Page images
PDF
EPUB

and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections ; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God's displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God. And in like manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other virtue ous affections towards men.

6. The religion of the most eminent saints we have an account of in the scripture, consisted much in holy affections.

I shall take particular notice of three eminent saints, who have expressed the frame and sentiments of their own hearts, and so described their own religion, and the manner of their intercourse with God, in the writings which they have left us, that are a part of the sacred canon.

The first instance I shall take notice of, is David, that “ man after God's own heart;"? who has given us a lively portraiture of his religion in the Book of Psalms. Those holy songs of his he has there left us, are nothing else but the expressions and breathings of devout and holy affections ; such as an humble and fervent love to God, admiration of his glorious perfections and wonderful works, earnest desires, thirstings, and pantings of soul after God, delight and joy in God, a sweet and melting gratitude to God, for his great goodness, an holy exultation and triumph of soul in the favor, sufficiency, and faithfulness of God, his love to, and delight in the saints, the excellent of the earth, his great delight in the word and ordi. nances of God, his grief for his own and others sins, and his fervent zeal for God, and against the enemies of God and his church. And these expressions of holy affection, which the psalms of David are every where full of, are the more to our present purpose, because those psalms are not only the expressions of the religion of so eminent a saint, that God speaks of as so agreeable to his mind; but were also, by the direction of the Holy Ghost, penned for the use of the church of God in its public worship, not only in that age, but in after ages ; as being fitted to express the religion of all saints, in

all ages, as well as the religion of the Psalmist. And it is moreover to be observed, that David, in the book of Psalms, speaks not as a private person, but as the Psalmist of Israel, as the subordinate head of the church of God, and leader in their worship and praises ; and in many of the Psalms speaks in the name of Christ, as personating him in these breathings forth of holy affection ; and in many other Psalms he speaks in the name of the church.

Another instance I shall observe, is the apostle Paul ; who was, in many respects, the chief of all the ministers of the New Testament; being above all others, a chosen vessel unto Christ, to bear his name before the Gentiles, and made a chief instrument of propagating and establishing the Christian church in the world, and of distinctly revealing the glorious mysteries of the gospel, for the instruction of the church in all ages; and (as has not been improbably thought by some) the most eminent servant of Christ that ever lived, received to the highest rewards in the heavenly kingdom of his Master. By what is said of him in the scripture, he appears to have been a person that was full of affection. And it is

very

manifest, that the religion he expresses in his epistles, consisted very much in holy affections. It appears by all his expressions of himself, that he was, in the course of his life, inflam, ed, actuated, and entirely swallowed up, by a most ardent love to his glorious Lord, esteeming all things as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of him, and esteeming them but dung that he might win him. He represents himself, as overpowered by this holy affection, and as it were, compelled by it to go forward in his service, through all difficulties and sufferings, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. And his epistles are full of expressions of an overflowing affection towards the people of Christ : He speaks of his dear love to them, 2 Cor. xii. 19. Phil. iv, l. 2 Tim. j. 2; of his “ abundant love,” 2 Cor. ii. 4 ; and of his 5 affectionate and tender love,” as of a nurse towards her chil. dren, 1 Thess. ii. 7, 8. “ But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children ; so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, be

cause ye were dear unto us.” So also he speaks of his $6 bowels of love,” Phil. i. 8. Philem. 5, 12, and 20. So he speaks of his “ earnest çare" for others, 2 Cor. viii. 16, and of his « bowels of pity, or mercy towards them, Phil. ii. 1 ; and of his concern for others, even to anguish of heart," 2 Cor. ii. 4. “ For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote unto you with many tears ; not that you should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” He speaks of the great conflict of his soul for them, Col. ii. 1. He speaks of great and continual grief that he had in his heart from compassion to the Jews, Rom. ix. 2. He speaks of “ his mouth's being opened, and his heart enlarged” towards Christians, 2 Cor. vi. 11. « O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.? He often speaks of his o affectionate and longing desires,” i Thess. ii. 8. Rom. i. 11. Phil. i. 8, and Chap. iy. 1. 2 Tim. i. 4. The same apostle is very often, in his epistles, expressing the affection of joy, 2 Cor. i. 12, and Chap. vij. 7, and ver. 9. 16. Phil. i. 4, and Chap. ii. 12. and Chap. iii. 3. Col. i. 24. 1 Thess. iii. 9. He speaks of his “ rejoicing with great joy,” Phil. iv. 10. Philem. i. 7 ; of his “joying and rejoicing," Phil. ii. 1. 7, and “ of his rejoicing exceedingly," 2 Cor. vij. 13, and of his being “ filled with comfort, and being exceeding joyful,” 2 Cor. vii. 4. Ho speaks of himself as “ always rejoicing," 2 Cor. vi. 10. So he speaks of the triumphs of his soul, 2 Cor. ii. 14, and of “ his glorying in tribulation," % Thess. i. 4, and Rom. v. 3.

