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hateful here, and shall be endlessly guilty and miserable hereafter.
8. In this manner we obey God.
God, whose we are, and whom we are bound to serve, has been pleased to express his pleasure to the intelligent universe, in these two commands. He who published them is our Maker, our Preserver, and our Benefactor. We are his property, created by his hand, formed for his use, made for his glory. His right to dispose of us according to his pleasure is therefore supreme, and such as cannot be questioned. It is a right of course which, although so exercised as to demand of us very great and long continued self-denial, is ever to be submissively, patiently, and cheerfully acknowledged by us. Whatever God is pleased to require us to do or to suffer, we are to do with delight, and suffer with absolute resignation. I'do not mean that we can be required, either with justice or propriety, to do or to suffer any thing which is unjust or wrong. To require this of intelligent creatures is literally impossible for a mind infinitely perfect. But I mean, that whatever this perfect and great Being actually requires, we are absolutely bound to do or suffer in this manner.
At the same time, it is a source of unceasing satisfaction and delight, to discern, from the nature of the subject itself, that all which is actually required, is holy, just and good; supremely honourable to him, and supremely beneficial to his intelligent creatures. This, I flatter myself, has been sufficiently shown in this and the preceding Discourses. It is delightful, while we are employed in obeying God, to perceive immediately that our conduct is in all respects desirable; the most desirable, the most amiable, the most delightful of all possible conduct; in a word, the only conduct which really deserves these epithets.
Obedience to a parent possessed of peculiar wisdom and goodness is, to every dutiful child, delightful in itself; not only when the thing required by him is in its own nature pleasing; but also when it is indifferent, and even when it is difficult and painful. The pleasure enjoyed is in a great measure independent of that which is done; and consists, primarily, in the delightful nature of those affections which are exercised in obeying, and in the satisfaction of pleasing him whom we obey, by the respect and love manifested in our
obedience. The Parent of the universe is possessed of infinite wisdom and goodness. To please him therefore is supremely desirable and delightful. But the only conduct, in which we can possibly please him, is our obedience; and our only obedience is to love him with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves.'
Thus, whether we regard ourselves, and wish to be virtuous, excellent, honourable, and happy; or whether we regard our fellow creatures, and wish to render them happy, to unite with them in a pure and'eternal friendship, to receive unceasingly their esteem and kind offices; and to add our efforts to theirs for the promotion of the universal good: or whether we regard God; and desire to obey, to please, and to glorify him · to coincide voluntarily with the designs formed by his bound less wisdom and goodness; and to advance with our own cordial exertions the divine and immortal ends, which he is accomplishing; we shall make it our chief object to love the Lord, our God, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and with all the understanding.'
THE LAW OF GOD.
THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT.
REVERENCE OF GOD.
AND UNTO MAN HE SAID, THE FEAR OF THE LORD, THAT IS WISDOM, AND TO DEPART FROM EVIL IS UNDERSTANDING.
JOB XXVIII. 28.
IN the last Discourse I examined the nature of love to God, as manifested in those three great exercises of it, which are commonly spoken of under this name: viz. benevolence, complacency, and gratitude. I shall now consider another exercise of this affection, of sufficient magnitude to claim a particular discussion in a System of Theology. This is reverence to the same glorious Being.
The context is an eulogium on wisdom, uttered in the noblest spirit of poetry. After describing, in a variety of particulars, the surprising effects of human ingenuity, and declaring that, extraordinary as these may seem, the ingenuity which has produced them is utterly insufficient to discover the nature of this glorious attainment, Job asserts its value to be greater than any, and than all the most precious things which this world contains. In this state of human insufficiency, he informs us, God was pleased to interfere, and by a direct revelation to declare to man, that the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.'
By wisdom, throughout the Scriptures, in the common language of such men as understand the meaning of their own language, is universally intended that conduct, in which the best means are selected to accomplish the best ends; or the spirit which chooses these ends, and selects these means for their accomplishment. In the former case, the name refers to the conduct only; in the latter, to the character. The best of all ends which it is possible for intelligent creatures to pursue, is the combined and perfectly coincident one of glorifying God, and promoting the good of the universe. The spirit with which this is done in the only effectual manner is that which is here styled the fear of the Lord.' The means by which it is done, are partly the spirit itself, in its various exercises and operations; and partly extraneous means, devised and employed by the same spirit.
A subordinate, but still very important, end, which is or ought to be proposed to himself by every intelligent creature, and for which the most efficacious means ought to be employed by him, is his own eternal happiness. 'The fear of the Lord is (equally) wisdom,' in this view; as being the only disposition which can either be happy in itself, or receive its proper reward from God.
Every person who has read the Scriptures of the Old Testament must have observed that this phrase, the fear of the Lord,' and others substantially involving the same words, as well as the same meaning, are oftener used to denote the moral character which is acceptable to God, than any, perhaps than all, other phrases whatever. It must also have struck every such reader, that this phrase is often used to denote all moral excellence; particularly, that supreme branch of this excellence, which is denominated piety. This is plainly the drift of the text, and of many other corresponding passages of Scripture. Thus it is said, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning' or the chief part, of wisdom,' Psalm cxi. 10. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,' Prov. xiv. 27. The fear of the Lord is his treasure,' Isa. xxxiii. 6. In these and a multitude of other declarations, of a similar import, it is plainly indicated, that the fear of the Lord' is the sum and substance of that morally excellent character, which is the object of the divine complacency.
It must, at the same time, be equally obvious to every
attentive reader of the Bible, that love to God has there exactly the same character; being, in the language of St. Paul, the fulfilling of the law;' and in that of St. John, the same thing as being born of God,' and knowing God;' in the sense, in which such knowledge is declared by our Saviour to belife eternal.'
But there are not two distinct moral characters, severally thus excellent; thus the objects of the divine complacency, and the foundations of eternal life. Moral excellence is one thing; and moral beings bave but one character which recommends them to God. As this is thus differently spoken of under the names of the love of God, and the fear of God, both in the Old and New Testament; it is sufficiently evident to a mind, even slightly attentive, that the fear of God, and the love of God, are but one character, appearing under different modifications. Accordingly, saints, or holy persons, are spoken of sometimes as those who fear God, and sometimes as those who love God: each of these exercises being considered as involving the other; and both as parts only of one character.
That this view of the subject is perfectly just is easily explained by a consideration of its nature. There are two totally distinct exercises, which in the Scriptures, as well as in common language, are denoted by fearing God, which may be called dread and reverence. The former of these emotions is that which is experienced by men, conscious of their guilt, feeling that they have merited the anger of God, and realizing the danger of suffering from his hand the punishment of their sins. In this it is plain that there can be no moral excellence. All that can be said in favour of it is, that it may serve as a check to sin; and prove, among other means, useful to bring sinners to repentance. In itself it is mere terror; and, in the language of the Scriptures only makes us subject to bondage.' The latter of these emotions is a compound of fear and love, usually styled reverence; and is often that exercise of the mind, in which its whole attachment is exerted towards God. Fear, in this sense, is a strong apprehension of the greatness, and the purity of God, excited in the mind of a person who loves him supremely. A lively example of a similar emotion is presented to us by the reverence with which a dutiful child regards a highly respected earthly parent. Ac