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you astray; and here too may your acts of prayer and adoration be more earnest and more regular than generally they are in this sanctuary. In the Church of God you must guard against ostentation and singularity-you must content yourselves with general expressions of praise and confidence, and with a prescribed form of worship adapted to others as well as to yourselves. But in the hour of retirement you may suffer all the pious fervours of your soul to break forth in rapturous expressions of joy -you may search and drag forth all your hated sin, and cry aloud for mercy—you may remember all the repeated kindnesses you have yourselves experienced all the seasons of sickness and affliction, under which you have been comforted and relieved—all the worldly schemes, and hopes, in which you have been crowned with success—all the means of grace you have received and improved. You may remember them in the brightest colours, and you may feel them in the deepest recesses of your soul, and while you are far removed from the loud din of the world, and the pryings of men, you may lift up your hands and

voice to Heaven, in giving thanks to the blessed creator of Heaven and earth. Here too, your sorrows or cares may be laid down before the throne of your God, , who can allay their bitterness ; and all your wants, and those of your beloved children and friends may be at full enumerated and accompanied by earnest and repeated supplication, so that seeking diligently you cannot fail to find, and knocking importunately you shall at last have the door opened to you.

eyes and your

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SERMON XXXVII.*

THE TWO COMMANDMENTS.

MATTHEW xxii. 40.

On these two ('ommandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

In discoursing on the text just now delivered, I shall lay before you a few preliminary observations upon the import of two words, which occur in it, and which you may have been accustomed to understand in a sense too confined. First, I shall point out to you some striking circumstances in the occasion, upon which our Lord pronounced an authoritative sentence on the supreme importance of the two commandments-to love God, and to love our neighbour; and secondly, I shall insist on the sacred obligations, which lie upon us to obey those commandments with the whole force of our minds, and throughout the whole extent of our lives.

When our Lord speaks of the sacred writers themselves, he says, Moses and the Prophets ; but if he mentions the sacred writings, he accommodates his language to a technical and arbitrary arrangement, which had been established among his countrymen, which implied sometimes a twofold and sometimes a threefold division of holy writ. Thus, in the last chapter of St. Luke, you read—“that all things might be fulfilled which are spoken of the Son of Man, in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets;" but in the text and in many other places Christ adheres to another classification, the Law and the Prophets. Now under the word Law was signified, not only the Book of Exodus, where the Law was first given from Mount Sinai, and the Book of Deuteronomy, where it was again communicated and enlarged, but the whole Pentateuch, or five books ascribed to Moses. By the Book of Psalıns, or as the original word means, the Book of Praises, you are to understand not merely the hundred and fifty compositions, of which the greater part are supposed to have been written by David, but the Book of Job, the Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. The term Prophets is of yet wider signification, and includes not only the writings of the four greater and the twelve minor prophets, but all the histories admitted into the Jewish Canon, and written some before the captivity, some during it, and some after it. And now you will see the comprehensive sense of the phraseology, which I am explaining to you; for in all the moral parts of the Jewish Scriptures here enumerated, whether poetical or prosaic, whether prophetical or historical, doctrinal or preceptive, the love of God, and the love of our neighbour, form the great corner-stone of our duty; and where you read—“on these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets,” some commentators, perhaps

* 1818.

with more refinement than truth, have suggested that the metaphorical phrase is taken from the customs of the Jews, among whom their sacred books were publicly and reverently suspended in the temple; and therefore the figurative term applied by Christ would have been more intelligible and more forcible to the mind of a Jew, than, upon the first hearing, it usually is to our own.

But farther--you will observe that the love of the Deity is taught in all the Law, all the Psalms, and all the Prophets. You will farther take notice, that the love of God is every where, in the same scriptures, nearly or remotely connected with the love of our neighbour, and that even in speculation they were separated only by the national pride and religious intolerance of the Pharisees, with whom our Lord is represented as conversing, in the chapter of my text.

I shall now point out to you some striking circumstances in the occasion, upon which our blessed Lord pronounced an authoritative sentence on the supreme importance of the two commandments, to love God, and to love our neighbour. We hear that the Pharisees assembled together on finding that Jesus had put to silence the Sadducees. Now the rational and salutary directions which he had laid down for the regulation of our conduct, had many stubborn obstacles to encounter in the prejudices of both these Jewish sects. The Sadducees endeavoured to obscure and narrow the speculative doctrines of the law; and the Pharisees weakened its practical influence by laying an

excessive stress upon ritual observances. The Sadducees affected superior wisdom; and the Pharisees assumed the appearance of superior sanctity. The Sadducees, like their legitimate successors in certain philosophers in later times, seemed to measure the magnitude of their knowledge by the scantiness of their faith. With the wayward and untractable spirit of some modern fanatics, the Pharisees lowered the dignity of true religion by squandering their zeal upon trifles, by pouring forth the bitterest invectives against those who differed from them, and by multiplying, under the supposed authority of Heaven, either tenets to be admitted, or rules to be observed, which really originated in the superstition or the hypocrisy of their advocates. Each aspired to popularity, and professed a sincere and unshaken regard for the writings of Moses. Each with a most criminal and perverse emulation obscured the genuine lustre, and counteracted the right efficacy of those writings. Each imputed to the other the worst motives, and neither were anxious to inquire, whether their own were the best. You are not to suppose that the Pharisees were provoked merely at the confutation of their inveterate and hostile rivals ; for, if Jesus had confined his objections to the wrong opinions and the wrong practices of the Sadducees only, his answers might have given occasion for triumph rather than alarm to the Pharisees; and he might have found even in their prepossessions a readiness rather to welcome than to reject his own pretensions. But they well knew that the same piercing discernment, the same steady impartiality,

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