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than these? He saith unto him, yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me ?
He saith unto him, yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, feed my sheep. He saith unto him, the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, feed my sheep !"
ON OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS OF CHRIST.*
ST JOHN, xv. 15.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I com
It is in these very simple words, that our Lord points out to his disciples that satisfactory evidence which it was always in their power to obtain, on the most important of all questions, which, as Christians, they could put to themselves, whether or no they were to be considered as His friends. The words occur in the course of that affecting discourse which He held to them a short time before he was betrayed, and in which all the most interesting
* Preached on the first Sunday after Easter.
truths which he taught were, for the last time, brought before them, in a tone of deeper feeling and affection than even He had ever hitherto indulged. We have lately arisen from that altar, at which we contemplated the unspeakable love of our Saviour for a fallen world; and while we eat of the symbols of his Body which was broken, and drank, in faith, of his Blood which was shed, I trust that we were inspired with love for Him who first loved us. But it is not, you are well aware, by the devotional feelings of a few hours, that you can have any decisive proof that you have given Him your hearts, or, as he expresses it in his own plain language, that you are really his friends. To merit that title of inestimable valué, ye must do whatever he commands you; and in these moments, my brethren, can we be better employed than in considering whether or no we are indeed disposed so to obey and follow Him ?
I. The first commandment which he has given us, is, as you know, that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind; which implies, that we ought to keep God before us in all our conduct, and in as far as the frailty of Human Nature will permit,--do all to his glory. This is the leading principle of all duty, which ought never to be absent from our thoughts. In retirement, and in the world, in the secret meditations of our hearts, or in the business of society, we are ever in the presence and acting under the eye of our great Father, who, in all situations, has given us duties to perform, and in most situations happiness to enjoy. He awakens us, as it were, into a new existence, with the light of every returning sun; and the first thought with which our mornings open ought to be directed towards Him, who summons us to occupy our station amid his creatures, and to betake ourselves to the work which He has given us to do.
Whatever that work may be, whether the exercise of our faculties of thought, or the indulgence of our kind affections, or the active business of life ; how important that it should all be hallowed by the habitual contemplation of His high superintendence! That, in our most careless hours, we should still be accustomed to recollect that He is present with us, and that, while he permits a wide scope to our occupations and enjoyments, he ever requires them to be sanctified by the impressions of Piety!
It is here, alas ! that we are so apt to be misled. We follow our inclinations without any consideration of a diviner character, and if they seem free from guilt, nothing further, we are apt to think, is required! The line of our occupations in life is commonly derived, too, from no better principle than from some view of worldly glory or advantage. Our views of duty themselves too often look no higher than to the motives for virtue which our social nature affords us; and even if our souls are impressed with Religious truths, how often do these rather confine themselves to the circle of our meditations, show themselves, perhaps, in some formalities of worship, or are exhausted in zeal for some peculiar tenets, than appear interwoven with the simple affections of our hearts, and as resting at the root of all that we do, and all that we feel! Yet, it is only in this character of universal piety that the true excellence and the true greatness of Human Nature can be found. It is only when we accustom ourselves ever to look to the Author and the Model of all that is good, and blessed, and glorious, that we