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"These things I command you, that ye love
one another.”—John xv. 17. Brotherly There are some persons
who can speak on certain Lour. subjects with marked propriety. We at once perceive that the apostle John, for example, could, with no ordinary appropriateness, insist upon the obligations of brotherly love, since he himself exhibited that feature of the Christian character in so conspicuous a manner. And if John, owing to this circumstance, nad a special right to enlarge upon such a topic, how much more may the blessed Jesus call attention to it, and make it a prominent subject of exhortation and appeal. For a loving Saviour to command us to love one another, with what special grace could He do so!
But this duty, by whomsoever enforced, is in itself pre-eminently reasonable. While we ought to regard all our fellow creatures with feelings of kindness and good-will, it is clearly incumbent upon us to cherish other and higher emotions towards those with whom we are united by spiritual bonds. The household of faith should evidently be regarded by us with an attachment of no common kind.
We are told that “every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.” Loving Christ, we shall love His people; and we shall be likely to love them just in proportion as we love Him. The lines in a circle, the nearer they approach the centre, become increasingly closer to each other. The loadstone cannot attract the particles of iron to itself, without bringing the entire mass into direct contact at the same time. And so with Christ, the great central object of the gospel system; if we live near to Him, we are sure to feel a nearness to all who are animated by His spirit, and bear His gracious image. And while He is a stumbling-stone and a rock of
offence to His enemies, He is a loadstone to His people, who are made willing in the day of His power. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” And as we are drawn to Him, so shall we, under the influence of the same attraction, be drawn to one another. The distance being removed between our souls and Himself as the Great Head, it will also be removed in reference to all the members of His mystical body.
We are to remember that love to the brethren should not be a matter of mere
a theory, or vague sentimentalism, but of a practical character. It was said by Jacob in his dying charge concerning one of his sons, “Naphthali is a hind let loose; he giveth goodly words." And it is to be feared that the brotherly affection of many consists altogether in kind expressions; they give “goodly words," but that is all. The scriptures, however, in the strongest manner condemn the love which exists in word and in tongue exclusively, and approve only
of that which is in deed and in truth. Hence we read of “ the labour of love." and when it is genuine and vigorous its labours will be abundant; it will be “full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and
and without hypocrisy." Love without activity is like fire without heat, a shadow without a substance, a fountain without a stream, a body without a soul. What James says of faith can be said of this its sister grace, “If it hath not works, it is dead, being alone."
Thou child of God, seek for an increase of brotherly affection, Yield thyself more and more to its compassionate promptings. Covet daily that richest of all luxnries, the luxury vi doing good. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive." Many of thy brethren in the Lord, fellow-heirs with thyself of the heavenly inheritance, are suffering great privations; and wilt thou not, from thy more ample means, extend to them