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have given, or that any would now give, the same answer that Jesus gave. I venture to form this conjecture, because I do not perceive that a breach of the first and great commandment, viz. a want of love to God, has been often viewed as any serious offence. Were man to originate a decalogue, I think his first and great commandment would be the injunetion of some relative duty between fellow-creatures, instead of that duty which man owes to his Creator. Happily we have the answer given by Him, who came down from heaven, and which we are assured is sanctioned there. Jesus answered the Pharisee by a quotation from Moses : “ Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” and “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut. iv. 4, 5.) And Jesus added, “ This is the first commandment; and the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Here the first and great commandment is founded on the simple truth, that there is one Sovereign Lord of the universe ; and the inference is, that all rational creatures should love him. And the second commandment, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” is founded on the same principle. Since there is one Sovereign Lord, creatures cannot in truth affirm that they are in duty bound to serve different lords, allegiance to whom requires them to oppose each other. The reasoning is conclusive when put thus-Seeing there is one God and Father of all men, therefore all men should love each other, for all are Brethren. . In considering this first and great commandment, we must review the perfections and character of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as displayed in the works of creation, providence, and redemption, and as described in the Book of Divine Revelation. The natural perfections of the Deity, his incomprehensible power and wisdom, his omniscience and other attributes, challenge the esteein, admiration, and adoration of all his creatures. How wonderful, and utterly beyond the comprehension of the human mind, is that power which created the universe; which formed and arranged all the parts even of inanimate matter ;
which created the sun, the moon, and the stars; which established the order and harmony that exists in all their motions, and which filled our world, the sea, and the dry land with such multifarious forms of animated being, and placed as lord over all here on earth, endued with a rational soul, his creature man. But the Divine Being does not stand only in the seemingly distant relation of Creator, he comes nearer to us as our Moral Governor, our King, and our God; and we owe the loyal affection of dutiful subjects, to Him under whose benign government and in whose kingdom we live.
And our God must also be contemplated in the character of our Saviour or Deliverer. When mankind fell under the curse, and became subject to the awful penalty of the violated law, “He (as the Prophet expresses it) saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; and his own arm brought salvation. Other creatures in the Great God's vast empire sinned, and were justly subjected to everlasting punishment; then the Divine Deliverer did not take on him the nature of angels, but the nature of man in the posterity of Abraham.”-Behold the mystery! “God manifest in human nature,” to deliver guilty man!-" Herein is love," saith St. John, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
And now, to all the penitent and obedient of the human family, the Deity is revealed as their Father and their Friend : they are his children, for whom he has prepared an everlasting inheritance, to which he will guide them in safety, and that at no distant period, by his Holy Spirit.
This God (the incomprehensibly great, and infinitely just, merciful, and condescending God) is he whom the first and greatest commandment requires us to love.
The word love, in this connexion, means all those dutiful affections of the mind, which the various relations in which the Deity stands to us require; as, for example, esteem and admiration, reverence, obedience, submission, humility, acknowledgment of our dependence, resignation, gratitude, good-will, ardent attachment or devotedness. The whole
of these sentiments and affections are suinmed up in the scriptural phrase, “Love to God," or in more modern phrase, “ True piety;" or as an eloquent preacher expresses it, “ The spirit of godliness.” And those who possess these sentiments and affections are, with striking propriety, denominated “The people of God.”
Esteem, admiration, and reverence express themselves in worship ;-secret worship, or that which the Christian daily performs as an individual ; social worship, or that performed by families; and public worship, or that performed in the assemblies of God's people.
Obedience, submission, humility, resignation, shew themselves in observing the rules of strict morality, in listening heedfully to the doctrines and admonitions of sacred writ, in bearing the afflictions and inscrutable dispensations of Providence without murmuring or repining, confiding entirely in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God.
