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ii. 8.) So also St. Peter :- Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love with a pure heart fervently. (1 Pet. i. 22.)
St. John declares-He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and THERE' IS NONE OCCASION OF STUMBLING in him his conduct neither gives offence to the church, nor reflects discredit on his fession :--but he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John, ii. 10, 11.)
Again :In this the children of God ARE MANIFEST, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God, neither he that loveth not his bros ther : for this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that ye love one another. . (1 John, iii. 10, 11.) And yet further :This is his commandment, That ye should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (V. 23.) Of such importance is this great duty, that we presently find it again inculcated :
-This commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also. (Chap. iv. 21.)
Such are the injunctions with which this duty of charity is enforced-such the appeals that are made from its visible operation to the minds of mankind in general.
The same great lesson is so emphatically and so repeatedly impressed, that from hence some men have been ready to suppose that charity comprises nearly the whole of practical religion, and consequently have circumscribed the peculiar duty of Christians, by the limits of inutual forbearance and brotherly love.
Without charity, it is true, there can be no perfect union amongst Christians; and Christianity itself, as it is taught in the Gospel, cannot subsist without it. But one part of religion, though a principal part, will not stand for another, much less for the whole. To guard, therefore, against any mistake of this kind, the apostles, in recommending to their converts the practice of this virtue, have taken care to recommend it in conjunction with faith and obedience.
Watch ye, saith St. Paul to the Corin
thians--Watch ye : stand fást in the faith : quit you like men : be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren--ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints--that ye submit yourselves to such, and to every one that helpeth withi us and laboureth. (1 Cor. xvi. 134-16.) Here we perceive the great duty of charity guarded, on the one hand, with the necessity of vigilance and stedfastness in the profession of the true faith; and, on the other, with the duty of submission to the authorised ministers of the Gospelto every one who helped and laboured with the apostles. And the great apostle of the Gentiles, in the midst of hisi afflictions, is comforted by the good tidings which he receives of the faith 'as well as of the charity of the Thessalonians, (1 Thess. I. 6.); to whom he says, in another place-We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you toward each other aboundeth. (2 Thess. i. 3.)
Timothy receives instruction, That it is required of Christian matrons to continue in faith, in charity, and in holiness, with sobriety. (1 Tim. ii. 15.) And to the same apostolical bishop it is given in chargeBe thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim. iv. 12.)
In like manner Titus is commandedSpeak thou the things which become sound doctrine–That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in the faith, in charity, in patience. (Tit. ii. 1, 2.)
And to the whole church of Christ this charge is delivered by St. Peter:-Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance ; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness ; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. i. 5, 8.)
From all which it is plain that, as without charity it is impossible to be a practical Christian, so, on the other hand, no degree of this divine virtue, no liberality of spirit, nó overflowing of benevolence, will constitute a true disciple of Christ, unless it be attended with purity of faith and sincerity of obedience.
Charity is not to be cultivated instead of anyone Christian gráce; but it is the ornament and perfection of them all. And being intimately blended with the essential requisites of pure religion, it becomes the great principle of harmony and union in the flock of our Redeemer.
Our Lord, as we have already seen, prayed to his - Almighty Father, that all the members of his church might be made perfect in one. What was to be the general connecting bond of this perfect union? It was Christian charity; or that mutual love and benevolence which Christ had enjoined to all his disciples. Hence St. Paul charges the church of Colosse-Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness--(Col. ji. 14:)--that is, of the perfect union which our Lord requires amongst his disciples. And the same apostle reminds the Ephesians to be continually attentive to this great and essential duty, '