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or thy neighbour as thyself. Let his universal spirit of love to all dwell in thee, Oh! my soul !
I would have all to cast down that which they glory in (that is not right in his sight) at his footstool, and do like the poor penitent woman, that lay and wept at his feet. Luke vii. 38. She thought all little enough to get into his favour. Christ himself also was meek and low
“ Learn of me,” said he. Mat. xi. 29. All power in heaven and earth was given unto him; “ Take me (said he) for an example ;” when he washed his servants feet. Oh! he was meek and lowly indeed, and seeing his love was so great to them, and is also to us, let us love him again, not with feigned love, but with love that may manifest us to be his followers ; and in this love let us love one another; for this intent our Lord issued forth his royal command, which is this, " A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved
also love one another : by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love for one another.” John xii. 34, 35. Christ's love was unfeigned to his disciples, nay, to all the world in general : for what greater love can there be, than for a man to lay down his life for his friend ; and he not only laid down his life for his friends, but for his enemies also. Rom. v. 10. So that his love was great and unfeigned : we ought with the same love to love him again, since that he loved us first; and this cannot be without obedience to his commands. Thus undoubtedly we should, with true love, love him, and one another : this love is exceedingly precious; it thinks no evil, and we may be sure will not do any willingly or knowingly. If a man seeth his neighbour or brother in that which is not right, he prayeth to the Lord to help him, and tenderly admonisheth him; yea, if having this love, he woundeth, his wounds are faithful, for “ Faithful are the wounds of a friend." Prov. xxv. 6. He that is thus endued with love, is not hindered from reproving his brother, but if there be a cause, it rather stirs him up to be faithful therein, without respect of persons. Oh! the love that is raised in them that love the Lord above all, it is great to the sons
and daughters of men ; it doth wonderful things; it is valiant for God; it overcomes its enemies : it is not overcome with evil, but it often overcomes evil with good : it smiteth sin in the gate (that is, in its first appearance) before it be entered into man, so as to subject him thereunto; it gets victory over the devil; for he cannot stand before God's love. I would to God that people did but know the virtue of love to Christ, and one another in him, it would cause them, for the enjoyment thereof, to forsake all manner of enmity one against another, and all things else, how near or dear soever ; yea, though they were as a right hand or a right eye, they would be forsaken for its sake, and for the sake of him that first loved us : and then we should strive, through the ability of his grace (even the grace or spirit which he told Paul was sufficient for him) to love him again, and our neighbour as ourself; but this cursed self is loved too much, and our neighbour too little.
Paul, the apostle of Christ, did not, after his conver. sion, hate his neighbour, nor was he in enmity with them ; indeed, when he was Saul, he did oppress and injure his nearest neighbours and chiefest friends; for that blind zeal was part of that body of sin and death that was upon him, and from which, by the help of Christ's grace, he was delivered, and came to love his enemies, and for their good hazarded his life ; and, for his love to Christ, laid it down, as many holy martyrs have done since his time. Surely they had not much regard for self, then !
Though it is a common expression now-a-days, · Every one for himself, and God for us all:' but if every one were for his neighbour, or his brother, as much as for himself, God would be the more for us all. But this self-love is, in the sight of the Lord, an abomination, and the great, eternal God abhors it: therefore were the first and second commandments given forth.
If all people would obey these two commandments, the whole law and the prophets, yea, and the gospel too, would be all obeyed.
But this self is a great enemy unto mankind, and doth very much hinder his eternal happiness; it shutteth the ear from hearing the cause of the widow and fatherless, or of the needy, and drowns the cry of the oppressed ; to which we ought not only to lend an ear, but also to ad. minister relief according to their necessity and our abil. ity. But mankind is too apt to despise the base or low things of the world, and to join with that which is pleas. ant to the eye, and agreeable to the lust of the heart ; (like Dives, the rich glutton of old, who loved self better than poor Lazarus) but do not consider that which is lasting. and would do them good for ever. How shall I express the excellent glory and eternal sweetness of this love to the Lord and our neighbour ? Oh! how is my soul grieved, and how doth my spirit mourn before the Lord, when I see any walk contrary to the commands of Christ, or that are in enmity to the truth, and in hatred one to another, even from my tender years, ever since God Almighty opened my understanding, and made known to me him that is true: and my cry hath been many times to him, to keep and preserve me in his true love and fear, to the end of my days; in love both to him and the brethren : but more especially to those that do his will, (although there is universal love in my heart to all). Christ said, “ For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Mat. xii. 50. Therefore, my love is more singly unto those. The apostle also thus writes concerning love to the brethren: “ We (says he) know that we have passed from death unto life.” (How did they know it?) " Be. cause we love the brethren ; he h loveth not his brother, abideth in death.” 1 John ii. 14. Are they then in death that are in enmity with the brethren ? Assuredly they are, for this enmity is sin ; “ And the wages of sin is death." Rom. vi. 23. and those that are therein, are dead while they live. I wish, and heartily pray to the God and Father of spirits, that from the snares of death his people may forever be preserved.
