Mark 12:30
and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
Do You Love JesusJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
How it is that We Love GodJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
I Should Just Like to Point You to a Few Ways by Which We May Show Our Love to GodJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
LoveAnon.Mark 12:30
Love BuriedJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
Love for God At the Bottom of EverythingJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
Love for God SupremeJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
Love is the Most Important ThingJoseph Jowett, M. A.Mark 12:30
Love of God Peculiar to ChristianityJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
Love to GodH. Kollock, D. D.Mark 12:30
Love to God and MenA. H. Currier.Mark 12:30
Love to God Contrasted with not Loving HimBishop Simpson.Mark 12:30
Love to God Secures All BlessingsMark 12:30
Love to God the Supreme FeelingThomas Brooks.Mark 12:30
Loving Those Like GodJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
Of Loving GodSamuel Clarke, D. D.Mark 12:30
On the Love of GodJ. Seed, D. D.Mark 12:30
Supreme Love to God Impossible Without a SaviourChristian AgeMark 12:30
Supreme Love to God, the Chief Duty of ManMark 12:30
The First and Great CommandmentCharles Haddon Spurgeon Mark 12:30
The Great CommandmentMark 12:30
The Great CommandmentC. S. Robinson, D. D.Mark 12:30
The Life of Christian ConsecrationH. W. Beecher.Mark 12:30
The Mind's LoveIsaac Williams, M. A.Mark 12:30
The Nature of Love to GodJohn James.Mark 12:30
The Nature of Our Love to ChristC. H. Spurgeon.Mark 12:30
The Properties of LoveG. Petter.Mark 12:30
The Two Great Commandments: All True Love is OneHamilton.Mark 12:30
Thy GodJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 12:30
Question About the Greatest CommandmentJ.J. Given Mark 12:28-34
The Essence of ReligionE. Johnson Mark 12:28-34
The Great CommandR. Green Mark 12:28- 34
The Law Akin to the Gospel, But Inferior to itA.F. Muir Mark 12:28-34

I. True RELIGIOUS INQUIRY IS ENCOURAGED BY CANDOUR AND SPIRITUAL INSIGHT ON THE PART OF RELIGIOUS TEACHERS. Matthew tells us that the Pharisees came together top the same place." when they saw the disscomfiture of the Sadducees; and "then one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying." Mark introduces him as one of the scribes. In the one Gospel the motive and encouragement are represented as experienced by the Pharisaic party in general; in the other they are represented as individually felt and acted upon. There were, therefore, elements of earnestness and spirituality amongst the Pharisees, and these were called forth by our Saviours teaching. They were now in a more favorable attitude for receiving the truth than they had ever been before. As to the idea expressed by "tempting," it need not be understood in a sinister sense, but generally as proving, testing, etc. Our Lord did not crush the spirit of inquiry, but courted it. They felt that there was more in him than they could explain, and that his knowledge of Scripture was spiritual and profound, and therefore they wished to discover what he could possibly have to tell them that was not already taught by Moses or his prophetic exponents. He had all but converted his enemies and critics into his disciples. He had infected them with his own spirit of religious earnestness. Of this mood the "lawyer" was the mouthpiece. He pushes inquiry to its highest point, and desires to know the chief duties of religion.

II. THE BEST MODE OF ANSWERING SUCH INQUIRY IS THAT WHICH PRESENTS THE SPIRIT AND SUBSTANCE OF DUTY, OR TRUE RELIGION IN ITS UNITY AND UNIVERSALITY. "Deuteronomy 6:4. This is not given as a part of the Law of Moses, but as the principle of all service. Leviticus 19:18 contains a similar principle for all social duties" (Godwin). Passing over all matters of mere ceremonial, and questions of less or more, he lays hold of the spirit of the Law and presents it to his inquirer. It is out of the very heart of the hook of ceremonies (Leviticus) that the duty to neighbors is extracted. He declares "the three unities of religion:

(1) the one God;

(2) the one faith;

(3) the one commandment" (Lunge);

and compels the agreement and admiration of his questioner. "Note also the real reverence shown in the form of address, 'Master,' i.e. 'Teacher, Rabbi.' He recognized the speaker as one of his own order" (Plumptre). All religion is summed up by him in a "great commandment," viz. the love of God, and that is shown in its earthward aspect to involve loving our neighbor as ourselves. That true religion is not ceremonial but spiritual is thus demonstrated; and in quoting the highest utterances of the prophets, the scribe but endorses and restates the same doctrine. Teacher and inquirer are therefore theoretically one. But more is needed; and towards the attainment of this the stimulus is given, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. This meant that -

III. SUCH INQUIRY CAN ONLY BE SATISFIED AND CROWNED BY ACTING UPON ITS HIGHEST SPIRITUAL CONVICTIONS. The words are significant as showing the unity of our Lord's teaching. Now, as when he spoke the sermon on the mount, the righteousness which fulfils the Law is the condition of the entrance into the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:19, 20). Even the recognition of that righteousness as consisting in the fulfillment of the two commandments that were exceeding broad, brought a man as to the very threshold of the kingdom. It is instructive to compare our Lord's different method of dealing, in Luke 10:25-37, with one who had the same theoretical knowledge, but who obviously, consciously or unconsciously, minimized the force of the commandments by his narrowing definitions" (Plumptre). "The kingdom of heaven is, for the moment, pictorially represented as localized, like the ordinary kingdoms of the world. The scribe, walking in the way of conscientious inquiry, and thus making religious pilgrimage, had nearly reached its borderland. He was bordering on the great reality of true religion, subjection of spirit to the sovereign will of God" (Morison). This state can only be attained to by conversion, the identification of the sinner through faith with the righteousness of the Savior, and the indwelling of the Spirit of God. It is thus scientific conviction becomes moral, and we are able to carry into effect what we know to be true and right. - M.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.
"Love not pleasure," says Carlyle; "love God. This the Everlasting Yea wherein all contradiction is solved; wherein he who so walks and works, it is well with him."

Man not loving God, not looking upward and outward, becomes sensual. He spends his time in feeding his body, in satisfying his appetites, in grovelling in the dust, in joining himself to earth, that God made simply for his footstool and his path. way, and he forgets the realm of empire over nature, and over ideas, and over thoughts, that God opens out before him; and hence, without love of God, man is the animal; with love to God, he is the seraph; without love to God, he lives for his appetites and is debased; with love to God, he lives in His affections and rises toward glory; without love to God, he crawls like the worm; with love to God, be Soars like the seraph, flames like the cherubs; without love to God, he goes down Ward until he is ready to make his bed with demons; with love to God, he rises above angels and archangels, and is preparing for the throne of God.

(Bishop Simpson.)

A man may be weary of life, but never of Divine love. Histories tell us of many that have been weary of their lives, but no histories can furnish us with an instance of any one that was ever weary of Divine love. As the people prized David above themselves, saying, "Thou art worth ten thousand of us;" so they that indeed have God for their portion, oh, how do they prize God above themselves, and above everything below themselves l and, doubtless, they that do not lift up God above all, they have no interest in God at all.

(Thomas Brooks.)

When Tom Paine, the man who did so much mischief years ago in spreading infidel opinions, and making our Bible a laughing stock, resided in New Jersey, he was one day passing the house of Dr. Staughton, when the Doctor was sitting at the door. Paine stopped, and after some remarks of a general character observed, "Mr. Staughton, what a pity it is that a man has not some comprehensive and perfect rule for the government of his life." The Doctor replied, "Mr. Paine, there is such a rule." "What is that?" Paine inquired. Dr. Staughton repeated the passage, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself." Abashed and confounded, Paine replied, "Oh, that's in your Bible," and immediately walked away. The great commandment from which the infidel turned away, is the rule which Christians accept, love, and try to obey.

