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My disciples, if ye have love one to another.95 St. Peter exhorts Christians, See that ye love one another with a pure heart, fervently.96 St. Paul admonished, Let love be without dissimulation. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.97 St. John declared, We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren; he that loveth not his brother abideth in death.98 That the effect of these admonitions was not lost upon the primitive Christians, appears from the testimony which was borne by the heathen respecting them, who said among themselves, “See how these Christians love one another." Wherever love to Christ is in the heart, love to the brethren must exist in connexion with it. It is of this love that St. Peter speaks, when he says, Charity shall cover the multitude of sins; and therefore exhorts, Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves.96 Love conceals our offences or faults from the eyes of each other, so that we do not notice or observe them. And even when these faults are numerous, and cannot well escape observation, it leads to the exercise of patience and forbearance; because we are sensible of the multitude of our own transgressions against our heavenly Father, for which we have need to ask His forgiveness; and therefore we are willing to forgive others, as we hope to be forgiven ourselves.

96 | Peter i. 22; iv. 8.

97 Rom. xii. 9, 10.

98 1 John iii. 14.

The longsuffering of God towards us demands a suitable return; and it is thus only that we can evince our gratitude for it. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?99 When we think of the patience and longsuffering of Christ under what He endured "for us men and for our salvation,” we should be constrained most powerfully to love Him, and all our brethren, who are partakers of the benefit' by a living faith in His name. The love which His believing people are bound to exercise towards each other, is surely most reasonable, as well as conducive to their own happiness.

Christians are also to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This object they are continually to propose to themselves, that their bond of union may be strengthened by being at peace among themselves; and there may be no divisions, no schisms, no splitting into parties. The present state of the Christian church shows how needful it was that such an exhortation should be given. For how frequently does it appear that zeal is not governed by discretion in those who profess to have received the truth as it is in Jesus, in the love of it; and that the union of Christians, as one body in Christ, and every one members one of another, 3 is esteemed of very little consequence. The church of Christ is here called, The unity of the Spirit. It consists of those who are one in Christ Jesus,* as the members of His mystical body, in consequence of being influenced by the Holy Spirit. For if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.5 From the use of this epithet the apostle proceeds,

99 1 John iv. 20.

1 1 Tim. vi. 2. 2 Eph. iv. 21.

3 Rom. xii. 5. 4 Gal. iii. 28.

Secondly, To bring forward some considerations which are calculated to influence the minds of the children of God to a compliance with his exhortation. He says, There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. The church of Christ is one body; which being united to Him by a living faith, and having a true love to Him, groweth up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love. All the members of this body depend upon their Head for every supply that is needful for their nourishment and growth; and from Him they receive all the blessings of which they are partakers.

There is one Spirit, by whom the whole body of the church is governed and sanctified. On this subject the apostle says to the Corinthians, As the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body : so also is Christ, with regard to His mystical body the church. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For we are many members, yet but one body; the body of Christ, and members in particular, or of various parts of the same body. The Holy Spirit, of which they all partake, is the great bond of union between believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. By His gracious influence upon their souls, they are enabled to love Him who loved them and gave Himself for them; and also to live in love towards each other as the members of His mystical body, or the children of their Father which is in heaven. For every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of Him. By the grace of the Holy Spirit they are effectually called'; or, according to the language of our seventeenth Article of religion, “They be called according to God's purpose by His Spirit working in due season, and they through grace obey the calling;” so that their affections are engaged in the service of God, and their hopes are directed to things unseen and eternal.

5 Rom. viii. 9.

6 Eph. iv. 15, 16.

This being the work of the Spirit of God, it is added, Ye are called in one hope of your calling.

7 1 Corinthians xii. 12, 13, 20, 27.

8 1 John v. 1.

This is in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. It is the privilege of the humble believer in Christ, being influenced by the Spirit of His grace, to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.10 All who are taught of God hope to be made partakers of an exceeding and eternal weight of gloryll in the everlasting kingdom of their Lord and Saviour : and this is a good hope through grace, a well founded hope, which they may freely indulge; a hope that maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto10 them. This hope of eternal life, which the children of God possess, is derived from the Spirit of God; and the more it is cultivated in connexion with the consideration of the calling of which they are partakers, the more sensible will they be of their need of the influences of the Holy Spirit to enable them to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called; and the more diligently will they seek His grace, that they may indulge this hope with confidence and without presumption.

In pursuing this subject of the unity of the church of Christ, the apostle goes on to say, that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Jesus Christ is the one Lord, King, and Governor of His people, who rules in them and reigns over

9 Titus i. 2.

10 Rom. v. 2,5. 112 Cor. iv. 17. 12 2 Thess. ii. 16.

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