Chapter XIII

The Nature, Operations, and Causes of Divine Love, as it respects the Person of Christ

That we may the better understand that love unto the person of Christ
which we plead for, some things must be premised concerning the nature
of divine love in general; and thereon its application unto the
particular acting and exercise of it which we inquire into will be
plain and easy.

God has endowed our nature with a faculty and ability of fixing our
love upon himself. Many can understand nothing of love but the
adherence of their minds and souls unto things visible and sensible,
capable of a present natural enjoyment. For things unseen, especially
such as are eternal and infinite, they suppose they have a veneration,
a religious respect, a devout adoration; but how they should love
them, they cannot understand. And the apostle does grant that there is
a greater difficulty in loving things that cannot be seen, than in
loving those which are always visibly present unto us, 1 John 4: 20.
Howbeit, this divine love has a more fixed station and prevalence in
the minds of men than any other kind of love whatever. For--

1. The principal end why God endued our natures with that great and
ruling affection, that has the most eminent and peculiar power and
interest in our souls, was, in the first place, that it might be fixed
on himself--that it might be the instrument of our adherence unto him.
He did not create this affection in us, that we might be able by it to
cast ourselves into the embraces of things natural and sensual. No
affection has such power in the soul to cause it to cleave unto its
object, and to work it into a conformity unto it. Most other
affections are transient in their operations, and work by a transport
of nature--as anger, joy, fear, and the like; but love is capable of a
constant exercise, is a spring unto all other affections, and unites
the soul with an efficacy not easy to be expressed unto its object.
And shall we think that God, who made all things for himself, did
create this ruling affection in and with our natures, merely that we
might be able to turn from him, and cleave unto other things with a
power and faculty above any we have of adherence unto him? Wherefore,
at our first creation, and in our primitive condition, love was the
very soul and quickening principle of the life of God; and on our
adherence unto him thereby the continuance of our relation unto him
did depend. The law, rule, and measure of it was, "Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul." For this end did
God create this affection in us. Not only our persons in their nature
and being, but in all their powers and faculties, were fitted and
prepared unto this end, of living unto God, and coming unto the
enjoyment of him. And all their exercise on created objects was to be
directed unto this end. Wherefore, the placing of our love on anything
before God, or above him is a formal expression of our apostasy from

2. Divine excellencies are a proper, adequate object of our love. The
will, indeed, can adhere unto nothing in love, but what the
understanding apprehends as unto its truth and being; but it is not
necessary that the understanding do fully comprehend the whole nature
of that which the will does so adhere unto. Where a discovery is made
unto and by the mind of real goodness and amiableness, the will there
can close with its affections. And these are apprehended as absolutely
the most perfect in the divine nature and holy properties of it.
Whereas, therefore, not only that which is the proper object of love
is in the divine excellencies, but it is there only perfectly and
absolutely, without the mixture of anything that should give it an
alloy, as there is in all creatures, they are the most suitable and
adequate object of our love.

There is no greater discovery of the depravation of our natures by
sin and degeneracy of our wills from their original rectitude, than
that--whereas we are so prone to the love of other things, and therein
do seek for satisfaction unto our souls where it is not to be obtained-

  • it is so hard and difficult to raise our hearts unto the love of God. Were it not for that depravation, he would always appear as the only suitable and
    satisfactory object unto our affections.

    3. The especial object of divine, gracious love, is the divine
    goodness. "How great is his goodness, how great is his beauty!" Zech.
    9: 17. Nothing is amiable or a proper object of love, but what is
    good, and as it is so. Hence divine goodness, which is infinite, hath
    an absolutely perfect amiableness accompanying it. Because his
    goodness is inexpressible, his beauty is so. "How great is his
    goodness, how great is his beauty?" Hence are we called to give thanks
    unto the Lord, and to rejoice in him--which are the effects of love-

  • because he is good, Ps. 106: l; 136: 1. Neither is divine goodness the especial object of our love as
    absolutely considered; but we have a respect unto it as comprehensive
    of all that mercy, grace, and bounty, which are suited to give us the
    best relief in our present condition and an eternal future reward.
    Infinite goodness, exerting itself in all that mercy, grace,
    faithfulness, and bounty, which are needful unto our relief and
    blessedness in our present condition, is the proper object of our
    love. Whereas, therefore, this is done only in Christ, there can be no
    true love of the divine goodness, but in and through him alone.

