Dr. Sewall's SERMON ON Love to our Neighbour.


The second Commandment like to the first; Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self.

A SERMON Preach'd at the Thursday Lecture in BOSTON, May 6. 1742.

By Joseph Sewall, D. D. Pastor to a Church of CHRIST in BOSTON.

Rom. 13. 8, 9.
Owe no Man any thing, but [...]one another: For he that loveth another, hath [...] the Law. For this, Thou shalt not commit [...], Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou [...] 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 thy self.

BOSTON: Printed by THO. FLEET, for D. HENCHMAN in Cornhill, 1742.

[Page 5]

The second Commandment, to love our Neighbour.

Matth. XXII. 39.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self.

WE have consider'd the first and great Commandment, which summarily com­prehends in it our Duty towards God; Thou shalt love the LORD thy GOD with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind. We proceed now to consider the second, which comprehends our Duty towards Men in these Words; Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. And our Saviour declareth that this Commandment is like unto the first. I shall endeavour to explain the Text under the following Doctrine.

Doct. To love our Neighbour as our selves, is the second Commandment of the Moral Law; and it is like unto the first.

Under this Doctrine we may consider I. The Duty required, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self.

[Page 6]II. Prove that this is the second Commandment, and is like unto the first.

I. We may consider the Duty here required; Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self.

Under this Head I would speak briefly to the following Particulars. 1. Who is our Neighbour? 2. What is implied in loving our Neighbour? 3. In loving him as our selves?

1. Who is our Neighbour?

Answ. (1.) Every Man without Distinction of Nation, or outward Condition.

Our Love is not to be confin'd to our Friends and Benefactors, or those of our own Nation, as the Phari­sees taught. The carnal Jews were ready to imagine that the Gentiles were not included in this Precept. But our great Lord and Lawgiver, in Answer to this Question, Who is my Neighbour? plainly sheweth us that every one is our Neighbour, and that we must extend our Charity to all, of what Nation soever, as we have Opportunity. Luk. 10.29, —36, 37. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was Neighbour unto him that fell among Thieves? And he said, He that shewed Mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. It hath pleased GOD of one Blood to make all Nations that dwell upon the Earth. We were all one in Adam, who was our first Father, and our Head and Representative in the first Covenant: He was created in the Image of GOD, and altho' by his first Transgression we forfeited and lost that moral Rectitude in which the Image of GOD principally con­sists, yet still Man retains something of that Image, as he is a Spirit, tho' in Flesh. And agreeably one Rea­son why Murther is punish'd with Death by the divine Law, we have given, Gen. 9.6. Whose sheddeth Man's Blood, by Man shall his Blood he shed; For in the Image [Page 7] of God made he Man. And then, we were, in the Loins of our Progenitors, preserved in the Ark, when other Families of Renown in the Earth, sunk under the Weight of GOD's Wrath in the Deluge, and have their Names blotted out from under Heaven: And that in a particular Manner for their Violation of this Command. Gen. 6.11. The Earth also was corrupt be­fore GOD; and the Earth was filled with Violence. And to rise higher still, the Son of GOD became Man, and has bought a People with his Blood out of every Tongue and Tribe and Nation. We must therefore love, and do good to all Men. And one Way where­in we are to express our good Will to them that are unknown, and far from us; is by praying for them to that GOD who fills Heaven and Earth. 1 Tim. 2.1. I exhort therefore, that first of all, Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions, and giving of Thanks be made for all Men. Thus we should express our Charity for the Jews and Heathen-Gentile Nations, by looking up to GOD for them, that He would be pleased to send forth his Light and Truth, and so give them the Know­ledge of himself, as manifested in the Face of JESUS CHRIST. Thus the Psalmist prays to GOD, Psal, 67.2, 3. That thy Way may be known upon Earth, and thy saving Health among all Nations. Let the Peo­ple Praise thee, O GOD; let all the People praise thee. And we must take heed we do not attend this Duty whether in public or private, after a formal customary Manner; but that with holy Fervency we thus ex­press our earnest Desires of the Advancement of GOD's Glory, and of the Salvation of our Fellow-Creatures. There is a general Philanthropy, or Love of Men, which is a Duty that extends to all. We must treat Men, tho' ever so mean in their outward Condition and Circumstances, with Humanity; and not like Beasts. Certainly then, it must be a dreadful Violation of this Law for Men to take more Care of their Hor­ses, [Page 8] and other Brute Creatures, than of the Souls and Bodies of their Servants, tho' in ever so low a Degree of Servitude. And then I may here observe that this Law of Love reacheth even to our personal Enemies. Mat. 5. 43, 44. Ye have heard that it bath been said, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour, and hate thine Enemy: But I say unto you, Love your Enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. The Roman Orator and Moralist Tully, has this Observa­tion, "It is the first Duty of Justice to hurt no Man, unless provoked by Injury.* How divinely excellent are the Laws of Christ, and how far do they excel the most refined Heathen Morality! Christians are re­quir'd to do good even to them from whom they suffer Evil. Rom. 12. 21. Be not overcome of Evil, but over­come Evil with Good. Indeed this doth not require us to love such evil ones with a Love of Complacency, but with a Love of Benevolence. Tho' we are justly offended, yet we must maintain good Will and a chari­table Disposition towards such, wishing well to them, and being ready to do them good as we have Oppor­tunity. Lord write this Law upon our Hearts!

