Графични страници
PDF файл

We have here, 1. The due qualifications of it: 2. A Christian's obligation to it.

I. The qualifications are three ; namely, Sincerity, Purity, and Fervency. The fincerity is expressed in the former clause of the verse, unfeigned love ; and repeated again in the latter part, that it be with a pure beart; and the purity is included in fervency.

1. Love must be unfeigned. It appears that disfimulation is a disease that is very incident in this particular. The Apostle St Paul hath the same word, Rom. xii. 9. and the Apostle St John to the same, sense, 1 John iii. 18. that it have that double reality which is opposed to double dissembled love ;- that it be cordial and effectual; that the professing of it arise from truth of affection, and, as much as may be, be seconded with action; that both the heart and the hand may be rather the seal of it than the tongue : Not court holy-water, an empty noise of service and affection, that fears nothing more than to be put upon trial. Although thy brother with whom thou converfest cannot, it may be, see through thy false appearances, He that commands this love, looks chiefly within, feeks it there, and if he find it not there, hates them most that moft pretend it: So that the art of diffembling, though never so well studied, cannot pass in this King's court, to whom all hearts are open, and all desires known. When, after variances, men are brought to an agreement, they are much subject to this, rather to cover their remaining malices with superficial verbal forgiveness, than to diflodge them, and free the heart of them. This is a poor self-deceit; as the philosopher said to him, that being ashamed that he was elpied by him in a tavern in the outer-room, withdrew himself to the inner, he called after him, That is not the way out; the more you go that way, you will be the further with«« in it.” When hatreds upon admonition are not thrown out, but retire inward to hide themselves, they grow deeper and stronger than before; and VOL. I. Y


those constrained femblances of reconcilement are but a false healing, do but skin the wound over, and therefore it usually breaks forth worse again. • How few are there that have truly maliceless hearts, and find this entire upright affection towards their brethren attending them in their whole conversation, this law of love deeply inipressed on their hearts, and from thence expressed in their words and actions ! and that is unfeigned love, as real to their brethren as to themselves.

2. It must be pure, from a pure heart ; this is not all one with the former, as some take it. It is true, doubleness and hypocrisy is an impurity, and a great one ; but all impurity is not doubleness ; one may really mean that friendship and affection he expresses, and yet it may be most contrary to that which is here required, because impure ; such a brotberly love as that of Simeon and Levi, brethren in iniquity, as the expressing them brethren, Gen. xlix. is taken to mean. When hearts are cemented together by impurity itfelf, by ungodly conversation and society in fin, as in uncleanness or drunkennels, &c. this is a swinish fraternity and friendship, that is contracted, as it were, by wallowing in the same mire. Call it good fellowship, or what you will, all the fruit that in the end can be expected out of unholy friendliness and fellowship in finning together, is to be tormented together, and to add each to the torment of another.

The mutual love of Chriftians must be pure, arising from such causes as are pure and spiritual, from the sense of our Saviour's command and of his example ; for he himself joins that with it, A new commandment give I you, saith he, that as I have loved you, so you also love one another, John xiii. 34. They that are indeed lovers of God are united ; by that their hearts meet in him as in one centre. They cannot but love one another: Where a godly man sees his Father's image, he is forced to love it; he loves those he perceives godly, so as to delight in them, because that image is in them; and those that appear deftitute of it, he loves them so, as to with them partakers of that image. And this is all for God; he loves amicum in Deo, et inimicum propter Deum : That is, he loves a friend in God, and an enemy for God. And as the Christian's love is pure in its cause, so in its effects and exercise; his society and converse with any, tends mainly to this, that he may mutually help, and be helped, in the knowledge and love of God; he desires most, that he and his brethren may jointly mind their journey heavenwards, and further one another in their way to the full enjoyment of God. And this is truly the love of a pure heart, that both begins and ends in God.

3. We must love fervently, not after a cold indifferent manner. Let the love of your brethren be as a fire within you, confuming that selfishness that is so contrary to it, and is so natural to men ; let it set your thoughts on work to study how to do others good ; let your love be an active love, intense within you, and extending itself in doing good to the souls and bodies of your brethren, as they need, and you are able; Alium re, alium confilio, alium gratia, as Sen. de benef. lib. i. cap. 2.