    The goodness of God, as a creator, preserver, and rewarder, was a
    sufficient, yea, the adequate object of all love antecedently unto the
    entrance of sin and misery. In them, in God under those
    considerations, might the soul of man find full satisfaction as unto
    its present and future blessedness. But since the passing of sin,
    misery, and death upon us, our love can find no amiableness in any
    goodness--no rest, complacency, and satisfaction in any--but what is
    effectual in that grace and mercy by Christ, which we stand in need of
    for our present recovery and future reward. Nor does God require of us
    that we should love him otherwise but as he "is in Christ reconciling
    the world unto himself." So the apostle fully declares it: "In this
    was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his
    only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
    Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent
    his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. And we have known and
    believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that
    dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him," 1 John 4: 9, 10,
    16. God is love, of a nature infinitely good and gracious, so as to be
    the only object of all divine love. But this love can no way be known,
    or be so manifested unto us, as that we may and ought to love him, but
    by his love in Christ, his sending of him and loving us in him. Before
    this, without this, we do not, we cannot love God. For "herein is
    love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to
    be the propitiation for our sins." This is the cause, the spring and
    fountain, of all our love to him. They are but empty notions and
    imaginations, which some speculative persons please themselves withal,
    about love unto the divine goodness absolutely considered. For however
    infinitely amiable it may be in itself, it is not so really unto them,
    it is not suited unto their state and condition, without the
    consideration of the communications of it unto us in Christ.

    4. These things being premised, we may consider the especial nature
    of this divine love, although I acknowledge that the least part of
    what believers have an experience of in their own souls can be
    expressed at least by me. Some few things I shall mention, which may
    give us a shadow of it, but not the express image of the thing itself.

    (1.) Desire of union and enjoyment is the first vital act of this
    love. The soul, upon the discovery of the excellencies of God,
    earnestly desires to be united unto them--to be brought near unto that
    enjoyment of them whereof it is capable, and wherein alone it can find
    rest and satisfaction. This is essential unto all love; it unites the
    mind unto its object, and rests not but in enjoyment. God's love unto
    us ariseth out of the overflowing of his own immense goodness, whereof
    he will communicate the fruits and effects unto us. God is love; and
    herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent
    his only-begotten Son. Yet also does this love of God tend to the
    bringing of us unto him, not that he may enjoy us, but that he may be
    enjoyed by us. This answers the desire of enjoyment in us, Job 14: 15:
    "Thou shalt call me;" (that is, out of the dust at the last day;)
    "thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." God's love will
    not rest, until it has brought us unto himself. But our love unto God
    ariseth from a sense of our own wants--our insufficiency to come unto
    rest in ourselves, or to attain unto blessedness by our own
    endeavours. In this state, seeing all in God, and expecting all from
    the suitableness of his excellencies unto our rest and satisfaction,
    our souls cleave unto him, with a desire of the nearest union whereof
    our natures are capable. We are made for him, and cannot rest until we
    come unto him.

