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But virtue is the only original, voluntary, and supreme, cause of happiness to the universe. Virtue, therefore, delights in virtue, as being the great cause of that, which it supremely loves. As virtue is the voluntary cause of happiness; it is, of course, supremely excellent and lovely; and is accordingly loved by all virtuous beings.

Hence it is evident, that Brotherly Love, although not virtue in the original or abstract sense, is yet an affection eminently virtuous ; and is, therefore, strongly enjoined, and greatly commended, in the Scriptures. This is the love, which, without a formal command, David exercised towards the saints, whom he styles the excellent of the earth, and in whom, he says, was all his delight; which the captive Psalmist exercised towards Zion, the collection of the saints; and sooner than refuse which, he wishes his right hand may forget its cunning, and his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth. This is the love, which inspired the Prophets, particularly Isaiah, with zeal, and joy, and triumph, when beholding in vision the future prosperity of the Church, and its glorious extension over the habitable world.

The Distinction between Brotherly Love and Complacency, generally understood, is this: the former is exercised by the disciples of Christ towards each other; the latter by all virtuous beings towards all such beings. This is the love, which God exercises towards all his children; the love, exercised by angels towards those, for whom they cheerfully condescend to be ministering Spirits ; viz. those, who shall be heirs of salvation.

Towards God, the complacency of his virtuous creatures is so eminent an exercise of affection, as in a manner to occupy the whole soul. When we remember the moral perfection of God, we are prone to forget his importance as the supreme Intelligent, and the Possessor of supreme happiness; and naturally confine our thoughts to the glorious Excellence of his nature. We love him pre-eminently for this excellence; and scarcely recollect, that he is an object of supreme benevolence. Indeed, whenever the beings loved are wholly virtuous, we are apt to lose our Benevolence in our Complacency; and to be scarcely conscious of any other affection, besides our delight in their excellence of character. When, indeed, we have received peculiar benefits from them, our Gratitude is excited; and often powerfully. But our benevolence, though always exercised, is not unfrequently unobserved by our minds.

Thus have I summarily considered this attribute of a sanctified mind. I shall now proceed to derive from this subject a few

REMARKS. Ist. If the things, which have been observed concerning this subject, are just; it follows, that we ought carefully to try our moral character by this great scriptural standard.


By him, who hopes that he is entitled to eternal life, no question can be asked, of higher moment, than whether he is a Christian. To resolve this question, the Scriptures point out no method more obviously, or certainly, effectual, than that, which has been here mentioned. We know, that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. A good man is a peculiar object; and distinct from all others. The materials, of which his goodness is constituted, are generally capable of being truly understood, and strongly realized. If seen, they cannot but be hated by a bad, and loved by a good, mind. Our love and hatred are engaged, almost only, by moral beings. Doctrines, Precepts, and Ordinances, the Sabbath, the Sanctuary, the Word of God, and the things opposed to them, may, indeed, be in a certain sense objects of these affections; but this can exist only in a subordinate degree, and, perhaps, always with a reference to those moral beings, with whom they are connected. Thus the Sabbath is hated, or loved, merely as a season devoted to God, who appointed it. The same observation is equally applicable to other things of the like nature.

But Intelligent beings; viz. God and his rational creatures ; we love, or hate, for what they are. We love, or hate, them directly; and not for the relation, which they bear to some other object of these affections. Men, particularly, being like or unlike ourselves, of our own party or an opposite, who act, or refuse to act, with or against us, with and against whom we act under the strong influence of sympathy, and who are realized by the powerful impressions of sense; are more easily, uniformly, and strongly, regarded with these emotions, in ordinary circumstances, than any other created beings. Our emotions towards them, therefore, are immediate; arise spontaneously; are vigorous; and mingle with all our views, of every kind. Good men love good men of course, and necessarily. Wicked men never exercise complacency towards good men, as such ; they often love them with natural affection; or because they are their friends; or because they are useful to them; but not for their characteristical excellence, or for their resemblance to Christ. Good men love them, as the natural taste relishes sweetness or fragrance, the rose or the honeycomb. Good men love them for themselves; for the moral character, which they possess; and independently of all other considerations. Wicked men in their consciences approve of goodness, and of good men; and cannot, without violence done to their consciences, disapprove of them. But in this approbation the heart has no share. The hearts of wicked men are radically opposed to virtue; and of course hate it, and, so far as their virtue is concerned, all those by whom it is possessed. Hence have flowed the calumnies, sneers, ridicule, resentment, opposition, and persecution, which good men have received from their enemies ever since the world began.

From these things it is evident, that the love of good men furnishes a criterion, uncommonly well calculated to decide our character, as being either good or evil. Whatever will aid us in a case of such magnitude must be of high importance; and ought to be employed for our benefit with earnestness and fidelity. From the Scriptures, and indeed from the nature of the case also, it is evident, that Brotherly Love furnishes us with peculiar assistance for the determination of a point, so interesting to every Christian. How attentively ought every man, then, and especially every one who hopes, that himself is a Christian, to examine his character by this standard. Let each ask himself, “Do I love good men? Do I love their goodness, their Christianity? Do I choose their company? Do I seek their conversation? Do I delight in their sentiments and conduct ? Do I pray for their prosperity, their holiness, and their salvation ?” if these questions can be truly answered in the affirmative; we are children of God. If not; we are still in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity.

2dly. From these considerations we discern the peculiar Wisdom and Goodness of Christ in establishing a Church in the world.

