Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

given in Marriage, but are as the Angels of God in Heaven: The Relation of Husband and Wife is only during this Life, and is diffolv'd and swallow'd ap in the next. And as touching the Resurrection of the Dead, he quoted to them out of the Law, which they held in great estimation, that God was the God of Abraham, and the God of Ifaac, and the God of Jacob, who being all dead, must rise and live again; for God is not the God of the Dead, but of the Living. Upon the hearing hereof, they were all astonish'd, and could make him no Answer. And then it follows, when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to filence, they were gather'd together, with a design to set upon him, and to intangle hini in his Talk. Then one of them, who was a Lawyer or a Scribe, asked him a Question, tempting bim and saying, Master, which is the great Commandment in the Lam? This Question was mov'd not with a Desire to be fatisfy'd, but with a Design to ensnare him in his Anfwer, and to hear what he would say. This Way and Me. thod of their dealing with our Saviour by insidious and intangling Questions, hath been sufficiently laid open in the Gospel for the Sunday immediately before this, and there. fore I shall add no more here concerning it.

As for the Answer here given to this ensnaring Question of the Lawyer, it was such as he could no way gainsay or object against, viż. Thou Malt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind, and thy Neighbour as thy self. Both which being explain's in the Gospel for the thifteenth Sunday after Trinity, I shall refer the Reader to it.

All that will be requisite to add here, is about the Order and Greatness of these Commandments: for the Lawyer's Question. being, Which is the great Commandment in the Law ? our Saviour told hiin, that the loving of God above all things, is the first and great Commandment; and the loving our Neighbour as our felves, is the second, and like unto it : and that upon these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. Each of which will require a little Explication. And,

[graphic]
[graphic]

First, How is the Love of God said to be the first Ccmmandment? Why, partly in Order of Time, and parily in Order of Nature.

ift, I say, 'tis fo in Order of Time; the Love of God being the first thing to be taught and learnt of all that come

10

to him ; for all true Religion begins with it, and is founded upon it: 'tis the first Step we are to make towards our Maker, and that will lead us on to all the other parts of our Duty and Obedience to him. He that begins betimes with the Love of God, will move on cheerfully after in the Ways of his Commandments : but he who is not touch'd with an unfeigned Love of him, will be still wandering in the By-paths of Sin and Iniquity. So that our first and principal Care should be, to set our Hearts right towards Gød, and to turn the Stream of our Affections to him ; and that will keep us right ever after,

2dly, The Love of God is the first in Order of Nature, as being the Root and Spring of all other Vertues. He that truly loves God, will fear him above all things, will trust in all Conditions, will honour him in all his Actions, will worship him at all times, and in a word will serve and depend upon him in the whole Course of his Life, All thefe Vertues grow and thrive upon a Stock of Love ; whereas he that wants or casts off the Love of his Maker, will soon feel a Decay in all these Graces, and become an utter Stranger and Enemy to the Ways of God: which should teach us to be rooted and grounded in Love, the First Commandment. But,

Secondly, How is the loving of God said to be the great Commandment? Why,

11, Upon the account of the Greatness and Dignity of the Object; it being conversant about God, the greatest and noblest of all Beings. For tho all other Graces have fome relation to him, having God for their Author ; yet there is none that so immediately relates to him, as this of Love, having the Divine Nature and Perfections for its Object, and being wholly employ'd in the Conteniplation and , Admiration of them. Now the Greatness of the Object ever adds a Value and Dignity to the Act relating to it; as the serving of a King is greater than the serving of a Subject. Now what greater and sublimer Object can there be, than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, whose tranfcendent Excellencies render him infinitely lovely in himfelf, and whose superlative Bounty makes him in the highest measure amiable unto us? And therefore this Precept of Love, which is so directly employ'd and terminated in him, must be the great Commandment: and fo it is,

adly,

terendent Excellence of Kings and a sublimer Obiederving of a

2dly, Upon the account of the Largeness and Conipre· hensiveness of it; for it includes in it all other Vertues, and comprizes the whole Duty of Man. Hence St. Paul stiles Love the fulfilling of the Law, because it restrains from all things forbidden in it, and constrains to all things agreeable to and commanded by it. And therefore we find Love sometimes callid the old Commandment, being requir'd from the beginning, and made a Principle of Nature, as well as a Precept of Moses's Law: sometintes a new Commandment, · being renew'd by Christ, and enforc'd upon us by higher · Motives : fometimes all the Commandments, because it contains and runs thro them all, and is the great Wheel that moves all our Obedience to him ; for which reafon 'tis juftly reckon d'the great Commandment. As also,

3dly, Upon the account of the Influence it hath upon all the Parts and Duties of Religion, which have all their Worth and Acceptance intirely from it: for where the Love of God is, there every thing is accepted; but where that is wanting, nothing can be well-pleasing to him. The most weak and imperfect Service will not miss of a ReWard, if the Heart be found and right towards God; whereas the most folemn and pompous Performances without that, are but an Abonination to hini. Now that which gives afi Worth and Excellence to other things, must it felf be most excellent; and consequently, the loving of God procuring all Audience to our Prayers, and all Acceptance to our good Works, must for that reason be justly accounted the 'great Commandment. And so it is,

