« PoprzedniaDalej »
the blessings of eternal life; Rev. xxi. 6, “I will give unto him that is athirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely."
The Scriptures speaks of holy joy, as a great part of true religion. So it is represented in the text. And as an important part of religion, it is often exborted to, and pressed, with great earnestness; Psal. xxxvii
. 4,“ Delight thyself in the Lord; and be shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psal. xcvii. 12, “ Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous.” So Psal. xxxii. 1, “Rejoice in the Lord, O'ye righteous.” Matt. v. 12, “ Rejoice, and be exceeding glad.” Phil. ii. 1, “ Finally, brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” And chap. iv. 4, “ Rejoice in the Lord alway ; and again I say, Rejoice.” 1 Thess. v. 16, “Rejoice evermore." Psal. cxlix. 2, “ Let Israel rejoice in him that made him ; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king." This is mentioned among the principal fruits of the Spirit of grace; Gal. v. 21, “ The fruit of the Spirit is love,” &c. The Psalmist mentions his holy joy, as an evidence of his sincerity. Psal. cxix. 14, “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches."
Religious sorrow, mourning, and brokenness of heart, are also frequently spoken of as a great part of true religion. These things are often mentioned as distinguishing qualities of the true saints, and a great part of their character ; Matt. v. 4, “ Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shall be comforted.” Psal. xxxiv. 18, “ The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Isa. Ixi. 1, 2, “ The Lord hath anointed me, to bind up the broken-hearted, to comfort all that mourn.” This godly sorrow and brokenness of heart is often spoken of, not only as a great thing in the distinguishing character of the saints, but that in them, which is peculiarly acceptable and pleasing to God; Psal. lie 17, “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Isa. lvii. 15, “Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Chap. lxvi. 2, “ To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit.”
Another affection often mentioned, as that in the exercise of which much of true religion appears, is gratitude ; especially as exercised in thankfulness and praise to God." This being so much spoken of in the book of Psalms, and other parts of the holy Scriptures, I need not mention particular texts.
Again, the holy Scriptures do frequently speak of compassion or mercy, as a very great and essential thing in true religion ; insomuch that good men are in Scripture denominated from hence; and a merciful man and a good man are equivalent terms in Scripture; Isa. lvii. 1, “The righteous perisheth, and no man laveth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away." And the Scripture chooses out this quality, as that by which, in a peculiar manner, a righteous man is deciphered; Psal. xxxvii. 21, “ The righteous showeth mercy, and giveth;” and Ver. 26, “ He is is ever merciful, and lendeth.” And Prov. xiv. 21, “ He that bonoreth the Lord, hath mercy on the poor.” And Col. ii. 12, “ Put ye on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,” &c. This is one of those great things by which those who are truly blessed are described by our Saviour; Matt 1.7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” And this Christ also speaks of, as one of the weightier matters of the law; Matt. xxiii. 23,“Wo mto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” To the like purpose is that, Mic. vi. 8, "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good : and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, VOL. III.
and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God ?" And also that, Hos. vi. 6, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice." Which seems to have been a text much delighted in by our Saviour, by his manner of citing it once and again, Matt. ix. 13, and xii. 7.
Zeal is also spoken of, as a very essential part of the religion of true saints. It is spoken of as a great thing Christ had in view, in giving himself for our redemption ; Tit. ii. 14, “ Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” And this is spoken of, as the great thing wanting in the lukewarm Laodiceans, Rev. iii. 15, 16, 19.
I have mentioned but a few texts, out of an innumerable multitude, all over the Scripture, 'which place religion very much in the affections. But what has been observed, may be sufficient to show that they who would deny that much of true religion lies in the affections, and maintain the contrary, must throw away what we have been wont to own for our Bible, and get some other rule, by which to judge of the nature of religion.
5. The Scriptures do represent true religion, as being summarily comprehended in love, the chief of the affections, and fountain of all other affections.
So our blessed Saviour represents the matter, in answer to the lawyer, who asked him, which was the great commandment of the law Matt. xxii. 37—40: “ Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Which last words signify as much, as that these two commandments comprehend all the duty prescribed, and the religion taught in the law and the prophets. And the apostle Paul does from time to time make the same representation of the matter; as in Rom. xiii. 8, “ He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law." And ver. 10, “ Love is the fulfilling of the law.” And Gal. v. 14, “ For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” So likewise in 1 Tim. i. 5, “ Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart,” &c. So the same apostle speaks of love, as the greatest thing in religion, and as the vitals, essence and soul of it; without which, the greatest knowledge and gifts, and the most glaring profession, and every thing else which appertains to religion, are vain and worthless; and represents it as the fountain from whence proceeds all that is good, in 1 Cor. xiï. throughout; for that which is there rendered charity, in the original is ayann, the proper English of which is love.
