Page images

loveth his brother also. Your want of love to your brother demonstrates your want of love to God, and consider what state you are in while you are not reconciled to God, nor at peace with him. You are under the guilt of all your sins, and liable to suffer the deserved punishment of them. That God whom you daily provoke daily spares you. He might get himself glory in punishing such a rebel, but his long suffering bears with you; and what return do you make him for keeping you out of hell? Do you love him, and serve him with grateful obedience? No, you attack him with open, avowed rebellion, as if you had an arm like God, and were not afraid of the fire of his wrath : and you carry on your war against him, by declared war against your neighbours, indulging the malicious, envious tempers, and gratifying the unjust desires of your own selfish heart. Suppose God should call you to his bar while you are in this state; as you have no love for him you could have no happiness in beholding or enjoying him, and as you have no love for his family you could not be happy in their company. You hated them upon earth, and they are so much unlike yourself you would bate them in heaven. What then could you meet with at his bar, but what you are prepared to receive--even an eternal separation from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power? And can you think of this without concern ? Have you no fear, lest the wrath of God should abide upon you for and ever? What! have you not one wish to flee from the wrath to come? O dreadful state of hardened sinners! May the Lord take pity on you, and subdue your rebellious hearts by his almighty grace, that you may be brought to the right love of God and of your neighbour !

Perhaps some of you may say, I thank God I am not in this state; I have been made to see and to feel my enmity against God and against man, and I heartily desire to love both. You have reason indeed to be thankful: for this desire is a sign and token of


God's love to you. Wait upon him, that you may know and experience his love. He has encouraged you to ask this grace of him, and has promised to give it upon your asking. It is his gift; for God is love, and he is more willing to give than you are to ask. It is one of his choice gifts, which he delights to bestow upon the children of men, and with the right use of which he is well pleased. “If ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well." -James, ii. 8.-Ye do well in presenting this odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing unto God. O wait then upon him, and be found in the ways of his appointment; not to merit his love, it is a free gift, and it is inestimable, the price of it is above all the riches of earth and heaven; but wait humbly for the time of his love, and when, out of his sovereign grace, he sheds it abroad in your heart, then he will enable you to love your neighbour as yourself! Surely these blessings are worth your waiting for, especially since you are encouraged by those comfortable words, the truth of which many thousands now alive have found by happy experience. They shall not be ashamed that wait for me, saith the Lord.”Isa, xlix. 23.

Thanks be to his rich and free love, which has fulfilled this scripture to so many in our days! You, my brethren, who know the love of God, should remember, that as you love him who begat, so you ought to love them who are begotten of him; the soundness of your love to God should be made evident from your acts of love to your fellow creatures: for that faith which brings you to the knowledge of God's love to your soul, should work by love to them; and this work of love proves it, does not make it, but proves it, to be a living faith. While it lives it loves. Love is the very breath of faith; and while love breathes in the believer it disposes him to do all the good he can to the bodies and to the souls of his neighbours: for his is heart love. He cannot see

[ocr errors]


any one sick, poor, in prison, naked, or wounded, but love hastens to his relief. It does not say, be ye well, be ye relieved, &c., but it freely gives them such things as they have need of. My Christian brethren, you know that these are the proper offices of brotherjy love-O be careful then in the practice of them! If you would have your evidences kept clear for hesven, and your peace and comfort abiding, let your faith be continually working. Exercise it upon Christ's distressed members. Go about doing them good. Refuse no labour of love; for he has commanded, and he has encouraged you, to embrace every opportunity. This is the commandment of God, that you should believe on the name of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave you commandment; and the day is approaching, when you will hear him say, “inasmuch as yé have done it unto one of the least of these


breth. ren, ye have done it unto me." Keep your faith then working by love; for they cannot be separated. Faith is the root, and love is the fruit; if the root be alive it will bear fruit, even the abundant fruits of love and charity, to God's glory and to man's profit.

And as the believer is kindly affectionate with brotherly love to relieve the bodily wants of his neighbour, so he is influenced towards his spiritual wants with more affection, because the soul is more precious than the body; at least, if he be not, he ought however to be thus influenced. There is in men a strange remissness and backwardness to the performance of the offices of love, relating to the souls of their neighbours: but grace makes them willing and able. It sweetly inclines and mightily enables them to do the spiritual acts of brotherly love; but one cannot help lamenting how little grace is exercised in this way. While worldly people are erecting magnificent hospitals, and doing princely acts of charity, O how short of them do professors come in their works of charity! You are a professor-you call yourself a Christianand do you not know one of your neighbours who

lives in open sin, and yet you never speak to him of it? You thought indeed sometimes of reproving him, but then fear, or shame, or indolence, prevented you. And does not this convince you how unlike you are to your blessed master? Did he ever decline doing good, for fear of some little inconvenience which might attend it? No, he went about doing good, although at the hazard of his life; and yet your love to Christ, and to precious souls, is so very cold that you can suffer your neighbour to live in sin, yea, perhaps to die in it, without one kind reproof. And hast thou not then, boasting professor, great reason to examine thyself, whether thou be in the faith? For how canst thou prove it to be true and alive, since it does not work by love? May this humble thee, and put thee upon seeking more of the Spirit and power of Jesus Christ ! Perhaps you are the master of a family; how do you show your love to your servants? You see they do your work, and you take care to pay them their wages, and what more do you than publicans and sinners? But do you watch over their souls, instructing and admonishing them with all gentleness and diligence? Have you any family worship? Do you pray constantly with them and for them ? so that the Lord may justly say of you, as he did of the father of the faithful, “I know Abraham, that he will command his children, and his household after bim, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." God knows, there are few heads of families who take any care at all of the souls of their servants, and few indeed do their duty by them in brotherly love! The Lord pardon what is past, and reform us for the future in this respect! Perhaps you may be a parent, and you take pains enough to provide for the temporal welfare of your children. You rise up early, and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, that jou may get a great fortune for them. And what more do you for them than for your beasts? You provide for your children's well being in the world,

[ocr errors]

cattle ? Christian love would put you upon another work, and would stir you up to catechise them; to teach them to know themselves, to become early acquainted with their corrupt and sinful nature, and to see the necessity of their salvation by Jesus Christ. This is your bounden duty as a parent. The blessing upon the discharge of it is in God's hand; but he requires you to use the means, and if love be alive and active in your heart, you will strive more to have your children rich in grace than rich in those things which perish in the using In whatever other station of life God has placed you, do you perform the offices of brotherly love in it? Do you love your neighbour as yourself? Search diligently, and watch your heart narrowly. If you have any true love pray for more of it, and may the Lord God Almighty help you to subdue self, and all your selfish tempers, that love may increase and abound in your soul! May you grow up unto him in all things, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted, by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love! Hear us, thou God of love, and answer, and grant that all men may know us to be thy disciples by our edifying, one another in love. May no selfish temper, no bigotry, or party spirit, hinder us from relieving the spiritual or bodily wants of any of our distressed brethren, but unite all thy members closely among themselves ! Lord, of one mind and of one heart, and may all that love thee in sincerity think and speak the same things ! O give us that love which never faileth ! We ask it for thy mercies' sake, to the honour of the holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons in one Jehovah, whose is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

and do you not the same for


Make us,

« PreviousContinue »