Lastly, Upon the account of its perpetual and everlasting Duration. Love is a pernianent Grace, and a Vertue that will abide for ever ; 'tis the Comfort of this Life, and the Happiness of the next. When all other Accomplishments of Art and Nature shall cease and vanish away, Charity will never fail, and the Love of God will be constant and continue for ever ; 'twill go along with us into the other World, and there make up the greatest part of our Felici ty : for when Faith shall be swallow'd up in Vision, and Hope in Fruition, then shall Love remain, and be exalted to the highest Perfection. All which plainly prove the loving of God to be the first and great Commandment. From whence I proceed,

In the next place, to fhew that the loving our Neigh. boor is the second, and like unto it. And fo it is,

(1.) In

[ocr errors]

(1.) In respect of the Authority that comniands it, and our Obligation to observe it, which is the same in both. He that requires us to love God, hath requir'd us to love our Brother also; and as the one is to be lov'd with all the Heart and Soul, &c. so is the other to be lov'd even as our selves : the same Divine Authority is stamp'd on both, and therefore both are equally to be receiv'd and practis'd. He that offends in either of these Points, is guilty of all: for he that said, Thou malt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, faid also, Thou malt love thy Neighbour as thy self. The former is indeed the first and great Commandment, but the latter is the second, and like unto it; and he that doth the one without the other, is a Tranfgreffor of the Law : yea, he that saith he loves God, and hateth his Brother, is a Lyar, and the Truth is not in him. By which it appears that both these Commandments agree in the A&t of Love, and likewise in the Authority that commands them, which is the same in both. Moreover,

(2.) The second is like unto the first, in respect of the Ground and Motive of our Obedience, which are some divine Perfections residing in God, and communicated to his Creatures. Our Love to Man is grounded upon the Love of God; and we depart not from the Love of our Maker, by loving our Neighbour, but rather heighten and increase it: for 'tis for God's sake, and upon his account, that we pay this Affection to his Creature. Indeed, we are to love God for himself, for his own infinite and adorable Perfections; and we are to love our Neighbour for the Likeness and Relation he bears to him, and for the sake of those Ex. *cellencies he hath deriv'd upon him. So that both being founded upon the fanie Motive, may well enough be liken'd one to the other. Again,

(3.) The second is like unto the first, in respect of the Extent and Comprehensiveness of it : for as the Love of God includes the whole of that Duty and Homage we owe unto him, so the Love of our Neighbour comprizes all the good Offices we are to pay unto him. And therefore St. Paul hath sunini'd up the whole Decalogue in this one word, and stiles Love the fulfilling of the Law; for be that loveth another (faith he) bath fulfill'd the Lam. For this, Thou malt not commit Adultery, Thou malt not kill, Thou Malt not steal, Thou Malt not bear false Witness, Thou malt not covet ; and if there be any other Commandment, 'tis briefly comprebended in this Saying, Thou Malt love thy Neighbour as

thy thy self. Rom. 13.8, 9. Where all the Precepts that concern the Good and Welfare of our Neighbour are sumini'd up in the loving of him; and so for the Fulness and Largeness of it, 'tis like to the former. And so it is,

Lastly, In respect of the Reward and Punishment that attend the keeping or breaking of it, which is the fame in both. We read in the 25th of Matthew, that all Acts of Love and Charity done to the afflicted Menibers of Christ, are taken to be done to Christ himself; and all Neglect of them to our poor Neighbour, are interpreted as a Contempt of Christ, and both are rewarded or punish'd accordingly : the former with, Come ye Blesed of my Father, inherit a Kingdom; the latter with, Go ye Cursed into everlasting Fire, &c.' Where the Love of our Neighbour hath the fame Reward annex'd to it with the Love of God, and the Hatred of our Brother hath the same Punishment with the Hatred of God: which shew's them to be much alike both in their Nature and Consequents.

To all which, our Saviour adds, that on these two Come mandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. The Sense whereof is,

ist, That all the Law and the Prophets conspire and agree in these two Commandments, and that they are confonant to all that is written or deliver'd by them; Mofes in the beginning, and the Prophets after him, urging both these Precepts upon us. But the principal Sense of it is, · 2dly, That these two Commandments comprize the whole of the Law and the Prophets : and all that is deliver'd in both, is briefly summ’d up in these two things, to love God with all our Heart, and our Neighbour as our selves. All the Doctrine of Moses and the Prophets, with all the Writings of the Old and New Testament, have relation to and dependence upon these Precepts: they are the two great Hinges upon which the whole Law turns, or the Pegs on which it hangs; they are the Props of the two

Tables, or the great Wheels on which they move. Ina word, this being the whole Substance of our Duty, we may see the Excellency, the Equity, and the Ealiness of God's Laws; which requiring nothing from us but Love, the sweetest and most pleasing of all Passions, and that too of the highest and best Objects, viz. God and our Neighbour, we may not coniplain of his Laws as difficult, or

decline

« AnteriorContinuar »