« PoprzedniaDalej »
in the free exercise of those principles, unbiased by any extrinsic cause, to hate a single principle of which a moral being is made, then it is in his power to hate the fountain from 'whence those principles come. Therefore," he who loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.”
Again. It is justly said, “ He who loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen ?" (For we can see God only by understanding the nature and properties of those things which he has made.) Therefore, if a soul could love God, and hate that creature who is made in the image or similitude of God, it would seem that the effect was dissimilar to its cause ; which is utterly impossible. “ This commandment have we received from him, that he who loveth God, should love his brother also.” And it is presumed that no one need to be informed that they are all our brethren who possess the same moral principles with us, sprang from the same fountain, created by the same almighty being, and, of course, are the offspring of the same divine parent.
2. It must also be evident that the otions of this divine affection, or the heavenly principle of brotherly love in us, are subject to that all governing power by which the Deity rules in the hearts of the children of men, and turns them whithersoever he will as the rivers of water are turned. All the moral faculties are governed by some extrinsic cause, and the moral action is as certain to follow the moral cause as the rays of the sun are certain to produce light and heat.
It is not in the province of our wills to say we will or will not, love the same object under the same circumstances, and at the same time ; for what we love we have no power to hate, and what we hate, we have no power to love. It is true, we may hate an object to day, in consequence of being deceived in its quality, and being undeceived, to-morrow, love the same object ; but even in that case we should never love what we now hate, in the abstract, for the change is wrought in the understanding of the creature, and not ia the principle of his affections, nor in the olject of his love,
3. When we are brought to feel the operations of this heavenly principle of brotherly love, in deed and in truth, we find it constitutes in our understandings a harmony of all the rational powers of the mind, and enables us to discover the eternal union of all moral principles.
4. No argument is necessary to prove, to one whose heart has ever been touched with the fine feelings of the di. vine affection, that this brotherly love, in its effects, is the centre of all our rational happiness. For "he who loveth not his brother is a murderer, and we know that no murder. er hath eternal life abiding in him.”
5. Brotherly love is obsequious to its immediate cause, which (as has been shown) is our experience producing knowledge of the true nature of objects ; agreeably to which knowledge, we love ourselves in others; i. e. in our children ; in our fellow. nature ; beholding one universal brotherhood concentrated in Jesus Christ, our elder brother, the head of every man, who is the image of God, and the brightness of his Father's glory--the fountain of love and unbounded goodness-in which divine image, man was created.
Having spoken briefly of some of the causes of brotherly love, which may be all found on rational principles, agreeable to the nature and system of things, we shall proceed, as was proposed,
II. To illustrate the effects of brotherly love, arguing that those effects are perfectly consonant with their cause.
1. We may trace every blessing which we enjoy, and every good for which we hope, to the source of divine love: Even the holy religion which we profess is the product of the same divine principle. Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, is our brother and friend in a most sublime sense. He is the “ first borq among many brethren." He
was made in all points like unto his brethren." He said, to his father and to our father, to his God and to our God," I will declare thy name unto my brethren, and in the midst of the congregation will I sing praises unto thee." An apostle, speaking of this elder brother of human nature, says, “Who loved us, and gave himself for us.” And we may justly observe, that all that our blessed redeemer has done for mankind is the effect of love. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son-who came not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. “ God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Thus we may see that it was love which brought the Savjour into this world of sin and sorrow; it was love which warmed his heart with pity for sinners ; it was love which engaged him to oppose the religion of those who taught for doctrine the traditions of men, and who trusted in themselves that they were righteous while they despised others; it was love that moved him to teach openly in the synagogues of the Jews, although he knew they went about to kill him. It was this eternal principle of brotherly love which fired his soul with zeal divine, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, granting liberty to captives, and the opening of the prison doors to them who were bound. It was love which caused him to submit to the railings and persecutions of the contumacious, and to seek the salvation of his eneinies. It was love to his brethren of the human family which enabled him to endure the cross for us, and despise the shame. It was love which was stronger than death, which many waters could not quench, neither floods drown, which triumphed in his dying breath, and enabled him to look with compassion on his murderers and persecutors, crying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." These, my brethren and friends, are some of the glorious effects of brotherly love, and it will be easy to discover that they all correspond with their antecedent cause; to wit, the nature of the first principle, God. We have before seen that love is universal ; like the sun, it emits its rays in every direction; and we may here see that its effects are so likewise. If those works of love, of which we have been speaking, were done for all men, as the holy scriptures positively declare,' then they agree with the nature of love, according to that wisdom which is from above, which is without partiality : but if it could be proved that the works of love and grace, done by Christ for sinners, were done but for a few of those who need his mercy, would it not be a sufficient proof that he did not love so extensively as the existence of those moral principies which in themselves are divinely lovely ? And would not such a supposition be attended with another completely destructive of the system of divine revelation ? Most certainly it would ; for then all those positive testimonies of the Mediator's giving himself a ranson for all, tasting death for every man, giving himself to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, &c. would be void of truth and unworthy of trust. For who can put trust or confidence in any system, if its most plain and positive assertions do not mean as they say? It is an establishod law of nature that the same causes, all circumstances alike, must always produce the same effects; and therefore it must be granted that this established law will always keep every effect in perfect conformity to the cause that producedit. From the foregoing premises we may rationally con. cludė, that, if Jesus loved only a few of mankind, he died only for that few; but if he loved many, he died for many ; and if he loved all, then it is no more than reasonable to believe that he "gave himself a ransom for all,” yea, tasted death for every man,” according to the scriptures : and in believing this, we only believe that the effect corresponds with its cause.
