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merely that we might be able to turn from him, and cleave unto other things, with a power and faculty above any we have of adherence unto him? Wherefore, at our first creation, and in our primitive condition, love was the very soul and quickening principle of the life of God, and on our adherence unto him thereby, the continuance of our relation unto him, did depend. The law, rule, and measure of it was, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul.' For this end did God create this affection in us. Not only our persons in their nature and being, but in all their powers and faculties, were fitted and prepared unto this end, of living unto God, and coming unto the enjoyment of him. And all their exercise on created objects was to be directed unto this end. Wherefore, the placing of our love on any thing before God, or above him, is a formal expression of our apostacy from him.
2. Divine excellencies are a proper adequate object of our love. The will indeed can adhere unto nothing in love, but what the understanding apprehends as unto its truth and being; but it is not necessary that the understanding do fully comprehend the whole nature of that which the will doth so adhere unto. Where a discovery is made unto and by the mind of real goodness and amiableness, the will there can close with its affections. And these are apprehended as absolutely the most perfect in the divine nature and holy properties of it. Whereas therefore not only that which is the proper object of love is in the divine excellencies, but it is there only perfectly and absolutely, without the mixture of any thing that should give it an allay, as there is in all creatures, they are the most suitable and adequate object of our love.
There is no greater discovery of the depravation of our natures by sin, and degeneracy of our wills from their original rectitude, than that whereas we are so prone to the love of other things, and therein do seek for satisfaction unto our souls, where it is not to be obtained, it is so hard and difficult to raise our hearts unto the love of God. Were it not for that depravation, he would always appear as the only suitable and satisfactory object unto our affections. 3. The especial object of divine, gracious love, is the divine goodness. How great is his goodness, how great is
his beauty!' Zech. ix. 17. Nothing is amiable, or a proper object of love, but what is good, and as it is so. Hence divine goodness, which is infinite, hath an absolutely perfect amiableness accompanying of it. Because his goodness is inexpressible, his beauty is so. How great is his goodness, how great is his beauty! Hence are we called to give thanks unto the Lord, and to rejoice in him, which are the effects of love, because he is good; Psal. cvi. 1.
Neither is divine goodness the especial object of our love as absolutely considered. But we have a respect unto it, as comprehensive of all that mercy, grace, and bounty, which are suited to give us the best relief in our present condition, and an eternal future reward. Infinite goodness exerting itself in all that mercy, grace, faithfulness, and bounty, which are needful unto our relief and blessedness in our present condition, is the proper object of our love. Whereas therefore this is done only in Christ, there can be no true love of the divine goodness, but in and through him alone.
The goodness of God as a creator, preserver, and rewarder, was a sufficient, yea, the adequate object of all love antecedently unto the entrance of sin and misery. In them, in God, under those considerations might the soul of man find full satisfaction as unto its present and future blessedBut since the passing of sin, misery, and death upon us, our love can find no amiableness in any goodness, no rest, complacency, and satisfaction in any, but what is effectual in that grace and mercy by Christ, which we stand in need of, for our present recovery and future reward. Nor doth God require of us that we should love him otherwise but as he is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.' So the apostle fully declares it: In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his onlybegotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him ;' 1 John iv. 9, 10. 16. God is love, of a nature infinitely good and gracious, so as to be the only object of all divine love. But this love can no way be
known, or be so manifested unto us, as that we may and ought to love him, but by his love in Christ, his sending of Before this, without this, we do
him, and loving us in him. not, we cannot love God.
For herein is love, not that we
loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' This is the cause, the spring and fountain of all our love to him. They are but empty notions and imaginations, which some speculative persons please themselves withal, about love unto the divine goodness absolutely considered. For however infinitely amiable it may be in itself, it is not so really unto them, it is not suited unto their state and condition, without the consideration of the communications of it unto us in Christ.
4. These things being premised, we may consider the especial nature of this divine love, although I acknowledge that the least part of what believers have an experience of in their own souls, can be expressed at least by me. Some few things I shall mention, which may give us a shadow of it, but not the express image of the thing itself.
