« PreviousContinue »
impossible that other attributes should appear lovely, in their true loveliness, until this is seen ; and it is impossible that any perfection of the divine nature should be loved with true love until this is loved. If the true loveliness of all God's perfections arise from the loveliness of his holiness; then the true love of all his perfections arises from the love of his holiness. They that do not see the glory of God's holiness, cannot see any thing of the true glory of his mercy and grace : They see nothing of the glory of those attributes, as any excellency of God's nature, as it is in itself; though they may be affected with them, and love them, as they concern their interest : For these attributes are no part of the excellency of God's nature, as that is excellent in itself, any otherwise than as they are included in his holiness, more largely taken ; or as they are a part of his moral perfection.
As the beauty of the divine nature does primarily consist in God's holiness, so does the beauty of all divine things. Herein consists the beauty of the saints, that they are saints, or holy ones; it is the moral image of God in them, which is their beauty; and that is their holiness. Herein consists the beauty and brightness of the angels of heaven, that they are holy angels, and so not devils, Dan. iv. 13, 17, 23, Mat. XXV. 31, Mark viii. 38, Acts x. 22, Rev. xiv. 10. Herein consists the beauty of the Christian religion, above all other religions; that it is so holy a religion. Herein consists the excellency of the word of God, that it is so holy, Psal. cxix. 140.
6 Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it, ver. 128. I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. Ver. 138. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous, and very faithful. And 172. My tongue shall speak of thy word ; for all thy commandments are righteousness. And Psal. xix. 7.... 10. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The sta utes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: The corto mandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Th fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: The judgmen Es of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether : More to b
desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; sweetder also than honey, and the honey comb.” Herein does prie marily consist the amiableness and beauty of the Lord Jesus, whereby he is the chief among ten thousands, and altogether Jovely, even in that he is the holy one of God, Acts, iii. 14, and God's holy child, Acts iv. 27, and he that is holy, and he that is true, Rev. iii. 7. All the spiritual beauty of his human nature, consisting in his meekness, lowliness, patience, heavenliness, love to God, love to men, condescension to the mean and vile, and compassion to the miserable, &c. all is summed up in his holiness. And the beauty of his divine nature, of which the beauty of his human nature is the image and reflection, does also primarily consist in his holiness. He rein primarily consists the glory of the gospel, that it is a holy gospel, and so bright an emanation of the holy beauty of God and Jesus Christ : Herein consists the spiritual beauty of its doctrines, that they are holy doctrines, or doctrines according to godliness. And herein does consist the spiritual beauty of the-way of salvation by Jesus Christ, that it is so holy a way. And herein chiefly consists the glory of heav. en, that it is the holy city, the holy Jerusalem, the habitation of God's holiness, and so of his glory, Isa. Ixiii. 15. All the beauties of the new Jerusalem, as it is described in the two last chapters of Revelation, are but various representations of this : See chap. xxi. 2, 10, 11, 18, 21, 27....chap. xxii. 1, 3.
And therefore it is primarily on account of this kind of excellency, that the saints do love all these things. Thus they love the word of God, because it is very pure. It is on this account they love the saints ; and on this account chiefly it is, that heaven is lovely to them, and those holy tabernacles of God amiable in their eyes : It is on this account that they love God; and on this account primarily it is, that they love Christ, and that their hearts delight in the doctrines of the gospel, and sweetly acquiesce in the way of salvation therein revealed.*
*" To the right closing with Christ's person, this is also required, to taste the bitterness of sin, as the greatest evil ; Else a man will never close with VOL. IV.
