« PreviousContinue »
are now enemies, yet you may be reconciled to God by the death of his Son? Have not you been trying to do something in part to make a reconciliation with God? and what was the event ? Have not all your attempts failed, and have not you been brought to see the insufficiency of your works to make your peace with God? And did the sense of this send you as helpless sinners to the throne of grace, entreating the Lord Christ to be your peace, and to make both one? Is this your experience? If it be, thus far you have been directed aright unto the love of God. But who brought you thus far? Is it not he who is to carry you on, and to give you the blessing for which you wait? It is the Holy Spirit who has convinced you of your guilt and misery, in turning your hearts from God, and who has disposed you to seek his love, and who is also to shed it abroad in your hearts. And this he will do by giving you the faith which worketh by love. He will enable you to trust God's faithful word, which cannot be broken, and to rely upon his unchangeable promises, which cannot possibly fail of being fulfilled to every one who comes and sues for mercy and favour through the righteousness of the Lord Christ. Thus he will give you power to put forth and to act faith, and to apply the promises to yourselves, whereby he will bring you to see that Christ loved you, and gave him. self for you, which will produce love in your hearts, and the fruits of love in your lives. Wait then upon him for this blessing. Wait under the word, hoping and praying that he would make it the means of working faith in your hearts; and when it is given unto you to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God, then he will fulfil the work of faith with power, he will support the patience of hope, and he will carry on the labour of love even unto the end.
Perhaps there may be some persons here who have no desire to love God. They have given up their hearts to other objects, and are pleased with their choice. O ye sons of men, how long will ye thus
- the rig"
idolize the sinful creature, and rebel against the almighty Creator! How long will ye love vanity, and seek after happiness in the ways of sin! Can these things make you happier than Ġod can? Nay, know ye not, that at the end of your fancied pleasures there is real misery for evermore? And are you making a good bargain? Is it worth your while to give up all hopes of heaven and glory for the sake of some present joys? And what are they—are they solid and lasting, and do they make you happy through life? Have you no uneasy sensations when you are sometimes alone, or when you are visited with sickness ? Does not a troublesome thought then intrude, “what will become of me, if I should die? If I was to be in heaven I could not be happy, because I love nothing that is there. I have no love for God, nor for his will, nor for his people: I find no pleasure in praising God here, how then could I rejoice in singing his praises hereafter ?" If ever your mind has been led to such reflections as these, how did you get rid of them? Did you ever try to drive them away by company or diversions ? And you succeeded; the me lancholy fit wore off, and you thought it a great bles. sing you were easy again. This single instance is sufficient to demonstrate that you are not happy; and indeed it is impossible you should be so. While your heart is turned from God it is set upon sin, and sin has no happiness to give. Its promises are all lies, and its enjoyments are all delusions: for it undertakes to make you happy in that to which the Almighty has threatened eternal misery, and the practice of which will bring this misery upon you. "Men and brethren, are not these things so ? And why then will you set your love upon sin ? Can it make you perfectly happy? Deal fairly with yourselves : are you as happy as you would wish to be ? You know you are not. I appeal to your own hearts. But if any of you are so desperately deluded as to wish for no other happiness than what the pleasures of sin can give you, yet did you ever consider what would be the end of this delusion? O think upon that, and may the sense of it open your eyes ! for surely you are acting a most unnatural and wicked part, to choose eternal misery rather than part with some sinful pleasure. May the God of all grace convince you of your want of his love, and bring you to know and to experience the happiness of it ! and O that he may now put it into your hearts to pray for it! May he, the Lord and giver of every good gift, bless what has now been spoken, and render it the means of increasing his love in the hearts of all this congregation ! May he pardon our imperfect manner of thinking and speaking of his divine and infinite love, and may he shed it abroad abundantly in all our hearts! O that he would send us away inflamed with his love, and would give us grace to walk in love, continually evidencing our unfeigned love to him by our love to his commandments !
Grant.us these our requests, most holy Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom with thee and the eternal Spirit, three co-equal and coeternal persons in one Jehovah, we ascribe the king. dom, and the power and the glory, now and for ever. Amen.
SERMON IX. ,
On the right Love of our Neighbour.
" And one of the Scribes came, and having heard them reasoning to
gether, and perceiving that lie had answered them well, asked him, which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, '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 mind, and with all thy strength :' this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;' there is none other commandment greater than these." Mark, xii. 28, 29, 30, 31,
TN these words our blessed Saviour has given us the I sum and substance of all practical religion. He has reduced it to two short rules, which yet are so full and copious that they comprehend all the law and the prophets. The whole scripture was to lead us to the right knowledge of the Lord God, that we might pay him the love and obedience which are his due, and might love our neighbour as ourselves.
I have already discoursed of the two parts of the first commandment, and have endeavoured to explain and to enforce the right knowledge and the right love of the Lord God; and I come now to the second commandment, which is contained in these words of the text : “ And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The second is like unto the first, because it treats of the same sub
ject, is enforced by the same authority, and is enacted for the same wise and gracious purposes, and the second is farther like, because it asises and branches out of the first, since if any man has the true love of God in his heart, it will evidence and prove itself to be there, by enabling him to love his neighbour as himself. The right love of our neighbour is the fruit and effect of our love to God, and can spring from no other root, especially in the perfect degree here re· quired—thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
This is an abridgment of the whole moral law, and comprehends all the duties of the second table. As he who loves God keeps the first table, so he who loves his neighbour as himself keeps the second. May the Lord incline all our hearts to keep it, and may his good Spirit render useful and profitable what shall be said !
First, concerning the inseparable connexion between the two commandments, the love of God, and the love of our neighbour.
Secondly, concerning the nature and extent of the second commandment thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Thirdly, concerning the scripture method of enabling us to keep this commandment. And then,
Fourthly, I shall make some practical observations upon these particulars.
*As to the first of these points, I lay this down for an evident truth, that the man can have no real love for his neighbour, who has not first the love of God in his heart; such a true experimental sense of God's love to him in Christ Jesus as was treated of in the last discourse : for the love of our neighbour stands upon the love of God. It has no other foundation, Build it upon what you please but this, you will find nothing else strong enough to act against the opposition of a man's own selfish heart. But as we have niany pretended master builders, who lay another foundation than that which is laid, and as some of the most dangerous mistakes in religion arise from building