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prehension that they love Christ in another manner and kind, in a higher degree at least, and thence, to enjoy more intimacy with him, more love from him, than did any of the apostles, John, or Paul, or Peter, or any other of those holy ones, whose love unto him is recorded in the Scripture, is intolerable vanity and presumption. But no such things as these devotees pretend unto, are mentioned, or in the least intimated concerning them, and their love to their Lord and Master. No man will pretend unto more love than they had, but such as have none at all.
[2.] It is no way directed, warranted, approved, by any command, promise, or rule of the Scripture. As it is without precedent, so it is without precept. And hereby, whether we will or no, all our graces and duties must be tried, as unto any acceptation with God. Whatever pretends to exceed the direction of the word, may safely be rejected, cannot safely be admitted. Whatever enthusiasms or pretended inspirations may be pleaded, for the singular practice of what is prescribed in the Scripture, yet none can be allowed for an approved principle of what is not so prescribed. Whatever exceeds the bounds thereof, is resolved into the testimony of every distempered imagination. Nor will it avail that these things amongst them are submitted unto the judgment of the church. For the church hath no rule to judge by but the Scripture; and it can pass but one judgment of what is not warranted thereby, namely, that it is to be rejected.
without any actings of the Love indeed is the regular their faculties and rational
[3.] As it is described by those who applaud it, it is not suited unto the sober sedate actings of the rational faculties of our souls. For whereas all that God requireth of us, is that we love him with all our souls and all our minds, these men cry up a divine love by an immediate adhesion of the will and the affections unto God, mind and understanding at all. acting of our whole souls by all powers in an adherence unto God. But these men have fancied a divine love for them whom they would admire and extol, which disturbs all their regular actings, and renders them of little or no use in that, which without their due exercise, is nothing but fancy. And hence it is, that under pretence of this love, sundry persons among them, yea, all
that have pretended unto it, have fallen into such ridiculous excesses and open delusions, as sufficiently discover the vanity of the love itself pretended by them.
Wherefore we plead for no other love unto the person of Christ, but what the Scripture warrants as unto its nature, what the gospel requireth of us as our duty, what the natural faculties of our minds are suited unto, and given us for, what they are enabled unto by grace, and without which in some degree of sincerity, no man can yield acceptable obedience unto him.
These things being premised, that which we assert is, that there is and ought to be in all believers, a religious gracious love unto the person of Christ, distinct from, and the reason of their obedience unto his commands; that is, it is distinct from all other commands; but is also itself commanded and required of us in a way of duty.
That there is in the church such a love unto the person of Christ, the Scripture testifies both in the precepts it gives for it, and the examples of it. And all those who truly believe cannot apprehend that they understand any thing of faith, or love of Christ, or themselves, by whom it is called in question. If therefore I should enlarge on this subject, a great part of the doctrine of the Scripture from first to last must be represented, and a transcript of the hearts of believers, wherein this love is seated and prevalent, be made according to our ability. And there is no subject that I could more willingly enlarge upon. But I must at present contract myself in compliance with my design. Two things only I shall demonstrate: 1. That the person of Christ is the object of divine love. 2. What is the nature of that love in us; what are the grounds of it, and the motives unto it, in them that do believe.
In reference unto the first of these, the ensuing position shall be the subject of the remainder of this chapter.
The person of Christ is the principal object of the love of God, and of the whole creation participant of his image. The reason why I thus extend the assertion, will appear in the declaration of it.
(1.) No small part of the eternal blessedness of the holy God, consisteth in the mutual love of the Father and the Son, by the Spirit. As he is the only-begotten of the
Father, he is the first, necessary, adequate, complete object of the whole love of the Father. Hence he says of himself, that' from eternity he was by him, as brought up with him, and was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;' Prov. viii. 30. which place was opened before. In him was the ineffable, eternal, unchangeable delight and compla-. cency of the Father, as the full object of his love. The same is expressed in that description of him, John i. 18. 'The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.' His being the only begotten Son declares his eternal relation unto the person of the Father, of whom he was begotten in the entire communication of the whole divine nature. Hereon he is in the bosom of the Father; in the eternal embraces of his love, as his only begotten Son. The Father loves, and cannot but love, his own nature and essential image in him.
