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3. The original of this love is that other love which corresponds to the other part, the first and chief point of the law, our duty towards God. Love to him is the sum and source of all obedience. When the whole soul and mind is possessed with that, then all is acceptable and sweet that he commands; first, what he commands as immediately referable to himself, and then, what is the rule of our carriage to men, as being prescribed and commanded by bim; for so, and no otherwise, is this love the fulfilling of the law, when it Hows from that first love, love to God, whose law it is that commands this other love to men. Some men may have somewhat like it, by a mildness and ingenuousness of nature, being inoffensive and well-disposed towards all; but then only doth it fulfil the law, when out of regard to the law of God it obeys, and obeys out of love to him whose law it is. So then, the love of God in the beart, is the spring of right and holy love to our neighbour—1, because in obedience to him whom we love sovereignly, we shall love others sincerely, because he will bave it so. That is reason enough to the soul possessed and taken up with his love. It loves nothing, how lovely soever, but in him and for him, in order and subordination to his love, and in respect to his will; and it loves any thing, how unlovely soever, taking it in that contemplation. It loves not the dearest friend but in God, and can love the hatefullest enemy for him. His love can beautify the most unamiable object, and make it lovely. He saith of a worthless undeserving man, or thy most undeserving eneny, Love him for iny sake, because it pleases me—and that is reason enough to oue who loves bim.-2, There is that dilating sweetening virtue in love to God, that it can act in no other way to men but as becomes love. Base self-love contracts the heart, and is the very root of all sin, the chief wickedness in our corrupt nature ; but the love of God assimilates the soul to him, makes it divine, and therefore bountiful, full of love to all. So these two contradict not, Love the Lord with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself. If all our love must go to God, what remains, say you, for our neighbour? Indeed all must go upwards and be all placed on him, and from thence it is resounded and regulated Div. No. VIII.
downwards to men, according to his will. But self-love brings forth pride, and cruelty, and covetousness, and uncleanness, and disdain of others, and all such kind of monsters; so it is the main breaking of the law,
All that can be said will not persuade men to this, till the Lord by his love teach it and impress it on the heart. Know that this is the badge of Christ's followers, and his great rule and law given to them ; and if you will follow him, that you may come to be where he is, then study this, that as our Lord Christ loved us, so also, we ought to love one another.
Grapes from Thorns. GREAT and various are the evils that lodge within the heart of man. Hence proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, murders, and many other mischiefs, as our Saviour specities. They come forth apace, and yet the heart is not emptied of them. But was this heart thus at first, when it came newly forth of the hands of its Maker ? Surely not. Man was made upright, but he found out many inventions, Soon did the heart find the way to corrupt itself; but to renew itself is as impossible as to bave been the author of its own creation. Easily could it deface the precious characters of God's image, but it passes the art of men and angels to restore them. Only the Son of God, who for that purpose took on him our nature, can make us, according to the apostle's phrase, partakers of the divine nature. It is he alone that can banish those unclean spirits, and keep possession that they return no
Have not they made a happy change of guests, who have those infernal troops turned out of doors, and the King of Glory fixing his abode within them? This is the voice of the Gospel; Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in. But small is the number of those
who open where this voice is daily sounded. Yea, somë there are, who grow worse under the frequent preaching of the word, as if sip were emulous, and, as is said of virtue, would grow by opposition. The truth is, too many of us turn these serious exercises of religion into an idle divertisement. Take heed that formality, and custom, and novelty, do not often help to fill up many rooms in our church. It were indeed a breach of charity to entertain the fulness of your assemblies with an ill construction : no, it is to be commended. But would to God we were more careful to show our religion in our lives, to study to know better the deceits and impostures of our own hearts, and to gain daily more victory over our secret and best beloved sins! Let our intentions then be to meet with Christ here, and to admit him gladly to dwell and rule
If he conquer our inward enemies, those without shall not be able to hurt us. If he deliver us from our sinful lusts, he will stir our own distrustful fears. And tbat such may be the fruits of our meeting, let us turn ourselves towards the throne of grace with humble prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ the righteous.
