Page images

fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness”—that is, kindness—“meekness. Live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit. Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be followers of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us. Put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” “ Ye are taught by God to love one another.” 6. The end of the commandment is charity.” “Follow after love, patience, meekness.” “Let brotherly love continue.” 6. The wisdom that cometh from above," says another Apostle, “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” “Seeing ye have purified yourselves,” says a third Apostle, “ in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. Be of one mind, having compassion one of another ; love as brethren.” “He,” says a fourth, who had a very large measure of the Spirit of his Master," he that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him. Whosoever loveth not his brother is not of God. We know that we are passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. Hereby perceive we the love of God, that he laid down his life for us ; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. This is his commandment, That we believe in his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If a man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar; for he who loveth not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ? And this commandment have we of him, That he who loveth God love his neighbour also. This is the commandment which we have received from the beginning, that we should walk in it, that we should love one another." 1

My beloved brethren, “if ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” We have much cause to be thankful for that measure of the spirit of love which our Father has been pleased to shed on us as a congregation, through Christ Jesus, and for that peace which is springing out of it. Let us carefully guard against whatever may cool our love or break our harmony. Let us all seek to be kept near Christ, that we may be kept near each other; and let us pray that our love to our Lord, to one another, to all the saints, to all men,

may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment,” and may become more and more effectual in producing personal and mutual edification, and in promoting the prosperity and extension of the kingdom which is not of this world, making us to be of one mind—his mind; of one heart—his heart; a mind all light, a heart all love.


Let us now proceed to the consideration of the Apostle's injunction and recommendation of the manifestation of Christian brotherly love. The fervent love which they were to cherish among themselves was to be manifested in the performance to each other of kind offices as men, and in the promoting of each other's spiritual interests as Christians. They were to employ their worldly property in the first of these manifestations of brotherly love, and their spiritual gifts in the second ; and the grand motive influencing them in both was to be that they were stewards, and should be good stewards of the manifold grace of God; and " that God in all things might be glorified through Jesus Christ." Let us attend, then, in succession to these two enjoined manifestations of Christian brotherly love, and to the powerful motives by which both are enforced. “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."

1 John xiii. 34, 35. Rom. xii. 10. Eph. iv. 3. Gal. v. 22, 25. Eph. iv. 3032: v. 1, 2. Col. iii. 12. 1 Thess. iv. 9. 1 Tim. i. 5; vi, 11. Heb. xiii. 1. James ii. 17. 1 Pet. i. 22; iii. 8. 1 John ii. 9, 11; ii. 14-16, 23; iv. 7, 11, 20, 21. 2 John 5.

§ 1. Christians are to manifest brotherly love, by employing

their property for each other's good as men, as in ungrudging hospitality.

We observe, then, in the first place, that Christians are to manifest the fervent love which they have among themselves, by employing their worldly property in performing to each other kind offices as men. Of these kind offices we have a specimen in the ungrudging hospitality which is here enjoined, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”

The habit of inviting in considerable numbers to our houses and tables, neighbours, acquaintances, and friends, in rank equal or superior to ourselves, and giving them a sumptuous entertainment, is what in our times generally passes by the the name of hospitality. Where God's good creatures are not abused, as they often are, as stimulants and gratifications to intemperate appetite, and when these entertainments are not so expensive or so frequent as to waste an undue proportion of our substance and time, and to interfere with the right discharge of the duties of family instruction and devotion, there is nothing wrong in them.

I believe we may go a little further and say, that in this case they are fitted to serve a good purpose in keeping up friendly intercourse among relations and friends; but they are put out of their place altogether, when they are considered as a substitute for the Christian duty of hospitality. It is plain that our Lord did not condemn such meetings, for we find him not unfrequently present at them; but he obviously looked on them as capable of being better managed, and turned to more useful purposes, than they commonly were among the Jews in his time. " When thou makest a dinner or a supper,” said our Lord to one of the chief pharisees who had invited him to his table, “ call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind : And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”

We are certainly not to consider our Lord's words as a prohibition of convivial intercourse among equals, the entertaining on proper occasions, in a suitable manner, our wealthy neighbours, friends, and relatives; but we are to understand that, in doing so, we are rather complying with an innocent and useful social usage than performing an important Christian duty; and that the proportion of our property devoted to feeding the poor, should very much exceed that expended in fcasting the rich. What are termed hospitable entertainments are very generally mani


I Luhe xiv. 12-14.

[ocr errors]

festations of vanity and pride on the part of those who give them. In a very limited degree are they the real expression of even a very low form of benevolent regard to those to whom they are given. The expense at which they are made is not incurred from love to God, regard to his authority, or a wish to promote his glory. Reward from him is altogether out of the question ; and the applause, or, what is in some instances more relished still, the envy of others, and a similar banquet in return, are the appropriate and the wished-for recompense. It is deeply to be regretted that too many professors of Christianity are in this respect unduly conformed to the world, and lavish on these thankless and profitless entertainments sums which might so easily be turned to so much better account in relieving the wants, and adding to the comforts of the poor and destitute; or in promoting the glory of God, and the highest interests of mankind, by diffusing “the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins."

But the occasional entertainment of our acquaintances, whether poor or rich, however unobjectionably, and even usefully, conducted, is not the Christian duty which, under the name of hospitality, is here and in so many other passages of the New Testament recommended. Hospitality is kindness to strangers, to persons not generally resident in the same place with ourselves, to persons with whom we are not on habits of intimate acquaintanceship; and this kindness is manifested by bringing them to our house, and furnishing them with suitable entertainment there.

We have this duty strikingly illustrated in the case of Abraham and of Lot, when they “ entertained angels unawares." Nothing can be more beautifully simple than the inspired narrative : “And Abraham sat in the door of his tent in Mamre, in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and, when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent-door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »