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To the Love of God, 8c. In the first edition of these discourses, «- the Doctrine of the Passions? stood as an introduction to them, wherein, their general nature was explained, their various kinds reduced to some regular order, the uses of them in human life represented, and moral and divine rules were proposed for the government of these natural and active powers. This little treatise has been much enlarged, and printed by itself, under a distinct title, viz. “ The Doctrine of the Passions explained and improved.” These “Discourses of the Love of God, and the Use and Abuse of the Passions in Religion” now follow; and since there are readers of a different taste, who have desired each of them alone, they may now chuse for themselves, or they may order the bookseller to join thein together if they please.
Many years are now passed since the general design of both these treas, tises was formed, and some brief sketches of them were drawn, which had lain by me in long silence among other papers. That which inclined me, at Jast, to draw up these discourses, of the “Use of the Passions in Religion," into a more regular form, was the growing deadness and degeneracy of our age in vital religion, though it grew bright in rational and polite learning. There are too many persons who have imbibed, and propagate this notion, that it is almost the only business of a preacher to teach the necessary doctrines and duties of our holy religion, by a mere explication of the word of God, without enforcing these things on the conscience, by a pathetic address to the heart; and that the business of a christian, in his attendance on sermons, is to learn what these doctrines and duties are, without taking any pains to awaken the devout sensations of hope and fear, and love and joy, though the God of nature bath ordained them to be the most effectual allurements or spurs to duty in this present animal state. We are often told, that this warm and affectionate religion belongs only to the weaker parts of mankind, and is not strong and manly enough for persons of sense and good reasoning. But where the religious use of the passions is renounced and abandoned, we do not find this cold and dry reasoning sufficient to raise, virtue and piety to any great and honourable degree, even in their men of sense, without the assistance of pious affections.
On the other hand, it must be acknowledged also, there have been many persons who have made their religion to consist too much in the working of their passions, without a due exercise of reason in the things of God.
They have contented themselves with some devout raptures without seeking after clear conceptions of divine things; or building their faith and hope, and practice, upon a just and solid foundation of sacred knowledge. Whatsoever is vehement, if it hath but the name of God annexed to it, the ready to think and call sacred and divine. This sort of religion lies very much exposed to all the wild temptations of fancy and enthusia sm : A great deal of the bigotry of the world, and the madness of persecution may be asscribed to this unhappy spring. I thought it necessary therefore, to speak of the abuse of the passions, as well as the use of them, and to guard against mistakes on both sides. VOL. I.
As a foundation for these discourses, I chose to treat of the love of God, which in a sovereign manner rules and manages, awakens or suppresses all the other passions of the soul. The whole train of affections, both the painful and the pleasant ones, are under the power and regulation of love. In my pursuit of this subject, I have endeavoured to avoid all extremes ; that is, nei. ther to turn religion into a matter of speculation or cold reasoning, nor to give up the devout christian to all wandering fooleries of warm and ungoverned passion. I hope I have maintained the middle way, which, as it is most agree able to the holy scripture, and to the genius of christianity, so it has produced the noblest fruits of righteousness in every age. On this account I may presume, that the track, which I have pursued, will give no just offence to the wisest and the best of christians.
In order to make this work more serviceable to the purposes of practical godliness, I have endeavoured to form a pathetic meditation upon the argu. ment of each discourse, that I might, as far as possible, exemplify the practice of those things which I recommend to the world, and assist the de. vout reader to make a present use of them toward his advancement in the christian life.
OF THE LOVE OF GOD,
THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE PASSIONS.
The Affectionate and Supreme Love of God.
MARK xi. 30.—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.-AMONG all the teachers of religion that have been sent from God to men, the most eminent and illustrious are Moses and Christ; Moses the servant of the living God, and Christ his only begotten Son. Both of them lay the foundation of all true. relia gion in the unity of God, and both of them make our religion to consist in love. Thus saith Moses in the sixth of Deuteronomy, , whence my text is cited, and thus saith the blessed Jesus in the place where my text lies, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Thou shalt love him with all thy heart.
It is no wonder that all the powers of our natures, with all the utmost extent of our capacities, must be devoted to the love and service of this God, since there is but one, since “ is God alone, and there is none besides him; Is. xliv. 6. He must reign over the heart and the soul, over all our intellectual and our bodily powers, supreme, and without a rival. Though the love of our neighbour is required by Moses and Christ, as a necessary part of our religion, yet it must never stand in competition with the love of our God.
