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Lord must have loved me before the foundation of the world.” Accordingly, to his great and endless comfort, he finds it written in St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians : “ According as he has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Oh! wonderful love! That the inestimable riches of his grace should flow down upon a sinner like me ! The consolations of his soul are now unspeakable—be enjoys something of that peace which passeth all understanding. And since he is now evidentially brought within the fold of the Church of Christ, he reflects upon the word of God, and discovers “ that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” And, because “I live,” the Redeemer declares, “ye shall live also.” He now perceives how the majesty and mercy of God are enhanced by the salvation of his covenant people in Christ. Thus a new life is imparted to him, and “the life that he now lives in the flesh, he lives by faith in the Son of God, who loved him and gave himself for him;" which leads me to consider the second head of my discourse; viz. The effects of this love as exemplified in the text :--“ He loveth his brother also.”
When our Lord was questioned by the crafty lawyer, “Who is my neighbour?” the reply was given under the beautiful illustration of the
good Samaritan; and it may be remembered, that when Jesus was apprised that his mother and his brethren awaited to see him, he told those who were with him, that he who did the will of his father, that the same was bis mother, his sister, and brother; consequently we gather from this, that loving our brethren does not merely relate to the affinities of relationship, but to that spiritual connexion with our elder brother, Christ, the heir of all things.
We are also informed that, doing the will of God, is to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ whom he hath sent." From this we have a true definition of the will of God, and the characteristic mark of our brother in Christ. But lest any should suppose that we are contracting the sphere of Christian charity, by an imference that we are not to regard the estates and conditions of all men, we would offer to your notice the words of the Apostle to the Gentiles : “While we have time, let us do good unto all men, and especially unto them which are of the household of faith.” No matter of what nation or colour, no matter of what creed or persuasion, no matter under what circumstances of affliction ; our sympathies are appealed to by the authority of Scripture: “ While we have time, let us do good unto all men.” Our brotherly love and charity are to be as wide as the surface of the
inhabited earth. This is the general rule which, at all places and seasons, we are exhorted to observe. However, allow me briefly to lay before you a few particulars, in which our brotherly love may, by the grace of God, be profitably expended.
First, I would impress upon your notice a few of a negative character, i. e. what we ought not to do towards our brother. We ought to be careful not to give any unnecessary cause of offence to the weaker brethren. “ Take heed," says St. Paul to the Corinthians, “ lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” Even in those things whereof we are assured that our own faith and conscience will not be injured ;-have a care lest, in pleasing ourselves, we injure the infirmities of the weaker brethren. Again, if we exhibit a timidity of conduct with respect to our worldly connexions and intercourse; if, in complying with their prejudices, we indirectly give a licence to their sins; our usefulness will be diminished, and our brotherly love greatly obscured in the eyes of the weaker : we shall appear to be erecting a temple to God and mammon at the same time; and therefore we ought not to wonder if our brother prefers the worship of the latter to the former. But, to speak less figuratively and more plainly, (for I would cau.
tiously avoid in myself the timidity which in meekness I would reprove in another,) the covetous, the pharisee, the liar, the blasphemer, the adulterer, and fornicator, who cannot have the love of God dwelling in them, are characters too gross to exercise Christian charity or brotherly love.
Their awful state I have not at present time to examine; their horrors on their death-beds, with the thoughts of a judgment-day, may perhaps at that time cause them to tremble, although at this their consciences appear to be seared with a hot iron. But let him who knows something of the power and pardon of sin, by the blood of the Lamb, beware of his Christian walk. If, through the favour of God, you are placed in a higher and more affluent state than your Christian neighbour, you therefore carry yourself churlishly, haughtily, or unkindly towards your poorer kinsman in Christ, may he not say, “ How dwelleth the love of God in him ?” On the other hand, if those whom the Lord has placed in inferior stations of life, are not, according to St. Paul's rule, in his Epistle to the Romans, subject to the higher powersgiving honour to whom honour is due, forgetting that there is no power but of God, and that the powers that be are ordained of God;" how will such establish their possession to the fruits of the Spirit—as temperance, long-suffering, and brotherly love? Further, be it observed, that brotherly love “recompenses to no man evil for evil.” Perhaps in no point of view does the Christian character appear brighter or more lovely, than when supported under the trial of unjust treatment.
Here do not mistake me, under the supposition that the Christian character is not to have the benefit of the laws of his country, since in all things, as a matter of conscience, he pays tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, and honour to whom honour; so, like St. Paul, he may, under unjust treatment, lawfully make his appeal to Cæsar. But be not over anxious to retaliate by law a matter of offence against thyself, unless your conscience more than your own personal feeling constrain you to it for the benefit of the church of Cbrist.
We will now mention a few positive injunctions, to be exercised by one Christian brother towards another. The greatest favour we can do another is to testify a regard to his immortal, in preference to his temporal concerns : “ For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ! to explain to our friend how he may manage the affairs of his business to advantage; how he may lay out his capital under the greatest certainty