at our hands, that we should love our enemies; and in this re∣spect I may call it a singular love.
It worketh nodill to any, Deviseth noteevill against any, no, thinketh nofevill to any; but goodgto all, But is more abundant, more tender and strong towards the godly then towards any other; He that loveth him that begat, lo∣veth him also that is begotten of him, saith the Apostle h. The words imply a speciall love, or love after a speciall manner, it is as if the A∣postle had said, He that loves God in sincerity, loves the children of God after a speciall man∣ner; Love the Brotherhood, saith the Apostle, i meaning after a speciall manner, and this he doth, that loves God sincerely, his love in re∣ference to them, is a love of large extent; it extendeth even unto loss of life, in some cases; As in case the honour of God may be advan∣ced thereby, or a publick good procured unto the brethren▪ the Church of God thereby; This I think is the Apostles meaning, in the 1 Ioh. 3.16. If sincere love to God and man, be in the heart of a man, it will constrain him, in such cases as these, to deny himself unto the death, to advance the honour of God, and the Churches good; it will make him preferre the Churches good before his own, witness kAquila and Priscilla, whose love to God and the Church, constrained them to yeeld their own lives, to preserve Paul's: The like ex∣m•ples we have in Moses and Paul, whose Page 44 love to God and the Church, caused them to slight life, and deny themselves to the death, and beyond it too, for the advancing of Gods glory, and the Churches good.
Then again, That love to man which is con∣gruous to the rule of God, is a love paralleling the love of Christ towards us, for the kind of it; Christ commands us, To love one another, as he hath loved us,l And he whose love is con∣gruous to this rule, doth this for kind, though not for measure.*
That love which is congruous to the rule of God and the love of Christ, is a free-love. m He that loves his brother according to Christs rule, and Christs example, loves him freely.
It is a condescending love, n it will make a man condescend to men of low estate, con∣descend to his brother that cannot come up to him, by reason of his mean place, education, parts or gifts.
It is an establishing love; a grace without which the heart of a man can never be esta∣blished in grace, as I gather from the language of the Apostle, o to the Thessalonians.
It is a growing love, and encreaseth still, 1 Thes. 3.12.
It is a covering grace, it covereth all infirmi∣ties Page 45 in the godly, so farre forth, as the glory of God may not be any way prejudiced, but ad∣vanced thereby, and forgiveth all trespasses done by the ungodly, so farre forth likewise, as may be gathered from the language of So∣lomon: Love (saith he) covereth all sinne; and the language of Peter,*Charity shall cover the multitude of sinnes.*
In reference to the godly, it is a love in the truth, and for the truths sake; as appeares by the language of S•Iohn concerning the elect Lady, 2 Joh. 1.2.
I then love my brother in the truth, when the bond that links me and him together, in a Christian conjunction, is the true and constant profession of the truth.
I may then be said to love my brother for the truths sake, when that grace and truth which is in him, is the principall attractive of my love; for that love which is delated on the godly by a godly heart, hath grace for the principall attractive of it, and not base by-re∣spects,* and therefore continueth as long as grace lasteth, though other motives to love fail, and such occurrences fall out, as usually extinguish a love led by by-respects, there∣fore saith the Apostle of this love, It never faileth,* it is still growing and encreasing in a state of imperfection, and at length perfected in Heaven, it never faileth.
It is a love that suffereth long, is kind, en∣vieth not, vaunteth not it self, is not puffed up; doth not behave*it self unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, it rejoyceth not in iniquity, but rejoyceth in the truth, it beareth all things; believeth all things, loveth all things, Page 46 endureth all things, 1 Cor. 13.4, 5, 6, 7.
It is a heart-softening affection, a heart-mollifying love; This is intimated by the lan∣guage of the Apostle, Heb. 3.13. Exhort one another daily,*while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardened, through the deceitfullness of sinne. Hence it is evident, That if our love one towards another were such, as it should be, and did operate as it should do, it would soften and mollifie our hearts: Congruous love is mol∣lifying.
