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SERMON XXV.

OF THE LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR.

MATTH. xxii. 39.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neigh

bour as thyself. The effential goodness of God, and his special benig- SERM. nity toward mankind, are to a considering mind divers ways very apparent; the frame of the world, and the natural course of things, do with a thousand voices loudly and clearly proclaim them to us; every sense doth yield us affidavit to that speech of the holy Pfalmift, The earth Pfal. xxxiii. is full of the goodness of the Lord: we see it in the glo- 5. cxix, 64. rious brightness of the skies, and in the pleasant verdure of the fields; we taste it in the various delicacies of food, supplied by land and sea; we smell it in the fragrances of herbs and flowers; we hear it in the natural music of the woods; we feel it in the comfortable warmth of heaven, and in the cheering freshness of the air; we continually do possess and enjoy it in the numberless accommodations of life, presented to us by the bountiful hand of nature.

Of the same goodness we may be well assured by that common providence which continually doth uphold us in our being, doth opportunely relieve our needs, doth protect us in dangers, and rescue us from imminent mischiefs, doth comport with our infirmities and misdemeanours ;

VOL. II.

4. cxlv. 16.

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SERM. the which, in the divine Pfalmist's style, doth hold our soul

XXV. in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved; doth redeem Pfal.lxvi. 9. our life from destruction ; doth crown us with loving-kindlvi. 13. ciii. nefs, and tender mercies.

The dispensations of grace, in the revelation of heavenly truth, in the overtures of mercy, in the fuccours of our weakness, in the proposal of glorious rewards, in all the methods and means conducing to our salvation, do afford most admirable proofs and pledges of the same immense benignity.

But in nothing is the divine goodness toward us more illustriously conspicuous, than in the nature and tendency of those laws which God hath been pleased, for the regulation of our lives, to prescribe unto us, all which do palpably evidence his serious desire and provident care of our welfare; so that, in imposing them, he plainly doth not so much exercise his sovereignty over us, as express his kindness toward us; neither do they more clearly declare his will, than demonstrate his good-will to us.

And among all divine precepts this especially, contained in my text, doth argue the wonderful goodness of our heavenly Lawgiver, appearing both in the manner of the proposal, and in the substance of it.

The second, saith our Lord, is like to it; that is, to the precept of loving the Lord our God with all our heart : and is not this a mighty argument of immense goodness in God, that he doth in such a manner commend this duty to us, coupling it with our main duty toward him, and requiring us with like earnestness to love our neighbour as to love himself?

He is transcendently amiable for the excellency of his nature; he, by innumerable and inestimable benefits graciously conferred on us, hath deserved our utmost affectiòn; fo that naturally there can be no obligation bearing any proportion or considerable semblance to that of loving him : yet hath he in goodness been pleased to create one, and to endue it with that privilege; making the love of a man (whom we cannot value but for his gifts, to whom we can awe nothing but what properly we owe to him)

Luke x. 37.

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