(1.) Desire of union and enjoyment is the first vital act of this love. The soul, upon the discovery of the excellencies of God, earnestly desires to be united unto them, to be brought near unto that enjoyment of them whereof it is capable, and wherein alone it can find rest and satisfaction. This is essential unto all love; it unites the mind unto its object, and rests not but in enjoyment. God's love unto us ariseth out of the overflowing of his own immense goodness, whereof he will communicate the fruits and effects unto us. God is love, and herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his only-begotten Son. Yet also doth this love of God tend to the bringing of us unto him, not that he may enjoy us, but that he may be enjoyed by us. This answers the desire of enjoyment in us Job xiv. 15. Thou shalt call me' (that is, out of the dust at the last day), 'thou wilt have a desire to the work of thy hands.' God's love will not rest, until it hath brought us unto himself. But our love unto God ariseth from a sense of our own wants, our insufficiency to come unto rest in ourselves, or to attain unto blessedness by our own endeavours. In this state seeing all in God, and expecting all from the suitableness of his excellencies unto our rest and satisfaction, our souls
cleave unto them, with a desire of the nearest union whereof our natures are capable. We are made for him, and cannot rest until we come unto him.
Our goodness extends not unto God; we cannot profit him by any thing that we are, or can do. Wherefore, his love unto us hath not respect originally unto any good in ourselves, but is a gracious, free act of his own. He doth good for no other reason but because he is good. Nor can his infinite perfections take any cause for their original actings without himself. He wants nothing that he would supply by the enjoyment of us. But we have indigency in ourselves to cause our love to seek an object without ourselves. And so his goodness, with the mercy, grace, and bounty included therein is the cause, reason, and object of our love. We love them for themselves; and because we are wanting and indigent, we love them with a desire of union and enjoyment wherein we find that our satisfaction and blessedness doth consist. Love in general unites the mind unto the object, the person loving unto the thing or person beloved. So is it expressed in an instance of human, temporary, changeable love, namely, that of Jonathan to David. His soul was knit to the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul; 1 Sam. xviii. 1. Love had so effectually united them, as that the soul of David was as his own. Hence are those expressions of this divine love, by cleaving unto God, following hard after him, thirsting, panting after him,' with the like intimations of the most earnest endeavours of our nature after union and enjoyment.
When the soul hath a view by faith (which nothing else can give it) of the goodness of God as manifested in Christ, that is, of the essential excellencies of his nature as exerting themselves in him, it reacheth after him with its most earnest embraces, and is restless until it comes unto perfect fruition. It sees in God, the fountain of life, and would drink of the river of his pleasures;' Psal. xvi. 8, 9. that in his presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore;' Psal. xvi. 11. It longs and pants to drink of that fountain, to bathe itself in that river of pleasures; and wherein it comes short of present enjoyment, it lives in hopes that when we' awake, it shall be satisfied with his likeness;' Psal. xvii. 15. There is nothing grievous
unto a soul filled with this love, but what keeps it from the full enjoyment of these excellencies of God. What doth so, naturally and necessarily it groans under. Such is our present state in the body, wherein in some sense we are 'absent from the Lord;' 2 Cor. v. 4. 8, 9. And what doth so morally in the deviations of its will and affections, as sin, it hates and abhors, and loaths itself for. Under the conduct of this love, the whole tendency of the soul is unto the enjoyment of God; it would be lost in itself, and found in him; nothing in itself, and all in him. Absolute complacency herein, that God is what he is, that he should be what he is, and nothing else, and that as such we may be united unto him, and enjoy him according to the capacity of our natures, is the life of divine love.
(2.) It is a love of assimilation. It contains in it a desire and intense endeavour to be like unto God, according unto our capacity and measure. The soul sees all goodness, and consequently all that is amiable and lovely in God, the want of all which it finds in itself. The fruition of his goodness is that which it longs for as its utmost end, and conformity unto it as the means thereof. There is no man who loves not God sincerely, but indeed he would have him to be somewhat that he is not, that he might be the more like unto him. This such persons are pleased withal whilst they can fancy it in any thing; Psal. 1. 21. They that love him, would have him be all that he is, as he is, and nothing else, and would be themselves like unto him. And as love hath this tendency, and is that which gives disquietment unto the soul when and wherein we are unlike unto God, so it stirs up constant endeavours after assimilation unto him, and hath a principal efficacy unto that end. Love is the principle that actually assimilates and conforms us unto God, as faith is the principle which originally disposeth thereunto. In our renovation into the image of God, the transforming power is radically seated in faith, but acts itself by love. Love proceeding from faith, gradually changeth the soul into the likeness of God; and the more it is in exercise, the more is that change effected.
To labour after conformity unto God by outward actions only, is to make an image of the living God, hewed out of the stock of a dead tree. It is from this vital principle of love