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Jesus Christ; and we give up ourselves to him, to walk in all his ways, and keep all his commands, seeking his glory. And thus a sight and sense of the infinite dignity, greatness, glory, and excellency of the most high God, lays the first foundation for a divine love. God's being what he is, is the primary reason that he requires us to love him with all our hearts; and it is the first motive of a genuine love. I might now pass on to consider the additional obligations we are under to love God; but that it may be profitable to stop a while, and a little consider the nature and properties of this first and greatest, and most fundamental obligation; and take a view of some important consequences necessarily following therefrom. And here, 1. This obligation is binding antecedently to any consideration of advantage or disadvantage ; of rewards or punishments; and even prior to any consideration of the positive will and law of God himself. 2. It is infinitely binding. 3. It is eternally binding. 4. It is unchangeably binding. 5. It is that from which all other obligations originally derive their binding nature. 1. This obligation which we are under to love God with all our hearts, resulting from the infinite excellency of the divine nature, is binding antecedently to any consideration of advantage or disadvantage; of rewards or punishments, or even of the positive will and law of God himself. To love God with all our hearts, naturally tends to make us happy; and the contrary, to make us miserable; and there are glorious rewards promised on the one hand, and dreadful punishments threatened on the other; and God, as Governor of the world, has, with all his authority, by his law, expressly required us to love him with all our hearts, and forbidden the contrary; and all these things are binding; but yet the infinite excellency of the divine nature lays us under bonds prior to any consideration of these things. So that if our interest did not at all lie at stake, and if there had never been any express law in the case, yet it would be right, and our indispensable
duty, to love God with all our hearts. His being infinitely WOL. I. 13
lovely in himself, makes it our duty to love him; for he is in himself worthy of our highestesteem. He deserves it; it is, in the nature of things, his due : and that antecedent to any selfish consideration, or any express law in the case. To suppose the contrary, is to deny the infinite amiableness of the divine nature, and to take away the very foundation of the law itself, and the very reason of all rewards and punishments. For if our supreme love is not due to God, then he is not infinitely lovely; and if he does not deserve to be loved with all our hearts, why does he require it? And if, in the nature of things, it is not right and fit that we should love him, and the contrary unfit and wrong, what grounds are there for rewards or punishments? So that it is evident the infinite excellency of the divine nature binds us, and makes it our duty, antecedent to any consideration of advantage or disadvantage, rewards or punishments, or even of the positive will and law of God, to love God with all our hearts; and therefore our love must primarily take its rise from a sense of this infinite excellency of the divine nature, as has been before observed; and that seeming love, which arises merely from selfish considerations, from the fear of punishment or hope of reward, or because the law requires it, and so it is a duty and must be done, is not genuine; but is a selfish, a mercenary, and a forced thing. How evidently, therefore, do those discover their hypocrisy, who are wont to talk after the following manner : “If I am elected, I shall be saved, let me do what “I will ; and if I am not elected, I shall be damned, let me “do what I can : and therefore it is no matter how I live.” And again, after this sort: “If I knew certainly that God “ had made no promises to the duties of the unregenerate, as “some pretend, I would never do any more in religion.” Surely they had as good say that they have no regard at all to the infinite excellency of the divine nature, but are entirely influenced by selfish and mercenary motives in all they do : they do not seem to understand that they are under infinite obligations to love God with all their hearts, and obey him in every thing, resulting from God’s being what he is, and that antecedent to all selfish considerations; such know not God; 2. This obligation, resulting from the intrinsic excellency and amiableness of the divine nature, is infinitely binding; because this excellency and amiableness is in itself infinite. Our obligation arises from his desert; but he infinitely deserves our love, because he is infinitely lovely. When any person is lovely and honourable, reason teaches us that we ought to love and honour him, and that it is wrong to dislike and despise him. And the more lovely and honourable, the greater is our obligation to love and honour him ; and the more aggravatedly wile is it to treat him with contempt. Since, therefore, God is a Being of infinite dignity, greatness, glory, and excellency, hence we are under an infinite obligation to love him with all our hearts; and it is infinitely wrong not to do so. Since he is infinitely worthy to be honoured and obeyed by us, therefore we are under an infinite obligation to honour and obey him; and that with all our heart and soul, and mind, and strength. Hence, [1..] Perfect love and perfect obedience deserves no thanks at his hands. If we perfectly love him, even with all our hearts, and give up ourselves entirely and for ever to him, to do his will and seek his glory, and so cordially delight