(2.) Such are our Neighbours in an especial Manner, as stand in any peculiar Relation to us, whether natural, civil or religious.

Our Neighbour is one that is nigh to us. Agreeably, as some Persons are in a peculiar Sense near to us, so they may in an especial Manner be call'd our Neigh­bours in the Sense of my Text; and there is a peculiar Love which by God's Law we are obliged to exercise towards them. Thus Parents ought to love their Chil­dren, and seek the Well-being of their Offspring, [Page 9] with a tender Affection. And Children must with a dutiful Affection consult the best good of their Parents, and labour by their kind and respectful Behaviour to be Blessings to them. Brethren and Sisters must labour to be of one Heart, and to dwell together in Unity. It is named as an abominable Iniquity, to be without natural Affection, Rom. 1. 31. Such as are united by the Bonds of Nature are then under peculiar Obli­gations to love one another. The like may be said respecting such as are nigh to each other in a civil Re­lation. There ought to be a singular Love and En­dearment between Husbands and Wives, who are one Flesh in the nearest Union by God's Ordinance. How divine is the Example set before Husbands to this Purpose in the pure and ardent Love of Christ to his mystical Body, the Church! Eph. 5. 25. Hus­bands, love your Wives, even as CHRIST also loved the Church. Thus Masters ought in the Exercise of Love to give unto their Servants that which is just and equal. They ought to perform their Covenant Agreements with Equity and a kind Disposition to do them all the Good they can. And Servants must be obedient to their Masters, not with Eye-Service as Men pleasers, but as the Servants of Christ, doing the Will of God from the Heart; with good Will doing Service. Eph. 6.5, —7. Their Service must not be meerly of Constraint, but from good Will and a Principle of Love to their Masters. They must regard their Ma­sters Interests something as their own, and so promote them by their honest diligent Labour. Thus there ought to be mutual Affection between Civil Rulers, and the People under their Government. Rulers ought to lay out themselves in promoting the public Weal. They must be the Ministers of God for good to their People, and use their best Endeavours that they may be extensive Blessings, as the Light and Rain of Hea­ven. And the People should chearfully return that [Page 10] Honour and Obedience, Tribute and Recompence which are their Due; and do their Part by their hear­ty Respect and dutiful Deportment to make the Burden Of Government as easy to their Rulers as may be. I might go on, and say that there is also a peculiar Love to be exercised towards such as are related to us upon a religious Account, and by the Bonds of Grace. Pastors should feed their Flocks with tender Care and Affecti­on, being willing to spend and be spent for them, tho' the more abundantly they love them, the less they be loved. And their People should highly esteem them in Love for their Work's sake. Such as are united in Church-Fellowship should watch over one another in Love, not for their halting, but spiritual Edification; rejoicing in the Prosperity of each other's Souls. Such as are Brethren in Christ should love each other from a pure Heart, fervently. The Saints should in our Esteem be the excellent ones of the Earth, and we should place our Affection in an especial Manner upon those in whom the Image of God shineth with the brightest Lustre. Psal. 16. 3. To the Saints that are in the Earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight. Our Love must be extensive, and as we have Oppor­tunity, we must do good to all Men; but then here it must be more intense, and we must accordingly do good especially to them who are of the Houshold of Faith, Gal. 6. 10. And thus I have briefly answer'd the first In­quiry; who is our Neighbour?

2. What is implied in loving our Neighbour? Or, What is this Love?

Answ This Love is a gracious Affection, by which we truly desire, seek and rejoice in the Welfare of our Neigh­bour, and that in Obedience to GOD's Command.

(1.) This Love to our Neighbour is a gracious Affec­tion.

[Page 11]It is not meerly a natural Passion. No, this Affec­tion must be sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God. The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Gal. 5. 22. Not only Love to God, but also to our Neighbour. We must be made Partakers of the divine Teaching, that we may obey this Command. 1 Thes. 4. 9. Ye your selves are taught of GOD to love one another. God writes this Law of Love upon the Heart when his People are born again, born of the Spirit. Thus says the beloved Disciple John, 1 Ep. 4. 7. Beloved, let us love one another: For Love is of GOD; and every one that lo­veth, is born of GOD. Alas! by our Fall this Affecti­on is dreadfully deprav'd, so that Men inordinately love themselves, and are full of Malice and Envy to­wards their Neighbour. We have that Description of the natural Man destitute of the Grace of the Gospel, Tit. 3. 3. Living in Malice and Envy, hateful, and ha­ting one another. So it was till the Kindness and Love of God our Saviour towards Man appear'd, and they were saved by the washing of Regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. 4th and 5th Verses.

