Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

kness of his glory, and the express image of his “person.” Through him sinners know, approach, trust, worship, and serve a God of infinite justice and holiness : and in his person and redemption the harmonious glory of all the perfections of the Godhead is displayed, more than in all his other works. It is indeed

It is indeed very remarkable, that every kind and degree of love which JEHOVAH claims by his holy law, is demanded for the Lord Jesus by his apostles and eyangelists. So that, in supremely loving Christ, desiring, rejoicing, and glorying in him; thanking, praising, and adoring him ; magnifying him in our bodies, whether by life of death ; being “purified unto him a peculiar peo,

ple, zealous of good works,” honouring and obeying him unreservedly; we evidently obey, honour, and love the Father, according to the requirements of his holy word. And this demonstrates that “ He and the Father are One,” in the strictest sense imaginable.

The immense obligations, which redeemed sin, ners have received from the divine Saviour, render this love to him peculiarly reasonable and delightful: yet it is not merely gratitude, or lively emotions of the animal passions. It is a rational choice of the Lord as our Portion and Salvation; an admiring love of every display of his perfections; and a disposition to delight in doing his will, and promoting the manifestation of his glory among men, It is therefore the spring and first mover in all

spiritual worship and obedience, as well as the prin: cipal duty required from us. “This is the love of “God, that we keep his commandments; and his * commandments are not grievous.” Under every dispensation, and in all possible circumstances, on earth, or in heaven, this must be the essence of true religion: and all external services are no further acceptable, than as they spring from love. Even the fear, which differs from profound reverence of that infinite excellency which we supremely love, though in the present state useful, yet diminishes as love gathers strength, and will cease when love shall be perfected.

This holy affection to our glorious Creator, Benefactor and Saviour, must be shewn by love to cur neighbours and brethren. “Thou shalt love thy

neighbour as thyself:” these words briefly comprehend the whole law of God in this respect : and our Lord's parable, or narrative, of the good Samaritan, hath taught us, that every human being, whatever be his nation or religion, and however he may have acted towards us, is our neighbour; entitled to our cordial good-will, and our kind offices, when within our reach and in need of our assistance. He himself hath far exceeded the kindness of the good Samaritan, in assuming our nature, and saving us rebels and enemies by his suffering and death upon the cross; and in both respects he hath said to us, “Go and do likewise.”

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour.” This commandment therefore, if universally obeyed, would preclude all kinds and degrees of fraud, injustice, oppression, slander, and every other word and action, in the least injurious to any human be, ing; yea, all hard thoughts and ill wishes, suspicion, resentment, envy, coveting, or selfishness. On the other hand love seeks the benefit of its object, and rejoices in his happiness : if then we love our neighbour as we ought, we shall desire to promote his good in every respect, by all suitable means in our power. In proportion as our love abounds, we shall be ready to deny ourselves, to labour, and to incur expence, in contributing to his advantage. If we really love our neighbour as we ought to love ourselves; we shall seek his highest good in the first place, and aim to render all our kind endeavours subservient to his everlasting welfare. His happiness is of equal value with our own; his soul, life, ease, peace, and reputation, are as important as our's. We ought therefore to seek his good sincerely and earnestly; and to give up inferior interests and endure inferior sufferings, when we can thus preserve him from heavier distress, or procure for him superior blessings : provided it can be done consistently with the duties of our several relations in life.--We should love what is amiable, respect what is honourable, praise what is commendable, excuse what is excuseable, bear with and forgive what is faulty, and put the best construction on what is doubtful, iy our neighbour's

conduct; and commiserate and relieve his dis, tresses: exactly as we would that others should do to us in similar circumstances.

We are indeed more immediately entrusted by the Lord, with the care of our own lives and souls; and required to provide especially for our children and near relatives: and in ordinary cases, we may not be able to shew active love, beyond our own very contracted circle. But universal benevolence will dictate prayers for all men, and on particular occasions we are required to exercise self-denial, and in a measure suspend our kindness to those near to us, that we may avail ourselves of an opportunity to relieve and serve those who are more remote from us.

This love of our neighbour is enforced, under the gospel by other motives, and admits of other modifications, than are expressly mentioned in the law. Our peculiar relation and obligations to Christ require us to love his people, as our brethren, in an especial manner. A new commandment,” says he, “I give unto you, that ye love one ano" ther, as I have loved you.'” And St. John

says, it is, “ the old commandment which was from the beginning:" and yet a “new commandment:?” that is, the old command enforced by new motives, and a recent example, and for other ends than formerly. They, whom we judge to be true believers, are entitled to our most endeared affection, most cordial complacency,tender sympathy and self-denying liberal assistance. “. Forasmuch as ye did it to the “ least of these my brethren, ye didunto me.” They should be our chosen companions, our bosomfriends, and dearer to us than any earthly relative, as our brethren in Christ, the objects of his special love, bearing his image, devoted to his service, and fellow heirs of heavenly felicity. We should labour,“ to keep the unity of the Spirit in the “ bond of peace;” to preserve harmony among “all “ that love the Lord Jesus in sincerity,” howeverdivided by external distinctions; to cast the mantle of love over their infirmities, and to shew an habis tual disposition to cultivate peace with them, and do them good. “Hereby we know that we are

John, xiii, 34, 35. XX. 12.

2 1 John, ii, 7-11,

passed from death unto life, because we love the “ brethren:” for we are now especially attached to the very persons, whom we were naturally disposed to despise and dislike.--Alas, that this peculiar mark of Christ's true disciples should be so little conspicuous in his visible church !

A conscientious regulation of all our relative affections, and a performance of the duties resulting from them, are next required of us : and when these are attended to from evangelical principles, and according to the precepts of Christ; they are so far from interfering with our love to God and to our neighbour, that they constitute an important part of our obedience. Love to particular

« VorigeDoorgaan »