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self, and hath by the innumerable benefits conferred upon us, such a title to our utmost affection, that no obligation bears any proportion to that of loving him. The honour assigned to this precept, proves that piety is the noblest act of the human mind, and that the chief ingredient in piety is love, founded on a clear and extensive view of the divine perfections, a permanent sense of his benefits, and a deep conviction of his being the sovereign good—our portion—our happiness: but it is essential to love, that there be a delight in contemplating the beauty of the object beloved, whether that beauty be matter of sensation or reflection; that we frequently, and with pleasure, reflect on the benefits confered on us by the object of our affections; that we have a strong desire of pleasing him, great fear of doing any thing to offend him, and a sensible joy in thinking we are beloved in return. Hence the duties of devotion, prayer and praise, are the most natural and genuine exercises of the love of God: nor is this virtue so much any single affection, as the continual bent of all the affections and powers of the soul; consequently to love God is as much as possible to direct the whole soul towards him, and to exercise all its faculties on him as its chief object. Accordingly, the love of God is described in scripture, by the several operations of the mind, a following hard after God, namely, by intense contemplation; a sense of his perfection, gratitude for his benefits, trust in his goodness, attachment to his service, resignation to his providence, the obeying of his commandments, admiration, hope, fear, joy, &c., not because it consists in any of those singly, but in them altogether: for to content ourselves with partial regards to the Supreme Being, is not to be affected towards him in the manner we ought to be, and which his perfections claim. Hence the words of the precept are, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; that is with the joint force of all thy faculties; and therefore, no idol whatsoever must
partake of the love and worship that is due to him alone.
But the beauty and excellency of this state of mind is best seen in its effects; for the worship and obedience flowing from such an universal bent of the soul towards God, is as much superior to the worship and obedience arising from partial considerations, as the brightness of the sun is to any picture that can be drawn of that luminary. Thus, for example, if we look upon God, only as a stern law-giver, who can and will punish our rebellion, it may, indeed, force an awe and dread of him, and as much obedience to his law as we think will satisfy him, but can never produce that constancy in our duty, that delight in it, and that earnestness to perform it in its utmost extent, which are produced and maintained in the mind, by the sacred fire of divine love, or by the bent of the whole soul turned towards God: a frame that constitutes the highest perfection and happiness of the creature, and, therefore, the most excellent that can be conceived and the most to be desired.
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We should always earnestly desire to be blesse with the presence of the Most High, our souls should pant after him, as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, and even thirst for the living God. Again, this commandment requires us to fear God ; and certainly we cannot love the Lord our God, unless we fear and reverence him ; for as the love, so the fear of God, is the sum of all the commandments, and indeed, the substance of all religion. If we acknowledge there is a God, it is but reasonable we should fear his essential greatness and glory; for you open a passage for a deluge of villiany and wickedness, if you take away the fear of a deity, and that of a Supreme Power, that can reward and punish the actions of men.
It is not enough that we love and fear the Most High, we must also call upon the name of God in our prayers and praises; love and fear, respect the inward worship of God in our hearts, and by this act of outward worship, we give an express testimony that we love and fear him: prayer and praises are the tribute and homage of religion, by the one we acknowledge our depen-" dance upon God, by the other we confess, that all our blessings and comforts are from him. - Such, therefore as neither pray to God nor praise him, cannot be said to have a God, for they acknowledged none, but are gods to themselves; and as the love and fear of God are often used in scripture for his whole worship and service, so is this calling upon his name: 'Pour out thy jury upon the Heathen that knows thee not, and upon the families that have not called upon thy name. Jer. x. 25.