    Our goodness extends not unto God; we cannot profit him by any thing
    that we are, or can do. Wherefore, his love unto us has not respect
    originally unto any good in ourselves, but is a gracious, free act of
    his own. He does good for no other reason but because he is good. Nor
    can his infinite perfections take any cause for their original actings
    without himself. He wants nothing that he would supply by the
    enjoyment of us. But we have indigence in ourselves to cause our love
    to seek an object without ourselves. And so his goodness--with the
    mercy, grace, and bounty included therein--is the cause, reason, and
    object of our love. We love them for themselves; and because we are
    wanting and indigent, we love them with a desire of union and
    enjoyment--wherein we find that our satisfaction and blessedness does
    consist. Love in general unites the mind unto the object--the person
    loving unto the thing or person beloved. So is it expressed in an
    instance of human, temporary, changeable love, namely, that of
    Jonathan to David. His soul "was knit with the soul of David, and he
    loved him as his own soul," 1 Sam.18: 1. Love had so effectually
    united them, as that the soul of David was as his own. Hence are those
    expressions of this divine love, by "cleaving unto God, following hard
    after him, thirsting, panting after him," with the like intimations of
    the most earnest endeavours of our nature after union and enjoyment.

    When the soul has a view by faith (which nothing else can give it) of
    the goodness of God as manifested in Christ--that is of the essential
    excellencies of his nature as exerting themselves in him--it reacheth
    after him with its most earnest embraces, and is restless until it
    comes unto perfect fruition. It sees in God the fountain of life, and
    would drink of the "river of his pleasures," Ps. 36: 8, 9--that in his
    "presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for
    evermore," Ps. 16: 11. It longs and pants to drink of that fountain--
    to bathe itself in that river of pleasures; and wherein it comes short
    of present enjoyment, it lives in hopes that when we "awake, it shall
    be satisfied with his likeness," Ps. 17: 15. There is nothing grievous
    unto a soul filled with this love, but what keeps it from the full
    enjoyment of these excellencies of God. What does so naturally and
    necessarily, it groans under. Such is our present state in the body,
    wherein, in some sense, we are "absent from the Lord," 2 Cor. 5: 4, 8,
    9. And what does so morally, in the deviations of its will and
    affections, as sin--it hates and abhors and loathes itself for. Under
    the conduct of this love, the whole tendency of the soul is unto the
    enjoyment of God;--it would be lost in itself, and found in him,--
    nothing in itself, and all in him. Absolute complacency herein--that
    God is what he is, that he should be what he is, and nothing else, and
    that as such we may be united unto him, and enjoy Him according to the
    capacity of our natures is the life of divine love.

    (2.) It is a love of assimilation. It contains in it a desire and
    intense endeavour to be like unto God, according unto our capacity and
    measure. The soul sees all goodness, and consequently all that is
    amiable and lovely, in God--the want of all which it finds in itself.
    The fruition of his goodness is that which it longs for as its utmost
    end, and conformity unto it as the means thereof. There is no man who
    loves not God sincerely, but indeed he would have him to be somewhat
    that he is not, that he might be the more like unto him. This such
    persons are pleased withal whilst they can fancy it in any thing, Ps.
    50: 21. They that love him, would have him be all that he is--as he
    is, and nothing else; and would be themselves like unto him. And as
    love has this tendency, and is that which gives disquietment unto the
    soul when and wherein we are unlike unto God, so it stirs up constant
    endeavours after assimilation unto him, and has a principal efficacy
    unto that end. Love is the principle that actually assimilates and
    conforms us unto God, as faith is the principle which originally
    disposeth thereunto. In our renovation into the image of God, the
    transforming power is radically seated in faith, but acts itself by
    love. Love proceeding from faith gradually changeth the soul into the
    likeness of God; and the more it is in exercise, the more is that
    change effected.

    To labour after conformity unto God by outward actions only, is to
    make an image of the living God, hewed out of the stock of a dead
    tree. It is from this vital principle of love that we are not forced
    into it as by engines, but naturally grow up into the likeness and
    image of God. For when it is duly affected with the excellencies of
    God in Christ, it fills the mind with thoughts and contemplations on
    them, and excites all the affections unto a delight in them. And where
    the soul acts itself constantly in the mind's contemplation, and the
    delight of the affections, it will produce assimilation unto the
    object of them. To love God is the only way and means to be like unto

