« ForrigeFortsæt »
his “ being moved with compassion,” Matth. ix. 36, and xiv. 14, and Mark vi. 34. And how tender did his heart appear to be, on occasion of Mary's and Martha's mourning for their brother, and coming to him with their complaints and tears? Their tears soon drew tears from his eyes ; he was affected with their grief, and wept with them ; though he knew their sorrow should so soon be turned into joy, by their brother's being raised from the dead ; see John xi. And how ineffably affectionate was that last and dying discourse, which Jesus had with his eleven disciples the evening before he was crucified ; when he told them he was going away, and foretold them the great difficulties and sufferings they should meet with in the world, when he was gone ; and comforted and counselled them as his dear little children ; and bequeathed to them his Holy Spirit, and thercin his peace, and his comfort and joy, as it were in his last will and testament, in the 13, 14, 15, and 16 chapters of John; and concluded the whole with that affectionate intercessory prayer for them, and his whole church, in chap. xvii. Of all the discourses ever penned, or uttered by the mouth of, any man, this seems to be the most affectionate and affecting.
8. The religion of heaven consists very much in affection.
There is doubtless true religion in heaven, and true religion in its utmost purity and perfection. But according to the scripture representation of the heavenly state, the religion of heaven consists chiefly in holy and inighty love and joy, and the expression of these in most fervent and exalted praises. So that the religion of the saints in heaven, consists in the same things with that religion of the saints on earth, which is spoken of in our text, viz. love, and “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Now it would be very foolish to pretend, that because the saints in heaven be not united to flesh and blood, and have no animal fluids to be moved (through the laws of union, of soul and body) with those great emotions of their souls, that therefore their exceeding love and joy are no afsections. We are not speaking of the affections of the body, but of the affections of the soul, the chief of which are love
and joy. When these are in the soul, whether that be in the body or out of it, the soul is affected and moved. And when they are in the soul, in that strength in which they are in the saints in heaven, the soul is mightily affected and moved, or, which is the same thing, has great affections. It is true, we do not experimentally know what love and joy are in a soul out of a body, or in a glorified body ; i. e. we have not had experience of love and joy in a soul in these circumstances ; but the saints on earth do know what divine love and joy in the soul are, and they know that love and joy are of the same kind with the love and joy which are in heaven, in separate souls there. The love and joy of the saints on earth, is the beginning and dawning of the light, life, and blessedness of heaven, and is like their love and joy there ; or rather, the same in nature, though not the same with it, or like to it, in degree and circumstances. This is evident by many scriptures, as Prov. iv. 18. John iv. 14, and chap. vi. 40, 47, 50, 51, 54, 58. 1 John iii. 15. I Cor. xiii. 8.... 12. It is unreasonable therefore to suppose, that the love and joy of the saints in heaven, not only differ in degree and circumstances, from the holy love and joy of the saints on earth, but is so entirely different in naturė, that they are no affections ; and merely because they have no blood and animal spirits to be set in motion by them, which motion of the blood and animal spirits is not of the essence of these affections, in men on the earth, but the effect of them ; although by their reaction they may make some circumstantial difference in the sensation of the mind. There is a sensation of the mind which loves and rejoices, that is antecedent to any effects on the Auids of the body ; and this sensation of the mind, therefore, does not depend on these motions in the body, and so may be in the soul without the body. And wherever there are the exercises of love and joy, there is that sensation of the mind, whether it be in the body or out ; and that inward sensation, or kind of spiritual sense, or feeling, and motion of the soul, is what is called affection : The soul when it thus feels, (if I may say so) and is thus moved, is said to be affected, and especially when this inward sensation and motion are to a very high VOL. IV.
degree, as they are in the saints in heaven. If we can learn any thing of the state of heaven from the scripture, the love and joy that the saints have there, is exceeding great and vigorous ; impressing the heart with the strongest and most lively sensation of inexpressible sweetness, mightily moving, animating, and engaging them, making them like to a flame of fire. And if such love and joy be not affections, then the word affection is of no use in language. Will any say, that the saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father, and the glory of their Redeemer, and contemplating his wonder. ful works, and particularly his Jaying down his life for them, have their hearts nothing moved and affected by all which they behold or consider ?