PSALM lxxvi, 10. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee : the remain
der of wrath shalt thou restrain. What manner of man is this, said the passengers in the ship, that even the winds and the sea obey him ? Christ suddenly turns a great tempest into a greater calm. Surely those are no ordinary words of command, which swelling waves and boisterous winds, in the midst of their rage, are forced to hear, and taught to understand and obey.. Therefore the holding of the seas in the hollow of his hand, the bridling of the wind and riding upon the wings of it
, we find peculiarly attributed to the Almighty. But no less, if not more wonderful, is another of his prerogatives, to wit, his sovereignty over all mankind, over the divers and strange motions of the heart of man. Admi. rable is it to govern those, both in respect of their multitude and irregularity. Consider we what millions of men dwell at once upon the face of the earth, and again what
troops of several imaginations will pass through the fancy of any one man within the compass of one day; it is much to keep eye upon them and to behold them all at once, but far more to command and control them all. Yet if they were all loyal and willingly obedient, were they tractable and easily curbed, it were more easy for us to conceive how they might be governed. But to bound and over-rule the unruly hearts of men, the most of whom continually are either plotting or acting rebellion against their Lord, to make them all concur and meet at last in one end, cannot be done but by a power and a wisdom that are both infinite. That God whose name we often mention, but whose excellency we seldom think of, is alone the absolute monarch of men's hearts, and the ruler of all their motions. He hath them limited while they seem most free, and works his own glory out of their attempts, while they strive most to dishonor him. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.
This psalm is made up of two different sorts of thoughts; the one arising out of particular experience and the other out of a general doctrine. Those drawn from experience are set down in the verses preceding the text ; and in it, with those that follow, is contained the doctrine, with a duty annexed to it, which two are faith's main support
Past experiences verify the doctrine, and the generality of the doctrine serves to explain the particular experiences to all wise observers. There is not a treasure of the merits of saints in the church, as some dream, but there is a treasure of the precious experiences of the saints, which every believer bath right to make use of; and these we should be versed in, that we may have them in readiness at hand in time of peed, and know how to use them, to draw both comfort from them to ourselves and arguments to use with God.
The words contain clearly two propositions, both of them concerning the wrath of man: the former hath the event of it, Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee ; the latter the limitation of it, the remainder of wrath thou wilt restrain.
That the virtues and graces of men do praise the Lord, all men easily understand, for they flow from him ; his
image and superscription is upon them, and therefore no wonder if he has from them a tribute of glory. Who knows not that faith praises him ? Abraham believed and gave glory to God. Good works, the fruits of faith, praise him too; Herein is my Father glorified, says our Saviour, that ye bear much fruit. But that the inordinate wrath of man should praise him, may seem somewhat strange. Were it God's own wrath, since wrath is attributed to him in scripture, that might praise him, for it is always most just. Or were it a due and moderate anger of man upon just cause, that were fit for praising him too, in despite of the stoics. But that wicked and disordered wrath, which is undoubtedly here meant; that the wrath of men, which is both uncomely and dishonorable for themselves, though they think otherwise; that even such a wrath should honor God and praise him, argues well both that he hath good right to praises, when every thing, even things that seem contrary to his nature as well as to his law, do pay them to him ; and that he hath great power and wisdom, who obtains what is due to him even from those persons and things which of themselves are most unwilling and unfit to pay it. This is the excellent skill of his wisdom, to draw that which shall go into the making up of the precious composition of his praise out of this poison; for so the word here used for wrathful heat doth sometimes signify. And this wrath often proves so, a deadly poison both to those it is incensed against, and to the very breast that breeds it and wherein it is kindled.
But for the clearer understanding of this, I conceive it will be requisite to consider more distinctly, I, what this wrath of man is; II. how it can praise God; and III. the infallibility of this event, Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.
1. In the 148th psalm, where David summons the creatures to meet in that song of praise, to keep that full concert, he calls not only the heavens and the inhabitants of it, angels and lights, but those of the lower world to bear their part in it; and not only men, beasts, cattle, creeping things, and the flying fowl, but those creatures which do most resemble this wrath here spoken of, fire, stormy tempest, and dragons. The tenor of this psalm