    (3.) It is a love of complacency, and therein of benevolence. Upon
    that view which we have by spiritual light and faith of the divine
    goodness, exerting itself in the way before described, our souls do
    approve of all that is in God, applaud it, adore it, and acquiesce in
    it. Hence two great duties do arise, and hereon do they depend. First,
    Joyful ascriptions of glory and honour unto God. All praise and
    thanksgiving, all blessing, all assignation of glory unto him, because
    of his excellencies and perfections, do arise from our satisfactory
    complacence in them. The righteous "rejoice in the Lord, and give
    thanks at the remembrance of his holiness," Ps. 97: 12. They are so
    pleased and satisfied at the remembrance of God's holiness, that it
    fills their hearts with joy and causeth them to break forth in
    praises. Praise is nothing but an outward expression of the inward
    complacency of our hearts in the divine perfections and their
    operations. And, secondly, Love herein acts itself by benevolence, as
    the constant inclination of the mind unto all things wherein the glory
    of God is concerned. It wills all the things wherein the name of God
    may be sanctified, his praises made glorious, and his will done on
    earth as it is in heaven. As God says of his own love unto us, that
    "he will rest in his love, he will joy over us [thee] with singing,"
    Zeph. 3: 17--as having the greatest complacency in it, rejoicing over
    us with his "whole heart and his whole soul," Jer. 32: 41;--so,
    according unto our measure, do we by love rest in the glorious
    excellencies of God, rejoicing in them with our whole hearts and our
    whole souls.

    (4.) This divine love is a love of friendship. The communion which we
    have with God therein is so intimate, and accompanied with such
    spiritual boldness, as gives it that denomination. So Abraham was
    called "The friend of God," Isa. 41: 8; James 2: 23. And because of
    that mutual trust which is between friends, "the secret of the Lord is
    with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant," Ps. 25:
    14. For, as our Saviour teacheth us, "servants" that is, those who are
    so, and no more--"know not what their lord does;" he rules them,
    commands them, or requires obedience from them; but as unto his secret-

  • his design and purpose, his counsel and love--they know nothing of it. But saith he unto his disciples, "I have called you friends, for
    all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,"
    John 15: 15. He proves them to be rightly called his friends, because
    of the communication of the secret of his mind unto them.

    This is the great difference between them who are only servants in
    the house of God, and those who are so servants as to be friends also.
    The same commands are given unto all equally, and the same duties are
    required of all equally, inasmuch as they are equally servants; but
    those who are no more but so, know nothing of the secret counsel,
    love, and grace of God, in a due manner. For the natural man receiveth
    not the things that are of God. Hence all their obedience is servile.
    They know neither the principal motives unto it nor the ends of it.
    But they who are so servants as to be friends also, they know what
    their Lord does; the secret of the Lord is with them, and he shows
    them his covenant. They are admitted into an intimate acquaintance
    with the mind of Christ, ("we have the mind of Christ," 1 Cor. 2: 16,)
    and are thereon encouraged to perform the obedience of servants, with
    the love and delight of friends.

    The same love of friendship is expressed by that intimate converse
    with, and especial residence that is between God and believers. God
    dwelleth in them, and they dwell in God; for God is love, 1 John 4:
    16. "If a man," saith the Lord Christ, "love me, he will keep my
    words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and
    make our abode with him," John 14: 23; and, "If any man hear my voice,
    and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and
    he with me," Rev. 3: 20. These are not empty sound of words;--there is
    substance under them, there is truth in them. Those whose hearts are
    duly exercised in and unto the love of God have experience of the
    refreshing approaches both of the Father and of the Son unto their
    souls, in the communications of a sense of their love, and pledges of
    their abode with them.

