James McCosh.

The royal law of love , or, Love in relation to law and to God : the Baccalaureate sermon preached before the College of New Jersey, June 27, 1875 online

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THE



Royal Law of Love;



LOVE IN RELATION TO LAW
AND TO GOD.

STi^e Baccalaureate Sermon

Preached before the College of New Jersey,
June 27, 1875.

By JAMES \lcCOSH, D.D., LL.D.,



ri.'K'^iDrNr i - in



■>\^\o^



N E \\ Y O ]< K :
ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS.



i liiU .s.wn.
l^iiiL :r>L()i libn Philosoi^iv :

Biographical, Expository, Critical. T.y Jami:s McCosh, D.D.,

LL.I). Svo. $4.00.

" I'icsidcnt McCosh's elaborate work upon the 'Scottish Philos-
ophy ' cannot fail to be warmly welcomed by every student of
Speculative Science." — N'eiv En^Umdn-.

" It is characterized throughout by singular impartiality, — a feat-
ure the more noticeable from the fact that its author is at once a
Scotchman and a Scottish Philosopher." — Dihliothcca Sacra.

"This book, moreover, is not exclusively a history and exposition
of Scottish philosophers, but it intersperses biographical sketches
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spread over a book full of the profoundest and acutest metaphysical
disquisition much of the fascination of a good novel. Few who
begin the book will fail to read it through." — Presbyterian Quarterly
and Princeton Revie^o.



Ideas in Nature, Overlooked by
Dr. Tyndall ;

Being an Examination of Dr. TyndalPs Belfast Addrcs.s. By
jA.Mr.s McCosH, D.D., LL.D. r^mo. Paper, 25 cents;
cloth, 50 cents.

" This is an argument against Tyndall, ad hominem ct ad rationcm.
It is a shot fired directly at the man and his doctrines, and to our
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McCosh is pungent and forcible ; he strikes straight from the shoul-
der ; but he is always fair, and he leaves no ground for his opjionent
to raise the cry of ' i)ersccution.' " — Church Union,



The Royal Law oi- Love;

Or, Love in Relation to Law and to (".imI. I'.y Dr. iMt COsii,
Paper. 25 cents.

EGBERT GARTER AND BROTHERS, Now York.



THE



Royal Law of Love;



OR,



LOJ^E IN RELATION TO LAW
AND TO GOD,

CTIjc Baccalaureate Sermon

Treached before the College of New Jersey,
June 27, 1875.



By JAMES McCOSH, D.D., LL.D.,

PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE.



jJOic



NEW YORK:
ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS.

1S75.



Copyright,

By Robert Carter & Brothers.

1S75.



Cambridge :
Press of John Wilson ^ Son.



THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE.



" Lm'e is the fulfill in ^ of the laufT — Rom. xiii. lo.
''*' If ye fulfil the royal law aecorditii^ to the Script it re ^ Thou shall loz>e
thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well^ — James ii. 8.

TN these passages there is a reference to three things,
— to Love, to Law, and a King. I see before me
an arch set up on earth, and spanning the heavens ;
the one side is Law, the other side is Love, and
the key-stone binding and crowning the whole is God.
Our theme is the Royal Law of Love. Let us con-
template Love and Law first separately, and then in
their combination in God.

I. Love.

It may manifest itself in two forms, which should
be carefully distinguished.

T/ic Love of Complacency. We delight in the object
or person beloved. It is thus that the mother clasps
her infant to her bosom ; thus that the sister interests
herself in every movement of her little brother, and is
proud of his feats ; thus that the father, saying little
but feeling much, follows the bright career of his son
in the competitions of the college, and the still more
trying rivalries of the world ; thus that the student



4 THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE.

seeks the society of his classmates, is grieved when
he has to separate from them, and casts a fond look
towards their coming career ; thus that throughout
our lives our hearts, if we have hearts, cling round
the tried friends of our youth ; thus that the wife
would leave this world with her last look on her
husband ; thus that the father would depart with his
sons and his daughters around his couch. There is a
"last look which love remembers," that given, for
instance, when the ship moves away with the dear
friend in it, or when the soul leaves the earth to wing
its way to heaven. Love looks out for the persons
beloved. The mother soon discovers her son in that
crowd ; the blacksmith

" Hears his daughter's voice
Singing in the village choir."

The believer will steal away in fancy from the busy
scenes of life to meet with his Saviour ; and I am per-
suaded that when he reaches heaven he will recognize,
without requiring to be told, the One whom he has
so loved.

In a higher sphere and in an older age, even from
the beginning, the love of God, of God who is love,
was exercised in the fellowship of P'ather, Son, and
Holy Ghost ; for the eternal Logos says, " I was
daily his delight, rejoicing always before him," and
**my delights were with the sons of men " (Prov. viii.
30, 31). It has always appeared to me to be a very
beautiful expression of that love that is given by the
prophet Zephaniah (iii. 17), "He will rejoice over thee



THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE. 5

with joy ; he will rest in his love, he will joy over
thee with singing." *' Likewise I say unto you there
is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one
sinner that rcpenteth." There were music and danc-
ing in the house of the father when the prodigal re-
turned. Hut Zcphaniah, by a bolder representation
than could have been employed by any but a Hebrew
prophet, speaks of our Heavenly Father as so rejoicing
over the return of sinners, — "I will joy over you with
singing."

TJic Love of BcnrLwIcncc. This is a higher form of
love. In this we not only delight in the contempla-
tion and society of the persons beloved : we wish well
to them, we wish them all that is good. " 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 will oblige them if we can ; we will
serve them if in our power ; we will watch for oppor-
tunities of promoting their welfare ; we will make sac-
rifices for their good. This love is ready to flow forth
towards relatives and friends, towards neighbors and
companions, towards all with whom we come in con-
tact : it will go out towards the whole family of man-
kind. We are ready to increase their happiness, and
in the highest exercises of love to raise them in the
scale of being, and to exalt them morally and spiritu-
ally.

The love of God thus manifests itself in multiply-
ing hap[)iness, in spreading holiness. He is not only
Light, but the Fountain of lights ; and the light that
is in him, like that of the sun, shines on all around.



6 THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE.

God is known by his works. He made us and not
we ourselves. He provides for our wants ; he cares
for us, and is ready to guide and to comfort us.
Higher than all, " God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Abraham saw all this in the mount which he called
Jehovah-jireh,as it is said to this day, " In the mount
of the Lord it shall be seen." He had been com-
manded to offer his son in sacrifice ; he had travelled
with him three whole days, exposed to such questions :
" Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb
for a burnt-offering } " He had bound him on the
altar, and taken up the knife to slay him ; but now,
to his inexpressible relief, he heard the voice, " Now I
know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not
withheld thy son, thine only son, from me. And Abra-
ham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, behind
him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns : and
Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up
for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son." Abra-
ham must then have comprehended, and we, by pay-
ing a visit to that Mount of the Lord, can conceive,
how great the love of God, who spared Isaac, but
spared not his own Son, but gave him freely to
the death in our room and stead. " Herein indeed
is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved
us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our
sins."

This second is the higher aspect of love. The
other belongs in man to a lower department of his



TIIFC ROYAL LAW OF LOVE. /

nature. It is an exercise merely of emotional attach-
ment, and may contain nothin


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Online LibraryJames McCoshThe royal law of love , or, Love in relation to law and to God : the Baccalaureate sermon preached before the College of New Jersey, June 27, 1875 → online text (page 1 of 3)