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withow he hy neighbe loves proves
with all our heart, and all our soul, with all our mind, and all our strength.
Another duty, which also proves the necessity of this doctrine, is the love of our neighbour: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Now he that thinks he can perform this duty, without taking our Saviour's advice of forsaking all, and following him, is as much mistaken, as if he imagines that he loves his neighbour as himself, though he heaps up treasures for his own self-enjoyments and self-gratifications.
If a man would know what this love of his neighbour implies, let him look impartially into his own heart, and see what it is that he wishes to himself, and then turn all those same wishes to his neighbour, and this will make him feel the just measure of his duty, better than any other description.
This will also teach him, that this true love of his neighbour is as inconsistent with the love of the world, as duelling is inconsistent with meekness and forgiveness of injuries. '
This love is a temper of mind that suits only such beings, as have one common undivided happiness, where they cannot be rivals to one another: now this is the state of Christians, who have as truly one common happiness, as they have one common God; but if we put ourselves out of this state, and project for ourselves other felicities in the uncertain enjoyments of this life, we make ourselves as uncapable of this neighbourly love, as wolves and bears that live upon prey.
Now one common undivided happiness being the only possible foundation for the practice of this great benevolence; it is demonstrable, that if we seek any other happiness than this, if we do not renounce all other pretensions, we cannot keep clear of such tempers, as will show that we do not love our neighbour as ourselves.
This love, as has been said of the entire love of God, is suited to the state of angels, it being not to be imagined that they have more benevolence than this for one another; they can readily perform their duty, because they never vary from their one true happiness; and as this makes it easy to them, so nothing can make it possible for us, but by imitating them, in placing our only happiness in the enjoyment of our true good. .
If our happiness depends upon men, our tempers will necessarily depend upon men, and we shall love and hate people in proportion as they help or hinder us in such happiness.
This is absolutely necessary, and we can never act otherwise, till we are governed by a happiness where no men can make themselves our rivals, nor prevent our attainment of it.
When we are in this state, it will be no harder to help our neighbour as ourselves, than it is to wish them the enjoyment of the same light, or the same common air; for these, being goods which may be enjoyed equally by all, are not the occasion of envy.
But whilst we continue eager competitors for the imaginary enjoyments of this life, we lay a necessary foundation for such passions, as are all directly contrary to the fruits of love.
I take it for granted, that when our Saviour delivered this doctrine of love, he intended it should ; be a governing principle of our lives, it concerns us therefore, as we nave any regard to our salvation, to look carefully to ourselves, and to put ourselves in such a state, as we may be capable oi performi-, ing it.
Now in this state we cannot be, till we are content to make no more of this world, than a supply of our necessities, and to wait for one only happiness in the enjoyment of God.
I do not appeal to niggards and worldlings, to
the proud and ambitious, let those who think themselves moderate in their worldly desires and enjoyments, let such deal faithfully with their own breasts, and see whether their prosecution of worldly affairs permits them to love all Christians as themselves.
Their moderation may perhaps keep them from the bitter envyings and hatred to which ambitious worldlings are subject; but still they have as certainly, in their degree, and in proportion to their love of the world, their envyings and hatreds, and want of sincere love as other men.
If any one's heart can bear him witness, that in thought, word, and deed, he treats all men with that love which he bears to himself, it must be one whose heart fervently cries out, with the apostle, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Jesus
Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and : I unto the world.
Any other glory than this, any other use of the world than being thus crucified to it, is inconsistent with this degree of brotherly love.
For a farther proof of this truth, we need only look into the world, and see the spirit that appears amongst almost all Christians..
We need not go to wicked and loose people, let us go into any virtuous family whatever, we shall find that it has its particular friendships and hatreds, its envyings and evil speakings, and all founded in the interests and regards of the world.
Now all this necessarily proceeds from hence: that all Christians are busy in attending to their worldly interests, intending only to keep clear of dishonest and scandalous practices, that is, they use the world as far as honest Heathens, or Jews would do, and so consequently have such tempers as Jews and Heathens have.
For it is not only cheating and unlawful practices, but the bare desire of worldly things, and the
ilme placing happiness in them, that lays the foundation | of all these unchristian tempers, that begets particular friendships and enmities, and divides Christians into more parties than there are families amongst ! them.
Were there no dishonest persons amongst us, yet if Christians give themselves up to the happiness and enjoyments of this world, there would still be almost the same want of the loving our neighbour as ourselves.
So that it is purely the engaging so far in the world as sober Christians do, it is their false satisfaction in so many things that they ought to renounce, it is their being too much alive to the world, that makes all, even the devout and religious, subject to tempers so contrary to the love of their neighbour.
How comes it, that most people find it so easy to love, forgive, and pray for all men at the hour of their death? Is it not because the reason of enmity, envy, and dislike, then ceases ? All wordly interests being then at an end, all wordly tempers die away with them.
Let this therefore teach us, that it is absolutely necessary to die to the world, if we would live and love like Christians.
I have now done with this subject of renouncing the world, and all wordly tempers. I hope I have been so plain and clear upon it, as is sufficient to convince any serious reader, that it is a doctrine of Jesus Christ, that it is the very foundation of his religion, and so necessary, that without it we can exercise no Christian temper in the manner that we ought.
Some people have imagined that they only rea nounce the world, as it ought to be renounced, who retire to a cloister, or a monastery: but this is as unreasonable, as to make it necessary to lay aside all use of cloaths to avoid the vanity of dress.
As there is a sober and reasonable use of particular things, so there is a sober, reasonable use of the world, to which it is lawful to conform as it is lawful to eat and drink.
They renounce the world as they ought, who live in the midst of it without worldly tempers, who comply with their share in the offices of human life, without complying with the spirit that reigneth in the world.
As it is right to go thus far, so it is wrong as soon as we take one step farther.
There is nothing right in eating and drinking, but a strict and religious temperance. It is the same thing in other compliances with the state of this life; we may dress, we may buy and sell, we may labour, we may provide for ourselves and families; but as these things are only lawful for the same reasons that it is lawful to eat and drink, so are they to be governed by the same religious strictness, that is to govern our eating and drinking; all variations from this rule is like gluttony and intemperance, and fills our souls with such tempers, as are all contrary to the spirit of Christ and his religion.
The first step that our desires take beyond things of necessity, ranks us amongst worldlings, and raises in our minds all those tempers which disturb the minds of worldly men.
You think yourself very reasonable and conform- able to Christianity, because you are moderate in
your desires; you do not desire an immense estate, you desire only a little tinery in dress, a little state in equipage, and only to have things genteel about you.
I answer, if this be your case, you are happy in this, that you have but little desires to conquer, but if these desires have as fast hold of you as greater desires have of other people, you are in the same state of worldly-mindedness that they are, and are no more dead to the world than they that are