I.It must be sincere, with all the heart.

II.Intelligent, with all the mind.

III.Emotional, with all the soul.

IV.Intense and energetic, with all the strength.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The first commandment is very great, but the second is not little. They are upper and nether pools, and the same fountain fills them. He who is richest in the love of God has the greatest advantage for loving his neighbour — for loving his family, his household, his country, and the world. And that is the best and happiest state of things, the primal and truly natural, where, springing from under the throne of God, with a bright and heaven-reflecting piety, love fills the upper pool, and then, through the open flower-fringed channel of filial affection and the domestic charities, flows softly till it again expands in neighbourly kindness and unreserved philanthropy. The channel may be choked. The devotee may close it up in the hope of raising the level in the first and great reservoir, and by arresting the current he causes an overflow and converts into swamp the surrounding garden. In the same way the materialist or worldling, content with the lower pool, may. fill up the conduit, and declare that he is no longer dependent on the upper magazine; but from the isolated cistern quickly evaporates the scanty supply, and thick with slime, weltering with worms, the stagnant residue mocks the thirsty owner, or, as over the bubbling malaria he persists to linger, it fills his frame with the mortal poison. Cut off from living water, receiving from on high no consecrating element, human affection is too sure to end in the disgust of a disappointed idolatry or the mad despair of a total bereavement; whilst the mystic theopathy, which in order to give the whole heart to God gives none to its fellows, will soon have no heart at all. Love is of God, and all true love is one. The piety which is not humane will soon grow superstitious and gloomy; in cases like Dominic and Philip II we see that it may soon grow bloodthirsty and cruel; nor, on the other hand, will brotherly love long continue if the love of God is not shed abroad abundantly.


Christian Age.
The Rev. M. Jeanmarie, a widely known French Protestant pastor, has recently passed away. The story of his conversion appears in the continental journals, and is a fine example of the power of the Word of God. He was at the time a preceptor in a family of the House of Hohenlohe and a rationalist. A neighbouring preacher asked him to supply for him. He declined on the plea of "How could he preach what he did not believe?" "What! not believe in God?" "Yes, I do that." "And surely you believe that man should love Him?" "Doubtless." "Well, then, preach on the words of Jesus, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind, and strength.'" "I will try, just to oblige you." He thought over the words, and took note: —

1. We must love God, and the reasons thereof.

2. We must love Him with all our powers in very deed; nothing short of this could satisfy God.

3. But do we thus love God?... "No!" and then said he, "Without any previously formed plan I was brought to add, 'We need a Saviour.' At that moment a new light broke upon my soul; I understood that I had not loved God, that I needed a Saviour, that Jesus was that Saviour: and I loved Him and clung to Him at once. On the morrow I preached the sermon, and the third head was the chief — viz., the need of Jesus, and the necessity of trusting to such a Saviour."

(Christian Age.)

Because many deceive themselves in thinking that they love God, when they do not, it is needful to set down the marks of the true love of God, by which we may ascertain whether it be in us or not. The principal are these:

1. A deliberate preferring and esteeming of God above all things in the world, though never so excellent or dear to us.

2. A desire to be united and joined to God in most near communion with Him, both in this life and the next.

3. A high estimation of the special tokens and pledges of God's love to us — the Bible, Sacraments, etc.

4. A conscientious care to obey God's will, and to serve and honour Him in our calling.

5. Joy and delight in the duties of God's service and worship.

6. Zeal for God's glory, causing in us a holy grief and indignation when we see or hear that God is dishonoured by sin.

7. Love is bountiful, making us willing and ready to give and bestow much upon the person we love.

8. True love to the saints and children of God.

(G. Petter.)

Man's life, rightly ordered, revolves, like the earth upon which he dwells, upon an axis with two fixed poles. That axis is love, and the poles are God and man. The love thus defined and exercised fulfils the whole law. It embraces in its scope all of man's duties, religious and moral. Consider —


1. An affection of the soul.

2. An all-inclusive affection, embracing not only every other affection proper to its object, but all that is proper to be done to its object.

3. The most personal of all affections. One may fear an event, hope for and rejoice in it; but one can love only a person.

4. The tenderest, most unselfish, most divine of all affections. Such is that axial principle, on which man's life, when obedient to God, revolves. It reminds us of that great discovery of the age, which has traced the various powers of nature — light, heat, electricity, etc. — back to one great original force, from which they all spring and into which they are convertible. Like the mythic Proteus, that force changes its form according to the exigency of the time, now appearing as heat, then as light, then as magnetism, then as motion — so this love, which is the fulfilment of the law, is at the basis of all acts of piety and of all forms of virtue (1 Corinthians 13).


1. God is the first and supreme object.

2. True love of God begets love to man. The latter, resulting from the former, must needs occupy a subordinate position. The fountain is higher than the stream, and includes it.

III. THE DEGREE IN WHICH THIS LOVE TO GOD SHOULD BE EXERCISED. It should not be a languid affection, but one in which all the powers of man's nature are engaged. The various parts of our complex being are summoned to contribute their utmost force to the formation of it.

1. With the heart: perfectly hearty and sincere.

2. With the soul: ardent — full of warmth and feeling.

3. With the mind: intelligent. God does not want fanatical devotion.

4. With the strength: energetic and intense.In a word, our love to God is to be of the most earnest, real, and vital sort; one into which we are to put the whole of our being, as a plant puts into its flower the united forces of root and leaf and stem.

IV. THIS LOVE IS POSSIBLE ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. He reveals to us the almighty, incomprehensible Creator, who would otherwise be to us a mere abstraction.


1. Take care not to let it become a matter more of outward form than of inward reality.

2. The real proof of love is its willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of its object.

(A. H. Currier.)

The love of God fills the mind, when knowledge gathereth all things with reference to God; when speculation ever weigheth the things of God with the things of men; when imagination compareth all things with the things of God; when memory storeth in her treasure things of God, new and old; when the thoughts ever turn to God, as their end; when all studies are in God, and there is no study which hath not God for its end. We are always thinking of something, at all times, and in all places; we can behold no object in the earth or sky, but thought is busy with the same. The thoughts are according to the heart. If one might say it with reverence, as angelic ministrations execute God's will, so are the thoughts to the heart and soul of man ever busy traversing and returning, through earth and heaven, as the heart wills. And these, in the good man, are ever full of God.

(Isaac Williams, M. A.)

Observe that love is not merely one way of fulfilling the Law. It is the best way. Far better to love man so much that to steal from him would be impossible, than merely to refrain from stealing in obedience to the Eighth Commandment. Nay, more, it is the only way. One who would steal, but for his sense of its being forbidden, and therefore wrong, already sins against his neighbour by breaking the Tenth Commandment.

