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he is not an unconcerned Spectator. For this Reason the Love of God is called the First and Great Commandment; and for this Reason it never can be inconsistent with the Love of our Neighbour, which is the Second, In all Cases therefore where your Duty to your Neighbour is plain and clear, depend upon it your Duty to God concurs with it. All Scruples to the contrary are wicked, perhaps wicked Hypocrisy; for it is the greatest Indignity to God to use his Name, and pretend his Honour, to cover the Injuries you are doing to his Creatures, and your own Brethren.
The second Observation I would make from the Text is, That, our Saviour having declared that on these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets, 'tis certain that nothing is or ought to be esteemed Religion, that is not reducible to one or other of these Principles.
But what then, you will say, must become of the Institutions of Religion, which, considered in themselves, and according to their own Nature, are not properly to be referred either to the Love of God, or our Neighbour? For, if all that is Religion may be fo. referred, it should seem that these Institutions, which cannot be so referred, are no Part of
A a 3 Religion.
Religion. It is certain that mere positive Institutions are not founded upon any moral Reason of the Actions themselves : If they were, they might easily be drawn from these general Precepts without the Help of a positive Command : For the whole moral Reason of Religion is either the Love of God, or the Love of our Neighbour; and to make any Thing else to be Religion; strictly speaking, that does not partake of this moral Reason, is Ignorance and Superstition. But then there is a very manifest Difference between Religion and the Means of Religion: And whatever is part of our Religion, and yet not so upon the account of the moral Reason, can only be esteemed as a Means of Religion ; not ordained for its own sake, but for the sake of that Religion which is founded upon moral Reason.
This Distinction between Religion and the Means of Religion would be of use, if carefully attended to: It would teach Men where to point their best Endeavour, and where to place their Hopes and Expectations: For, if your Zeal and Fervor be spent only upon the Means of Religion, and goes no farther, ye are still in your Sins.
And from hence it is plain, that there can be no Competition between the Duties called
Moral, and those called Positive: For, if the positive Duties are the Means and Instruments appointed by God for preserving true Religion and Morality, true Religion and Morality can never be at variance with the Means appointed to preserve them. And, as to the Obligation of observing these Duties, 'tis on all sides equal : For, since we are bound to obey God by all the Ties of moral Duty, and since the Institutions of Religion are of God's Appointment, whatever the Matter of the Institution be, the Obligation to obey is certainly a moral Obligation: Which, duly considered, will shew, that the Text extends to all Parts of Religion, and that on these two Commandments barg all the Law and the Prophets.
Take heed, Brethren, left there be in any of you
an evil Heart of Unbelief in departing from the living God.
$380tk* HE Words of the Text contain **** an earnest Exhortation, as is evi
* T * dent upon the first View: And ****** the Subject of the Exhortation is
*** Faith towards God; for Faith is the Principle destroyed by an evil Heart of Unbelief. But Faith, as some think, is no proper Subject for Exhortation: For, if Faith is a mere Act of the Mind judging upon Motives of Credibility, 'tis as reasonable to exhort a Man to see with his Eyes, as to