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us from deceiving ourselves by an empty profession of love to God, from which no evident benefit is derived by our fellow-creatures. Unless we love the children of God, it is vain for us to think that we love God; it is a mere fancy that we indulge in our minds, which produces no beneficial effect. God is invisible, and therefore the only way in which we can prove that we truly love Him, is by showing that we love His image wherever it is displayed. We love the Father in His children; in like manner as when true love subsists between human beings, those who are most nearly connected with the beloved object, partake in some degree of the same feeling of regard and affection.
The apostle concludes in the words of the text, This commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also. This is the bounden duty of the children of God. If we profess to love God, and that He is our reconciled Father, we shall love those who, together with us, are also His children; we shall love them as our brethren, as those who are of the family and household of faith. The more true Christianity prevails, the more of this feeling will there be. But, alas, false profession and selfishness have almost rooted out this brotherly love from the Christian world, so that there is a great want of disinterestedness in professors of religion; and it is therefore needful to guard against imposition on the one hand, and presumption on the other. Let us seek to cultivate love to God more and more, by considering how greatly He hath loved us; and then, while we maintain intercourse with Him, and live as in His presence, having His lovingkindness before our eyes, we shall endeavour to manifest love to the brethren, as we have opportunity, not in word, neither in tongue only, but in deed and in truth. It is the commandment of God that we should love Him above all things, with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. But oh ! how far short of this do we fall! How feeble, how cold is our love to Him! Let us implore His mercy to pardon our want of love to Him, and His grace to enable us to love Him more and more. And let us not be satisfied with merely having this love in our hearts; but let us seek to give evidence of it to the glory of His holy name. Let us prove our love to Him by obedience to His commandments, by acts of kindness and love to the children of God, and by an anxiety to spread abroad the knowledge of His loving-kindness among all around us; by not being ashamed of Him, or His cause, or His people; but endeavouring to glorify Him in our life and conduct by all possible means. The religion of Christ is a religion of love. May we find it to be so in our own souls, and manifest it to be such in our intercourse with our fellowcreatures, to the glory of God our Saviour.
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
FAITH AND LOVE.
1 John iii. 23, 24.
AND THIS IS His COMMANDMENT, THAT WE
SHOULD BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF His Son JESUS CHRIST, AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS HE GAVE US COMMANDMENT. AND HE THAT KEEPETH HIS COMMANDMENTS DWELLETH IN HIM, AND HE IN HIM;
AND HEREBY WE KNOW THAT HE ABIDETH IN US, BY THE SPIRIT WHICH HE
HATH GIVEN US,
In the Epistle for last Sunday, as well as in the text, there is incidental mention made of the Three sacred Persons of the ever blessed Trinity; which may perhaps have been the reason why these two portions of scripture were appointed for the Epistles on the weeks which succeed Trinity Sunday.
The Epistle for this day breathes the spirit which is ascribed to St. John. It is said that his constant language in his old age was, “Little children, love one another.” The benevolence which Christianity induces was unknown in the heathen world. The people among whom the first Christians lived were, we are told, accustomed to say of them, “See how these Christians love one another.” But while this was their character, the superiority of their principles and practices to those of their fellow-creatures, excited the envy and hatred of the children of this world. The apostle found it necessary therefore to caution those whom he addressed, Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. He knew that the people of the world were disposed to act on the principles of Cain, who slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous ; and he therefore warned them against taking offence at the treatment they would experience as the servants and followers of the one living and true God. At the same time he showed them that the conduct of believers in Christ towards each other, is to be the opposite of that of the people of the world. They are to love as brethren, as children of the same Father who is in heaven. And he goes so far as to say, We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. The love of the children of God to each other, is a proof of their having partaken of spiritual life; that they are not dead to God, but have been quickened by His grace to newness of life, and therefore the fruit of the Spirit, which is love,** appears in their conduct. While, on the other hand, He that loveth not his brother abideth in death, he is dead in trespasses and sins, and not alive to God; he abideth in the state of nature in which he was born, a child of wrath, even as others.*
It is further said, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, that is, he is under the curse of the law of God, guilty of breaking the sixth commandment; for he that hates another wishes he were dead, and would have him put out of his way, or kill him, if he could.
A person who has such feelings towards his fellow-creatures, cannot have passed from death unto life; he cannot himself be in the way of salvation ; Ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. This is true in a variety of senses. He that compasses. the death of another, and he that causes the death of another from hatred or variance, and he that puts himself to death, are without hope of eternal life.
How opposite every thing of this kind is to the will of God respecting His creatures, appears from the consideration of His revealed character as the God of love, to which the apostle again
44 Galatians v. 22.
45 Ephesians ii. 1, 3.