« PreviousContinue »
and is called by Christ, The receiving a righteous man in the name of a righteous man ; and receiving one of Christ's little ones in the name of a disciple, or because he belongs to Christ (Matth. x. 41, 42. Mark ix. 41.) and a loving one ane other as Christ has loved them (John xiii. 34, and xv. 13, 14, 15.) Having a peculiar image of that oneness which is between Christ liimself and his saints. Compare John xvii. 20, to the end.
This love the apostles are often directing Christians to ex. ercise towards fellow members of the visible church ; as in Rom. xii. 10. - Be ye kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.” The words are much more emphatical in the original, and do more lively represent that peculiar en. dearment that there is between gracious persons, or those that look on one another as such ; on pinadingua.ets arandes 0.1080pyos The expressions properly signify, cleaving one to another with brotherly, natural, strong endearment. With the like emphasis and energy does the Apostle Peter express himself, i Epist. i. 22. “ Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren (=is Quader que anuwoxpotov.) “ See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” Again, chap. ïïi. 8, Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of an. other, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” The words in the Greek are much more significant, elegant, and forci. ble ; martes quoqpoves, ovunabeisQuradingo, eta geron, Piac poves. The same peculiar endearment the apostle has doubtless respect to in chap. iv. “ Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves.” The Apostle Paul in his Epistles, from time to time, speaks of the visible saints whom he writes to, as being united one to another with this affection, and considers it as a note of their piety. Col. i. 4. “ We heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all saints.” i Thess. iv. 9. “ As touching BROTHERLY LOVE, ye need not that I write unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” So Philem. 5. “ Hearing of thy love and faith which thou hast towards the Lord Jesus Christ, and towards all saints.” And this is what he exhorts to, Heb.
xüi. 1. 6 Let BROTHERLY LOVE continue.” 1 Thess. T. 26 “ Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.” Compare 1 Cor. xvi. 20. 2 Cor. xiii. 12, and 1 Pet. v. 14.
This pinadeapia, or love to the brethren, is that virtue which the Apostle John so much insists on in his first Epistle, as one of the most distinguishing characteristics of true grace, and a peculiar evidence that God dwelleth in us, and we in God. By which must needs be understood a love to saints as saints, or on account of the spiritual image of God supposed to be in them, and their spiritual relation to God ; according as it has always been understood by orthodox divines. No reasonable doubt can be made, but that the Apostle John in this Epistle, has respect to the same sort of love, which Christ prescribed to his disciples, in that which he called by way of eminency HIS COMMANDMENT, and his NEW COMMANDMENT, which he gave as a great of mark their being truly his disciples as this same apostle gives an account in his gospel ; and to which he plainly refers, when speaking of the love of the brethren in his epistle, chap. ii. 7, 8, and iii. 23. But that love, which Christ speaks of in his new commandment, is spoken of as between those that Christ loves, or is supposed to love ; and which has his love to them for its ground and pattern. And if this Qinadeapuce, this love of the brethren, so much spoken of by Christ, and by the Apostles Paul and John, be not that peculiar affection which gracious persons or true saints have one to another, which is so great a part, and so remarkable an exercise of true grace, where is it spoken of, at all, in the New Testament?
We see how often the apostles exhort visible Christians to exercise this affection to allother members of the visible church of Christ, and how often they speak of the members of the visible church, as actually thus united in places already mentioned. In 2 Cor. ix. 14, the apostle speaks of the members of other churches loving the members of the church of Corinth, with this peculiar endearment and oneness of heart, for the grace of God in them ; « And by their prayer for you, which long after you, for the exceeding grace of God in you.” The word translated long after, is eastedgrtwr ; which properly sige
nifies to love with an exceeding and dear love. And this is represented as the bond, that unites all the members of the visible church : Acts iv. 32. “ And the multitude of them that believed, were of one heart and one soul.” This is the same thing which elsewhere is called being of one mind : 1 Pet. iii. 8. « Finally, be ye all of one mind." And being of the same mind : 1 Cor. i. 10. " That ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind.” And being of the same mind : Philip. iv. 2. “ I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be OF THE SAME MIND in the Lord.” And being like minded (the word is the same in the Greek) Rom. xv. 5, 6. “ Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be LIKE MINDED one towards another ; that ye may with one mind, and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." There is reason to think, that it is this oneness of mind, or being of one heart and soul, is meant by that charity which the apostle calls the bond of perfectness, Col. iii. 14: And represents as the bond of union between all the members of the body, in Eph. iv. 15, 16. “ But speaking the truth in LOVE, may grow up into him in all things which 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."
