« السابقةمتابعة »
thing is more common than for persons, who, unappalled by a danger so imminent, have ventured to approach and attend till some progress has been made in the sermon, to walk, and sometimes to rush out of the house (in utter contempt of decency) without staying to hear what upon the whole might have induced them to adopt a less unfavourable decision. Neither is it to be doubted, that many whose candour would incline them to give a fair hearing to what might be advanced in behalf of opinions so palpably the object of unreasonable prepossession, are yet prevented by various, and in their view necessary obstacles, from an attendance, which to enable them to form a correct judgment, must be to a considerable degree constant-how then can they be furnished with an opportunity of doing this so well as by the medium of the press? And since it is through that channel that many of the calumnies above alluded to have been propagated, by what other means can they be resisted with equal hopes of success, than an ingenuous disclosure, in the same mode, of the whole truth?
It will be found, nevertheless, by those who can prevail on themselves to peruse the volume throughout, that a considerable part of it is devoted to subjects which have no necessary relation to the opinions of any particular denomi
nation of Christians. And to obviate, as far as possible, the disinclination that may be expected to prevail against such an unfashionable species of reading, a few discourses are introduced, which, having been composed for occasions usually attracting numerous and promiscuous auditories, may possibly be received with general indulgence, if not with approbation. July, 1817.
The Society having established a Theological Library, access may be had to it by all reputable persons, through any constant attendant on their worship, who will be responsible for the safe return of the book or books borrowed.
FOUNDATION OF SUPREME LOVE TO GOD;
"THE FIRST COMMANDMENT OF ALL”
MARK, Xii. 28, 29, 30.
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord;
And 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-this is the first commandment.
IT is very possible that the attention of mankind may be so taken up with the circumstantials of religion as to be totally drawn aside from its principles, its life, and its power to substitute its forms for the practice of its duties. Such was the case with the scribes and pharisees in the time of our Saviour. Ceremonies, even in their minutest points, were ri
gidly enjoined and scrupulously observed; but the weightier matters of the law were passed by, and lost sight of. The person whose conversation with Christ is recorded in this passage, seems to have been an honest and zealous enquirer after truth, who had missed his object for want of setting out in a proper direction. He had probably been witness to long and ardent debates among his learned brethren, which of the precepts of the Mosaic law required the highest degree of regard; some contending for the superiority of circumcision, some of sacrifices, and some of phylacteries. Struck with the satisfactory and convincing reply of Jesus to the objection urged by the Sadducees against the resurrection, he eagerly embraces the opportunity of having his doubts resolved as to the question he had heard so warmly agitated. The answer he obtained seems to have excited that pleasing surprise with which an ingenuous mind receives the sudden illumination of truth-of truth so self-evident that it was matter of astonishment that it should have been so long undiscovered-so convincing as not to leave room for the smallest remnant of doubt, and from which consequences of the highest practical value were naturally and clearly deducible. It is observed by Dr. Doddridge, that the mingled feelings of surprise and admiration excited in the scribe by our Lord's reply, are by no means sufficiently marked by the expression in our common version—“ well master." The import of the original is Excellently, finely, beautifully spoken, Master!" "True it is as thou hast said-for ONE there is, and there is none other than he"-and so on. And Jesus, ever ready to encourage sentiments and dispositions of so excellent a tendency, immediately signifies his appro
bation, and declares the man who entertained them to be in the right way for becoming a subject of that kingdom which he was about to establish in the world; since he had discovered and laid hold of the grand foundation on which it was to be erected-a foundation which he elsewhere declares shall not fail though heaven and earth should pass away.
To the supreme love of the only living and true God, and the arguments upon which it must necessarily rest, permit me at this time to call your attention. Our great and good Creator treats us as rational beings; nor does he require obedience to any of his precepts, without convincing us that what he expects at our hands will stand the test of the strictest enquiry, as well in respect of its agreement with the eternal principles of reason and justice, as its advantageous consequences to ourselves.
Now the regard, esteem, or affection, required in such emphatic and exclusive terms in this first commandment of the law, can be rendered only on account of absolute and unrivalled excellence on the part of its object, and of unequalled obligation on our's. But it is a contradiction in terms to suppose that there can be more than One being who can possess the former or confer the latter-JEHOVAH OUR GOD IS THAT ONE-therefore we must love him with all the heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. The points for our present consideration consequently will be-the Unity of God-his supreme excellence-and our having received benefits from him such as no other being could bestow.
1. Incomprehensible as the Deity must necessarily be in his eternity, his immensity, and other attributes of his nature, his UNITY is so clear, perspicuous and