Imatges de pàgina

the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as keep his commandments to do them. If our minds were impressed with this sentiment, we would rejoice in his providential appointments, we would confide in his righteous dispensations, we would cast all our care upon him, since he careth for us.

After such a minute detail of the reasons for trust in God, I come now,

IV. To apply the whole, in a very cursory manner, to practical purposes.

1. We should acknowledge the interposition of providence, in the direction of human affairs in general, and of our own lot in the world in particular. If we are poor, let us consider that it is the ordination of God we should be poor; if we are rich, that it is his blessing that maketh rich; and if we are deprived of our earthly comforts, that the Lord giveth and taketh them away; and therefore we should be resigned to his sovereign disposal.

2. We should learn to submit to the will of God, in the several vicissitudes of fortune which befal us. We may indeed endeavour to improve our condition by all lawful means; but still though a man's heart may devise his way, it is the Lord who directeth his steps. He can either render our projects successful, or counteract and baffle them; and as he disposes of our affairs in the manner most beneficial for our welfare, let us receive good or evil from the divine hand, and acquiesce cheerfully in every dispensation, saying, "the will of the Lord be done."

3. We should put our trust and confidence in the providence of God, as our best security against the evils of life. Since God rules the affairs of the world, we and our concerns are safe in his hands; therefore let us not fear any dangers which may threaten, or wants which we may suffer, since none of these can befal us without his permission. Let us not take anxious thought for our lives, saying, what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or where-withal shall we be clothed? for as our heavenly Father knoweth that we have need of these things, he

will afford us the means for our subsistence as long as our lives are preserved.


4. Since God ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and dispenses their fortunes according to his pleasure, let us learn to supplicate him for such things as we stand in need of, pertaining both to life and to godliness. He is near to all who call upon him to succour and deliver them, and therefore to whom can we go but unto him? he can grant us the requests of our hearts, and dispose of our affairs in the manner most conducive to our advantage.-Let us also return thanks to him for the favours we have received, which is our most reasonable duty; and we shall engage the Almighty to bestow upon us still greater blessings, when they are gratefully acknowledged, and well applied, to promote his glory and our own good.

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Lastly, let us endeavour to secure the divine protection, by living in such a manner as becometh saints. If we approve ourselves to him in well-doing, he will bless us and do us good; he will make the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and give us peace. The righteous are objects of peculiar regard to the divine Being. A good man's footsteps are ordered by the Lord, and he will fulfil the desire of those who fear him. He guides them by his counsel; he teaches them the way which they should choose; for the Lord forsaketh not his saints, they are preserved for ever. Let us therefore trust in the Lord and do good, and verily we shall be fed; let us devote ourselves to his service, and he will protect us by his providence; let us please and obey him, and he will give us grace here, and glory hereafter, and withhold nothing that is truly good, so long as we continue to walk uprightly.



MATT. XXII. 37, 38.

Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great com


THE precept expressed in these words was uttered by our Lord, in answer to a Pharisee, who came to make trial of his knowledge in the divine law. It had long been a question among the Jews, which was the great commandment of the decalogue; and one which their Rabbies had not agreed in resolving, as there was such variety of opinion on this subject. They had been so far misled by their traditionary maxims, as to believe that God had delivered a number of precepts; that by observing any one which was most congenial to their inclinations, they might obtain a title to everlasting life. Accordingly every one selected some commandment, which he esteemed the most important; and by endea vouring to observe it, deemed himself at liberty to neglect the observance of others no less obligatory.—In our Saviour's time, the Jews seemed to consider the law of sacrifice as the great and fundamental duty, incumbent upon them as the peculiar people of God. Accordingly we find, from many passages of the gospel, that they discovered a predilection for the ceremonial institutions of their law, while they excused themselves from the ob servance of its moral precepts. For this reason, our Lord frequently reproved them for their erroneous princi

ples, and charged them, that while they paid tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin; they neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and fidelity.

The Scribes and Pharisees, who knew that our Lord was highly esteemed as a teacher come from God, often applied to him for a resolution of their doubts in any cases of an intricate nature; and for this purpose, the person mentioned in the chapter before us, had recourse to the judgment of Jesus, on this point, which occasioned! such controversy among his countrymen.

Our Lord, conceiving this an important opportunity of conveying the knowledge of truth to the mind of a young man, who it seems was an amiable character, answers him in the words of the text ;- Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment. Well might our Lord give the preference to this precept above all others, in the moral law, since it is indeed of primary importance as a religious duty. This will appear still more evident, if we consider, in the remainder of this discourse,

1. The nature of that religious affection, which, in scripture, is denominated the love of God.

II. The extent of this duty, which is here called the first and great commandment.

III. The necessity of cherishing the love of God, for improving our religious character.

IV. The means which may be successfully employed, to inspire our minds with this affection. And then apply the subject to practice.

I. With respect to the nature of the love of God, it may be understood, from the properties of the affection itself, and the object to which it is directed. Such is the constitution of our nature, that we are excited to love certain objects which possess estimable qualities; and certain persons from whom we have received any valuable

We delight in their society, we are pleased with their intercourse, we rejoice in their happiness. If


they are exalted above us in rank, we venerate their character, admire their virtues, and follow their example. A benefactor, who has bestowed on ús unmerited favours, becomes the object of our sincerest gratitude; and we endeavour to testify our sense of his kindness, by such acts of respectful demeanour, as we deem suitable to his dignity or worth. If we conceive such dispositions towards a fellow-creature, is it not possible also to cherish the same towards God, who possesses every perfection in himself, ,and who daily loadeth us with his benefits?

There is a prejudice, indeed, against the love of God, as if it were a chimerical idea, or fanatical delusion. How, may some say, is it possible to love a being whom we never saw; and “ who dwells in that high and holy place, to which no man can approach ?” But it is not necessary to excite this affection, that its object be present; for the firm persuasion of his existence, and the conception of his excellent qualities, are sufficient to stir up in our souls admiration or esteem of any character, whom we have only heard of by report, or read of in writing. Yet the sensation which we feel towards him is as real, as if we beheld him before our eyes. Now, the perfections of the Almighty are as clearly unfolded to our view, by the works of his hands, and by the declarations of his word, as the good qualities of our fellow-creatures, whom we venerate and esteem. He is infinite in power, consummate in wisdom, and bountiful in goodness; and therefore is as proper an object of our love, as any other being with whom we are acquainted. Nay, as he is transcendently excellent in every attribute, therefore he is entitled to our highest veneration, our supreme affection.—We own and feel the influence of amiable qualities in our fellow-creatures; and shall we be insensible to the display of perfect goodness in our Creator? Shall we love and delight in the presence of one to whom we are attached; and can we not also experience a joy unspeak; able, when we approach him “in whom we live, and move, and have our being ?” Do we revere the character of one who has achieved some mighty acts, and exerted his talents for the public good; and shall we not vene


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