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LUKE, X. 27, 28.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.- This do, and thou shalt live.
WHEN I consider the religious systems of the Pagans, I find in them, as if scattered at random, the wild or the elegant products of poetic imagination; I find confounded together the mistakes of the understanding, and the consequences of the folly and corruption of mankind; and I infer that these cannot be the connecting links in the chain that binds earth to heaven—that if God hath spoken, these, at least, are not his words. When, again, I contemplate the confused mixture of wisdom and absurdity, of baseness and of grandeur, which constitutes what is called the religion of Mahomet, I recognise equally the fights of genius and the frauds of imposture; and I conclude, that such a monstrous compound of falsehood and truth cannot be the result of revelation : I see in it only the ingenious efforts of human policy adapting its contrivances to the tastes and habits of a particular quarter of the globe.
When, however, I examine the Gospel, and meditate its instructions as they are presented in all their native purity-such as they appear in the lesson contained in the text, (which St. Matthew relates as uttered by our Saviour, and not by the lawyer) my ideas expand, my whole soul is exalted-my heart throbs and glows within me; I presently conceive in what manner the Prophets were raised up, from the earliest times, to announce Christianity to the world; I conceive how they were enabled to indulge their lofty imaginations so far, without overstepping the simplicity of truth; I am instantly placed upon the sublime and mysterious point of union between God and man; and, at once admiring the harmony of the whole and the beauty of every part-the grandeur of the thoughts and the simplicity of the language of the Bible—I exclaim: Enough—the Truth is here! So striking, so perfectly inimitable, are the characters in which it appears, that, urged by an irresistible conviction, I bow myself before the Almighty, and bless Him for the honour he, vouchsafes to lay upon man.
“O Lord,” I repeat with the Royal Psalmist, 66 Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour : thou hast made him but a little lower than the Angels.” Filled with Thee, and with a sense of his own greatness, may he know and reverence himself : may his thoughts and desires be such as become the profession of that perfect Religion which thou hast given him in Jesus Christ !
I. The commandment of Christ which I have chosen for my text, displays the spirit and unfolds the grandeur of the Gospel. I see in Christianity, as it is displayed in that commandment-AN INSTITUTION
HONOURABLE TO THOSE WHO ARE REQUIRED
TO SUBMIT TO IT; AN INSTITUTION FRUIT
FUL IN VIRTUE.
1. The Gospel is destined to become an UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION. In proportion as, in the lapse of ages, knowledge is enlarged and the investigation of truth facilitated, other systems must lose their supporters, and Christianity must become more and more a rallying point for mankind.
Idolatry, perceiving that harmony of the universe, which proclaims everywhere the same Contriver and the same Creator, will blush for its images and be ashamed of its gods. Its votaries will learn, that the purification of the heart is more necessary than the oblation of sacrifices and the vain fumes of incense. Religions adapted to particular climates and races of men, precepts framed only for the slaves of a warm and susceptible fancy, cannot be made to regulate mankind in general. A servile worship and multiplied ablutions are useful only for a time; sensual rewards bear the