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272 IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. withdrawel, it was stated to the writer, that she had even part 1. ed with her Bible, as she declared it would no longer be of any use to her. Thus the way of the wicked seduceth them.
ON DISPLAYING CHRISTIAN LOVE, ON GLORIFYING GOD
BY DOING GOOD, AND ON LOVE TO ENEMIES.
$ 1. To a serious mind connexion with the flock of Christ
I will appear the most honourable of earthly connex. ions. In it a union is commenced, which strengthens when other unions dissolve, and which will be continued through eternity. However despised by many, however slighted by many more, a vital union with the flock of the Redeemer is a union with the family of God and the heirs of heaven. If you have entered into this sacred connexion, having first given yourself to the Lord, and then to his church, your own happiness, the honour of religion, and the comfort of those connected with you, will much depend upon the manner in which you discharge the duties of so important a relation. You may be loved, and prized, and honoured, or else will be piticd, and disliked. There are many in the flock of the Saviour, who pursue a steady course of consistent piety, from the day they enter the church below, to that which removes them to the family above. Humble and kind, watchful and holy, beloved and loving, they move forward with a steady step to the home on which their best affections centre. Their light shines more and more unto the perfect day; por lhen declines, but shines brightest at its setting ; and when sets, sets to rise brighter in eternity. Their pastors and their Christian friends never mourn on their account, till they moumu their departure hence; and with such sorrow mingle gladness at the remembrance of what they were, and in the contidence of what they are. How different from those professors of rell
WAYS OF DISPLAYING CHRISTIAN LOVE. 273 gion, whose inconsistences excite many a fear that they are strangers to converting grace; whose harsh, or unkind, or conceited, or selfish ways, are calculated to provoke disgust rather than win affection ; and whose departure is darkened with a cloud of apprehensions, that they are perhaps lost for ever. That you may be a happy, and useful, and act as an honourable, member of the church of Christ, pay peculiar attention to the numerous precepts addressed immediately to his disciples, with which the New Testament abounds.
$ 2. Consider that Christianity is peculiarly a religion of love. Holy love is its heart and soul. Love was its origin in the breast of the Eternal. Love directed its progress, when the Son of God assumed our nature to atone for sin. Love governs its sincere votaries—the constraining love of Christ; and love will swell the triumphal songs of heaven. Cherish
this godlike disposition, for love is of God. 3. $ 3. The following are some of the ways in which this heavenly disposition must be manifested to those who are travelling with you to heaven, and wherever applicable to those who are not so.
By rejoicing with them in their comforts; by sympathize ing with them in their sorrows; and according to your utmost ability relieving them in their affiictions. “Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."a “Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep.' “ Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”c “Comfort the feeble-minded, sup. port the weak."d “ Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
In pursuing such labours of love, the Christian's time and strength are to be employed to administer to the comfort of others, as well as to his own. The apostle Paul said, “So la. bouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."'f So far should the Christian be from heaping up superfluities for self-gratification, that he is to deny himself for the sake of promoting the benefit of others. .. (a) Gal, vi. 10. (6) Rom. xii. 15. (c) Gal, vi. 2.
(S) Acts xx. 34, 35.
(d) 1 Thess. v. 14.
(e) 1 John iii. 17.
WAYS OF DISPLAYING “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bago man a which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not," Chr To those who act this part, in the day of final account the dicte Judge and King will say, “ Come, ye blessed of my Father, falben inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world : for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: 1"* was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Verily! say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."" those who act not this part, whatever may have been their profession, or their knowledge, or their zeal, or their gifts, the King will say, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels : for I was an hun- to gred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave ibon me no drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: baked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you the visited me not. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye di it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”'
Christian love to brethren in the Lord is to be shown, by bearing with their weaknesses, by subduing a selfish spirit, and seeking their welfare. Instead of being, as multitudes of pro, fessors are, only intent upon their own advantage, the red Christian is to cherish an interest in the welfare of all his leta low-pilgrims.