In the Church of Christ the body of good men are gathered together; united in one family; placed in one obvious view; and prepared to render, as well as to receive, Brotherly Love, and all its kind offices. Every affection flourishes by exercise and repetition only. Where the proper objects of our affections are found, they are exercised of course: where such objects are not found, they decay, and die, of themselves. In families, the natural, domestic affections of man find their proper objects. Conjugal love, therefore, parental tenderness, brotherly and sisterly kindness, and filial piety, shoot up here, and thrive, and blossom, and bear fruit; and bear it abundantly.

In the Church, the family named after Christ, are assembled the objects of Brotherly Love, or Evangelical Complacency. Here such, as are the subjects of this exalted attribute, find those presented to them, on whom it may be exercised and repeated. Accordingly here, and in the nature of things here only, can this affection live and prosper. Here, on the one hand, virtue is daily seen, approved, and loved; and, on the other, complacency interchanged, strengthened, and enjoyed. While those, who are thus the objects of Love, are by every motive, which can reach a virtuous mind, invited, animated, and compelled, to render themselves more deserving of this affection by improving and adorning those excellencies, which are its immediate objects. Brotherly Love becomes, here, a peculiarly refined and glorious friendship; a bond of perfection, uniting them more and more unto the end.' Thus, by the establishment of a Church in the world, has Christ provided for the existence, continuance, and improvement, of this elevated affection. In the mean time, as Brotherly Love exists in this heaven-appointed family; so in the bosom of the same family it

operates, unceasingly, in all the amiable and useful methods, directed by the Scriptures, and pointed to by itself with a magnetic influence. Here it reproves all the variations from truth, all the deviations from rectitude, to which imperfect man, even in his best estate, is liable on this side of the grave. Here it approves, and confirms, every thing that is vindicable and lovely: Here it prays for the strength, amendment, comfort, peace, and joy, of brethren. Here it weeps with them in their sorrows, rejoices in their joys, and smiles on all their delightful progress in holiness; refines in the view of their refinement, exults in their advancement to immortal life, and expands its wings for the final flight to everlasting glory:

3dly. This subject forcibly impresses on our minds the Excellence, Glory, and Happiness, of heaven.

In this apostate and melancholy world, wise men, in all ages, have seen, and fell, that Virtue has been a stranger, a pilgrim, and in many instances an outcast also. Her friends have been' few and commonly powerless; her enemies mighty and strong, bitter and distressing; her cause unpopular and hated; her arguments lost in deaf ears; and her entreaties repelled by hearts of marble. It is reasonable, it is desirable, it is “devoutly to be wished," and prayed for, that Virtue may somewhere find a home; a settled residence; a kind welcome; real friends; and final safety. These blessings she has rarely found in this foreign region, this unnatural climate; and, at the best, she has found them but for a moment. Accordingly, she has ever cast her eyes upward, towards another and better country. From that country she has received tidings, which cannot deceive, and which assure her of a welcome, and final, reception. She is informed, that there she was born and nursed; and that in this world she is only a visiter and stranger; destined to finish the pilgrimage allotted, and then to return to her native residence, there to dwell for ever. With rapture she has learned, that there all her friends will be finally gathered; and that her Father and everlasting friend is there ready to receive her to the arms of infinite and unchangeable love.

In that glorious world, a vast and immortal Church, formed of those who are all brethren, inhabits the delightful regions, destined to be its eternal residence. In the innumerable millions, of which this great assembly, this nation of brethren, this kingdom of Jehovah, is composed, Brotherly love is the commanding principle of action. In Angels it has glowed, and brightened, ever since the morning of creation dawned over the vast abyss of darkness and solitude. In the general assembly of the first-born it is made a test of their character, and a foundation of their admission into heaven. Inasmuch

ye have done good unto one of the least of these my brethren, is by Christ himself announced, as the peculiar term of admission : and Inasmuch as ye did it not, as the term of final exclusion. In the cold and dreary region of this world, the spark was you. II.



scarcely kindled ; and prolonged its existence with difficulty. The flar, in which it was kept from final extinction, smoked merely, without rising into a fame. But it was never finally quenched. At the great examination, it was found still a living spark; and its existence was scen, acknowledged, and proclaimed. Transferred to heaven, it began there to kindle with new and immortal lustre; and was set in that constellated firmament of living and eternal splendours; which are all glorious with inherent light, although one star differeth from another star in glory.

Of that brilliant world, that region where all things shine, and live, and flourish, and triumph, for ever, the beauty, the glory, the excellence, is eminently this divine affection. All are brethren; all are loved as brethren. All are divinely amiable and excellent friends. Every one possesses the virtue, which is loved; and the complacency, by which it is loved. Every one, conscious of unIningled purity within, approves, and loves, himself for that divine image, which in complete perfection, and with untarnished resemblance, is instamped on his character. Each, in every view which he casts around him, beholds the same glory shining, and brightening, in the endless train of his companions : One in nature, but diversified without end, in those forms and varieties of excellence, by which the original and eternal Beauty delights to present itself to the virtuous universe. Here every one, conscious of being entirely lovely, and entirely loved, reciprocates the same love to that great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, and which fills the immeasurable regions of heaven. Out of this character grows a series ever varying, ever improving, of all the possible communications of beneficence, fitted in every instance only to interchange, and increase the happiness of all. In the sunshine of Tofinite complacency, the light of the New Jerusalem, the original source of all their own beauty, life, and joy, all these happy nations walk for ever; and, transported with the lifegiving influence, unite in one harmonious and eternal hymn to the great Author of their enjoyment: Blessing, and honour, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever.


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