And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
I. I am to consider THE NATURE AND EXCELLENCY OF THAT TEMPER OF MIND WHICH YOU ARE TO EXERCISE TOWARDS THE JEHOVAH OF ISRAEL. If you are men and have the feelings of humanity, I need not explain to you what love is. Without it, the names of father, son, brother, friend, and every charity of life, are vanity and a lie. But, though I refer to your hearts for the feeling of the temper we speak of, yet remember that as it varies in purity, in strength, and tenderness towards our connections on earth, so will it differ much. more when exercised towards the Lord our God. The love of God is founded in just apprehensions of His character. The very idea of God should contain in it all possible perfection in an infinite degree. There is no weakness in Him that thou shouldest despise Him and cast off His fear. He hath not burdened thee; that thou shouldest be weary of His service. He hath not wronged thee, that thou shouldest hate Him and break His commandments. The love of God is also founded on a due sense of His mercies. He hath given us life, and breath, and all things; and in Him we live, move, and have our being. He is perfectly good in Himself, and perfectly good to us, and to love Him with all our heart and to serve Him with all our strength is our rational service. If we do not, the very stones will cry out against our ingratitude, and evil, as well as good, angels will condemn us when we are judged. Consider how honourable this temper of love is to the blessed God, and to His happy worshippers. It exhibits Him in the lovely and confidential character of the Universal Father, the Father of mercies, and the God of all hope and of all consolations. It sheds the oil of gladness on all the springs and wheels of duty, and makes His service perfect freedom. For love is liberal in its gifts, unwearied in its services; it casts out tormenting fear, and indulges no suspicion in the unlimited confidence it reposes on the God of our salvation. Finally, it is a principle of universal obedience to all God's commandments, to all men, at all times, and under all circumstances. Love is the ruling affection of every soul of man, and, though false to every other principle, to this he will be ever true, as the needle to the pole. For where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also; and if the love of God exist in the soul, it will regulate and subject to itself every other principle. If we reject this Divine principle, how shall we supply its place? Faith itself is unprofitable but as it worketh by love. Obedience is a lifeless form of godliness but as it is animated by the spirit of love.
II. THE MEASURE OF THAT TEMPER YOU ARE COMMANDED TO EXERCISE towards the Lord your God: "Thou shalt love Him with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." The love so strongly marked is of no ordinary character. It is pure, grateful, strong, affectionate, fervent, and reverent; specifically different from all earthly affection. As the light of the sun darkeneth all other lights, so doth the love of God absorb other principles. It requires us cheerfully to recognise Jehovah as Father of our spirits, the God of our lives, and the Lord of our possessions: as entitled to dispose of us, of our wives, our children, our fortunes, our time, our talents, our reputation, and our influence, when and how He pleaseth. Nor is this requisition unreasonable or unrighteous. For we, and all we have, are His. He loveth us better than we love ourselves. He is wise, under every circumstance of life and death, to know what is best for us, in this world and in the next; and His power is able to effect all His goodness shall prompt and His wisdom shall contrive. In the absolute surrender of ourselves to Him lieth all our honour, our happiness, and our security. What greater honour, then, O ye Jews, can Christians show to the venerable Moses than to make this precept regulate every secret of their souls? This may appear wonderful, and it would be so, indeed, were Christianity opposed to Judaism. But, in truth, they are one and the same religion, as the light of the dawn is the same as the light of the day, as the rough outline is the same as the living picture, finished by the same great Master. It was to establish the law of love, as well as to atone for sin and to procure the Holy Spirit, that our Immanuel sealed His love to God and man on the altar of His Cross. We love Him because He so loved us, and His love constraineth us to love His enemies and ours.
III. APPLY THE SUBJECT TO JEWS AND CHRISTIANS. And, first, I address myself to both. Do you love Jehovah your God with all your heart? That is, better than you love the world and all that is in it? Better than life itself? if any man think he love God, how doth he prove the fact? "If ye love Me, saith God, "keep My commandments." "This is the love of God," saith the true worshipper, "that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous." Ye Jews, ye must be circumcised with the circumcision not made with hands, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; whose praise is not of man, but of God. Ye Christians, ye must be born again, not of water, but of the Spirit. Hearken, O men of Israel. Had your fathers believed Moses, they would have believed Christ. Had they loved God, they would have received Him who came forth from God.
Parallel VersesKJV: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
WEB: and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.