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pressing exigences and peculiar circumstances of the case, operating on the common feelings and common sense of mankind. His great object was to lay down one broad fundamental rule, which, considered as a general and leading principle, would be most conducive to the peace, the comfort, and the security of mankind; and that rule most indisputably is the very doctrine which he inculcated: OBEDIENCE TO LAWFUL AUTHORITY AND ESTABLISHED GOVERNMENT. In perfect conformity to his sentiments, the apostles held the same language after his death. "Submit yourselves," says St. Peter, "to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be unto the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well *." "Be subject to principalities and powers," says St. Paul, "and obey magistratest." "Ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience saket." "Render therefore to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour §." Here, then, we see the whole weight of the Gospel and of its Divine Author thrown into the scale of lawful authority. Here we see, that the Christian religion comes in as a most powerful auxiliary to the civil magistrate, and lends the entire force of its sanctions to the established government of every country; an advantage of infinite importance to the peace and welfare of society. And happy had it been for mankind, if in this, as in every other instance, they had conformed to the directions of the Gospel, instead of indulging their own wild projects and destructive theories of resistance to civil government, and the subversion of the most ancient and venerable institutions. Happy had it been for the Jews in particular, if they had adopted our Saviour's advice; for by acting contrary to it, by breaking out, as they did soon after, into open rebellion against the Romans, they plunged themselves into a most cruel and sanguinary war, which ended in the entire overthrow of their city, their temple, and their government, and the destruction of vast multitudes of the people themselves. Similar calamities have, we know, in other countries, arisen from similar causes;

* 1 Peter ii, 13, 14.
Rom. xiii, 5.

+ Tit. iii, i.
§ Rom. xiii, 7.

from a contempt of all legitimate authority, and a direct opposition to those sage and salutary precepts of the Gospel, which are no less calculated to preserve the peace, tranquillity, security, and good order of civil society, than to promote the individual happiness of every human being, here and for ever.

The Pharisees having been thus completely foiled in their attempt to ensnare and entangle our Saviour in his talk, the next attempt made upon him was by a different set of men, the Sadducees, who disbelieved a resurrection, a future state, and the existence of the soul after death. And their object was to show the absurdity and the falsehood of these doctrines, by stating a difficulty respecting them, which they conceived to be insuperable. The difficulty was this: "The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said if a man die having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and having no issue left his wife unto his brother: likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh and last of all the woman died also: therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.'


This answer of our Saviour's has by some been thought to be obscure, and not to go directly to the point of proving a resurrection, which the Sadducees denied, and which their objection was meant to overthrow. In our Lord's reply no argument seems to be advanced, nor any plain text of Scripture produced to establish the doctrine of a resurrection of the body, and its reanimation by the soul. It is only contended, that as God declares himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the souls of those persons must still be in existence in a separate state; because God could not be said to be the

God of those who were no longer in being. This is undeniable. But how (it is said) does this prove a resurrection? To explain this, it must be observed, that Christ's answer consists of two parts in the first, he solves the difficulty started by the Sadducees respecting a resurrection, by telling them, that it arose entirely from their not attending the power of God, which could effect with the utmost ease what to them appeared impossible; and from their ignorance of the state of human beings in heaven, which resembled that of angels, and required not a constant succession to be kept up by marriage. The case, therefore, they had stated, respecting the marriage of the seven brethren with one woman, was a very unfortunate one, because it happened, that in heaven there would be no such thing as marriage; which destroyed at once the whole of that objection which they deemed so formidable. In the second part he completely subverts the false principle on which their disbelief of a resurrection and a future state was entirely founded. This principle was, that the soul had no separate existence, but fell into nothing at the dissolution of its union with the body. This we learn from the Acts of the apostles*, where it is said "that the Sadducees believe neither angel nor spirit;" and from Josephus, who tells us, that the Sadducees held that the soul vanishes (as he expresses it) with the body, and rejected the doctrine of its duration after death t. It was this principle, therefore, which our Saviour undertook to overthrow, which he does effectually in the thirty-first and thirtysecond verses, by showing it to be a clear inference from the words of Scripture, that although the bodies of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had long been in their graves, yet their souls had survived, and were at that moment in existence. From hence it necessarily followed, that the soul did not perish with the body, as the Sadducees believed, but that it continued in being after death; and at the general resurrection would be again united with the body, and live for ever in a future state of happiness or of misery.

But though arguments may be confuted, and absurdities exposed, the thorough-paced caviller is not easily silenced. One should have thought, that the disgraceful * Chap. xxiii, 8.

+ Zuvapavice. Tois owμaci. Antiq. lib. xviii, cap. ii, p. 793, + Exod. iii, 6.

ed. Huds.

failure of so many attempts to surprise and ensnare Jesus would have taught his adversaries a little modesty and a little prudence; but these are qualities with which professed disputers and sophists do not usually much abound. When, therefore, the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, instead of being discouraged from making any more experiments of that nature, they were gathered together," probably to consult how they might renew their attacks upon him with more success. "Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, 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."

The question here proposed to Jesus by the lawyer, or interpreter of the Mosaic law, took its rise probably from a maxim, which seems to have been received among the Scribes and Pharisees as a first principle, namely, that such a multiplicity of precepts as the law contained was too great for any one to observe; and, therefore, all that could be required was, that each should select to himself one or two great and important duties, on account of which, if inviolably observed, his transgressions in other respects would be overlooked. But then immediately arose a question, Which were these great and important duties, that ought to have the preference to all the rest, and on which they might securely ground all their merit and all their pretences to the favour of God? And on this question a variety of sects were formed, under their respective leaders, who disputed about the chief duty much in the same manner as the ancient pagan philosophers did about the chief good; and exactly with the same benefit to themselves and to the world.

It was with a reference, therefore, to these disputes, which were so warmly agitated among the Pharisees, that the lawyer asked our Lord, "which was the great commandment of the law?" Our Saviour's answer was, "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." He decided, therefore, immediately in favour of the moral law, and yet with his usual prudence did not neglect the ceremonial, for this very commandment of the love of God was written upon their phylacteries.

This, then, being declared by our Saviour himself to be the first of the commandments, must be considered by every Christian as standing at the head of the evangelical code of laws which he is bound to obey, and as entitled, therefore, to his first and highest regard. He is to love the Lord his God" with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind:" and the chief test by which the Gospel orders us to try and measure our love to God is, the regard we pay to his commands. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them," says our Lord,he it is that loveth me *." St. John, in still stronger terms, assures us, that "whoso keepeth God's word, in him verily is the love of God perfected t.' The love of our Maker, then, is neither a mere unmeaning animal fervour, nor a lifeless, formal worship or obedience. It consists in devoutness of heart as well as purity of life; and, from comparing together the different passages of Scripture relating to it, we may define it to be, such a reverential admiration of God's perfections in general, and such a grateful sense of his infinite goodness in particular, as render the contemplation and the worship of him delightful to us, and produce in us a constant desire and endeavour to please him, in every part of our moral and religious conduct.

This is, in a few words, what the Scriptures mean by the love of God, and what our Lord here calls the FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT. It is justly so called for various reasons; because he, who is the object of it, is the first and greatest of all beings, and therefore the duties owing to him must have the precedence and preeminence over every other; because it is the grand leading principle of right conduct, the original source and fountain from which all Christian graces flow, from whence the living waters of religion take their rise, and branch out into all the various duties of human life; because, in fine, it is, when fervent and sincere, the grand master-spring of human conduct; the only motive

* John xiv, 21.

† 1 John ii, 5.

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