“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmita the weak, and not to please ourselves. For even CD
. Would Christians, imbibing the Spirit of the Saviour, and hears! this precept, sell even'articles of comparatively little importance to fort, for the sake of promoting the comfort of others, how much mo sively might many minister to the relief of their suffering fellow-piler how much more might they do to diffuse religion in the world.. stance, ministers or private Christians, who have extensive libraries: books of which they make little or no use, would sell such books such money purchase religious books or tracts, to distribute mon rant and unconverted, what extensive blessings might many becom now doing little to promote the Saviour's cause. Books thus pur the price of those that were sleeping on their shelves, would prou the instruments of leading many an immortal but perishing cream way of life and peace. How much better would this be, than to backs of such books while they live, and to leave them to their heus die! (0) Luke xii. 33. (h) Matt. xxv. 34-36, 40. (1) Matt. xxv. 41-43,"
lour, and hearkening to
portance to their com
Sleeping iour's cause might maute, among the igno
y become, who are
uis purchased with uld probably prore ning creature into the
than to look at the heir heirs when they
Matt. xxv. 41-43, 45, tá
275 pleased not himself."'k “Let no man seek his own, but every man another's welfare."
Christian love is to be manifested by visiting the sick and afflicted. “Pure religion, and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”m “I was sick, and ye visited me."n This duty is by many much neglected, though the Saviour lays so much stress upon its perforınance, as even to mention it in the solemn account
of those actions that will meet his approbation, when he ap-pears as the Judge of all. Those who are unable to feed the
hungry, or clothe the naked, may yet visit and console the - sick and afflicted. Would every disciple of Jesus make a point
of regularly paying one such visit in a fortnight; of spending but one half hour in that time in consoling, or praying with, and instructing, the afflicted, how much good would be done ! and i at how small an expense of time and exertion ! A church of
one hundred members would thus in a year pay two thousand six hundred such benevolent visits.
The same spirit is to be displayed by forbearing whatever might injure a weaker Christian's soul, even though the thing itself should be harmless. “When ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
Christian love is to be shown by attending to those little offices of kindness, which may promote the comfort of others. “Be pitiful, be courteous.”p Jesus said, “ Ye call me Master and Lord : and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."9 One of the humbler offices of kindness in Judea, where sandals were worn, appears to have been washing the feet. Of this kindness the blessed Saviour set an instructive example, an example not designed to inculcate on all his followers that particular action, but that spirit of humility and kindness, which indulged will lead to kind offices in a thousand varied ways.
(4) Rom. xv. 1:%:
Rom. xv. 1, 2. (1) 1 Cor. x. 24. (0) 1 Cor, viii, 12, 13.
1 Corin; 1 Pet. iii. 8.
(m) James i. 27.
(n) Matt. XXV. 36. John xiii. 13-15.
276 REMARKS ON MATTHEW XVIII. 15.
Christian love is to be displayed by honouring and esteem fram. ing others above ourselves. « Be kindly affectioned one 10 another with holy love; in honour preferring one another." | (( “In lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than theme selves."'S
Christian love is to be manifested by treating poorer brethren with as much kind attention as the rich. Read on this subject, the Epistle of James, chap. ii. 1-9.
Christian love is to be shown when discords arise, by at- tending to the directions which the Lord Jesus has given for their removal. “ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican."
$ 4. For the promotion and restoration of harmony and peace, there is not a more important rule than this in the Bible, and few so little heeded. Were it regarded, probably the fire of strife would be speedily extinguished in ninety-nine cases of dissension out of every hundred. The prosperity of churches, the honour of religion, the peace of individuals, and the comfort of families, would all be advanced. But instead of obeying this plain and positive law, the generality of those who profess religion act as if there were no such law in the Bible. Some, instead of expostulating in the Spirit of Christ with an offending friend, tittle-tattle about the real or fancied injury, till the report, with a hundred exaggerations, spreads through half a town. At the same time they greedily drink in every evil report, respecting the person who has injured them; to these again they give circulation, and thus become a hundred times more guilty than he whom they make an offender for a word, or even for a much more serious injury. Thus they injure the cause of religion, and load their own souls with sin. For first they are guilty of rebellion against Christ. He says, about an offending brother, Go and tell him his fault between thee and him ALONE; instead of that, they tell any body or every body except the offender, and thus
(r) Rom. xii. 10. (s) Phil. ii. 3. (1) Matt. xviii. 15–17.