Now I would shew people some of the many snares of death and satan.
1st. Some people are too apt to judge one another, and to speak evil of things they know not, except by report and supposition, which too often lets in enmity, and is not according to the mind of Christ, but is a snare of the enemy of man's salvation. Surely if people were sensible thereof, they would not so hardly censure one another; for indeed we ought to be well satisfied before we give judgment, and then it ought to be in love, and not in enmity. It is better to suffer, than to censure, or to be judged, than to judge. “ Judge not, that ye be not judged,” Mat. vii
. 1. said the Judge of heaven and earth. But people are too much possessed with unchar. itableness and revenge one towards another, and are not so ready to forgive one another their trespasses, as the Almighty is to forgive them : though to forgive one another their trespasses be every christian's duty, and without which we cannot justly expect God to forgive us our trespasses, as Christ taught. Mat. vi. 14, 15.
2d. Persecution for righteousness sake, also is another great branch of that corrupt tree, which never did, and never will bring forth good fruit, but must be cut down by the ax of God's power, which is laid to the root of every corrupt tree, in order to cut it down; and the Lord will burn it with unquenchable fire. It is the true church's lot to be persecuted, but she never persecutes any: for he that is her high priest for ever, commanded quite the contrary, viz. Love to enemies, and to do good to them that hated them, to pray for them that despitefully used and persecuted them. Mat. v. 44. They were also to rejoice, and to be exceeding glad when all manner of evil was spoken falsely against them for Christ's sake; because great should be their reward in heaven; and Christ observes, that so they persecuted the prophets. Mat. v. 11, 12.
3d. Many are rebelling against God, and doing, despite to the spirit of grace in their own hearts, and trespassing one against another, not living in love, but in enmity against God and one another. The judgment of man is terrible to the rebellious, how much more if men rebel against God, our Saviour, will his judgment be just and dreadful, as he hath not only power to kill the body, but can afterwards cast the soul into hell ? Oh ! that the
sons and daughters of men, would but fear to offend him, the King of eternal glory. Israel of old, his own pecuiiar people, did fear and tremble before him ; even, all their host, his presence was so dreadful. Exod. xix. 18. And a noble king made a decree, that men should fear and tremble before the living God. Dan. vi. 26.
Oh! that all would work out their salvation with fear and trembling, according to 'scripture testimony. Phil ii. 12. I desire all people might thus love the Lord
, then should we fear exceedingly to offend him; also if one man did truly love another very well, were the case thy own, thou wouldst very unwillingly offend him whom thou lovest dearly. So if we love Christ in deed, and in truth, then we should fear to offend him, and must of necessity love one another also : so shall we fulfil the great commands, that the whole law and the prophets Hang on
. 4th. I have also many times been grieved, when I have heard cursing and swearing, and the Lord's name taken in vain, which many too much abound in (by sca and land) and too little consider that God will not hold them guiltless. Exod. xx. 7. I am sure this is far from obeying him.
Oh! the deep sense of this great sin, it hath been, and is of great moment, and is a great concem on my mind : vengeance from heaven is, and will be the portion of all such, that thus violate the mind and will of God. Judgment, judgment is the lot and inheritance of all the wicked, who remain and live in wickedness. Although the Lord is slow to anger, and of great loving kindriess, and his mercy endureth forever, to them that truly repent of evil, and do that which is good : yet has also prepared weeping, wailing, and gnashing,
of teeth, for them that continually live in sin. There is a possibility of sinning, until there is no mercy nor grace for man: witness the words of God; “ always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.” Gen. vi. 3. But those that are willing to put the day of God afar off, are ready to say, Christ is our advocate with the Father; he maketh intercession for our sins; (very well) but it is conditionally : it is if thou wilt repent and sin no more. (Mark that well !) repentance without sinning
My spirit shall not