(2.) This Love is exercised in Obedience to GOD's Command.

God's Commandment is, Thou shalt love thy Neigh­bour as thy self. The Command of our Redeemer, God-Man Mediator is that, Love one another. Now he that loveth his Neighbour, hath a sincere Respect to the Divine Command, as the Cause, Rule and Mea­sure of his Love to his Neighbour. He loveth his Brother because the great Lawgiver requireth it, for the Lord's sake, who is the chief Good; and with an upright Aim at his Glory, who is the last and highest End. He loves the Disciples of Christ upon the Account of their Relation to him, and because he re­quireth them to love one another. In a Word, such as truly love their Neighbour, endeavour to regulate [Page 12] their Love, the inward Affection and outward Expres­sions of it, by the Rule of GOD'S Word. Whereas, tho' wicked Men may have a strong Affection towards their Children and Friends; yet they have not a sin­cere Respect to GOD's Law as the Reason and Mea­sure of their Love: But indeed they forget GOD, while they make an Idol of the Creature.

(3) In the Exercise of this Love we sincerely desire the Good and Welfare of our Neighbour.

When we consider'd the Love of GOD, we menti­oned our desiring him above all; for He is infinitely glorious, and altogether lovely; and there's no Room for us so much as to wish him more excellent and happy than He is in himself. But our Neighbour is like our selves, a needy imperfect dependent Creature: And therefore we may not desire him above all, or place our Happiness in him; but then we must desire his Good: There must be a Love of Benevolence, of good Will exercised towards him. We must be well affected towards him, and heartily wish that his out­ward Man, and more especially that his Soul may prosper. And we must be ready as there may be Oc­casion to express our Desires and good Wishes in hearty Prayer to GOD for him, especially for the Sal­vation of his Soul. 3 Joh. 2. Beloved, I wish above all Things that thou mayst prosper and be in Health, even as thy Soul prospereth. This is a genuine Fruit of Love, and will be accepted of GOD, even when we are able, to do but little for our Neighbour. Prov. 19. 22. The Desire of a Man is his Kindness: and a poor Man is better than a Liar. A Man may express real Kindness in good Desires: And such as breath out their good Wishes for GOD's People in frequent and fervent Pray­ers, are indeed public Blessings, tho' ever so mean and obscure in the World. But then we must take heed we be not as the Liar in the Text but now mentioned, [Page 13] who pretends Love, but will be at no Pains and Cost to shew it by his good Works, when he is well able.

(4) In the Exercise of this Love, we seek our Neigh­bour's Good, and avoid whatever would hurt him.

1 Joh. 3. 18. Let us not love in Word, neither in Tongue, but in Deed and in Truth. As true Love desi­reth the Good of others, so it will incline us to endea­vour it, and as we have Ability and Opportunity, to promote it. In the 1 Cor. 13. among other excellent Characters of Charity or Love, we have that, 5th ver. Charity seeketh not her own. Not what is for our own Good only; but also the Profit and Advantage of others. And therefore he that hath this Grace in due Exercise, will obey that Command, 1 Cor. 10. 24. Let no Man seek his own: but every Man another's Wealth. We must seek the Wealth of our Neighbour in Trade and Commerce, as well as our Own; and take heed we do not over-reach and defraud him. That must be a vicious Self-love indeed which would en­gross all Advantage and Profit to itself. Love will incline Persons to seek the Good of their Neighbours on spiritual and temporal Accounts. He that duly exerciseth this Grace will regard the Soul of his Bro­ther, his better part. He will as he hath Opportunity seek his Conversion to GOD, knowing that he which converteth a Sinner from the Error of his Way, shall save a Soul from Death. He will also seek his Edifi­cation in Holiness by his Instructions, Exhortations, Counsels, and the like, as he is able, and his Neigh­bour's Circumstances call for them. If he beholds his Brother fallen into Sin, he will mourn for it. Charity rejoiceth not in Iniquity. And instead of going about to expose him, he will rather seek to restore him with a Spirit of Meekness, by brotherly Admonition and Reproof. Lev. 19. 17. Thou shalt not hate thy Bro­ther in thine Heart: Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy [Page 14] Neighbour, and not suffer Sin upon him. And then the Fruit of Love will be a sincere Endeavour to promote the outward Good of our Neighbour: Love would incline us to pity him under his Distresses, and to do what we can to relieve and succour him. Job 6. 14. To him that is afflicted Pity should be shewed from his Friend. If our Neighbour be poor, Love will open our Hearts and Hands to relieve him: In the Exercise of this Grace we shall draw out our Soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted Soul. True Love is beneficent and communicative. And then, where there is this lovely Grace in any due Exercise, we shall carefully avoid whatever would hurt and injure our Neighbour, re­specting his Life, his Chastity, his Estate, good Name, and the like. Charity thinketh no Evil. Such will not be forward to entertain evil Surmises and hard Tho'ts of their Neighbour; but will rather be ready to put the most favourable Construction on their Words and Actions which the Matter will bear. To be sure then they will not go about as Tale-bearers and Backbiters to sow Discord between Brethren, and privily to wound their Neighbour. Rom. 13. 10. Love worketh no ill to his Neighbour. This excellent Grace is pure and peaceable, and will incline us to follow Peace, such as is consistent with Truth and Holiness. Rom. 12. 18. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all Men. Again, as Charity is not easily provo­ked; so it is early in seeking Reconciliation, and doth not meditate Revenge. They obey that Word, Eph. 4. 31, 32. Let all Bitterness, and Wrath, and Anger, and Clamour, and evil speaking be put far away from you, with all Malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as GOD for CHRIST's sake hath forgiven you. In a Word, where this Grace rules in the Heart, we shall avoid every thing whereby our Brother is offended, or is made weak; and shall endeavour so to behave in our several [Page 15] Places and Relations, that such as are near to us may be the better for us, and none have Reason to mourn because we are nigh to them in this or the other Re­lation.