in him as to take up our full and everlasting contentment in him ; yet, in all this, we do but our duty, and we do no more than what we are under an infinite obligation to do; and therefore, we deserve no thanks; Luke xvii. 9, 10. Yea, we do nothing but that in which consists our highest perfection, glory, and blessedness; and therefore, instead of deserving thanks, we ought to account it an exceeding great privilege that we may thus love the Lord, live to him, and live upon him. Psalm xix. 10. When therefore eternal life was promised in the first covenant as the reward of perfect obedience, it was not under the notion of any thing being merited; nor did it ever enter into the hearts of the angels in heaven to imagine they merited any thing by all their love and service; for from their very hearts, they all join to say, Worthy art thou, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and praise for ever. And they deserve no thanks for their doing so, for they but own the very truth. When, therefore, sinful men, poor, hell-deserving creatures, think it Much that they should love and serve God so well, and take so great pains in religion ; and are ready to think that God and man ought highly to value them for their so doing, and are always telling God and man how Mighty good they are; as he, Luke xviii. 11, 12. God, I thank thee, I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican ; no, far from this, I am one of the best men in all the world : I fast twice in the week : I give tythes of all that I possess. This appeared to him such a Mighty thing, that he thought it quite worth while to tell God himself of it. Now, I say, when this is men's temper, it is a sign they neither know God, nor love him ; for, if they did, they could not set so high a price upon their duties, since he is so infinitely deserving. The plain truth is, such have intolerable mean thoughts of God, and intolerable high thoughts of themselves; they are brim-full of spiritual pride and self-righteousness; and such are exceedingly hateful in the sight of God. They implicitly say that God is not infinitely glorious, and infinitely worthy of all love and honour: he does not deserve it : it is not his due ; but rather, he is beholden to his creatures for it, and ought to render them many thanks for their love and service. The language of their hearts is, God has so little loveliness that it is Much to love him : Like a bad mother-in-law, who thinks it nothing to toil for her own children, because she loves them; but grudges every step she takes for the rest, and thinks every little a great deal, because she cares not for them : so, such men think it nothing to rise early and sit up late, to get the world; to get riches, honour, and pleasure; for they love themselves: but think it Much to take the tenth part of the pains in religion; because they love not God. Their whole frame of mind casts infinite contempt upon the glorious majesty of heaven, to whom all honour is infinitely due, and in whose service all the hosts of heaven account themselves perfectly blessed. They feel as if they deserved to be paid for all. True, there are glorious rewards promised in the law and in the gospel: But why and upon what grounds : A man may be said to be rewarded in three different senses. (I.) When he receives what he strictly deserves, as an hireling receives his wages at night. But, in this sense, the angels in heaven are
1 John iii. 6.
not capable of a reward : for, in strict justice, they deserve nothing. Luke xvii. 9, 10. Rom. xi. 35. They are no hirelings, for God has a natural, original, underived right to them, as much as he has to the sun, moon, and stars; and these, therefore, deserve to be paid for their shining, as much as the angels do for their working. Besides, if the angels do love God, it is no more than he infinitely deserves. And further, the services of angels do not profit God, and so lay him under no obligations, any more than the birds profit the rising sun by their morning-songs, and so lay the sun under obligations to shine all day. Job xxii. 2, 3. Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the .4/mighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect 2 And yet, even in this gross sense, self-righteous persons feel, at heart, as it they deserved a reward for their good duties; though perhaps they are not willing to own it. Hence, they are so apt to think it would be very hard, unjust, and cruel, if God should damn them for their past sins, notwithstanding all their good duties. Isa. lviii. 3. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not ? But, (2.) A man may be said to be rewarded, when, although, in strict justice, he deserves nothing ; yet he receives great favours at the hands of God, in testimony of the divine approbation of his person and services: And thus, the angels in heaven, though they deserve nothing, yet have eternal life bestowed upon them, as a reward to their perfect obedience, in testimony of the divine approbation. God rewards them, not because they do him any good, nor because they deserve any thing at his hands; but because he infinitely loves righteousness, and to appear as an infinite friend to this, in his public conduct, as moral Governor of the world. The most that can be said of the holiest angel in heaven, is, that he is fit to be approved in the sight of God, because he is perfectly such as God requires him to be. And now, because God loves to put honour upon virtue, and to exercise the infinite bountifulness of his nature, therefore he gives them the reward of eternal life. And thus God promises us eternal life, upon condition of perfect obedience, in the first covenant: as if God had said, “If you will love me with all