Now, although it be true, that the love thus spoken of includes the whole of a sincerely benevolent propensity of the soul towards God and man; yet it may be considered, that it is evident from what has been before observed, that this propensity or inclination of the soul, when in sensible and vigorous exercise, becomes affection, and is no other than affectionate love. And surely it is such vigorous and fervent love which Christ speaks of, as the sum of all religion, when he speaks of loving God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds, and our neighbor as ourselves, as the sum of all that was taught and prescribed in the law and the prophets.
Indeed it cannot be supposed, when this affection of love is here, and in other Scriptures, spoken of as the sum of all religion, that hereby is meant the act, exclusive of the habit, or that the exercise of the understanding is excluded, which is implied in all reasonable affection. But it is doubtless true, and evident from these Scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love;
and that in this divine affection, and an habitual disposition to it, and that light which is the foundation of it, and those things which are the fruits of it, consists the whole of religion.
From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that great part of true religion consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all the affections. From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in : and from the various exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude,
From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections ; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God's displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a , future enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God. And in like manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other virtuous affections towards men.
6. The religion of the most eminent saints we have an account of in the Scripture, consisted much in holy affections.
I shall take particular notice of three eminent saints, who have expressed the frame and sentiments of their own hearts, and so described their own religion, and the manner of their intercourse with God, in the writings which they have left us, that are a part of the sacred canon.
The first instance I shall take notice of, is David, that “ man after God's own heart;” who has given us a lively portraiture of his religion in the book of Psalms. Those holy songs of his he has there left us, are nothing else but the expressions and breathings of devout and holy affections, such as an humble and fervent love to God, admiration of his glorious perfections and wonderful works, earnest desires, thirstings, and pantings of soul after God, delight and joy in God, a sweet and melting gratitude to God, for his great goodness, a boly exultation and triumph of soul in the favor, sufficiency, and faithfulness of God, his love to, and delight in the saints, the excellent of the earth, his great delight in the word and ordinances of God, his grief for his own and others sins, and his fervent zeal for God, and against the enemies of God and his church. And these expressions of holy affection, which the psalms of David are everywhere full of, are the more to our present purpose, because those psalms are not only the expressions of the religion of so eminent a saint, that God speaks of as so agreeable to his mind; but were also, by the direction of the Holy Ghost, penned for the use of the church of God in its public worship, not only in that age, but in after ages; as being fitted to express the religion of all saints, in all ages, as well as the religion of the Psalmist. And it is moreover to be observed, that David, in the book of Psalms, speaks not as a private person, but as the Psalmist of Israel, as the subordinate head of the church of God, and leader in their worship and praises; and in many of the psalms speaks in the name of Christ, as personating him in these breathings forth of holy affection; and in nany other psalms he speaks in the name of the church.
Another instance I shall observe, is the apostle Paul ; who was in many respects, the chief of all the ministers of the New Testament; being above all others, a chosen vessel unto Christ, to bear his name before the Gentiles, and made a chief instrument of propagating and establishing the Christian church
in the world, and of distinctly revealing the glorious mysteries of the gospel, for the instruction of the church in all ages; and (as has not been improperly thought by some) the most eminent servant of Christ that ever lived, received to the highest rewards in the heavenly kingdom of his Master. By what is said of him in the Scripture, he appears to have been a person that was full of affection. And it is very manifest, that the religion he expresses in his epistles, consisted very much in holy affections. It appears by all his expressions of himself, that he was, in the course of his life, inflamed, actuated, and entirely swallowed up, by a most ardent love to his glorious Lord, esteeming all things as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of him, and esteeming them but dung that he might win him. He represents himself, as overpowered by this holy affection, and as it were compelled by it to go forward in his service, through all difficulties and sufferings, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. And his epistles are full of expressions of an overpowering affection towards the people of Christ. He speaks of his dear love to them, 2 Cor. xi;. 19, Phil. iv. 1, 2 Tim. i. 2; of his “ abundant love,” 2 Cor. ii. 4; and of his “ affectionate and tender love,” as of a nurse towards her children, 1 Thess. ii. 7,8: “ But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children ; so, being affectionately desirous of
