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the true meaning of the original word μεριμναω. In our English Bible that word is translated take no thought; but at the time when our translation was made, that expression signified only be not too careful. Our hearts, as it is expressed in another place, are not to be overcharged with the cares of this life*, so as to exclude all other concerns, even those of religion.
In the same manner with respect to pleasures, we are not forbid to have any love for them; we are only commanded not to be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God-f.
When therefore it is said, ye cannot serve God and mammon, the point contended for in respect to God is not exclusive possession, but exclusive dominion. Other things may occasionally for a certain time, and to a certain degree, have possession of our minds, but they must not rule, they must not reign over them. We cannot serve two masters; we can serve but one faithfully and effectually, and that one must be God. The concerns and comforts of this life may have their due place
in our hearts, but they must not aspire to the first; this is the prerogative of religion alone ; religion must be supreme and paramount över ail. Every one, it has been often said, has his ruling passion. The ruling passion of the Christian must be the love of his Maker and Redeemer. This it is which must prin_cipally occupy his thoughts, his time, his at* tention, his heart. If there be any thing else which has gained the ascendency over our souls, on which our desires, our wishes, our hopes, our fears, are chiefly fixed, God is then dispossessed of his rightful dominion over us; We serve another master, and we shall think but httle of our Maker, or any thing belong ing to him.
His empire over our hearts must in short at all events be riaintained. When this point is orice secured, every inferior gratification that is consistent with his sovereignty, his glory, and his commands, is perfectly allowable; every thing that is hostile to them must at once be renounced.
This is a plain rule, and a very important • one. It is the principle which our blessed
- . . Lord
Lord meant here to establish, and it must be the governing principle of our lives. · Next to this in importance is another coma mand, which you will find in the 12th verse of the seventh chapter; “ All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” As the former precepts which we have been considering relate to God, this relates to man; it is the grand rule, by which we must in all cases regulate our conduct towards our neighbour; and it is a rule, plain, simple, concise, intelligible, comprehensive, and every way worthy of its divine Author. Whenever we are deliberating how we ought to act towards our neighbour in any particular instance, we must for a moment change situations with him in our own minds, we must place him in our circumstances and ourselves in his, and then whatever we should wish him to do to us, that we are to do to him. This is a process, in which, if we act fairly and ima partially, we can never be mistaken. Our own feelings will determine our conduct at once better than all the caguists in the world.';
But before we entirely quit the consideras tion of this precept, we must take some notice, of the observation subjoined to it, which will require a little explanation ;'', .6 Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."
The concluding clause, this is the law and the prophets, has by some been interpreted to mean, this is the sum and substance of all religion; as if religion consisted solely in behaving justly and kindly to our fellow crea-tures, and beyond this no other duty was re-. quired at our hands. But this conclusion is as groundless as it is dangerous and unscriptural.
There are duties surely of another order, equally necessary at least, and equally ima, portant with those we owe to our neighbour.
There are duties, in the first place, owing to our Creator, whom we are bound to honour. to venerate, to worship, to obey, and to love with all our hearts and souls, and mind, and strength. There are duties owing to our Redeemer, of affection, attachment, gratitude,
faith in his divine mission, and reliance on the atonement he made for us on the cross. There are, lastly, acts of discipline, and self-government to be exercised over our corrupt propensities and irregular desires. Accordingly, in the very chapter we have just been considering, we are commanded to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We are in another place informed, that the love of God is the first and great commandment, and the love of our neighbour only the second; and we are taught by St. James that one main branch of religion is to keep ourselves unspotted from the world *. It is impossible therefore that our blessed Lord could here mean to say, that our duty towards our neighbour was the whole of his religion; he says nothing in fact of his religion; he speaks only of the Jewish religion, the law and the prophets; and of , these he only says that one of the great objects they have in view is to inculcate that same equitable conduct towards our brethren which he here recommendedat. '
* James i. 27.
+ See chap. xxii. 40. Rom. xiii. 8. Gal. v. 14. and Grotius on this verse.