Some suppose the supreme and intense degree of this love, to be the whole design of Christ, in recommending the love of God to us in all these four expressions, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, viz. to intimate in general that all the faculties of nature should be employed in the love and service of God, with the greatest intenseness and full vigour of exercise.
But if we should distinguish these sentences, according to the different powers of nature, into so many different significations, I think they may be most naturally thus explained: God must be loved with all the mind, that is, he must stand highest in the esteem of the judgment : He must beloved with all the soul, that is, with the strongest attachment of the will to him : He must be loved with all the heart, that is, with the warmest and sincerest affection : And he must be loved with all the strength, that is, this love must be manifested by the utmost exercise and activity of all the inferior powers.
The heart in the language of scripture, and in the common sense of men, is the seat of the passions, that is, of fear, hope, love, hatred, joy, sorrow, shame, desire, and such like, which are usually called the passions or affections of the heart, I shall not stand in this place to give a more exact or philosophical account of them, having done that in another treatise.* If it be enquired, why the heart is said to be the seat of the passions, there is this good reason for it, viz. It is by sensible effects on the heart, that several of the affections do chiefly exert and manifest themselves; and it was chiefly for this reason that Jewish philosophy gave the soul of man its chief residence in the heart, and made it to be the seat of the passions.
The heart also in scripture, and in almost all nations and languages, is used to express or imply sincerity; what is done from the heart is done sincerely, perhaps, because the passions are naturally sincere, and are not so easy to be disguised as the outward actions of men. Now, since it is my design to treat of the exercises of the passions, or affections of the heart in the affairs of religion, I have chosen this sentence as the foundation of my discourses. The plain and obvious proposition contained in the words is this, viz.
“ The Lord our God is the proper object of our most sincere affection, and our supreme love." It is not enough for the eye to be lifted up to him, or the knee to bow before him; it is not enough for the tongue to speak of bim, or the hand to act for his interest in the world; all this may be done by painted hypocrites, whose religion is all disguise and vanity : But the heart with all the inward powers and passions must be devoted to him in tho first place: This is religion indeed. The great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it: The Lord sees and judges the heart; he has no regard to outward forms of wor ship, if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged stedfastly for God. If this be done we shall have a sufficient evidence in ourselves, that we are truly religious, and are beloved of God. In treating this subject, I shall consider these seven things :
I. What is presupposed and implied in the affectionate and supreme love of God. --II. What will be the effects of this supreme love to God on all the other passions, or how this divine passion will engage all the rest of the affectionate powers in the interests of religion.-III. Of what use and importance the passions are in religion, and what advantage is to be derived from them.-IV. How far the passions may be abused, even in religious concerns, or what is the irregular use of them, and how their efforts should be limited and restrained. Under each of these heads I shall propose some useful reflections.-V. We shall shew how the affectionate christian may be vindicated, against the cavils and reproaches of men, in his warmest exercises of devotion.-VI. What relief or comfort may be given to humble and sincere christians, who complain that they feel but very low degrees of this affectionate love to God, or of the exercise of pious passions, either in public worship, or in their devout retirements - VII. What are the most proper and effectual methods of exciting and engaging the affections in religion. Of each of these in their order.
* The Doctrine of the Passions, page 447.
First, “What is presupposed and implied in the supreme and affectionate love of God?" I answer, these five things*.
I. Some good degrees of the knowledge of God, and such an acquaintance with him, as may raise the highest esteem of himn in our mind. It is impossible that we should love any thing that we know not : And it is not to be expected that we should love God supremely, or with all our heart, if we have not known him to be more excellent, and more desirable than all other things we are acquainted with. We must have the highest opinion of his transcendent worth, or we cannot love him above all things.
It is granted, we may love or delight in some objects of an inferior nature, as they are instruments of our health or ease, or comfort; so we are said to love our habitation and our food, because they minister to our conveniency or support in the present life. We may love some poor worthless wretches with good-will and compassion, because we design to bestow some benefits upon them. We love our country and our kindred with a sort of natural attachment of the heart, because they belong to ourselves, and we are, as it were, of a piece with them. We love our friends because we esteem them possessed of some valuable properties, and able to confer benefits on us, or to relieve our wants : But unless we see the great and blessed God, as a being possessed of the highest excellencies, and capable of bestowing on us the
I might have describrd the affectionate love of God, here by the love of esteem, the love of benevolence, and the love of complacency, according to the distributions of love in the “ Treatise of the Passions," mentioned in the preface; but I chuse rather in this place to shew, what acts or operations of the understanding and will, are presupposed and included in the luve of God: The more affectionale operations of it are reserved to the next discourse.