Here note two or three things; Christians frequently complain of hardness of heart in these dayes,* and not without cause, but few I believe take notice, that want in love is the cause of it; Strangeness weakens, cools and abates love, nothing more, this it doth in man towards God, and in man towards man, and as love abates, and strangeness grows, the heart contracts hardness more and more, Pro∣batum est.
Whilest the Galatians love towards Paul continued, they were pliable within and with∣out, they would have parted with any thing to have done him good, but when once their love abated, their hearts were hardned towards him, and his message too.
Love and intimate converse melts the heart, nothing more; strangeness hardens it, nothing the like; intimate converse with God, en∣creaseth love to God, and melteth the heart; intimate converse with the godly-wise, doth the like.
Our great hardness of heart, and unprofita∣bleness under the great meanes of grace in pub∣lick, I may truly say, hath in great part sprung Page 47 from the gross neglect of the duties of Christian love; and the great strangeness that is grown amongst Christians, in these times, where we meet, but in complement usually.
But when God shall give his people one heart, and one way, to serve him, with one con∣sent; when their love shall abound, one towards another, and operate without these obstructions of division, in judgement, and affection [they shall then have hearts of flesh, and not of stone:*] as appears by Ier. 32.39. and Zeph. 3.9. com∣pared with Ezek. 36.26. which places have reference to one and the same time.
It is said of Leviathan, Job 41. That the flakes of his flesh are joyned together: they are firme in themselves, they cannot be moved. His scales are one so neer another, that no Air can come between them. They are joyned one to ano∣ther, they stick together, that they cannot be sunder•d. The Lord Jesus Christ is the great Leviathan of Heaven and Earth, and his people are his scales, and the flakes of his flesh; and were they so joyned together in Christian love and society, that no Air of temptation could come between them, they would be firm in themselves; and so stick together, that they could not be sundered, yea, in their neck would strength remaine, and sorrow would be turned into joy before them.
I wish all the Saints to whose view this may come, may take these things into considera∣tion.
Great is the latitude of Christian love, of love congruous to the rule of God; for they whose love is congruous to the rule of God. Grudge not a one against ••e other; Speak not evilPage 48bone of another: Do not bitecand devour one another; Devi•e •ot evill one against another; d; Do not oppress, over-reach, or defraudeone another, i• any matter; Render not evillffor evill unto any man; Say not I will dogso to him, as he hath done to me, I will •ender unto the man according to his deeds; They bear not falsehwit∣ness against their Neighbour, nor bear witness, withouticause against their Neighbour, nor deceive with their lips; Lay not wait against the dwelling ofkthe righteous; Spoil not his resting place; Adde not afflictionlto the afflicted; Rejoyce not in theirmenemies fell, much less in their brothers; Hate not their brother innheart; Stand not against the bloodoof their Neighbours, out of desire of revenge, nor upon a politicall account; Are not as Cain*who slew his Brother;*They judge not theirpBrother, nor set at nought their Brother; Give no offenceqwillingly to any, but endeavour, as much as lawfully they may, to live peaceablyrwith all men; They put away allsbitterness, and wrath, and anger, and •lamour, and evill speaking, with all malice; Love one another astGod gave us Commandement; Love one another, as Christ hath loveduus; Love as*Brethren; Love withoutxdissimulation, cordially,yunfeignedly, out of a pure heart, fervently; Love not in wordzand in tongue on∣ly, but in deed and in truth; They walkain Page 49 love; aboundbin Love, growcin Love, speak the truthdin Love, serve one anotherein Love, continuefin Love, are kindly affectionated one towards anothergwith brotherly Love; Re∣joice with themhthat rejoyce, and weep with them that weep; In honour preferreione another, have compassionkone of another, are pitifull, are courteouslone towards another, tendermhearted; if rich, they are rich in good works*ready to distribute, willing to communicate, shew mercyowith cheerfullness, they beare one anotherspburdens. If strong, beare the infirmi∣tiesqof the weak, supportrthe weak, beare one with another, a•d forbeare onesanother; Forsake not thetassembling of themselves together, but exhort one another daily, edify one anotheruand comfort one another, with the Word of the Lord; *Teach and admonish one another, consider one another to provokexunto Love, and to good works, confess their faults oneyto another; This (I think) is meant, at least chiefly, of faults committed one against ano∣ther, and pray one for another; Pray for*all men, even enemies; †Do good unto all,abut especially unto the houshold of Fai•h, they are not overcome of evill, butblabour to overcome evill with goodness; they do as they wouldcbe done by in all things; they esteemdvery highly in Love, for their works sake, their lawfull and faithfull Ministers, especially those in whom they have propriety; They receiveeone another, as Christ received us to the glory of God; and be at peace among themselves.
