Love is a passion planted in the human bosom, which once
was wholly a holy seed—but is now turned into the degenerate plant of a
corrupted vine. Before sin entered into the world, love wholly centered on
God; then the fire burnt purely, and the soul ascended in the sacred flame
to God. Then there was sweet fellowship between heaven and earth, and man
maintained communion with his Maker. Admiring the beauties of creation, his
soul with pleasure ascended up the streams of created excellencies, to the
fountain of uncreated glory and ravished with the view, he saw his interest
in his Maker to be of a nobler kind than the lower world could claim. This
was bliss, and it was this which made paradise so near akin to heaven. This,
and not the blooming flowers; this, and not the verdant groves; this, and
not the spreading streams; this, and not the fragrant oils; this, and not
the bending boughs; this, and not the warbling birds; this, and not a
cloudless sky; this, and not the sight of angels; this, and not their mutual
love—made our first parents happy in their first abode.
But man no sooner admitted sin and Satan in, than God in
justice drove him out of paradise, and from his noble station too; and what
tongue can tell his sad condition now? His love is not only cooled towards
God—but corrupted against God; hence he worships the creature more than the
Creator, who is God over all blessed forever. As the lion with terrible
majesty hunts his prey through the trembling forest; while the spider, with
silent cunning, catches the fly sporting on the window, or entangled under
the web; so, from the throne to the ash-heap, every person pursues vanities
adapted to his state—and which are destructive to his immortal soul.
O how has man gone back by a perpetual backsliding! God
punishes it in a dreadful manner; for as they do not retain God in their
knowledge, so God gives them up to a reprobate mind. They choose their ways,
and God chooses their delusions. God is not in the plans of their heart, and
they are not under the conduct of his Spirit. They provoke God to anger by
their vanities, and he puts them to pain with vexation and woe!
But what is still more to be wondered at, is, that after
God has given the brightest manifestations of his infinite love, in
readmitting the rebel into friendship, through the sufferings of his
well-beloved Son, man should still pursue shadows, and pour his love on
perishing trifles! And are not you, my soul, blameworthy here, who is busied
every day about vanities—but cold, ice-cold, in love to the Perfection of
Surely the angels of light, and the spirits of just men
made perfect, are surprised to see the expectants of the same glory,
deluded, charmed, and enchanted with perishing vanities; and not enraptured
with the Chief among ten thousand. The inhabitants of the better country
despise our sin-burnt beauties, and worm-eaten excellences! Yes, they would
blush to mention our delights, or to take up the objects of our love in
their lips. What would a seraph care for the scepter of a terrestrial
empire? or a glorified saint or the government of an earthly kingdom? And
why should I, then, care so much for less things, who am traveling to
May I, then, for a moment draw aside the curtain of time,
glance into the eternal world, and get a glimpse of the object of my love.
Ah me! the vision is too bright, the glory too refulgent for my feeble
sight! See all the heavens enlightened with his glory; crowned with majesty
divine—he fills his lofty throne, and sways the scepter far through all
existence! See seraphim and cherubim bow before him, and mighty angels fall
prostrate at his feet! Yes, see him in your nature stand and plead for you,
not forgetful of your need, nor deaf to your distress—amidst his boundless
glory. See approaching myriads, even the ransomed multitudes, overwhelmed
with love to Jesus—adoring him in unutterable strains!
And why do you not love him? You can not doubt his power,
for he is God; nor his compassion, for he is man; nor his salvation, for he
is God-man in one person. All heaven is eternally enamored with him; and it
would be rebellion to bid them lift their love, and lay it on any other. The
Father loves him, angels love him, saints love him; and it is pleasant in
the eye of God that the excellency of all fullness should dwell in him.
Under how many ties am I to love him! for what he has
been, what he is, and what he will be—to me! For what he has done, what he
is doing, and what he will do—for me!
Before he made the world my salvation was secured in the
sure decree; thus with an everlasting love he loved me; and why with
loving-kindness should not I be drawn? Then his delights were with the sons
Again, I should love him for what he is to me. But
here words cannot express my thoughts, nor my thoughts my subject. He is the
mighty God—on my side? The creator of both worlds—for me! His perfections
are infinite, innumerable, and eternal! He is self-existent,
self-sufficient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, unchangeable, and
independent. He is holy, just, and good; merciful, faithful, long-suffering
and compassionate. In a word, God is love; and love begets its like in the
soul of every saint, who is filled with wonder at the person of Immanuel,
who is everything that they can need. He satisfies every longing desire;
performs every endearing office—as prophet, priest, and king; fills every
tender relation—as kinsman, friend, brother, father, husband. Love shall be
the subject of my song forever!
Again, I should love him for what he will be to me.
Now, he will be my God even unto death; my shield and sun in the dark
valley of dissolution. He will bring me to the palace of the King, with joy
on every side; will be my temple in the highest heavens, and my portion
through the endless ages of eternity.
Likewise, how should I love him for what he has done, is
doing, and will do—to me!
For me he has done great things, whereof my soul
is glad. He has, by making his soul an offering for for my sin—satisfied
justice, magnified the law, removed my guilt, and reconciled my soul to God.
For what he is doing. He is appearing in the
presence of God for me, pleading my cause, interceding on my behalf, and
offering my prayers with his own incense at his Father's throne. He is
ordering all things well for me, perfecting what concerns me, hearing my
petitions, marking my requests, numbering my groans, correcting my
wanderings, and putting my tears into his bottle! And, as my loving High
Priest, sympathizing with me in all my afflictions.
Lastly, for what he will do. Who, besides you, O
God! know what you have laid up for those who love you? Eye has not seen,
ear has not heard, nor can the most capacious soul conceive—of that abundant
bliss, which only can be revealed in the enjoyment, and known in the
possession! O happy day! when I shall put off mortality, and this clay
tabernacle, and join the shining assembly of sinless adorers, whom he feeds
and feasts with the fatness of the higher house, satisfies with his
likeness, replenishing every grace with his plenitude, and ravishing the
whole soul with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Come, then, my soul! look from these present perishing
things—to the city of God, where every soul glows with sacred love, and
dwells among the assimilating flames.
If you saw a man of thirty years chasing flies and
feathers, like the child of three, what would you think of him? And while
the world is your chase, what, O my vulgar soul! shall I conclude of you?
Ransack the whole creation of God, and see if all its excellences together
can vie with one ray of his glory, one beam of his love! Then let his love
to you constrain your love to him—and thus begin the work of heaven on
The perfection of bliss in heaven shall consist in the
perfection of love, for love is the sum of felicity. Take away love from
heaven, heaven could no more boast of its unbounded bliss. Life, light,
love, are the trinity of perfection, and the perfection of the adorable
Trinity. Of all the heavenly graces, love only returns to heaven, without
any change—but of putting on perfection, and casting out fear. To dwell in
love, and to dwell in God, cannot be separated. And the more I dwell in
love, the nearer I dwell to God below; and when at last I rise to the
highest degrees of love, I shall arrive at the nearest communion with God!
Roll on, time—and come, everlasting dawn—that I may
plunge into this sea of bliss, this ocean of eternal love, and know what it
is to love him to the full—whom here I scarcely dare allege I love!