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condemns, then saints properly never have two hearts; but only one, which is sometimes holy and sometimes sinful. This is agreeable to their daily experience. They find their heart to be like a deceitful bow. It may be one hour in a holy and heavenly frarne, and the next hour in a frame entirely different. But they are never conscious of loving and of hating God, at one and the same time.
Sonne suppose that good men are better than their free and voluntary exercises are. They imagine that saints may have grace in principle, while they have none in exercise. But since love is the fulfilling of the law, there is no foundation for this sentiment. Saints have just as much grace as true love, and no more. They are just as good as their holy exercises are, and no better. Whenever they exercise any selfish affection, they as really transgress the divine law, and fall under the divine displeasure, as if they never had possessed one gracious affection, or benevolent feeling. Such sentiments as these, which are founded on a dormant principle of grace, distinct from every gracious exercise, must appear entirely groundless, if love is the fulfilling of the law and comprises the whole duty of man.
5. Since love answers all the demands of the law, sinners have no excuse for not obeying any one of its precepts. God has furnished them with all the natural faculties which are necessary in order to understand and perform their whole duty. And all that he requires of them is, to exercise true love or real benevolence to the extent of those natural powers which they already possess. It is true, he requires them to make themselves a new heart; but the new heart which he requires them to make, consists in love. It is true, he requires them to be perfect; but the perfection which he requires them to have, consists in love. It is true, he requires them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit; but this cleansing all consists in love. It is true, he requires them to repent, to believe, to submit, and to deny themselves; but all the repentance, faith, submission, and self denial, which he requires, consist in love. In a word, there is not a single duty enjoined upon sinners, but what true love will perform. Hence, if they have no excuse for the want of that love which the law requires, they can have no excuse for not yielding universal obedience to the divine commands.
6. If the law requires nothing but love, then it always approves itself to every awakened and enlightened conscience. While sinners indulge themselves in carnal ease and security, they are ready to think and say that God is a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he had
not strewed. But when their conscience is awakened to see that God requires no heart, no inward exercise, no external action, but what consists in or flows from love, they feel the propriety and justice of every divine precept. Paul 'never felt the force of the divine law, until it was set home upon his conscience. Then he found, it required nothing but benevolence, and condemned nothing but selfishness. This took away every excuse, and filled his conscience with guilt and remorse. He freely confesses, “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. - But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." He felt himself justly condemned, for having always lived in the exercise of a selfish instead of a benevolent spirit. And all awakened and convinced sinners have the same view of themselves. Their consciences compel them, in spite of their hearts, to acknowledge that the law which condemns them for all their past selfishness, and which requires them immediately to love God supremely, upon pain of eternal destruction, is perfectly holy, just and good.
7. If love is the fulfilling of the law, then nothing without love can fulfil it. This, multitudes deny both in theory and in practice. The Scribes and Pharisees totally excluded love from the essence of obedience. The Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, placed all his obedience and hopes of divine acceptance in the mere externals of religion. The young man who came to our Saviour to ask the way to eternal life, verily thought that he had perfectly obeyed the law from his youth up, merely because he had never been guilty of any overt act of transgression. And Paul also, while in a state of nature and a perfect enemy to God, viewed himself, “ touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” The same sentiment respecting the nature of true obedience still continues and prevails. Many imagine that though they have not the love of God in them, yet that by reading and praying, by attending public worship and divine ordinances, and by outward acts of justice, kindness and compassion, they can acceptably perform some part, if not the whole of their duty. But if love be the fulfilling of the law, then nothing done without love is, in the least, obedience to the divine commands. This doctrine Christ abundantly taught in his sermon on the mount, and in the whole course of his preaching. Hear his severe and pointed reproofs to the Jewish teachers, who separated obedience from love.“ 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 Pharisee! 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.” The law of love requires nothing separate from love; and therefore no religious professions, no religious desires, no
ligious performances, which are separate from love, do in the least degree fulfil the law. Hence it is the first and immediate duty of sinners to exercise that love which the law requires. They cannot perform a single duty without the exercise of love. They can neither repent, nor believe, nor do any thing acceptable to God, until they renounce their enmity to him, and love him supremely. They must be reconciled to the law before they can be reconciled to the gospel. They must love the law before they can love the gospel, and embrace the offers of life; for saving faith worketh by love. Let every sinner, therefore, immediately obey the first and great commandment, and exercise that love, which alone will secure the favor and enjoyment of God. “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."
Waroe now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among
the thieves. — LUKB, X. 36
Common sense is not that sense which mankind commonly exercise, but that sense which they all possess, and would always exercise were it not for the depravity of their hearts. They are all capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong, in their own conduct and in the conduct of others; nor would they ever differ in judgment on any moral subject, could they only be made to view it in a true and clear light. For this reason, our Saviour frequently appealed to the common sense of his hearers in his private and public discourses. And to do this in the best manner, he generally spake parables, or put cases in which they could not perceive themselves interested. By such a mode of instruction, he gained direct access to their consciences; and, in spite of their hearts, made them judge righteous judgment. We find a remarkable instance of this, in the parable to which our text refers. A certain lawyer came to Christ under the pretext of seeking instruction, but really with a view of trying him as a casuist. He said,
Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Our Saviour first referred him to the divine law, which required him to love God supremely, and his neighbor as himself; “but he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor ? Instead of directly answering this captious question, Christ spake the following parable, which was a direct appeal to his own conscience, and could not fail to make him see and feel the truth : “ And Jesus answering, said, A certain man went
down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain Priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow,
when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host; and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves ? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise.” This parable might be viewed in various lights, and afford instruction on various subjects; but the words of our text naturally lead us to consider the two following things :
I. How differently these three men treated a poor object of distress;
II. To what it was owing, that they treated him so differently.
I. Let us consider how differently these three men treated the poor creature, that was robbed and wounded. This man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho; but the three men who found him in his wretched situation, were travelling in a contrary direction, and probably going to Jerusalem, where men ought to worship. And it seems they were travelling separately, and each came alone to the object of distress ; so that each had a fair opportunity of acting according to his own feelings, without the least foreign influence. The wounded man was half dead, and incapable of crying for relief. The Priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan, had nothing to consult but their own feelings, and each acted exactly as he felt. The Priest came first, and just saw the poor, miserable, perishing object, but never so much as went to him, lest his eye should affect his heart, and awaken his conscience to do his duty. The Levite, who came next, was more inhuman and cruel. When he came to the place, he went and looked on the wretched object, and saw his wounds, and heard his groans, but after all, passed by on the other side, and left him to perish without affording him the least assistance. In contrast with the Priest and Levite, how differently does the Samaritan appear? When he came and saw the same miserable object, he had compassion