02) Shewing Wherin All Saving Grace Does Summarily Consist


The next thing that arises for consideration is, What is the nature of this
Divine principle in the soul that is so entirely diverse from all that is
naturally in the soul? Here I would observe,–

1. That that saving grace that is in the hearts if the saints, that within
them [which is] above nature, and entirely distinguishes ’em from all
unconverted men, is radically but one — i.e., however various its exercises
are, yet it is but one in its root; ’tis one individual principle in the
heart.

‘Tis common for us to speak of various graces of the Spirit of God as though
they were so many different principles of holiness, and to call them by distinct
names as such, — repentance, humility, resignation, thankfulness, etc. But we
err if we imagine that these in their first source and root in the heart are
properly distinct principles. They all come from the same fountain, and are,
indeed, the various exertions and conditions of the same thing, only different
denominations according to the various occasions, objects, and manners,
attendants and circumstances of its exercise. There is some one holy principle
in the heart that is the essence and sum of all grace, the root and source of
all holy acts of every kind, and the fountain of every good stream, into which
all Christian virtues may ultimately be resolved, and in which all duty and
[all] holiness is fulfilled.

Thus the Scripture represents it. Grace in the soul is one fountain of water
of life, (John 4:14,) and not various distinct fountains. So God, in the work of
regeneration, implants one heavenly seed in the soul, and not various different
seeds. 1 John 3:9–“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his
seed remaineth in him.” … The Day [that] has arisen on the soul is but
one. The oil in the vessel is simple and pure, conferred by one holy anointing.
All is “wrought” by one individual work of the Spirit of God. And thus it is
there is a consentanation of graces. Not only is one grace in some way allied to
another, and so tends to help and promote one another, but one is really implied
in the other. The nature of one involves the nature of another. And the great
reason of it is, that all graces have one common essence, the original principle
of all, and is but one. Strip the various parts of the Christian soul of their
circumstances, concomitants, appendages, means, and occasions, and consider that
which is, as it were, their soul and essence, and all appears to be the
same. [I observe]

2. That principle in the soul of the saints, which is the grand Christian
virtue, and which is the soul and essence and summary comprehension of all
grace, is a principle of Divine Love. This is evident,

(1.) Because we are abundantly taught in the Scripture that Divine Love is
the sum of all duty;
and that all that God requires of us is fulfilled in
it, —i.e., That Love is the sum of all duty of the heart, and its
exercises and fruits the sum of all [the] duty of life. But if the duty of the
heart, or all due dispositions of the hearts, are all summed up in love, then
undoubtedly all grace may be summed up in LOVE.

The Scripture teaches us that all our duty is summed up in love;or, which is
the same thing, that ’tis the sum of all that is required in the Law; and that,
whether we take the Law as signifying the Ten Commandments, or the whole written
Word of God. So, when by the Law is meant the Ten Commandments : Rom. 13:8–“Owe
no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath
fulfilled the law” ; and, therefore, several of these commandments are there
rehearsed. And again, in ver. 10, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” And
unless love was the sum of what the law required, the law could not be fulfilled
in love. A law is not fulfilled but by obedience to the sum of what it contains.
So the same apostle again: 1 Tim. 1:5– “Now the end of the commandment is
charity” [love].

If we take the law in a yet more extensive sense for the whole written Word
of God, the Scripture still teaches us that love is the sum of what is required
in it. [Thus] Matt. 22:40. There Christ teaches us that on these two precepts of
loving God and our neighbour hang all the Law and the Prophets, –that is, all
the written Word of God. So that what was called the Law and the Prophets was
the whole written Word of God that was then extant. The Scripture teaches this
of each table of the law in particular.

Thus, the lawyer that we read of in the 10th chapter of Luke, vv.25-28,
mentions the love of God and our neighbour as the sum of the two tables of the
law; and Christ approves of what he says. When he stood up and tempted Christ
with this question, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ
asks him what was required of him “in the Law?” He makes answer, “Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself;” and Christ
replies, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live;” as much as to
say, “Do this, then thou hast fulfilled the whole law.”

