And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment (Mark 12:30).

Of all our Saviour’s wise and happy answers to insidious or puzzling questions, this is the most exquisitely beautiful, because so unambiguous, so simple, so exactly corresponding to the form of the question, so evasive of its trifling and unprofitable element, so exhaustive and demonstrative of what was really important in it, and therefore, so unchangeably instructive and so practically useful to the end of time.

These were very familiar words to our Lord’s hearers, for all devout Jews were in the habit of repeating them every morning and evening. Deut. 6:4–9, from which our Saviour quoted, was one of the four passages which were worn as “phylacteries” (Matt. 23:5) … Because he is our God, Jehovah claims our hearts’ love. As our Creator, Preserver, Provider, and Judge, he commands us to yield to him all our heart’s affection.

From Deuteronomy—from the authentic interpretation of the letter of the Sinaitic law already contained therein, which afterwards takes the form of an exhortation to repentance, and ends with the promise of circumcision of the heart—from this book does Christ address the one greatest, all-embracing commandment.

Love To God

The reply was at once our Lord’s final triumph over error, and the very central truth of all his doctrine. Heedless of their refinements, he marks that as the first and great commandment which is the sum and root of all the rest, Love to God; created as a principle in the heart, imbuing the soul—the whole nature of the living man, formed into a sound doctrine by the mind, and carried out practically with all his strength. ...

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