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centre; whereas it ought to be constantly fixed upon him, as the fountain of all happiness, as the God of our salvation: Our hearts shoựld be constantly going out to him in earnest desire and fervent prayer, so that we may receive fresh manifestations of his love, and continual supplies of his grace, that according to his promise, we may be watered every moment, and kept night and day.
This holy jealousy. must also be exercised over every person or thing, which would Thare our affections with God, or lead our minds from him. And here it must be cruel as the grave; we must bear with no rival, be it who or what it may: If it is dear as a right hand, it must be cut off ; if Precious as a right eye, it must be plucked out. (6 Little
children” saith the holy Apostle, keep yourfelves from idols ;” and ye shall find, that it is highly neceffary to follow his advice.
Sin hath introduced disorder and confusion into the whole creation; it hath turned every thing upfide down : But divine hve, so far as it prevails in the mind,' restores 'every thing to its primitive order and regularity. But that this may be done, the mind must be given up to God. This is his temple, here he must dwell, and reign over all our affections and defires. Then it is, that we love persons and things according to the order of God; every creature stands in its own place, is loved, esteemed, delighted in, or enjoyed, according to thomwill of God, and used to his glory: All that we poffefs is recoved from God, with the sincerest gratitude : We enjoy him in all the gifts which he bestows, whether of providence or gracę ; and we return all to him, in humble obedience and grateful love This is the way, and the only way, for us to enjoy that happiness in the creatures which God intended we should; but if we fuffer any creature whatever to get out of its proper place, our happiness in that creature is interrupted and the Spirit of God is grieved. This holy jealousy then must be continually exercised, in order that every person Ind every thing may stand in their own place, and be loved and used according to divine ap: pointment. When this is constantly done, then we shall fee, in some measure, paralise restored. The man walks with God, and God walks in him: He reigns in his heart, regulates all his desires, ruks over all his affections, and brings every thought into obedience to his will. The man loves his wife, his chlldren, hx friends, and makes them all shappy as it is in his power. Te loves' or delights in every
gift of God, and rejoices in all the works of his hands; and yet'nó creature upon earth is an idol unto him, or feparátes between God and his soul. Thus he is daily kept by the mighty power of God, while he lives in the world, he is not of the world; while he is bleft with a portion in the world, the word is not his portion. How, delightfully inay such an one sing:
To this state of holiness and happiness the Lord call us, while in this world, and in this state of mind we shall ive, if the will of the Lord be accomplished in us. And if we have our own highest and dearest interests at heart as we ought, it will be our grand concern, that the designs of God should be fulfilled, and we shall be workers together with him, for this blessed end.
'It is added, "The coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement Hame. If these words are to be undete stood of the fire of jealousy, they only teach what we have already heard, that jealousy knows not to shew mercy to that which stands between us and the object of our affections, bat will surely take vengeance on it. But if these words are to be considered as descriptive of the nature and power of divia: love, we may gain much instruction from them.
The purifying influences of the Holy Spirit, in the sacred Scriptures, are frequently set forth by a similitude of this kind. Thus the Lord (peaks by the Prophet, “ And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall puri'y the Tons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” "Again: “I will bring the third part through the fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will try them as gold is tried; they shall call upon my Name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people, and they shall fay, The Lord is my God." Once more: “ And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even' every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem ; when the Lord shall have washed away the
filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the Spirit of judgment and of burning." The Spirit of judgment and of burning, in this passage, seems to answer to the Spirit of bon lage and adoption, which can only signify the Holy Spirit acting upon the mind first, as an awakening or convincing Spirit, and then afterwards as a Spirit of love, or of adoption. And it is very remarkable, that the Spirit of judgment is put before the Spirit of burning, or the Spirit of lore. And this is agreeable to the order of God, his Holy Spirit first acts upon the mind as a Spirit of judgment: He shines
upon the soul, and constrains it to judge and condemn itself, for its past transgressions, and on account of its depravity, its inward contrariety to the divine will. Watever the Lord discovers to us in our spirit and temper, in-our beart or life, we pass sentence of death upon, and condemn ourselves on account of; and being deeply 'bom. bled before the Lord, and sincerely desirous to be delivered from those roots of bitterness, the Holy Spirit then acts as a spirit of love, or of burning. The sacred fire of divine love is kindled in the heart, and burns up the dross and the tin of original depravity:
