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interests. The meaning of the text is, by SER M.
yea and their own lives.” Such affections
may be justly attributed to God as its author, and his wisdom and goodness
SERM. Mine in it, religion is not intended to root IX. it out, or in any degree to weaken the bonds
of humanity. On the contrary, it serves rather greatly to confirm and strengthen them. God has expressly established the obligation of relative duties by his own positive law, and annexed the promise of a great reward to the fincere and careful pero formance of them. In fcripture, to be without natural affection is represented as one of the worst characters., ; To set light by father and mother is a most heinous wickedness, highly displeasing to God. And for a man to neglect caring and providing for his own, especially those of bis own boufe, is to deny the faith, and be worse than an. infidel *.
But, the immediate ends of these natural relations are not the highest ends of our being. We are capable of nobler pursuits and higher enjoyments, than the ease and conveniencies of our present condition. And in order to these, our minds are endued with affections of a superior nature; the love of wliat Solomon calls wisdom, with its : excellent and right things, and the love of. the fupreme Being, the fountain of all goodnefs and happinefs, in whom all moral pera
fections * Tän. v. 8.
fections are absolute, and infinite. This is Sě RM. the love which ought to be the most intense, IX.
and to rule in our hearts. Reason teaches * us, that our affections ought to bear a pro
portion to the worth of the object. It is
moderately fond of trifles, and neglect W things of the highest dignity and import
ance. Now, it must be acknowledged by
cellent, and therefore the most amiable of d! all Beings; for in him infinite natural and
moral perfections meet. He is not only and most powerful and wise, which characters
our minds naturally admire; but in con-
SERM, Gtive law is, “* thou shalt love the Lord thy IX. “ God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind :" "That is
, with sincerity, and an inward affection as the constant abiding principle of obedience; and with chearfulness and delight, running in the way of his commandments. This ought to be the ruling principle in our minds, controuling and directing the measure and exercise of all our other affections: For the least reflection will convince us, that there being a variety of inclinations and desires in our nature, which are the springs of action, there must be a subordination ; some must necessarily yield to others: And so we find in experience. It is the predominant affection which constitutes the character, and temper of a man. The covetous is he, in whom the love of wealth prevails over all other inclinations; the ambitious in whom the love of honour ; the voluptuous
, in whom the love of sensual pleasures. Each of these will facrifice every other interest to his idol, and every other desire, which is even natural to him, yet not so strong. But to preserve an universal harmony in the mind of man, and to constitute a truly religious and virtuous character, the love of
* Matt. xxii. 37:
God, and of goodness ought to be predo-SerM. minant. Other affections are not to be IX. rooted out, but this must be supreme ; and they gratified and indulged only by its permission, and so far, as not to be inconsistent with it.
This is the true meaning of my text. For what I would principally observe for illustrating this subject, is, that the love of Christ, and the love of God and goodness, is just the same. His professed design, which he uniformly pursued in his doctrine, and through the whole course of his actions and sufferings, was to glorify his heavenly father ; that is, to promote righteousness, piety and virtue in the world, which is the image and glory of God; to recover men from their corruption and degeneracy to the fincere observance of his laws, and the imitation of his holiness. It can never then be imagined, that he intended to set up himself as an object of our esteem and affection, by way of distinction from his father : As he says himself, * be and bis father are one. It is his glory to be the express image of the Father's person, and to declare him, whom no man bath seen at any