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feignedly submit or yield feigned obedience (כני נכר יכחשו לי)
1. It is granted, that there may be a false pretence of love unto Christ. And as this pretence is ruinous unto the souls of them in whom it is, so it oft-times renders them prejudicial and troublesome unto others. There ever were, and probably ever will be hypocrites in the church ; and a false pretence of love is of the essential form of hypocrisy. The first great act of hypocrisy with respect unto Christ, was treachery veiled with a double pretence of love. He cried, • Hail, master; and kissed him,' who betrayed him. His words and actions proclaimed love, but deceit and treachery were in his heart. Hence the apostle prays for grace on them who love the Lord Jesus, šv áp.Sapoia; without dissimulation or doubling, without pretences and aims at other ends, without a mixture of corrupt affections; that is sincerity; Eph. vi. 24. It was prophesied of him, that many who were strangers unto his grace, should lie unto him ; Psal. xviii. 44.
) unto him. So is it with them who profess love unto him, yet are enemies of his cross, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things;' Phil. iii. 18, 19. All that are called Christians in the world, do, by owning that denomination, profess a love unto Jesus Christ ; but greater enemies, greater haters of him he hath not among the children of men, than many of them are.
This falsely pretended love, is worse than avowed hatred; neither will the pretence of it stand men in stead at the last day. No other answer will be given unto the plea of it, be it in whom it will, but 'depart from me, I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity.' Whereas therefore he himself hath prescribed this rule unto all who would be esteemed his disciples, “If ye love me, keep my commandments ;' we may safely conclude all who live in a neglect of his commands, whatever they pretend or profess, they love him not. And the satisfaction which men, through much darkness, and many corrupt prejudices, have attained unto in the profession of Christian religion, without an internal, sincere love unto Christ himself, is that which ruins religion and their own souls.
2. As there is a false pretence of love unto Christ, so there is, or may be, a false love unto him also. The persons in whom it is, may in some measure be sincere, and yet their
love unto Christ may not be pure, nor sincere, such as answers the principles and rules of the gospel. And as many deceive others, so some deceive themselves in this matter. They may think that they love Christ, but indeed do not so. And this I shall manifest in some few instances.
(1.) That love is not sincere and incorrupt, which proceedeth not from, which is not a fruit of faith. Those who do not first really believe on Christ, can never sincerely love him. It is faith alone that worketh by love towards Christ and all his saints. If therefore any do not believe with that faith which unites them unto Christ, which within purifies the heart, and is outwardly effectual in duties of obedience, whatever they may persuade themselves concerning love unto Christ, it is but a vain delusion. Where the faith of men is dead, their love will not be living and sincere.
(2.) That love is not so, which ariseth from false ideas and representations that men make of Christ, or have made of him in their minds. Men may draw images in their minds of what they most fancy, and then doat upon them. So some think of Christ only as a glorious person exalted in heaven at the right hand of God, without farther apprehensions of his natures and offices. So the Roman missionaries represented him unto some of the Indians; concealing from them his cross and sufferings. But every false notion concerning his person or his grace, what he is, hath done, or doth, corrupts the love that is pretended unto him. Shall we think that they love Christ by whom his divine nature is denied ? Or that those do so who disbelieve the reality of his human nature? Or those by whom the union of both in the same person is rejected? There cannot be true evangelical love unto a false Christ, such as these imaginations do fancy.
(3.) So is that love, which is not in all things as to causes, motives, measures, and ends, regulated by the Scripture. This alone gives us the nature, rules, and bounds of sincere spiritual love. We are no more to love Christ, than to fear and worship him, according unto our own imaginations. From the Scripture are we to derive all the principles and motives of our love. If either the acts or effects of it will not endure a trial thereby, they are false and counterfeit,
and many such have been pretended unto, as we shall see immediately.
(4.) That is so, unquestionably,- which fixeth itself on undue objects, which, whatever is pretended, are neither Christ, nor means of conveying our love unto him. Such is all that love which the Romanists express in their devotion unto images, as they fancy of Christ; crucifixes, pretended relics of his cross, and the nails that pierced him, with the like superstitious representations of him, and what they suppose he is concerned in. For although they express their devotion with great appearance of ardent affections, under all outward signs of them, in adorations, kissings, prostrations, with sighs and tears-; yet all this while it is not Christ which they thus cleave unto, but a cloud of their own imaginations, wherewith their carnal minds are pleased and affected. That is no God which a man heweth out of a tree, though he form it for that end, though he falleth down unto it and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, 'deliver me, for thou art my God ;' Isa. xliv. 17. The authors of this superstition, whereby the love of innumerable poor souls, is depraved and abused, do first frame in their minds what they suppose may solicit or draw out the natural and carnal affections of men unto it, and then outwardly represent it as an object for them. Wherefore some of their representations of him are glorious, and some of them dolorous, according as they aim to excite affections in carnal minds. But, as I said, these things are not Christ, nor is he any way concerned in them.
