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but that a full reward shall be given to him by that gracious Being to whom he has surrendered his heart, to love Him above all things.
As our Saviour said to His disciples, He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.50 What a blessed return is this for giving up our hearts to God, to love and serve and glorify Him as we ought to do; as it is our bounden duty and our reasonable service.
Let us ask ourselves, Upon what are our hearts fixed ? Are they set upon this worthy object of our best affections, which will afford us a full recompence for our love? It is evident that the God of heaven is not the object of supreme
affection to the multitude of mankind. They love Him not.
They say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.si He is truly loved by those only who know Him as their God, reconciled to them in Christ Jesus, sustaining a covenant relationship towards them for His sake. Do we thus know Him as our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus? If so, we shall love Him, because He first loved us 952 and shall pray that we may be enabled to love Him with all our heart and mind and soul and strength; that every faculty of our bodies and souls may be devoted to His service, and He may be glorified in us and by us.
49 Ruth ji.12. 50 John xiv. 21,23, 51 Job xxi.14. 52 1 John iv.19.
He calls upon us, My son, give Me thine heart.5 May we, through grace, obey the call, that He may reign in us, in our hearts, and we may show forth all His praise in our life and conduct. Unless the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost being given unto us,b* our hearts will not be given up to Him; our lives will not be devoted to His honour and praise. But if the influence of the love of Christ be felt in our hearts, it will sweetly and powerfully constrain us to live to His glory. The
Third point to be considered is, The manner in which the Lord God is to be sanctified; or, wherein this sanctification consists. This is set before us in the Epistle for this day.
From which we learn in general, that this sanctification consists in the fear of God superseding every other fear; the consequence of which is, that the conduct is regulated according to the will of God. Christians are therefore exhorted, Be ye all of one mind; or, as St. Paul has explained the subject, Now, I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.55 Those who make divisions in the church of Christ, and endeavour to split it into parties, act in a manner
53 Prov. xxiii. 26.
54 Rom. v. 5.
54 1 Cor. i. 10; xii. 26.
very inconsistent with a profession of Christianity. The religion of Christ inculcates unanimity and peace; not indeed to the sacrifice of Christian principle, but as the spirit of Christianity.
Christians are to cultivate union, not to encourage separation or discord. Their union of spirit is to be manifest in having compassion one of another, or by sympathising with each other in their mutual infirmities, as well as in their afflictions and trials. They are not to magnify each other's faults, but to consider rather their points of agreement than of difference; to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 56 And especially under the afflictions to which we are all liable as fallen creatures, it is the duty of the children of God to sympathise one with another; to show, as they may have it in their power, that when one member of the body of Christ suffers, all the members suffer with it.55 In this they imitate the example of our blessed Redeemer, not only as it was exhibited in the days of His flesh, but as we are assured it is manifested by Him now that He is passed into the heavens. For we have not a High Priest, which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who can have compassion 57 upon the
poor and needy, who seek His sympathy in the time of their distress; and will manifest it
56 Gal. vi. 2.
57 Heb. iv. 15; v. 2.
58 1 John iv. 10, 11; ii. 14.
when they make their humble supplication at His footstool, for His mercy and grace to be vouchsafed to their souls. Those who feel their need of the Saviour's compassion, and apply for it, will necessarily sympathise with the suffering members of His mystical body, or with their Christian brethren, in their afflictions.
And not only so, but they will love as brethren. The primitive Christian church was peculiarly eminent for this brotherly love, which was continually inculcated by the apostles of Christ. As far as true Christianity flourishes in the hearts of its professors, this disposition will be cultivated and prevail. The apostle John inculcates it from the example of God Himself. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us. If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. 58
Christians are also to be pitiful, or full of pity; to have bowels of tenderness towards each other, like those of a parent towards his offspring. Such kindness they should cultivate and display towards each other, as children of the same heavenly Father. They are to be courteous, or friendly; to have friendly minds and kind dispositions one toward another, and to manifest this in their outward demeanour, while they feel it affecting them in the spirit of their minds. The apostle heaps one expression upon another to inculcate the benevolence which is to be felt and manifested by believers in the Lord Jesus Christ towards each other. They are to do good unto all men, but especially unto them that are of the household of faith.59
And not only are these good qualities to appear in their intercourse one with another; but the opposite evil dispositions are to be mortified and renounced. Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing. This is what mankind are naturally prone to do. There are many who would not do an injury to others of their own accord; who would, notwithstanding, think it not unbecoming to retaliate when they have been injured. Not to resent an affront is, indeed, esteemed in the world to indicate a meanness of spirit. True Christianity will therefore be always reckoned pusillanimity by the children of this world. He, however, who holds on the even tenour of his way, notwithstanding he may meet with injurious treatment and reproachful language, is the true Christian hero; who, while he is not insensible to the indignity that is offered to him, instead of resenting it, remembers his Lord's command, Bless them that curse you, 6o bless and curse not.61 Pray for them that despitefully. use you.60 And so it is here said, But contrariwise blessing, knowing that ye are thereunto called, that
59 Galatians vi. 10.
60 Luke vi. 28.
61 Romans xii. 14.