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ST. MATT. XXII. 37.
JESUS SAID UNTO HIM, THOU SHALT LOVE THE
LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL
I HAVE endeavoured to explain to you your Duty towards God, as far as it relates to Belief and Fear. I come now to consider the remaining head of that Duty, the Love of him.
In my last Discourse I showed you, that the Fear of God is a pious reverence spread over the whole soul, and exciting within it a holy dread of doing any thing to offend him. The principle of Fear deters us from committing that which the voice of Conscience, and the word of Revelation, declare to be
operates within us an abhorrence of evil, and a resolution to regard the prohibitions of the Almighty. The principle of Love
carries us farther. It urges us, not only to avoid Sins, but also to perform Duties ; not only to do as little as we can to offend God, but also as much as we can to please him.
Our Belief in God, and our Fear of him, are the first steps towards holiness. Our Love of him, arising from these, and accompanied by them, advances us towards that perfection, which is to be the ultimate attainment of all his faithful followers. We fear God from a conviction of his Almighty Power ; from an apprehension that, as he is a just and holy Being, he will visit us with his judgments, if we do wickedly; from a consciousness that he is a perpetual witness of all we think, and say, and do, and from a dread of that future wrath, which he has denounced against all the workers of iniquity. We love him, because we are persuaded that he is a good and gracious Being; because we know and feel that he has showered upon us, particularly in his Redemption of the world through the shedding of precious blood, the abundance of his kindness; and because we 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 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 your hearts. 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.
very present Help in trouble.” Let
* Psalm xlvi. 1.
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