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teachers, "who with their lies make the hearts of the righteous sad, whom God hath not made sad; and who strengthen the hands of the wicked, that he return not from his wicked way, by promising him life."
Finally The Apostle here points out the way in which Christians are to receive religious comfort. They are to abound in that peace and love, which are the fruits of faith. "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
They had already professed their faith in the gospel of Christ. The Apostle prays, that, with their faith, there might be peace and love. These are the genuine effects of true faith, and from these spring religious comfort and joy. For the Thessalonian believers Paul gives thanks, "remembering their work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope." Where faith works, love will also labor, and hope will patiently wait for a reward. As faith increases, love will abound, and hope be strengthened. Hence the Apostle prays, "The Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another, and toward all men, to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, a good conscience and faith unfeigned.” The gospel by its precepts enjoins, by its examples recommends, and by its doctrines urges mutual love, as the noblest branch of the Christian temper; and faith captivates the soul into obedience to the gospel by giving efficacy to its precepts, examples and doctrines. Love is so essential to the religion of Christ, that where it is wanting, all pretensions to faith are vain. They who by Christ have believed in God, are said "to have purified their souls unto unfeigned love of the brethren."
Where faith operates, love will appear, and peace will follow.
Love first produces inward peace. It extinguishes malice, envy, hatred, wrath, revenge, and every unfriendly passion--every unsocial feeling. It operates by meekness under provocations-by the forgiveness of injuries-by condescension in cases of controversy
by compassion to the afflicted-by beneficence to the needy by righteousness in dealings-by tenderness of mens' characters-by joy in the prosperity of neighbors, and by a promptitude in relieving the distresses and promoting the happiness of mankind.
Such are the works and fruits of love; and where this prevails there will be peace in the mind. Of consequence, when this grace reigns among Christians, there will be social peace. They will bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. They will be careful not to give offence, either by real injuries, or unnecessary differences-by obstinacy in their own opinions, or a contemptuous treatment of the opinions of others. They will be slow to take offence. They will not credulously suspect, or suddenly resent injuries, nor magnify into crimes their neighbors' trivial errors. If a variance happens, they will be forward to make peace, by explaining their misconstrued behavior-by retracting their exceptionable words or actions-by listening to overtures of accommodation-by accepting reasonable concessions-and by exercising forbearance, where a diversity of sentiment remains. They will use their friendly offices to compose differences among others, and to turn away the anger which awakens contention. They will studiously avoid that open talebearing, and that secret whispering which of ten separates the nearest friends.
Thus love produces peace, first in the breast where it dwells, and then in the society where it reigns.
This spirit of love brings religious comfort.
Love is comfortable in its immediate feelings, and in its pacific influence. The Apostle says, "If there be any comfort of love, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded." The pleasures of society spring from peace and love.
Love brings comfort to the soul, as it is an evidence of godly sincerity. By this we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren."" By this shall mankind know that we are Christ's disciples, because we love one another.” “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: Whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." "Let us love, not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth-hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before God."
If we would enjoy the comfort, we must maintain the temper of religion. To look for religious comfort in any other way, is contrary to the design of the gos pel. And comfort that comes in any other way, is de lusive any transient. The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.
Peace and love come from God. They are the fruits of his Spirit. While we attend to the precepts and doctrines of the gospel for instruction in, and ex. citement to our duty, we must pray for the work of the divine Spirit in our souls, to form them more and more to the temper of peace and love, and thus to fill them with hope and joy.
The wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, is wis dom from above. If we lack wisdom, let us ask it of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not; remembering, that every good gift, and every perfect gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning.
If we of his good will have been begotten by the word of truth, it is that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Let us therefore be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. And let us lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save our souls.
Thus may peace and love with faith be multiplied to us, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -Amen.
Sincere Love to Christ.
EPHESIANS vi. 24.
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
ST. PAUL, though a man of liberal education, seems not to have been expert in writing the Greek characters; for which reason he usually employed an amanuensis. He speaks of it as something extraordinary for him to write, with his own hand, a letter so large as that to the Galatians. But though he usually dictated his letters to a Scribe, yet he always took care to subjoin to them, with his own hand, a form of salutation, by which the genuineness of them was ascertained. His second epistle to the Thessalonians he thus concludes, "The salutation of Paul, with mine own hand," a hand well known, or easy to be known by comparing it with his other writings, "which is the token in every letter so I write: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." When this salutation, in Paul's hand, was seen at the close of an epistle, it was known that the epistle was from him.
As Paul, so doubtless the other sacred writers, took immediate care to prove their works to be genuine, and to prevent spurious writings from being palmed on