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because he first loved us," as though this implied that God's love to the true saints were the first foundation of their love to him.
In answer to this, I would observe, that the apostle's drift in these words, is to magnify the love of God to us from hence, that he loved us, while we had no love to him ; as will be manifest to any one who compares this verse and the two following with the 9th, 10th, and 11th verses. And that God loved us, when we had no love to him, the apostle proves by this argument, that God's love to the elect is the ground of their love to him. And that it is three ways...... The saints love to God is the fruit of God's love to them, as it is the gift of that love. God gave them a spirit of love to him, because he loved them from eternity. And in this respect God's love to his elcct is the first foundation of their love to him, as it is the foundation of their regeneration, and the whole of their redemption. 2. The exercises and discovcries that God has made of his wonderful love to sinful men, by Jesus Christ, in the work of redemption, is one of the chief manifestations, which God has made of the glory of his moral perfection, to both angels and men ; and so is one main objective ground of the love of both to God; in a good consistence with what was said before. 3. God's love to a particular elect person, discovered by his conversion, is a great manifestation of God's moral perfection and glory to him, and a proper occasion of the excitation of the love of holy gratitude, agree: able to what was before said. And that the saints do in these respects love God, because he first loved them, fully answers the design of the apostle's argument in that place. So that no good argument can be drawn from hence, against a spiritual and gracious love in the saints, arising primarily from the excellency of divine things, as they are in themselves, and not from any conceived relation they bear to their interest.
And as it is with the love of the saints, so it is with their joy, and spiritual delight and pleasure : The first foundation of it is not any consideration or conception of their interest in divine things; but it primarily consists in the sweet entertainment their minds have in the view or contemplation of the
divine and holy beauty of these things, as they are in themselves. And this is indeed the
main difference between the joy of the hypocrite, and the joy of the true saint. The former rejoices in himself; self is the first foundation of his joy : The latter rejoices in God. The hypocrite has his mind pleased and delighted, in the first place, with his own privilege, and the happiness which he supposes he has attained to, or shall attain to. True saints have their minds, in the first place, inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the sweet ideas of the glorious and amiable nature of the things of God. And this is the spring of all their delights, and the cream of all their pleasures : It is the joy of their joy. This sweet and ravishing entertainment, they have in the view of the beautisul and delightful nature of divine things, is the foundation of the joy that they have afterwards, in the consideration of their being theirs. But the dependence of the affections of hypocrites is in a contrary order : They first rejoice and are elevated with it, that they are made so much of by God ; and then on that ground he seems, in a sort, lovely to them.
The first foundation of the delight a true saint has in God, is his own perfection ; and the first foundation of the delight, he has in Christ, is his own beauty ; he appears in himself the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. The way of salvation by Christ is a delightful way to him, for the sweet and admirable manifestations of the divine perfections in it : The holy doctrines of the gospel by which God is exalted and man abased, holiness honored and promoted, and sin greatly disgraced and discouraged, and free and sovereign love manifested, are glorious doctrines in his eyes, and sweet to his taste, prior to any conception of his interest in these things. Indeed the saints rejoice in their interest in God, and that Christ is theirs ; and so they have great reason ; but this is not the first spring of their joy. Třey first rejoice in God as glorious and excellent in himself, and then secondarily rejoice in it, that so glorious a God is theirs..... They first have their hearts filled with sweetness, from the view of Christ's excellency, and the excellency of his graccand the beauty of the way of salvation by him, and then they have a
secondary joy in that so excellent a Saviour, and such excellent grace is theirs.* But that which is the true saints superstructure is the hypocrites foundation. When they hear of the wonderful things of the gospel of God's great love in sending his Son, of Christ's dying love to sinners, and the great things Christ has purchased and promised to the saints, and hear these thing livelily and eloquently set forth ; they may hear with a great deal of pleasure, and be lifted up with what they hear ; but if their joy be examined, it will be found to have no other foundation than this, that they look upon these things as theirs, all this exalts them, they love to hear of the great love of Christ, so vastly distinguishing some from others; for selflove, and even pride itself makes them affect great distinction from others. No wonder, in this confident opinion of their own good estate, that they feel well under such doctrine, and are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing how much God and Christ makes of them. So that their joy is really a joy in themselves, and not in God.
