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But all other perfections have their bounds of being and period of duration, so that each way, an end is to be found of them. Now in this the opposition is the more admirable, that he speaks not expressly of the enjoyment of God, but of the commandment of God: he extols that above all the perfections of the world, which is much to be remarked, as having in it a clear character of the purest and highest love. It had been more obvious to all, had he said, I have seen the utmost of all besides thee, but thou, O God, the light of thy countenance, the blessed vision of thy face, that alone is boundless and endless happiness ;-or, to have taken it below the full perfect enjoyment of glory, had he spoken of some glances let into the soul bere, a comfortable word from God, a look of love, and said, O how far surpassing all the continued caresses and delights of the world! He speaks not of that neither, but, Thy commandment is exceeding broad. As the apostle says, The foolishness of God is wiser than man, so here, that of God which seems lowest and hardest, is infinitely beyond whatsoever is highest and sweetest in the world. The obeying of his commands, his very service, is more profitable than the world's rewards; his commands more excellent than the perfection of the world's enjoyments. To be subject to him is truer happiness, than to command the whole world. Pure love reckons thus, Though no further reward were to follow, obedience to God, the perfection of his creature and its very happiness, carries its full recompense in its own bosom. Yea, love delights most in the hardest services. It is selflove to love the embraces and rest of love; but it is love to him indeed to love the labor of love and the service of it, and that, not so much because it leads to rest and ends in it, but because it is service to him whom we love. Yea, that labor is in itself a rest, it is so natural and sweet to a soul that loves. As the revolution of the heavens, which is a motion in rest and rest in motion, changes not place, though running still, so the motion of love is truly beavenly, and circular still in God, beginning in him, and ending in him, and so not ending, but still moving without weari
Let us see wbat the commandment is, and that will clear it, for it is nothing but love. . All is in that one, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. So the command that is here called so broad, is love. There is no measuring that, for its object is immeasurable. We readily exceed in the love of any other thing; but in the love of God, there is no danger of exceeding. Its-true measure is, to know no pieasure.
According as this love is, so is the soul. It is made like to, yea, it is made one with, that which it loves. By loving gross base things, it becomes gross, and turns to flesh, or earth ; and so, by the love of God, it is made divine, is one with him. And this is the excellency of the command enjoining love. God hath a good-will to all his creatures ; but that he should make a creature capable of loving him, and appoint this for his command, 0 herein his goodness shines brightest! Now, though fallen from this, we are again invited to it ; though degenerated and accursed in our sinful nature, yet we are renewed in Christ, and this command is renewed in him, and a new way of fulfilling it is pointed out.
This command is broad. There is room enough for the soul in God, that is hampered and pinched in all other things. Here love with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. Stretch it to the utmost; there is enough for it here, while it must contract and draw itself to other things. I will walk at liberty, says David, for I seek thy precepts. That which perverse nature judges thraldom, once truly known, is only freedom. This is because the law is love, and such a love as brings full content to the soul. Man hath not an object of love besides God; too many he hath that can tornient and trouble him, but not one that, being loved by bim, satisfies and quiets him. Whether he loves things without him or himself, still he is pained and restless. All other things he loves naturally, in reference to himself; · but himself is not a sufficient object for bim. It must be something that adds to and perfects his nature, to which he must be united in love ; somewhat higher than himself, yea, the highest of all, the Father of Spirits. This alone completes a spirit and blesses it-to love him, the Spring of spirits.
Now this love, as including obedience to his commands, is a thing in itself due, and expressly comnianded too. This is the thing which surpasses all pursuits and all enjoyments under beaven, not only to be loved of God, but to love him. Yea, could these be severed, this rather would be the deformity and misery of the creature, to hate him--this is the hell of bell.
And to love him, not only with complacency and a desire to enjoy him, but, moreover, wishing him glory, doing him service, desiring he may be honored by all his creatures, ‘and endeavouring ourselves to honor him—that is our work-applauding the praises of angels and all creatures, and adding ours, and a sweet, willing, entire submission to lis will, being ready to do, to suffer any thing for bim. O away all base muddy pleasures, all false night-shows of earthly glories, all high attempts and heroic virtues! These have their measure and their close, and prove iu the end but lies. This command, this love alone, is the endless perfection and delight of souls, which begios here and is completed above. The happiness of glory is the perfection of holiness : that is the full beauty and loveliness of the spouse, the Lamb's wife.
