29 January, 2013
Evidences of the Lack of Love to God --- Part 4
by Samuel Davies,
April 14, 1756
Fourthly, The love of God is not in you—if you do not labor for conformity to him.
Conformity to him—is at once the duty and the peculiar character of every sincere lover of God. "Be holy—as I am holy," (Lev. 19:2; 21:8,) is a duty repeatedly enjoined. And all the heirs of glory are characterized as being "conformed to the image of God's dear Son." Romans 8:29. Indeed, love is naturally an assimilating passion. It is excellency, real or apparent, that we love: and it is natural to imitate excellency. We naturally catch the manner and spirit of those we love. Thus if we sincerely love God—then we shall naturally imitate him—we shall love what he loves—and hate what he hates. We shall imitate his justice, veracity, goodness, and mercy; or, in a word, his holiness. If we love him, nothing will satisfy us until we awake in his likeness.
Now, my friends, does your love stand this test? Are you laboring to copy after so divine a pattern? Have you ever been renewed in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after the image of him who created you? And is it the honest endeavor of your life to be holy in all manner of conversation: to be as holy as God is holy? Can you have the face to pretend that you love him—while you do not desire and labor to be like him? And while there is such an indulged contrariety in your disposition to his? The pretense is delusive and absurd.
Since your conformity to him consists in holiness—then let me beg you to inquire again, Do you delight in holiness? Is it the great business of your life to improve in it? and are your deficiencies, the burden of your hearts, and matter of daily lamentation and repentance to you? Alas! is it not as evident as almost anything you know concerning yourselves, that this is not your habitual character, and, consequently, that the love of God is not in you?
Fifthly, You have not the love of God in you—if you do not delight to converse with him in his ordinances.
I need not tell you, that sincere friends are fond of interviews, and delight in each other's company. But people disaffected to one another, are shy, and strange, and keep away. Now God has been so condescending, as to represent his ordinances as so many places of interview for his people, where they may meet with him, or, in the Scripture phrase, draw near to him, appear before him, and carry on a spiritual fellowship with him. Hence it is, that they delight in his ordinances: that they love to pray, to hear, to meditate, to commemorate the death of Christ, and to draw near to the throne of grace in all the ways in which it is accessible. These appear to them, as not only duties—but privileges; exalted and delightful privileges, which sweeten their pilgrimage through this wilderness, and sometimes transform it into a paradise!
Now, will your love, my friends, stand this test? Have you found it good for you to draw near to God in these institutions? Or are you not indisposed and disaffected to them? Do not some of you generally neglect them? or is not your attendance upon them an insipid, spiritless formality? Have not some of you prayerless closets—prayerless families? And if you attend upon public worship once a week—is it not rather that you may observe an old custom, that you may see and be seen, or that you may transact some temporal business—rather than that you may converse with God and his ordinances? In short, is it not evident, that devotion is not your delight; and consequently not your daily practice?
How then can you pretend, that the love of God dwells in you? What! can you love him—and yet be so shy of him, so alienatedfrom him, and have no pleasure in drawing near to him, and conversing with him? This is contrary to the prevailing disposition of every true lover of God. Every true lover of God is of the same spirit with David, who, in his banishment from the house of God, cries out in this affecting strain, "My soul finds rest in God alone!" Psalm 62:1. "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water!" Psalm 63:1. "As the deer pants for streams of water—so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God! When can I go and meet with God!" Psalm 42:1-2. This is certainly your disposition, if his love dwells in you.
Sixthly, The love of God is not in you, unless you make it the great business of your lives to please him by keeping his commandments.
It is natural to us to seek to please those we love; and to obey them with pleasure, if they are invested with authority to command us. But those whom we disaffect, we do not study to please: or if we should be overawed and constrained by their authority to obey their commands, it is with reluctance and regret.
So, my friends, if you sincerely love God, you will habitually keep his commandments, and that with pleasure and delight! But if you can habitually indulge yourselves in willful disobedience in any one instance; or if you yield obedience through constraint to his commands—then it is demonstration against you, that you are destitute of his love. This is as plain as anything in the whole Bible.