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The chief work of a Christian is to make all his affections in all their operations subservient unto the life of God; Rom. vi. 17. And he who is wise will keep a continual watch over those wherein he finds the greatest reluctancy thereunto. And every affection is originally sanctified according unto the use it is to be of, in the life of holiness and obedience.
To be entire for God, to follow him wholly, to cleave unto him with purpose of heart, to have the heart circumcised to love him, is to have all our affections renewed and sanctified, without which we can do none of them. When it is otherwise, there is a double heart, a heart, and a heart which he abhors. Their heart is divided, now shall they be found faulty;' Hosea x. 2.
So it is in the other change mentioned. Whatever is or may be wrought upon our affections when they are not spiritually renewed, that very change, as unto the degree of it, is not universal ; it doth not affect the whole mind in all its powers and affections, until a vital prevailing principle and habit of grace is implanted in the soul. Sin will not only radically adhere unto all the faculties, powers, and affections, but it will, under any change that may befall them, refer the rule and dominion in some of them unto itself. So was it with the young man that came unto our Lord Jesus Christ to know what he should do to obtain eternal life ; Mark x. 17--22.
Thus there are many, who in other things are reduced unto moderation, sobriety, and temperance; yet there remaineth in them the love of money in a predominant degree, which to them is the root of all evil,' as the apostle speaks: some seem to be religious, but they bridle not their tongues, through anger, envy, hatred, and the like; their religion is in vain.
The most of men, in their several ways of profession, pretend not only unto religion, but unto zeal in it, yet set no bounds unto their affections unto earthly enjoyments. Some of old, who had most eminently in all other things subdued their passions and affections, were the greatest enemies unto, and persecutors of, the gospel.
Some who seem to have had a mighty change wrought in them by a superstitious devotion, do yet walk in the spirit of Cain towards all the disciples of Christ, as it is with the
principal devotionists of the church of Rome; and elsewhere we may see some go soberly about the persecution and destruction of other Christians. Some will cherish one secret lust or other, which they cannot but know to be pernicious unto their souls. Some love the praise of men, which will never permit them to be truly spiritually minded : so our Saviour testifieth of some, that they could not believe, because they loved the praise of men.' This was the known vice of all the ancient philosophers. They had many of them, on the principles of reason and by severe exercise, subdued their affections unto great moderation about temporary things; but, in the mean time, were all of them slaves to vain glory and the praise of men, until by the public observation of it, and some contradictions in their lives unto their pretences unto virtue, they lost that also among wise and considerative men. And generally, if men, not spiritually renewed, were able to search themselves, they would find that some of their affections are so far from having any change wrought in them, as that they are à quiet habitation for sin, where it exerciseth its rule and dominion.
2. There is a universality that is objective in spiritual things, with respect unto the renovation of our affections; that is, affections, spiritually renewed, do fix themselves upon, and cleave unto, all spiritual things in their proper places, and unto their proper ends. For the ground and reason of our adherence unto any one of them, are the same with respect unto them all. That is their relation unto God in Christ. Wherefore when our affections are renewed, we make'no choice in spiritual things, cleaving unto some and refusing others, making use of Naaman's restraint; but our adherence is the same unto them all in their proper places and degrees. And if, by reason of darkness and ignörance, we know not any of them to be from God, as for instance, the observation of the Lord's day, it is of unspeakable disadvantage unto us. An equal respect is required in us unto all God's commands. Yet there are various distinctions in spiritual things. And thereon a man may, and ought to, value one above another, as unto the degrees of his love and esteem, although they are to be sincere with respect unto them all.