(5.) In the Exercise of Love we rejoice in the Good and Welfare of our Neighbour.

There is a Delight in his Person so far as he is truly lovely, and according to the Relation we stand in to­wards him; which is a Duty: But I now mention that which is more general. True Love will incline us to be well affected to our Neighbour, and not allow us to have an evil Eye towards him, because GOD is good to him. 1 Cor. 13. 4. Charity envieth not. It is true, there are the Remains of Corruption in the best, which incline them to lust unto Envy; but then so far as this Grace prevails, it will suppress these evil Motions, and cause us to rejoice in the Good of our Neighbour. He that sincerely loveth his Brother, will obey that Command, Rom. 12. 15. Rejoice with them that do rejoice. Such will feel an holy Joy, especially in the spiritual Welfare and Prosperity of others. 3 Joh. 4. I have no greater Joy than to hear that my Children walk in the Truth. A kind and charitable Spirit takes Pleasure in the Good of others, and rejoiceth in the Eminency of their Gifts and Graces, in their Useful­ness, their Reputation, &c. O that GOD would give, and then increase this excellent Spirit in us! Thus the good Things our Neighbour enjoys, will in a Sense be made our own. Having briefly consider'd some Things in loving our Neighbour; we may further explain this comprehensive Duty under the next Enquiry, which I now proceed to.

3. What is implied in loving our Neighbour as our selves?

Before I speak directly to this, I would say, This [Page 16] supposeth that a regular Self-Love is our Duty. For this is here brought in as the Rule of our Love to others. Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. There is a vicious Self-love which is the Root of almost all Evil, and Plague of human Society. 2 Tim. 3. 1, 2. This know also, that in the Last Days perilous Times shall come. For Men shall be lovers of their own selves. And there­fore we must endeavour by all Means to subdue this powerful Lust. We must look to JESUS, and lay aside this Sin which so easily besets us; and by his Spi­rit mortify it: Without this, we shall never attend the Duty before us in a right Manner. But then, there is also a regular Self-love, which must be sought after, and cherished in us; without which we shall neither seek our own Good, nor the Good of our Neighbour as GOD requireth us. There is a Love and Reverence due to our selves, as GOD hath made us capable of glorifying and enjoying him for ever; and set us at the Head of this lower Creation. We must be clothed with Humility. We must think soberly of our selves, and not more highly than is meet; but then we may not set light by our selves, and despise our precious Souls, as if but little worth. "We must, as an Ex­plositor well observeth, have a due Regard to the Dig­nity of our own Natures, and a due Concern for the Welfare of our own Souls and Bodies." In the Exer­cise of this Love we must fly from Sin the worst of Evils, and take heed we do not destroy our own Souls by rejecting the only Saviour, our LORD JESUS CHRIST. Prov. 8. 36. He that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own Soul; all they that hate me, love Death. We must observe that Word, Phil. 2. 12, 13. Work out your own Salvation with Fear and trembling. For it is GOD which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good Pleasure. We must live soberly, keeping our sensitive Appetites and Passions under a due Regulati­on according to the Rules of GOD's Word; and thus [Page 17] possess our Vessels in Sanctification and Honour. We must take heed to our selves, and fly from the hainous Sins of Intemperance, Uncleanness and the like; lest we become viler than the Beasts that perish. GOD hath given us our Lives, our Endowments of Body and Mind, our Names and Interest in the World, our Callings, our Estates, &c. to be improved for his Glo­ry, and our Own everlasting Good: And wo to us if we cast them away by sacrificing them to our Lusts. Self-Murther is one of the most abominable Crimes. The Prodigal that lavisheth away his Estate by riotous living, Excess in Apparel, Gaming, &c. will find himself deeply in Debt to revenging Justice, when GOD shall demand an Account of his Stewardship. We must study and seek our own true Interest by thinking on and pursuing the Things which are honest, and pure, lovely and of good Report. We must by a patient Continuance in Well-doing, seek for Glory, and Honour, and Immortality, that we may obtain eternal Life. If we neglect CHRIST, and his great Salvation, and go on to defile and wound our own Souls till the Day of Grace is finished; we must re­ceive the Wages of our Sin, Eternal Death. And while GOD's Wrath is poured out upon us as Fire which can't be quenched, our own Consciences will in their stinging Reflections be to us as the Worm that never dies. We must then have a tender Regard to our selves, take heed to our selves, and watch over our own Souls in Love. Charity must begin at home, [...] not end there. And indeed if we do not love our selves aright, we can't love our Neighbour as we ought to do. For we must love our Neighbour as our selves. However, when it is said as our se1ves. we are not to understand it of a strict Equality in Degree; but of Love alike for kind. As this Particle is also used to denote Likeness, not absolute Equality. Having pre­mised these Things, I would say in Answer to the Enquiry.

