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modifications of it that have now been mentioned, so as to rule and regulate the various powers of nature during the whole of our being.
I do not see any thing in this demand which our own consciences will not pronounce to be right and reasonable. Who will deny that He, who is the perfection of all moral excellency, the fountain of all the being, the beauty, and the blessedness, in the universe, ought to be the constant object of supreme love and complacency, of supreme good will and gratitude? ! What are our being, our virtue, and happiness, or those of the whole universe, in comparison of His ? “ Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: all nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” To refuse, in the slightest degree, to this great, and pure, and lovely Being, that love which he claims, is to frustrate, in so far as this refusal goes, the chief design for which all beings have been called into existence. It is to give to what is limited and dependent the affections which He requires, whose glories are boundless, whose being is independent, and who is, from everlasting to everlasting, God.
It is only by allowing the love of God thus to fill and to abide in our hearts, that we are possessed of moral excellence, or that any of our actions can be pronounced to be truly virtuous. If that love, which is the fulfilling of the law, be absent from the mind in regard to God, how can it exist and operate in the mind in respect to our fellow-creatures ? And, on the other hand,
“ If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?" The love of God and of our neighbour is the same affection in nature, but exercised in regard to different objects, and is not only essential to virtue, but is the very principle which gives to any being or action the qualities of virtue. To require this love to God, and to the creatures that he has formed in his image, to the extent specified in the divine law, is to require beings endowed with understanding and will to be virtuous beings, voluntarily to co-operate with their Creator in the advancement of that glory and happiness for which all things exist, and to secure to themselves the true and lasting enjoyment of which their nature is capable.
This is what God demands; and does not his demand accord with the uncorrupted capabilities of the human mind? Are there not desires in man, essentially connected with his nature in every state, but in his state of apostacy and of darkness, which lead it as directly to God as its only portion, as the desires accompanying hunger and thirst lead us to seek their gratification from the food which Providence has adapted for us. They elevate the soul, in the exercise of holy affection and complacency to Him that made it, prompting it to view in his perfection and all-sufficiency, its great and lasting good ; to regard all enjoyments as the expression of his favour ; and even to prefer sufferings to these enjoyments, should it be the will of God to appoint them. “ As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, o God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.”
It is clear, then, that man is holy and happy, only in proportion as he obeys this first and great commandment of the law, to love the Lord God with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the mind, and with all the strength. Nor is it any
valid objection to this position, that he may, in the present state, have some gratification while his heart is alienated from God, and opposed to his authority ;and that while his mind is in this state of enmity against God, and not caring either about the knowledge or the doing of his will, he may be drawing a considerable share of enjoyment from those inferior springs which the goodness of the Creator has commanded to flow. For, these enjoyments are in their nature fleeting ; the capacity of deriving any share of happiness decays with the decay of life, and even at the time when this capacity is unimpaired, and when those enjoyments do abound, one such view of the holiness and perfection of the eternal God, and of the obligation of giving him the love of the heart, as would allow the light of truth to strike upon the conscience, would in a moment dissolve the charm.
He cannot, without disregarding his duty and happiness, without becoming a rebel against God the sovereign ruler of the universe, without relinquishing a part in the employments of every virtuous being, and without frustrating, in so far as his individual efforts and example will avail to that end, the glorious
purposes of his being,—he cannot, without these effects, cease to love the Lord God to the extent and in the manner prescribed by his law. I shall not attempt to strengthen this position, by a representation of the consequences which must follow the absence of love to God and to one another in the myriads of intelligent beings who inhabit the dominions of the only living and true God,-nor of the lamentation, and misery, and woe, that would overspread the creation, the wretched abode of beings living in malice and in envy, hateful and hating one another.
ON OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD :
-THE LAW OF GOD THE RULE OF THIS OBEDIENCE.
The first and the natural expression of love to God is, obedience to his will. It is of the nature of love to prompt to a compliance with the will of the beloved object. What pleasure does an affectionate child feel in fulfilling, I shall not say the commands, merely, of a parent, but his wishes ; and how eagerly does he watch for opportunities to shew his gratitude and veneration.
In like manner, love to God will lead to a voluntary and cheerful obedience to his will. If the heart be filled and occupied with this affection, what pure enjoyment is felt in complying cordially with all God's commandments ! Its language will be,“ O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day, My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.”
Let us inquire, in the first place, concerning the rule of that obedience which we owe to God, and, secondly, into the different forms of which this obedience consists.
By obedience to the will of God we mean the whole of our duty as accountable creatures. Every duty, whether its direct object be God, our fellowcreatures, or ourselves, is a duty which we owe to God, whose right is announced by every man's conscience. His will is the rule and the standard of right and wrong, and of moral action; and on this ground alone we are entitled to pronounce that morality extremely defective which does not emanate from the principle of love to God. Virtue is pure and elevated in porportion as it springs from this life-giving source. No sacrifice is acceptable, which is not kindled by this heavenly fire; no offering sweet, which is not seasoned by this holy salt.
I allow, indeed, that by the operation of inferior motives some exterior virtues may be cherished that are highly useful to society ;-that a sense of honour, by its restraints and stimulants, may do much ;--that a regard to social order may lead to the cultivation of certain habits which are of great value to the community ;-that the refinement of a cultivated understanding may give to the manners the polish and correctness of good breeding ;--and that a mere regard to reputation will have its weight in inducing some to observe the decencies of human life. The operation of these principles, singly or combined,