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extremely concerned, to find so few of these instances of the love of God in our hearts and lives!
What reason have we all to beg of God, that for the time to come we may more faithfully observe this first and great command;-that we may not think it sufficient so say, that we love the Lord our God with all our hearts, when we love a thousand things better;-that we may not satisfy ourselves in the bare outward duties of religion, without letting the love of God appear in our lives and conversations!
What reason have we to be very watchful over the corrupt inclinations of our hearts, which, if not well looked to, will always lead us to an excessive love and fondness for the world; which will effectually hinder us from loving God with all our hearts!
And, forasmuch as God has made the love of himself, and of our neighbour, inseparable, how very much concerned should all Christians be, to have this mark of their love to God; that is, a tender compassion for the whole creation.
In one word, since there are no hopes of happiness but to those that love God sincerely; since all the evils the world complains of are owing to the want of this divine charity; lastly, since our very prayers and religion will be a burthen and a sin, while the love of God does not possess our hearts; let us make this our constant prayer to God, "That he would pour "into our hearts such love towards him, that "we, loving him above all things, may obtain "his gracious promises, and be made partakers "of his heavenly treasure, through Jesus Christ our Lord."-To whom, &c.
THE SECOND GREAT COMMAND; OR, THOU
Amantissime Jesu! Consummatissimum Charitatis Exemplar! Largire mihi Gratiam Charitatis erga proximum, ex gustu misericordiæ Divinæ promanantem: ut omnes omnino homines amans, inimicis ignoscens, pro illis órans, et illos amore vincens, aliis ostendere valeam Charitatis viam, fructus et felicitatem; et quanti apud Deum sit momenti ; propter perfectum amorem tuum, Redemptor suavissime. Amen.
MARK Xii. 32, 33, 34.
THOU AND THE SCRIBE SAID UNTO JESUS, WELL, MASTER, HAST SAID THE TRUTH, FOR THERE IS ONE GOD; AND THERE IS NONE OTHER BUT HE: AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART, AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING, AND WITH ALL THE SOUL, AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE HIS NEIGHBOUR AS HIMSELF, IS MORE THAN ALL WHOLE BURNT.OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES. AND WHEN JESUS SAW THAT HE answered discreetly, he' SAID UNTO HIM, THOU ART NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM) OF GOD.
I HAVE already told you, good Christians, in a former discourse, that I made choice of these words, as spoken by a Jew, and approved by our Lord, to shew you, in the first place, that such as were truly spiritual in all ages, under all dispensations, knew very well that all Outward Institutions were in order to secure, or to promote, or to create, the knowledge and love of God, and of our neighbour, in the world. For this is the meaning of the scribe's
See John iv. 21; xiii. 35; xv. 12. Gal. v. 14. 1 Tim. i. 5. 1 Pet.lv. 8. 1 John iv. 21.
saying, that to love God with all the heart, and with all the soul, is more than whole burntofferings and sacrifices; not as if sacrifices could have been neglected, having been ordained by God to represent and typify the death of Christ; and without which (as the apostle tells us,) there was no remission of sins.
Í observed, that St. Paulf saith the same in effect of circumcision, that it is nothing; and of preaching, that he that planteth is nothing: and that St. Peter‡ saith of baptism, that it is not the outward ordinance that saveth us, but as it supposeth a good conscience inquiring of God to know and to love him.
Now, from these, and such-like sacred scriptures, we learn, that the end and design of all outward ordinances are, and ever were, to bring men to the knowledge and love of God and of our neighbour; and that as, on one hand, outward ordinances are not, at our peril, to be despised or neglected; neither, on the other hand, are they to be depended on as sufficient unto salvation, unless they lead us to the love of God and of our neighbour; which, by our Lord are called THE TWO GREAT COMMANDS; because all other commands and ordinances, whether of the law or gospel, were intended to promote and secure these two; and because too, all others might be dispensed with, if God should think fit. But the love of God and of our neighbour never were, nor ever will be dispensed with.
I have already shewn you, that the first four of the ten commandments aim solely at this, to
Heb. ix. 22. † 1 Cor. vii. 19.
1 Pet.iii. 21.
establish and to secure the love of God in the world. By forbidding any other being to be worshipped or depended on; by forbidding men to worship God by an image, lest they should come to have mean thoughts of God, supposing him to be like any thing that can be represented by an image; by forbidding men even to use the name of God, but after a serious manner; and lastly, by obliging us to set one day in seven apart, to be employed in searching after the knowledge of God, in worshipping him, and asking his blessing, that we may love him more perfectly.
After this I explained three things: what we are to understand by loving God with all our hearts; how such a love is to be obtained; and lastly, what are the natural effects, fruits, and signs, of the love of God dwelling in our hearts.
I now come to set before you the second branch of Charity, the second Great Command, (as our Saviour calls it,) that is, to love our Neighbour as ourselves; which if we do sincerely, the apostle assures us, we fulfil the whole law relating to our neighbour. So that it concerns us, above all things, to understand a law on which so much depends.
I will therefore endeavour to shew you, 1st. The meaning of this command. 2dly. The obligations we lie under to receive and to obey it.
3dly. I will set before you such instances and expressions of this love to our neighbour as are every where dispersed through the word of God.
* Rom. xiii. 8, 9.
And lastly, Because these, very many of them, are very hard to flesh and blood, we will consider what helps God has afforded and directed us to, in order to enable us to do our duty in this particular.
I. We will first consider the meaning of this command. Love or Charity, then, is such a temper as disposeth a man to wish well, and do well, to others; it is an hearty good-will to mankind, proceeding from a love for God, whose creatures we all are, and all more or less partakers of his image; it is, moreover, a grace or gift of God, which he bestows where he sees men desirous of and disposed for such a favour: for such a disposition to do good is not naturally in any man; the heart being (as the prophet speaks) desperately wicked, and, without the grace of God, would devise mischief instead of good. It is true, men may have their favourites; may wish well to their friends; may shew kindnesses for very ill ends; but this is not the love which God inspires, or which he will ever reward. That must proceed from himself; and he bestows it on those only who love him sincerely, and who sincerely desire to please him.
But who is our neighbour, whom we are commanded to love? Why Jesus Christ has taught us in the gospel, that every man is our neighbour and our brother, though never so mean; though never so different in manners, in opinion, or complexion; for we are all of one blood, all redeemed by Jesus Christ, and all capable of the same happiness. And as long as God thinks any man worthy to live, we are