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believe, that, if we serve him truly all the days of our life, he will bless us, through Christ, not only with his pardon, but also with the enjoyment of everlasting happiness.
To fear God is to keep his commandments. To love God is to keep his commandments. In the one case, we keep those commandments which forbid the commission of what is evil; in the other, we keep those commandments which enjoin the practice of what is good; so that if we do not both love and fear God, we can neither do what is right, nor avoid doing what is wrong.
Love, therefore, the Lord your God with all your hearts, with all and with all your minds. Consider him as your Almighty and All-gracious Benefactor ; as your Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; your Protector in danger, your Friend under oppression, your Hope under disappointment, your Strength in the day of trial, and your
very present Help in trouble.” Let
* Psalm xlvi. 1.
his goodness, so abundantly bestowed upon yourselves in particular, and upon all mankind in general, a goodness, proclaimed with the loudest voice by every faculty you possess, and by every object you behold, be deeply impressed upon
This will induce you to exert all the powers of your souls in his service, to offer him the first fruits of your existence, the sacrifice of your best days, to give him your whole undivided affection, and to pay him,a tender Father, the uniform and willing obedience of dutiful Children.
You are to love the world to a certain degree. Your Parents, Relations, Friends, Countrymen, Enemies, and indeed all mankind, in proportion to their respective claims, must come in for a share of your hearts. But the love of all these, however dear to you, is to be made subservient and subordinate to the love of God. With this high and holy love no affections whatever are to be suffered to come in competition. God must live in your hearts without a rival. * “ He that
* Matt. x. 37.
loveth father or mother more than me;" said our Saviour, " is not worthy of me,"
To love and obey your Parents is your Duty “ Children," says St. Paul, “ obey your Parents in the Lord, for this is right." Filial love is a natural and amiable feeling. We never see a child blessing the days, and rejoicing the hearts of his parents, by observing their lawful commands, by sacrificing his inclinations to their wishes, by affectionately tending them in the hour of sickness, and by comforting them in their old age, without bestowing upon him our warmest approbation, and auguring favourably of his future progress in life. . But you are never to suffer this feeling to degenerate into that culpable weakness, which would induce you to obey them in what is contrary to the Word of God. You must not sacrifice your virtue for the sake even of a parent. You must not do that which pleases him, if in doing so you displease your Heavenly Father. No natural feeling must be permitted to
* Eph, vi. La
supersede the Love of God. No desire of filial obedience can justify a violation of the divine law. When his Mother, having found Jesus in the temple, said unto him ; * “ Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy Father and I have sought thee sorrowing ;" he gently rebuked her, saying; “ How is it, that ye sought me ? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" He nevertheless 66 went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject unto them;" thus leaving us an example of obedience to Parents, subordinate however to obedience to God. Of filial duty, I shall treat further in my next Discourse.
In order to love your heavenly Father, you must do all you can to please him; and in order to please him, you must believe in him with all humility and with the whole spirit, and endeavour to render yourselves acceptable to him through Jesus Christ, by accomplishing in your lives the purposes of his blessed will.
* Luke, ii. 48, 49, 51.
Love seeks to please its object; if, therefore, you really love God, you will desire to do what is well-pleasing in his sight: * “ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,” says our Saviout, ** he it is that loveth me.'
Let your love be pure and unsullied, entirely free from the leaven of hypocrisy and dissimulation. Let it be the affection of the whole soul, the warm expansion of the heart, full of gratitude to the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort. To profess with your lips that you love God is not enough; for mere profession is vanity itself, is mockery and insult in the estimation of Him, who knows every secret of the breast. You should feel the glow of affection within, and show forth its fruits in the righteousness of your lives. Let there be no vehemence in your love, no wild enthusiastic conceptions, no gross and familiar expressions, no transports beyond what reason justifies, and true piety approves. You cannot love God too much; but you should not show your
John, xiv, 21.