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mandments of Moses, they have respect altogether unto love: for this commandment, “ Thou shalt have no other gods before me;" we cannot otherwise declare or interpret, than this, thou shalt love God alone ; so Moses expounded, where he saith, Deut. vi. 4 and 5, “ Hear, O Israel : the Lord our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might;" from whence the lawyer took his answer. But the Jews think that this commandment extends no farther, than that they should not set up, or worship idols. And if they can say and witness that they have one God only, and worship none but him, they think they have observed this commandment: after the same sort did this lawyer understand it; but that was an evil and wrong understanding thereof.
We must otherwise consider and understand this precept, thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou, it saith, with all that thou art, but especially it requireth all thine heart, soul and strength. It speaketh not of the tongue, not of the hand, or the knees; but of the whole man, whatsoever thou art and hast. That no other god may be worshipped by me, it is necessary that I have the true and only God in my heart ; that is, I must love him from my heart, so that I always depend upon him, trust in him, repose my hope in him, have my pleasure, love and joy in him, and daily remember him. If we take pleasure in any thing, we say, it doth me good inwardly at the heart; and if any speak or laugh, and do it not in good earnest, neither from his heart, we are apt to say, he speaks or laughs, indeed, but it comes not from the heart. The love of the heart in the scriptures, signifies a vehement and special love, which we ought to bear toward God. They who serve God with mouth, hands, and knees only, are
hypocrites ; neither hath God any care of them, for he will not have part, but the whole.
The Jews outwardly abstained from idolatry, and served God alone in mouth, but their hearts were far removed from him ; being full of diffidence and unbelief. Outwardly they seemed to be very earnest in serving God, but within they were full of idolatry ; whereupon the Lord said unto them, Mat. xxiii. “Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ; for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men; but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” These are those wicked ones, who glory in the outward thing, which go about to justify, and make themselves good by their own works, after the manner of this lawyer. Consider how great the pride of this man was; he cometh forth as though he could not be blessed, or rebuked of the Lord. He thought, yea, it seemed to him, that the Lord would commend and praise his life before the people. He thought not to learn any thing of the Lord, but sought only his own commendation; he would willingly have had Christ set forth his praise, toward whom the eyes of all were bent ; and who was an admiration to all. So all hypocrites outwardly pretend to excellent, great and weighty works.
They say that they have respect neither to glory or praise ; but in their hearts they are full of ambition, and wish that their holiness were known to the whole world. Like unto this lawyer are all they which most grievously offend against the first commandment, and think that God is to be loved no more than the sound of the words, and that thereby is fulfilled : the commandment therefore remains their mouth, and doth as it were float above the eart, and pierceth it not. But I must go farther; I
must so love God that I can be content to forsake all creatures for his sake, and if required, my body and life : I must love him above all things, for he is jealous, and cannot suffer any thing to be loved above him, but under him he permits us to love any thing. Even as the husband suffers his wife to love her maids, the house, household things, and such like, howbeit he suffers her not to love any thing with that love wherewith she is bound to him ; but will have her leave all such things for his sake. Again, the wife requireth the same of her husband. In the same manner, God suffers us to love his creatures ; yea, therefore are they created, and are good.
The sun, gold and silver, and whatsoever by nature is fair, procures our love ; which makes it dear to us, neither is God offended thereat. But that I should cleave to the creature, and love it equally with him, he will not suffer ; yea, he will have me both deny and forsake all these things when he requires it of me, and will have me to be content, although I never see the sun, money or riches. The love of the creature must be far inferiour to the love of the Creator. As he is the Sovereign, he requires that I love him above all other things; if he will not suffer me to love any thing equally with him, much less will he suffer me to love any thing above him. You see now what I think it is to love God with all the heart, with all the soul, and with all the mind. To love God with all the heart, is to love him above all creatures; that is, although creatures are very amiable and dear to me, and that I take great delight in them, yet must I so love them, that I contemn and forsake them when my Lord requires it of me.
To love God with all the soul, is to bestow our whole life and body at his pleasure; so that if the love of the creature, or any temptation assail us, or would overcome us, we may say, I had rather part with all these than forsake my God; whether he
cast me off, or destroy me, or whatsoever through his permission shall come upon me, I had rather leave all things than him. Whatsoever I have and am, I will bestow, but him I will not forsake. The soul, in the scriptures, signifies the life of the body, and whatsoever is done by the five senses; as eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and whatsoever the soul worketh by the body. To love God with all the strength, is, for his cause to renounce all the members and limbs of the body, so that one will expose to peril both flesh and body, before he will commit that which is unjust against God. To love God with all the mind, is to do nothing but what will please him.
You perceive now what is contained in this commandment of God. Thou, thou, saith he, and that wholly; not thy hands, not thy mouth, not thy knees alone, but every part of thee. They who do these things, as it is said, do truly fulfil it : but no man lives on earth that doth so : yea, we all do otherwise. Wherefore the law doth make us all sinners ; not so much as the least jot or point thereof is fulfilled by them that are most holy in this world. No man cleaves with all his heart to God, and leaves all things for his sake. How can it be that we should love God when his will is not settled in our mind ? if I love God, I cannot but love his will also. If God send sickness, poverty, shame and ignominy, it is his will : at which we murmur; our minds are carried hither and thither; we bear it very impatiently. We, like this pharisee and lawyer, lead an honest life outwardly; we worship God, we serve him, we fast, we pray, we behave ourselves in outward appearance justly and holy. But God doth not require that of us, but that we should bend ourselves to do his will with pleasure and love, cheerfully and lovingly. Whatsoever the Lord saith to the lawyer, he saith to us all; to wit, that we have yet
done nothing, but that all things remain yet to be done. All men are therefore guilty of death, and subject to satan. All men are liars, vain and filthy, and to whatsoever they pretend, it is worth nothing. We are wise in worldly matters, we scrape together money and goods, we speak fairly before men, and cunningly propound and set forth our case. What doth God care for these things? He requires us to love him with our whole heart, which no man living is able to perform of himself; therefore it is inferred that we are all sinners, but especially those whose life hath a goodly outward show.only.
Having discussed the former part of the text, namely, the preaching of the law, now follows the other part, which is the preaching of the gospel ; which declares how we may fulfil the law, and from whence that fulfilling is taken ; which we shall learn of the Samaritan.
What doth the lawyer after the Lord had thus dealt with him.? He, says the evangelist, willing to justify himself, spake unto the Lord, and asked him, who is my neighbour ? He asked not who is my God ? as if he said, I owe nothing to God; neither do I want any thing of him : yea, it seems to me that I do not owe any thing to man; nevertheless I would be willing to know who is my neighbour. The Lord answering him, brings forth a good similitude, whereby he declares that we are all neighbours one to another; as well he that giveth a benefit, as he that receiveth or needeth one : although by the text it seems to appear, that he only is a neighbour who bestows a benefit upon another. But the scripture makes no difference ; sometimes calling him our neighbour who bestows a benefit, and sometimes him that receives it.
By this similitude the Lord inferreth, Go and do thou likewise : so that the lawyer had offended not only against God, but also against man; and was