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ST. MATT. XXII. 39.
THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS
HAVING shown you in what your Duty towards God consists, and how you can perform it with the greatest honour and advantage to yourselves, I come to the consideration of your Duty towards your Neighbour.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," said God to the children of Israel. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," said our Saviour to his Disciples. "Ye are taught of God," wrote the Apostle, "to love one another." Hence we find, that the obligation of mutual love is imposed upon us by the command of Heaven. If, therefore, we
* Lev. xix. 18.
+ Matt. xix. 19.
1 Thess. iv. 9.
do not show forth this love in our conduct, we infringe a positive divine law.
We have likewise a strong inducement and exhortation to love one another in the example of God himself, "Herein," says St. John, " is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." We love God, because he first loved us, in showering upon us innumerable benefits, and in sending his only-begotten Son to save us from our sins. But it is not sufficient to say we love him; we must prove our affection by our actions. It is one of the vainest things in the world to profess that
we love God, if we do not love our neighbour. For, "if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?" If, when we feel a regard for another on account of some quality which we admire in him, or of
1 John, iv. 10.
+ 1 John, iv. 20.
some similarity in his disposition and habits to our own, we think that we are in full possession of Christian love, we are greatly mistaken ; for this is a particular affection for a particular person, and not that comprehensive feeling of Charity, which, although it considers first those who are of the household of faith, embraces enemies as well as friends, and extends to the whole human race. It is a regard, which the common sympathies of our nature excite, and which is awakened within us without any
reference to the divine will. It is a natural impulse, and not a religious feeling. I do not say, that this affection is wrong, nor would I in the least condemn it, except when fixed upon improper objects. But, although connected with it, it is not that comprehensive love taught by our Saviour. We may love our neighbour in the way just mentioned, and may render him very essential service; and yet we may not obey the command “ Love thy neighbour as thyself ;” and for this reason, because we do not love him, we do not render him service, from