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send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.From hence we may remark two things: First, That faith is here called a receiving the love of the truth; and that it means saving faith is manifest, seeing it is added, that they might be saved. Secondly, That their not receiving the love of the truth, or which is the same thing, not believing with such a faith as that to which salvation is promised, was the cause of their being given up of God, and carried away with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. The loose and cold-hearted manner in which merely nominal Christians held the truth, would occasion the introduction of the grand papal apostacy, by which great numbers of them would be swept away. And this assuredly ought to afford a lesson to nominal Christians of the present day, who, owing to the same cause, are fast approaching to infidelity. But unless we suppose that these professors of religion ought to have received the love of the truth, there is no accounting for the awful judgments of God upon them for the contrary.
VI. OTHER SPIRITUAL EXERCISES WHICH SUS. TAIN AN INSEPARABLE CONNEXION WITH FAITH IN CHRIST, ARE REPRESENTED AS THE DUTY OF MEN IN GENERAL.—Though this controversy has been mostly carried on with respect to the duty of faith; yet it in reality extends to the whole of spiritual religion. Those who deny that sinners
are obliged to believe in Christ for salvation, will not allow that it is their duty to do any thing truly and spiritually good. It is a kind of maxim with such persons
none can be obliged to act spiritually but spiritual men.' Spiritual exercises appea to me to mean the same as holy exercises : for the new man which is created after God, is said to be created in righteousness, and TRUE HOLINESS: and as to two kinds of true holiness, the scriptures I believe are silent. But as my opponents affix different ideas to the term spiritual, to prevent all disputes about it, I shall proceed on a ground which they will not refuse. Whatever has the promise of spiritual blessings, that is considered as a spiritual exercise. With this criterion of spirituality in view, let the following passages of scripture be carefully considered. How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity; and the scorners delight in their scorning; and fools hate knowledge ? Turn you at my reproof—Behold I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you~ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction—Wisdom crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors : Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of man~0 ye simple, understand wisdom, and ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear, for I will speak of excellent things, and the opening of my lips shall be of right things. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. Hearken unta me, Oye children: for blessed are they that keep my
ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. . For whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: All they that hate me love death.*-And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to FEAR the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to SERVE the Lord thy God with ALL THINE HEART AND WITH ALL THY SOUL? Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your hearts, and be no more stifnecked.t-Rent your HEARTS, and not your garments; turn ye to the Lord your God.t-Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.—Repent ye, therefore, and be CONVERTED, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. I
We may remark on these passages, First, The persons addressed were unconverted sinners; as appears by their characters of fools-scorners-haters of knowledgeuncircumcised in heart-and impenitent. Secondly, The things to which they were exhorted were things spiritually good. This appears in part from the names by which the exercises themselves are denominated; namely, such understanding as originates in the fear of the Lord ---fearing-loving--and serving God, with all the
* Prov. i. 7, 22, 23. viii. 3—6, 10, 32-36. † Deut. x. 12, 16.
Joel ü. 13. S Matt. iii. 2, f Acts iü. 19.
heart, and with all the soul-circumcision of the heart -repentance, and conversion ; and partly from the blessings of salvation being promised to them : these are expressed by the terms, blessedness—life -favour of the Lord and the blotting out of sin.
More particularly: The love of God is a spiritual exercise ; for it has the promise of spiritual blessings. All things work together for good to them that love God-He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him-Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But the love of God is required of men without distinction. The people of Israel, like all other people, were composed of good and bad men; but they were all required to love Jehovah, and cleave to him, and that with all their heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. The moral part of those precepts which God gave to them on tables of stone were binding on all mankind. Even those who had no other means of knowing God than were afforded by the works of nature, with perhaps a portion of tradition, were required to GLORIFY HIM AS GOD, AND TO BE THANKFUL.I
The love of God, as is here intimated, is either a holy thankfulness for the innumerable instances of his goodness, or a cordial approbation of his glo
f Deut. vi. 5.
* Rom. viii. 28. 1 John iv. 16. 1 Cor. ii. 9.
Rom. i. 21.
rious character. It is true, there are favours for which the regenerate are obliged to love him, which are not common to the unregenerate: but every one hath shared a sufficient portion of his bounty to have incurred a debt of gratitude. It is generally allowed indeed by our opponents, that God ought to be loved as our Creator and Benefactor: but this they suppose is not a spiritual exercise. There is a kind of gratitude, it is granted, which is not spiritual, but merely the effect of natural self-love, and in which God is no otherwise regarded than as subservient to our happiness. But this does not always respect the bestowment of temporal mercies: the same feelings which possessed the carnal Israelites when they felt themselves delivered from Pharaoh's yoke, and saw their oppressors sinking in the sea, still possess many professors of religion under a groundless persuasion of their being elected of God, and having their sins forgiven them. Gratitude of this sort has nothing spiritual in it: but then neither is it any part of duty. God no where requires it, either of saints or sinners. That which God requires is a spiritual exercise: whether it be on account of temporal or spiritual mercies is immaterial : the object makes no difference as to the nature of the act: that thanksgiving with which the common mercies of life are received by the godly, and by which they are sanctified to them,* is no less of a spiritual nature, and is no less connected with
* 1 Tim. iv. 3, 4.