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acted as if there existed no obligation to conform themselves to the will of God; and as if the thought of consulting his will in their pleasures and employ. ments were obtrusive.
ON THE LOVE OF GOD.
Love to God, and to the creatures which he has formed in his image, is the fulfilling of the law, inasmuch as it is the principle on which all its enactments are founded, and is essential to the right discharge of every duty. Love to God is at the foundation of all vital religion, and of all true virtue and morality; and hence the reply of our Lord to the inquiry, Which is the first commandment of all? The first of all the commandments is, “ Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord'; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength;” this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself
. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets *."
The love which we owe to God is the same in nature with that which we owe to all created intelligent beings. In the one case, the object is a Being of infinite perfection, and boundless in the moral excellences of his nature; who is besides our Creator, preserver, and benefactor, from whom we receive life,
* Mark xii. 29–81. Math. xxii. 36-40.
and breath, and all things; in the other, the objects are creatures of necessarily dependent existence, whose moral worth is limited, and mingled with numerous imperfections. They are, of course, to be loved in subordination to Him, from whom we cannot withhold the supreme love of our heart during every period of our being, without extreme injustice and criminality. The law which measures the extent to which this affection ought to exist, declares that it should occupy the whole heart and soul and mind and strength ; that is, that it should rule and regulate all our powers and faculties in an entire and voluntary dedication of ourselves to the glory of God.
Love to God includes in it, complacency in the perfection of his character, good will to him, or delight in his happiness, and gratitude to him as the source of every blessing
I. The boundless perfection of the divine nature and character is that which God himself views with complacency, and which he regards as his glory. This constitutes the riches, the fulness of the divine nature, the moral excellences in which God rejoices, and which he unfolds to the universe as entitling him to the supreme and continued affection of every creature. To the request of his servant, “ Shew me thy glory,” he replied, " I will make all my goodness
“ pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord ;—the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” There is here an assemblage of all possible moral excellences, and each infinite in its extent-one sun of moral glory, which no man can approach unto, and which no man hath seen, in all its bright effulgence, nor can see.
The intelligent being who does not love this boundless perfection must be depraved. It is the object which every pure mind contemplates with complacency and joy. It awakens and draws to itself that affection of delight and admiration which the law declares should fill the whole heart and soul; and in the exercise of which God is loved as a being infinitely pure and lovely. Its expression is those words of the Psalmist, in which he seems to feel the inadequacy of language to give utterance to the emotion of his soul ;—" Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” This love of complacency in the moral excellences of God, I consider as essential to true virtue, or rather I would say, it is the essence of it.
II. Good will to God, or, delight in his happiness, is included in that love which is due to God. This is inseparably connected with complacency and delight in his moral excellences. It burns with intense fervour in many a mind not accustomed to analyze its own feelings and operations. That we cannot render God greater, or wiser, or happier than he is in himself, is most certain; but that circumstance does not make it less binding on every intelligent creature to cherish the affection of good will, or of benevolent joy
in his happiness. On reflection, it will appear, that the very greatness and perfection of God are reasons why his happiness should be far more valued, far more desired and delighted in, than that of any created being. If we feel it to be right that every intelligent being should be happy in proportion to his moral worth, ought we not supremely to desire, and to rejoice in, the happiness, the immortal blessedness, of Him, who is infinitely good, and just, and faithful, and true, who is the fountain of virtue and of goodness ?
In the exercise of this affection of good will to God, we rejoice that he reigns, that his all-sufficiency can secure his own glory and blessedness in union with the happiness of that universe over which he rules. We are also grieved when we observe the beings whom he has formed in his image, and capable of loving Him, the glorious source of all virtue, and of loving his image wherever it is reflected, living in the neglect of Him, violating his commandments, and thus frustrating the noble designs for which they have been called into existence. In so far as their efforts would avail, they voluntarily employ them in depriving God of his glory, of his happiness, of his supreme authority, of his awful sovereignty. Nor can I help thinking that it was this view, chiefly, that so deeply affected the mind of our Lord, when, coming near unto Jerusalem, he wept over it.
III. Gratitude to God, as the source of every blessing, is included in that love which is due from us to God, and which the law declares should fill the whole heart and soul. We are : 2 formed that we are sensibly affected with benefits conferred either upon ourselves or our connexions, when they manifestly proceed from the kindness of the donor. It is from the boundless benevolence of his nature that God gives us life, and breath, and all things ; deliverance from present evil, enjoyment of present good, and the hope of future blessedness; and is he not justly entitled to the most fervid gratitude of which we are capable ? When we reflect on his varied and multiplied mercies, freely given during every moment of our lives,-on his bounty in granting us the continued use of the powers of our nature, and in surrounding us with friends, and innumerable objects to excite and to exercise our pleasurable feelings, we may well bless the Lord with all our souls, and call upon all that is within us to be stirred up, to bless and magnify his holy
But when we think of the new and endearing character in which God has revealed himself to us, as the God of salvation,-on the unspeakable gift which he has given as the expression of his love,-and on the blessings of incalculable value which, through this medium, he is now communicating, and which he has declared it to be his purpose to communicate through eternity, we must surely judge that he is entitled to all the grateful affection which we can ever feel, and which, by our devotedness and obedience to his will, we can ever shew.
Thus does the law of God, the only infallible standard of duty, require that we love the Lord our God with all the heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; that is, that we exercise this love, in the various