So in Matthew 22:36-38, that commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” is given by
Christ himself as the sum of the first Table of the Law, in answer to the
question of the lawyer, who asked Him, “Which is the great commandment in the
law!” And in the next verse, loving our neighbours as ourselves is mentioned as
the sum of the second Table, as it is also in Romans 13:9, where most of the
precepts of the second Table are rehearsed over in particular: “For this, Thou
shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt
not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet ; and if there be any other
commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love
thy neighbour as thyself.”

The Apostle James seems to teach the same thing. James 2:8– “If ye fulfil
the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself, ye do well.”

Thus frequent, express, and particular is the Scripture in teaching us that
all duty is comprehended in Love. The Scripture teaches us, in like manner, of
nothing else. This is quite another thing than if Religion in general had only
sometimes gone under the name of the Love of God, as it sometimes goes by the
name of the fearing of God, and sometimes the knowledge of God, and sometimes
feeling of God.

This argument does fully and irrefragably prove that all grace, and every
Christian disposition and habit of mind and heart, especially as to that which
is primarily holy and Divine in it, does summarily consist in Divine Love, and
may be resolved into it: however, with respect to its kinds and manner of
exercise and its appendages, it may be diversified. For certainly there is no
duty of heart, or due disposition of mind, but what is included in the Law and
the Prophets,” and is required by some precept of that law and rule which He has
given mankind to walk by. But yet the Scripture affords us other evidences of
the truth of this.

(2.) The apostle speaks of Divine Love as that which is the essence of all
Christianity in the thirteenth chapter of [the] 1st [Epistle to the]
Corinthians.
There the apostle evidently means a comparison between the
gifts of the Spirit and the grace of the Spirit. In the foregoing chapter the
apostle had been speaking of the gifts of the Spirit throughout, such as the
gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of faith, the gift of healing or
working miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, speaking with tongues, etc.; and
in the last verse in the chapter he exhorts the Corinthians to “covet earnestly
the best gifts;” but adds, “and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way,” and
so proceeds to discourse of the saving grace of the Spirit under the name of
a)ga/ph love, and to compare this saving grace in
the heart with those gifts. Now, ’tis manifest that the comparison is between
the gifts of the Spirit that were common to both saints and sinners, and that
saving grace that distinguishes true saints; and, therefore, charity or love is
here understood by divines as intending the same thing as sincere grace of
heart.

By love or charity here there is no reason to understand the apostle [as
speaking] only of love to men, but that principle of Divine Love that is in the
heart of the saints in the full extent, which primarily has God for its object.
For there is no reason to think that the apostle doesn’t mean the same thing by
charity here as he does in the eighth chapter of the same Epistle, where he is
comparing the same two things together, knowledge and charity, as he does here.
But there he explains himself to mean by charity the love of God: [verses 1-3]
–“Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have
knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that
he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man
love God, the same is known of him,” etc.

‘Tis manifest that love or charity is here (Chap. 13) spoken of as the very
essence of all Christianity, and is the very thing wherein a gracious sincerity
consists. For the Apostle speaks of it as the most excellent, the most
necessary, and essential thing of all, without which all that makes the
greatest, and fairest, and most glittering show in Religion is nothing —
without which, “if we speak with the tongues of men and angels, we are become as
sounding brass and tinkling cymbals” -and without which, though we have “the
gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have all
faith, so that we could remove mountains, and should bestow all our goods to
feed the poor, and even give our bodies to be burned, we are nothing.”
Therefore, how can we understand the Apostle any otherwise than that this is the
very thing whereof the essence of all consists; and that he means the same by
charity as a gracious charity, as indeed it is generally understood. If a man
does all these things here spoken, makes such glorious prophecies, has such
knowledge, such faith, and speaks so excellently, and performs such excellent
external acts, and does such great things in religion as giving all his goods to
the poor and giving his body to be burned, what is wanting but one thing? The
very quintessence of all Religion, the very thing wherein lies summarily the
sincerity, spirituality, and divinity of Religion. And that, the Apostle teaches
us, is LOVE.

