Imatges de pÓgina

his brother, whom he hath so many present, sensible, visible motives to love, it is scarce to be expected that he will be at the expense of thought, reflection, and meditation, to work himself up to the most ardent love of that Being whom he hath not seen nor can see.

It is true indeed, that those who are very deficient in their love to men, they who are very remarkable for their judging, condemning, reviling, injuring, and hating their brethren, do yet at the same time make the highest pretensions to the love of God; value themselves most, and talk oftenest of their knowledge of Christ, of their familiarity, of their intimacy, of their oneness with him. But however such men may deceive others or be deceived themselves, the apostle is bold to tell them that they are liars, that they are of their father the devil, and that the truth is not in them. For if they did really and sincerely love their Saviour, this very affection would engage them to love their brethren, though this duty had been nowhere positively and expressly commanded them.

We all know that men naturally and of course imitate the actions of those they love. Now the whole life of our Saviour was made up of charity, kindness, and beneficence to men; and can any one therefore be truly said to love Christ who is uncharitable, cruel, and injurious to those to whom our Lord was compassionate, merciful, and gracious; for whose sake he endured a wretched and miserable life, and submitted to a painful and ignominious death? It is generally esteemed an impeachment of our love to our friend, if we hate, molest, and injure those to whom he hath shown some particular mark of respect and kindness; and yet there may be often some colour for such a conduct, even in the most perfect friendships of this world : our friends, the very best and wisest of them, are frail and fallible ; they may have a good opinion of those men whose character and designs we may know to be beyond suspicion bad: and therefore, though we are not at liberty to hate or injure any one, yet we may warrantably deny to such men those particular marks of a special esteem, approbation, and encouragement, which our mistaken friend may think he hath reason to expect from us. But nothing of this nature can possibly be pleaded in the case before us. Our Lord, who could not be deceived, is said to have loved and to have died for all men; and all men, therefore, must have somewhat in them which was the proper object of his love, and may, for that reason, of right demand ours. All men are partakers of God's love, and it is from his goodness alone that they live, move, and have their being. Now if God is pleased to vouchsafe some share of his love to all, can we think that any are unworthy of ours? Can we have the presumption to imagine that our love is too great a favour to be bestowed on those to whom the Almighty

does not refuse his? Our blessed Saviour, we read, 1 Tim. ii. 6. gave himself a ransom for all, being willing that none

should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth.

Now our Lord's love to us is the rule, the standard, and measure of ours to one another: and therefore, as our Lord's love was manifested to all men; so ours also must be equally extensive, if we would be followers of him, if we would be partakers of his favour. If we ourselves sincerely love our great Lord and Master, we must of necessity love those whom he loves. We may indeed bave all due regard and value for an earthly benefactor, and yet may find great difficulty in bringing ourselves to entertain the same kind thoughts, and to have the same good intentions for others that he hath. We may apprehend that our interest, and

Ver. 4.

that of those whom he now values equally with us, may some time or other interfere: and may therefore be inclined to treat them rather as our own rivals and competitors, than as the dependents and favourites of our common friend; but he who would bring himself to be kind to men on the account of that grace and favour which his Lord hath shown them, hath none of these temptations to damp and allay his love. The good we expect from Christ will not be the less, but the greater, for our having others to share it with us: our Lord's power

is sufficient to satisfy all our desires; and the greater kindness we show to others, the more we shall undoubtedly receive from him. If therefore we would be Christians, not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth; if we would have it thought by others, if we would be assured ourselves, that we are of this number; if we would obey the commands or imitate the example of Christ; if we would direct and regulate our love by those measures and in that manner by which our Lord was pleased to express his; we shall then certainly be convinced, that he who loveth God, he who loveth his Saviour, must necessarily love his brother also.

And this will appear yet further, if we consider the obligations we are under to this duty, not only as we are Christians, but as we are, what I hope we all at the approaching festival intend to be, communicants.

The relation men bear to one another is usually both the foundation and the measure of their love ; and the nearer or the more distant that relation is, the greater or the less is the affection between the persons so related. Now, as the union that is between Christians in the closest and the strictest that can possibly be imagined, so is this union most expressly and


particularly confirmed and renewed in our reception of the Lord's supper. The union that is between the different parts and members of the same body is the nearest and the most intimate that can be found in nature. And by this St. Paul chooses to represent and illustrate the union that is between Christians : and of this union we are, in a still more especial manner, made partakers in the holy Sacrament. Christ and the church are represented by St. Paul as one mystical body; our Lord, as the head that governs it; his holy Spirit, as the soul that enlivens it; and the faithful, as its parts and members, that are governed by this

Head and quickened by this Spirit. In this sense Ephes. iv. St. Paul tells us that we are members one of another :

and by a worthy participation of the Sacrament we are assured, that we are thus united to Christ and to one another, and that, as our church expresses it, “ we are very members incorporate of the mystical body of our Lord, which is the blessed company of all faithful people.”

Now, if we are thus nearly, thus closely, thus intimately united, is it not reasonable that the greatness of our love to one another should bear some proportion to the nearness of our relation to each other? Is it not highly fit and becoming, that the members of this mystical body should have the same care one of another? If one member suffer, ought not all the members to suffer with it? If one member be honoured, should not all the members rejoice with it? We are all governed by the same laws, we are children of the same Father, disciples of the same Master, subjects to the same King, heirs of the same kingdom; we are all admitted to the same table, we all eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup, we all feast on the same heavenly food, our bodies are all made clean by the same body of Christ,

our souls are all washed by his most precious blood : and is it not therefore highly unbecoming us that there should be any discords or divisions in a body thus united, that there should be any differences, any ill-will or hatred between those who are thus knit together by all the strongest, all the most engaging, endearing ties imaginable?

The more things any men agree in, the greater degrees of love we may generally observe to be between them. Those things in which Christians and communicants agree, are, we have seen, many, and of the utmost importance; and their love, therefore, should be in some measure suitable to those principles upon which it is founded, and to those many powerful motives by which it is enforced. All flesh, says the Ecclus. xiii.

. Wise Man, consorteth according to kind, and a man will cleave to his like. Men usually bestow most of their kindness upon those who most resemble them, and their affection is chiefly laid out upon such as are joined with them in the same interest, employed in the same business, or engaged in the same diversions. Now all who name the name of Christ are busied in the pursuit of the same happiness ; all who come to his table are agreed in the same methods of pursuing it : and their affections, therefore, should be as much united to one another as are their interests, their designs, and aims. They are all going to the same place, they all partake of the same heavenly nourishment, to support and strengthen them in their passage, and should therefore carefully observe Joseph's advice to his brethren, and see that they fall not out by the way. Gen.xlv. 24. Whilst we are thus united to one another, whilst we are thus members of the same body, grieving at each other's hurt, and rejoicing at each other's good, selflove, as well as charity, will oblige us to acts of kind

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