O how much are the multitudes of men to be pitied, who are hunting they know not what, still pursuing content, and it still flying before, and they at as great a distance as wbeu they promised themselves to lay hold on it! It is strange what men are doing. Ephraim feedeth on the wind. The most serious designs of men are more foolish than the plays of children. All the difference is, that these are tristes ineptie, sourer and more sad trifles.
O that ye would turn this way, and not still lay out your money for that which is not bread! You would find ihat the saddest part of a spiritual course of life hath under it more true sweetness than all your empty mirths, which sound much and are nothing, like the crackling of thorns under the pot. There is more joy in enduring, a cross for God, than in the smiles of the world, in a private despised affliction, without the name of suffering for his cause or any thing in it like martyrdom, but only as coming from his hand, kissing it, and bearing it patiently, yea, gladly for his sake, out of love to him because it is his will so to try thee. What can come amiss to a soul thus composed ?
I wish that even they who have renounced this vain world, and have the faces of their hearts turned Godwards, would learn more this happy life and enjoy it more; not to hang so much upon sensible comforts, as to delight in obedience, and to wait for those at his pleasure, whether he gives much or little, any or none. Learn to be still finding the sweetness of his commands, which no outward or inward change can disrelish, rejoicing in the actings of that divine love within thee. Continue thy conflicts with sin, and though thou mayest at times be foiled, yet cry to him for help, and getting up, redouble thy hatred of it and attempts against it. Still stir this fame of God. That will overcome. Many waters cannot queńch it. It is a renewed pleasure, to be offering up thyself every day to God. O the sweetest life in the world, is to be crossing thyself to please him, trampling on thy own will to follow bis.
The Confidence of Faith.
HABAKKUK ii, 17, 18. Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall
fruit be in the vine ; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in
the stalls; Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the
God of my salvation.
Most men's industries and employments are chiefly without them, but certainly our main and worthiest business lies within us ; nor is a man ever fit for the varieties and vicissitudes of time and affairs without, till he bave taken some pains to some good purpose within himself. Div. No. IX.
A distempered discomposed mind is as a limb out of joint, which is fit for no action, and moves both deformedly and painfully. That which we have to do, my brethren, for which these our meetings are commanded of God and should be attended by us, and which we should follow out when we are gone from hence, is this, the reducing of our souls to God. Their disunion from him is their disjointing, and they are vever right till they refix on bim; and being there, they are so right, that nothing can come wrong to them. As they are not readily ensnared with ease and plenty, so neither are they lightly astonished with want and trouble, but, in the ebb of all other comforts, they can hold the prophet's purpose, to joy in the Lord and rejoice in the God of their salvation.
This we may hear and speak of, but truly few attain it. I fear many of us are not so much as seeking after it and aspiring to it. A soul really conversant with God, is taken up with him, all its affectious work and move towards him, as the prophet's here; his fear, his joy, his trust. This is a prayer, as it is entitled, but it is both a prophetical and an unusual one; a prophecy and a song (as the word added imports) of Habakkuk the prophet on Neginoth. The strain of it is high, and full of sudden raptures and changes, as that word signifies ; thus here, having expressed much fear in the foregoing words, a shivering trembling horror, he yet adds such a height of an invincible kind of joy-like the needle of the compass, fixedly looking towards bim, yet not without a trembling motion. Thus we have the temper of the psalmist, Psal. i, 11; Rejoice with trembling; which suits well to so sublime an object; joying in God, because he is good, yet with joy still mixed with holy awe, because he is great. And this especially in a time of great judgments, or in the lively apprehensions or representations of them, whether before or after their inflicting; whether they be on the people of God for their iniquities, or on the enemies of God for their oppressions and cruelties to bis people, while he made them instruments for their correction. In both, God is formidable, and greatly to be feared, even by those that are nearest to him. This we find in the prophets when seeing judgments afar off, long before