And further, ’tis manifestly the Apostle’s drift to shew how this excellent
principle does radically comprehend all that is good. For he goes on to shew how
all essences of good and excellent dispositions and exercises, both towards God
and towards man, are virtually contained and will flow from this one principle:
“Love suffereth long, and is kind, envieth not, … endureth all things” etc.
The words of this last verse especially respects duties to God, as the former
did duties to men, as I would shew more particularly afterwards.

(Here it may be noted, by the way, that by charity ‘believing all things,
hoping all things,’ the Apostle has undoubtedly respect to the same faith and
hope that in other parts of the chapter are mentioned together and compared with
charity, [as I think might be sufficiently made manifest, if it were proper here
to spend time upon it.] And not believing and hoping, in the case of our
neighbour, which the apostle has spoken of before, in the last words of verse
5th, and had plainly summed up all parts of charity towards our neighbour in the
6th verse. And then in this verse the apostle proceeds to mention other
exercises or fruits of charity quite of another kind–viz., patience under
suffering, faith and hope, and perseverance.)

Thus the Apostle don’t only represent love or charity as the most excellent
thing in Christianity, and as the quintessence, life and soul of all Religion,
but as that which virtually comprehends all holy virtues and exercises. And
because love is the quintessence and soul of all grace, wherein the divinity and
holiness of all that belongs to charity does properly and essentially consist,
therefore, when Christians come to be in their most perfect state, and the
Divine nature in them shall be in its greatest exaltation and purity, and be
free from all mixtures, stripped of these appurtenances and that clothing that
it has in the present state ; and [when] it shall lose many other of its
denominations, especially from the peculiar manner and exercises accommodated to
the imperfect circumstances of the present state, they will be what will remain.
All other names will be swallowed up in the name of charity or love, as the
apostle, agreeably to his chapter on this, (1 Cor. 13.,) observes in verses
8-10– “Charity never faileth…. But when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part shall be done away.” And, therefore, when the
apostle, in the last verse, speaks of charity as the greatest grace, we may well
understand him in the same sense as when Christ speaks of the command of love
God, etc., as the greatest commandment –viz., that among the graces, that is
the source and sum of all graces, as that commanded is spoken of as the sum of
all commands, and requiring that duty which is the ground of all other duties.

It must be because Charity is the quintessence and soul of all duty and all
good in the heart that the apostle says that it is “the end of the commandment,”
for doubtless the main end of the commandment is to promote that which is most
essential in Religion and constituent of holiness.

3. Reason bears witness to the same thing.

(1.)Reason testifies that Divine Love is so essential in Religion that all
Religion is but hypocrisy and a “vain show” without it.
What is Religion but
the exercise and expressions of regard to the Divine Being? But certainly if
there be no love to Him, there is no sincere regard to Him; and all pretences
and show of respect to Him, whether it be in word or deed, must be hypocrisy,
and of no value in the eyes of Him who sees the heart How manifest is it that
without love there can be no true honour, no sincere praise! And how can
obedience be hearty, if it be not a testimony of respect to God! The fear of God
without love is no other than the fear of devils; and all that outward respect
and obedience, all that resignation, that repentance and sorrow for sin, that
form in religion, that outward devotion that is performed merely from such a
fear without love, is all of it a practical lie, as in Psalm 66:3– “…How
terrible art Thou in Thy works! through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine
enemies submit themselves unto Thee.” In the original it is “shall thine enemies
lie unto Thee” — i.e., shall yield a feigned or lying obedience and respect to
Thee, when still they remain enemies in their hearts. There is never a devil in
hell but what would perform all that many a man [has] performed in religion,
that had no love to God; and a great deal more if they were in like
circumstances and the like hope of gain by it, and be as much of a devil in this
heart as he is now. The Devil once seemed to be religious from fear of torment:
Luke 8:28– “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and with
a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most
high? I beseech Thee, torment me not.” Here is external worship. The Devil is
religious; he prays — he prays in a humble posture; he falls down before
Christ, he lies prostrate; he prays earnestly, he cries with a loud voice; he
uses humble expressions — “I beseech Thee, torment me not;” he uses respectful,
honourable, adoring expressions — “Jesus, Thou Son of God most high.” Nothing
was wanting but LOVE.

