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Matt. xix. 17.
If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
This condition of entering into eternal life is enforced by various motives, and under different forms of expression, in almost every page of the Gospel. “ If ye love me, keep my commandments," said the Saviour: and again,“ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; this is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: on these two hang all the law and the prophets.” It is needless to multiply quotations. It
is written in characters which cannot be mistaken, that to love God and our neighbour, is what our Lord bids us do to inherit eternal life. And love is the fulfilling of the law. “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely:- Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”1 Grace, redemption, sanctification, and salvation, are the gift of God: our part is to observe his laws; for he is infinitely wise, and knows what is best for us; he is infinitely good, and requires nothing from us but what will tend to our happiness ; he is infinitely powerful, and can reward those who obey his will. His service does not consist in nice reasonings and refined distinctions, not in impassioned fervour and fitful resolutions of amendment, lightly
1 Rom. xiii. 8.
formed and more lightly broken; but in the steady discharge of duty, and the performance of what he has enjoined upon us. We must act, we must speak, we must even think, as he directs; we must abhor and avoid what he proposes as an object of abhorrence; we must love and desire what he recommends as lovely and good. And this, not partially or in a few favoured instances, but in every thing, at least so far as our efforts are concerned. We cannot indeed attain perfection; there is no man that sinneth not; and, in spite of all our watchfulness and resolution, we must often be betrayed into error: like a feeble traveller, journeying along a rugged and slippery path, who, in spite of all the care and caution with which he treads his way, often stumbles, and sometimes falls, not indeed by negligence or design, but because he is so weak as to be unable to guard against all accidents in performing so difficult a journey.
The true Christian does not content himself with observing the letter graven on the stony tables of the old law, but adopts the spirit and import, which Christ has imparted to the commandments in the Gospel. It is not enough for him to keep holy the Sabbath Day, unless he does all he can, every day, to enliven the remembrance, and diffuse the knowledge of God. It is not enough for him to do no murder, unless he has subdued his malignant passions, and can say in truth that he hurts nobody by word or deed. His traditions will never suffer him to answer, “ It is Corban," when urged to honour and succour his father or mother. And he will not prefer one duty to the omission of others. He will not be satisfied with offices of devotion, if his temper is harsh, censorious, or morose. He will not be satisfied with justice in his dealings, if he is also hard, unrelenting, and ready to exact the uttermost farthing. He will not be satisfied with being thought bountiful and generous, if he is also haughty and overbearing. He will strive in all
things to fulfil the law of God; to attain the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that his “ whole spirit and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of his Lord.”
Not, however, that he is able of his own strength to keep the commandments. He knows with St. Paul, that “in him (that is, in his flesh) dwelleth no good thing :"o it is God which worketh in him both to will, and to do of his good pleasure. To God then be all the praise for any good that his creatures can perform. Yet man is not irresistibly bound down to evil. He is yet a moral agent. He is yet, with all his weakness, an accountable being. He has yet a certain freedom of choice, and will, and resolve. Else why does he condemn himself, when he reflects on his past crimes? Why is he covered with shame, when others detect, and upbraid him with them ? His own conscience tells
11 Thess. v. 23.
2 Rom. vii. 18.
3 Phil. ii. 13.