But to return—Our blessed Saviour having thusanswered the qucstion put to him by the Scribe, added, that the second commandment was that which enjoined the love of our neighbour. This had, indeed, no relation to the lawyer's question concerning the first commandment; yet our blessed Lord thought proper to shew him which was the second, probably because the men of his sect did not acknowledge the importance and precedency of love to their neighbours, or because they were remarkably deficient in the practice of it, as JEsus himself had often found in their attempts to kill him: And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Our natures must be brought to a temper that is all love and goodness, if we would become like God, who is love; and if our souls dwell in love, then we dwell in God and God in us. This principle will be also fruitful in every good work; it will make us readily perform the duties of all relations in which we stand: and be. cause love worketh no ill to his neighbour, therefore it is the fulfilling of the law; for it will prompt us to a cheerful and ready performance of every office, whes ther of justice or charity, that we owe to our neighbour: all the best things we can do, is destitude of this principle, will appear to be either the effect of hypocrisy, or done to procure the cstec m of men: without love, a narrowness of soul will shut us up within ourselves,
and make all we do to others only as a sort of merchandize, trading for our own advantage: it is love only that opens out hearts to consider other persons, and to love them on their own account, or rather on account of God, who is love.
Those who possess the effects of this excellent temper well deserve our consideration: they have a constant calm within, and are not disturbed with passion, . jealousy, envy, or ill-nature: they observe and rejoice in the happiness of others, they are glad to see them easy, and share with them in their joy and felicity, not fretting or complaining, though they enjoy less than their neighbours. It is true, love has a very different effect; for the same temper will render many so considerate of the misfortunes of others, as to sympathize with them in their distress and be greatly affected with such objects of compassion as it is not in their power to assist: but there is a real pleasure even in this compassion, as it melts us into the greatest tenderness, and proves us to be men and Christians. The good man by the overflowings of his love, is sure that he is a favourite with his Maker, because he loves his neighbour: his soul, therefore dwells at ease; there is a sweetness in all his thoughts and wishes: this makes him clear in his views of things; no vapours, no clouds darken him, but an inward serenity reigns in his mind, and such a liveliness in all his thoughts, as spreads a cheerfulness in his looks, and renders him grateful to all about him.
A constant disposition for prayer, is also maintained in him who has this charitable temper: a calm mind is easily recollected; but nothing dissipates the thoughts more, and renders them less fixed and attentive than passion. A charitable man, who has had occasions to forbear and forgive others, and to return good for evil, dares, with an humble assurance to lay claim to mercy and pardon: for though he is ready to acknowledge, he is many talents indebted to his Maker; yet being of a forgiving temper, he has an argument to plead for
mercy and forgiveness, and to conclude that much will be forgiven him because he loveth much. There is such a likeness and sympathy between the spirit of love, and the spirit of true devotion, that they have a sensible influence upon each other, and the one will rise or fall in proportion to the other. * But to return from this digression, which we flatter. ourselves has not been disagreeable to the reader, we shall go back to the Scribe who was astonished at the justness of our Saviour’s decisions, and answered, that he had determined rightly since there is but one Supreme God, whom we must all adore; and if we love him as much as we are able, and without a rival, and our neighbour as ourselves, we worship him more acceptably than if we sacrifice to him all the cattle upon a thousand hills. And our Lord declared, that the person who made this reflection, was not far from the king. dom of God, and highly applauded the piety and wisdom of it.
During the course of our Saviour's ministry, the Pharisees having proposed to him many difficult questions with an intention to prove his prophetical gifts, he now, in his turn, thought proper to make a trial of their skill in the sacred writings. For this purpose, he asked their opinion of a difficulty concerning the Messiah’s
pedigree: //hat think ye of Christ? IPhose son is he?
They say unto him, the Son of David, Matt. xii. 42. I know answered JE sus, you say, CHRIST is the son of David; but how can you support that opinion, or render it consistent with the words of David, who himself calls him Lord ; and how is he his son? It seems, that the Jewish doctors did not imagine that their Messiah would be endued with any perfections greater than those that might be enjoyed by human nature; for though they called him the Son of God, they had no notion that he was God, and therefore could not pretend to solve the difficulty. The latter question however might have convinced them of their error; for if the