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for we are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour, praise, and glory, might, majesty, dominion, and thanksgiving, , for ever and ever. Amen.
LOVE THE TEST OF REGENERATION.
1 John iii. 14.
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we
love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
WE KNOW that we have passed from death unto life. These things are written that WE MAY KNOW that we have eternal life. The anointing which we have received of Him abideth in us.
We have an unction from the Holy One and we know all things. The sheep follow the shepherd, for they know his voice. He that believeth on the Son of God HATH
THE WITNESS IN HIMSELF.
By these and innumerable other passages it plainly appears that all who patiently consider the subject may have certain assurance that they are children of God, and heirs of salvation through Jesus Christ. The test by which we are to discover this, is, our loving the brethren. For love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God, for God is love. From the beginning to the end of this Epistle lore is the doctrine which St. John inculcates in the strongest terms; lore to the brethren, as the test of our having lore to God ; lore to the brethren, as the proof of our having passed from death unto life.
Seeing then that brotherly love is so indispensable in every regenerate person, we should use every means in our power to keep it alive.
The first means to be observed of keeping alive within us love to the brethren is praying for them. This we are plainly commanded to do in Scripture. Among creatures so full of imperfections as we are, it cannot be but that causes of offence must intervene. But if we heartily pray for those with whom the relations and circumstances of life bring us most into contact, that God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Ghost would
prosper them with all happiness and bring them to his everlasting kingdom,” this will overcome our resentments ; especially if we follow up our prayers by doing to them, for the Lord's sake, all acts of courtesy and kindness which may be in our power. This is the way to overcome evil with good. Prayer places even our worst enemies in such a point of view of indigence and weakness as will effectually disarm us of our anger against them.
Another means of keeping alive within us love to our brother is the habit of speaking well of him, if we speak of him at all. This is the best courtesy we can show him. What! Is there
nothing honourable about him ? Is he altogether vile? Is his Maker's image quite gone? Has he no redeeming qualities ? If we speak of him at all, let us speak of these. Have we not the seeds of good as well as of evil in our hearts? Why should we be always fixing upon the food that nourishes what is evil instead of the food that nourishes what is good? Why should we be like the vulture which feeds upon carrion instead of being like the bee which feeds upon flowers? Why should we be always hunting after faults instead of perfections? Would we keep alive within us love to the brethren ? Let us never speak either to him or of him but in a charitable manner and with a charitable intent.
Another means of keeping alive within us love to the brethren is general watchfulness over our hearts. We are often betrayed into bitterness (not to say hatred) towards our brethren from mere inadvertency. Idle conversation is a thing especially to be guarded against on this account. In many words there wants not sin. A mere word will often rouse up some latent animosity and kindle the sparks of bitterness and malice. But as we may extinguish a spark where we cannot smother a flame we should be watchful to avoid whatsoever engenders bitterness. We are remiss in opposing the beginnings of sin and negligent to observe the tendency of every motion of the heart. Names with which are associated some little grudge or cause of dislike ; things which occasion complaint or disgust
or disgust are mentioned as recklessly as if it were indifferent to us whether sweetness or bitterness were predominant in our hearts. Can we not avoid thoughts or conversation which tend to stir up the natural bitterness of the human heart? Must we always stand in need of a preacher to remind us that love, love is the fulfilling of the law, or of a voice to thunder in our ears whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer ; he that loveth not his brother abideth in death?
Another means of keeping alive within us love to our brother is to consider that he has impressed upon him the image of his Maker; that nothing incident to him can utterly deface this ; that fallen and depraved as he may be, he may repent, recover, and shine like the sun in the firmament.
Another means of keeping alive within us love to our brother is to consider that he is not only the image of our Creator, but the image of ourselves, and that we cannot altogether despise him without despising ourselves, because we resemble him so much.
Another means of keeping alive within us love to the brethren is to think of the good offices we receive at their hands, and that they are indeed the instruments, under Providence, of all or most of the good that we enjoy.
Another means of keeping alive within us love to the brethren is to remember our own transgressions and deficiencies towards the Lord instead