He also expresses the affection of hope ; in Phil. i. 20, he speaks of his “ earnest expectation, and his hope." He likewise expresses an affection of godly jealousy, 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. And it appears by his whole history, after his conversion, in the Acts, and also by all his epistles, and the accounts he gives of himself there, that the affection of zeal, as having the cause of his Master, and the interest and prosperity of his church, for its object, was mighty in him, continually inflaming his heart, strongly engaging to those great and constant labors he went through, in instructing, exhorting, warning, and reproving others, ” travailing in birth with them ;" conflicting with

those powerful and innumerable enemies' who continually opposed him, wrestling with principalities and powers, not fighting as one who beats the air, running the race set before him, continually pressing forwards through all manner of difficulties and sufferings ; so that others thought him quite beside himself. And how full he was of affection, does further appear by his being so full of tears : In 2 Cor. ii. 4, he speaks of his « many tears ;” and so Acts xx. 19 ; and of his “tears that he shed continually night and day," ver. 31.

Now if any one can consider these accounts given in the scripture of this great apostle, and which he gives of himself, and yet not see that his religion consisted much in affection, must have a strange faculty of managing his eyes, to shut out the light which shines most full in his face.

The other instance I shall mention, is of the apostle John, that beloved disciple, who was the nearest and dearest to his Master, of any of the twelve, and was by him admitted to the greatest privileges of any of them ; being not only one of the three who were admitted to be present with him in the mount at his transfiguration, and at the raising of Jairus's daughter, and whom he took with him when he was in his agony, and one of the three spoken of by the apostle Paul, as the three main pillars of the Christian church ; but was favored above all, in being admitted to lean on his Master's bosom at his last supper, and in being chosen by Christ, as the disciple to whom he would reveal his wonderful dispensations towards his church, to the end of time ; as we have an account in the Book of Revelation ; and to shut up the canon of the New Testament, and of the whole scripture ; being preserved much longer than all the rest of the apostles, to set all things in order in the Christian church, after their death.

It is evident by all his writings (as is generally observed by divines) that he was a person remarkably full of affection : His addresses to those whom he wrote to, being inexpressibly tender and pathetical, breathing nothing but the most fervent love ; as though he were all made up of sweet and holy affection. The proofs of which cannot be given without disadvantage, unless we should transcribe his whole writings.

7. He whom God sent into the world to be the light of the world, and head of the whole church, and the perfect example of true religion and virtue, for the imitation of all, the Shepherd whom the whole flock should follow wherever he goes, even the Lord Jesus Christ was a person who was remarkably of a tender and affectionate heart ; and his virtue was expressed very much in the exercise of holy affections. He was the greatest instance of ardency, vigor and strength of love, to both God and man, that ever was. It was these affections which got the victory, in that mighty struggle and conflict of his affections, in his agonies, when “he prayed more earnestly, and offered strong crying and tears," and wrestled in tears and in blood. Such was the power of the 'exercises of his holy love, that they were stronger than death, and in that great struggle, overcame those strong exercises of the natural affections of fear and grief, when he was sore amazed, and his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. And he also appeared to be full of affection in the course of his life. We read of his great zeal, fulfilling that in the 69th psalm, “ The zeal of thine house hath eaten me

John ii. 17. We read of his grief for the sins of men, Mark iii. 5. “ He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts ;" and his breaking forth in tears and exclamations, from the consideration of the sin and misery of ungodly men, and on the sight of the city of Jerusalem, which was full of such inhabitants, Luke xix. 41, 42. « And, when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy. peace ! But now they are hid from thiné eyes." With chap. xiii. 34. “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee ; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not ?" We read of Christ's earnest desire, Luke xxii. 15. With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." We often read of the affection of pity or compassion in Christ, Matth. xy. 32, and xviii. 34. Luke vii. 13, and of

up."

« PreviousContinue »