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the language of the text. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
I speak, as in a Christian kingdom; and looking at such passage, as it may be connected
(in a practical sense only) with that affecting lanEphes. iv. guage of the same Apostle elsewhere; There 4-6.
is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Let the principle be called the “ sense of real bro“therhood ;” made of force, as an obligatory principle of active duty, by virtue of a real, though mysterious union of all Christians with Christ, the head of all; and let the notion of it be brought (to ascertain what practical meaning it
will bear) to the test of that language of our SaMatth. xxv. viour, in which he says, Inasmuch as ye have
done this, or that, unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto ME a.
a. It is not to be denied, that all principles of " faith” may be occasionally overpowered by the infirmities of nature ; and so may this. Yet, where faith is in its proper and healthful operation, the Christian, with that sense of brotherhood, which we intend, present to his mind, amidst the intercourse of daily life, will no more dare to be unjust, or oppressive, or malicious to another, than he would willingly injure or offend the Head of all, in his own proper person. The positive, practical reality of this brotherhood of faith will have become one of his familiar perceptions. He cannot account for, or explain, either its extent, or the manner of its union,
Now it is manifest, that the representation of Christian brotherhood involved in the text describes a real, existing state of things, as far as re
any more than be can solve any other “ mystery." Why should he ? or why need he? But he will become deeply sensible of what importance to himself his behaviour towards fellow-members of the same body is; seeing that every social action of a Christian is á subject of his Lord's peculiar, personal interest; and that therefore he must not give offence to any brother wilfully, or by evil-doing, lest he should even do wrong unto the Lord that bought him !
Such representation may not at once be understood. It requires much thought, and severe inward calculation of the tenor of our spiritual calling. It assumes an actual, present influence of a belief in the high doctrine of the comMUNION OF SAINTS ; and this is no easy point of faith to receive with understanding: perhaps, because it is a doctrinë not commonly interpreted as a rule of practice; and therefore does not so readily as others approve itself to the “ reason” in respect of its mysterious bearings, until its living power has been felt, in the operation by which it comes in contact with the necessities of daily life. .
. . . . Notwithstanding the length of this note, I cannot resist the gratification of transcribing here (I hope, at once for its illustration and support) the following passage from a volume of Sermons lately published. The sabject is-" The duty of “ attending the sick ;" on which the preacher having spoken, continues thus ; “ It is not merely the poor sufferer, whose “ distresses have awakened our pity, who is now relieved ; “ but, strange and mysterious transfer! it is Christ who re“ceives the benefit, and Christ who vouchsafes to acknow“ ledge it. Hear his own words." —And then, after having quoted from St. Matthew the verses just referred to, he concludes : « Whatever motives to deeds of pity, natural rea“son, or right feeling, as it is called, may suggest'; strong as “ they are, and inany think that they are adequate to tHeir
lates to the mere outward frame of society. This is what no person will deny ; in whatever measure he may withhold assent from the doctrinal inferences which we draw from it. The words evidently acknowledge a variety of talent and of station, such as the community of real life exhibits. And we think, that, by such acknowledgment, the passage recognizes and justifies a right use of any corresponding artificial distinctions, which “ experience” may have proved to be the best preservatives of social order. But what concerns us to inquire into now, regards its inward and effectual power ; viz. how far
it affords to Christian brethren, of each several vii. p. 204. degree, “ a right estimate of themselves and of
“their neighbours ; and, consequently, a just “ rule and law of life in their passage through " the world,"
There was instanced, in a former Lecture, what we conceive to be a partial case, best understood by reference to this estimate, having its result in “ charity," when we spoke concerning the diversities of power and of talent among the ministers of our own visible Church. Let the view be extended now, to other, more general branches of society.
o end, they all fall short of this. For this, we are indebted to
Let it be considered, then, what the world's want, and consequent unhappiness, is, which arises from this cause—“ that brethren of a com“ mon nature will not respect each other as they « should;" that they will not duly acknowledge the instrumentality of all, under divine wisdom, towards accomplishing general good; nor feel the truth-that “ not one single creature, re“ deemed unto a common hope, is worthy to be " trampled on, or despised."
I. §. 1. And first let us take an instance, where such disorder arises from the want of consistent humility and justice.
I will not here make appeal to acts of open violence and palpable oppression, but consider some of the consequences only of that disposition so very prevalent, which-while it will perhaps condemn the doctrine of man's “ corrup“ tion,” carried to any height, as a vision of enthusiasm, will yet coldly and systematically behave to fellow-creatures upon the most positively implied calculation, that “ all are profli“ gate and worthless ;" only to be kept in order by severity and terror; or preserved in honesty, only as they are removed out of the reach of temptation.
1. To take a case that is continually presenting itself, and of which all, with common consent, are ready to complain, as involving one of life's greatest wearinesses ; let an estimate be
made, under our present thought, of the manner in which so many Christian people discharge the relative duties of “ mastership,” and “servi“ tude.” Is it not so, that want of principle produces, on the one hand, a heartless and unthinking tyranny? such as cannot possibly receive (in ordinary cases) more than that corresponding eye-service, which alone it deserves : and on the other, a degenerate and servile spirit of fear ? a fear, whose subjects, being suffered to forget the surpassing value of the soul, and being never made sensible of their own strict equality in spiritual right, and consequent responsibility, with the rulers whom they serve in matters temporal, are led to barter every better principle of fidelity in exchange for mere increase of worldly advantage, and freer personal licence, in the seasons when their task of mechanical duty is suspended !
2. Again ; let consideration be directed to the far too common manner in which the great relations of “rich” and “ poor" are mutually fulfilled: in particular, to that painful sight, which it is to be feared) often checks the hand of bounty; " the acceptance of benefits followed " by the grossest ingratitude.” Yet, why does it befal thus? It is not to be thought, that the whole blame lies exclusively at their door who are the objects of benevolence. It is more probable, that unthankfulness thus comes to prevail,