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love, the glorious perfection of the universe, even the image of God in all the world; as my love will be my delight, so I shall love best that which is best, and most delight in it: and the whole is better than any part; and there is a peculiar beauty and excellency in the whole world, as perfect, compaginate, harmonious, which is not to be found in any part, no, not in Christ himself, as man, nor in his church.
The marvellous inclination that all things have to union, even the inanimates, might persuade me, if I felt it not certainly in myself, that it is most credible that man also shall have the like inclination, and such as is agreeable to the nature of his faculties; and therefore our love and delight in all things is that uniting inclination in man.
Sect. 14. III. And I shall have a special love to the holy society, the triumphant, universal church, consisting of Christ, angels, and saints, as they are specially amiable in the image and glory of God. God himself loveth them more than his inferior works; that is, his essence, which is love, and hath no degrees or change, doth send forth fuller streams of good upon them, or maketh them better and happier than the rest. And my love will imitate the love of God, in my capacity. And if societies on earth, more holy and wise than others, though imperfectly, are very amiable, what then will the heavenly society be?
Of this I spake before (of knowing them). Sect. 15. 1. Think here, O my soul, how sweet a state unto thee it will be to love the Lord Jesus, thy glorified Head, with perfect love! When the glory of God, which shineth in him, will feast thy love with full and everlasting pleasure, the highest created perfection of power, wisdom, and goodness, refulgent in him, will not give leave to thy love to cease, or intermit, or abate its fervour. When thou shalt see in the glorified church the precious fruits of Christ's redemption, grace, and love, this also will feed thy love to him, from whom this heavenly glory conieth. And when thou shalt feel thyself possessed of perfect happiness, by his love to thee, will not this also do its part? Yea, the remembrance of all his former love, what he did for thee, and what he did in thee here on earth, how he called thee with an holy calling; how he washed thee in his blood from all thy sins; how he kindled in thee those desires which tended to that perfect glory; how he renewed thy nature; how he instructed, and guided, and preserved thee from thy childhood; and how many and how great sins, enemies, dangers, and sufferings, he saved
thee from; all this will constrain thee everlastingly to love him. Thus, (though he give the kingdom to the Father, as ceasing his mediatory, healing, saving work of acquisition,) he will be to thee the Mediator of fruition. God in him will be accessible, and condescend to a suitable communion with us. (John xvii. 24.) And as Christ is thy life, radically and efficiently, as he is the giver of grace and Spirit of love, so he will be objectively thy life as he is- lovely, and it will be formally thy life to love him, and God in him, for ever.
Sect. 16. 2. Think, also, O my soul, how delectable it will be to love (as well as to know) those angels that most fervently love the Lord! They will be lovely to thee as they have loved thee, and more as they have been lovers and benefactors to the church and to mankind; but far more as they are so many refulgent stars, which continually move and shine, and burn in purest love to their Creator. O blessed difference between that amiable society of holy spirits, and this dark, mad, distracted, wicked world! Here devils tempt me within, and devils incarnate persecute me without. Blaspheming of God, reviling godliness, deriding the sacred Scriptures, and sacred exercises, malignant slandering of the servants of God, hating, persecuting, silencing, and saying all manner of evil falsely of them, for their righteousness' sake, while such crimes are pretended, as they once falsely charged on Christ himself. This is the conversation of those that I have long dwelt with in the world : atheism, infidelity, papal church tyranny, bloody wars, destroying the righteous, oppressing the poor, adultery and fornication, stigmatising perjury, ambition, violence, covetousness, deceit, sottish ignorance, wilfulness in sin, hatredof reproof, revengeful malice; these, and such like, are the fruits of the soil where I have long sojourned (though, through the grace of Christ, among the faithful, there have been better fruits). And is not the company of holy angels better than this? With whom God is all ; who are even made up of shining wisdom, and holy love, and beneficent activity; who are the blessed choir that melodiously sing forth the high praises of their Maker. Among whom God dwelleth as in his presence-chamber, or his temple, and in whom he taketh his great delight. With these I shall see or hear no evil. No mixture of fools or wicked ones do pollute or trouble their society. There will be no false doctrine, no evil example, no favouring wickedness, no accusing goodness, no hurtful violence, but holy, powerful, operative love, will be all, and do all, as their very nature, life, and work. And is it not better to be a door-keeper there, than to dwell in the palaces of wickedness? And is not a day with them better than a thousand here?
Sect. 17. 3. And with the holy angels I shall love holy souls that are made like unto them, and joined with them in the same society; and it is likely with them judge, that is, rule the world. All their infirmities are there put off with the flesh; they also are spirits made up of holy life, and light, and love. There is none of their former ignorance, error, imprudence, selfishness, contentiousness, impatience, or any other troubling, hurtful thing. When I think with what fervent love to God, to Jesus Christ, and to one another, they will be perfectly united there, alas, how sad and how shameful is it, that they should here be prone to disaffections and divisions, and hardly agree to call each other the servants of God, or to worship God in the same assemblies; but the remnants of dividing principles, viz., pride, error, and uncharitableness; will be all left behind. Society with imperfect saints is sweet; the imperfect image of God
upon them is amiable; but their frailties here are so vexatious, that it is hard to live with some of them in peace.
