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thy of bim ; and, indeed, what man was ever more capable of giving to mankind just and truly useful laws than he, in whom we have seen shine forth sovereign reason? What man, ever deserved so much that mankind should submit to bis laws, as he in whom sovereign sanctity shone in all its brightness. I venture to say, that if mankind did not perfectly know all the beauty and all the usefulness of the laws of Jesus Christ, still they ought to receive them only from a sense of respect for their Author; and still these laws are so beautiful and so (seful, that men, were they even unacquainted with their Author, ought, with common accord, to submit to them only on account of their beauty and utility
Yes, whoever has on the one side, a thorough knowledge of the nature of man, of his faculties, his inclinations, his warts; and, on the other of the relations which men have with God, and of those which they have with each other, and, in fine, if I may express myself thus, of the relations which every man has with himself; whoever shall know well, I say, all these circumstances of nature, and of the condition of men, will be forced to acknowledge, that the law of Jesus Christ answers them with such justness, and brings man into such perfect order relatively to all those circumstances, that it was not possible for God himself to conceive a plan of a wiser, a more beautiful, and a more accomplished legislation. Thence he will necessarily conclude, either that Jesus Christ was God, or at least (what suffices us for the moment) that he was filled with the spirit of God. Let us enter upon an examination of this law.
honoured the basest of all nations.* The death of Socrates, quietly philosophizing with his friends, is the mildest that one can wish for; that of Jesus Christ, expiring in torments, outraged and seorned, cursed by a whole people, is the most horrid that one can dread. Socrates, in taking the poisoned cup, blesses him who presents it to him, and who weeps : Jesus, in the midst of dreadful torments, prays for his enfuriate executioners. Yes, if the life and the death of Socrates be those of a sage, the life and the death of Jesus Christ are those of a God. Shall we say that the history of the Gospel was contrived at pleasure? Dear friend, it is not thus men invert; and the events respecting Socrates, of which no one doubts, are less attested than those which relate to Jesus Christ. In the main, this is only to shift the difficulty, not to destroy it; it would be more inconceivable that many men should have agreed to fabricate this book, than it would be that one man should have furnished the subject of it. Never would Jewish authors have found out, either this language or this morality; and the gospel has characteristics of truth, so great so striking, so perfectly inimitable, that the inventor of it would be still more astonishing than its bero.” Emile, Tom. iii, page 179.
* We are far from approving in all its extent, the horrid idea which this allthor gives here of the Jewish natien.
CLXXXI. Man is a being composed of an organized body, and of a spiritual and immortal soul, which is closely united to the body to govern it, or if you please that I should make use of the definition universally received, man is a rational animal. Man is endowed with reason, is capable of knowing the truth, and of making the discernment of good and evil; and, in that same capacity he is moreover free, that is to say, he is master of his own determinations and of his own choice, and has particularly the power of embracing what is good and of reflecting what is evil, or of attaching himself to what is evil and of rejecting what is good. Behold the nature of man. · Man holds his existence from another; he does not exist of himself. It is God, that is to say, the eternal Being, the Being infinite in all persections that created him or made him out of nothing, both as to body and to soul. Behold the principle, the origin of man.
God created man for his own glory and for the happiness of man himself, or what is tantamount, God made man to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world, and to possess him in the next. Behold the end of man.
In fine, God made man to live upon earth in society with his fellow-creatures. It is in order to render this society more necessary, more intimate, and more pleasant, that he caused all men to be born of one, insomuch that they are all brethren and compose but one and the same family, spread all over the surface of the earth. Behold the temporal state of map.
