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giving her any displeasure; he inquires into her taste and inclinations, in order to comply with and gratify them; he likes to hear her commended; talks of her with satisfaction, and caresses every thing that renews the agreeable idea.
It is a mistake to think that there is an essential difference between this and divine love. We have but one way of loving: Men love God and their friends in the fame manner; and these affections differ only in the diversity of their objects and ends. Thus a pious man filled with sentiments towards God, like those of a virtuous lover, would be glad to behold him, and to be united to him; he thinks of him with delight, and speaks of him with reverence; he rejoices to see him honored, and is happy to hear him praised; he meditates on his laws with pleasure, and obeys them with alacrity.
That this love by which a pious mind is united to its Creator, is a source of the purest pleasures, we now proceed to shew, not solely on the authorities of scripture, but by the force of reason and common sense.
The man who loves God, enjoys that first of felicities, the consciousness of having placed his affections on the only object in the universe that truly deserves them. Our love is the most precious thing we possess; it is indeed the only thing we can properly call our own, and therefore to bestow it unworthily, is the greatest shame and sorest mistake that we can ever commit. A man must needs be infinitely mortified and troubled, when he finds that the object of his love possesses not that excellence which he fondly expected would satisfy his wishes and make him completely happy. Alas! What is a little slrin deep beauty, a few flashes of wit, or
some small degrees of goodness? We soon fee to the bottom of such shallow goodsj and consequently must experience a decay of that admiration and affection which constitutes happiness in the first degree. But to no such mortifying disappointment is he liable, who directs his love to God. In him the enlightened eye of true philosophy discovers so much of all that is great and good, as to keep the happy mind in an eternal extacy of admiration and love.
Divine love advances the happiness of man, because it tends, above all other attachments, to refine and ennoble his nature. The most inattentive must have observed, that love has a surprizing force to give our manners a resemblance to those of the person we love. Seen through the eyes of a tender affection, even blemishes appear like beauties, and heaven born virtue puts on charms more than human. No wonder then that we • - so To easily adopt the sentiments, and imitate the manners of those we love. This is a conduct so natural and common, that to tell the character of any man, we need but be told that of the person's he loves.
Hence, the anxious parent rejoices to fee his child fond of the society of the virtuous and wife: he knows that such an attachment indicates a relish for virtue, and promises an honourable and happy event: while, on the other hand, fte deplores his attachment to the vain and vicious, as a fad, but certain presage of folly and depravity.
Certainly then, in order to be happy, it most nearly concern's us to direct our love to the proper object. But who, or what is that object? The creatures all have their imperfections. They are all utterly unworthy, and beneath the supreme love of an immortal mind. And to love these in the extreme, is
infinitely to demean ourselves, to disgrace our understandings, to contract low earthly passions, and consequently to make ourselves miserable. Would we do honour to our reason, would we dignify our affections, ennoble our nature, and rife to true happiness, let us give our hearts to God. The man who loves God is animated with an ambition becoming the dignity of his birth; he is inspired with a greatness of foul that spurns all grovelling passions and base designs. The love which he has for God impells him, by a sweet and powerful influence, to imitate his all lovely and adorable perfections, and consequently renders him every day a more divine and heavenly creature.
God is the only worthy object of our love, because he is the only one who will certainly and generously reward it. Love, as we have observed, was designed to be the spring of joy, but, alas!