And with respect to duties towards men, no good offices would be accepted by
men one from another, if they saw the heart, and knew they did not proceed from
any respect in the heart. If a child carry it very respectfully to his father,
either from a strong fear, or from hope of having the larger inheritance when
his father is dead, or from the like consideration, and not at all from any
respect to his father in his heart; if the child’s heart were open to the view
of his father, and he plainly knew that there was no real regard to him. Would
the child’s outward honour and obedience be acceptable to the parent? So if a
wife should carry it very well to her husband, and not at all from any love to
him, but from other considerations plainly seen, and certainly known by the
husband, Would he at all delight in her outward respect any more than if a
wooden image were contrived to make respectful motions in his presence?

If duties towards men are [to be] accepted of God as a part of Religion and
the service of the Divine Being, they must be performed not only with a hearty
love to men, but that love must flow from regard to Him.

(2.) Reason shews that all good dispositions and duties are wholly
comprehended in, and will flow from, Divine Love.
Love to God and men
implies all proper respect or regard to God and men; and all proper acts and
expressions of regard to both will flow from it, and therefore all duty to both.
To regard God and men in our heart as we ought, is the same thing. And,
therefore, a proper regard or love comprehends all virtue of heart; and he that
shews all proper regard to God and men in his practice, performs all that in
practice towards them which is his duty. The Apostle says, Romans 13:10– “Love
works no ill to his neighbor.” ‘Tis evident by his reasoning in that place, that
he means more than is expressed — that love works no ill but all good towards
our neighbor; so, by a parity of reason, love to God works no ill, but all duty
towards God.

A Christian love to God, and Christian love to men, are not properly two
distinct principles in the heart. These varieties are radically the same; the
same principle flowing forth towards different objects, according to the order
of their existence. God is the First Cause of all things, and the Fountain and
Source of all good; and men are derived from Him, having something of His image,
and are the objects of His mercy. So the first and supreme object of Divine love
is God; and men are loved either as the children of God or His creatures, and
those that are in His image, and the objects of His mercy, or in some respects
related to God, or partakers of His loveliness, or at least capable of
happiness.

That love to God, and a Christian love to men, are thus but one in their root
and foundation-principle in the heart, is confirmed by several passages in the
First Epistle of John: chap. 3:16-17– “Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the
brethren. But whoso hath this world’s goods,… how dwelleth the love of God in
him?” Chap. 4:20,21– “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a
liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God
whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth
God love his brother also.” Chap. 5:1,2– “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the
Christ is born of God: and every one loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that
is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we
love God, and keep His commandments.”

Therefore to explain the nature of Divine Love, what is principally requisite
is to explain the nature of love to God. For this may especially be called
Divine Love; and herein all Christian love or charity does radically consist,
for this is the fountain of all.

As to a definition of Divine Love, things of this nature are not properly
capable of a definition. They are better felt than defined. Love is a term as
clear in its signification, and that does as naturally suggest to the mind the
thing signified by it, as any other term or terms that we can find out or
substitute in its room. But yet there may be a great deal of benefit in
descriptions that may be given of this heavenly principle though they all are
imperfect. They may serve to limit the signification of the term and distinguish
this principle from other things, and to exclude counterfeits, and also more
clearly to explain some things that do appertain to its nature.

Divine Love, as it has God for its object, may be thus described. ‘Tis the
soul’s relish of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature, inclining the
heart to God as the chief good.

The first thing in Divine Love, and that from which everything that
appertains to it arises, is a relish of the excellency of the Divine nature;
which the soul of man by nature has nothing of.

