And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
I. EXPLAIN THE SECOND COMMAND.
1. Who is my neighbour?
(1) Some regulate their charities by local habitation: for a stranger, or one afar off they have no compassion.
(2) Some have a law of relationship. "What! assist the heathen while I have poor relations?"(3) Others confine charity to their own nation.
(4) Others to the same religious profession.
(5) Many think themselves justified in excluding enemies. The Jews understood the word neighbour to signify "thy friend."(6) The last rule of exclusion is that which relates to character. Even if notoriously vile, there is no plea for neglect: benevolence, under these circumstances, may often gain their souls! Is the inquiry still urged, "Who is my neighbour?" Every human being, without exception. "As ye have opportunity, do good unto all men." If redeeming love made the exclusions we make, where should we be? In hell; or, if in the world, without God and without hope. "Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." Christianity makes distinctions, but no exclusions. With these distinctions, every man is your neighbour, and you are bound to fulfil towards him the duties of love.
2. What is my duty to my neighbour? It includes:(1) The dispositions we are to cultivate and the conduct we are to observe towards him in all the intercourse and transactions of ordinary life. It, includes(2), as already remarked, the benevolence we are to exercise towards our neighbour in distress; because then he is more particularly the object of regard and affection. If the text were more obeyed there would be far less evil in the world.
(3) The endeavours we ought to make for the salvation of the soul.
3. What is the measure of duty to your neighbour? "To love him as yourself." Self-love is thus lawful and excellent, and even necessary. It is not the disposition which leads unregenerate man to gratify vicious appetites and passions. This is rather self-hatred. Nor that which leads us to grasp at all advantages, regardless of the consequences to others. This is selfishness. But that principle which is inseparable from our being; by which we are led to promote our own happiness, by avoiding evil and acquiring the greatest possible amount of good. This is the measure for our neighbour. While avoiding everything that would injure him in body, family, property, reputation, seek to do him all the good you can, and do it in the way in which you would promote your own welfare.Now, how does a man love himself?
1. Tenderly and affectionately. Then so love your neighbour. While helping him, never show sourness of countenance or use asperity of language.
2. Sincerely and ardently. This will make him prompt and diligent, in everything he thinks, for his good. "Say not unto him, go and come again, and tomorrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee." Our opportunities for doing, as for getting, good are precarious. Now is the accepted time.
3. Patiently and perseveringly. So if we do not succeed by one means we try another, keeping on to life's end. Consider how varied the means which God employed with you. Having thus explained the text, let us,
II. ENFORCE IT. In doing this, we make our appeal.
1. To authority. His, who is Lord of all.
2. To example. Example is of two kinds. First, those we are bound to imitate: these are strictly patterns for us. Secondly, those which, though we are not obliged to follow, yet, for their excellence, are worthy of imitation.
3. To the connection and dependence which subsist between us and our neighbour. We are parts of one and the same body, and each is expected to contribute to the general good.
4. How much present pleasure arises from the exercise of this duty. This is present pleasure; and have we not present advantages too? Is not charity a gain?
5. Advert to the future recompense of benevolence.
(1) The love of our neighbour originates in, and is always connected with, the love of God.
(2) That benevolence must not infringe upon justice. No man should give in alms what belongs to creditors.
(3) The most proper objects are often those who are least willing to make known their distress.
(John Summerfield, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
WEB: The second is like this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."