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who upholdeth all things by the Word of his Power, to have unfolded to us all the Mysteries of Nature, which must of Necessity be very familiar to him who first made and still upholds them? Whereas these are the things he has entirely overlook’d, and confin'd his Instructions to Matters of Morality and Religion only, as being the most important and beneficial.
Now notwithstanding these moral and religious Truths have been acknowledg’d in all Ages to be the principal Concern of Mankind, and have, in consequence thereof, been their common and chief Study; notwithstanding there have been innumerable Volumes written concerning them; Books which the whole world could scarce contain ; notwithstanding God has from the Beginning taken this Matter into his own Hands, and given forth his moral and religious Instructions in a Succesiion of Reve
lations ; nocwithstanding there has been a constant Order of Men ser apart for the sole Business of explaining, and enforcing these Revelations; norwichstanding we live in an Age and Nation, as I observ'd before, in which the utmost Liberty of Enquiry and Debate is allow'd, practis'd and gloriçd in; notwithstanding all this
, it is but too evident that many of the important Truths are not, to this Day, generally and rightly understood. Disputes about them are scarce less various, than if we were but just entering upon our first Enquiries; as tho' Mankind were doom'd to be toss'd to and fro, and carried about with every Wind of Doctrine; to be clways learning and never able to come to the Knowledge of the Truth,
Ic mult indeed be own'd, that Mankind are at this time, where they have Liberty, very inquisitive after Truth; and that almost every Sert of Men
think themselves in the full Poffeffion of it. But this, instead of putting a stop to our Enquiry, is the thing which, above all others, should set us to work, and quicken our Diligence: Where all oppose each other, and are equally satisfied in their several Persuasions, all but one at the most, must be in the wrong: And the Security of all in this Case is the Danger of all, and what ought in Reason, tho''tis not expected it should in fact, excite all to a Re-examination.
The little that has been said on this Subject, may suffice to shew us, what is meant by speaking the Truth in this Passage of St. Paul, and to convince us that the Apostle's Exhortation is as applicable to us, as it could well be to those to whom it was more immediately directed. I now proceed as I propos’d to shew
Secondly, what is to be understood by speaking and searching after the Truth in Love,
Love, in the Writings of the New Testament, is a Term of the utmost Importance; it every where occurs; it is declared to be the end of the Commandment, and the fulfilling of the Law;
it is therefore, absolutely necefsary that we have the most distinct Idea of the true Import of this Term, and that we possess our felves of whatsoever it denotes or implies.
I observe then, that the Term Love in the New-Testament is us'd in a peculiar Sense, such as is not to be found in any other Writings. When it is faid that neither Circumcision availeth any thing in Christ Jefus, nor Uncircumcision, but Faith which worketh by Love That Knowledge puffeth up, but Charity or Love edifieth ---- and, in the Words of the Text, that we should search after the Truth in Love, we fee the Term Love is us’d in a general and unrestrained Sense, without any particular object aflign'd it. In
i Cor. xiii. where St. Paul gives us a very large and beautiful Description of Love, it is in this general Way: Love, says he, sufereth long and is kind, envieth not, vaunteth not it self, is not puffed up, doth not behave it self unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked; thinketh no Evil, rejoiceth not in Iniquity, but rejoiceth in the Truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things
St. Paul here seems rather to set forth a System of Virtues than to describe a single Affection restrain’d to a particular Object. If we look back into our Lord's History, we shall see how this Usage of the Term Love was introduced, and what was the special Import of it. Our Lord in his last Discourse with his Disciples, immediately before he was betrayed, gives them a new Commandment which is several times repeated in that Discourse, That they