The first effect that is produced in the soul, whereby it is carried above
what it has or can have by nature, is to cause it to relish or taste the
sweetness of the Divine relation. That is the first and most fundamental thing
in Divine Love, and that from which everything else that belongs to the Divine
Love naturally and necessarily proceeds. When one the soul is brought to relish
the excellency of the Divine nature, then it will naturally, and of course,
incline to God every way. It will incline to be with Him and to enjoy Him. It
will have benevolence to God. It will be glad that He is happy. It will incline
that He should be glorified, and that His will should be done in all things. So
that the first effect of the power of God in the heart in REGENERATION, is to
give the heart a Divine taste or sense; to cause it to have a relish of the
loveliness and sweetness of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature; and
indeed this is all the immediate effect of the Divine Power that there is, this
is all the Spirit of God needs to do, in order to a production of all good
effects in the soul. If God, by an immediate act of His, gives the soul a relish
of the excellency of His own nature, other things will follow of themselves
without any further act of the Divine power than only what is necessary to
uphold the nature of the faculties of the soul. He that is once brought to see,
or rather to taste, the superlative loveliness of the Divine Being, will need no
more to make him long after the enjoyment of God, to make him rejoice in the
happiness of God, and to desire that this supremely excellent Being may be
pleased and glorified. (Love is commonly distinguished into a love of
complacence and love of benevolence. Of these two a love of complacence is
first, and is the foundation of the other,–i.e., if by a love of
complacence be meant a relishing a sweetness in the qualifications of the
beloved, and a being pleased and delighted in his excellency. This, in the order
of nature, is before benevolence, because it is the foundation and reason of it.
A person must first relish that wherein the amiableness of nature consists,
before he can wish well to him on the account of that loveliness, or as being
worthy to receive good. Indeed, sometimes love of complacence is explained
something differently, even for that joy that the soul has in the presence and
possession of the beloved, which is different from the soul’s relish of the
beauty of the beloved, and is a fruit of it, as benevolence is. The soul may
relish the sweetness and the beauty of a beloved object, whether that object be
present or absent, whether in possession or not in possession; and this relish
is the foundation of love of benevolence, or desire of the good of the beloved.
And it is the foundation of love of affection to the beloved object when absent;
and it is the foundation of one’s rejoicing in the object when present; and so
it is the foundation of everything else that belongs to Divine Love.) And if
this be true, then the main ground of true love to God is the excellency of His
own nature, and not any benefit we have received, or hope to receive, by His
goodness to us. Not but that there is such a thing as a gracious gratitude to
God for mercies bestowed upon us; and the acts and fruits of His goodness to us
may [be,] and very often are, occasions and incitements of the exercise of true
love to God, as I must shew more particularly hereafter. But love or affection
to God, that has no other good than only some benefit received or hoped for from
God, is not true love. [If it be] without any sense of a delight in the absolute
excellency of the Divine nature, [it] has nothing Divine in it. Such gratitude
towards God requires no more to be in the soul than that human nature that all
men are born with, or at least that human nature well cultivated and improved,
or indeed not further vitiated and depraved than it naturally is. It is possible
that natural men, without the addition of any further principle than they have
by nature, may be affected with gratitude by some remarkable kindness of God to
them, as that they should be so affected with some great act of kindness of a
neighbour. A principle of self-love is all that is necessary to both. But Divine
Love is a principle distinct from self-love, and from all that arises from it.
Indeed, after a man is come to relish the sweetness of the supreme good there is
in the nature of God, self-love may have a hand in an appetite after the
enjoyment of that good. For self-love will necessarily make a man desire to
enjoy that which is sweet to him. But God’s perfections must first savour
appetite and [be] sweet to men, or they must first have a taste to relish
sweetness in the perfection of God, before self-love can have any influence upon
them to cause an appetite after the enjoyment of that sweetness. And therefore
that divine taste or relish of the soul, wherein Divine Love doth most
fundamentally consist, is prior to all influence that self-love can have to
incline us to God; and so must be a principle quite distinct from it, and
independent of it.

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