But perfect love will make them one; and oh, how delightful will that communion of saints be! I can never forget how sweet God hath made the course of my pilgrimage, by the fragrancy and usefulness of his servants' graces; how sweet have my bosom friends been, though mutable! How sweet have the neighbourhood of the godly been! How sweet have the holy assemblies been; and how many hours of comfort have I there had ! How profitable have their writings, their conference, and their prayers been! What then will it be, to live in the union of perfect love with perfect saints in heaven for ever, and with them concordantly to love the God of love ?
Sect. 18. III. And as the act and the object of love will constitute my felicity, so will my reception from the love of God and his creatures, be sweeter to me than my own activity can be; for it is mutual love that makes it up. I shall not be the fountain of my own delights; nor can 1 act till I am acted, nor offer any thing to God, but what I have first received from him. And receive I shall abundantly and continually, and from thence shall overflow to God, and receiving and returning are now, and will be, the circular, endless motion, and our true perpetual life and happiness.
Sect. 19. I. All my receivings shall be from God. His love is not a mere immanent will, nor a wish which toucheth not the object; but it is what heat is in, or from, the sun or fire ; it is an efflux of goodness : it is the most powerful, sweet, communicating principle, or work.' All love is communicative; but none in comparison of God's; as there is none primitively and simply good but God. How much doth love in the affairs of men? All that is pleasant in the world is it, or its effects. Were it not for sensual love, there would be no generation of man or brutes; God hath made it a generating principle. Hatred causeth not congress, but fighting with, or flying from, one another. Were it not for natural love, mothers would never endure the pain, and trouble, and care, which is necessary to human birth and education; were it not for love, parents would never labour all their lives to leave their children well instructed, and well provided for, when they are gone. My food would not please me did I not love it, and I should neglect it to the neglect of my life. Did I not love my books, and learning itself, I should never have bestowed so much of seventy years in poring on them, and searching for knowledge, as I have done ; did I not love my house, my conveniences and necessaries, I should neglect them, and they would be to me of small use; did I not love my friends, I should be less profitable to them, and they to me; did I not love my life, I should neglect it, and never have endured the labour and cost about it as I have done. If a man love not his country, posterity, and the common good, he will be as a burdensome drone in the hive, or as pernicious vermin. What is done in the world that is good, but by love?
And if created love be so necessary, so active, so communicative, how much more will the infinite love of the Creator be! His love is now the life of the world ; his love is the life of nature in the living, the life of holiness in saints, and the life of glory in the blessed. In this infinite love it is that I, and all the saints, shall dwell for evermore. And if I dwell in love, and love in me, surely I shall have its sweet and plenteous communication, and shall ever drink of the rivers of pleasure. It is pleasant to nature to be beloved of others, especially of the great, and wise, and good ; much more to have all the communications of love, in converse and gifts, in plenty and continuance, which may be still expressing it to our greatest benefit! Had I a friend now that did for me but the hundredth part of what God doth, how dearly should I love him! Think then, think believingly, seriously, constantly, O my soul, what a life thou shalt live for ever in the presence, the face, the bosom of infinite, eternal love. He now shineth on me by the sun, and on my soul by the Son of righteousness; but it is as through a lantern, or the crevices of my darksome habitation ; but then he will shine on me, and in me, openly, and with the fullest streams and beams of love.
Sect. 20. God is the same God in heaven and earth, but I shall not be the same man. Here I receive comparatively little, but live in darkness, doubtful and frequent sorrows, because my receptivity is less; the windows of my soul are not open to his light; sin hath raised clouds, and consequently storms, against iny comforts; the entrances to my soul by the straits of flesh and sense are narrow; and they are made narrower by sin than they were by nature. Alas, how often would love have spoken comfortably to me, and I was not at home to be spoken with, but was abroad among a world of vanities, or was not at leisure, or was asleep, and not willing to be awaked! How oft would love have come in and dwelt with me, and I have unkindly shut my doors against him; how oft would he have been with me in secret, where he freely would embrace me, but I had some pleasing company or business which I was loth to leave ; how oft would he have feasted me, and had made all ready, but I was taken
Nay, when his table hath been spread before me, Christ, grace, and glory, have been offered to me, my appetite hath been gone, or dull, and all hath been almost neglected by me, and hath scarce seemed pleasant enough to be accepted, or to, call off my mind from luscious poison. How oft would he have shined upon me, and I have shut my windows or mine eyes; he was jealous indeed, and liked not a partner; he would have been all to me, if I would have been all for him. But I divided my heart, my thoughts, my love, my desires, and my kindnesses; and, alas, how much did go besides him, yea against him, to his enemies, even when I knew that all was lost, and worse than "lost, which was not his. What wonder then, if so foolish and unkind a sinner had little pleasure in his love; and if so great ingratitude and neglect of sovereign goodness were punished with such strangeness, and fears, and faintings, as I have long with groans lamented. Recipitur ad modum recipientis.
But in heaven I shall have none of these obstructions; all old