« EdellinenJatka »
and concord, such an harmonious, blessed choir, should live in great endearedness in the way.
Tit. 4. Hindrances and Enemies of Christian Love.
Enemy 1. The first enemy of Christian love is the inward unregeneracy and carnality of the mind : “ for the carnal mind is enmity to God, and neither is nor can be subject to his lawk.” And therefore it is at enmity with holiness, and with those that are seriously holy. The excellency of a Christian is seen only by faith, believing what God speaketh of them, and by spiritual discerning of their spiritual worth: but the " natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit, but they are as foolishness to him, because they must be spiritually discerned !.” There must be a suitableness of nature before there can be true love : and he that will love them as holy, must first love holiness himself.
Enemy II. Another enemy to Christian love is selfishness or inordinate self-love: for this will make men love no one heartily, but as they serve, or love, or honour them, and according to the measures of their selfish interest: if a godly man will not flatter such persons, and serve their proud or covetous humours, they cannot love him. A selfish person maketh so great a matter of every infirmity that crosseth his interest, or every mistake which crosseth his opinion, or every little injury that is done him, that he crieth out presently, what wicked and unconscionable people are these! What hypocrites are they! Is this their religion ? Is this justice or charity?'. All virtues and vices are estimated by them, according to their own ends and interests chiefly : they can think better of a common whoremonger, or swearer, or atheist, or infidel that loveth, and honoureth, and serveth them, than of the most holy and upright servant of God, who thinketh meanly or hardly of them, and standeth in their way, and seemeth to be against their interest : it is no commendation to him in this man's account, that he loveth God, and all that are godly, if he seem to injure or cross a selfish man. A carnal self-lover can love none but himself and for himself; and maketh all faults which
are against himself to be the characters of an odious person, rather than those which are committed against God.
Enemy 11. Christian love is often diminished and marred by degenerating into a carnal sort of love, through the prevalency of some carnal vice. Thus they that loved a man for godliness, turn it into a selfish love, for some honour, or favour, or benefits to themselves. And young persons of different sexes, begin to love each other for piety, and by indiscreet, and unwary, and sinful familiarities, are drawn before they are aware, to carnal, fond, and sinful love, and these persons think that their holy love is stronger than before; when it is stifled, consumed, and languishing, as natural heat by a burning fever, and is overcome and turned into another thing.
Enemy iv. Passion and impatiency are great enemies to Christian love. It is stirring up displeasing words and carriage, and then cannot bear them: it meeteth every where with matter of displeasure and offence, and is still casting water on this sacred fire, and feigning or finding faults in all.
Enemy v. Self-ignorance and partiality is a great enemy to love ; when it maketh men overlook their own corruptions, and extenuate all those faults in themselves, which in others they take for heinous crimes; and so they want that compassion to others which would bear with infirmities, because they know not how bad they are themselves, and what need they have of the forbearance of others.
Enemy vi. Censoriousness is an enemy to brotherly love, (as is aforesaid ;) a censorious person will tell you how dearly he loveth all the godly; but he can allow so few the acknowledgment of their godliness, that few are beholden to him for his love. His sinful humour blindeth his mind, that he cannot see another's godliness: he will love them for their sincerity when he can see it, but that will not be till he hath better eyes. Timon was a great lover of wisdom, but a hater of all men, because he took no man to be wise.
Enemy vs. Faction and parties, or siding in religion, is one of the greatest enemies of Christian love. For this causeth censoriousness, and maketh men so overvalue the opinions which they have chosen, and the interest of their party, that they hardly see goodness in any that are not of
their mind, and quickly find faults (or devise them) in those that are against them.
Enemy viii. Conversing with malicious, wicked, or censorious persons, is a great hindrance of the love of godly, men; for he that heareth them daily slandered, and represented as brainsick, seditious, self-conceited, humorous, hypocritical people, will easily take them as odious, but hardly as amiable, unless he come nearer them, and know, them better than by a liar's words.
Enemy ix. Too high expectations are great enemies to love. When men either look that saints on earth should be like saints in heaven, who have no infirmity; or look for greater parts of nature or art, ingenuity or excellency of speech, than is in other persons, or when selfishness, and, covetousness or pride doth make men look for great respect, and observance, and esteem, or gifts, or commodity. from others; when sin and error raiseth these unreasonable expectations, and the imperfect graces of Christians do not, answer them, such persons think contemptibly of good, men, and call them hypocrites, and as bad as others, because they are not such as they expected.