Herein originally is God love. 'For God is love;' 1 John iv. 8. This is the fountain and prototype of all love, as being eternal and necessary. All other acts of love are in God but emanations from hence, and effects of it. As he doth good, because he is good, so he loveth, because he is love. He is love eternally and necessarily in this love of the Son; and all other workings of love are but acts of his will, whereby somewhat of it is outwardly expressed. And all love in the creation was introduced from this fountain, to give a shadow and resemblance of it.
Love is that which contemplative men have always almost adored. Many things have they spoken to evince it to be the light, life, lustre, and glory of the whole creation. But the original and pattern of it was always hid from the wisest philosophers of old. Something they reached after about God's love unto himself, with rest and complacency in his own infinite excellencies. But of this ineffable, mutual love of the Father and the Son, both in and by that Spirit which proceeds from them both, they had neither apprehension nor conjecture. Yet as herein doth the principal part (if we may so speak) of the blessedness of the holy God consist, so is it the only fountain and prototype of all that is truly called love. A blessing and glory which the creation had never been made partaker of, but only to express, ac
cording to the capacity of their several natures, this infinite and eternal love of God. For God's love of himself, which is natural and necessary unto the Divine Being, consists in the mutual complacency of the Father and the Son by the Spirit. And it was to express himself, that God made any thing without himself. He made the heavens and the earth to express his being, goodness, and power. He created man in his own image,' to express his holiness and righteousness; and he implanted love in our natures, to express this eternal mutual love of the holy persons of the Trinity. But we must leave it under the veil of infinite incomprehensibleness; though admiration and adoration of it be not without the highest spiritual satisfaction.
Again, He is the peculiar object of the love of the Father, of the love of God, as he is incarnate, as he hath taken on him, and hath now discharged the work of mediation, or continues in the discharge of it; that is, the person of Christ, as God-man, is the peculiar object of the divine love of the Father. The person of Christ in his divine nature, is the adequate object of that love of the Father which is ad intra,' a natural necessary act of the divine essence in its distinct personal existence and the person of Christ as incarnate, as clothed with human nature, is the first and full object of the love of the Father in those acts of it, which are ad extra,' or are towards any thing without himself. So he declares himself in the prospect of his future incarnation and work. Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth;' Isa. xlii. 1. The delight of the soul of God, his rest and complacency, which are the great effects of love, are in the Lord Christ as his elect and servant in the work of mediation. And the testimony hereof he renewed twice from heaven afterward; Matt. iii. 17. Lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased;' as it is again repeated, Matt. xvii. 5. All things are disposed to give a due sense unto us, of this love of God unto him. The testimony concerning it is twice repeated in the same words from heaven. And the words of it are emphatical unto the utmost of our comprehension. 'My Son, my servant, mine elect, my beloved Son in whom I rest, in whom I delight, and am well pleased.' It is the
will of God to leave upon our hearts a sense of this love unto Christ; for his voice came from heaven, not for his sake who was always filled with a sense of this divine love, but for ours, that we might believe it.
This he pleaded as the foundation of all the trust reposed in him, and all the power committed unto him. 'The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand;' John iii. 35. The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doth;' John v. 20. And the sense or due apprehension of it, is the foundation of Christian religion. Hence he prays that we may know that God hath loved him;' John xvii. 23. 26.
In this sense, the person of Christ is the puroV SEKTIKÒV, the first recipient subject of all that divine love which extends itself unto the church. It is all, the whole of it, in the first place fixed upon him, and by and through him is communicated unto the church. Whatever it receives in grace and glory, it is but the streams of this fountain love unto himself. So he prays for all his disciples, that the love,' saith he, 'wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them;' John. xvii. 26. They can be partakers of no other love, neither in itself nor in its fruits, but that alone wherewith the Father first loved him. for us all, and us no otherwise but as in him. He makes us accepted in the beloved; Eph. i. 6. He is the beloved of the Father, Kar' oxv: as in all things he was to have the pre-eminence; Col. i. 18. The love of the body is derived unto it from the love unto the head. And in the love of him doth God love the whole church and no otherwise. He loves none but as united unto him, and participant of his nature.
He loveth him
Wherefore the love of the Father unto the Son, as the only-begotten, and the essential image of his person, wherein the ineffable delight of the divine nature doth consist, was the fountain and cause of all love in the creation, by an act of the will of God for its representation. And the love of God the Father unto the person of Christ as incarnate, being the first adequate object of divine love, wherein there is any thing 'ad extra,' is the fountain and especial cause of all gracious love towards us and in us. And our love unto Christ being the only outward expression and representation of this love of the Father unto him, therein consists the