But Jesus Christ expressly discriminates, and explains that the great law of love (which, he says, it is the chief end of "the law and the prophets" to inculcate) is the voluntary love which consists in choosing to do right - that is, to make happiness on the best and largest scale. For the law is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." Now self-love consists not in pleasurable emotions in our own agreeable qualities, but in an instinctive, an all-controlling desire to make self happy.
This is the principle of mind which gives its true meaning to the great law of love, which in this aspect reads thus:
Thou shalt choose, for the chief end or controlling purpose, to make happiness on the greatest scale by obeying God's laws, and as the way to make him and all his creatures happy in the highest degree. And for this end you are to regard and treat the happiness of all in your reach as equal in value to your own.
This exposition of the great law of love is verified repeatedly in the New Testament: "This is the love of God, that ye keep his commandments."
"He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."
"If a man love me, he will keep my words;" - "he that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings."
"That the world may know that I love the Father, as.the Father gave me commandment, even so I do."
We now are prepared to appreciate the new and most wonderful revelation ever made to the human race, and one which the wisest heathen philosophers never even conjectured.
Jesus Christ first revealed to mankind that our Creator is a loving Father to the whole human race; and that such is the eternal nature of things, that our highest possible happiness and escape from endless evil can be accomplished only by self-denying sacrifice and suffering, to save ourselves and others; and that our heavenly Father himself so loves us as to encounter such suffering to save us. For whatever views men form as to the divinity of Jesus Christ, or how his sufferings avail to save from danger in the life to come, all will concede that he teaches that God is represented as having made such a painful sacrifice as a father suffers in seeing a dear and lovely and only son subjected to long years of humiliation, of painful toils, and to a disgraceful and torturing death. And whatever opinions men form as to the nature and duration of future retributions, it is clear that Jesus Christ teaches that so great are our dangers, that every consideration of earthly enjoyment should be subordinate, and that our first interest and aim should be to secure escape to ourselves and our fellow-men.
And here we should notice that most comforting doctrine revealed by Jesus Christ, and that is, that our eternal welfare does not depend on our judging correctly as to what is for the best good of all concerned, both for this life and the life to come. On the contrary, we are assured that it is having our heart, or chief desire, set to do right by obeying all God's laws as fast as we learn what they are. "Sin is the transgression of law," and all men have sinned, and will continue to sin, sometimes from ignorance, sometimes from the force of temptation swaying from the prevailing desire and controlling purpose. And so the righteous men of olden times, though they committed heinous sins, were "men after God's own heart," because their "heart" was set to obey him in all things. And thus their failures were pardoned, and their eternal safety secured.
The same comforting assurance lessens the anxieties of those whose chief aim and desire is to obey Jesus Christ under the new obligations imposed by him. For the "faith" which saves our fellow-men both before and after Christ, is not the mere intellectual conviction; for the " devils thus believe and tremble." It is rather that faith which includes intellectual belief in his teachings, and the voluntary conformity of purpose and action to that belief.
So the "repentance" required is not mere sorrow for wrong-doing, but it consists in such sorrow as includes "ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well."
We now have the general principle which should regulate all expenditures both of time and property. And whenever any number of persons consistently and practically adopt this principle, they will become "a peculiar people."
The principle is this: The use of property and the use of time must be so regulated as to accomplish all in our power, to save as many as possible from ignorance of God's laws, and from disobedience to them. It must, in many cases, be difficult to decide as to the most successful way by which our time and property will avail to this end. But that this should be the first and chief object in all our plans, must be conceded by all who accept Jesus Christ as the only authorized teacher of truth and duty. He is the only man who has died and returned from the invisible world to tell us of our prospects there, and his authority is established by the highest evidence of which we can conceive. He is the only being authorized by God fully to explain his laws, both as to our highest happiness while on earth and our future eternal welfare. "There is no other name (or person) given under Heaven" to do this but Jesus Christ.
Having thus gained the main general principle, we may notice some rules to guide us as to the right apportionment of time and property. In employing our time, we are to make suitable allowance for sleep, for preparing and taking food, for securing the means of a livelihood, for intellectual improvement, for exercise and amusement, for social enjoyments, and for benevolent and religious duties. And it is the right apportionment of time to these various duties which constitutes its true economy.
In deciding respecting the rectitude of our pursuits, we are bound to aim at the most practical good as the ultimate object. With every duty of this life our benevolent Creator has connected some species of enjoyment, to draw us to perform it. Thus the palate is gratified by performing the duty of nourishing our bodies; the principle of curiosity is gratified in pursuing useful knowledge; the desire of approbation is gratified when we perform general social duties; and every other duty has an alluring enjoyment connected with it. But the great mistake of mankind has consisted in seeking the pleasures connected with these duties as the sole aim, without reference to the main end that should be held in view, and to which the enjoyment should be made subservient. Thus, men gratify the palate without reference to the question whether the body is properly nourished; and follow after knowledge without inquiring whether it ministers to good or evil; and seek amusements without reference to the great end to which they should minister.