Hence, therefore, the religion of heaven, consisting chiefly in holy love and joy, consists very much in affection ; and therefore, undoubtedly, true religion consists very much in affection. The way to learn the true nature of any thing, is to go where that thing is to be found in its purity and perfection. If we would know the nature of true gold, we must view it, not in the ore, but when it is refined. If we would learn what true religion is, we must go where there is true religion, and nothing but true religion, and in its highest perfection, without any defect or mixture. All who are truly religious are not of this world, they are strangers here, and belong to heaven ; they are born from above, heaven is their native country, and the nature which they receive by this heavenly birth, is an heavenly nature, they receive an anointing from above ; that principle of true religion which is in them, is a communication of the religion of heaven ; their grace is the dawn of glory ; and God fits them for that world
; by conforming them to it.
9. This appears from the nature and design of the ordinances and duties, which God hath appointed, as means and expressions of true religion.
To instance in the duty of prayer : It is manifest, we are not appointed in this dyty, to declare God's perfections, his majesty, holiness, goodness, and allsufficiency, and our own meanness, emptiness, dependence, and unworthiness, and our
wants and desires, to inform God of these things, or to in. cline his heart, and prevail with him to be willing to shew us mercy, but suitably to affect our own hearts with the things we express, and so to prepare us to receive the blessings we ask. And such gestures and manner of external behavior in the worship of God, which custom has made to be significations of humility and reverence, can be of no further use thán as they have some tendency to affect our own hearts, or the hearts of others.
And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.
The same thing appears in the nature and design of the sacraments, which God hath appointed. God, considering our frame, hath not only appointed that we should be told of the great things of the gospel, and of the redemption of Christ, and instructed in them by his word ; but also that they should be, as it were, exhibited to our view, in sensible representations, in the sacraments, the more to affect us with them.
And the impressing divine things on the hearts and affections of men, is evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained, that his word delivered in the holy scriptures, should be opened, applied, and set home upon men, in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions on the scripture, and other good books of divinity ; because although these may tend, as well as preaching, to give men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding, of the things of the word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men's hearts and affections. God hath appointed a particular and lively application of his word to men, in the preaching of it, as a fit means to affect sinners with the importance of the things of religion, and their own misery, and necessity of a remedy, and the glory and sufficiency of a remedy provided ,
and to stir up the pure minds of the saints, and quicken their affections, by often bringing the great things of religion to their remembrance, and setting them before them in their proper colors, though they know them, and have been fully instructed in them already, 2 Pet, i. 12, 13. And particuJarly, to promote those two affections in them, which are spoken of in the text, love and joy : “ Christ gave some, apostles ; and some, prophets ; and soine evangelists ; and some, pastors and teachers' ; that the body of Christ might be edi. ified in love," Eph. iv. 11, 12, 16. The apostle, in instructing and counselling Timothy concerning the work of the ministry, informs him that the great end of that word which a minister is to preach, is love or charity, 1 Tim. i. 3, 4, 5. And another affection which God has appointed preaching as a means to promote in the saints, is joy ; and therefore min, isters are called “ helpers of their joy," 2 Cor. i. 24.
10. It is an evidence that true religion, or holiness of heart, lies very much in the affection of the heart, that the scriptures place the sin of the heart very much in hardness of heart. Thus the scriptures do every where. It was hardness of heart which excited grief and displeasure in Christ towards the Jews, Mark iii. 5. “ He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” It is from men's having such a heart as this, that they treasure up wrath for themselves, Rom. ii. 5. « After thy hardness and impenitent heart, trcasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” The reason given why the house of Israel would not obey God, was, that they were hardhearted, Ezekiel iii. 7. “ But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee ; for they will not hearken unto me : For all the house of Israel are impudent and hard hearted.” The wickedness of that perverse rebellious generation in the wilderness, is ascribed to the hardness of their hearts, Psal. xcv. 7.....10. “ To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness ; when your fathers tempted pic, proved me, and saw my work ; Forty years long was Į