Euemy x. The placing of men's goodness in lesser matters in which it doth not consist, is also a common enemy of love. When a man is himself so carnal as not to know what spiritual excellency is, but prefers some common gifts, before it, such an one can never be satisfied in the ordinary, sort of upright men. Thus some make a great matter of compliment, and courtship, and handsome deportment, when some holy persons are so taken up with the great matters of God and their salvation, and so retired from the company of complimenters, that they have neither time, nor mind, nor skill, nor will for such impertinencies. Some place so much in some particular opinions, or ceremonies, or forms of church-government and worship, that they can think well of no man that is against them : whereas good men on earth are so imperfect, that they are, and will be, of several opinions about such things : and so these persons oblige themselves by their own opinionativeness, to be always against one part of the sincerest servants of Christ. One man can think well of none that is not for his church, party, or way of government and worship; and another cau
think well of none that is not for his
One can think well of none that prayeth not by his book, and doth not turn, and bend, and look just in the same manner, garb, and posture with himself, and that useth not all the ceremonies which he affecteth; or at least, if his weakness make him guilty of any unhandsome tone or gesture, or of any incompt and unapt expressions, or needless repetitions, or unpleasing stile; (all which we wish that all good men were free from). Another can think well of no man, that is for pomp and force in church-government, or for ceremonies, forms, and books in prayer, and for prescribed words in worshipping God.
And thus placing religion where they should not, causeth too many to take up with a mistaken religion for themselves, and to 'dislike all that are not of their mind, and certainly destroyeth Christian love in one part of Christians towards the other.
Enemy XI. Pride also is a pestilent extinguisher of love. For a proud man is so much overwise in his own eyes, that he can without remorse stigmatize all that dissent from him with the names of ignorant and erroneous, schismatical, heretical, or what other name the humour or advantage of the times shall offer him: and he is so good in his own eyes, that he measureth men's goodness and godliness by their agreement with him, or compliance with his will. And he is so great in his own eyes, that he thinketh himself and his complices only fit to make laws for others, and to rule them in their opinions, and in the worship of God; and no man fit to say any thing publicly to God, but what he putteth into their mouths. He can think well of none that will not obey him: like the pope of Rome, that saith no man on earth hath church communion with him, that is not subject to him.
A humble Christian thinketh that himself and the Gospel have great and unusual prosperity in the world, when they have but liberty;. but proud men think that religion is ruined, and they are persecuted, when they have not their will upon their brethren, and when their brethren will be but brethren, and deny them obedience. Subjects they can think well of and command, but brethren they cannot love nor tolerate.
Enemy xii. Lastly, the counterfeits of Christian love deceive abundance, and keep them from that which is love
indeed. They might be brought to it, if they had not thought that they had it already, when they have it not.
Tit. 5. The Counterfeits of Christian Love.
Count, i. It is but counterfeit love to Christians, when they are loved only for being of the common religion of the country, and the same that you say you are of yourselves : as one Mahometan loveth another.
Count. 11. Or to love one only sect or party of Christians, which you espouse as the only party or church; and not to love a Christian as a Christian, and so to love all true Christians whom you can discern to be such.
Count. 111. To love only those Christians who are your kindred or relations, or those that have been some way benefactors to you.
Count. iv. To love Christians only for their familiarity, or kind and loving conversation, and civil, obliging deportment among men.
Count. v. To love them only because they are learned, or have better wits and abilities of speech, in preaching, prayer, or conference than others.
Count. vi. To love them only upon the praise which common commendations may sometimes give them, and for being magnified by fame, and well spoken of by all men. Thus many wicked men do love the saints departed, when they hate those that are alive among
them. Count. vii. To love them only for being godly in themselves at a distance, so they will not trouble them with their godliness; while they love not those that reprove them, and would draw them to be as godly.
Count. viii. To love them only for suffering with them in the same cause. Thus a profane person taken by the . Turks, may love his fellow captives who refuse to renounce. Christ. And thus a sufferer for an ill cause, or in an erroneous sect, may love those that suffer with him above others.
Count. ix. To love them only for holding strict and right opinions, while they will not endure to live accordingly: thus many love the light that cannot bear the heat and motion: many love an orthodox person, of a sound judgment,