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timates, that true love comprizes and links together all the christian graces and virtues, which form a perfect moral character. And he says the same thing again in plainer terms. “ All the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” These passages, taken in their most easy, and natural sense, plainly teach us, that love answers all the demands of the law.
3. It is the nature of true love to make us feel and act in every respect, just as God requires. So far as we possess true benevolence, we shall both internally and externally obey every divine command. We shall not only feel properly towards God, our neighbor, and ourselves; but also express our feelings by all proper external actions. Are we commanded to rejoice that the Lord reigneth? If we love God, we shall sincerely rejoice in his supreme and universal do. minion. Are we commanded to pray without ceasing? If we love God, we shall take pleasure in pouring out our hearts before him in prayer. Are we commanded to do every thing to the glory of God? If we love God, we shall do every thing heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men. Are we commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? If we esteem him the chiefest among ten thousand, we shall naturally exercise that faith, which worketh by love. Are we exhorted to do to others, as we would, that others should do to us? If we love others as ourselves, we shall as really seek their interest, as our own. Are rulers required to promote the good of their subjects? If they love their subjects, they will exert all their power and abilities, to promote their peace and prosperity. Is it the duty of subjects to obey their rulers? If they love their rulers, they will obey them, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. Does it become the rich to be kind to the poor? If the love of God be shed abroad in their hearts, they cannot see proper objects of charity, and yet shut up their bowels of compassion from them. In a word, if there be any other commandment, which has not been mentioned, love will prompt men to obey it.
This natural tendency of love, to produce every virtuous feeling and action, is beautifully illustrated by the Apostle's description of charity; which, he says, “suffereth long, and is kind, and which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Such patience, kindness, candor, and selfdenial, love has often produced. Love led Abraham to offer up Isaac. Love led Moses to renounce all his worldly prospects, and to suffer affliction with the people of God. Love led the prophets, the Apostles, and primitive christians, to perform astonishing acts of obedience and suffering. And love led the man Christ Jesus to suffer and die on the cross for the salvation of sinners. Love therefore, is the fulfilling of the law, as it prompts men to do every thing, which God commands.; Add to this,
4. Love restrains men from every thing, which God forbids. The law has prohibitions as well as precepts. God forbids some things as well as requires others. And it is the nature of love to restrain men from doing what God, forbids, as well as to prompt them to do what God enjoins. We read, “Charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is notipuffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth'not in iniquity.” So long as love reigns in the heart, it restrains 'men from envy, pride, vanity, resentment, and every unseemly thought, word and action, which God has forbidden. And it is in more particular reference to this restraining influence of
love, that the Apostle says it is the fulfilling of the law. This appears from the words before the text, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for, he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” If a man love his neighbor, he will not injure his person, nor property, nor character. If a man love his enemy, he will not render evil for evil, but blessing for cursing. If a man love his country, he will do nothing to injure its prosperity and happi
And if a man love God, he will neither profane his name, nor dishonor his Son, nor resist his Spirit, nor oppose his kingdom, nor complain of his providence, nor do any thing to rob him of his glory. Love worketh no ill to any created, nor uncreated being; and, therefore, it is in this and all other respects, the fulfilling of the law.
IMPROVEMENT. 1. If all obedience to the divine law consists in the positive exercise of true love; then all disobedience to the divine law must consist in the positive exercise of false love, or real selfishness. The mere want of love cannot be a transgression of the law of love. Though all the animal tribes are totally destitute of that love, which the law requires; yet they do not disobey the will of their Maker. A mere want is a mere nothing, and a mere nothing has no natural, nor moral qualities. It is as hard to conceive, that disobedience should consist in mere privation, as to conceive, that obedience should. It is as hard to conceive, that sin Herbs fases were
should originate from a mere want of holiness, as to conceive, that holiness should originate from the mere want of sin. This leads us to suppose, that both sin and holiness have a positive existence, and a diametrically opposite nature. And since all the holiness which the law requires, consists in positive benevolence, it naturally follows that all the sin, which the law condemns, consists in positive selfishness. These two kinds of love do actually exist and oppose each other. Interested love opposes disinterested; partial love opposes impartial; the love of a detached individ
a ual opposes the love of being in general. Selfishness disposes any person to seek his own private, separate interest, in opposition to the glory of God and the good of the universe. The law, which requires positive benevolence, must necessarily condemn such positive selfishness, and nothing else. Accordingly we find, that nothing but selfishness and its various modifications are condemned in the Bible. The Apostle tells us, that “sin is a transgression of the law," and not a mere want of conformity to it. Positive selfishness, and nothing else, is the transgression of the law of pure, disinterested benevolence.
2. If love is the fulfilling of the law, then a good heart consists in love. A good heart is certainly required. God says, “My son, give me thine heart. And he says to sinners in general,“Make you a new heart, and a new spirit.” He also reprobates the best services of those, who are destitute of a good heart. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Solomon represents the heart as forming the moral character of every person. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” It is, indeed, the general representation of Scripture, that a good heart consti
tutes a good man. Now, if this be true, a good heart must consist in love; for love is the fulfilling of the law. Hence, when God requires a good heart, he requires love, and when he requires love, he requires a good heart. And though it is said in the text, that love is the fulfilling of the law; yet it may be as truly said, that a good heart is the fulfilling of the law.
It is the dictate of common sense, that a good heart consists in love. For only separate love from a good heart, and there will be no good heart left. If a good heart were distinct from love, then we could form a clear idea of it distinct from love. But whenever we think of a good heart, either in ourselves or in others, we think of kind, tender, benevolent feelings, or the exercises of pure, divine love. And it is out of our power to conceive of a good heart, which is not wholly composed of good affections, or the genuine feelings of true benevolence.
If we now attend to the fruits of a good heart, we shall find them to be the same as the fruits of love, A good heart will produce spiritual and divine knowledge. Speaking of his peculiar people, God says. “I will give them an heart to know me.” The Apostle ascribes the same effect to love. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” The Scrip. ture also represents a good heart as the source of all moral goodness. “A good man, says our Lord, out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things.” But if love be the fulfilling of the law, then love is equally the source of all moral goodness. According to Scripture, as well as the common sense of mankind, the love and the good heart, which God requires, are one and the same thing, and produce the same effects. Does a good heart