[Here we continue our series that has the goal of increasing our love for God and the things of God, while decreasing our love for the world and the things of the world. This resumes a multi-part study by Samuel Annesley, in which he examines, in detail, the greatest commandment. In this study, Mr. Annesley lists concomitants to (that is, things that have agreement with) love to God.]—Ed.

 

How May We Attain to Love God

by Samuel Annesley (1620 –1696)

"Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment’" (Matt. 22:37–38, AV).

 

 

 

Concomitants

To all these effects add these concomitants, or those things that have agreement with, or are near of kin to, Divine Love. They do not really differ from it, only express some part or manner of it. In short, it is love under some other form or notion. I shall only mention two concomitants:

1. Devotion, which is an absolute delivering up of ourselves to God’s worship and service, so as by no flatteries or dangers to be diverted."Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (I Tim. 4:15). Herein lies the strength of religion, and the spiritual pleasure of it: herein the soul can say, with some kind of triumph, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isa. 12:2,3). Christians, we must not only be barely frequent in religious actions; but we must act as those that are given up to God, we must mind the fervor of religion. We must be exceeding watchful over our thoughts, to keep them from vanity; and over our affections, to keep them from entanglement. I would therefore commend it to you, to single out, every morning, some short passages of scripture, or some encouraging promise that hath affected you, to roll in your minds, or to lie upon your hearts all day, to maintain this holy fervor: nothing works and keeps such an impression upon the heart as scripture.

2. The other concomitant is zeal, which is the most intense degree of desire and endeavor to please and honor God.—It is the boiling-up of the affections to the greatest heat: this must be the companion of every grace. Now, zeal is expressed against sin, or in duty:

(1.) In the exercise of zeal against sin, I beg of you to observe this rule; namely, Whatever act of zeal you express toward others, double it first upon yourselves. Whatever evil you reprove, or would reform in others, be doubly strict against it in yourselves. This is Christ’s counsel: "Cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye" (Matt. 7:5). Mine eye is not capable of having a beam in it; but a mote in mine own eye should be to me as a beam, in comparison of what it is in another’s. Take a few scripture instances; for this had need to be inculcated in the present age. In case of dishonor done to God and yourselves, compare Moses’s carriage. "Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses. And they said, ‘Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us?’ And the Lord heard it"; but Moses was as if he heard it not; for he was "very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:1-3). He was so indeed; but it was only in his own cause: when the glory of God is concerned, you will find him of another temper: "As soon as he saw the calf, and the dancing, Moses’s anger waxed hot. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me.’ And he said, ‘Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor,…’" etc. (Ex. 32:19,20,26,27). Here is one ice-cold in his own cause, firehot in God’s. Take another instance, of Paul: "Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all" (Gal. 4:12). As if he had said, "The wrong you have done me, I count as nothing." But to Elymas, who would hinder the entertainment of the gospel, he saith, "Thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness," etc. (Acts 13:10); and he strikes him blind. I instance in these now, because I mentioned them before, as singularly eminent for their love to God.

(2.) For zeal about duties I commend unto you this rule: In every duty you take in hand, endeavor to do it above your strength; not only to the uttermost of your strength, but above it. I bottom this rule upon the commendation given to the churches of Macedonia: "For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves" (II Cor. 8:3). My brethren, it becomes us in every thing of piety to pant after the utmost perfection attainable: "Not as though I were already perfect: but I labour after, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before," etc. (Phil. 3:12-14). And David saith, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (Ps. 69:9). In a word, we must not only be sometimes zealous under pangs of conscience, but always in the whole frame of our conversation: "It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing" (Gal. 4:18); and not only when a minister or some other is present who may commend you.

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