Page images

by the same principle. And the Lord God not only demands the service of all the affections of the immor. tal spirit, and of all the appetites of the human frame, but the text goes on to claim the service of all the rational faculties; for that is the sense of the Greek word which is rendered

“ With all thy mind." It denotes that power of the mind whereby it deduces one thing from another. It is what the logicians call discursus, or the art of reasoning; the mind having before received ideas by simple apprehension, and formed a judgment of them, is then enabled to reason upon them, and this faculty of reasoning is here meant. So that every thing which the mind can reason upon ought to lead it up to God, and to increase its love to God. Reason, with all its powers, should be under the influence of divine love. And thus the Lord God expects us to keep the first and great commandment: he requires all the affections of body, soul, and spirit, and all the reasoning faculties to be invariably fixed upon him : and he would not only have them to be influenced by his love, but he would also have each of them to exert their whole strength in manifesting their love to him :

“And with all thy strength.” The love of God must be perfect in kind, in degree, in duration. Whatever strength there is in man, divine love should have the command of it, and the continual use of it. All the power of soul and body, and of all their faculties, should be directed in every thought and word and work by the love of God; and there should be no abating of their vigour in any respect, but they should be continually carried out with their whole strength into grateful acts of love and obedience.

This is the nature of the love required in the text; and it is required by the Lord God, to whom we are all under infinite obligations, and whom we are bound by innumerable ties to love with all the affections of the immortal spirit, and of the human frame, with all our reasoning faculties, and with all our strength.

This is the first and great commandment, and whoever keeps it in this perfect manner fuláls the law of the first table. He cannot have any other Goil as an object of love or worship, neither can he set up any false worship, nor dishonour the divine name by taking it in vain, nor forget the time appointed for enjoying communion with his God. How can he break any of these commands, while the love of God reigns in his heart, and commands all the affections? But if he breaks any one of them, does he not thereby withdraw his love and service from God? And if this be donc only once, he has not kept the first and great commandment, but is become a transgressor of the law, and liable to suffer the punishment due to his transgression.

Here then there arises an important question, in which you are all nearly concerned; and every one of you should ask his own heart, have I kept this first and great commandment? The Lord God has an undoubted right to this tribute of perfect love have I paid it him? Whether you have or not shall be now inquired, under my

Second general head. And it was proposed to con sider whether all men keep this commandment.

Let us examine these two faithful witnesses upon the point, scripture, and matter of fact, and by their concurrent testimony let the truth be established. Look around you, my brethren, and see what men's affections appear to be most set upon. What are they coveting with all their hearts, wishing for with all their souls, and pursuing with all their strength, and in the enjoyment of what do they account themselves happy? Is God in all their thoughts? Is he the chief object of their love, and the great end of all their pursuits? Is gratitude to him the ruling principle of their lives, and do they think themselves most happy when they love him most and serve him best? A very little acquaintance with mankind will soon convince


that God does not reign in their hearts, although his hands have made them and fashioned them, and their life and breath and all things come from his bounty, and the use of them depends upon his good pleasure. They have forgotten all his benefits, and turned traitors to their sovereign Lord. They have taken up arms, and have entered into rebellion against his lawful government. They have enlisted freely in the service of sin, to fight under the banner of Satan. Their love to sin has drawn them into this unnatural rebellion, and their strong attachment to its pleasures has made them reject the happiness which God offers them. While they are at war with him he publishes an act of grace, and out of his infinite mercy declares his willingness to forgive them, , if they will throw down their arms; but they refuse to receive his free pardon, being not only lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, but also such des. perate lovers of pleasure that they are haters of God. They hate him for denying them the enjoyment of their beloved sins; and they hate him the more for threatening to punish them. And this hatred shows itself openly, by their hating his will, his ordinances, his people, yea, by their bating every thing that God loves.

Well might the prophet say, Lord, what is man ! What is he indeed! What a most wonderful creature is he, that he should not be afraid to fight against the Almighty, and that he should dare to hate an infinitely perfect God! Oh, surely he is fallen ! fallen greatly from his high estate, since he is such a most ster of ingratitude as to hate his best friend and benefactor, even the God who gave him those very faculties of body and soul, and who continues the use of them, although he makes them the instruments and weapons of rebellion, and with them opposes God's lawful sovereignty over him.

But perhaps some will ask, what! are all men haters of God? Yes, in their natural state every one of them hates him, and this may be demonsirated from their love of what God hates. All have sinned, and what can tempt them all to sin, but the love of

it? All men love the world, and place their affections upon the things of it; how could this be, if their hearts were placed upon God, and their affections upon the things of God? If they loved the God of infinite purity, they could not at the same time love the world that lieth in wickedness : because this is setting up their will in opposition to his holy will, in which all enmity consists. 6 If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” These two kinds of love cannot be in the same heart; they are at irreconcileable enmity, and yet the love of the world is in the hearts of all natural men. They are turned from the love of God to the love of evil. The heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. So says our ninth article: “ Fallen man is of his own nature inclined to evil:" bis inclinations are turned from the love of God to the love of evil; yea, so entirely turned, that the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart are not set upon God, but are set upon evil, and that continually. And this love of evil is deeply rooted in the very nature and frame of man, and has gotten such entire possession of him that it has made him hate God. This hatred chiefly shows itself by its opposition to the will of God, which is, in fact, opposition to, and hatred of, the person of God; according to what is written by the prophets6 ye that love the Lord, hate evil," Psal. xcvii. 10. To which agree the words of our Lord_" if ye love me, keep my commandments:" show your love to me by your love and obedience to my will. Does any natural man show his love in this way? No. His heart is in another interest. He hates the commandments of God, therefore he hates God. There ap-' pears a settled fixed hatred in him to the divine ordinances. How little does he read or know of the word of God ? Many large volumes he has perused, many novels and play books he has treasured up in his memory, but the sacred volume, in which God has revealed all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, is neglected. How many are there of us who never

read the bible through in our lives? Whereas if we loved God we should certainly read the sweet volume of his grace and love with care and diligence, and should be meditating in it day and night. No reading would be so pleasant; as none would be more improving. But the devil's book is far more perused than God's. We hear of very few parties that meet together to read the scriptures: thank God, there are some! but thousands meet together in this city every evening to study the devil's book. How can these persons love the Lord God with all their hearts, since they hate his revealed will, and can spend three or four, or more, hours every day at a most stupid diversion, and at which God is not in all their thoughts? And as the natural man hates the word, so he hates prayer. It is a vast burden to him. If you propose to him to be of a party who are going to spend an hour this evening in prayer, you will soon see he has no relish to the duty, He will try to get himself excused, if he can, and if he cannot, it will be to him a most miserable long, dull hour, and he will be very glad when it is over. The reason is, he has no communion with God, and therefore does not love to converse with him. The things of time and sense please him more than the things of God; yea, so much more as to render tedious and hateful all the exercises and ordinances of religion. The very table of the Lord is not pleasant to him. God has been pleased to prepare a rich feast for his people, but the natural man has no appetite for it. He has no faith to live upon Christ's broken body and blood shed, and therefore perhaps never was at the Lord's table in his life, un.. less for some prudential reasons, to please some relations, or to qualify for some good place. And as to the Lord's house, he never goes there, but out of form and custom. If he is to see some favourite new play or entertainment, he goes with very exalted spirits to the devil's house; but coming to church is a burden; and when he is there the service is quite tiresome. He wishes it was over, and the dull ser

« PreviousContinue »