How exceedingly pertinent is the metaphor here made use of ? Fire, it is well known, reduces to ashes every thing that is cast upon it, or changes it into its own nature, into: pure fire: So the Spirit of God hurns up our evil degenerate : nature, destrors our bad tempers, and changes the powers. and faculties of the soul, into its own holy and heavenly nature. Fire is made use of in the purification of metals; by this the refiner separates the dross from the pure gold : Şo doth the Spirit of God work upon the orind: by his light we discern between what is agreeable to the will of God, whether in our heart or life, and by his
power communicated to us, we are delivered from the evil of inward sin, and made truly boly. “God be thanked," saith the Apostle," that although se were the servants of sin, ye have obeyed from, the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you.” In this Scripture, the metaphor is taken from those why work in metals: The founder by the heat of the fire, molts down his metal to a liquid: he then pours it into a ; certain mould, and it takes the exact shape or form of the mould, into which it is cast: So the Spirit of God works upon the mind, softens the heart, and melts it down ; so that it is then cast into the inould of the Gospel, and it takes the exact form or shape of that pure, spiritual, and holy
doctrine, into which it is cast; the soul is evangelized, breathes the meek, gentle, humble, and loving spirit, so beautifully described, and so strongly recommended, in the Gospel of Christ. It is natural for fire to ascend upwards towards the sun, its source or proper fountain : So it is natural likewise, for this fire to ascend upwards towards heaven, and to aspire after God, in whom the soul of divine. love is kept burning. This our Lord clearly describes, when be uses a similitude of a very different nature, and compares
the love of God in the heart to water : soever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never.
but the water which I sal give him, shall be in: him a well of water, sprioging up into everlasting life.” Tiis sacred fire, and this living water, both come down from heaven, are both intended to make the soul meet for, heaven, and for that blessed end, they both have the same
the mind: They raise the soul from earth to heaven. The holy fire mounts up towards the throne of God; the living water continually springs up into everlasting life; so that both the one and the other naturally tend the same way.
The unconquerable nature of divine love is still farther described in the words which follow: " Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” By the many waters and floods, no doubt, we are here to une derstand, the many deep and heavy afflictions, as well as the severe and distressing temptations, which a sincere Christian may be called to pass through. But it appears from these words, as well as from every other part of the word of God, that it is not his design that ary affliction, be it ever so great, or any temptation, be it ever so violent, should prove an bindrance to us in the way to heaven; should rob us of any degree of grace, which the Lord hath blest us with, or should damp, much less quench our love to God. It is true, afflictions, whether of the body or the mind, are not joyous but grievous; and if we are not pecu. Jiarly favoured with the divine presence, they may, and they naturally will damp our joy, and lessen, if not take away, our sensible comfort, for a time at least. Our ani. mal spirits may be greatly depressed, and on that account we may foộm a very wrong judgment of our state ; but we should consider, that if one or more graces of the Spirit do not appear for the present, yet others are called into : exercise. We are now called to trust in the Lord with our : whole heart, like holy Job, when he said, “Though he slay
me, yet will I trust in him :" To add to our faith Christian courage, liké boly David, who said, “ Though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear do evil, for thou art with me:" To exercise patience and resignation to the will of God, as did the Prophet, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until be plead my cause and execute judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall bebold his righteousness.” And we should remember, that a stedfast confidence in God, a calm and patient submission to his will, and an holy resolution to cleave unto him with our whole heart, under heavy and distressing trials, are blessed evidences that the Lord' is present with us still, notwithstanding what we now suffer. On such occasions, we should say with Job, “ He knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
In how clear a light has the Apostle Paul set this impor. tant point : “ Who shall separate us froin the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword ?” He answers himself, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him thật hath loved us :" And he adds, “ For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Chsist Jesus the Lord." From these words it appears, that the deepest waters of affliction, and the violent foods of temptation, are not designed of God to quench our love ; but on the contrary, the Lord designs to make his grace sufficient for us, to give us strength according to our day. He gives us a proper opportunity to exercise all the grace which he hath given us, and he intends to manifest his own power, wisdom, and goodness, both in supporting and delivering us.
Let no one then who walks with God, ever suppose, that these afflictions are marks of God's displeasure. No: "whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth." Let no one think that his spiritual prosperity must be interrupted by these afflictions; but let' them rather consider them as a spur sent to quicken and stir him up to live nearer to God than ever. Nothing under heaven need ever be an hindrance to us, in the way to our Father's house. We may surmount every difficulty, conquer every enemy, and break through all that would oppose us, for we serve an all-sufficient God.