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the origin of all happiness, the source of all that is perfect,-in fine, the sum and substance of religion. Without it religion cannot exist, without it virtue cannot exist : where it is not found evil must be supreme. Let us only love God and man, as the gospel enjoins, and our christianity is at once complete ; obedience will follow as an infallible consequence ; we shall do the will of God from the heart; we shall thus be conformed to the image of Christ, whose love induced him to lay down his life as our ransom from the penalty of guilt, and “ adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

It is perfectly clear that, unless we love God, we cannot do his will, since he not only demands that we should obey Him, but likewise that our obedience should be the willing oblation of a grateful and contrite heart. He demands, not the fealty of the lips, but the homage of the soul. “ Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, with all thy strength.” It is equally clear that unless we love man we cannot be Christians, since the love of our kind is co-essential with our love of God; it is part of the one universal principle of good, for the love of the creature must combine with the love of the Creator; in fact they both merge in one. They cannot exist apart, and, as we infer from the Apostle, the love of God is a consequence of the love of man, for if

a mau " loveth not his brother whom he hath

“ seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?" The evident deduction from this passage is that a love of man is inseparable from a love of God, and that before we can love the Creator, we must love his creature.

Love is, moreover, the basis of that “ bond of perfectness” after which the Christian is enjoined to strive as a passport of admission through those everlasting doors that open upon the celestial paradise. We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves, and as the principle of self-love is so innate that we can no more forbear to entertain it than we can cease to exist, it is clear that the love of our kind is inseparable from our religious obligations, because the love of ourselves is the standard which the divine Legislator has thought fit to establish of our love towards our fellow-creatures, and in proportion only as we withhold it from them are we criminal in bestowing it upon ourselves.

Self-love, which is by no means a prohibited indulgence, except in its excess, is only criminal where it is exclusively appropriated—where the heart can find no centre of attraction beyond the narrow sphere of its own interests or gratifications. Do not however let us imagine that because such an absorption of the feelings in one object is an infraction of the divine law, instead of a fulfilling of it, the love of ourselves is therefore to be stifled altogether. On the contrary, it is as imperative an obligation as the love of our kind; for if we are to love the whole human race, we are bound to love ourselves as an integral part of that whole. It is moreover manifest that if we did not love ourselves we could not love them, because our first experience of this principle is in ourselves : there it begins and there it is nourished, and from ourselves it is transferred, with various degrees of warmth and fervor, to the different objects upon whom we subsequently bestow it. Besides, this principle is the mainspring of every virtue within us, for we must love virtue before we can entertain it in our hearts, and it is only the consciousness that virtue is a good from which we derive benefit in proportion as we exercise it, which can cause us to love and stimulate us to practise it : since no man could be virtuous unless he were first satisfied that it is to his eternal interest to be so. There must be a motive to impel the act, and no motive to action can be independent of ourselves. Self-love therefore, when it is not degraded into a narrow animal selfishness which restricts its influence to ourselves and seeks exclusively our own interests or gratifications, is the noblest element of our spiritual being.

According to the scripture phrase to "dwell in love," the feeling must be universal ; we must

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comprehend ourselves within the unlimited sphere of its action, because from the love of ourselves, in common with the love of our kind,--for they must blend, they must be equaland inseparablesprings all that is good within us; and thus it is that “ he who dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

As I have said, it is only self-love in its excess which is to be deplored, not the abstract feeling, for God only commands us not to love what should be the object of our hate ; but it is certain that we are no more commanded to hate ourselves than we are to hate our brother; on the contrary our love is demanded for the whole human family of which we severally form a part; if therefore“ he who hateth his brother is a murderer,” he would be no less so who should hate himself. Nay, the very terms of the com-. mandment, that we should love our neighbour as ourselves, not only imply, but sanction, a love of ourselves; nor are we limited in the extent of that love, so long as we love our neighbour equally with ourselves, and God above all. “Let us not therefore love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Religion demands from us no more than this: if we comply with this demand in its true spirit we shall have attained that measure of holiness which will cure for us "an inheritance among the saints in light."

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If we examine the matter with a minute and unbiassed inspection, we shall find that “pure love and undefiled before God and the Father” leads to the practise of every virtue, because every virtue is an emanation from this principle. In proportion as we love God we shall delight to render his will, and in proportion to the weakness of our love towards him will be our reluctance to render him homage. By the same rule, if we love man we shall do our best to benefit him, and our indifference on this point will be in the precise ratio to our want of love towards him. We cannot be really alive to that feeling, so strongly inculcated in the Apostolic writings, without desiring to exercise it, for love invariably shows itself in action. It is an active, operative, productive principle, and is never inert but when it expires altogether. Let us only look within ourselves as a proof of this. Does not our self-love direct us to activity in the pursuit of happiness? Does it not stimulate our energies in establishing the security of our own interests, whether of this world or the next? And when we deny ourselves, when we submit to the severest restraints which religion imposes upon us, are not our own ultimate interests the cause of this denial and of these restraints? If we did not think abstinence would be to our advantage, should we practise it? If we did not feel satisfied that self-denial here would improve

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