And because the joy of hypocrites is in themselves, hence it comes to pass that in their rejoicings and elevations, they are wont to keep their eye upon themselves : Having received what they call spiritual discoveries or experiences, their minds are taken up about them, admiring their own experiences and what they are principally taken and elevated with, is not the glory of God, or beauty of Christ, but the beauty of their experiences. They keep thinking with themselves, What a good experience is this! What a great discovery is this! What wonderful things have I met with ! And so they put their experiences in the place of Christ, and his beauty
* Dr. Owen on the Spirit, p. 199, speaking of a common work of the Spirit, says,
“ The effects of this work on the mind, which is the first sub. ject affected with it, proceeds not so far as to give delight, complacency and satisfaction, in the lovely spiritual nature and excellency of the things reveal. ed unto it. The true nature of saving illumination consists in this, that it gives the mind such a direct intuitive insight and prospect into spiritual things, as that in their own spiritual nature they suit, please, and satisfy it'; so that it is transformed into them, cast into the mould of them, and rests in them,
and fulness; and instead of rejoicing in Christ Jesus, they rejoice in their admirable experiences ; instead of feeding and feasting their souls in the view of what is without them, viz. the innate, sweet refreshing amiableness of the things exhibited in the gospel, their eyes are off from these things, or at least they view them only as it were sideways ; but the object that fixes their contemplation, is their experience ; and they are feeding their souls, and feasting a selfish principle, with a view of their discoveries : They take more comfort in their discoveries than in Christ discovered, which is the the true notion of living upon experiences and frames, and not a using experiences as the signs on which they rely for evidence of their good estate, which some call living on experiences ; though it be very observable, that some of them who do so are most notorious for living upon experiences, aca cording to the true notion of it.
The affections of hypocrites are very often after this manner ; they are first much affected with some impression on their imagination, or some impulse which they take to be an immediate suggestion or testimony from God of his love and their happiness, and high privileges in some respect, either with or without a text of scripture ; they are mightily taken with this as a great discovery, and hence arise high affections. And when their affections are raised, then they view those high affections, and call them great and wonderful experiences; and they have a notion that God is greatly pleased with those affections ; and this affects them more ; and so they are affected with their affections. And thus their affections rise higher and higher, until they sometimes are perfectly swallowed up : And self conceit, and a fierce zeal rises withal ; and all is built like a castle in the air, on no other foundation but imagination, selflove, and pride.
And as the thoughts of this sort of persons are, so is their talk ; for out of the abundance of their heart their mouth speaketh. As in their high affections they keep their eye upon the beauty of their experiences, and greatness of their attainments ; so they are great talkers about themselves.... The true saint, when under great spiritual affections, from VOL. IV.
the fulness of his heart, is ready to be speaking much of God, and his glorious perfections and works, and of the beauty and amiableness of Christ, and the glorious things of the gospel : But hypocrites, in their high affections, talk more of the discovery, than they do of the thing discovered ; they are full of talk about the great things they have met with, the wonderful discoveries they have had, how sure they are of the love of God to them, how safe their condition is, and how they know they shall go to heaven, &c.
A true saint, when in the enjoyment of true discoveries of the sweet glory of God and Christ, has his mind too much captivated and engaged by what he views without himself, to stand at that time to view himself, and his own attainments : It would be a diversion and loss which he could not bear, to take his eye off from the ravishing object of his contemplation, to survey his own experience, and to spend time in thinking with himself, what an high attainment this is, and what a good story I now have to tell others. Nor does the pleasure and sweetness of his mind at that time chiefly arise from the consideration of the safety of his state, or any thing he has in view of his own qualifications, experiences, or circumstances; but from the divine and supreme beauty of what is the object of his direct view, without himself; which sweetly entertains, and strongly holds his mind.
As the love and joy of hypocrites are all from the source of selflove ; so it is with their other affections, their sorrow for sin, their humiliation and submission, their religious desires and zeal : Every thing is, as it were, paid for befores hand, in God's highly gratifying their selflove, and their lusts, by making so much of them, and exalting them so highly, as things are in their imagination. It is easy for nature, as corrupt as it is, under a notion of being already some of the highest favorites of heaven, and having a God who does so protect them and favor them in their sins, to love this image inary God that suits them so well, and to extol him, and submit to him, and to be fierce and zealous for him. The high affections of many are all built on the supposition of their being eminent saints. If that opinion which they have of them