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he most freely communicates his grace, therein he makes us most sensible of his love to us, and thereby disposeth us to love him again. I add, that true (fervent and hearty) prayer doth include and suppose some acts of love, or some near tendencies thereto; whence, as every habit is corroborated by acts of its kind, so by this practice divine love will be confirmed and increased. These are the means, which my meditation did suggest as conducing to the production and growth of this most excellent grace in our souls.

III. I should lastly propound some inducements apt to stir us up to the endeavor of procuring it, and to the exercise thereof, by representing to your consideration the blessed fruits and benefits (both by way of natural causality and of reward) accruing from it; as also the woful consequences and mischiefs springing from the want thereof. How being endued with it perfects and advances our nature, rendering it in a manner and degree divine, by resemblance to God, (who is full thereof, so full that he is called love,) by approximation, adherence, and union, in a sort, unto him: how it ennobles us with the most glorious alliance possible, rendering us the friends and favorites of the sovereign King and Lord of all, brethren of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; enriches us with a right and title to the most inestimable treasures, (those which ' eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man to conceive, which God hath prepared for them that love him,') a sure possession of the supreme good, of all that God is able to bestow, all whose wisdom and power, whose counsel and care it eternally engageth for our benefit; how all security and welfare, all rest and peace, all joy and happiness attend on it; for that the Lord preserveth all them that love him,' (preserveth them in the enjoyment of all good, in safety from all danger and mischief,) and that to those who love God all things co-operate for their good:' how incomparable a sweetness and delight accompany the practice thereof, far surpassing all other pleasures; perfectly able to content our minds, to sustain and comfort us even in the want of all other satisfactions, yea under the pressure of whatever most grievous afflictions can befal us. How contrariwise the want thereof will depress us into a state of greatest imperfection and baseness,


setting us at the greatest distance from God in all respects, both in similitude of nature, and as to all favorable regard or beneficial communication from him; casting us into a wretched and disgraceful consortship with the most degenerate creatures, the accursed fiends, who, for disaffection and enmity toward God, are banished from all happiness; how it extremely impoverisheth and beggareth us, divesting us of all right to any good thing, rendering us incapable of any portion, but that of utter darkness; how it excludeth us from any safety, any rest, any true comfort or joy, and exposeth us to all mischief and misery imaginable; all that being deprived of the divine protection, presence, and favor, being made objects of the divine anger, hatred, and severe justice, being abandoned to the malice of hell, being driven into utter darkness and eternal fire doth import or can produce. I should also have commended this love to you by comparing it with other loves, and showing how far in its nature, in its causes, in its properties, in its effects it excelleth them even so far as the object thereof in excellency doth transcend all other objects of our affection; how this is grounded on the highest and surest reason; others on accounts very low and mean, commonly on fond humor and mistake; this produceth real, certain, immutable goods; others at best terminate only in goods apparent, unstable, and transitory; this is most worthy of us, employing all our faculties in their noblest manner of operation on the best object; others misbeseem us, so that in pursuing them we disgrace our understanding, misapply our desires, distemper our affections, mispend our endeavors. I should have enlarged on these considerations, and should have adjoined some particular advantages of this grace; as, for instance, that the procuring thereof is the most sure, the most easy, the most compendious way of attaining all others; of sweetening and ingratiating all obedience to us; of making the hardest yoke easy, and the heaviest burden light unto us. In fine, I should have wished you to consider that its practice is not only a mean and way to happiness, but our very formal happiness itself; the real enjoyment of the best good we are capable of; that in which alone heaven itself (the felicity of saints and angels) doth consist; which more than comprehends in itself all the benefits of

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highest dignity, richest plenty, and sweetest pleasure. But I shall forbear entering on so ample and fruitful subjects of meditation, and conclude with that good Collect of our church :

‘O Lord, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man's understanding; pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'



THE essential goodness of God towards man, in the frame of the world and the natural course of things, considered. Assurance of the same goodness arising from that common providence which continually upholds us, and relieves all our wants: also from the dispensations of grace, &c.; but from nothing more than from the nature and tendency of those laws which God has prescribed for the regulation of our lives.

And among all divine precepts, this of the text especially argues the wonderful goodness of our heavenly lawgiver, both in the manner of the proposal, and the substance of it. The manner of the proposal considered, affording, as it does, a mighty argument of immense goodness in God, that he doth in such a manner commend this duty to us, coupling it with our main duty towards him, and requiring us with like earnestness to love our neighbor as to love himself.

Nor, in the substance of this duty, is the benignity of him who prescribeth it less apparent. First, however, it is expedient to explain it as expressed in the text; wherein two particulars are considered; the object of the duty, our neighbor; and the qualification annexed to it, as ourselves.

I. The object of charity is our neighbor; that is, according to our Lord's exposition, or the tenor of his doctrine, every man with whom we have to do, especially every Christian. The law, as it was given to God's ancient people, was more confined. But now, such distinctions of men being abolished with the wall of partition, all the world is become one people,

subject to the laws of one common Lord: the blood of Christ hath cemented together all mankind, and we are now to all men, what one Jew was to another; yea more than such. Hereon therefore are grounded those evangelical commands explicatory of this law, as it now stands in force: this shown by various quotations. Such is the object of our charity; and thus did our Lord expound it to the Jewish lawyer, who asked, who is my neighbor?

With respect to the qualification, as thyself, this may import both a rule declaring the nature, and a measure determining the quantity of love due from us to our neighbor, the comparative term as implying either.

1. Loving our neighbor as ourselves imports a rule, directing what kind of love we should bear and exercise towards him. We cannot better understand the nature of this duty, than by reflecting on the motions of our own hearts, and observing the course of our demeanor towards ourselves; and this is a peculiar advantage of the rule, that by it we may easily and certainly discern all the particulars of our duty, without looking abroad, or having recourse to external instructions. Wherefore for our information concerning it, in all cases, we need only consult and interrogate ourselves; thence forming resolutions concerning our practice. Many such interrogatories proposed,

2. Loving our neighbor as ourselves imports also the measure of our love towards him; that it should be commensurate with, and equal in degree to that love which we bear and exercise towards ourselves. This is that perfection of charity to which our Lord bids us aspire, in the injunction, be ye perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect. Several reasons given to show that this sense of the words is chiefly intended.

But farther, the duty thus interpreted is agreeable to reason, and may be justly required of us.

1. It is reasonable that we should love our neighbor as

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