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being, his soul and body, and every enjoyment and means of happiness, nay, and upon whom, though he be a sinner, he can look as his God, reconciled by a method, the glory of which astonishes and dazzles the eyes of the most exalted creatures, while they consider the wisdom, grace, and love, held out in it: I say, when the enlightened sinner thus beholds the fair beauty of the Lord in the face of Jesus, he finds an object before him infinitely suited to engage his heart, whom he cannot choose but love supremely, and delight in, whom he would have to be honoured through the whole creation, whom he thinks it his glory to obey, and besides whom there is none in heaven or earth that he can desire. In the sight of this object sin appears in its true colours of deformity, and holiness in its proper beauty. The whole man stands prepared to obey; and, fixing itself on the revealed will, is asking with cheerfulness, What wilt thou have me to do?
Secondly.—The other reason why this knowledge of God begets obedience in the heart is because it was revealed to this very purpose, that the Spirit having enlightened the dark soul in the knowledge of God reconciled in Jesus Christ, might thereby influence and engage the heart unto a conformity with him. Thus, it is said, ' Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.** And, when God made himself known to Abraham as his God, he speaks thus,
I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.'+ And so, at the giving out of the law, we find God speaking in the character of a covenant-God as moving us to obedience thereunto, I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods but me.' And, in short, « The end of the commandment is charity ; 'S the design and completion of the Gospel is the love of God and our neighbour. Now, if the very purpose of God's thus revealing himself in Jesus Christ was that we might be sanctified through faith that is in him,|| it cannot be that the Spirit should make this revelation of God in the soul, and not thereby form the heart unto obedience. That he does hereby work unto the begetting and nourishing love, in the * Titus ii. 14. + Gen. xvii. 1. | Exod. xx. 2, 3.
$ 1 Tim. i. 5. || Acts xxvi. 18.
hearts of all who really know God in Jesus Christ, is expressly assured. St. Paul says of himself, that as soon as ever it pleased the Lord, who had called him by his grace, to appoint him his commission, he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.'* He was all readiness, and went directly to his work. And he says elsewhere of himself and all believers, · We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord :'t where the motive, the agent, and the work, are most plainly marked out and placed together.
From these two reasons it appears, that wherever there is a true knowledge of God in Christ, there obedience from the heart necessarily follows. And you see in what manner it follows; namely, by the glory and loveliness of the object presented to the soul, which while the mind is regarding and beholding, the Spirit takes occasion by that blessed sight to turn the heart unto God. From hence I must make two very needful remarks.
The first is concerning unfruitful knowledge, that it is indeed no knowledge at all; for it does not set up the object in the mind, and so has no effect on the heart. I say it is no real knowledge or faith concerning God. It is not a knowledge of God evangelically seen, for so it would beget love; and it is not a knowledge of God in an absolute view, for then at least it would beget fear. But it begets neither love nor fear, and therefore is not really any knowledge at all. Real knowledge or belief of anything does unavoidably influence us according to the importance of that thing to us; and, where there is no influence, there is really no belief or knowledge concerning things which are of the very smallest moment to us. So that that state of mind wherein men do neither fear God's wrath, nor love him for his mercy, is plain atheism. There is no real belief or knowledge of God's being in it; although through certain suspicions, taken up by hearsay, and conceived upon the opinions of others, there are oftentimes some disquieting apprehensions raised in the soul. Nevertheless this is evidently the general knowledge of God that is in the world; and this the
# Acts xxvi, 19.
t 2 Cor. iii. 18.
state of unbelief wherein all lie, till God by his Spirit does begin to make himself known within the soul. Then he begins to be taken notice of, he is seen as a real object before the eyes of the mind, and the effect on the heart follows in trembling or love, as God is seen absolutely or through a Redeemer. And this is the awful difference between true and false faith or knowledge.
The second remark is concerning true believers. The matter now explained shows us the very reason why they are not more steadfast in their love and obedience ; namely, because their knowledge of God in Christ is not enough deep and clear, or not sufficiently impressed on the mind so as to keep the blessed object present therein. Some do not earnestly follow on to know the Lord, what he is in himself, and what in the face of Jesus Christ ; and others, when they have obtained some more lively discoveries of the divine glory, are not careful enough to keep them in view. The consequence of which, whether imperfect knowledge or forgetfulness, is, that the heart is without that due influence, which a more distinct and abiding knowledge would maintain upon it; and the goings out of the affections in love, desire, delight, trust, and zeal for the honour and service of God, are cold, unfrequent, and without sufficient strength to keep the soul in a state of readiness for all duty, and of resolute preparedness to repress all the risings of corruption, and to bear up under all temptations and sufferings. So that, if we expect to maintain a healthy, vigorous, active, and advancing state of soul, we must acquaint ourselves with God, and walk in the sense of his presence. Otherwise we suffer a veil to be thrown over our eyes, which hinders us from the only sight by which the Spirit works upon our hearts to engage them unto God.
