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love limited and moderate, such as that which we ought to have for creatures, even creatures the most worthy of esteem ; but a love boundless and beyond moderation, so to speak, like that of glorified spirits to the Supreme Intelligence, whose perfections have no limits, whose beauties are infinite.
The idea thus fixed, it is easy to comprehend, that a soul animated with zeal, cannot see without the deepest sorrow the insults offered by sinners to his God. What object is it that kindles flames of zeal to an ingenuous soul ? It is the union of three attributes: an attribute of magnificence, an attribute of holiness, and an attribute of communication. This union can be found only in God, and for this reason God only is worthy of supreme love. Every being, in whom any one of these three attributes is wanting, yea, any being in whom any degree is wanting, is not, cannot be an object of supreme love.
In vain would God possess attributes of charitable communication, if he did not possess attributes of magnificence. His attributes of communication would indeed inspire me with sentiments of gratitude: but what benefit should I derive from his inclination to make me happy, if he had not power sufficient to do so, and if he were not himself the happy God, that is, the origin, the sourse of all felicity, or, as an inspired writer speaks, the parent of every good and every perfect gift? James i. 17. In this case he would reach a feeble hand to help me, he would shed unavailing tears over my miseries, and I could not say to him, my supreme good is to draw near to thee, whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee, Psal. Ixxiii. 28, 25.
In vain would God possess attributes of holiness, if he did not possess attributes of communication, In this case he would indeed be an object of my admiration, but he could not be the ground of my hope. I should be struck with the contemplation of a virtue always pure, always firm, and always alike : but in regard to me, it would be only an abstract and metaphysical virtue, which could have no influence over my happiness. Follow this reasoning in regard to the other attributes, and you will perceive that nothing but an union of these three can render an object supremely lovely; and as this union can be found only in God, it is God only who can be the object of zeal, or, what is the same thing expressed in other words, God alone is worthy of supreme love.
As we make a progress in our meditation, and in proportion as we acquire a just notion of true zeal, we shall enter into the spirit and meaning of the words of our psalmist. Do you love God as he did ? Does your heart burn like his with flames of divine zeal? Then you can finish the first part of my discourse, for you know by experience this disposition of mind, my seal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. .
Sinners, I do not mean such as sin through infirmity and surprize; the text does not speak of them. I mean such as sin openly, freely, and deliberately; these sinners attack the perfections of God, either his attributes of magnificence, or those of holiness, or those of communication, and sometimes all three together. They endeavor to disconcert the beautiful harmony of the divine perfections, and so to rob us of all we adore, the only worthy object of our
esteem. · They attack the magnificence of God. Such
are those madmen, who employ all the depth of their erudition, all the accuteness of their genius, and all the fire of their fancy, to obscure the eternity of the first cause, the infinity of his power, the infallibility of his wisdom, and every other perfection that makes a part of that complexure or combination of excellences, which we call magnificence. Such, again, are those abominable characters, who supply the want of genius with the depravity of their hearts, and the blasphemies of their mouths, and who, not being able to attack him with specious reasonings and plausible sophisms, endeavor to stir up his subjects to rebel, defying his power, and trying whether it be possible to deprive him of the empire of the world.
Some sinners attack the attributes of holiness in the perfect God. Such are those detestable men, who presume to tax him with falsehood and deceit, who deny the truth of his promises, who accuse his laws of injustice, and his conduct of prevarication, who would persuade us, that the reins of the universe would be held much more wisely by their impure hands than by those of the judge of all the carth. .
Some sinners attack the attributes of communication. Such, in the first instance, are those ungrateful persons, who, while they breathe only his air, and live only on his aliments, while only his earth bears, and only his sun illuminates them,
while they neither live, nor mave, nor have a being, 'but what they derive from him, while he opens to
them the path to supreme happiness, I mean the road of faith and obedience, pretend that he is 'wanting in goodness, charge him with all the miserjes into which they have the madness to plunge themselves, dare to accuse him with taking pleasure in tormenting his creatures, and in the sufferings
of the unfortunate; who wish the goodness of the Supreme Being were regulated by their caprice, or rather by their madness, and will never consent to worship him as good, except he allows them with impunity to gratify their most absurd and guilty passions.
Observe too, people may be profane by actions as well as by system and reasoning. If sinners attack the attributes of God directly, it is equally true, they make an indirect attack upon the same perfections.
Here I wish, my brethren, each of us had accustomed himself to derive his morality from evangelical sources, to hear the language of inspired writers, and to judge of his own actions not by such flattering portraits as his own prejudices produce, but by the essential properties of morality, as it is described in the word of God.
For example, what is a man who coolly puts himself under the protection of another man, without taking any thought about the guardianship of God? He is a profane wretch, who declares war against God, and attacks his attribsites of magnificence, by attributing more power to the patron, under whose wing he creeps and thinks himself secure, than to that God who takes the title of King of kings. What I say of confidence in a king, I affirm of confidence in all other creatures, whoever or whatever they be. On this principle the psalm. ist grounded this exhortation, put not your trust in princes nor in the son of man, in whom there - 2s no: help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth
to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish. On this principle is this other declaration
of a prophet founded, cursed be the man that trust* eth in man, and maketh flesh his arm. And it is
on this principle that sacred history imputes, so great a crime to Asa, because when he fell sick, and saw himself reduced to extremity, he sought to the physicians, and not lo the Lord. .
What is a man who gives up his heart to idolize any particular object? What is a man who follows certain sympathies, a certain secret influence, certain charms omnipotent to him, because he chooses to yield to their omnipotence? He is a profane wretch, who declares war against God, and who attacks his attributes of communication; he is a man, who attests by his conduct that there is more pleasure in his union to his idol than there can be in communion with God; he is a man, who maintains by his actions, that this creature, to whom he gives himself up without reserve, merits more love, and knows how to return love with more delicacy and constancy, than that God, who is the only mo del of perfect love; he is a man, who resists this invitation of eternal wisdom, my son give me thine heart, and who disputes a truth that ought to be considered as a first principle in a system of love, in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleusures for evermore, Psal. xvi. 11. · Let us abridge this part of our discourse, and let us return to the chief end we proposed. A sinner, who sins openly, freely, of set purpose, attacks the attributes of God, either his attributes of greatness, or his attributes of communication, or his attributes of holiness, sometimes all the three together. A good man, who sincerely loves God, can he look with indifference on such insults offered to the object of his love? And in which of the saints, whom the inspired writers have proposed as examples to you, have you discovered this guilty indifference?
Behold Moses. He comes down from the holy mountain, he hears the acclamations of those mad