O my fellow sinners! Let me entreat you to take one af. fectionate look at that blessed cross ; and there behold, by an eye of faith, our blessed Saviour in his labors of love! See him in the travail of his soul for us! Behold his bleeding hands of mercy extended to a thief on the right hand and on the left ! See his soul in anguish, fraught with the keenest sensations of love and grief, patiently bearing the rage
and enmity, the scoffs, and the jeers of the ignorant and profane, while the whole house of Israel with the fulness of the Gentiles were engraven on his heart and borne on his shoulders! See him carrying us safely through the dark valley of the shadow of death, and landing the whole humanity on the eternal shores of life and immortality ; opening, in the valley of destruction, a door of everlasting hope! These, these my brethren, are the effects of brotherly love manifested through Jesus, the head of every man ; and they contain the mysteries of that everlasting gospel into which the angels desire to look. O celestial fountain of brotherly love! With what similitude may I represent thee, or with what comparison mayest thou be compared ? Thou art a Sampson for strength, a Moses for meekness, a Job for patience, a lion for conquest, a lamb for sacrifice, blood for atonement, water for cleansing, spirit for quickening, and the bread of life for the immortal soul !
2. The happy effects of brotherly love in human society very justly claim our attention. It is brotherly love which warms that sacred friendship, in which the faithful enjoy the confidence of each other. Love only inspires the heart to true devocion ; it subdues the passions, softens the affections, discovers a reciprocal interest in truth and fidelity,
and thus prepares the soul for the blessings of real friend. ship. It is love alone that levels the lofty mountains of human pride, bowing its summit to the valley of humiliation. It is able to bring the greatest kings, princes and potentates of the earth to a level with their vassals. It is this alone which knocks off the galling chains of slavery from the worn with fatigue, who sigh for liberty. Love regards equally the rights of all men; hence it is the foundation of a liberal constitution, and just and equitable laws. Love teaches men how to be free, how to be independent ; uniting in one social compact for their mutual interest, and submitting to the voice of the majority for the harmony of the whole. Love selects none for confidential friends but the virtuous and the good, whose hearts become knitted and joined together by that indissoluble chain of sincere affection, like the hearts of David and Jonathan, or the heart of one man, which nothing but death can dissolve. Love breaks down the middle walls of partition, which have been built up by the traditions and superstitions of men, between professed christians, and enables them to walk heart and hand together, among whom no contention should ever exist but that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who most can excel in acts of brotherly love.
Let us look at the effects of brotherly love in a family circle. See the heads of a family, whose hearts have been made one by undissembled sincere affection, perfectly united, living together in complete harmony, forming but one interest, pursuing but one object, to wit, the mutual happiness of each. See the parental affection descending down to their children, awakening their moral faculties, brightening up the principles of brotherly love in their infant and tender minds, assimilating every soul, exhilerating every affection, concen trating all their desires in one ultimate object, to wit, the supreme happiness of all; and dispensing with every grati. fication that is inconsistent with this ultimate end. Such is the habitation of virtuous friendship, where brotherly love, as a first principle stimulates each individual to action. The voice of one becomes the voice of all, and the happiness of each individual is the general welfare. Let it not then be supposed that our subject is beautiful only in theory, for it is much more so in practice. When love is the reigning passion of the human heart it bridles every turbulent tem