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and self-condemned before God. They will feel, that their inability is a crime, and not a calamity. They will feel, that they have been free and voluntary in all their disobedience, and therefore deserve God's wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come. Such are the views and feelings, which sinners must have sooner or later, if they ever embrace the gospel and secure the salvation of their souls. Let them, therefore, immediately give up all their excuses, which cannot stand before the bar of God, nor even before the bar of their own enlightened consciences. Let them no longer cast the blame of their sins upon God, but take it to themselves, and repent in dust and ashes. God now commandeth all men every where to repent; and except they do repent, they must unavoidably and eternally perish.
INFERENCE 12.-If God works in saints both to will and to do in all their gracious exercises; then they ought to be clothed with humility, and walk softly before him. "Who hath made them to differ? and what have they that they have not received?" All their future exercises are under the divine influence, without which they can do nothing. Let them always acknowledge God in all their ways, that he may direct their paths. Let them watch and pray without ceasing, and work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. Renouncing all self-dependence, and remembering Noah, Lot, David, Peter, and themselves, let them trust in God alone, who is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. Amen.
LOVE THE ESSENCE OF OBEDIENCE.
ROMANS xiii, 10.
Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
IT appears from the words to which this passage refers, that the Apostle is here speaking, not of the ceremonial law, which ceased at the death of Christ; but of the moral law, which still remains in its full force and obligation. This law, which is founded in the nature of things, and which is level to every capacity, has been very generally misunderstood and perverted. The Scribes and Pharisees, and even Paul himself before his conversion, totally misapprehended its proper meaning. Nor is it much better understood now, than formerly. This, however, is very easy to be accounted for. Those, who are unwilling to do their duty, are always unwilling to become acquainted with it. An undutiful child is disposed to misunderstand his father's commands; an unfaithful servant is apt to mistake his master's orders; a rebellious subject is prone to misconstrue the laws of the state; and the same spirit of disobedience inclines all classes of sinners to misunderstand the first and fundamental rule of duty. But a clear knowledge of the nature and extent of the law of love seems to be very necessary, in order to understand the doctrines and duties of the gospel, and to reconcile them with each other. It is a matter of real importance, therefore, to set the declar. ation in the text in a clear and consistent light. And in order to this, it is proposed,
I. To describe the nature of love in general. II. To describe the nature of true love in particular. And,
III. To show, that true love is the fulfilling of the law.
I. The nature of love in general is to be described. If we turn our attention inwardly and examine the operations of our own minds, we shall be convinced, that love is something very different from either perception, reason, or conscience. These are natural faculties, which do their office independently of the will. It depends upon our perception, not upon our will, whether an object shall appear either black or white. It depends upon our reason, not upon our will, whether a proposition shall appear either true or false. It depends upon our conscience, not upon our will, whether an action shall appear either good or evil. But it depends entirely upon our choice, whether we shall love either a white or a black object, either a true or false proposition, either a good or an evil action. Hence we intuitively know, that love is a free, voluntary affection, which is entirely distinct from every natural faculty of the mind. It is neither a power nor principle of action, but rather an act or exercise itself. And in this respect, it totally differs from every bodily and mental taste; in which we are altogether passive. We cannot help tasting the sweetness of honey, nor relishing the beauties of nature and of art. But we are under no natural necessity of loving a beautiful flower, nor an amiable character. It is, therefore, the voice of universal experience, that love is a free, voluntary exercise, which essentially differs from any natural power, principle, taste, or sensation of the human mind. Freedom and activity are essential to love in general, The next thing is,
II. To describe the nature of true love in particular. Since we are free and voluntary in loving, there is a just ground of distinction between true love and false. And agreeably to this distinction, God requires one kind of love, and forbids another. He requires us to love himself supremely, but forbids us so to love ourselves, or any other created object. These two kinds of love are essentially different. The one is true love, and the other false; the one is pure benevolence, and the other is real selfishness; the one is the fulfilling, and the other the transgression, of the law. It ap pears, therefore, to be necessary to point out the pe culiar properties of true love, by which it is distinguished from false.
1. True love is universal, extending to being in general, or to God and all his creatures. "The righteous man regardeth the life of his beast." The primary object of true benevolence is being simply considered, or a mere capacity of enjoying happiness and suffering pain. It necessarily embraces God, and all sensitive natures. Though the man of true benevolence takes a peculiar complacency in God and in all other benevolent beings; yet he wishes well to creatures, that have no benevolence, and even to such as are incapable of all moral exercises. It is, therefore, the nature of true benevolence to run parallel with universal being, whether uncreated or created; whether rational or irrational; whether holy or unholy. And in this respect, it essentially differs from that selfish and false affection, which centres in one individual, and terminates in personal happiness.
2. True love is impartial. It regards every proper object of benevolence according to its apparent worth and importance in the scale of being. It regards God according to his greatness and goodness, and of course
more than all created beings. And among created beings, it prefers the great to the small, and the good to the great. The truly benevolent man measures his affections towards every being, according to its capacity and disposition of doing, and of receiving good; and not according to the relation which it bears to his own private interest. As he values the happiness of the whole universe more than the happiness of a particular part; so he values the happiness of each part in exact proportion to its intrinsic and comparative worth. Such impartiality distinguishes true love from that tender mercy of the wicked, which is real malevolence and cruelty to all, who oppose their private, personal interest.
3. True love is not only universal and impartial, but disinterested. Mercenary love can never form a virtuous character. This Cicero demonstrates in his treatise concerning moral ends. This all dramatic writers acknowledge, by forming their amiable characters upon the principle of disinterested benevolence, And this God himself maintains in his controversy with Satan about the sincerity of Job. If there be any such thing as virtue, therefore, it must consist in disinterested love. Accordingly the Scripture represents all holy and virtuous affections as disinterested. David says of the citizen of Zion, though "he sweareth to his own hurt, he changeth not." Paul says of himself, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give