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endeavor, are due: and reasonably might he engross them to himself, excluding all other beings from any share in them; so that we might be obliged only to fix our thoughts and set our affections on him, only to act directly for his honor and interest; saying with the holy psalmist, Whom have I in hea ven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire beside thee:' yet doth he freely please to impart a share of these performances on mankind; yet doth he charge us to place our affection on one another; to place it there, indeed, in a measure so large, that we can hardly imagine a greater; according to a rule, than which none can be devised more complete or certain.

O marvellous condescension, O goodness truly divine; which surpasseth the nature of things, which dispenseth with the highest right, and foregoeth the greatest interest that can be! Doth not God in a sort debase himself, that he might advance us? Doth he not appear to waive his own due, and neglect his own honor for our advantage? How otherwise could the love of man be capable of any resemblance to the love of God, and not stand at an infinite distance, or in an extreme disparity from it? How otherwise could we be obliged to affect or regard any thing beside the sovereign, the only goodness? How otherwise could there be any second or like to that first, that great, that peerless command, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart?'

This indeed is the highest commendation whereof any law is capable for as to be like God is the highest praise that can be given to a person; so to resemble the divinest law of love to God is the fairest character that can be assigned of a law: the which indeed representeth it to be vóμos Baσiλikòs, as St. James calleth it; that is, a royal and sovereign law; exalted above all others, and bearing a sway on them. St. Paul telleth us, that the end of the commandment (or, the main scope of the evangelical doctrine) is 'charity out of a pure heart, and á good conscience, and faith unfeigned;' that charity is the sum and substance of all other duties, and that he that loveth another bath fulfilled the whole law;' that charity is the chief of the theological virtues, and the prime fruit of the divine Spirit ;' and the bond of perfection,' which combineth and consum




mateth all other graces, and the general principle of all our doings. St. Peter enjoineth us that to all other virtues we' add charity,' as the top and crown of them: and, Above all things,' saith he, have fervent charity among yourselves.' St. John calleth this law, in way of excellence, the commandment of God;' and our Lord himself claimeth it as his peculiar precept, 'This,' saith he, is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you;' 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another:' and maketh the observance of it the special cognisance of his followers, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.'

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These indeed are lofty commendations thereof, yet all of them may worthily veil to this; all of them seem verified in virtue of this, because God hath vouchsafed to place this command in so near adjacency to the first great law, conjoining the two tables; making charity contiguous, and, as it were, commensurate to piety.

It is true that in many respects charity doth resemble piety; for it is the most genuine daughter of piety, thence in complexion, in features, in humor much favoring its sweet mother : it doth consist in like dispositions and motions of soul: it doth grow from the same roots and principles of benignity, ingenuity, equity, gratitude, planted in our original constitution by the breath of God, and improved in our hearts by the divine Spirit of love; it produceth the like fruits of beneficence toward others, and of comfort in ourselves; it in like manner doth assimilate us to God, rendering us conformable to his nature, followers of his practice, and partakers of his felicity: it is of like use and consequence toward the regulation of our practice, and due management of our whole life: in such respects, I say, this law is like to the other; but it is however chiefly so for that God hath pleased to lay so great stress thereon, as to make it the other half of our religion and duty; or because, as St. John saith, 'This commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also;' which is to his praise a most pregnant demonstration of his immense goodness toward us.

But no less in the very substance of this duty will the benig nity of him that prescribeth it shine forth, displaying itself in the rare beauty and sweetness of it; together with the vast

benefit and utility, which it, being observed, will yield to mankind; which will appear by what we may discourse for pressing its observance. But first let us explain it, as it lieth before us expressed in the words of the text, wherein we shall consider two particulars observable: first, the object of the duty; secondly, the qualification annexed to it: the object of it, our neighbor;' the qualification, as ourselves.'

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I. The object of charity is our neighbor;' that is, (it being understood, as the precept now concerneth us, according to our Lord's exposition, or according to his intent and the tenor of his doctrine) every man, with whom we have to do, or who is capable of our love, especially every Christian.

