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to thee available for the remission of thy sins, the increase of desert and grace, and the reward of ever- lasting life. Amen.”
What a deal of self-wrought stuff is here, the me rit of which, instead of the merit of Christ alone, is said to be available for the remission of sins? And is it not the same with our half-Papist Protestants? Are there not multitudes of them who think that the merit of their church-going, and the strictness of their lives, and the merit of their prayers and alms, and other good works, will justify them before God, or if they dare not trust wholly to them, yet they hope Christ will supply what is in them deficient? But this is mixing grace with works, which the scripture will not allow to stand together: for if works, wholly or in part, merit our justification, then there would be room for boasting, which God, in his way of jus-tifying sinners by the righteousness of Christ, has ab solutely excluded, that no flesh night glory in hispresence, Christ being made of God unto sinners all that they want, even wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and eternal redemption; that according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Since then Christ has made an atonement for sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, why will you glory in yourselves, rather than glory in the Lord? Why will you trust to your own fancied righteousness, since nothing but pride could tempt you to glory in it? Your ignorance of Christ's righteousness hinders your seeing how infinitely perfect it is, and your own self-sufficiency will not let you submit to be saved by it, and therefore you go about to establish your own righteousness. You may work for a time upon this plan, and think yourself safe. You may lull conscience asleep, and deceive others with your fair outside: but the cheat cannot last long. God sees your hearts, and the corruption in them is naked and open to him, although you study to hide it from yourselves. He has declared of you, although you will not believe him, that you are
not righteous: for there is none righteous in himself, no, not one. This is his sovereign decree. O that your consciences may submit to it, and seek for a righteousness which God will accept at his bar! Dreadful will be the time, if you appear there without a complete and infinitely perfect righteousness. Such there is in Christ, and in none else, and it is offered freely, even to you, ye self-righteous Pharisees, You may receive the free gift of his righteousness, if you will renounce your own. And what is your own? What merit can there be in these duties, which are done out of pride, done in sin, and done in opposition to the word of God? If you can reject all dependance upon these, the gospel offers to you freely the righteousness of God for your justifica tion. O that he may dispose you to accept of it, that being justified by faith, you may have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and may live in the comfortable sense and enjoyment of this peace, until you receive a crown of righteousness, which fadeth not away! Grant this, Holy Father, for the all-perfect righteousness sake of thy beloved Son Jesus Christ; to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, three persons in one Jehovah, be equal praise and honour, and glory and dominion and power, in time and in eter nity. Amen and Amen.
On the right Knowledge of God.
And one of the Scribes came, and having heard them reasoning to gether, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, 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 commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:' there is none other commandment greater than these." MARK, xii. 28, 29, 30, 31.
UR blessed Saviour had been disputing with the chief priests, and elders, and the scribes, and after he had silenced them, they left him and went their way. But they departed with enraged and malicious hearts, determined to take the first opportunity to destroy him, and they send certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians to catch him in his words. These hypocrites pretended to believe him to be a faithful teacher of the way of God, and to come to him with no other view than to desire his opinion upon a very difficult case, namely, whether it was lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? Our Lord solved this difficult question in a manner that astonished his very adversaries; for he, knowing their wicked hearts, said unto them, why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny: and when they brought it he said, whose
image and superscription is this upon it? And they answered, Cæsar's. Then, said he, render therefore to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things that are God's. As soon as he had silenced them, certain of the Sadducees came, with a case out of the law, which they thought he was not able to solve, but he presently showed them, that their error arose from their ignorance of scripture, and he put them to silence. While he was confuting them with the authority of Moses, the Pharisees were gathered together against him, and one of them being a Scribe, learned in the law, having heard him reasoning with the chief priests, then with the Herodians, and afterwards with the Sadducees, and perceiving that he had answered them well, was willing to try him with a question out of the law. The Scribe asked him, which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, 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, &c. And the Scribe said unto him, well, master, thou hast said the truth for there is one God, and there is none other but he, and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
In this passage we have the sum and substance of vital and practical religion. The first and greatest commandment is the love of God, arising from the right knowledge of his essence and personality; and the second is like unto it, namely, the love of our neighbour, founded upon the true love of God. There is none other commandment greater than these; for upon these two hang all the law and the prophets : and since these two are the greatest, they therefore deserve our greatest attention. Our Lord demands it
of us in the text. What he enjoins for the two greatest commandments we ought to esteem such, and to study them most, and to practise them best. To that end let us consider them carefully, and may his good Spirit open our understandings to comprehend them, and dispose our hearts to love them, and give us grace and strength to practise them agreeably to his holy will!
The first commandment consists of two parts, the knowledge of God, and the love of God. The true knowledge of God is contained in these words-hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And the nature and degree of love to God is thus describedthou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength. I shall confine myself at present to the first of these particulars, purposing, through divine assistance, to explain and enforce what is laid down in the text concerning the true knowledge of God, reserving the other parts of the text for some future opportunity.
The first and chief point in our religious enquiries is, to discover what God is. This is the fundamental article, upon which all the rest depend. We must know the nature and personality of God, before we can serve and love him, and therefore our blessed Saviour very properly places the knowledge of God before the love of him. We cannot love what we know nothing of. Ignorance of God cannot possi bly beget love of him. If there be very dark and confused ideas of him in the understanding, there cannot be much true love of him in the heart: for which reason the text determines and fixes the proper object of worship, before it requires the love and service which is to be paid him. Our Lord begins with the knowledge of the true God, and does not propose any thing new on this point, but goes to the law and to the testimony. He cites a passage from Deut. vi. 4, in which the divine essence and person ality are clearly stated: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." This is a command to the