[Page 18]1. Loving our Neighbour as our selves may intend that we must love him in Truth and Sincerity, as we do our selves.

Our Love to our Neighbour must be inward and hearty, and not in Shew and Pretence only. Self love is deeply rooted in our Natures, and as it were in­wrought into them. Agreeably, this Law of Love must be written on our Hearts by the Spirit, and our outward Expressions of Love must proceed from this inward vital Principle of Grace. It is true, the Peni­tent is said to abhor himself, Job 42. 6. i. e. as he is sinful, in which Respect he is worse than nothing: But then he shews a sincere Regard, first to the Glory of GOD, and then to his own Well-being, by repenting in Dust and Ashes. In like manner our Regard to our Brother's best Interest must be sincere and hearty. Rom. 12. 9. Let Love be without Dissimulation. We may not profess Love meerly to serve our selves of our Neighbour: such base Flattery is abominable to the true and faithful GOD. We must not act herein as Men pleasers; but approve our Hearts to GOD in Sin­cerity. 1 Pet 1. 22. Seeing ye have purified your Souls in obeying the Truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned Love of the Brethren; see that ye love one another with a true Heart servently. Which brings me to the se­cond Thing.

2. We must love our Neighbour with a strong Affecti­on, as we do our selves.

We must love our Neighbour from a pure Heart, and fervently, as in the Words but now named. In­deed this Love must be subordinate to the Love of GOD, which ought to be with all the Heart; above our selves, and all other Creatures: But then we should not content our selves with the lowest Degree of Love to our Neighbour. We must take heed and beware of Lukewarmness in this great Matter of GOD's Law, [Page 19] which we are naturally very prone to. We had need take heed to our selves lest that Evil should prevail, of which our Lord hath forewarned us, Mat. 24. 12. The Love of many shall wax cold. This may refer both to the Love of GOD, and our Neighbour; for indeed they increase, or decay together. Our Love to our selves is strong; here the Danger is of exceeding: In like manner, our Love to our Neighbour should be in us a lively and active Affection, inclining us to seek and promote his Good. We may not so engross this to our selves, as that we should have none, or what is very weak for our Neighbour. Do we earnestly de­sire and seek after Happiness our selves? We should not be indifferent, but like-minded respecting our Neighbour's Welfare, and accordingly endeavour to promote it. In a Word, such should be our Love to our Brother, as that it may incline us to deny our selves in some lesser Matters, when his greater Good requires it. 1 Cor. 10. 33. Even as I please all Men in all Things, not seeking mine own Profit, but the Profit of many, that they may be saved. We should prefer the spiritual Welfare of the Church and People of GOD, before our own temporal Lives. 1 Job. 3. 16. Hereby perceive we the Love of GOD, because [...] down his Life for us: and we ought to lay down our Lives for the Brethren. How strong is that Expression of the Love of GOD's People to Jerusalem! Psal 137. 5, 6. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right Hand forged her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my Tongue cleave to the Roof of my Mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief Joy.

3. We should love our Neighbour so as to do to him like as we would be should do to us.

Matth. 7. 12. Therefore all Things whatsoever ye would that Men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets. We should as it [Page 20] were put our selves in our Neighbour's stead, and con­sider how we could reasonably desire to be treated by him respecting our Lives, Names, Estates, &c. and do to him accordingly. We can't deny that we would have others deal justly and fairly with us; we must then behave in like manner towards them. We can't deny that we would have others be merciful to us un­der our Distresses; let us then shew Mercy to them as the Matter shall require. We can't deny that we would have others shew us the Respect which our Age, or the Places and Relations we sustain, demand of them; we must then shew the like to them. We can't deny that we desire others should make suitable Allowances to us under our Infirmities, and not be se­vere to censure us: Let us then do the like to them. This is to love our Neighbour as our selves.