you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” So also he speaks of his " bowels of love,” Phil. i. 8, Philem. 5, 12, and 20. So he speaks of his “ earnest care” for others, 2 Cor. viii. 16, and of his “bowels of pity, or mercy towards them, Phil. ii. 1; and of his concern for others, even to anguish of heart,” 2 Cor. ii. 4: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote unto you with many tears ; not that you should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you." He speaks of the great conflict of his soul for them, Col. ii. 1. He speaks of great and continual grief that he had in his heart from compassion to the Jews, Rom. ix. 2. He speaks of “ his mouth's being opened, and his heart enlarged” towards Christians, 2 Cor. vi. 11: “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.” He often speaks of his affectionate and longing desires,” 1 Thess. ï. 8, Rom. i. 11, Phil. i. 8, and chap. iv. 1, 2 Tim. i. 4. The same apostle is very often, in his epistles, expressing the affection of joy, 2 Cor. i. 12, and chap. vii. 7, and ver. 9. 16. Phil. i. 4, and chap. ii. 12, and chap. ii. 3. Col. i. 34. 1 Thess. iii. 9. He speaks of his “ rejoicing with great joy,” Phil. iv. 10, Philem. i. 7; of his “joying and rejoicing,” Phil. ii. 1, 7, and“ of his rejoicing exceelingly," 2 Cor. vii. 13, and of his being "filled with comfort, and being exceeding joyful,” 2 Cor. vii. 4. He speaks of himself as “ always rejoicing,” 2 Cor. vi. 10. So he speaks of the triumphs of his soul, 2 Cor. ii. 14, and of his glorying in tribulation,” 2 Thess. i. 4, and Rom. v. 3. He also expresses the affection of hope ; in Phil. i. 20, he speaks of his “ earnest expectation, and his hope.” He likewise expresses an affection of godly jealousy, 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. And it appears by his whole history, after his conversion, in the Acts, and also by all his epistles, and the accounts he gives of himself there, that the affection of zeal, as having the cause of his Master, and the interest and prosperity of his church, for its object, was mighty in him, continually inflaming his heart, strongly engaging to those great and constant labors he went through, in instructing, exhorting, warning, and reproving others, “ travailing in birth with them;" conflicting with those powerful and innumerable enemies who continually opposed him, wrestling with principalities and powers, not fighting as one who beats the air, running the race set before him, continuully pressing forwards through all manner of difficulties and sufferings; so that others
thought him quite beside himself. And how full he was of affection, does further appear by his being so full of tears : in 2 Cor. ii
. 4, he speaks of his " many tears ;” and so Acts xx. 19; and of bis “ tears that he shed continually night and day," ver. 31.
Now if any one can consider these accounts given in the Scripture of this great apostle, and which he gives of himself, and yet not see that his religion consisted much in affection, must have a strange faculty of managing his eyes, to shut out the light which shines most full in his face.
The other instance I shall mention, is of the apostle John, that beloved disciple, who was the nearest and dearest to his Master, of any of the twelve, and was by him admitted to the greatest privileges of any of them; being not only one of the three who were admitted to be present with him in the mount at his transfiguration, and at the raising of Jairus's daughter, and whom he took with bim when he was in his agony, and one of the three spoken of by the apostle Paul, as the three main pillars of the Christian church; but was favored above all
, in being admitted to lean on his Master's bosom at his last supper, and in being chosen by Christ, as the disciple to whom he would reveal his wonderful dispensations towards his church, to the end of time; as we have an account in the Book of Revelation; and to shut up the canon of the New Testament, and of the whole Scripture; being preserved much longer than all the rest of the apostles, to set all things in order in the Christian church, after their death.
It is evident by all his writings (as is generally observed by divines) that he was a person remarkably full of affection : his addresses to those whom he wrote to being irexpressibly tender and pathetical, breathing nothing but the most fervent love; as though he were all made up of sweet and holy affection. The proofs of which cannot be given without disadvantage, unless we should transcribe his whole writings.
7. He whom God sent into the world to be the light of the world, and head of the whole church, and the perfect example of true religion and virtue, for the imitation of all, the Shepherd whom the whole flock should follow wherever he goes, even the Lord Jesus Christ, was a person who was remarkably of a tender and affectionate heart; and his virtue was expressed very much in the exercise of holy affections. He was the greatest instance of ardency, vigor and strength of love, to both God and man, that ever was. It was these affections which got the victory, in that mighty struggle and conflict of his affections, in his agonies, when he prayed more earnestly, and offered strong crying and tears," and wrestled in tears and in blood.
of the exercises of his holy love, that they were stronger than death, and in that great struggle, overcame those strong exercises of the natural affections of fear and grief, when he was sore amazed, and his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. And he also appeared to be full of affection in the course of tiis life. We read of his great zeal, fulfilling that in the 69th Psalm, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up,” John ii. 17. We read of his grief for the sins of men, Mark iii. 5: “He looked round about on them with anger, Leing grieved for the hardness of their hearts;" and his breaking forth in tears and exclamations, from the consideration of the sin and misery of ungodly men, and on the sight of the city of Jerusalem, which was full of such inhabitants, Lake xix. 41, 42: “ And, when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine Eyes." With chap. xiii. 34, “ o Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophcts, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gath