What we have been saying on this head sufficiently shows that obedience from the heart does necessarily follow a right and true knowledge and faith. And if so, then, ,
First.--Obedience from the heart is an infallible proof of the truth of our knowledge or faith. For if the knowledge of God in Christ does and can only draw over the heart unto God in a true spirit of obedience, then that obedience from the heart must needs prove such a knowledge or faith to have an actual
being, existence, and abidance within us. No man can love, fear, honour, and serve God, without some reason ; and whoever really does this can only do it because he knows God in Christ to be infinitely worthy of, and entitled to, all this obedience of the inner and outward man. Do you really love God, and choose to serve him? Observe why you do so. Is it not for that which you see in him, as he hath manifested himself in the face of Jesus Christ ? Does he not appear to you there bearing a commanding and amiable character, so that you cannot refuse him your heart and service ? And does not every repeated view you take of him in that glass draw out your heart to him afresh ? Or is it anything but such a knowledge of the blessed God which restrains you from indulging your natural inclinations, or engages you to the performance of his will ? Hereby therefore you know that you really know him. Your obedience proves it to your own conscience, because you plainly see that you only love and serve him because you know him to be such a God as he is, and as he has shown himself to be in the Gospel. Obedience from the heart then is an infallible proof of a right knowledge or faith; it issues from it ; and, were the actings of the mind observed, would be evidently seen to do so. This, I say, infallibly proves the knowledge or faith to be real, for, if it were not so, it could not possibly produce any such fruits of obedience. Nay, and the habit and course of obedience necessarily proves the faith to be more than a mere hasty notion, and to have a subsistence in the mind, because it does habitually work by love. So that if we do really love God, and from our hearts obey him, we may hereby assuredly know that we know him. Here then the point of importance is before us; do we know God in Christ? If we do, we obey him from the heart. If we obey him from the heart, we know that we know him. This is the order; and we must take heed we do not confound it ; neither seeking to obey God without knowing him in Christ, which is impossible, nor conceiting that we know him in Christ if we do not obey him, which is a lie. This leads to the other consequence of this doctrine ; namely,
Secondly.—'If we say we know him, and keep not his commandments, we lie.' You see how plain and peremptory the Apostle is.
To say we know God in Christ, and not to obey him, is a mere lie. Well, then, I fear there are many liars in the world ; for it is too evident that there are many who profess to know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, who are very far from keeping God's commandments, take no manner of care to do so, indeed are with the utmost carelessness breaking them every day. But how is this a lie ?
Why, First, It is a lie, because the thing is absolutely false in itself. They who do not obey God do not know him, have actually no faith or knowledge of God in Christ in them; and, if they say they have, they say that which is not true : for it has been shown incontestably, that, wherever that knowledge of God is, it brings forth obedience to him ; so that, where the obedience is not, there the faith cannot be.
And, Secondly, It is a lie, because the person who says it knows it to be no other; for, while he says that he does know God, he is very sensible in his own conscience that he does not know him. Will a man seriously say that he certainly and steadfastly knows God to be a holy, jealous, and almighty Being, privy to all his conduct, and to whom he is accountable, when at the same time he finds no fear of him in his heart, though he be acting in such a manner as is exactly suited to provoke him? Or, again, that he knows God to be reconciled, merciful, infinitely good and gracious, and in all the fulness of his eternal perfections his God, when he does not at the same time love him? The truth is, God is not an object whom we may know as we do a thousand other things, with which we have little or no concern. We are so related to him, and our happiness or misery is so wrapped up in his favour or displeasure, that, the very moment we know bim to be what he is, our hearts feel the impression of that knowledge in fear or love as we behold him against us or for us. And therefore for a man to say, I know God, when he neither fears nor loves him, is to assert what he absolutely knows to be false : for he knows very well that he does not know God to be that God he is, that he does not know him to be that almighty, eternal, and ever-present Being, who is about his path and bed, and spieth out all his ways, in whose favour is life, and his frown hell; for when at any time he should reflect on what is laid up in his mind, he would find no such knowledge of God there. So that if any