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are called our civilities, our obligingness of deportment, our defence of their good name, our professional assistance, our peculiar efforts for their relief and comfort on occasions which peculiarly demand them, and especially those kind offices which are always needed by the sick and afflicted. The tendency of love, like that of the needle to the pole, is steadily directed to the promotion of happiness, and of course to the relief of distress. The cases in which this object can be obtained, and the modes in which it can be accomplished, are of no consequence in the eye of love. It only asks the questions, how, when, and where, good can be done? When these are satisfactorily answered, it is ever ready to act with vigour and efficacy, to the production of any good; except that it is regularly disposed to devote its labours especially to that which is especially necessary. As its sole tendency is to promote happiness, it is evident that it cannot but be ready to act for this end, in whatever manner may be in its power. He therefore who is willing to do good in some cases, and not in others, will find little reason to believe that he possesses. the benevolence of the Gospel.
(4.) Love to our neighbour is especially directed to the good of his soul.
As the soul is of more worth than the body, as the interests of eternity are more important than those of time; so the immortal concerns of man demand proportionally the good will and the kind offices of his fellow men. In discharging the duties created by this great object of benevolence, we are required to instruct, counsel, reprove, rebuke, restrain, encourage, comfort, support, and invigorate them, so far as it shall be in our power. We are also bound to forgive cheerfully their unkindness to us; to bear with their frowardness; to endure patiently their slowness of apprehension, or reformation; and to repeat our efforts for their good, as we have opportunity, unto the end. For this purpose we are bound to hope concerning them, so long as hope can be exercised, that neither we nor they may be discouraged; and to pray for them without ceasing.' All these offices of kindness are the immediate dictates of evangelical love. He therefore who does not perform them, in some good measure at least, can lay no claim to the benevolence of the Gospel.
1. From these observations it is evident, that the second great command of the moral law is, as it is expressed in the text, like the first.'
It is not only prescribed by the same authority, and possessed of the same obligation, unalterable and eternal; but it enjoins exactly the exercise of the same disposition. The love required in this command is exactly the same which is required in the first; a single character, operating now towards God, and now towards our fellow creatures. Equally does it resemble the first in its importance. That regulates all our conduct towards God; this towards other intelligent beings. Each is of infinite importance, each is absolutely indispensable. If either did not exist, or were not obeyed, a total and dreadful chasm would be found in the virtue and happiness of the universe. United, they perfectly provide for both. The duty prescribed in the first is undoubtedly first in order; but that prescribed by the last is no less indispensable to the glory of God, and the good of the intelligent creation.
2. Piety and morality are here shown to be inseparable.
It has, I trust, been satisfactorily evinced, that the love required in the divine law is a single disposition, indivisible in its nature, diversified and distinguishable only as exercised toward different objects. When exercised towards God, it is called piety; when exercised towards mankind, it is customarily styled morality. Wherever both objects are known, both are loved of course by every one in whom this disposition exists. He therefore who loves not God, loves not man; and he who does not love man, does not love God.
3. We here see, that the religion of the Scriptures is the true and only source of all the duties of life.
On the obedience of the first and great commandment is founded the obedience of the second: and on these two hang all the law and the prophets,' the precepts of Christ, and the instructions of the apostles. Religion commences with love to God, and terminates in love to man. Thus begun,
and thus ended, it involves every duty, and produces every action which is rewardable, praiseworthy, or useful. There is nothing which ought to be done, which it does not effectuate; there is nothing which ought not to be done, which it does not prevent. It makes intelligent creatures virtuous and excellent. It makes mankind good parents and children, good husbands and wives, good brothers and sisters, good neighbours and friends, good rulers and subjects; and renders families, neighbourhoods, and states, orderly, peaceful, harmonious, and happy. As it produces the punctual performance of all the duties, so it effectually secures all the rights, of mankind. For rights in us are nothing but just claims to the performance of duties by others. Thus the religion of the Scriptures is the true and only source of safety, peace, and prosperity to the world.
In the preceding Discourse I considered, at some length, that love to our neighbour which is required in the second command of the moral law. I shall now attempt to show, that this disposition is more productive of happiness than any other.
The speech of St. Paul, recorded in this chapter, I have long considered as the most perfect example of pathetic cloquence ever uttered by man. The occasion, the theme, the sentiments, the doctrines, the style, are all of the most exquisite kind, wholly suited to each other, and calculated to make the deepest impression on those who heard him. The elders of the church of Ephesus, to whom it was addressed, were ministers of the Gospel, converts to Christianity made by himself, his own spiritual children, who owed to him, under God, their deliverance from endless sin and misery, and their attainment of endless holiness and happiness. They were endeared to him, as he was to them, by the tenderest of all pos
sible ties; presiding over a church, formed in the capital of one of the principal countries in the world, at a period when heresy, contention, and dissoluteness were prophetically seen by him to be advancing with hasty strides to ruin Christianity in that region. This address was therefore delivered at a time when all that was dear to him or them was placed in the most imminent hazard of speedy destruction. They were the persons from whom almost all the exertions were to be expected which might avert this immense evil, and secure the contrary inestimable good; the shepherds, in whose warm affection, care, and faithfulness lay the whole future safety of the flock. He was the apostle, by whom the flock had been gathered into the fold of Christ, and by whom the shepherds were formed, qualified, and appointed. He had now come for the great purpose of admonishing them of their own duty, and of the danger of the flock committed to their charge. He met them with the tenderness of a parent, visiting his children after a long absence. He met them for the last time. He assembled them to hear his last farewell on this side the grave.
To enforce their duty in the strongest manner, he begins his address with reminding them of his manner of life, his piety, faithfulness, zeal, tenderness for them, disinterestedness of conduct, fortitude under the severest sufferings, diligence in preaching the Gospel, steady dependence on God, and entire devotion to the great business of the salvation of men. To them, as eye witnesses, he appeals for the truth of his declarations. Them he charges solemnly, before God, to follow his example; warning them of approaching and accumulating evil, and commending them to the protection, and grace, and truth of God, for their present safety and future reward.
With this extensive, most solemn, and most impressive preparation, he closes his discourse, in a word, with the great truth which he wished to enforce, and the great duty which he wished to enjoin, as the sum and substance of all his instructions, precepts, and example; exhorting them to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, which he said, It is more blessed to give, than to receive.'
In no remains of Demosthenes or Cicero can be found the same simplicity, address, solemnity, tenderness, and sublimity, united. Paul was a man immensely superior to either of these celebrated orators in excellence of character; and, with the