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ciples, and to abound in love one towards another. In what way can you expect to enjoy the blessings of this union, if
yourselves to be estranged from one another by a contentious disposition, and cherish, not the temper of peace, but of division and discord ? Guard carefully against the first approach of the spirit of dissension, that you may continue to possess the benefits of Christian communion, and that the blessed Spirit, by which you are made one in Christ Jesus, may remain and abide with you.
(4.) He sums up this appeal, as it respects the privileges of his converts, by the general remark, If there be any bowels and mercies.
“ The gospel of Christ is in all parts a dispensation of mercy; its effects are all calculated to display the riches of the goodness and mercy of God. If then in all this exhibition of unspeakable grace; if in the compassion of God the Father, who devised a scheme of redemption for mankind, when exposed to the danger of eternal destruction; if in the condescension of God the Son, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, and died upon the cross, that we might live for ever; if in the communications of the Blessed Spirit,
purifying our minds, and preparing us for our eternal home; if in all these manifestations of immortal love, there be any mercy; if yet farther, among the disciples of Jesus, who sacrificed every thing which the world calls great, and counted not their lives dear unto them, that they might convey to you the blessings of salvation ; if again, among those who have believed through their word, there be towards their fellow Christians any portion of that compassion, which you have thus seen so strikingly exemplified, be ye like minded, having the same love. How unworthy would a contrary spirit be of Him who has called
you to the grace in which ye stand, and of those faithful ministers who have jeoparded their lives in your service, anxious only that you might be delivered from the wrath to come, and obtain the salvation of your souls. ”
(5.) There is yet a remaining consideration, by which, if other motives should fail, the apostle endeavours to reach them, viz. on the ground of their affection to himself. How cordially they were attached to their great teacher, and how richly he deserved their attachment, is evident from every part of this epistle; and if the argument used in this last instance, be in itself less powerful than those which he had urged already, there were perhaps not a few of them upon whom it might nevertheless produce a more striking effect. He exhorts them then by such principles and dispositions as he here recommends; fulfil ye my joy; as if he had said, “I well know how desirous you are, from gratitude, for the word preached to you, and the blessings derived from my ministry, to afford me all possible satisfaction: what pleasure then have I which can be compared with my delight at your progress in the things of God? I have no greater joy than to hear that ту children walk in the truth,* and especially to know that they keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace :f this is the reward which I look for upon earth ; let me have this testimony of your love, and I will joy and rejoice with you all; £ I shall be convinced that I have not laboured in vain; I shall then under every affliction, and even in these bonds in which I write, turn with delight to you, as my hope and crown of rejoicing, and gladly bear witness that ye are my glory and joy."'
(1.) Of how little value is even religious knowledge without Christian charity.
The same apostle has told us in another place, though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. * God forbid that we should think lightly of any doctrine connected with the nature and providence of the Most High, or with the dispensation of the gospel of Christ; but if it be true, that according to the state of the heart is the state and character of the man, then is it clear that the most. accurate notions on the theory of religion, and the ways
and purposes of God, will of themselves be of no value in his sight. When a person is just opening his eyes to the wonderful things of the divine law, and the mystery of the gospel, every new discovery which he believes himself to have made, is extremely attractive, and he is often anxious to explore, as far as possible, each path of knowledge which opens before him. But let me intreat such a person to consider the course which our Lord and His apostles would advise him to pursue. Let him seek in the first place the kingdom of God and His righteousness ; let him
* I Cor. xiji. 2, 3.
seek to have his heart purified by the grace of God, and his affections brought into formity with the mind of Christ; let him
pray first to be made a true Christian, by the renewal of his mind, and then in the spirit of pure religion, let him seek to be a wise one. This is the way to solid and genuine piety; if he commence in the opposite way, if he first labour to procure a store of theoretical knowledge while he has no concern about his own salvation, if he prefer the enlightening of his understanding to the sanctification of his heart, then although he may indeed for a time obtain that honour which cometh of men yet, there is great danger lest he should live and die without ever obtaining that which cometh of God, a stranger to that charity which is of the very essence of religion, and which never faileth.
(2.) If we are correct in ascribing such importance to the unity of sentiment and of heart which is here recommended by St. Paul, how carefully should we guard against all dispositions and habits which tend to disturb it.
It is particularly with this view, that the apostle proceeds to state in the following verses, Let nothing be done through strife and vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other