1. Love brings all the powers of man's soul into interior harmony.

2. It begets obedience, both inward and outward.

3. It begets a strong desire after God.

4. It finds God in everything.

5. It is the mainspring of the soul, controlling hands, feet, eyes, lips, brain, life.


"Father," asked the son of Bishop Berkeley, "what is the meaning of the words 'cherubim' and 'seraphim,' which we meet with in the Bible?" "Cherubim," replied his father, "is a Hebrew word signifying knowledge; seraphim is another word of the same language, signifying flame. Whence it is supposed that the cherubim are angels who excel in knowledge; and that the seraphim are angels likewise who excel in loving God." "I hope, then," said the little boy, "when I die I shall be a seraph, for I would rather love God than know all things." The first and great commandment: —

I. WHETHER WE ARE POSSESSED OF THIS SUPREME LOVE TO GOD? A sincere love manifests itself by approbation, preference, delight, familiarity. Do these terms express the state of our affections towards our heavenly Father?

1. Do we cordially approve all that the Scriptures reveal concerning His character and His dealings with men?

2. Approbation, however, is the very lowest token of this Divine affection. What we really love we distinguish by a decided preference: we have compared it with other things, and have come to the conclusion that it is more excellent than all of them.

3. Further, the love of God will lead us to delight in Him.

4. I will mention but one more sign of love unfeigned; which is seen when a person courts the society and familiar intimacy of the object of his affections.


1. The first step is to feel our utter deficiency in this duty.

2. Take up your Bible, and learn the character of Him whom you have so neglected.

3. These views of the love of God, however, will, in great measure, be ineffectual, till you have actually cast yourself at the foot of the cross, and believed in Jesus Christ for the justification of your own soul.

4. My next direction for cherishing this spirit of love to God is, that you should carefully guard against everything in your temper and conduct which might grieve the Spirit of God.

5. I would press upon you the necessity of frequent communion with your reconciled God in prayer and thanksgiving.

(Joseph Jowett, M. A.)


1. The love of desire, which takes its origin from the wants of man, and the fitness and willingness of God to supply them.

2. The love of gratitude, arising from the sense of the Divine goodness to us.

3. A disinterested love, having as its foundation the excellence and perfection of God considered in themselves, and without any reference to the advantages we derive from them.


1. That we must love God supremely above any other object.

2. With all the ardour and intensity of our soul.

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THIS LOVE. The whole man must be enlisted in our love of God; all the force of our life must go to express and to fulfil it.

1. God claims from us a warm personal affection.

2. God must be loved for His moral excellence. Not only must our conscience approve our affection; it will be ever supplying us with new material for exalted worship of Him. The sense of righteousness will kindle gratitude into adoration.

3. God claims from us an intelligent affection. Our intelligence must have full scope, if our love of God is to be full.

4. God claims from us that we love with all our strength. The whole force of our character is to be in our affection for Him. Men devote their energies to worldly pursuits.

II. THE UNITY OF SPIRITUAL LIFE IN THIS LOVE. The command of our text is introduced by a solemn proclamation, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." The object of Moses in declaring the unity of God was to guard the Jews against idolatry; my object in dwelling on it is to claim from you the consecration of all your powers. A simple illustration will make both these points clear. Polygamy is contrary to the true idea of marriage; he who has many wives cannot love one of them as a wife should be loved. Equally is the ideal of marriage violated if a man cannot or will not render to his wife the homage of his whole nature. His affection itself will be partial instead of full, and his heart will be distracted, if, whatever her amiability may be, her conduct offends his moral sensibilities; if he cannot trust her judgment and accept her counsel; if she is a hindrance to him and not a help in the practical business of life. Many a man's spiritual life is distracted and made inefficient, simply because his whole being is not engrossed in his religion; one-sidedness in devotion is sure to weaken, and tends ultimately to destroy it. Consider the infinite worthiness of God. He is the source and object of all our powers. There is not a faculty which has not come from Him; which is not purified and exalted by consecration to Him. And as all our powers make up one man — reason and emotion, conscience and will uniting in a complete human life — so, for spiritual harmony and religious satisfaction, there must be the full consecration and discipline of all our powers. Again and again is this truth set before us in the Bible. The blind and the lame were forbidden for sacrifice; the maimed and imperfect were banished from the congregation of the Lord. The whole man is redeemed by Christ — body, soul, and spirit, all are to be presented a living sacrifice. The gospel is intended, not to repress our powers, nor to set a man at strife with himself, but to develop and enlarge the whole sphere of life; and he wrongs the Author of the gospel, and mars his own spiritual perfection, who allows any faculty to lie by disused in God's service. Look at the same truth in another aspect; consider how our powers aid one another in gaining a true apprehension of God. The sensibilities of love give us insight into His character, and furnish us with motives for active service of Him. On the other hand, intelligent esteem of God expands affection for Him, and preserves it strong when mere emotion will have died away. Obedience is at once the organ of spiritual knowledge, and the minister of an increasing faith. "They that know Thy name," says the Psalmist, "will put their trust in Thee."

III. THE GROUNDS AND IMPULSES OF THIS LOVE. In reality it has but one reason — God is worthy of it; and the impulse to render it comes directly from our perception of His worthiness and the know, ledge that He desires it from us. The claim for love, like all the Divine claims, is grounded in the character of God Himself; and it takes the form of commandment here because the Jews were "under the law." There are, however, two thoughts suggested by the two titles given by Moses to God, which will help us in further illustration of our subject.(1) Moses speaks of God as Jehovah, the self-existent, self-sufficing One. God is the source and author of all, wherever found, that awakens love in man. When once the idea of God has taken full possession of the soul, there is not a perfection which we do not attribute in infinite measure to Him.(2) Moses calls Jehovah "the Lord our God," reminding His people that God had singled them out from all the nations of the earth, that they were "precious in His sight and honourable;" and that all they knew of His excellence and goodness had come to them through their perception of what He had done for them. "We love Him, because He first loved us;" this is the Christian reading of the thought of Hoses.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE DUTY ENJOINED is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." A true love of God must be founded upon a right sense of His perfections being really amiable in themselves, and beneficial to us: and such a love of God will of necessity show forth itself in our endeavouring to practise the same virtues ourselves, and exercise them towards others. All perfection is in itself lovely and amiable in the very nature of the thing: the virtues and excellencies of men remote in history, from whom we can receive no personal advantage, excite in us an esteem whether we will or no: and every good mind, when it reads or thinks upon the character of an angel, loves the idea, though it has no present communication with the subject to whom so lovely a character belongs: much more the inexhaustible Fountain of all perfections; of perfections without number and without limit; the Centre, in which all excellencies unite, in which all glory resides, and from which every good thing proceeds, cannot but be the supreme object of love to a reasonable and intelligent mind. Even supposing we ourselves received no benefit therefrom, yet infinite power, knowledge, and wisdom in conjunction, are lovely in the very idea, and amiable even in the abstract imagination. But that which makes these perfections most truly and substantially, most really and permanently, the object of our love, is the application of them to ourselves, and our own more immediate concerns, by the consideration of their being joined also with those relative and moral excellencies, which make them at the same time no less beneficial to us than they are excellent absolutely in their own nature. I say, then is it that God truly appears the complete object of love, for so our Saviour Himself teaches us to argue (Luke 7:47) — To whom much is forgiven, he will love the more; and the apostle St. John (1 John 4:19) — "We," says he, "love Him, because He first loved us." This, therefore, is the true ground and foundation of our love towards God. But wherein this love towards God consists, and by what acts it is most properly exercised, has sometimes been very much misunderstood. It always signifies a moral virtue, not a passion or affection; and is therefore in Scripture always with great care explained and declared to mean the obedience of a virtuous life, in opposition to the enthusiasm of a vain imagination. In the Old Testament, Moses, in his last exhortation to the Israelites, thus expresses it (Deuteronomy 10:12): "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, and to love Him?" And what is loving Him? Why, He tells them in the very next words, 'tis, "To walk in all His ways, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good." And again (2 John 6), "This," says he, "is love, that we walk after His commandments." For what is rational love but a desire to please the person beloved, and a complacency or satisfaction in pleasing him? To love God, therefore, is to have a sincere desire of obeying His laws, and a delight or pleasure in the conscience of that obedience. Even to an earthly superior, to a parent, or a prince, love can no otherwise be shown from a child or a servant than by cheerfully observing the laws, and promoting the true interest of the government he is under. Now from this account which has been given of the true nature of love towards God, it will be easy for us to correct the errors which men have sometimes fallen into in both extremes. Some have been very confident of their love towards God from a mere warmth of superstitious zeal and enthusiastic affection, without any great care to bring forth in their lives the fruits of righteousness and true holiness. On the contrary, others there are, who though they really love and fear and serve God in the course of a virtuous and religious life, yet, because they feel not in themselves that warmth of affection which many enthusiasts pretend to, therefore they are afraid and suspect that they do not love God sincerely as they ought.

II. Having thus at large explained the duty enjoined in the text, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," I proceed now in the second place to consider briefly THE CIRCUMSTANCES REQUISITE TO MAKE THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY ACCEPTABLE AND COMPLETE: "Thou shalt love Him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." In St. Luke it is somewhat more distinctly: "With all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind."

1. It must be sincere: we must love or obey Him with all our heart. 'Tis not the external act only, but the inward affection of the mind principally that God regards, an affection of mind which influences all a man's actions in secret as well as in public, which determines the person's true character or denomination, and distinguishes him who really is a servant of God from him who only seems or appears to be so.

2. Our obedience must be universal: we must love God with all our soul, or with our whole soul. He does not love God in the Scripture sense who obeys Him in some instances only and not in all. The Psalmist places his confidence in this only, that he "had respect unto all God's commandments" (Psalm 119:6). Generally speaking, most men's temptation lies principally in some one particular instance, and this is the proper trial of the person's obedience, or of his love towards God.

3. Our obedience must be constant and persevering in time as well as universal in its extent; we must love God with all our strength, persevering in our duty without fainting. "He that endureth to the end," saith our Saviour, "the same shall be saved;" and "he that overcometh shall inherit all things;" and "we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." The Scripture notion of obedience is, walking "in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life" (Luke 1:75).

4. Our obedience to God ought to be willing and cheerful: we must love Him with all our mind. "They that love Thy name will be joyful in Thee" (Psalm 5:12): and St. Paul, among the fruits of the Spirit, reckons up peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. But virtue becomes more perfect when 'tis made easy by love, and by habitual practice incorporated as it were into a man's very nature and temper.

III. The last thing observable in the text is THE WEIGHT AND IMPORTANCE OF THE DUTY: it is the "first and great commandment." The reason is, because 'tis the foundation of all; and without regard to God ,there can be no religion.

(Samuel Clarke, D. D.)

It is the improved ability of the head that forms the philosopher, but 'tis the right disposition of the heart that chiefly makes the Christian. 'Tis our love directed to that Being, who is most worthy of it, as the Centre in which all excellencies unite, and the Source from which all blessings proceed. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." 'Tis not the mere action that is valuable in itself. 'Tis the love from which it proceeds that stamps a value upon it, and gives an endearing charm and beauty to it. When a servile fear engrosses the whole man, it locks up all the active powers of the soul, it cramps the abilities, and is rather a preservative against sin than an incentive to virtue. But love quickens our endeavours, and emboldens our resolutions to please the object beloved; and the more amiable ideas we entertain of our Master, the more cheerful, liberal, and animated the service that we render Him will consequently he. Upon love, therefore, the Scriptures have justly laid the greatest stress, that love which will give life and spirit to our performances.

I. I SHALL INQUIRE INTO THE NATURE AND FOUNDATION OF OUR LOVE TO THE DEITY. The love of God may be defined a fixed, habitual, and grateful regard to the Deity, founded upon a sense of His goodness, and expressing itself in a sincere desire to do whatever is agreeable, and avoid whatever is offensive to Him. The process of the mind I take to be this. The mind considers that goodness is everywhere stamped upon the creation, and appears in the work of redemption in distinct and bright characters. It considers, in the next place, that goodness, a lovely form, is the proper object of love and esteem, and goodness to us the proper object of gratitude. But as goodness exists nowhere but in the imagination without some good Being who is the subject of it, it goes on to consider that love, esteem, and gratitude is a tribute due to that Being, in whom an infinite fulness of goodness ever dwells, and from whom incessant emanations of goodness are ever flowing. Nor does the mind rest here; it takes one step farther to reflect that a cold speculative esteem and a barren, unactive gratitude is really no sincere esteem or gratitude at all, which will ever vent itself in strong endeavours to imitate a delight to please and a desire to be made happy by the Being beloved. If it be objected that we cannot love a Being that is invisible, I answer that what we chiefly love in visible beings of our own kind is always something invisible. Whence arises that relish of beauty in our own species? Do we love it merely as it is a certain mixture of proportion and colours? No; for, though these are to be taken into the account as two material ingredients, yet something else is wanting to beget our love; something that animates the features and bespeaks a mind within. Otherwise we might fall in love with a mere picture or any lifeless mass of matter that was entertaining to the eye. We might be as soon smitten with a dead, uninformed, unmeaning countenance, where there was an exact symmetry and regularity of features, as with those faces which are enlivened by a certain cheerfulness, ennobled by a certain majesty, or endeared by a certain complacency diffused over their whole mien. Is not this therefore the chief foundation of our taste for beauty, that it giveth us, as we think, some outward notices of noble, benevolent, and valuable qualities in the mind? Thus a sweetness of mien and aspect charms the more because we look upon it as an indication of a much sweeter temper within. In a word, though the Deity cannot be seen, numerous instances of His goodness are visible throughout the frame of nature. And wherever they are seen, they naturally command our love. But we cannot love goodness abstractedly from some Being in which it is supposed to inhere. For that would be to love an abstract idea. Hitherto, indeed, it is only the love of esteem. The transition, however, from that to a love of enjoyment, or a desire of being made happy by Him, is quick and easy: for, the more lovely ideas we entertain of any being, the more desirous we shall be to do his pleasure and procure his favour. Having thus shown the foundation of our love to God, I proceed —

II. TO STATE THE DEGREE AND POINT OUT THE MEASURES OF OUR LOVE TO HIM. The meaning of these words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," is, that we are to serve God with all those faculties which He has given us: not that the love of God is to be exclusive of all other loves, but of all other rival affections; that, whenever the love of God and that of the world come in competition, the former undoubtedly ought to take place of the latter. To love God, therefore, with all our heart is so far from excluding all inferior complacencies that it necessarily comprehends them. Our love must begin with the creature, and end in Him as the highest link in the chain. We must love, as well as argue, upwards from the effect to the cause; and because there are several things desirable even here under proper regulations, conclude that He, the Maker of them, ought to be the supreme, not the only, object of our desires. We cannot love God in Himself without loving Him in and for His works. We are not to parcel out our affections between piety and sin. Then is our affection like a large diamond, most valuable, when it remains entire and unbroken, without being cut out into a multitude of independent and disjointed parts. To love the Lord with all our strength is to put forth the active powers of the soul in loving and serving Him. It is to quicken the wheels and springs of actions that moved on heavily before. It is to do well without being weary of well-doing. The love of God is a settled, well-grounded, rational delight in Him, founded upon conviction and knowledge. It is seated in the understanding, and therefore not necessarily accompanied with any brisker agitations of spirits, though, indeed, the body may keep pace with the soul, and the spirits flow in a more sprightly torrent to the heart, when we are affected by any advantageous representation of God, or by a reflection on His blessings. This I thought necessary to observe, because some weak men of a sanguine complexion are apt to be elated upon the account of those short-lived raptures and transient gleams of joy which they feel within themselves; and others of a phlegmatic constitution to despond, because they cannot work themselves up to such a degree of fervour. Whereas nothing is more precarious and uncertain than that affection which depends upon the ferment of the blood. It naturally ceases as soon as the spirits flag and are exhausted. Men of this make sometimes draw near to God with great fervency, and at other times are quite estranged from Him, like those great bodies which make very near approaches to the sun, and then all at once fly off to an immeasurable distance from the source of light. You meet a person at some happy time, when his heart overflows with joy and complacency: he makes you warm advances of friendship, he gives you admittance to the inmost secrets of his soul, and prevents all solicitation by offering, unasked, those services which you, in this soft and gentle season of address, might have been encouraged to ask. Wait but till this flush of good humour and flow of spirits is over, and you will find all this over warmth of friendship settle into coldness and indifference; and himself as much differing from himself as any one person can from another; whereas a person of a serious frame and composure of mind, consistent with himself, and therefore constant to you, goes on, without any alternate heats and colds in friendship, in an uninterrupted tenour of serving and obliging his friend. Which of these two is more valuable in himself and acceptable to you? The answer is very obvious. Just so a vein of steady, regular, consistent piety is more acceptable to that Being with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of change, than all passionate sallies and short intermitting fits of an unequal devotion. Truly to love God is not then to have a few warm notions about the Deity fluttering for a while in the breast, and afterwards leaving it void and empty of goodness. But it is to have the love of God dwelling in us. It is not a religious mood or humour, but a religious temper. It is not to be now and then pleased with our Maker in the gaiety of the heart, when, more properly speaking, we are pleased with ourselves. It is not to have a few occasional transient acts of complacency and delight in the Lord rising in our minds when we are in a vein of good humour, as the seed in the parable soon sprung up and soon withered away, because it had no root and deepness of earth, but it is to have a lasting, habitual, and determinate resolution to please the Deity rooted and grounded in our hearts, and influencing our actions throughout.

III. I PROCEED TO EXAMINE HOW FAR THE FEAR OF THE DEITY IS CONSISTENT WITH THE LOVE OF HIM. "There is mercy with Thee, therefore shalt Thou be feared," is a passage in the Psalms very beautiful, as well as very apposite, to our present purpose. The thought is surprising, because it was obvious to think the sentence should have concluded thus: There is mercy with Thee, therefore shalt Thou be loved. And yet it is natural, too, since we shall be afraid to draw upon ourselves His displeasure, whom we sincerely love. The more we have an affection for Him, the more we shall dread a separation from Him. Love, though it casteth out all servile fear, yet does not exclude such a fear as a dutiful son shows to a very affectionate but a very wise and prudent father. And we may rejoice in God with reverence, as well as serve Him with gladness. Per love, if not allayed and tempered with fear and the apprehensions of Divine justice, would betray the soul into a sanguine confidence and an ill-grounded security. Fear, on the other hand, if not sweetened and animated by love, would sink the mind into a fatal despondency. Fear, therefore, is placed in the soul as a counterpoise to the more enlarged, kindly, and generous affections. It is in the human constitution what weights are to some machines, very necessary to adjust, regulate, and balance the motion of the fine, curious, and active springs. Happy the man who can command such a just and even poise of these two affections, that the one shall do nothing but deter him from offending, while the other inspirits him with a hearty desire of pleasing the Deity.

(J. Seed, D. D.)

Do you know that ours is almost, if not quite, the only religion which teaches us to love God? The heathen do not love their gods. They are afraid of them; they are such horrid, ugly things; they are so fierce; they fear them. It was thought that the Esquimaux had no word for "love" in their language. At last they found one nearly two lines long. It makes two lines in a book — you could hardly say it. But ours is very short. If I were an Esquimaux, and I had to say "love," I should have to write a word of two lines, made up of all sorts of words. It is a great privilege that we can love God.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I have heard it said of a man, "That man is a grave!" because something in him lay dead and buried. What do you think it was? Love. Love was dead and buried in him, so the man was a grave! I hope I have no graves here. I hope there is nobody here that is a grave; a person in whom love lies dead and buried.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." You won't love Him, you will never love the Lord, till you can call Him yours. "Thy God." "My God." "He is my God." If a little girl likes her doll, she says, "My doll." if a boy likes his hoop or bat, he says, "My hoop; my bat." We say, "My father; my mother; my brother; my sister; my little wife; my husband." "My is such a nice word. Till you can say thy" or "my "you will not love God. But when you can say, "My God!" then you will begin to love Him. "The Lord thy God." When one of the Roman emperors — after a great triumph, a military victory — was coming back to Rome, he went up the Appian hill in great state, with his foes dragged at his chariot wheels. Many soldiers surrounded him, adding to Iris triumphant entry. On going up the hill, a little child broke through the crowd. "You must not go there," said the soldiers, "that is the emperor." The little child replied, "True, he is your emperor, but he is my father!" It was the emperor's own little boy. He said, "He is your emperor, but he is my father." I hope we shall be able to say that of God. He is the God of everybody; but he is my God specially. He is not only the Creator of the world, — but He is my God!

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

What is the way to do it? I will tell you. When I look at some of you boys and girls down there, I cannot see much of your right cheek, but I can see your left cheek very clearly, because the light comes that way, shines directly down upon you. That is the way I see them. How do I love God? Love comes from God on me; then it shines back again on Him. I must put myself where God can shine upon me; then His love shining upon me will make a reflection go back again to Him. There is no love to God without that. It is all God's love reflected back to Him. Have not you sometimes seen the sun setting in the evening, and it has been shining so brightly on a house that you have thought, "Really that house is on fire"? It was only the light of the sun shining back again, the reflection. So if the love of God shines on your heart, then it will shine back in love to Him. Did you ever go near a great high rock where there was an echo? You said a word, back it comes to you; you said, "Come! come!" It said, "Come! come!" It was an echo. It was your voice coming back to you. It is God's love that comes back to you when you love Him. It is not your love. You have no right to it. It is God's love shining upon you makes your love go back to Him. God's love touching you goes back to Him. That is the way. I hope you will so love God.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

In one of the wars in which the Emperor Napoleon was engaged, we read that one of his old soldiers, a veteran, sustained a very bad wound; and the surgeon came to dress it and probe it. He was feeling it with his probe, when the man said to the surgeon, "Sir, go deep enough; if you go quite deep, you will find at the bottom of my wound 'emperor!'" It was all for the love of the emperor. "You will find the word 'emperor' at the bottom of my wound." I wish I could think in all our wounds, on everything we do, we could find quite at the bottom of it, "I have got this wound for love of the Emperor. The love of my Emperor has given me this wound." O that we might find at the bottom of everything, "God!" God!"

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I will tell you another thing. Many years ago, there lived a schoolmaster in the Netherlands. It was at the time that a very wicked persecution was going on against the Protestants, when they had "The Inquisition." It was a very cruel thing. The inquisitors, as they were called, put this poor man to the torture of the rack. They pulled his limbs almost asunder. This rack was a horrible instrument! have you ever seen one? You may see them in some museums. These inquisitors put men on the rack, and then pulled their joints out, thus putting them to horrible pain! When on the rack, the inquisitor said to this poor schoolmaster, "Do you love your wife and children? Won't you, for the sake of your wife and children, give up this religion of yours? Won't you give it up?" The poor old schoolmaster said, "If this earth were all gold, if all the stars were pearls, and if that golden globe and those pearly stars were all mine, I would give them all up to have my wife and children with me. I would rather stay in this prison, and live on bread and water with my wife and children, than live like a king without them. But I will not for the sake of pearls, or gold, or wife, or children, give up my religion, for I love my God more than wife, or child, or gold, or pearls." But the inquisitors' hearts did not soften a bit; they went on inflicting more tortures, till the man died on the rack. He loved God with "all his mind, and soul, and heart, and strength." Do you think we could go to the death for Him? If we love Him, we shall every day do something for Him. What have you done this day to show your love to God?

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Supposing you had got a very dear friend — someone whom you loved very much — should you like to be quite alone with that friend, and tell him your secrets, and for him to tell you his secrets? Did you ever do that? If you have a friend, I am sure you would like to be quite alone with him, and talk secrets. This is just what you will do with God if you love Him — you will like to be quite alone with Him; you will tell Him your secrets, and God will, tell you His secrets. He has promised this, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." He will tell you things He does not tell to everybody. He will tell you things you have not heard before. I will tell you another thing. Do you know anybody you love very much? If they go away from you, don't you like to have a letter from them? and when a letter does come, don't you read it from beginning to end without one wandering thought? I don't think you can say your lessons without a wandering thought; but if you had a letter from a dear friend, I think you would give it all your best attention — from the first word to the last. Well, is there a letter from God? Yes. Here it is — the Bible! It is a letter from God Himself. If you love God, you will love His letter, and you will read it very lovingly, and attentively, and give your whole mind to it.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

If you have got a friend you love very much, you will like anybody who is like your friend. You will say sometimes, "I quite like that person, she is so like my mother; he is so like my friend." You will love other Christian people, because you can say of them, "They are so like my Jesus, so like my God. I will love them therefore." So you will like poor people. I will tell you why. I will tell you a little story, I do not know whether you ever heard of it. There was a gentleman who always used to say grace before dinner, and he used to say,

"Be present at our table, Lord,

Be here and everywhere adored:"and his little child, his little boy, said, "Papa, you always ask Jesus Christ to come and be present at our table, but He never comes. You ask Him every day, but He never does come." His father said, "Well, wait and see." While at dinner that very day, there was a little knock at the door, given by a very poor man indeed, and he said," I am starving; I am very poor and miserable. I think God loves me, and I love God, but I am very miserable; I am hungry, wretched, and cold." The gentleman said, "Come in; come and sit down, and have a bit of our dinner." The little boy said, "You may have all my helping." So he gave him all his helping; and a very nice dinner the poor man had. The father — after dinner — said, "Didn't Jesus come? You said He never came. There was that poor man, and Christ said, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, My brethren, ye have done it unto Me!' Christ sends His representatives! What you have done to that poor man, it is the same as if you had done it unto God." Then I am sure if you love people very much, you will love to work for them, and you will not mind how hard, because you love them. If you love God, you will love to do something for God. Like Jacob felt about Rachel: "He served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her." I will tell you one more thing. If you love a person very much, and he has gone away from you, you will love to think he is coming back again.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

? — A long time ago, a gentleman, a young man, was travelling in a coach, and opposite to him there sat a lady, and the lady had a very little girl on her lap, a very sweet pretty little girl. This young man was very much pleased with the little girl: he played with her, took great notice of her, he lent her his penknife to play with; and he sang to her, and he told her little stories; he liked her so exceedingly. When the coach arrived at the hotel where they were to stop, this little girl put her face close to the young man's, and said, "Does 'oo love Jesus?" The young man could not catch it, and so he asked, "What do you say, my dear?" She said again, "Does 'oo love Jesus?" He blushed, and went out of the coach, but he could not forget the question. There was a large party to dinner, but he could hear nothing but, "Does 'oo love Jesus?" After dinner, he went to play billiards, and while playing he could not forget it "Does 'oo love Jesus?" He went to bed, uncomfortable in his mind. When on his bed at night, in his wakeful moments and in his dreams, he could only hear the same question, "Does 'oo love Jesus?" The next day he had to meet a lady by appointment, he was still thinking about it, he could not forget it, but spoke a little out loud, and when the young lady came in, he said, "Does 'oo love Jesus?" She said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "I forgot you were present. I was saying what a very little girl said to me yesterday, 'Does 'oo love Jesus?'" She said, "What did you say to her?" He replied, "I said nothing. I did not know what to say." So it went on. Five years afterwards, that gentleman was walking, I think it was through the city of Bath. As he was going along the streets, he saw at the window the very lady who had had the little girl on her lap. Seeing her, he could not help ringing the bell, and asked if he might speak to her. He introduced himself to her thus: "I am the gentleman you will remember, perhaps, who travelled with you in a coach some years since." She said, "I remember it quite well." He said, "Do you remember your little girl asking me a question?" She said, "I do, and I remember how confused you were about it." He said, "May I see that little girl?" The lady looked out of the window, she was crying. He said, "What! what! is she dead?" "Yes, yes," was the reply. "She is in heaven. But come with me, and I will show you her room. I will show you all her treasures." And the gentleman went into the room, and there he saw her Bible, and a great many prize books, very prettily bound; and he saw all her childish playthings, and the lady said, "That is all that is now left of my sweet Lettie." And the gentleman replied, "No, madam, that is not all that is left of her. I am left. I am left. I owe my soul to her. I was a wicked man when I first saw her, and I was living among other wicked people, and living a very bad life. But she said those words to me, and I never forgot them. And since that time I am quite changed. I am not the man I was. I am now God's. I can answer that question now. Don't say that all of little Lettie is gone." And now I say to you, and to everybody in this church, "Does 'oo love Jesus?"

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. THAT THE LOVE WHICH WE OUGHT TO CULTIVATE AND CHERISH, IN REFERENCE TO GOD, IS SUPREME IN ITS DEGREE. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind;" thus reminding us that, in every respect, God is to have the preeminence, because He possesses a right of absolute and entire proprietorship in us, as the author and the end of our existence because He only is adapted, in Himself and in the benefits which He has to bestow, to constitute the happiness of man, as an intelligent and immortal being. And, indeed, it cannot be otherwise: it is utterly impossible that the love of God should be a subordinate principle. Wherever it exists it must be the ascendant; from its own nature it cannot mix with anything that is unlike itself, and, in reference to its object, it cannot by possibility admit of a rival. For what is there in us to which it can be subordinated? Can the love of God in us be subordinated to the love of any sin? Certainly not; for "if any man love Me," said the Saviour, "he will keep My commandments." Can the love of God in us be subordinated to the love of fame? Certainly not — "How can ye believe," said Christ, "while ye seek honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God?" Can the love of God be subordinated in us to the love of the world? Most certainly it cannot. This is as inimical to it, and as unlikely to mix with it, as any other principle or feeling that can be specified: "Love not the world," says the Apostle, "neither the things of the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him," — and "The love of money is the root of all evil." Can the love of God be subordinated in us to the love of creatures? Can it be subordinated to the love of the various comforts and enjoyments of this life? Most certainly it cannot — for what says our Lord? Why, He asserts thus much on this subject that if any man love houses or lands — that if any man love father or mother — that if any man love wife or children — that if any man love sister or brother, more than Him, he is not worthy of Him. Nay, indeed, He goes beyond this, and gives us to under. stand, that where the continuance or preservation of our own life is inimical to, or incompatible with, the performance of our duty to Christ, even to this our love to God is not to be subordinated; for, says He, "If any man love his own life more than Me, he is not worthy of Me." This is the view we are to take of that gracious empire established over man by Jesus Christ: it is not the reign of coercion or of fear, but of freedom and of love. It supposes the entire surrender of our hearts to Christ, so that Christ is enthroned in our affections, and exercises entire dominion over us, bringing every imagination and thought of the heart into entire subjection. It would be just as foolish to say, that a kingdom was given up to a conqueror while at the same time its strongholds were in possession of his adversary, as for an individual to say that he had surrendered his heart and affections to Christ, while, at the same time, these affections are placed on anything opposed to the will and inimical to the interests of Christ.

