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the definition of holiness must be, that it is obedience to the law. But the law of God, if I may be allowed the
, expression, has both a body and a soul. It is not confined like human laws to external things. The law of the moral Governor must strike chiefly, and in a sense entirely, at the heart, the real seat of all moral good and evil. Now if we could find a single principle of the heart which in itself and its proper fruits comprehends complete obedience to the law, we should find holiness in its most simple and elementary form. Well that principle is found ; and it is such a one as will perfectly conform us to the moral character of God.
It is love,and 6 God is love." 66 Love is the FULFILLING of the law."* Bụt what love? Let the Prophet of the world, the Lawgiver Himself, reply : “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” “ All the Law [in respect to man,] is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law.”+ As evangelical faith, the sum of Gospel duties, “worketh by love," I love is the fulfilling of the Gospel as well
* Rom. xii. 10. 3 Gal. v. 6.
† Mat. xxii. 37-40. Rom. xiii. 8. Gal. v. 14. * 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3.
as the Law, and comprehends all the holiness of the Old Testament and the New. This is that charity which so completely involves all moral excellence that all other things are nothing : “ Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, [love,] I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, [as a martyr,] and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."*
All holiness then consists in that love to God, to Christ, and our neighbour, which stands opposed to selfishness, and causes us, when it is perfect, to love our neighbour as ourselves. But who is my neighbour ? Not my friend, not my relation, not my Christian brother, not my countryman; but the Samaritan, (as Christ Himself explained it,t) one that is of another religion, of another nation, reputed wicked, and my natural enemy; one that has nothing to recommend him but that he is a man. In this is involved the spirit of all those precepts which require us to love our enemies, to exercise the most perfect good will and kindness to the evil and unthankful. The love then which is the fulfilling of the law, is limited to no circle, no country, but reaches as far as man is found. It is restricted by no partialities, it stops at no character, no friendships, no aversions, but centres on simple being. It stops not at human being, but goes forth to God, who comprehends in Himself infinitely the greatest portion of existence. It fixes on Him supremely, and loves Him, when it is perfect, with all the heart, and soul, and mind. And if angels, if the inhabitants of all worlds should come distinctly into view, what should hinder it from fixing on them as it now does on God and man? Nor does it stop at intelligent being; it goes forth with en
† Luke x. 29–37.
: tire good will to the sensitive creation, to all that are capable of pleasure or pain. Surely in the love which is the fulfilling of the law must be comprehended that benevolence which causes “ a righteous man” to regard “ the life of his beast," since this is a part of moral goodness which God has seen fit to approve.* An affection thus going forth to being as such, without regard to character, relation, proximity, or species, must have for its object All existence capable of pleasure or pain. It can find nothing to limit it to the inhabitants of one world, except ignorance that others exist. In a finite being it will of course act most strongly towards objects most in view ; but the same good will that can love an enemy and wish well to a brute, would for the same reason love millions of beings of other worlds as fast as they should come into view. This is that general benevolence which makes men good citizens of the universe. This is
* Prov. xii, 10.
that law which was fitted for a universal empire. You must possess domestick affections to render you good members of a family; you must have the more extended principle of patriotism to render you good members of the state ; for the same reason you must possess universal benevolence to render you good subjects of a kingdom that comprises all worlds as so many provinces of a vast empire. Nothing short of this is holiness. Family regulations are necessary for the domestick circle; civil laws are necessary for the commonwealth; but this great law of love, which knows no limit of time or place, is fitted to be the universal statute of a kingdom comprehending all worlds.
But though this affection fixes on general being as its primary object, it has a secondary object, and that is holy love,—love of being and love of holiness. As it delights in the happiness of general existence, it delights in that benevolence which is friendly to general existence, and which loves this sacred temper in others. Like God Himself it regards with complacency both the love of being and the love of holiness.
May I not add as a distinct idea, that this holy affection delights in the measures on which the happiness of general being depends, such as the law and providential government of God, and the Gospel of Christ. It delights also in the truths which relate to these measures, and in those which relate to the character of God, and the mode of His existence. But this is not a distinct idea. For to love divine truths is not distinct from loving the objects which the truths disclose. The only way in which we see the objects is in the truths which relate to them, and all that we see in truth is the objects disclosed. It is certain from this consideration that the haters of divine truth must be strangers to holiness.
But there is one attribute of holy love which I wish to set more distinctly before you. Whether it respect being or character it will necessarily regard God supremely. That benevolence which wishes well to being, will value the happi. ness of God more than that of all creatures, because He comprises in Himself infinitely the greatest portion of existence. That charity which takes complacency in moral excellence, will love the character of God more than that of all creatures, because He possesses infinitely the greatest portion of benevolence. Where God is not supremely loved, therefore, there can be no holiness. This will be more evident when it is considered that where He is not loved supremely, He is not loved at all.* And certainly there can be no love of general being that wholly disregards Him who comprises in Himself infinitely the greatest portion of general being, nor any love of moral excellence that wholly disregards,
* The author does not mean to interfere with the question, whether in those hours when the Christian's love is not supreme it is wholly extinguished ; nor with the question, whether love may exist in a disposition when it is not in exercise. He only means to say that they who never love God supremely, never love Him at all.