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into love and astonishment; and, as our Lord beautifully expressed it, “ he loves much, because he has been forgiven much."
If then we desire, that the love of God may be hegun or increased in our hearts, first of all, let our corrupt affections be eradicated. Cheerfully let us sacrifice " the friendship cf the world, which is enmity with God,” by which we should understand the corrupt principles and practices which prevail in it, or as the scripture expresses it," the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” If we make this sacrifice, much is then done, and nothing is done without it, towards the love of God. We love not God, while we yield up the heart to his enemies. Would we love hir? Then let us search the heart, and draw forth to the light, and to the cross, every secret traitor there. The heart, purged of idols, becomes the temple of God. “ He dwells with him, who is of an humble and contrite heart.” The debasing impurities and darkening clouds of sense having passed away, how clear and spiritual will be the vision of the soul ; and how bright and lovely will the divine image appear to it. Then those harsh views of the Divine Being, once entertained, will have vanished ; and his justice and mercy, his truth and holiness will be seen in perfect consistency. Then how glorious will appear his works, how equal his government, how munificent his providence, how surprising his grace. And views like these will surely awaken the soul to admiration and love. Let me ob
II. That just apprehensions of the divine character tend greatly to promote the love of God in the soul. Most human beings suffer by a near and close scrutiny; the dazzling qualities, seen at a distance, disappear at your approach, or are over-balanced by imperfections and blemishes, which cannot be concealed from the eyes of the examiner. But the reverse is true of God. Although by searching we cannot find him out to perfection, the subject being infinite, yet new and brighter glories are continually diclosed to the contemplative and devout-we may go on forever to know the Lord. His character is a universe, boundless and unsearchable by mortal or immortal eyes, in its full extent, but the more we enlarge the field of vision, and the deeper we look into the glorious abyss, the higher will rise our grateful admiration and love. The scriptures speak of the knowledge of God as implying all good affections, and as being love itself. “ This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” And on the other hand, ignorance of God is a summary description of a wick
“ Now the sons of Eli,” saith the scripture, were men of Belial ; they knew not the Lord.” And St. John affirms, "He that loveth not, doth not know God;" evidently implying that the knowledge of God inspires love ; at least, that this is the tendency of it. In the neglect of pious contemplation, we find the immediate cause of a heart cold to God. How should the divine perfections kindle our souls into love, if the mind dwells not upon them? How should they pro
duce their proper effect, if we are at no pains to acquire correct and clear apprehensions of them? We may
be assured that it will be of the best tendency, if we form the habit of contemplating the Divine Being. It is the character of the wicked, that “God is not in all his thoughts.” It should then be true of the pious, that God is seldom absent from his thoughts. He should think of him in the silence of the night, and in the hurry of the day; in moments sacred to devotion, or crowded with care. The more we think of him, the more we meditate on his perfections singly, or consider the harmony of the whole, and of the exceeding glory which results from it to the divine character, and happiness to the universe, the more will our hearts warm into admiring, reverential, filial love to the great Father of all.
I must acknowledge, however, that it requires strong effort of the mind and affections, to fix them abstractedly on God, an invisible and infinite spirit, or to contemplate him without reference to the exercise of his perfections. Nor is this necessary; for
III. A most important means both of attaining and increasing the love of God is “to consider his works and ways.” These give a sort of visible form and reality to his perfections; and I might almost say, present him to our senses. The feeblest, the dullest mind only needs to be brought to view God in his works and ways, to perceive, to feel, to be impressed. Familiar as they are, is it possible that we should seriously consider the works which God has created ; the inaumera
ble shining orbs, with which he has filled the vast expanse, above, beneath us; the order of their arrangement, the harmony of their motions, the exact balancing of the complicated whole, and the infinity of happy beings to which they afford convenient residence and sustenance, and not be filled with admiration and love of their beneficent Creator ?
We may correctly judge what God has done in other worlds, by what he has done in this. Our comforts are all his gift ; our miseries are all of our own procuring. What a happy face of things should we here behold, had not sin in so great a degree marred it. As the garden of Eden was to its sinless cultivators, so would the whole earth have been to their posterity, if sinless. But in despite of sin and of its effects, what admirable evidences do we still behold on every side of us, of God's munificence and his paternal care? The meanest living thing is not forgotten before him, nor left without a suitable provision for its life and comfort. Every thing needful for the support, the convenience, the relief, the delight of his creatures, is provided. The pious of ancient times used to excite their devout affections by contemplation on these things, till with rapturous joy and gratitude they exclaimed—“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all. The earth is full of thy riches.” “Great is the Lord, and of great power; his understanding is infinite. All thy works praise thee, O Lord.” If magnificent vastness, infinite variety, inimitable beauty, and with these, never-failing bounty, ca
awaken interest in our minds, and excite our affections, they are ever before us in the works and providence of God. When we survey the skies in the evening, when we look over the garden in the spring, and the fields in autumn, laden with the fruits of the year, and we drink health and sweetness from a thousand springs, O let us consider that the kind hand of God hath formed and furnished them all, that his creatures might be happy ; and let the vast and tender thought excite us to holy gratitude, and to unutterable love.
The whole field of God's works and ways is boundless; and we are in danger, from its very infinitude, of losing that deep and due impression, which a nearer contemplation of them would excite. Let us then examine that little portion of it, which comprehends our personal interests. Would we count the mercies of God to us ? Says the psalmist, they “are more than the sand.” Look upon this little world of wonders, the body, which his skill has formed; consider the more wonderful soul, which he has breathed into it, intelligent, free, immortal. Consider, as you look back, the signal instances of divine goodness, personal 10 yourselves, which cannot, ought not ever to be forgotten,-dangers intercepted, sicknesses healed. You have been a shipwrecked and despairing mariner, and yet were brought safe to land. You stretched forth your hand to God, as your only hope, and he saved you. You found the words of the psalmist true · The Lord is nigh to all that call upon him, a refuge in times of trouble.” But there are mercies greater