Herein seems much to consist the nature of scandal in the members of a church, viz. such an offence as is a wound and interruption to this kind of affection, being a stumbling block to a Christian judgment, in regard of its esteem of the offender as a real Christian, and what much lessens the visibility of his Christian character. And therefore when scandal is removed by visible repentance, the church is directed to confirm their love to the offender, 2 Cor. ii. 8.
Now this intimate affection towards others as brethren in Christ and fellow members of him, must have some apprehension of the understanding, some judgment of the mind, for its foundation. To say, that we must thus love others as visible members of Christ, if any thing else be meant, than that we VOL. I.
must love them because they are visibly, or as they appear to our judgment, real members of Christ, is in effect to say, that we must thus love them without any foundation at all. In order to a real and fervent affection to another, on account of some amiableness of qualification or relation, the mind must . first judge there is that amiableness in the object. The affections of the mind are not so at command that we can make them strongly to go forth to an object as having such loveliness, when at the same time we do not positively judge any such thing concerning them, but only hope it may be so, because we see no sufficient reason to determine the contrary. There must be a positive dictate of the understanding, and some degree of satisfaction of the judgment, to be a ground of that oneness of heart and soul, which is agreeable to Scripture representations of pinadenpice, or brotherly love. And a supposition only of that moral sincerity and virtue, or common grace, which some insist upon, though it may be a sufficient ground of neighborly and civil affection, cannot be a sufficient ground of this intimate affection to them as brethren in the family of a heavenly Father, this fervent love to them in the bowels of Jesus Christ ; that implying nothing in it inconsistent with being gospel sinners and domestic enemies in the house of God; which Christians know are the most hateful enemies to Christ, of all the enemies that he has.
It is a thing well agreeing with the wisdom of Christ, and that peculiar favor he has manifested to his saints, and with his dealings with them in many other respects, to suppose, he has made a provision in his institutions, that they might have the comfort of uniting, with such as their hearts are united with in that holy intimate affection which has been spoken of, in some special religious exercises and duties of worship, and visible intercourse with their Redeemer, joining with those concerning whom they can have some satisfaction of mind, that they are cordially united with them in adoring and expressing their love to their common Lord and Saviour, that they may with one mind, with one heart, and one soul, as well as with one mouth, glorify him ; as in the forementioned Rom. xv. 5, 6, compared with Acts iv. 32. This seems to be
what this heavenly affection naturally inclines to. And how eminently fit and proper for this purpose is the sacrament of the Lord's supper, the Christian church's great feast of love ; wherein Christ's people sit together as brethren in the family of God, at their Father's table, to feast on the love of their Redeemer, commemorating his sufferings for them, and his dying love to them, and sealing their love to him and one another ?.... It is hardly credible, that Christ has so ordered things as that there are no instituted social acts of worship, wherein his saints are to manifest their respect to him, but such as wherein they ordinarily are obliged (if the rule for admissions be carefully attended) to join with a society of fellow worshippers, concerning whom they have no reason to think but that the greater part of them are unconverted (and are more provoking enemies to that Lord they love and adore, than most of the very Heathen) which Mr. Stoddard supposes to be the case with the members of the visible church. Appeal, p. 16.
X. It is necessary that those who partake of the Lord's supper, should judge themselves truly and cordially to accept CHRIST, as their only Saviour and chief good ; for this is what the actions, which communicants perform at the Lord's table, are a solemn profession of.
There is in the Lord's supper a mutual solemn profession of the two parties transacting the covenant of grace, and visibly united in that covenant ; the Lord Christ by his minister, on the one hand, and the communicants (who are professing believers) on the other. The administrator of the ordinance acts in the quality of Christ's minister, acts in his name, as representing him ; and stands in the place where Christ himself stood at the first administration of this sacrament, and in the original institution of the ordinance. Christ, by the speeches and actions of the minister, makes a solemn profession of his part in the covenant of grace : He exhibits the sac. rifice of his body broken and his blood shed ; and in the minister's offering the sacramental bread and wine to the commu. nicants, Christ presents himself to the believing communi. sants, as their propitiation and bread of life ; and by these