(5.) I acknowledge there have been great pretences of such a love unto Christ as cannot be justified. Such is that which some of the devotionists of the Roman church, have endeavoured rather to express out of their fancy, than declare out of their experience. Raptures, ecstasies, self-annihilations, immediate adhesions and enjoyments, without any act of the understanding, and with a multitude of other swelling words of vanity, they labour to set off what they fancy to be divine love. But there wants not evidences of truth sufficient to defeat these pretences, be they never so specious or glorious. For,
[1.] As it is by them described, it exceedeth all Scripture precedents. For men to assume unto themselves an ap
prehension that they love Christ in another manner and kind, in a higher degree at least, and thence, to enjoy more intimacy with him, more love from him, than did any of the apostles, John, or Paul, or Peter, or any other of those holy ones, whose love unto him is recorded in the Scripture, is intolerable vanity and presumption. But no such things as these devotees pretend unto, are mentioned, or in the least intimated concerning them, and their love to their Lord and Master. No nian will pretend unto more love than they had, but such as have none at all.
[2.] It is no way directed, warranted, approved, by any command, promise, or rule of the Scripture. As it is without precedent, so it is without precept. And hereby, whether we will or no, all our graces and duties must be tried, as unto any acceptation with God. Whatever pretends to exceed the direction of the word, may safely be rejected, cannot safely be admitted. Whatever enthusiasms or pretended inspirations may be pleaded, for the singular practice of what is prescribed in the Scripture, yet none can be allowed for an approved principle of what is not so prescribed. Whatever exceeds the bounds thereof, is resolved into the testimony of every distempered imagination. Nor will it avail that these things amongst them are submitted unto the judgment of the church. For the church hath no rule to judge by but the Scripture; and it can pass but one judgment of what is not warranted thereby, namely, that it is to be rejected.
[3.] As it is described by those who applaud it, it is not suited unto the sober sedate actings of the rational faculties of our souls. For whereas all that God requireth of us, is that we love him with all our souls and all our minds, these men cry up a divine love by an immediate adhesion of the will and the affections unto God, without any actings of the mind and understanding at all. Love indeed is the regular acting of our whole souls by all their faculties and rational powers in an adherence unto God. But these men have fancied a divine love for them whom they would admire and extol, which disturbs all their regular actings, and renders them of little or no use in that, which without their due exercise, is nothing but fancy. And hence it is, that under pretence of this love, sundry persons among them, yea, all
that have pretended unto it, have fallen into such ridiculous excesses and open delusions, as sufficiently discover the vanity of the love itself pretended by them.
Wherefore we plead for no other love unto the person of Christ, but what the Scripture warrants as unto its nature, what the gospel requireth of us as our duty, what the natural faculties of our minds are suited unto, and given us for, what they are enabled unto by grace, and without which in some degree of sincerity, no man can yield acceptable obedience unto him.
These things being premised, that which we assert is, that there is and ought to be in all believers, a religious gracious love unto the person of Christ, distinct from, and the reason of their obedience unto his commands; that is, it is distinct from all other commands ; but is also itself commanded and required of us in a way of duty.
That there is in the church such a love unto the person of Christ, the Scripture testifies both in the precepts it gives for it, and the examples of it. And all those who truly believe cannot apprehend that they understand any thing of faith, or love of Christ, or themselves, by whom it is called in question. If therefore I should enlarge on this subject, a great part of the doctrine of the Scripture from first to last must be represented, and a transcript of the hearts of believers, wherein this love is seated and prevalent, be made according to our ability. And there is no subject that I could more willingly enlarge upon. But I must at present contract myself in compliance with my design. Two things only I shall demonstrate : 1. That the person of Christ is the object of divine love. 2. What is the nature of that love in us; what are the grounds of it, and the motives unto it, in them that do believe.
In reference unto the first of these, the ensuing position shall be the subject of the remainder of this chapter.
The person of Christ is the principal object of the love of God, and of the whole creation participant of his image. The reason why I thus extend the assertion, will appear in the declaration of it.
(1.) No small part of the eternal blessedness of the holy God, consisteth in the mutual love of the Father and the Son, by the Spirit. As he is the only-begotten of the