Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

It is often seen, a working head is like an over hot liver, burneth up the heart, and so ruineth both: whereas sweet humble affections are the only way to keep the poor creature in a constancy of spiritual health. And in this care the apostle to Titus forbids “ foolish questions, endless genealogies, contentions, and brawlings about the law."

This law is the rule of life; and if we know not the law, we cannot keep the law, and so we must perish; and yet we find the search of this forbidden.

Objcct. Some will say here is meant the ceremonial law.

Ans. I will allow it; but is not the ceremonial included under the second precept? The people upon Christ's sermon, wherein he taught, that “ he that looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her in his heart,” (and so he gave the law its full latitude) say, “ he speaketh as one that hath authority, and not as the Scribes and Pharisees:" conceiving it their duty and happiness to know the law in its utmost limits; and yet we are restrained from any brain-head, nice enquiry, even into the law, scil. not to busy our heads with the knowing part, in over great proportion, but labour to bring our knowledge to practice,

If then all such knowledge (I mean all knowledge of this-nature) be forbidden, it is because it is not good; it is not knowledge, but a vain tumour instead of real greatness or growth; and that other of the affection, hath certainly more of God in it, and so more of truth.

The apostle is so great an enemy to this kind of knowledge, that having disputed such a point in disdain of gain-sayers, he concludeth, "if any man lust to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the churches of God."

Demonstrat quælibet herba Deum. He who, refreshed with the sweet odours, pleased with the various comely shapes of a flower, can say, this is sweet, this is lovely, lovely indeed; yet “ Jesus Christ is a bed of spices, as the lily of the field, the rose of Sharon, sweeter, much sweeter, ten thousand times more lovely”-this man knoweth God, this man loveth God, this man knoweth him indeed; and this knowledge, as it is the most pleasant here, so it will certainly prove the most profitable hereafter, and always declare itself most real.

Doth not the apostle, doth not he most truly, most pathetically cry out; “ though I had the gift of prophecy, and knew all secrets, all knowledge, yea, if I had all faith, so that I could remove mountains, I were nothing; I were as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal, if I have not charity.” When all these excellencies meet in a christian, as haply they nay, yet it is charity that maketh him what he is,

[ocr errors]

and the other beings are but as phaleræ, as trappings, which give a handsome set-off, but not a being to a christian.

Love is lovely in gods; he is stiled the God of Love, the God Love. And in another place, the Scripture affirmeth, that in this we have fulfilled the will of God, we love one another ; for by this we are made one with God, and so dwell in true light.

The two tables are reduced to love of God and our neighbour. So that sweet affections do make the most sweet harmony in God's ears. Of the chorus of saints, the greatest number will be found amongst the feminine sex, because these are most naturally capable of affection, and so most apt to make knowledge real. It is true, I confess, these affections misguided, led them first into transgression; but these same affections after, carried them first to the grave, then to the sight of a Saviour, gave them the enwombing of Christ, who in some sense) might have entertained our nature in another way (if he had · so pleased), and these affections will ope day raise

many of them into the sweet embraces of everlasting joy.

Amongst the church-officers, the pastor and the doctor, according to Timothy, are more eminent than the rest, because they labour in the word and doctrine. Of these two, the doctor is to have his sword always girt about his thigh, he must enter

into the lists with every uncircumcised Goliah. He must stand continual sentinel, that no heresies be forced upon the church. He must beat his brains in dissolving difficilia, and clearing obscura. He must sometimes faint away in watery cold fits, by picking up, and throwing out witless, sapless sophisms, which, though they cannot hurt the strong, may seduce the weak. In the mean time the pastor leadeth the flock into the sweet and pleasant meadows, feeding them by the little brooks of seemingly shallow affections; and yet this man shall not only receive equal honour with the doctor, but be preferred before him; as appeareth clearly in Eph. iv. 11.-1 Cor. xii. 26. As it was with the Israelites, so it is here; those who keep the stuff, receive equal reward with the combatants. I do therefore conclude, he who hath the largest affections hath most of God, most of his image, which is renewed in knowledge.

Thirdly, sometimes it happeneth, that those who have the largest knowledge have the most enlarged affections, even to our eye; and this is happiness indeed. I confess, it doth not seem to an eye that would read it running; but if it be exactly looked on, if it be presented to our view in the portrait of an example, I think it will be very clear.

David and Solomon, compared with Paul, will be 28 a thousand witnesses. The two first do seem to

outstrip all men in affection; they are brimful, running over.

For David is styled, the sweet singer of Israel ; in his Psalms he is ever magnifying the rich mercies of God, choosing rather to be a door-keeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of Mesech : making his word to be a light unto his feet, and a lantern unto his paths; placing all his delight in the law of the Lord.

Solomon is the happy penman of that hymn, which by the spirit is styled the Song of Songs. Yet for all this, they are both exceeded by St. Paul.

But some, it may be, will imagine those worthies to be endowed with higher gifts of nature and art, than' St. Paul; and then they will give all the glory to their understanding, and not to their affections.

If it be so, I confess I have not fitly chosen my opposites; but the truth will then appear in them, without comparison distinctly.

For, if in affection they exceed all, and in abilities are as Saul, taller than their brethren by head and shoulders, then is it manifest in them, that eftsoon men of the most raised parts, of highest abilities, do superabound in love.

But if in things which are not directly of faith, I could cease to be a sceptic, I should with that most reverend worthy, Thomas Goodwin, give St. Paul for

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »