« السابقةمتابعة »
bring us under the guilt of actions which we have never committed.
Since therefore our hearts, which are always naked and open to the eyes of God, give such an exceeding extent and increase either to our virtues or vices, it is our best and greatest business to govern the motions of our hearts, to watch, correct, and improve the inward state of our souls.
There is nothing, which so much exalts our souls, as this heavenly love; it cleanses and purifies like a holy fire, and all ill tempers fall away before it. It makes room for all virtues, and carries them to their greatest height. Every thing, which is good and holy, grows out of it, and it becomes a continual source of all holy desires and pious practices. By love I do not mean any natural tenderness, which is more or less in people, according to their constitutions ; but I mean a larger principle of the soul, founded in reason and piety, which makes us tender, kind, and benevolent to all our fellow-creatures, as creatures of God, and for his sake.
It is this love, which loves all things in God, as his creatures, as the images of his power, as the creatures of his goodness, as parts of his family, as members of his society, which be
comes a holy principle of all great and good actions.
The love therefore of our neighbour is only a branch of our love to God. For when we love God with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our strength, we shall necessarily love those beings, who are so nearly related to God, who have every thing from him, and are created by him, to be objects of his own eternal love. If I hate or despise any one man in the world, I hate something, which God cannot hate, and despise that, which he loves.
Can I think, that I love God with all my heart, whilst I hate that, which belongs only to God, which has no other master but him, which bears his image, is part of his family, and exists only by the continuance of his love towards it?
It was the impossibility of this, which made St. John say, " That if any man saith, he loveth God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.'
These reasons sufficiently show us, that no love is holy or religious, till it become universal.
We are to love our neighbour, that is, all mankind, not because they are wise, holy, virtuous, or well-behaved ; for all mankind neither ever were, nor ever will be so ; therefore it is
certain, that the reason of our being obliged to
If their virtue or goodness, were the reason of
We are sure, that the virtue or merit of per. sons is not the reason of our being obliged to love them ; because we are commanded to pay the highest instances of love to our worst ene. mies; we are to love, and bless, and pray for those, who most injuriously treat us. This therefore is demonstration, that the merit of persons is not the reason, on which our obligation to love them is founded.
If the want of a true and exact charity be so great a want, that, as St. Paul says, it renders our greatest virtues but empty sounds, and tinkling cymbals, how highly does it concern us to study every art, and practise every method of raising our souls to this state of charity ? It is for this reason, that you are here desired not to let a
without a full and solemn supplication to God for all the instances of universal love and benevolence to mankind; such daily, constant
devotion being the only likely means of preserving you in such a state of love, as is necessary to prove you to be a true follower of Jesus Christ.
On the necessity and benefit of intercession, considered
as a branch of universal love.
THAT intercession is a great and necessary part of christian devotion is very evident from scripture.
The first followers of Christ seem to support all their love, and to maintain all their intercourse and correspondence by mutual prayers for one another.
St. Paul, whether he write to churches, or particular persons, shows his intercession to be perpetual for them, that they are the constant subject of his
prayers. Thus to the Philippians, 'I thank upon every remembrance of you ; always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy.' Here we see not only a continual intercession, but performed with so much gladness, as shows, that it was an exercise of love, in which he highly rejoiced.
His devotion had also the same care for particular persons ; as appears by the following passage. "I thank my God, whom I serve from my fore-fathers, with a
conscience, that, without ceasing, I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.' How holy an acquaintance and friendship was this ! How worthy of persons, who were raised above the world, and related to one another, as new members of a kingdom of heaven?
Apostles and great saints did not only thus benefit and bless particular churches and private persons ; but they themselves also received grace from God by the prayers of others. Thus says St. Paul to the Corinthians. “You also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks
given by many on our behalf.' This was the ancient friendship of christians, uniting and cementing their hearts, not by wordly considerations nor human passions, but by the mutual communication of spiritual blessings, by prayers and thanksgivings to God for one another.
It was this holy intercession, which raised christians to such a state of mutual love, as far exceeded all, which had been praised and ad