1. God himself, that is, as revealed in and by Christ, is, in the first and chiefest place, the proper and adequate object of our affections, as they are renewed. He is so for himself, or his own sake alone. This is the spring, the centre, and chief object of our love. He that loves not God for himself, that is, for what he is in himself, and what from himself alone he is, and will be, unto us in Christ, which considerations are inseparable, he hath no true affection for any spiritual thing whatever. And not a few do here deceive themselves, or are deceived, which should make us the more diligent in the examination of ourselves. They suppose that they love heaven and heavenly things, and the duties of divine worship, which persuasion may befall them on many grounds and occasions, which will not endure the trial. But as unto God himself, they can give no evidence that they have any love to him, either on the account of the glorious excellencies of his nature, with their natural relation unto him and dependance on him, nor on the account of the manifestation of himself in Christ, and the exercise of his
grace therein. But whatever may be pretended, there is no lovę unto God, whereof these things are not the formal reason, that proceeds not from these springs. And because that all men pretend thạt they love God, and defy them that think them so vile as not to do so, though they live in open enmity against him and hatred of him, it becomes us strictly to examine ourselves on what grounds we pretend so to do. Is it because indeed we see an excellency, a beauty, a desirableness, in the glorious properties of his nature, such as our souls are refreshed and satisfied with the thoughts of by faith, and in whose enjoyment our blessedness will consist, so that we always rejoice at the remembrance of his holiness; is it our great joy and satisfaction that God is what he is; is it from the glorious manifestation that he hath made of himself and all his holy excellencies in Christ, with the communication of himself unto us in and by him? If it be so indeed, then is our love generous and gracious, from the renovation of our affections. · But if we say we love God, yet truly know not why, or upon principles of education, and because it is esteemed the height of wickedness to do otherwise, we shall be at a loss when we are called unto our trial. This is the first object of our affections.
2. In other spiritual things, renewed affections do cleave unto them according as God is in them.
in them. God alone is loved for himself; all other things for him, in the measure and degree of his presence in them. This alone gives them pre-eminence in renewed affections; for instance, God is in Christ, in the human nature of the man Christ Jesus, in a way and manner singular, in concern alike, incomprehensible; so as he is in the same kind in nothing else. Therefore is the Lord Christ, even as unto his human nature, the object of our affections in such a way and degree, as no other thing, spiritual or eternal, but God himself, is or ought to be; all other spiritual things become so from the presence of God in them, and from the degree of that presence have they their nature and use. Accordingly are they, or ought to be, the object of our affections as unto the degree of their exercise. Evidence of the presence of God in things and persons are the only attractives of renewed affections.
3. In those things which seem to stand in an equality as unto what is of God in them, yet on some especial occasions and reasons, our love may go forth eminently unto one more than another. Some particular truth, with the grace communicated by it, may have been the means of our conversion unto God, of our edification in an especial manner, of our consolation in distress; it cannot be, but that the mind will have a peculiar respect unto, and valuation of, such truths, and the grace administered by them. And so it is as unto duties. We may have found such a lively intercourse and communication with God in some of them, as may give us a peculiar delight in them.
But notwithstanding these differences, affections spiritually renewed do cleave unto all spiritual things as such. For the true formal reason of their so doing, is the same in them all, namely, God in them; only they have several ways of acting themselves towards them, whereof I shall give one instance.
Our Saviour distributes spiritual things into those that are heavenly, and those that are earthly, that is comparatively so; John iii. 12. • If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things ?'
The heavenly things are the deep and mysterious counsels of the will of God. These renewed affections cleave unto with holy admiration and satisfactory submission, captivating the understanding unto what it cannot comprehend. So the apostle declares it, Rom. xi. 33–36. 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! for who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again ? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.' What the mind cannot comprehend, the heart doth admire and adore, delighting in God, and giving glory unto him in all.
The earthly things intended by our Saviour in that place, is the work of God upon the souls of men in their regeneration, wrought here in the earth. Toward these the affections act themselves with delight, and with great thanksgiving. The experience of the grace of God in and upon believers is sweet unto their souls. But one way or other they cleave unto them all; they have not a prevailing aversation unto any of them. They have a regard unto all God's precepts, a delight in all his counsels, a love to himself and
all his ways.
Whatever other change is wrought on the affections, if they be not spiritually renewed, it is not so with them. For as they do not cleave unto any spiritual things, in their own true proper nature, in a due manner because of the evidences of the presence of God in them, so there are always some of them, whereunto those whose affections are not renewed, do maintain an aversation and an enmity. And although this frame doth not instantly discover itself, yet it will do so upon any especial trial. So was it with the hearers of our Saviour; John vi. There was a great impression made on their affections, by what he taught them concerning the bread of God,' that came down from heaven, and gave life unto the world. For they cried thereon, Lord, evermore give us of this bread;' ver. 34. But when the mystery of it was farther explained unto them, they liked it not, but cried, “This is a hard saying, who can bear it?' ver. 60. and thereon fell off both from him and his doctrine, although