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endeavour to imitate them. Let us delight to think and to speak of God, omitting no opportunity of conversing with him in private or public prayer; of pouring out our souls before him on all occasions, whether of sorrow or joy; intreating pardon for our offences, and imploring his assistance for our future conduct, and submitting with patience to the corrections of his fatherly hand. Let us commit all our concerns to the Great Disposer of events, with a firm persuasion, that every thing will work together for our good, if we make the love of him the leading principle of our actions."
The love of our Maker certainly is the FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT; for it is agreeable to reason, that the Supreme LORD of all, the first and greatest, and best of Beings, should have the first place in our regards; and that those duties which respect him as their immediate object, should have the precedence and command over every other.
*Having answered the question of the Scribe, by telling him, that the love of GOD was the great commandment, our LORD added, that the second was like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. CHRIST had, on a former occasion, by the parable of the good Samaritan, taught, that all mankind are to be considered as our neighbours; he now intimated, that the love of our fellow-creatures was deducible from our love of God: for as the DIVINE BEING is our common Father, and equally concerned for the welfare of all his children, those who are bound to love HIM, cannot be at liberty to hurt or oppress those whom GOD has taken under his care and protection; for if it be our duty and interest to please Gon, it must also be our duty and
* Bishop Sherlock's Sermons, Vol. I.
interest to be kind and tender towards those who are the children of GoD, and in whose happiness he is not an unconcerned spectator. But we must remember, that the love of our neighbour does not consist in formal professions of affection and good-will; for our SAVIOUR requires us to Do unto all men as we would they should do unto us. This, as has been already observed, is so plain a precept, that the meanest understanding may comprehend it. But we may be farther instructed in respect to the application of it, by studying the Commandments of the second table of the moral law of Moses, which our SAVIOUR's precepts were calculated to enforce. Let us carefully study these, and remember our SAVIOUR'S declaration, that on the LOVE OF GOD, and THE LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR, hang all the Law and the Prophets. The meaning of which is, that nothing contrary to them is taught by the Law and the Prophets, but all religion is reducible to one or other of these two principles: therefore, we must not depend for salvation on the performance of the mere ceremonials of religion, for all devotion is empty and vain, that has not the love of GOD for its basis; and it is genuine charity and good-will to our fellow-creatures alone, that can render our moral actions acceptable in the sight of GOD.
CHRIST DENOUNCES WOES AGAINST THE PHARISEES.
From Matthew, Chap. xxiii.
THEN spake JESUS to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and they lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
But all their works they do, for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even CHRIST, and all ye are brethren.
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one your Father who is in heaven.
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even CHRIST. But he that is greatest among you, shall be your servant.
And whomsoever shall exalt himself, shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself, shall be exalted. But wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering, to go in.
Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Wo unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever
shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor.
Ye fools, and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
And whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing: but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
Ye fools, and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
Whoso, therefore, shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon;
And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein;
And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of GOD, and by him that sitteth thereon.
Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye make clean the outside of the cup, and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Thou blind Pharisees, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy chickens together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Behold your house is left unto you desolate.
For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth,
ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the LORD.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Our LORD having, as we read in the last Section, by