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they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away*.'
If this principle were implanted universally in the heart of man, that selfishness which now prompts him to pursue what he reckons an advantage, at the expense of the lives, the property, the peace of his fellow-creatures, would cease to operate; and influenced only by love, he would seek their happiness by such means, and in such a way, as love will suggest. He would seek to please them only for their good; and by the exercise of genuine kindness, in his manners, his words, his actions, and his intercourse with others, would be the source of felicity to all around him.
IV. A marked characteristic of the love we owe to our neighbour is, its disinterested nature. "Love seeketh not her own.-If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." These, and many other passages of Scripture shew, that the love required by the divine law is totally free + Matt. v. 44-48.
1 Cor. xiii. 3-8.
from selfishness; that it leads those in whom it dwells to do good to all, without any reference to the personal recompense that may be gained in return; and to labour in overcoming the hostility of enemies by contributing disinterestedly to their happiness. It is the pure love of happiness, the fixed desire that every creature capable of virtuous enjoyment may possess it. How little human beings, even the best, are under the control of this heavenly principle, it is unnecessary to say.
V. The love of our neighbour is essentially allied to the love of God, and is subordinate to it. Our Lord, after repeating the first great commandment of the law, adds, "the second is like; namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." But in what way is the second like the first, if it be not that the affection required in both is the same in nature? We are, indeed, to love the Lord our God so far beyond any other object, that even our natural affections must be indulged in subordination to this. "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me," said the Saviour; "and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." But this implies nothing at variance with the position, that the love of God and of our neighbour is the same virtuous affec tion, exercised in reference to different objects.
In loving God, the mind is affected with delight in his moral excellency, joy in his happiness, and gratitude for his mercies: in loving our fellow-creatures, there is, at least, pleasure felt in their happiness, and the desire of promoting it. This affection is so essentially the same, that it is impossible for the same indi
vidual to exercise it towards God, and not exercise it towards his fellow-creatures; or truly and disinterestedly to love his fellow-creatures, and not love God. No mind that is not really virtuous can at all exercise it; and if it be truly exercised towards God, the greatest and the most glorious Being, it will unquestionably be exercised towards created intelligent beings.
VI. Hence the connexion, close and indissoluble, between piety and virtue, between religion and morality. The one never does, and never can exist, in the absence of the other. Hence also the true spring, the animating principle, of all social virtue, and of all those great and important duties which man owes to man. Without this, indeed, there may be much of that external morality, which the order of human society requires, produced by views of expediency, honour, and custom; but it will be void of that which gives to the action its virtuous character, the inward spirit and life, the love which is the fulfilling of the law. It will be variable and unstable; fall very far short of the true standard of moral excellency; and will be mischievous in its operation and consequences.
That the morality produced by the principles which I have mentioned, expediency, honour, and custom, and other principles of a similar description, must be variable and unstable, will not be questioned by any sound moralist. If, according to the principles of expediency, every man is allowed to judge for himself whether it be more useful to obey or to disobey; and if this judgment is formed under the immediate influence of hopes and fears, in the bustle of human
life, and in the hour of temptation, can it be affirmed, that his moral conduct will not bend and accommodate itself to the shifting circumstances in which he is placed? Or should his principle of action be honour or custom, which will lead him, of course, constantly to look to the changing opinions of his fellow-creatures, to human estimation as his great rule and ultimate end, his morality will fluctuate with the fluctuation of fashion and feeling around him.
But though it were not liable to this and other exceptions, it falls very far short of the true standard of moral feeling and conduct. That action alone is morally good which proceeds from a morally good principle. Expediency is not of this description, since its direct tendency is to set loose from the authority of conscience, to furnish a law different and opposite from the immutable law of God, and to suggest a pretext for the commission of crime both in public and private life. Neither does honour possess this character; for that teaches us to refer to the opinion and decision of man, and not to God; and to regard with indifference some of the grossest immoralities, such as pride, revenge, drunkenness, and impurity.
These principles are widely injurious in their operation and consequences. The readiness with which man embraces any doctrine, which allows him to make an occasional surrender of duty and conscience to present gratification, renders every false system of morals extensively pernicious. The direct tendency of every such system, is, to lower the standard of morals, to represent more or less the indulgence of those evil propensities which do not immediately inter
fere with the order and existence of human society as venial; to remove restraints from the passions; and generally to enfeeble the obligation of moral truth and duty. As the consequence, there is in the mind of the multitudes by whom such principles are adopted, either singly, or in combination, an indistinctness of moral perception, and erroneous views of the extent and authority of moral obligation. The mischievous effects which result from the operation of errors of so grave a character, are incalculable, both in respect to the feelings and conduct of the individuals subjected to it, and of the community of which they form. so great a part.
The love of God and of man, on the other hand, is a pure, disinterested, and powerful principle of moral conduct, which maintains the desire and the effort of making all happy, constantly, consistently, and universally operative, producing, without regard to consequences, a willing obedience to God, and genuine benevolence to man. The morality of which it is the spring, being regulated by the word of God, by that unchanging law which is a transcript of the divine holiness, is of a different nature from the fluctuating, accommodating, and lax morality which is the effect of worldly principles. It forbids every sinful indulgence, proscribes every passion, cherishes every virtue, gives to conscience, enlightened by heavenly truth, its legitimate supremacy, and it presents the harmony and happiness of the universe as objects to which we are ever to devote our labours and energies. It teaches us to make all our conduct, and all our pursuits, whether they immediately affect our