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“If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you alli."} For the further IMPROVEMENT of the subject, 1. Let us contemplate our obligations
[The love of God, which ought to be ever uppermost in our minds, alas ! how light an impression does it make upon us! Even the mystery of the incarnation of God's only dear Son, and of “ his laying down his life for us,” is heard without any emotion, and regarded with little more concern, than if it were only “a cunningly-devised fable.” What shall I say then, brethren? Must there not be something essentially wrong, where such insensibility exists? are we not ashamed ? are we not confounded, when we consider the state of our souls in this respect? Let us rise to a sense of our duty. Let us view our obligations to Almighty God: let us dwell upon them night and day: and let us never rest till our whole souls go forth in love to him, who has loved us, and given himself for us.] 2. Let us address ourselves to our duties
[Methinks, the duty of love should be no burthen to us: it is in itself most delightful; and brings always its own reward along with it. Let us then exercise it in all its branches. Let every disposition contrary to love be mortified and subdued: all envy, hatred, malice, wrath, uncharitable. ness, let it all be banished from our hearts; and let the love which hopeth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things, be the one reigning principle in our souls.
Let this principle too be brought into activity for the benefit of all mankind. Our time, our talents, our property, our very life, let it all be consecrated to the Lord for the glory of his name, and for the welfare of his Church and people. Let us not be indulging vain excuses, and saying, “ This will require sacrifices, which I am unwilling to make: that will require abilities which I do not possess.'
What sacrifice is there beyond that of life? Even that it is our duty to make for the world and for the Church; and therefore every subordinate sacrifice should be of no account. And as for talents and abilities, if only we will use those which we have, God will glorify himself by them, and render them subservient to the welfare of mankind, if only we will endeavour to improve them with diligence, and to exercise them with fidelity.
You see what God would have us both to be and do: he would have us overwhelmed with a sense of his love to us, and abounding in the most self-denying exercises of love to
all mankind. Come, brethren, gird yourselves to the occasion. Your God and Saviour demands it at your hands. The whole universe also joins in one common cry,
“ Come over to us, and help us. And he who most abounds in offices of love to others, shall receive the richest recompence into his own bosom from that God whose name and nature is “Love."]
NO LOVE TO GOD WITHOUT LOVE TO MAN.
1 John iii. 17. Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his
brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
UNDER the law there were two great commandments: the first was, to love God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and the second was, to love our neighbour as ourselves. And under the Gospel they are still in force, or rather, I should say, are enjoined more emphatically than ever, being enforced with new motives, so as to bear the stamp and character of “a new commandmenta.” They are on no account to be separated in our practice and regards; neither can one be obeyed without the other. True, indeed, many will flatter themselves that they obey the one, whilst they are notoriously regardless of the other. But they only deceive their own souls: and this so palpably, that the Apostle appeals to the offenders themselves, and makes them judges in their own cause : “Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?” He may pretend to love God; but the love of God is not in him : for “ if he does not love his brother whom he hath seen, he can never truly love God whom he hath not seen;" and consequently he is destitute of all religion.
In confirmation of this truth, I shall shew, 1. That he can have no true piety, who is destitute The Apostle takes this truth for granted ; and makes it the foundation of his appeal. But I lament to say, that it needs to be brought home to our consciences with more force than we are wont to assign to it in our own minds. That God deserves our love, cannot be denied
of love to God
b 1 John iv. 20.
[View him in his works of creation. No sooner had he formed every thing, than he pronounced it " very good.” See man in his compound state both of body and soul : how fearfully and wonderfully are we formed in our corporeal frame !
and with what astonishing powers are our souls endued, insomuch that we are capable of appreciating in a measure all that we behold with our eyes, and can soar also to the contemplation of the invisible God himself, and are capable of knowing, loving, serving, and enjoying him.
Behold the earth and all that it contains; how formed for the service and the use of man! - Yea, and all the heavenly bodies also, how do they too in their orbits (for in all probability the whole solar system forms but a part of other systems, with which it moves) administer to the comfort and happiness of man !
And is not the Creator of all this worthy of our love? View him in his works of providence. All this has God upheld, if not in its primeval grandeur, yet in its ministrations to the good of man; and that too notwithstanding all the provocations which he receives continually at our hands. All our faculties both of body and mind are continued to us whilst the whole terraqueous globe affords us sustenance, and the heavenly bodies, according to their capacities, minister to our necessities and comforts. True, the world was drowned with water; and the cities of the plain were consumed with fire: but this only shews us what might have been daily expected, if God had dealt with us in any respect according to our deserts.
