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righteous would scarcely be saved, and the ungodly and wicked be fearfully punished.
The contemplation of such events as just at hand, was well fitted to operate as a motive to sobriety, and vigilance unto prayer. These were just the tempers and exercises peculiarly called for in such circumstances; and they are just the dispositions and employments required by our Lord when he speaks of these days of trial and wrath. “Take heed of yourselves,” says our Lord, “lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares : for as a snare shall it come upon all who dwell on the earth. Watch, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass,
and to stand before the Son of Man."1 It is difficult not to believe that the Apostle had these very words in his mind when he wrote the passage now before us.
While these exhortations had a peculiar appropriateness to those to whom they were originally addressed, while they received peculiar enforcement from the circumstances in which they were placed, they are plainly exhortations to which Christians, in all countries and ages, are called to attend; and especially when placed in circumstances similar in any way to those in which they were primarily given. We are obviously placed in such circumstances. There is now, as then, and to a still greater extent, a breaking up of old systems. Dynasties and hierarchies are shaking into dissolution. Society is in one of the great states of transition, which occur but at distant intervals in the history of our race. Seldom has the state of our times been more graphically and justly described, than in the words of a living writer—What times are coming upon the earth we know not; but the general expectation of persons of all characters in all nations, is an instinct implanted by God to warn us of a coming storm. Not one nation, but all; not
I Luke xxi. 34-36.
one class of thinkers, but all they who fear and they who hope, and who hope and fear things opposite; they who are immersed in their worldly schemes, and they who look for some coming of God's kingdom; they who watch this world's signs, and they who watch for the next-alike have their eye intently fixed on somewhat that is coming; though whether it be the vials of his wrath or the glories of his kingdom, or whether the one shall be herald to the other, none can tell. They who calculate what is likely, speak of it; they who cannot, feel its coming: the spirits of the unseen world seem to be approaching to us, and awe comes upon us and trembling, which maketh all bones to shake. There is upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth. Times of trouble there have been before; but such a time in which every thing, every where, tends in one direction to one mighty struggle of one sort—of faith with infidelity, lawlessness with rule, Christ with Antichrist, there seems never to have been till now.” “God warneth us, by the very swiftness with which all things are moving around us, that it is He who is impelling them. Man cannot impart such speed, nor rouse the winds from the four quarters of the heavens, nor bring men's varying wills into a uniform result; and therewith he warns us to beware how we attempt to guide what he is thus manifestly governing.”1
The end of many things seems indeed approaching. Popery, though making convulsive struggles, must erelong expire. Babylon, while repairing her battlements, is trembling to her fall. The long captivity of Israel is drawing to its close. The Mohammedan delusion is effete. The idols are about to be abolished. The sanctuary is about to be cleansed. Political despotism and ecclesiastical tyranny are doomed. But before the end of these things, what
wars and rumours of wars,” what siftings of men and sys
tems! What struggles, what sacrifices, what sufferings are coming, are at hand! What need of faith and patience, of dependence and exertion, of caution and vigour! Never since the destruction of the Jewish economy was there a louder call to Christians to attend to the inspired declarations, “Be sober, and watch unto prayer.”
ON THE MAINTENANCE AND MANIFESTATION OF
1 Per iv. 8-11.-And, above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves : for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth ; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ: to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling! In the sacred services of the forenoon, we have, in the most solemn manner, recognised the intimate relation in which we stand to each other as Christians. We have declared, that “though many, we are one body, having partaken of one bread,” “the bread which came down from heaven, and has been given for the life of the world;” and “having all drunk into one Spirit,” “the Spirit of love, and power, and of a sound mind,” which Jesus being glorified has given to all who believe in him. We have, over the instituted emblems of the holy, suffering humanity of our Lord, made the good profession, that we have one God and Father, Jehovah; one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; one faith, the faith of his gospel ; one baptism, the baptism of his Spirit ; one hope, the hope of his salvation. We have avowed ourselves brethren in Christ, and pledged ourselves to perform
1 This discourse was delivered immediately after the administration of the Lord's Supper.
all the mutual duties which rise out of a relation so intimate and so sacred.
It cannot then be inopportune to direct your attention to an inspired account of some of those duties; and such an account is contained in the paragraph I have just read, which plainly refers to the temper and conduct towards each other by which Christians should be characterised. The whole truth on this subject may be very briefly stated. The entire duty of Christians to each other is summed up in one word, love ; brotherly love. The maintenance of brotherly love, that is the temper by which Christians should be characterised; the manifestation of brotherly love, that is the conduct by which Christians should be characterised.
In the text, both of these are plainly enjoined and powerfully enforced. The maintenance of brotherly love is thus enjoined: “Above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves." And it is thus enforced : "for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” The manifestation of brotherly love is thus enjoined: “Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, so let him minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.” And it is thus enforced : “ that God may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ.” The maintenance and manifestation of the love of the brethren, enjoined and recommended, are thus obviously the substance of the text; and to unfold the meaning of the injunctions, and to point out the force of the recommendations, are the objects I shall endeavour to gain in the following discourse.
I.-THE MAINTENANCE OF BROTHERLY LOVE.
§ 1. The duty explained. And first, of the maintenance of brotherly love. “Above