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The law, as it was given to God's ancient people, did openly regard only those among them who were linked together in a holy neighborhood or society, from which all other men being excluded were deemed strangers and foreigners; ('aliens,' as St. Paul speaketh, from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise.') For thus the law runneth in Leviticus, Thou shalt not bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; where plainly Jews and neighbors are terms equivalent; other men being supposed to stand at distance without the fold or politic inclosure, which God by several ordinances had fenced, to keep that nation unmixt and separate: nor can it be excepted against this notion, that in the same chapter it is enjoined, But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself;' for by that stranger (as the Jewish masters will interpret it) is meant a proselyte of righteousness;' or one who, although a stranger by birth, was yet a brother in religion, having voluntarily submitted to their law, being engaged in the same covenant, and thence admitted to the same privileges, as an adopted child of that holy family.

But now, such distinctions of men being voided, and that wall of partition' demolished, all the world is become one people; subject to the laws of one common Lord; and capable of the mercies purchased by one Redeemer. God's love to mankind did move him to send our Lord into the world, to assume human nature, and therein to become a mediator be




tween God and men. disposed him to undertake their salvation, and to expiate their sins, and to taste death for every man;' the effect whereof is an universal reconciliation of God to the world, and an union of men together.

Our Lord's kindness to all his brethren

Now the blood of Christ hath cemented mankind; the favor of God embracing all hath approximated and combined all together; so that now every man is our brother, not only by nature, as derived from the same stock, but by grace, as partaker of the common redemption; now God desiring the salvation of all men,' and inviting all men to mercy, our duty must be coextended with God's grace, and our charity must follow that of our Saviour.

We are therefore now to all men, that which one Jew was to another; yea more than such, our Christianity having induced much higher obligations, stricter alliances, and stronger endearments, than were those whereby Judaism did engage its followers to mutual amity. The duties of common humanity (to which our natural frame and sense do incline us, which philosophy recommendeth and natural religion doth prescribe, being grounded on our community of nature and cognation of blood, on apparent equity, on general convenience and utility) our religion doth not only enforce and confirm, but enhance and improve; superadding higher instances and faster ties of spiritual relation, reaching in a sort to all men, (as being in duty, in design, in remote capacity our spiritual brethren ;) but in especial manner to all Christians, who actually are fellow members of the same holy fraternity, contracted by spiritual regeneration from one heavenly seed, supported by a common faith and hope, strengthened by communion in acts of devotion and charity.

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Hereon therefore are grounded those evangelical commands, explicatory of this law as it now standeth in force; that‘as we have opportunity we should do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith;' that we should abound in love one towards another, and towards all men ;' that we should glorify God in our professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, by liberally distributing to the saints, and to all men ;' that we should follow peace with all men,' should

be patient toward all men ;' and ' 'gentle toward all men,' and 'show all meekness toward all men ;' and 'ever follow that which is good both among ourselves, and to all men ;' that we should make supplications, intercessions, and thanksgiv ings for all men,' especially for all saints,' or all our fellow. Christians; and express moderation,' or ingenuity, to all men.'


Such is the object of our charity; and thus did our Lord himself expound it, when by a Jewish lawyer being put to resolve this question, And who is my neighbor?' he did propound a case, or history, whereby he did extort from that Rabbi this confession, that even a Samaritan, discharging a notable office of humanity and mercy to a Jew, did thereby most truly approve himself a good neighbor to him; and consequently that reciprocal performances of such offices were due from a Jew to a Samaritan; whence it might appear that this relation of neighborhood is universal and unlimited. So much for the object.

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II. As for the qualification annexed and couched in those words, as thyself;' that, as I conceive, may import both a rule declaring the nature, and a measure determining the quantity, of that love which is due from us to our neighbor; the comparative term as implying both conformity or similitude, and commensuration or equality.

1. Loving our neighbor as ourselves' doth import a rule, directing what kind of love we should bear and exercise toward him; or informing us that our charity doth consist in having the same affections of soul, and in performing the same acts of beneficence toward him, as we are ready by inclination, as we are wont in practice to have or to perform toward ourselves, with full approbation of our judgment and conscience, apprehending it just and reasonable so to do.

We cannot indeed better understand the nature of this duty, than by reflecting on the motions of our own heart, and observing the course of our demeanor toward ourselves; for thence infallibly we may be assured how we should stand affected, and how we should behave ourselves toward others.

This is a peculiar advantage of this rule, (inferring the excellent wisdom and goodness of him who framed it,) that by it

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