Page 50Then again. He whose Love to his brother is congruous to the Rule of God, goes not up and down as a tale-bearer,fHe seeks not his own,gbut his brothers good; labours to avoid whatsoever may offendhor weaken his brother, or be a stumbling block unto him; labours to pleaseihis brother for his good, to Edification; He loves his Neighbour as himself; kdoth good freely,llooking for nothing again; He saies not as Cain, Am I my brothers keeper? but watches over his brother for his good, and re∣provesmhis brother in Love, according to Christ's Rule n privately and publiquely, if need be; informs against his brothero in such place and case, as Christ commands him, and with-draws from his brother in case of pscandall or contempt of the Churches lawfull constitutions and censures; or in case he cause divisionsq or offences in the Church, contrary to the Doctrine of the holy Scriptures; mournsrfor his brother, and praies forshim in such cases. Labours to restorethis brother in the spirit of meekness, when overtaken in any fault, and returns to himuwhen he turns to the Lord. Forgives*him and comforts him, and con∣firms his Love towards him; He forgives his brother his trespasses from his x heart, as often as he yoffendeth, and repenteth, freely, aszChrist forgave us; For Christ's sake, and as God hath forgiven us.
All these qualifications the Scripture cals for, in my Love towards my Brother, as these quotations in the Margin do manifest; There∣fore that Love towards man, which is congru∣ous to the holy Scripture, must needs have these qualifications in it, ergo.
Page 51But here the soul conscious to its own wants and failings, will be ready to reply,* as the Disciples did to Christ, when he told them, how hard a matter it was for a rich man to en∣ter into the Kingdom of Heaven; who then can be saved, said the Disciples? so the soul will be ready to say here, if all this be in that Love which is congruous to the rule of God, who then can say his Love is congruous to the rule of God? surely none, for in much of this we faile all.
He that truly wills, desires,* and indeavours to do all this,* that Christ may have the ho∣nour of it, doth it in a Gospel-sense, and in Gods acceptation, who accepts the will for the deed: where ability is wanting, this must be granted, otherwise no Child of Adam could conclude on the affirmative.
Now for other appearances of Love, they are these; What a man Loves, he prizes ac∣cordingly; What a man loves, he delights in accordingly; What a man Loves, he desires to enjoy; what a man loves, he cannot hear re∣proached, reviled, and spoken against, but with grief of heart: This needs no proving, every ones experience, will testifie the truth of it.
Wouldest thou know, whether thy Love to God and thy Love to man be sound, and such as demonstrates the holy Spirits saving habita∣tion in thy soul or not? then go through what hath been said in this little Epitomie, touching Love to God, and Love to man; and consider, whether thy Love be truly such, yea or nay; and if thou findest it truly such, though but weakly, conclude thou maist safely to thy comfort, that thy Love is such, Page 52 as really demonstrates thou art beloved of God and indued with the holy Spirit of God saving∣ly: For Love indeed and in truth, argues that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him, as the Apostle affirms, 1 Ioh. 3.18, 19. Therefore if thou upon a true tryal, findest by this that hath been said, that thou hast any truth of Love to God and thy Brother, argue not against thy self, or thy Love, but bless God for that Love thou hast, and labour to grow and increase in Love to God and man daily.