    These things have I briefly premised, concerning the nature of divine
    love, that we may the better apprehend what we understand by it, in
    the application of it unto the person of Christ. For--

    1. The formal object of this love is the essential properties of the
    divine nature--its infinite goodness in particular. Wherever these
    are, there is the object and reason of this love. But they are all of
    them in the person of the Son, no less than in the person of the
    Father. As, therefore, we love the Father on this account, so are we
    to love the Son also. But--

    2. The Person of Christ is to be considered as he was incarnate, or
    clothed with our nature. And this takes nothing off from the formal
    reason of this love, but only makes an addition unto the motives of
    it. This, indeed, for a season veiled the loveliness of his divine
    excellencies, and so turned aside the eyes of many from him. For when
    he took on him "the form of a servant, and made himself of no
    reputation," he had, unto them who looked on him with carnal eyes,
    "neither form nor comeliness," that he should be desired or be loved.
    Howbeit, the entire person of Christ, God and man, is the object of
    this divine love, in all the acts of the whole exercise of it. That
    single effect of infinite wisdom and grace, in the union of the divine
    and human natures in the one person of the Son of God, renders him the
    object of this love in a peculiar manner. The way whereby we may
    attain this peculiar love, and the motives unto it, shall close these

    A due consideration of, and meditation on, the proposal of the person
    of Christ unto us in the Scripture, are the proper foundation of this
    love. This is the formal reason of our faith in him, and love unto
    him. He is so proposed unto us in the Scripture, that we may believe
    in him and love him, and for that very end. And in particular with
    respect unto our love, to in generate it in us, and to excite it unto
    its due exercise, are those excellencies of his person--as the
    principal effect of divine wisdom and goodness, which we have before
    insisted on--frequently proposed unto us. To this end is he
    represented as "altogether lovely," and the especial glories of his
    person are delineated, yea, drawn to the life, in the holy records of
    the Old and New Testaments. It is no work of fancy or imagination--it
    is not the feigning images in our minds of such things as are meet to
    satisfy our carnal affections, to excite and act them; but it is a due
    adherence unto that object which is represented unto faith in the
    proposal of the gospel. Therein, as in a glass, do we behold the glory
    of Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, and have our souls
    filled with transforming affections unto him.

    The whole Book of Canticles is nothing but a mystical declaration of
    the mutual love between Christ and the church. And it is expressed by
    all such ways and means as may represent it intense, fervent, and
    exceeding all other love whatever; which none, I suppose, will deny,
    at least on the part of Christ. And a great part of it consists in
    such descriptions of the person of Christ and his love as may render
    him amiable and desirable unto our souls, even "altogether lovely." To
    what end does the Holy Spirit so graphically describe and represent
    unto us the beauty and desirableness of his person, if it be not to
    ingenerate love in us unto him? All want of love unto him on this
    proposal is the effect of prevalent unbelief. It is pretended that the
    descriptions given of Christ in this book are allegorical, from whence
    nothing can be gathered or concluded. But God forbid we should so
    reflect on the wisdom and love of the Holy Spirit unto the church--
    that he has proposed unto the faith of the church an empty sound and
    noise of words, without mind or sense. The expressions he uses are
    figurative, and the whole nature of the discourse, as unto its outward
    structure, is allegorical. But the things intended are real and
    substantial; and the metaphors used in the expression of them are
    suited, in a due attendance unto the analogy of faith, to convey a
    spiritual understanding and sense of the things themselves proposed in
    them. The church of God will not part with the unspeakable advantage
    and consolation--those supports of faith and incentives of love--which
    it receives by that divine proposal of the person of Christ and his
    love which is made therein, because some men have no experience of
    them nor understanding in them. The faith and love of believers is not
    to be regulated by the ignorance and boldness of them who have neither
    the one nor the other. The title of the 45th Psalm is, "shir jedidot",
    "A song of loves;"--that is, of the mutual love of Christ and the
    church. And unto this end--that our souls may be stirred up unto the
    most ardent affection towards him--is a description given us of his
    person, as "altogether lovely." To what other end is he so evidently
    delineated in the whole harmony of his divine beauties by the pencil
    of the Holy Spirit?