II. THAT THE LOVE OF GOD, AS INCULCATED UPON US BY HIMSELF, IS TO BE REGARDED AS A RATIONAL EXERCISE OF OUR AFFECTIONS, IMPLYING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE ESTEEM OF GOD. Man is not only the subject of passion, but also of reason. It is originated in us by the knowledge of God; it arises from the admission of the soul into an acquaintance with God. But this is not all: there are vast multitudes that have this knowledge of God; at the same time, they love not God. And hence we would distinctly and seriously impress it upon your minds that that knowledge of God which is to originate in us supreme affection for Him, implies the peculiar and personal application to us of the benefits of His grace — it supposes our reconciliation to God by the forgiveness of our sins, through faith in the redemption that has been wrought out by Jesus Christ. When this becomes the case, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us;" then our love assumes the character of filial love, the love which a child feels to its parent.

III. THAT THE LOVE OF GOD, INCULCATED UPON US BY THE PRECEPTS OF HIS HOLY GOSPEL, SUPPOSES SUPREME DELIGHT OR COMPLACENCY IN GOD. Now, the exercise of our affections forms a very prominent part of that capacity of happiness by which we are distinguished; for our own experience has taught us that the presence of that object on which our affections are placed is essential to our happiness; and that its absence at any time occasions an indescribable feeling of pain, which cannot be alleviated by the presence of other objects, however excellent in themselves — for this very reason, that they do not occupy the same place in our affections. Look, for instance, at the miser: let him only accumulate wealth and add house to house and land to land, and to the presence and claims of every other object he seems completely insensible: his attention is completely engrossed with the one object of his pursuit; and, dead to everything else, he cares not to what sufferings or privations he submits, if he can only succeed in gratifying his penurious avidity. Now, look at the same principle in reference to the love of God. Wherever it exists, it lifts the soul to God, as the source and fountain of its happiness — it brings the mind to exercise the utmost possible complacency in God — it leads the mind to seek its felicity from God — it brings it to Him as to its common and only centre. God is the centre to which the soul can always tend the sun in whose beam she can bask with unutterable pleasure and delight; she finds in Him not merely a stream but a sea — a fountain of blessedness, pure and perennial, of which no accident of time can ever deprive her.

IV. THAT THE LOVE OF GOD, AS INCULCATED UPON US IN HIS WORD, IMPLIES THE ENTIRE AND PRACTICAL DEVOTEDNESS OF OURSELVES TO HIS SERVICE AND GLORY. Ordinarily, you know, nothing is more delightful than to promote, in any possible way, the interests of those whom we love: and whatever is the sacrifice which we make, however arduous the duty we perform, in order to accomplish this object, if successful, we feel ourselves more than adequately rewarded.

(John James.)

I. HOW CAN THIS LOVE BE DISCRIMINATED? It is directed towards "the Lord thy God" (Psalm 16:8).

1. It may be known by its sensibility. It is the love of a bride on the day of her first espousals (Jeremiah 2:2). A new convert wants to be demonstrative. At the ancient Roman games, so we are told, the emperors, on rare occasions, in order to gratify the citizens, used to cause sweet perfumes to be rained down through the vast awnings which covered the theatres; and when the air grew suddenly fragrant, the whole audiences would instinctively arise and fill the space with shouts of acclamation for the costly and delicate refreshment (Song of Solomon 6:12).

2. This love will be characterized by humility. Call to mind David's exclamation, for a notable illustration of such a spirit (2 Samuel 7:18, 19). A sense of unworthiness really renders a lovely person more welcome and attractive.

3. This love will be recognized by its gratitude. Christians love their Saviour because He first loved them. He began the acquaintance. A true penitent will remember how much she owes for her forgiveness, and will break an alabaster box, costly and fragrant, over the Redeemer's head (Mark 14:3). Once Dr. Doddridge secured for a sorrowful woman the pardon of her husband who had been condemned for crime; she fell at the minister's feet in tears of overcharged feeling, and exclaimed, "Oh, my dear sir, every drop of blood in my body thanks you for your kindness to me!"

4. So this love will be manifested in consecration. What belongs to God shall be defiled by nothing earthly (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17). Once among the Scottish highlands, the queen of Great Britain, storm stayed, took refuge in a cottage. Not till after she had gone did the simple-hearted housekeeper learn who it was she had been sheltering under her roof. Then she gently took the chair which her sovereign had occupied, and set it reverently aside, saying, "None shall ever sit in that seat less than the heir of a crown!"

5. Then this love will be distinguished by its solicitude. It would seem as if every true convert might hear Jesus saying to him, as He said to the impotent cripple at Bethesda on receiving his cure: "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee!"

II. So we reach a second question: HOW MAY THIS LOVE BE INJURED? It may be wilfully "left," and so lost (Revelation 2:4).

1. It may lose the "heart" out of it. It was fabled that Mahomet's coffin was suspended in the air half way between heaven and earth; that is no place for a Christian surely while he is alive. Christ said, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Look at the account given of the military people who wanted to make David king (1 Chronicles 12:33-38). No man can love God with a heart for Him and another heart for somebody or something else (Psalm 12:2, margin).

2. This love may lose the "soul" out of it. See how fine seems the zeal of Naaman when he scoops up some loads of earth from the soil of Israel, that he may bear it over into Syria for an altar to Jehovah; and now see how he takes the whole worth out of it by the absurd proposition that, when his royal master walks in procession to the temple of Rimmon, he may be permitted to go as he always went, kneeling down to the idol with the rest of the heathen worshippers (2 Kings 5:17, 18). When the heart is gone, and so there is no interest in loving, and the soul is gone, and there is no purpose in loving, where is love?

3. Then this love may be injured by losing the "mind" out of it. All true affection is intelligent. Defections from the true doctrines of the Scriptures are inevitably followed by a low state of piety.

4. This love may lose all the "strength" out of it. When the worldly Lord Peterborough stayed for a time with Fenelon, he was so delighted with his amiable piety that he exclaimed at parting, "If I remain here any longer, I shall become a Christian in despite of myself." Love is a power; but it is possible that the force of it shall be mysteriously spirited away while the form of it might appear unchanged. One secret sin, or one indulged lust, will turn the whole man from its influence. We saw the story of a ship lost not a great while ago; it went on the rocks miles away from the harbour which the pilot said he was entering. The blame was passed as usual from hand to hand; but neither steers. man's skill, nor captain's fidelity, nor sailor's zeal, could be charged with the loss. Then it came to light at last that a passenger was trying to smuggle into port a basket of steel cutlery hid in his berth underneath the compass; that swerved the needle from the north star. A single bit of earthliness took all the strength out of the magnetism. That is to be the fate of those who try to smuggle little sins into heaven.