And gratitude, good will, attachment, and devotedness, shew themselves in zealously employing every means to effectuate the declared purposes of the Deity; as, for example, the universal diffusion of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, in being, in this world, the steward of God's providence to relieve the distressed, to compassionate the aged, to defend the widow and the fatherless, and to diminish the natural and moral evils of this guilty and afflicted world.
Love to God is farther manifested by an unsuspecting affiance or trust in him, and a constant reliance on the eventual fulfilment of his gracious promises, that he will be a father and a friend to his people, that he will never leave them, and never, never forsake them; and hence the Christian, even when appearances are most inauspicious, is still found confiding in him. Though he slay me, (said Job,) yet will I trust in him.
The first and great commandment requires all these sentiments and affections in an intense degree—“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.” How strong this language, how vehementlyintense are these expressions!
But can true piety be too ardent? Is a heartless, cold assent to the truth of religion, and a frigid attendance on its forms, a keeping of the great commandment ?--Ah, No! We must all plead guilty, I fear, of habitually coming short, very far short, of what is required in this first commandment, in all respects, and in every instànce. It would be impossible to exemplify every case in which even the most pious are deficient; but take for example the indifference with which they often view idolatry and irreligion, which the sacred Scriptures consider so offensive to the one living and true God. I mean not that the pietist or truly religious should feel anger or dislike to his fellow men and fellow servants, but that he should feel compassion, and benig. nity, and zeal to turn men from their dumb idols, their false prophets, and their false gods; and from the service of Satan, the god of this world, the arch-rebel against the Supreme Authority, who is the rightful Sovereign of the universe, who is the Lord our God.
The obligations of the second commandment flow necessarily from the doctrines and duties of the first. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And who is my neighbour? Thy fellow man, wherever he is found-every human being. He is not only thy neighbour, but thy brother. Dost thou say with Cain, “Am I my brother's keeper?" Yes! Our Father in heaven has commanded thee to love him, and to love him as thyself. This is truly a “hard saying," who can hear it! However hard it may appear, it is a reasonable saying, built on the doctrine of one God, the Creator, Preserver, and Saviour of men, and might fairly be inferred, even if it were not commanded. Polytheism, which admits of gods many and lords many, also admits of hatred and strife, and wars and conflicts amongst the gods; and if amongst the gods there be strife and hatred, why not also amongst their adherents on earth ? But we all acknowledge only one God, who is our Father, and therefore we should love each other.
The lowest possible sense of this commandment must be, that we should not dislike, despise, hate, or injure each other. And if even in this negative meaning of the pre
cept mankind obeyed it, how changed for the better would be the face of our world! what an improvement in every society!
But it is not credible that the merely abstaining from disliking, despising, hating, and injuring our neighbour is all that is meant by God's command to love each other : it must denote positive, active good will, and good deeds exercised and performed, towards and for our neighbour; it must include benevolence and beneficence, and these in an intense degree. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The idea which is sometimes brought forward in the form of an objection to this, assumes for granted, that, if we love others as ourselves, we must have all things in common with them; but this by no means follows. A father would not shew his affection for his family by sharing amongst them the whole of his substance, that they might use it as they pleased. He shews his love by husbanding the property, and by supplying their wants as they occur. And does not a good father love his children as himself? he studies and labours for their welfare just as much as for his own; he loves them as sincerely as he does himself. The same sort of feeling or affection ought to be cherished for all our neighbours, for all mankind, making only that distinction which justice requires ; a distinction between those more nearly and more distantly related to us.
For to a right understanding of a part of a subject, it is always necessary to view that part in connexion with the whole; any particular precept must be viewed in connexion with all the precepts of revealed religion and all the fairly deduced principles of natural religion: justice has claims as well as benevolence.
But even according to the most guarded and most moderate exposition of this second commandment, how elevated and how benevolent is the morality of our blessed Saviour ! how distant (yea, infinitely removed) from the spirit of selfishness, from the hard-hearted individualism which makes one's apparent or seeming immediate selfinterest the master principle. According to the doctrine of Jesus, much that is praised and lauded in the world as