Should not then such a long-suffering and gracious God be made an object of our most intense regard?
But view him in his great work, the work of redemption : and what shall we say of him there? View him as taking our very nature, and becoming in all things like unto us, sin only excepted. View him as dying upon the cross, and expiating our guilt by the sacrifice of himself --- View him as sending down from heaven his Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts, and by his enlightening, quickening, transforming energies, to render the work of Christ effectual for the salvation of all who will believe in him
But here I seem to exceed the utmost bounds of credibility. Yet so it is; and this is the God who
calls us to set our love on him. What then shall I say of the man who complies not with this reasonable demand? I appeal to you, my brethren, whether such a man, supposing such an one could be found, can have any true religion?
Perhaps you will say, It is impossible that such a monster should exist. Then let us submit the matter to a test, the test proposed to us by the Apostle himself.]
To do this, we affirm, II. That he can have no true love to God, who is
destitute of love to manLove to God must of necessity comprehend in it these three things : a regard for his authority ; gratitude for his mercies; and zeal for his glory. Let us see then whether the man who “shuts up his bowels of compassion from his fellow-creatures,” has any one of these? Has he,
1. Any regard for God's authority ?
[God most solemnly enjoins under the Old Testament compassion for our indigent brother, and a willingness to relieve him
He requires the same under the New Testamenta He informs us who the person is to whom we are to manifest this love, even every child of mane
He tells us from whom he expects this grace, even from the poor, who are constrained to get their own living by manual labour, as well as from the rich and greatí. -- He has enforced this duty by every kind of argument: by promises the most engaging
and by threatenings the most tremendoush
He has declared that it shall form his rule of judgment in the last day, and determine our eternal destiniesi
Now then what regard can he have to God's authority who lives in the neglect of this duty ? He says, in fact, My goods are my own, and I will dispose of them as I please : and, for God, I know him not; neither will I obey his voice."] 2. Any gratitude for his mercies?
[Our blessed Lord, reminding us what temporal blessings his heavenly Father bestows upon us, calls us to an imitation of him in our conduct towards our fellow-men, that so we may approve ourselves as his children by our resemblance to him
• Deut. xv. 7–11. Cite this at large. di John iv. 21. e Luke x. 29–37. f Eph. iv. 28. Acts xx. 34, 35. & Isai. lviii. 7, 8. h Jam. ii. 13. i Matt. xxv. 34, 41, 46. * Matt. v. 44, 45, 48.
Still more particularly is his redeeming love proposed to us in this view both as a motive and a pattern; a motive which we should in no wise withstand"; and a pattern which to the very utmost we should follow, even to “ the laying down of our lives for the brethrenm." To stimulate us to it the more, he tells us, that he will receive every thing as done to himself"; that he will account himself our debtor for ito; and that he will submit to be accounted “ unrighteous” if he fail to acknowledge and reward it in the last dayP. For our further encouragement he assures us, that, however light we may think of such a service, it is “a sacrifice with which he is well pleased 9."
Now if all this do not prevail with us to shew kindness to our brethren, what shall we say? Have we any gratitude to God? No; we are more stupid and senseless than the beasts themselves"
--] 3. Any zeal for his glory?
[We are commanded to “ make our light shine before men,
that those who behold it may be constrained to glorify our Father which is in heavens.” And our Lord assures us, that “herein is the Father glorified, when we bring forth much fruit",” yea, that “all our fruits of righteousness are by him to the glory of God the Father“.” But in a more particular manner is our liberality to the saints spoken of in this view, inasmuch as it calls forth “abundant thanksgivings to him ” from the persons relieved, and causes them to glorify God for our professed subjection to the Gospel of Christ, the proper tendency of which is to generate these heavenly dispositions, and to augment the happiness of all mankind
Now suppose a man to neglect this duty, what zeal can he have to promote the glory of his God? He may fancy himself religious; but he has no more love to God than Satan himself; for, if « faith without works is no better than the faith of devils,” the religion of such a man is no better than the religion of devilsy. For so hath God said: “ In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother"] Let me now ADD,
1. A word of caution
I 2 Cor. viii. 7-9. o Prov. xix. 17. r Isai. i. 2, 3. u Phil. i. 11. y Jam. ii. 17-19.
n Matt. xxv. 40. P Heb. vi. 10. q Heb, xiii. 16. & Matt. v. 16. t John xv. 8. * 2 Cor. ix. 12–14. 1 1 John iii. 10.