    Not to insist on particular testimonies, it is evident unto all whose
    eyes are opened to discern these things, that there is no property of
    the divine nature which is peculiarly amiable--such as are goodness
    grace, love, and bounty, with infinite power and holiness--but it is
    represented and proposed unto us in the person of the Son of God, to
    this end, that we should love him above all, and cleave unto him.
    There is nothing in the human nature, in that fullness of grace and
    truth which dwelt therein, in that inhabitation of the Spirit which
    was in him without measure, in any thing of those "all things" wherein
    he has the pre-eminence--nothing in his love, condescension, grace,
    and mercy--nothing in the work that he fulfilled, what he did and
    suffered therein--nothing in the benefits we receive thereby--nothing
    in the power and glory that he is exalted unto at the right hand of
    God--but it is set forth in the Scripture and proposed unto us, that,
    believing in him, we may love him with all our hearts and souls. And,
    besides all this, that singular, that infinite effect of divine
    wisdom, whereunto there is nothing like in all the works of God, and
    wherewith none of them may be compared--namely, the constitution of
    his person by the union of his natures therein, whereby he becomes
    unto us the image of the invisible God, and wherein all the blessed
    excellencies of his distinct natures are made most illustriously
    conspicuous in becoming one entire principle of all his mediatory
    operations on our behalf--is proposed unto us as the complete object
    of our faith and love. This is that person whose loveliness and beauty
    all the angels of God, all the holy ones above, do eternally admire
    and adore. In him are the infinite treasures of divine wisdom and
    goodness continually represented unto them. This is he who is the joy,
    the delight, the love, the glory of the church below. "Thou whom our
    souls do love," is the title whereby they know him and convene with
    him, Cant. 1: 7; 3: 1, 4. This is he who is the Desire of all nations-

  • the Beloved of God and men. The mutual intercourse on this ground of love between Christ and the
    church, is the life and soul of the whole creation; for on the account
    hereof all things consist in him.

    There is more glory under the eye of God, in the sighs, groans, and
    mournings of poor souls filled with the love of Christ, after the
    enjoyment of him according to his promises--in their fervent prayers
    for his manifestation of himself unto them--in the refreshments and
    unspeakable joys which they have in his gracious visits and embraces
    of his love--than in the thrones and diadems of all the monarchs on
    the earth. Nor will they themselves part with the ineffable
    satisfactions which they have in these things, for all that this world
    can do for them or unto them. "Mallem ruere cum Christo, quam regnare
    cum Caesare." These things have not only rendered prisons and dungeons
    more desirable unto them than the most goodly palaces, on future
    accounts, but have made them really places of such refreshment and
    joys as men shall seek in vain to extract out of all the comforts that
    this world can afford.

    O curvae in terras animae et coelestium inanes!

    Many there are who, not comprehending, not being affected with, that
    divine, spiritual description of the person of Christ which is given
    us by the Holy Ghost in the Scripture, do feign unto themselves false
    representations of him by images and pictures, so as to excite carnal
    and corrupt affections in their minds. By the help of their outward
    senses, they reflect on their imaginations the shape of a human body,
    cast into postures and circumstances dolorous or triumphant; and so,
    by the working of their fancy, raise a commotion of mind in
    themselves, which they suppose to be love unto Christ. But all these
    idols are teaches of lies. The true beauty and amiableness of the
    person of Christ, which is the formal object and cause of divine love,
    is so far from being represented herein, as that the mind is thereby
    wholly diverted from the contemplation of it. For no more can be so
    pictured unto us but what may belong unto a mere man, and what is
    arbitrarily referred unto Christ, not by faith, but by corrupt

