The lack of love to God takes away all spirit and life from all your religious services, and diffuses a malignity through all you do. Without the love of God: you may pray, you may receive the sacrament, you may perform the outward part of every duty of religion; you may be just and charitable, and do no man any harm; you may be sober and temperate; but, without the love of God, you cannot do one action that is truly good and acceptable to God; for how can you imagine that He will accept anything you do, when He sees your hearts, and knows that you do it not because you love him—but from some other low, selfish principle?
If a man treats you well, and perform for you all the good offices of the sincerest friendship; yet, if you know in the mean time, that he has no real regard for you at all—but acts from some sordid, mercenary views, are you thankful for his services, or do you love him in return? No! You abhor the deceiver, and secretly loathe his services. And will God accept of that as obedience from you, which he knows does not proceed from love to him? No! Hence it is, that as Solomon tells us, that the prayers, the sacrifices, and even "the ploughing of the wicked, is sin." Proverbs 21:4.
Now, I appeal to yourselves—is not this a very dangerous situation? While you are destitute of sincere love of God—can you flatter yourselves that you are fit for heaven?
What! fit for the region of divine love!
What! fit to converse with a holy God, and live forever in His presence!
What! fit to spend an eternity in His service!
Can you be fit for these things—while you have no love to Him? Certainly not! You must perceive yourselves to be fit for destruction—and fit for nothing else! You are devilized already! Lack of love to God is the grand constituent of a devil, the worst ingredient in that infernal composition. And must you not then be doomed to that everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels? Are you capable of hoping better things, while the love of God is not in you?
And now, what must you do, when this shocking conviction has forced itself upon you. Must you now give up all hopes? Must you now despair of ever having the love of God kindled in your hearts? Yes; you may, you must give up all hopes, you must despair—if you go on, as you have hitherto done—thoughtless, careless, and presumptuous in sin, and in the neglect of the means which God has appointed to implant and nourish this divine, heaven-born principle in your souls. This is the direct course towards remediless, everlasting despair.
But if you now sincerely admit the conviction of your miserable condition; if you endeavor immediately to break off from sin, and from everything which tends to harden you in sin; if you turn your minds to serious meditation; if you prostrate yourselves as humble earnest petitioners before God, and continue instant in prayer; if you use every other means of grace ordained for this purpose; I say, if you take this course—then there is hope—there is hope for you!
There is as much hope for you, as there once was for anyone of that glorious company of saints, now in heaven—for they were once as destitute of the love of God as any of you presently are!
And will you not take these pains to save your own souls from death? Many have taken more, to save the souls of others: and you have taken a great deal to obtain the transitory, perishing enjoyments of this life. And will you take no pains for your own immortal interests?
Oh! let me prevail, let even a stranger prevail upon you—to lay out your endeavors upon this grand concern. I must insist upon it, and can take no denial. You cannot be saved without sincere love to God! And if you entertain hopes of heaven without it—the common sense of mankind is against you. Therefore, oh, seek to have the love of God shed abroad in your hearts.
As for such of you, and I hope there are sundry such among you—who love God in sincerity, I have not time to speak much to you at present. Go to your Bibles, and there you will find abundant consolation. I shall only refer you to one or two passages, as a specimen.
"All things shall work together for good—to those who love God!" Romans 8:28.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared—for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9.
This sincere love of God in your hearts is a surer pledge of your salvation, than an immediate voice from heaven could be. Heaven, the element of love, was prepared for such as you—and you need never dread an exclusion!