« AnteriorContinua »
to die is gain. The whole verse runs thus : For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. That to die is gain will appear, if we consider, I. Those innumerable evils which by death we are delivered from, as,
1. From the slavish captivity and tyranny of sin, 523.
our duty itself, 530. II. Those unspeakable advantages we are thereby made
partakers of, 531. The application, 533.
THE INTERMEDIATE STATE AND CONDITION OF THE SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS FROM THEIR DEPARTURE OUT OF
THIS LIFE TO THE RESURRECTION.
Isaiah lvii. 2. He shall enter into peace : they shall rest in their beds, each
one walking in his uprightness. The text explained, 535. Different opinions concerning the state of departed souls be
tween their departure out of this world and the resurrec
tion, 537. The opinion of them who suppose the happiness of departed
souls, before the resurrection, not perfect but partial, proved
most agreeable to holy writ, 539. Into what mansions, or places, departed souls are received,
from their departure to the resurrection, an unnecessary
inquiry, 552. But it seems most probable that the souls of the righteous
and unrighteous, from their departure out of their bodies,
dwell in separate mansions, 552. The application, 553.
THE NECESSARY CONNEXION BETWEEN THE LOVE
OF GOD AND OF OUR BROTHER.
I John iv. 21.
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth
God love his brother also. ST. JOHN, the author of this Epistle, as he had the most fervent and tender love for his Master, and is therefore in a distinguishing manner said to have been beloved by him ; so does he, throughout his writings, most frequently and most earnestly insist upon the obligations we are under to this great duty of love, of love to God and to one another. He himself is remarkably styled the disciple whom Jesus loved : and John xix. love, we find, is the subject upon which, both in this and in his other Epistles, he delights to dwell. The exceeding riches of God's love to us are often urged by this apostle as a prevailing motive to engage ours to him; and that we might not be at a loss how to discharge so necessary a duty, he particularly instructs us in the most proper ways and methods of expressing and showing forth this love. One principal way of manifesting the sense we have of God's love is, he informs us, by being kind and charitable to our brethren: Beloved, says he, if God so loved us, we ougħt also to 1 John iv. love one another.
SMALRIDGE, VOL. II.
The whole compass of religion had been comprised
by our Saviour under the two great duties of loving Matt . xxii. God and loving our neighbour: on these two command
ments, says he, hang all the law and the prophets. To show us the necessary dependance that these two commandments have the one upon the other, to demonstrate the inseparable connexion that there is between them, and to expose the sin and folly of endeavouring to put asunder those duties which our Lord had here joined together, is the main scope and design of the apostle in the text : And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Our indispensable obligation to love God, St. John
had before evidently proved, from the many transcendent 1 John iv. instances of God's love to us. Herein, says the apostle,
is love, not that we loved God, but that God lored us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. But we discover a very feeble and languid sense of this love of Christ to us, if we are not thereby engaged to perform all the acts of brotherly love and charity to one another. In the death and passion of Christ we have an unconceivable instance of his love to us : and that this his love might never be forgotten by us, that the sense of it might always remain fresh upon our minds, he hath been pleased to institute the holy sacrament of his supper, for a memorial of his death, and as a pledge of his love. But even this love of Christ in dying for us will yet be of no use or advantage to us, except the same love which was in Christ Jesus our Lord be found in us also. We shall have no grounds to expect the fruits of this his love, in the participation of bis holy supper, unless we ourselves transcribe and imitate the unparalleled love we there commemorate. Without an exemplary degree of this love to our brethren, we are unfit to be Christ's disciples, and unworthy to be admitted to his table; we have no right or title to the promises of the gospel; we have no reason to hope that these promises shall be confirmed to us in the sacrament; in a word, we can neither be good Christians nor good communicants.
From these considerations, if we will duly attend to them, we shall be abundantly convinced of the necessity of this duty; and from these therefore I shall endeavour to enforce it.
And, first, we who love God must love our brother also, because we cannot otherwise be good Christians.
The most lively, the most certain, the most acceptable expression of our love to God, is, the due discharge of those several duties he hath laid upon us. This is the love of God, says the apostle, that we keep his commandments. Now love to our brethren is commanded by the same authority, enforced by the same sanctions, recommended by the same motives, and tends to the same end, as our love of God. The same power is contemned, the same penalties are incurred, the same end is defeated, by him who hates his fellow creatures, as by him who hates his Creator. And we do in vain therefore pretend to love God, whilst, by our uncharitableness to men, we violate his laws, despise his threatenings, contemn his authority, and renounce his government. It is the peculiar honour of the Christian religion, that the duties which men owe to one another, the obligations they are under to be just and faithful, kind and courteous, merciful and compassionate, charitable and beneficent to each other, are there clearly revealed, and by the most powerful motives pressed upon our consciences. And if, therefore, we have any regard to the honour of our religion, if we would be an ornament to our most holy profession, nay, if we would be of the number of its
, true members, we must, as the apostle advises, be knit Coloss. ii. 2.
1 Thess. iii. together in love, we must increase and abound in love one
The regular performance of this duty is the main thing by which we are distinguished from other men,
and the sure test by which we ourselves may know John xiii. that we are so distinguished. By this, says our Lord,
shall men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love 1 John iii. one to another: and, Hereby, says St.John, we know that
we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. The want of this love is in the holy scripture made the mark and character of an unregenerate man, a sure proof that he is in a state of sin, and obnoxious to eternal punishment: He that loveth not his brother, says St. John, knoweth not God; is a murderer, and abideth in death. How much pains soever he may have taken in the performance of other duties, though he be never so much assured of his faith, his piety, his devotion, yet, if he love not his brother, he is by this apostle excluded from being one of the children of God, and numbered among those of the devil. The neglect of this duty does not only defeat him of the reward of his other performances, but proves likewise that those very performances were imperfect, defective, and unsincere. For had he performed these actions out of a sincere desire to please God, he would not have allowed himself in any other actions which he could not but know would provoke God's displeasure : had he loved God upon those principles and in that manner which the gospel requires, he could not possibly have given way to any hatred and malice against men, who are made
after the image of God. And this St. John teaches us 1 John iv. expressly in the verse before my text: If a man say,
I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar : for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? If a man hateth