Under the head of the first distinguishing characteristic of gracious affection, I observed, that there is given to those that are regenerated, a new supernatural sense, that is as it were a certain divine spiritual taste, which is, in its whole nature, diverse from any former kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other five senses, and that something is perceived by a true saint in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely different from any thing that is perceived in them by natural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men get of honey by looking on it or feeling it: Now this that I have been speaking, viz. the beauty of holiness, is that thing in spiritual and divine things, which is perceived by this spir itual sense, that is so diverse from all that natural men perceive in them ; this kind of beauty is the quality that is the immediate object of this spiritual sense ; this is the sweetness that is the proper object of this spiritual taste. Tho scripture often represents the beauty and sweetness of holiness as the grand object of a spiritual taste and spiritual appetite. This was the sweet food of the holy soul of Jesus Christ, John iv. 32, 34. “ I have meat to eat that
know not of.....My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." I know of no part of the holy scriptures, where the nature and evidences of true and sincere godliness are so much of set purpose and so fully and largely insisted on and delineated, as the 119th Psalm ; the Psalmist declares his design in the first verses of the Psalm, and he keeps his eye on this design all along, and pursues it to the end : But in this Psalm the excellency of holiness is represented as the
Christ, for his holiness in him, and from him, as the greatest good. For we told you, that that is the right closing with Christ for himself, when it is for his holiness. For ask a whorish heart, what beauty he sees in the person of Christ ; he will, after he has looked over his kingdom, his righteousness, and all his works, sče a beauty in them, because they do serve his turn, to comfort him only. Ask a virgin, he will see his happiness in all ; but that which makes the Lord amiable is his holiness, which is in him to make him holy
As in marriage, it is the personal beauty draws the heart. And hence I have thought it reason, that he that loves the brethren for a little grace, will Jove Christ much more." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 84.
immediate object of a spiritual taste, relish, appetite, and delight of God's law, that grand expression and emanation of the holiness of God's nature, and prescription of holiness to the creature, is all along represented as the food and entertainment, and as the great object of the love, the appetite, the complacence and rejoicing of the gracious nature, which prizes God's commandments above gold, yea, the finest gold, and to which they are sweeter than the honey and honey comb; and that upon account of their holiness, as I observed before. The same Psalmist declares, that this is the sweetness that a spiritual taste relishes in God's law, Psal. xix, 7, 8, 9, 10, « The law of the Lord is perfect: The commandment of the Lord is pure ; the fear of the Lord is clean ; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart ;....the judge ments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether; more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb.”.
A holy love has a holy object: The holiness of love consists especially in this, that it is the love of that which is holy, as holy, or for its holiness ; so that it is the holiness of the object, which is the quality whereon it fixes and terminates. An holy nature must needs love that in holy things chiefly, which is most agreeable to itself; but surely that in divine things, which above all others is agreeable to a holy nature, is holiness, because holiness must be above all other things agreeable to holiness; for nothing can be more agree. able to any nature than itself; holy nature must be above all things agreeable to holy nature :. And so the holy nature of God and Christ, and the word of God, and other divine things, must be above all other things agreeable to the holy nature that is in the saints.
And again, an holy nature doubtless loves holy things, es. pecially on the account.of that for which sinful nature has en: mity against them: But that for which chiefly sinful nature is at enmity against holy things, is their holiness; it is for this, that the carnal mind is at enmity against God, and against the law of God, and the people of God. Now it is just arguing from contraries; from contrary causes to contrary ef
fects; from opposite natures to opposite tendencies. We know that holiness is of a directly contrary nature to wicked, ness ; as therefore it is the nature of wickedness chiefly to oppose and hate holiness ; so it must be the nature of holi, ness chiefly to tend to, and delight in holiness,
The holy nature in the saints and angels in heaven (where the true tendency of it best appears) is principally engaged by the holiness of divine things. This is the divine beauty which chiefly engages the attention, admiration, and praise of the bright and burning Seraphim, Isa. vi. 3. “One cried unto another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. And Rev. iv. 8. They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Ale mighty, which was, and is, and is to come. So the glorified saints, chap. xv. 4. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy.”
And the scriptures represent the saints on earth as adoring God primarily on this account, and admiring and extolling all God's attributes, either as deriving loveliness, from his holi: ness, or as being a part of it. Thus when they praise God for his power, his holiness is the beauty that engages them, Psal. xcviii. 1. “O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things : His right hand, and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory.” So when they praise him for his justice and terrible majesty, Psal. xcix. 2, 3.
« The Lord is great in Zion, and he is high above all people. Let them praise thy great and terrible name ; for it is holy, ver. 5. Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool ; for he is holy, ver. 8, 9. Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill : For the Lord our God is holy.” So when they praise God for his mercy and faithfulness, Psal. xcvii. 11, 12. “ Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness, 1 Sam. ii. 2. There is none holy as the Lord : For there is none besides thee ; neither is there any
rock like our God.”