It is felf-love that contracts the heart, and shuts out all other love, both of God and man, fave only so far as our own interest carries, and that is still selflove: But the love of God dilates the heart, purifies love, and extends it to all men, but after a special manner directs it to those that are more peculiarly beloved of Him; and that is the particular love here required.

II. The Christian's obligation to this love, intimat, ed in the words, love of the bretbren. In this is implied our obligation to it after a special manner, in loving those of the household of faith, because they are our brethren. This concludes not only, as Ahraham said, that there ought to be no strife, Gen. xiii. 8. but it binds most strongly to this fincere and pure and fervent love; and therefore the Apostle, in the next verse, repeats expressly the doctrine of the mysterious new birth, and explains it more fully, which he hath mentioned in the entrance of the epiftle, and again referred to, ver. 14, 17.


There is in this fervent love, sympathy with the griefs of our brethren, desire and endeavour to help them, bearing their infirmities, and recovering them too, if it may be; raising them when they fall, admo. nishing and reproving them as is needful, fometimes sharply, and yet still in love; rejoicing in their good, in their gifts and graces ; so far from envying them, that we be glad as if they were our own : There is the same blood running in their veins : You have the same Father, and the fame Spirit within you, and the same Jesus Christ, the Head of that glorious fraternity, the first-born among many brethren, Rom. viii. 29. ; of whom the Apostle faith, Eph. i. 10. that he bath recollected into one, all things in heaven and in earth. The word is, gathered them into one head; and so suits very fitly to express our union in him. In whom, says he in that same epistle, chap. iv. ver. 16. the whole body is fitly coinpacted together; and adds, that which agrees to our purpose, that this body grows up and edifies it feif in love. All the members receive fpirits from the same Head, and are useful and serviceable one to another, and to the whole body. Thus these brethren, receiving of the same Spirit from their head Christ, are most strongly bent to the good one of another. If there be but a thorn in the foot, the back boweth, the head stoops down, the eyes look, the hands reach to it, and endeavour its help and ease. In a word, all the members partake of the good and evil one of another. Now, by how much this body is more spiritual and lively, so much the stronger must the union and love of the parts of it be each to other. You are brethren by the same new birth, and born to the fame inheritance, and such an one as shall not be an apple of strife amongst you, to beget debates and contentions : No, it is enough for


all, and none shall prejudge another ; but you shall have joy in the happiness one of another, seeing you shall then be perfect in love; all harmony, no difference in judgment or affection, all your harps tuned to the fame new song, which you shall sing for ever. Let that love begin here, which shall never end.

And this same union, I conceive, is likewise expressed in the first words of the verse : Seeing you are partakers of that work of sanctification by the same word, and the fame Spirit, that works it in all the faithful, and by that, are called and incorporated into that fraternity; therefore live in it, and like it. You are purified to it, therefore love one another after that same manner purely. Let the profane world scoff that name of brethren, you will not be fo foolish as to be scorned out of it, being so honourable and happy; and the day is at hand wherein those that fcoff you, would give much more than all that the beft of them ever possessed in the world, to be admitted into your number.

Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.] Here is, 1. The chief seat or subject of the work of sanctification, the foul. 2. The subordinate means, truth. 3. The nature of it, obeying of truth. 4. The chief worker of it, the Holy Spirit.

For the first, The chief seat of fanctification, the foul : It is no doubt a work that goes through the whole man, renews and purifies all, Heb. x. 22. 2 Cor. vii. 1. But because it purifies the soul, therefore it is that it does purify all. There impurity begins, Mat. xv. 18. not only evil thoughts, but all evil actions come forth from the heart, which is there all one with the soul; and therefore this purifying begins there, makes the tree good that the fruit may be good. It is not so much external performances that make the difference between men, as their inward temper. We meet here in the same place, and all partake of the same word and prayer: But how wide a differ


« ПредишнаНапред »