II. This is the second Commandment, and it is like unto the first.

The second is like unto it. — These Words refer to that which went before. JESUS had said, that to love the LORD our GOD — is the first and great Commandment: And then adds, And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. Here then we may consider, 1. That this is GOD'S Commandment. 2. It is the second Commandment, and like unto the first.

1. This is GOD's Commandment.

The Love of our Neighbour is a great Duty requi­red in the Moral Law, and it is enforced under the Gospel. Agreeably in different Respects it is called both an old, and a new Commandment. 1 Joh, 2. 7, 8. Brethren, I write no new Commandment unto you, but an old Commandment which ye had from the begin­ning: The old Commandment is the Word which ye have beard from the beginning. Again, a new Commandment [Page 21] I write unto you, which Thing is true in him and in you. This Commandment was from he beginning; it was given to GOD'S ancient People, Lev. 19. 18. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any Grudge against the Chil­dren of thy People, but thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self: I am the LORD. And it may also be called a new Commandment. Joh. 13. 34. A new Command­ment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. We have a new and fair Edition of this Law under the Gospel Dispensation, delivered from the corrupt Glosses of the Scribes and Pharisees: It is explain'd under the New­Testament, and enforc'd by a new and divine Example of our great Lord, who loved us, and gave himself for us, and hath made this one peculiar Badge and Character of his true Disciples, that they love one ano­ther. Joh. 13. 35. By this shall all Men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye have Love one to another. But it would be to transcribe a considerable Part of the New-Testament to name all the Texts that relate to this Duty. 1 Joh. 3. 23. And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the Name of his Son JESUS CHRIST, and love one another, as he gave us Command­ment. I proceed to say,

2. This is the second Commandment, and ii is like unto the first.

It is the second in Order, and also in Dignity; as it comprehends the Duties which respect our Neigh­bour. GOD must be loved in the first and chief Place, and for himself: Our Neighbour must be loved for His sake, and in Subordination to him who requires this of us. Accordingly the Duties which nextly re­spect GOD, are to be set before those which nextly re­spect our Neighbour. We must prefer the religious Worship of GOD to the civil Respect due to Men. However, there are Instances in which by GOD's own [Page 22] Appointment, some lesser Duties of the first Table must give Place to some principal Duties of the second Ta­ble. Hos. 6. 6. I desired Mercy, and not Sacrifice. And such is the condescending Goodness of God to us, that He will have some Acts of religious Worship omitted for this or that Time, when our Neighbour's Necessity requires our present Help; rather than that he should suffer. e. g. If our Neighbour's House take Fire on the Lord's Day, God will have us shew Mercy to him by affording him our needed Help un­der the present Difficulty, rather than to attend his public Worship for that Time. Behold the tender Mercy of our great Lord and Lawgiver! Surely his Commands are not grievous. But to return. Tho' there be Inequality, yet the second Command is like unto the first.

1. As it is a divine Command.

Both alike bear the Stamp of the Divine Authority. If we neglect the Duties of the second Table, we not only injure Men; but we also affront and offend the glorious God by breaking His Law. And herein doth the great Evil of Sin consist. Agreeably, when David had greatly wronged Uriah by his Adultery and Murder, he makes that Consession before God, Psal. 51. 4. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this Evil in thy Sight.

2. This Command is very comprehensive like the first. It contains the Sum and Substance of the six Com­mandments which respect our Duty towards our Neigh­bour. Rom. 13. 8, 9. Owe no Man any thing, but to love one another: For he that loveth another hath fulfilled 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 [Page 23] saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self.

3. This Command is in a Sense founded on the first; so that neither can be kept in a due Manner, if either be neglected.

There is such a close Connection between them, that if one be violated, the other can't be duly observed. He that doth not obey the first Command, by loving God in Sincerity; will not keep the second, by loving his Neighbour. 1 Joh. 4. 21. And this Commandment have we from him, that he who loveth GOD, love his Brother also.

4. The Love of our Neighbour shall never fail; but be for ever perfected in Heaven.

Love to our Neighbour will never fail, no more than Love to God. Indeed every Grace shall be per­fect in Heaven. But then, when Faith and Hope which are so eminently useful in this State of Trial, shall cease as to some principal Exercise and Opera­tion; the People of God being brought to the open Vision, and full Enjoyment of Him for ever: I say when it is thus, then Love to our Neighbour, like our Love to God, shall be perfected for ever as to its highest Exercise and fullest Operation.

In a Word, In both these Commands Love is re­quired, and that in Perfection; so as to comprehend the whole of Duty which we owe first to God, and then to our Neighbour according to His Will. Indeed our Love to God must vastly exceed, as the Object is in­finitely great and good; but then our Love to our Neighbour here required is commensurate to all the Duty we owe him. And when this Grace is perfected in Heaven, there will not be the least Complaint of any Defect in relative Duties. All the glorified Inha­bitants of the heavenly Jerusalem will be united for ever in perfect Love, without Jar or Discord. O [Page 24] blessed Society! Who would not desire to make one of that most happy Communion? And thus we have in some imperfect Manner considered this comprehensive Command. I proceed to the


Use 1. What hath been said should recommend the Law of GOD to us as most excellent, and constrain us to adore the Wisdom and Goodness of the great Lawgiver.

GOD's Wisdom and Goodness appear in contriving and publishing to us such a Compendium and Summary of his Law, in which the whole is in some Sense com­prehended in one Word, Love. Love is the fulfilling of the Law. And how gracious is God in making that to be the Sum of his Law which is so excellent in it self, and so very useful unto us? The Law of God is the Law of Love, and therefore an easy Yoke and most pleasant. How delightful is it to love, and be beloved! It is true, this Law of Love is grievous to corrupt Nature; but when Sin the Plague of the Heart is perfectly taken away, and the original Rectitude in which Man was at first made, restored; then it will be found that our Happiness consists very much in the Exercise of Love. When Love is perfected in Hea­ven, our Enjoyment will be full. GOD is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in GOD, and GOD in him, 1 Joh. 4. 16. Let us then delight in the Law of the Lord after the inner Man, and bow our Necks to this easy Yoke. The more we live in Love, the more do we live the Life of Heaven upon Earth. And thus have we considered the first Use which relates to both these comprehensive Commands, the Love of God and our Neighbour.

2. Hence learn how to make a right Judgment whether we discharge our Duty towards our Neighbour, yea or no.

[Page 25]Doth the outward Performance of our Duty towards our Neighbour flow from an inward Principle of Love? 1 Cor. 13. 3. Though I bestow all my Goods to feed the Poor, and though I give my Body to be burned, and have not Charity, it prositeth me nothing. If we give Alms or the like, to be seen of Men, and not from a true Regard to God's Command, and hearty Love to our Neighbour; our good Deeds may make a Noise, but then they will vanish into Air, and be empty of all spiritual Profit respecting our own Souls. Whereas the least Service done to our Neighbour from the Exercise of true Love, shall be graciously accepted and rewarded. Even the giving a Cup of cold Water shall not lose its Reward. Heb. 6. 10. GOD is not un­righteous, to forget your Work and Labour of Love, which ye have shewed toward his Name, in that ye have ministred to the Saints, and do minister. Let it be the Labour of Love, and God will remember it according to his rich Grace and Mercy in Christ Jesus.

3. Learn that it must be a great Sin to hate our Neighbour.

If to love our Neighbour as our selves, be the se­cond comprehensive Command, and like to the first; then to hate him must be a great Sin and comprehen­sive Evil, which virtually Contains in it the Violation of the second Table of the Law. And this the Word of God declareth. 1 Joh. 2. 10, 11. He that loveth his Brother, abideth in the Light, and there is none Occa­sion of Stumbling in him. But he that hateth his Bro­ther, is in Darkness, and walketh in Darkness, and know­eth not whither he goeth, because that Darkness hath blinded his Eyes. How strong is the Comparison! He that loveth his Brother hath that Light in him which will direct him in his Duty towards him; but he that hateth him, is under the Plague of spiritual Darkness, [Page 26] and will wander from the Way of Duty till he is for ever miserable in the World of outer Darkness. And we read, 1 Joh 3. 14, 15. He that loveth not his Brother, abideth in Death. Whosoever hateth his Bro­ther, is a Murderer. And ye know that no Murderer hath eternal Life abiding in him. He is a Murderer in the Temper of his Mind, and therefore is destitute of the beginning and first Principle of this divine Life. Let us then be sensible of the hainous Nature, and great Evil of this Sin; and be excited to fly from it, and cry tO God to subdue it in us.

4. Learn the Folly of [...] imagine they keep the One, while they live in Disob [...]ce to the Other of these great Commandments.

God hath joined them together, and therefore it must be presumptuous Folly in Men to attempt to se­parate them. If we love God we shall love our Neighbour; for this God requires of us. This is the Love of GOD, that we keep his Commandments, 1 Joh. 5. 3. And if we truly love our Neighbour, we do also love God; for it is in Obedience to his Law, and with an Eye to his Glory. In vain then will Men pretend to be devout and zealous towards God, while they allow themselves in doing Wrong to their Neighbour in his good Name, Estate, or the like. Thus did the Scribes and Pharisees, and our Lord de­nounceth his Judgment against them, Matth. 23. 14. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites; for ye devour Widows Houses, and for a Pretence make long Prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater Damna­tion.

5. Let what hath been said deeply humble us, and shew us Necessity of depending on JESUS CHRIST, the End of the Law for Righteousness.

