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would expect and hope to be treated by him in the same circumstances, we give a clear and decisive proof that we love him as ourselves. And in this there is evidently no impossibility, no difficulty, no obscurity.
These then are the two great commandments, on which we are told hang all the law and the prophets; that is, on them, as on its main foundation, rests the whole Mosaic dispensation; for of that, not of the Gospel, our Lord is here speaking. To explain, establish, and confirm these two leading principles of human duty, was one of the chief objects of the law and the prophets. But it must at the same time be remembered (as I have shewn at large in a former lecture*) that great and important as these two precepts confessedly are, they do by no means constitute the whole of the Christian system. In that we find many essential improvements of the moral law, which was carried by our Saviour to a much higher degree of perfection than in the Jewish dispensation, as may be seen more particularly in his sermon on the mount. We find also in the New Testament all those important evangelical doctrines which distinguish the Christian revelation; more particularly those of a resurrection; of a future day of retribution, of the expiation of our sins, original and personal, by the sacrifice of Christ, of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, of justification by a true and lively faith in the merits of our Redeemer. If therefore we wish to form a just and correct idea of the whole Christian dispensation, and if we wish to be considered as genuine disciples of our divine Master, we must not content ourselves with observing only the two leading commandments of love to God and love to men, but we must look to the whole of our religion as it lies in the Gospel; we must endeavour to stand perfect in all the will of God, and in all the doctrines of his Son, as declared in the Christian revelation; and after doing our utmost to fulfil all righteousness, and to attend to every branch of our duty, both with respect to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, we must finally repose *Lect. vii. p. 190..
all our hopes of salvation on the merits of our Redeemer, and on our belief in him as the way, the truth, and the life.
I must now put a period to these Lectures for the present season; and if it should please God to preserve my life for another year, I hope to finish my observations on the gospel of St. Matthew; beyond which I must not now extend my views.
In the mean while, from what I have observed in the progress of these Lectures, I cannot help indulging a humble hope that they have not been unattended with some salutary effects upon your minds. But when, on the other hand, I consider that the time of year is now approaching, in which the gaieties and amusements of this vast metropolis are generally engaged in with incredible alacrity and ardour, and multitudes are pouring in from every part of the kingdom to take their share in them; and when I recollect further, that at this very period in the last year a degree of extravagance and wildness in pleasure took place, which gave pain to every serious mind, and was almost unexampled in any former times; I am not, I confess, without some apprehensions, that the same scene of levity and dissipation may again recur; and that some of those who now hear me (of the younger part more especially) may be drawn too far into this fashionable vortex, and loose in that giddy tumult of diversion all remembrance of what has passed in this sacred place. I must therefore most earnestly caution them against these fascinating allurements, and recommend to them that moderation, that temperance, that modesty in amusements, which their Christian profession at all times requires; but for which at this moment there are reasons of peculiar weight and force.*
To indulge ourselves in endless gaieties and expensive luxuries, at a time when so many of our poorer brethren are, from the heavy pressure of unfavourable circumstances, in want of the most essential necessa
*This Lecture was given in April 1800, a time of great scarcity and extreme dearness of all the necessaries of life.
ries of life, would surely manifest a very unfeeling and unchristian disposition in ourselves, and would be a most cruel and wanton aggravation of their sufferings.
It is true indeed that their wants have hitherto been relieved with a liberality and kindness, which reflect the highest honor on those who exercised them. But the evil in question still subsists in its full force, and is, I fear, more likely to increase than to abate for months to come, and will of course require unceasing exertions of benevolence and repeated acts of charity on our part, to alleviate and mitigate its baneful effects.
Every one ought therefore to provide as ample a fund as possible for this purpose; and how can this be better provided than by a retrenchment of our expensive diversions, our splendid assemblies, and luxurious entertainments? We are not now required, as the young ruler in the Gospel was, to sell all we have and give to the poor; but we are required, especially in times such as these, to cut off all idle and needless articles of profusion, that we " may have to give to him that needeth."
And when we consider that the expence of a single evening's amusement, or a single convivial meeting, would give support and comfort perhaps to twenty wretched families, pining in hunger, in sickness, and in sorrow, can we so far divest ourselves of all the tender feelings of our nature (not to mention any higher principle), can we be so intolerably selfish, so weded to pleasure, so devoted to our own gratification, as to let the lowest of our brethren perish, while we are solacing ourselves with every earthly delight? No one that gives himself leave to reflect for a moment can think this to be right, can maintain it to be consistent with his duty either to God or man. And, even in respect to the very object we so eagerly pursue, and are so anxious to obtain, in point even of pleasure, I mean, and self-gratification, I doubt much whether the giddiest votary of amusement can receive half the real satisfaction from the gayest scenes of dissipation he is immersed in, that he would experience (if he would but try) from rescu
ing a fellow-creature from destruction, and lighting up an afflicted and fallen countenance with joy.
Let us then abridge ourselves of a few indulgences, and give the price of what they would cost us to those who have none. By this laudable species of œconomy, we shall at once improve ourselves in a habit of self-denial and self-government; we shall demonstrate the sincerity of our love to our fellow-creatures, by giving up something that is dear to us for their sake, by sacrificing our pleasures to their necessities; and above all we shall approve ourselves as faithful servants in the sight of our Almighty Sovereign; we shall give some proof of our gratitude to our Heavenly Benefactor and Friend, who has given us richly all things to enjoy ; and who, in return for that bounty, expects and commands us to be rich in good works, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to comfort the sick, to visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, unpolluted by its vices, and unsubdued by its predominant vanities and follies.
THIS course of Lectures for the present year will begin with the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew; which contains one of the clearest and most important prophecies that is to be found in the sacred writings.
The prophecy is that which our blessed Lord delivered respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, to which, I apprehend, the whole of the chapter, in its primary acceptation, relates. At the same time it must be admitted, that the forms of expression, aud the images made use of, are for the most part applicable also to the
day of judgment; and that an allusion to that great event, as a kind of secondary object, runs through almost every part of the prophecy. This is a very common practice in the prophetic writings, where two subjects are frequently carried on together, a principal and a subordinate one. In Isaiah there are no less than three subjects, the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, the call of the Gentiles to the Christian covenant, and the redemption of mankind by the Messiah, which are frequently adumbrated under the same figures and images, and are so blended and interwoven together, that it is extremely difficult to separate them from each other. In the same manner our Saviour, in the chapter before us, seems to hold out the destruction of Jerusalem, which is his principal subject, as a type of the dissolution of the world, which is the underpart of the representation. By thus judiciously mingling together these two important catastrophes, he gives at the same time (as he does in many other instances) a most interesting admonition to his immediate hearers the Jews, and a most awful lesson to all his future disciples; and the benefit of his predictions, instead of being confined to one occasion, or to one people, is by this admirable management extended to every subsequent period of time, and to the whole Christian world.
After this general remark, which is a sort of key to the whole prophecy, and will afford an easy solution to several difficulties that occur in it, I shall proceed to consider distinctly the most material parts of it.
We are told in the first verse of this chapter, that "on our Saviour's departing from the temple his disciples came to him, to shew him the buildings of it ;" that is, to draw his attention to the magnitude, the splendour, the apparent solidity and stability of that magnificent structure. It is observable that they advert particularly to the stones of which it was composed. In St. Mark their expression is, " See what manner of stones, and what buildings are here;" and in St. Luke they Bishop Lowth on Isaiah lii. 13.