    The beauty of the person of Christ, as represented in the Scripture,
    consists in things invisible unto the eyes of flesh. They are such as
    no hand of man can represent or shadow. It is the eye of faith alone
    that can see this King in his beauty. What else can contemplate on the
    untreated glories of his divine nature? Can the hand of man represent
    the union of his natures in the same person, wherein he is peculiarly
    amiable? What eye can discern the mutual communications of the
    properties of his different natures in the same person, which depends
    thereon, whence it is that God laid down his life for us, and
    purchased his church with his own blood? In these things, O vain man!
    does the loveliness of the person of Christ unto the souls of
    believers consist, and not in those strokes of art which fancy has
    guided a skillful hand and pencil unto. And what eye of flesh can
    discern the inhabitation of the Spirit in all fullness in the human
    nature? Can his condescension, his love, his grace, his power, his
    compassion, his offices, his fitness and ability to save sinners, be
    deciphered on a tablet, or engraven on wood or stone? However such
    pictures may be adorned, however beautified and enriched, they are not
    that Christ which the soul of the spouse does love;--they are not any
    means of representing his love unto us, or of conveying our love unto
    him;--they only divert the minds of superstitious persons from the Son
    of God, unto the embraces of a cloud, composed of fancy and

    Others there are who abhor these idols, and when they have so done,
    commit sacrilege. As they reject images, so they seem to do all love
    unto the person of Christ, distinct from other acts of obedience, as a
    fond imagination. But the most superstitious love unto Christ--that
    is, love acted in ways tainted with superstition--is better than none
    at all. But with what eyes do such persons read the Scriptures? With
    what hearts do they consider them? What do they conceive is the
    intention of the Holy Ghost in all those descriptions which he gives
    us of the person of Christ as amiable and desirable above all things,
    making wherewithal a proposal of him unto our affections--inciting us
    to receive him by faith, and to cleave unto him in love? yea, to what
    end is our nature endued with this affection--unto what end is the
    power of it renewed in us by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit--if
    it may not be fixed on this most proper and excellent object of it?

    This is the foundation of our love unto Christ namely, the revelation
    and proposal of him unto us in the Scripture as altogether lovely. The
    discovery that is made therein of the glorious excellencies and
    endowments of his person--of his love, his goodness, and grace--of his
    worth and work--is that which engageth the affections of believers
    unto him. It may be said, that if there be such a proposal of him made
    unto all promiscuously, then all would equally discern his amiableness
    and be affected with it, who assent equally unto the truth of that
    revelation. But it has always fallen out otherwise. In the days of his
    flesh, some that looked on him could see neither "form nor comeliness"
    in him wherefore he should be desired; others saw his glory--"glory as
    of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". To some
    he is precious; unto others he is disallowed and rejected--a stone
    which the builders refused, when others brought it forth, crying,
    "Grace, grace unto it" as the head of the corner. Some can see nothing
    but weakness in him; unto others the wisdom and power of God do
    evidently shine forth in him. Wherefore it must be said, that
    notwithstanding that open, plain representation that is made of him in
    the Scripture, unless the holy Spirit gives us eyes to discern it, and
    circumcise our hearts by the cutting off corrupt prejudices and all
    effects of unbelief, implanting in them, by the efficacy of his grace,
    this blessed affection of love unto him, all these things will make no
    impression on our minds.

    As it was with the people on the giving of the law, notwithstanding
    all the great and mighty works which God had wrought among them, yet
    having not given them "a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears
    to hear"--which he affirms that he had not done, Deut. 29: 4,--they
    were not moved unto faith or obedience by them; so is it in the
    preaching of the gospel. Notwithstanding all the blessed revelation
    that is made of the excellencies of the person of Christ therein, yet
    those into whose hearts God does not shine to give the knowledge of
    his glory in his face, can discern nothing of it, nor are their hearts
    affected with it.

    We do not, therefore, in these things, follow "cunningly-devised
    fables." We do not indulge unto our own fancies and imaginations;--
    they are not unaccountable raptures or ecstasies which are pretended
    unto, nor such an artificial concatenation of thoughts as some
    ignorant of these things do boast that they can give an account of.
    Our love to Christ ariseth alone from the revelation that is made of
    him in the Scripture is ingenerated, regulated, measured, and is to be
    judged thereby.

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