[Page 27]We have Reason to be ashamed when we consider how far we fall short of our Duty towards our Neigh­bour, and may well conclude that we cannot be justi­fied by the Deeds of the Law. We read, Gal. 3.24, The Law was our School Master to bring us unto CHRIST, that we might be justified by Faith. GOD's Commandment to us is, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. But whoever kept this Law in sinless Per­fection since the Fall? Surely none but the Man CHRIST JESUS, who is the LORD our Righteous­ness. Let us then go out to CHRIST, and depend entirely upon him for Justification before GOD. And let it greatly abase us to consider of our many and great Defects respecting our Duty towards our Neigh­bour.

6. Let us seriously enquire whether we obey this Com­mand, yea or no.

If we are born of GOD, we do sincerely love our Neighbour, tho' not in sinless Perfection. 1 Joh. 3.14. We know that we have passed from Death unto Life, because we love the Brethren. Let us then ask our selves such Que [...]ons as these. Do we heartily desire the Welfare of our Neighbour? Do we express these Desires by a studious Care and Endeavour to do good to our Neighbour in our sveral Places, as we have Ability and Opportunity? And do we sincerely rejoice in the Good which others receive from GOD, and in the Good which they do to their Fellow-Creatures? Is it our Burden when we find our Corruptions incli­ning us to lust unto Envy; and do we by the Grace of GOD seek the Destruction of this accursed Disposi­tion in us? Let us take heed lest we think our selves something upon this Account, when indeed we are no­thing, deceiving our own selves.

[Page 28]7. Let us be exhorted to live in the Exercise of bro­therly Love.

Let such as are destitute of this excellent Grace, living in Malice and Envy, awfully consider whose Image [...] bear; and be excited to seek earnestly to the GOD of Love, that he would destroy the Image of [...] which is upon them, and enstamp his own bles­sings [...] on their Souls, by his Spirit. The Works of [...] Flesh are Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, [...], Envyings, Murders. But the Fruit of the Spirit [...] Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Good­ness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance: against such there is no Law, Gal. 5.19,-22. O seek of GOD then his Holy Spirit, and cherish his Motions! And then let [...] as are taught of GOD to love one another, live in the Exercise of this Grace, and labour in the Use of all suitable Means to grow in it. Giving all Diligence, Aid to Godliness, Brotherly kindness; and to Brotherly Kindness, Charity. For if thse Things be in you, and [...], they make you that ye shall neither be barren, nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, 2 Pet. 1.7, 8. O that in this remarka­ble Div. of Grace we might bear the Fruits of Love in [...] Abundance! O that we could lift up pure [...] to the LORD without Wrath and Doubting, [...] plentiful Effusion of His Spirit upon us! And then let us use our best Endeavours, to keep the [...] Spirit in the Bond of Peace. Behold, how [...] how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell to­ [...] in Unity! It is like the precious Ointment on the Head of [...] as the Dew of Hermon, and as the heavenly Dews which descended upon the Moun­tain of [...] where GOD commanded his Blessing on his Word and Ordinances. O blessed Union and Communion of Saints, when the GOD of Peace and [Page 29] Love is thus present with them! When the Hearts of GOD's People are thus knit together in Love, the my­stical Body of CHRIST increaseth with the Increase of GOD. See Col. 2.2, —19. Let us then observe that Word, 3d Chap. 14th ver. And above all these Things, put on Charity, which is the Bond of Perfectness. Love is a perfect Bond of Union, so far as the Spirit of Christianity prevails, It is true, a strict Adherence to the Gospel may be an innocent Occasion of Strife, by Reason of the Lusts of Men, and Temptations of the Evil one. Matth. 10.34. Think not that I am come to send Peace on Earth: I came not to send Peace, but a Sword. And in following Peace with Men, we must always have a strict Regard to Truth and Holi­ness. We must be ready when there is Need of it, even earnestly to contend for the Faith. However, we must also walk according to that Rule, Rom. 12.18. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all Men. And take heed we provoke no Man, unless it be unto Love, and to good Works. Let then the same Mind be in us which was also in CHRIST JESUS, who went about doing Good, without giving the least Offence to any one; who suffered the greatest Injuries with invincible Meekness and Patience, return­ing Good for Evil. O Divine Example! May we behold, admire and imitate it! Hear His Word which I repeat unto you, Job. 13.34, 35. A new Com­mandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all Men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye have Love one to another. May we thus adorn the Doctrine of GOD our Saviour, and bear his Image before Men! How happy would it be for Families, for Churches and the Common-wealth, did the Love of GOD and our Neighbour generally prevail among us! I am not able to conceive a better Idea of the Happiness [Page 30] of Heaven than this, the perfect Exercise and Enjoyment of Love, first and principally with Respect to God; and then with Respect to our Neighbour in Subordi­nation to Him. When the glorified Inhabitants of that better Country, Angels and Men, are thus per­fectly united, they will dwell in GOD, while they dwell in Love; and in His Presence have Fulness of Joy, and Pleasures for evermore.


ERRATUM. Pag. 8. Margin, read Lacessitus, P. 14.1.18. for their read his.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.