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tion, and heirs of the same salvation,-brotherly love and kindness cannot be separated from such an intimate relation. And if we consider God as the common Father of all mankind, who embraces all his children with the tenderness and affection of a parent, “causing his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and his rain to fall on the just and on the unjust,” we must forfeit all pretensions to an union with Him, if we do not cultivate a spirit of universal benevolence and charity. Add therefore (as the Apostle enjoins) “to godliness, brotherly kindness,” or the love of your Christian brethren ; for this appellation is, in the New Testament, appropriated to Christians, who are all brethren in Christ Jesus, their common Saviour and Redeemer. The relation indeed, in which Christians stand to one another, produces so intimate a connexion that it is compared by St. Paul to that which subsists between the members of the same natural body, wherein one common sensation so pervades the whole, that “ if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member rejoice, all the members rejoice with it.” Whence he says in another place,
rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep;” thus he counsels because our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ, declares love to be the distinguishing characteristic of his disciples. So that the man who separates his
interest from that of the Christian community, effectually detaches himself from it, and is no longer a branch of the same heavenly vine, no longer a member of the same spiritual body of Christ. It should be considered also, that the nature of this union is far more honourable and exalted than any other; since it not only unites us with all the faithful followers of Christ upon earth, but likewise with the blessed saints in heaven. It results from the holy affinity which spirits immortal, having the same faith, and being joint heirs through Christ of the same common salvation, bear to each other; and is therefore a spiritual—a sacred union, which neither death, nor time, nor eternity, can dissolve.
But lest the Christian society or brotherhood, thus distinguished by peculiar honours and privileges, should entertain a disregard for those who have not the same pre-eminence of distinction, the Apostle last of all adds “charity,” or universal benevolence, as perfecting the lovely train of Christian virtues. “Charity,” in this sense, comprehends all the social duties which belong to the various relations of mankind in this life. Hence arise the natural duties of parents and children, husband and wife, and those which we owe to our neighbours,—to all indeed with whom we have any communication or concern. To these we are required, on Christian principles and from Christian motives,—to
perform acts of humanity, benevolence, and kindness, according as the connexion is more near or remote, and as our respective situations or circumstances demand. And so general and uncompromising is the Gospel law of “good will towards men,” that it extends to our very enemies. It commands us to forgive their injuries; and, as far as prudence (the guide of every virtue) will permit, to requite them with kindness and beneficence. How beautiful—how enlarged and comprehensive then, is this virtue of Christian charity! and how fruitful in blessings to mankind! It eradicates all feelings of contention and bitterness from the human heart; it expels strife, hatred, and envy, impatience anger, animosities, suspicions, and jealousies ; and in the place of these baneful emotions, substitutes the love of truth and justice-integrity, equity, and moderation,-kindness, forbearance and confidence. Thus does the holy, the blessed religion of our gracious Redeemer, by this “most excellent gist of charity,” implanted and cherished by His Holy Spirit, secure the good order, the peace and happiness of mankind in this world, while it opens to us the glorious prospect of a better, even “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Since then, it is our interest as well as our duty,and since, through the merits of Christ, it will finally be our great reward, let us be careful to
transcribe into our lives and practice, the perfect system of Christian morality described by the Apostle: and to this end, let us contemplate and dwell upon it, with a sincere and hearty desire to make it the rule and guide of our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Thus “giving all diligence to make our calling and election sure, we shall so effectually co-operate with the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts, that, “justified by His grace,” we shall daily be more and more prepared for “ the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus." Yet above all, brethren, let us remember, we can build our hopes of heaven on no other foundation than that is already laid. Faith in Christ must be the great corner-stone :-upon that must be raised the noble superstructure recommended by St. Peter in the text: and whilst it should never be forgotten that the glory to be revealed is “not of debt but of grace," we may still be assured, that he who thus, in humble confidence, reposes his faith, and thus, in the strength of divine grace, builds upon it, “shall never fall.”
ON THE BENEFIT OF THE SABBATH.
JEREMIAH XVII. 22.—“Hallow ye the Sabbath Day.”
THERE are certain duties which cannot be performed without self-denial, or the loss of some temporal advantage; there are others which are so manifestly beneficial to us, even in this present life, that one might imagine it would be a matter of no difficulty to comply with them. Of this kind is the duty of observing the Lord's Day ;-a duty which, whether we consider its beneficial tendency in a civil or religious light, unquestionably claims our peculiar attention.
In discussing this important subject, I propose, in the first place, to consider the appointment of the Sabbath, as an acceptable rest from the toils and labours of life.