III. Now comes our third question: HOW SHOULD THIS LOVE BE EXERCISED? This brings us straight to the eleventh commandment, which our Lord declares is new in some respects, but in its spirit is like the rest of the Decalogue (John 13:34). We are bidden to love our neighbour as ourselves.

1. Who is our neighbour! The answer to this is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29).

2. What are we to do for our neighbour? The answer to all such questions is found in the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). We are to comfort his body, aid his estate, enlighten his mind, advance his interests, and save his soul. There is a story that a priest stood upon the scaffold with Joan of Are till his very garments took fire with the flames which were consuming her, so zealous was he for her conversion. "None know how to prize the Saviour," wrote the good Lady Huntingdon, "but such as are zealous in pious works for others."

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. THE PLACES OF SCRIPTURE WHERE THIS GREAT DUTY IS ENJOINED, EITHER EXPRESSLY OR IMPLICITLY, are the following: Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God." Deuteronomy 10:12; Joshua 22:4, 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

II. Let us look a little into THE NATURE OF THIS COMPREHENSIVE DUTY. And without controversy it is the most excellent qualification of the human nature. This love supposes some acquaintance with God: not only a knowledge that there is such a Being, but a just notion of His nature and perfections. And further, this love of God is justifiable in the highest degrees possible; nay, it is more laudable in proportion to its ardency, and the influence it has on our thoughts and on the actions of life: whereas love to our fellow mortals may rise into unlawful extremes, and produce ill effects. Even natural affection, such, for instance, as that of parents to their children, may exceed due bounds and prove a snare to us, and be the occasion of many sins: but the love of God can never have too much room in the heart, nor too powerful an influence on our conduct; but ought to rule most extensively, and to govern and direct in all our purposes and practices.

III. Let us now, in some particulars, consider THE EXCELLENCY OF THIS DUTY.

1. The object of it is the infinitely perfect God; the contemplation of whose glories gives the angels inexpressible and everlasting delight; nay, furnishes the eternal mind with perfect unchangeable happiness.

2. Love to God is a celestial attainment: it flames in the upper world; heaven is full of this love. God necessarily loves Himself; takes delight in His own glory; reflects upon His own perfections with eternal complacency: the Son loves the Father; the angels and the spirits of the just behold the face of God with entire satisfaction.

3. The love of God is the noblest endowment of the mind of man. It more exalts the soul, and gives it a greater lustre than any other virtue. Nay, this is the most excellent part of godliness, internal godliness.

4. The excellency of this gracious principle, love to God, will appear, if we consider it as productive of the most excellent fruits. Love is the fulfilling of the law. It prepares us for communion with God, for gracious communications from Him, for delight in Him, for a participation of the comforts of the Spirit, for the light of God's countenance, a sense of His love to us, and a lively hope of glory.

5. Without love we cannot be approved and accepted of God, either in religious worship, or in the common actions of life. What the apostle says of faith, "Without faith it is impossible to please God," we may likewise say of love.

6. Love to God entitles us to many special privileges and blessings.

7. Besides the promises of the life that now is, they have a claim to such as relate to another life. It is not in this life only they have hope, there is an eternity of glory provided for them; they shall have the pleasure of an everlasting view of the infinite beauties of the Deity, and forever feel the ravishment of that incomprehensible glory.

8. It likewise prepares the soul for heaven, adapts the mind to celestial entertainments. It meetens us for the presence of God, as it is an ardour like that which is raised by the heavenly vision, though so much below it in degree.


1. The infinite perfections of God call for our highest esteem and love.

2. Creating goodness teaches us to adore and love our Maker.

3. The consideration of God's preserving care directs us to love Him.

4. The liberality and bounty of God in making provision for mankind is what should by no means be overlooked, but considered and acknowledged to the praise of His goodness, and should incline our hearts to the great Benefactor.

5. The patience of God is engaging, and should attract the soul to Him, and dispose us cheerfully to return to obedience with grateful resentment of His unmerited and forfeited goodness.

6. The titles which God is pleased to take on Himself with regard to His people should be thought an inducement to love Him, at least by those who hope they have an interest in His special favour.

7. The promises of God are of an attractive engaging nature, and are mate to gain our hearts, and to render the paths of duty pleasant.

8. Redeeming grace directs our hearts into the love of God.

9. Another argument directing and pressing us to the love of God is the distinguishing goodness of God to us in giving us the gospel revelation.

10. With respect to those I have mentioned, and all other instances of the love of God, the disinterestedness of it exalts and magnifies it, and shows Him to be infinitely worthy of our esteem and love. We are bound to love the Lord our God for the hope He has given us as to another life; hope of a fulness of joys and pleasures for evermore, blessedness mere suitable to the highest powers of the soul than any that we enjoy here, and lasting as eternity itself.

V. I must now lay before you, in some particulars, THE FRUITS OF THIS EXCELLENT PRINCIPLE IN THE SOUL OF MAN.

1. Love to God will produce obedience, voluntary, cheerful obedience.

2. Love to God will beget in us a sincere affection for the people of God, such as in the gracious condescending style of the Scripture are called His children.

3. Love to God will moderate your affections towards worldly enjoyments, which are apt to take up too much room in our hearts, and to engross unlawful degrees of our love.

4. It will qualify you for dutiful submission to God under temporal evils, and bodily afflictions, and prevent complaints against God.

5. Love to God will prepare you for communion with God, manifestations of Himself to you.

6. It fits the soul for delightful meditation upon God.

7. If you truly love God, you will delight in His worship, you will love the house of God.

8. Love to God will furnish you with a lively hope of glory. What remains further to be done on this subject is to add some inferences and exhortations.The inferences are the following:

1. If the love of God be a great and indispensable duty, then the whole of religion does not lie in love to our neighbour; much less does it in being just and honest in our dealings, giving to all their due, and doing no one any harm.

2. If the love of God be so great a duty, and there are so many clear unanswerable arguments to prove it to be so, what a horrid accursed wickedness is it to hate God!

3. What a vast advantage is it to enjoy the gospel revelation, where we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ!

4. If to love the Lord our God with all our heart be the first and great commandment, then we are greatly concerned to inquire, whether we have this Divine principle in the soul.I have a few particulars of exhortation to add, and with these I shall finish this subject.

1. Believe in God, His existence, His glorious perfections, His infinite, eternal, unchangeable rectitude, His providence, His care of His creatures, His mercy and love, His general goodness to all.

2. Use yourselves to meditation on those attributes of God which have a more direct tendency to attract esteem and love, the attributes which are as it were the spring from whence blessings flow to His creatures, such as His compassion, mercy, and goodness.

3. Believe the gospel. God's purposes of love to fallen man before the foundation of the world, the incarnation of the Son of God, the sufferings and death of the Mediator, remission of sin purchased by His blood.

4. Be conversant with the Scriptures, which were written to bring us to God as the fountain of good and the author of happiness, to raise and improve in the mind all gracious affections towards Him, and, among the rest, our love to Him,

5. Labour to get the heart more purified from natural corruption.

6. Take care to keep your affections towards other things within due bounds, that they may not lessen your esteem of God.

(Thomas Whitty.)

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