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writers to include the whole of pious affections towards God in Love. But when this term is applied to the Almighty, we must be careful to understand aright what it iinports. We all know what it is to love any of our fellow-creatures; but such an affection as we bear to them, cannot in a literal sense be transferred to God. Among them it is sometimes connected with the fervency of passion, it commonly imports some similarity of nature, and some degree of fond and intimate attachment; all which it were highly improper in us to affect towards the Supreme Being, whose ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. I am afraid that the application of Love in a strict sense, and sometimes in too fervent and passionate a strain towards God, has, among some serious and well-disposed minds, given rise to no little enthusiasm in religion.
When therefore we treat of Love as applied to God, it must be analysed or resolved into those sentiments which are proper and suitable for us to encourage towards the God whom we adore. That Love of him which religion requires, and which our Saviour has so solemnly enjoined, is a compounded affection, and the dispositions which it includes are principally three; reverence, gratitude, submission. Of the nature and foundation of each of these I am to treat in the sequel of this. Discourse, and shall endeavour to illustrate them as forming that temper and disposition of mind, which we ought always to preserve towards the Great Author of our existence.
I. The foundation of every proper disposition towards God must be laid in Reverence, that is, admiration mixed with awe; what, in its lower
degrees among men, is called Respect; but carried to its highest point with relation to God, may be termed profound Veneration. In this disposition towards Him we ought habitually to be found not only in the exercises of immediate devotion, but amidst the ordinary occurrences of life. Every thing indeed that we see around us gives perpetual occasion for it. We find ourselves in an immense universe, where it is impossible for us, without astonishment and awe, to contemplate the glory and the power of Him who hạth created it. From the greatest to the least. object that we behold, from the star that glitters in the heavens to the insect that creeps upon the ground, from the thunder that rolls in the skies to the flower that blossoms in the fields, all things testify a profound and mysterious wisdom, a mighty and all-powerful hand, before which we must tremble and adore. Neither the causes nor the issues of the events which we behold, is it in our power to trace; neither how we came into this world, nor whither we go when we retire from it, are we able of ourselves to tell; but in the mean time find ourselves surrounded with astonishing magnificence on every hand. We walk through the earth, as through the apartments of a vast palace, which fill every attentive spectator with wonder. - All the works which our power can erect, all the ornaments which our art' can contrive, are feeble and trifling in comparison with those glories which nature every where presents to our view. The immense arch of the heavens, the splendour of the sun in his meridian brightness, or the beauty of his rising and setting hours, the rich landscape of the fields, and the boundless expanse of the ocean, are scenes which mock every rival attempt of human
skill or labour. Nor is it only in the splendid appearances of nature, but amidst its rudest forms, that we trace the hand of the Divinity. In the solitary desart, and the high mountain, in the hanging precipice, the roaring torrent, and the aged forest, though there be nothing to cheer, there is much to strike the mind with awe, to give rise to those solemn and sublime sensations which elevate the heart to an Almighty, All-creating Power.
In short, we can no where cast our eyes around us without meeting what is sufficient to awaken reverence of the Deity. This reverence becomes the more profound, that the Great Being who is the object of it, is to us invisible and unknown. We may seek to discover him, but he hides himself from us; his footsteps we clearly trace, but his face we can never behold. We go forward, but he is not there ; and backward, but we cannot perceive him: 'on the left hand, where he workętk, but we cannot behold him ; he hideth himself on the right hand, that we cannot see him.* We know that he is not far from every one of us; yet he shrouds himself in the darkness of his pavilion ; he answereth from the secret place of thundert Before this incomprehensible Being, this God terrible and strong, we become in a manner annihilated; we are sensible that in his sight we are only as the drop of the bucket, and the small dust in the balance ; and in his presence can only rejoice with trembling. For we know that the mighty arm which upholds the universe, and which surrounds us with wonders on every side, can in a moment crush us to the dust, if we become objects of displeasure to heaven. Awful
* Job, xxiji, 8, 9.
+ Ps. lxxxi. 7.
are the operations of the Divine Power which we are constantly beholding in the moral as well as in the natural world. The Almighty rules among the nations, as well as over individuals : on his pleasure depend all the great revolutions of the earth; the interpositions of his Providence are frequently apparent to the world, in bringing down the mighty, and raising up the fallen. In the books of the Law and the Prophets, we hear his threatenings against rebel. lious sinners denounced with a tremendous voice ; and in the dispensation of the Gospel, a most striking instance is exhibited to us of the strict justice of his government, in the expiation that was required for the apostacy of a guilty world. So that both the Law and the Gospel, the works of nature and the conduct of Providence unite in uttering that solemn voice which ought often to resound in our ears: Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth. Fear before him all ye nations : Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. For honour and majesty are before him ; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. He alone doeth great things and unsearchable ; mar. vellous things without number. *
On this head of discourse I have insisted the more, because I apprehend that such sentiments as I have now been inculcating occur too rarely among many professed Christians. Did an awful reverence for the Supreme Being dwell on all our minds with a properly impressive sense, its effects would oftener appear in conduct. On many occasions, it would check a wanton levity of spirits. It would infuse
# Ps. xlvi. 10. Ps. xcvi. 6-8. ^ Job, v.9.
moré solemnity into our religious acts. It would inspire greater respect for the temples of God, and for all the forms of sacred worship. It would banish that profanation of the name of God, which we so often hear from unhallowed lips. - Let it be remembered, that the fear of God is, throughout much of the Scripture, employed as the term descriptive of the whole of religion. It is not the fear which slaves are constrained to feel for a tyrant, but the reverence which children have for the best parent, or subjects for the best sovereign; the veneration which necessarily enters into the love we bear to a Being of a superior order ; it is to fear the Lord and his good. ness, as it is emphatically expressed by one of the Prophets.* This fear of God, therefore, is not only consistent with the love of Him, but forms a mate: rial part of it. The pretended love of God disjoined from reverence of Him, would no longer be genuine love, but would rise into arrogant presumption. I proceed to observe,
II. That gratitude forms an essential part of that disposition which we ought to bear towards God. This implies an affectionate sense of God upon the mind, and enters directly into love, understood in its most common acceptation. It were a gross mistake to imagine, that the reverence of which I have discoursed has any tendency to check gratitude : on the contrary, it heightens it, by uniting the sense of our Benefactor's condescension with the benefits which He conveys. The more eminent the qualities of a benefactor are, and the higher the rank is in
* Hosea, iii. 5.