Here I casily conceive two things, and the reflecting reader, 1 doubt not, will conceive them as I do: the first is, that it was necessary that God should give a law to man; the second is, that this law was necessarily to have a reference to the four circumstances of the condition of man, which I have just stated. I mean that this law was to be worthy of its Author, proportionate to the nature of man, conformable to his end and suitable to his state ; or, to express the same ideas in other terms, this law was to bring man into order with regard to God, with regard to himself, and with regard to his fellow men. But it is self-evident, that man could not be in order with regard to God, but by loving him as God; with regard to him. self, but by loving himself as a rational being, created to serve God in this world, and to enjoy him in the next; with regard to his fellow-men, but by loving them under the same relations under which he loves himself. Whence it results that all divine legislation must necessarily consist in prescribing and regulating these three loves which in reality are but one love.
These principles once established, I maintain that the law of Jesus Christ fulfils these three objects after the most perfect manner.
The love which this law commands us to have for God, is truly worthy of that Supreme Being. This law regulates, after the wisest manner, the love which every man is to have for himself. The love which this law prescribes to every man towards his fellow-men, is perfectly proportionate to the bonds and relations which men have between themselves.
In fine, this law points out to men the surest means to preserve and to perfect in themselves those three loves. This we shall make appear in several distinct articles.
Which goes to show that the law of Jesus Christ reduces itself
to the three loves, of which we have just now spoken. CLXXXII. We find in the gospel of St. Matthew, xxii. 3. that a teacher of the law, having proposed to Jesus Christ this question : “Master, which is the great commandment of the law? Jesus Christ answered him, this is the first of all commandments. Hear, Israel, the Lord thy God is the only God, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength : this is the first commandment; here is the second which is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these. The whole law and prophets are comprised in these two commandments.”
Here we have the three loves of which we have spoken above, clearly pointed out in the law which God formerly gave to the Jews, and which Jesus Christ here adopts and publishes again as these two first commandments. These three loves are, according Jesus Christ, the basis, and, as it were, the substance of all religion. The second commandment, which is the love of ourselves, is not expressly com. manded, not only because it is impossible to love God without loving one's self, or to love one's self with a well regulated love without loving God; but, moreover, because the love of ourselves being a necessary love that is born with us, and of which we cannot divest ourselves, there was no need for prescribing, but only for regulating it. The third love that of our neighbour, is expressly commanded; because, although it be very true that we cannot love God if we do not love men, who are made to the image of God, and who are our brethren ; still, if God had not declared that these two loves are inseparable, the generality of men, blinded by passion, might have persuaded themselves on a thousand occasions, that they might separate them, and love God with all their heart, whilst they mortally hate their neighbour. In fine, the second commandment, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thysell," does not mean that we owe to our fellow-men an equal love, but only a love similar to that which we have for our. selves : for order will have it that we should prefer ourselves to our fellow-men, at least, in the case of an equality of interests.
Such is the substance and main point of the law of Jesus Christ, that is to say, it consists in commanding and regulating the three loves above stated, viz. the love of God, the love of ourselves, and the love of our fellow-men.
Characteristics of the Love of God, according to the Law of
Jesus Christ. CLXXXIII. The love which Jesus Christ commands men to have for God answers the idea, which both reason and faith give us of the supreme excellency of that first Being, and of the relations which we have with him. “ Hearken, Israel, the Lord thy God is the only God, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”. “ Thou shalt love the Lord.” Man is to love God first and principally for himself, and because he is God, that is to say, on account of the infinite excellency of his being, or, in other words, because he is infinitely good and amiable in himself. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." Man is to love God, because he is his God, that is to say, because God has made him ; because he has filled him with good, because God is the good which he is to enjoy to all eternity. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul.” Man is to consecrate himself entirely to the love of God. This love is to be in him a predominant love, which should prevail over all other love, and which should reign over all his faculties, in somuch that God should be above all in the estimation and in the affection of man. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy strength.” Man is to love God with an active love, with a love that manifests itself outwardly and that produces fruits by good works. Man will then refer to God all that he has, all that he is, and all that he does. He will be faithful to his law, subject to the orders of his providence, docile to his inspirations, always ready to undertake all, and to sacrifice all for his sake.