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Because He First Loved Us

Because He First Loved Us

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY WILLIAM VAN MILDERT, D. D.

PREACHER OF LINCOLN S INN,

NOW BISHOP OF DURHAM. 1831.



1 JOHN iv. 19-
We love Him, because He first loved us.
BY WILLIAM VAN MILDERT, D. D.

PREACHER OF LINCOLN S INN,

NOW BISHOP OF DURHAM. 1831.



1 JOHN iv. 19-
We love Him, because He first loved us.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 04, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED USBY WILLIAM VA MILDERT, D. D. PREACHER OF LICOL S I, OW BISHOP OF DURHAM. 1831. 1 JOH iv. 19- We love Him, because He first loved us. 1 HE love of God is a principle of duty which distinguishes revealed religion from every system not of Divine original. The heathen had no correct knowledge of this principle. It was neither recognised in their popular theology, nor did it enter into the disquisitions of their philosophical teach ers. By the ignorant worshippers of num berless imaginary deities ; deities of various conflicting passions and interests, and distin guished many of them by the most flagrant enormities it was impossible that sentiments of love or reverence towards them could be seriously entertained. An abject dread of their displeasure, or some base motive for seeking their favour, could alone affect their deluded votaries ; and even this could operate no further than to induce the performance of 326 SERMO XVI. some worthless ceremonies, neither significant
 
of better things, nor productive of any vir tuous feelings. The philosopher, on the other hand, the more refined inquirer after truth, however sincere and ardent in his pursuit, laboured almost equally under the want of such a knowledge of the Supreme Being as Revelation only can supply. Though he might attempt to gloss over the absurdities and the abominations of that Polytheism which he dared not openly disavow, by clothing its fables in the specious garb of mythology ; yet were his speculations respecting the one true God involved in almost impenetrable ob scurity. _How, then, could he inculcate the love of that Being whose essential perfections he had it not in his power to declare; of w r hose purposes and proceedings, past or fu ture, he was almost wholly ignorant ; and to whom he knew not either the extent or the nature of his obligations ? Whatever conjec tures he might be led to form of the perfec tions of such a Being, proofs of the Divine love towards mankind, sufficiently strong to remove the perplexities which beset his path, would still be wanting : and until these could be found, vain would be the endeavour to render this principle a solid basis of moral obligation. SERMO XVI. 327 Modern infidelity stands also in this respect upon scarcely firmer ground than heathenism itself. The advocate for natural religion, in opposition to revealed, may indeed deduce from the visible works of the creation argu ments both physical and moral, of consider able weight, to prove the Divine regard for
 
man. But he can penetrate little farther into them than the pagan philosopher ; nor will he " be able," as the Apostle expresses it, " to comprehend with all saints what is the " breadth, and length, and depth, and height ; " and to know the love of Christ, which pass- " eth knowledge" 1 ;" that love, which is no where fully unfolded but in the sacred page of revelation. Under the Jewish dispensation, the love of God was indeed expressly laid down as the ground of obedience to His will. It was made the stipulation of every blessing ; and on the want of it were entailed the heaviest denun ciations. The special mercies vouchsafed to the chosen race of Abraham were urged as prevailing incitements to this affection ; and one great purpose of the Mosaic laws and in stitutions was to keep it alive and strengthen it. The wonders wrought for this people in Egypt and in the wilderness, the miraculous a Ephes. iii. 18. Y 4 328 SERMO XVI. overthrow of their enemies, their settlement in the promised land, their continued preser vation and increase under manifold circum stances of difficulty and distress, these were subjects continually brought to their recollec tion by their inspired teachers : and upon the ground of such obligations every neglect of the service of God, every infringement of His laws, incurred the just reproach of ingra titude to their heavenly benefactor.

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