after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? The crime of this man and his wife consisted in this :-Having partially contributed to the common stock, they pretended to have laid down their whole pro perty; and upon this pretence they claimed, as members of the church, their full proportion in the distribution that was to be made: thus committing an act of fraud, under the semblance of an honest zeal for the cause of religion.

As it was naturally to be expected that similar offences would be committed by men of worldly minds; that such men would vainly pretend to the full privileges

of the church, without submitting to their share of its burdens; it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, that these dissembling professors should be punished with immediate death, as examples to all future ages. And if there be any Ananiases in the present day, they may be assured that the ways of God are still equal; that he does not punish one and excuse another for the same crime. Notwithstanding, therefore, many escape with impunity in this life, they only treasure up unto themselves wrath, against

the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Rom. ii. 5.) When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. (2 Thess. i. 7, 8.)

That we may all obtain mercy in that day, may God give us grace, not only to acknowledge the true faith of the Gospel of Christ, but also to observe all things whatsoever he commanded his apostles. So shall we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]




By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

THE great bond by which the faithful and

obedient members of Christ's church are preserved in perfect union and harmony with each other, is CHARITY, or mutual love: and without this, their fellowship cannot be complete. For men may assent to the same principles of faith, and, externally, observe the same rules of conduct, whilst they are wholly disunited amongst themselves in heart and affection. But Christianity extends its influence beyond the profession of the life, and the going of the feet: its great office is, to bind the heart with the bond of charity.


"And as charity is essentially necessary to the perfection of union, and the maintenance of harmony, in the flock of Christ, so it is most expressly and indispensably


enjoined in his Gospel.-A new commandment, says our Lord, I give unto you, that ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. And the observance of this duty is the most prominent characteristic of his true. followers; for it is added By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.


From these words it is evident that the virtue of mutual love was to manifest itself in the uniform and public behaviour of Christians; otherwise it could not become notorious, and the subject of remark to all men, or to the world in general. Its operation, therefore, was to pervade, not only the, spiritual and invisible, but also the visible church. Accordingly, our Lord prays for those who should believe in him through the word of his apostles, that is, for the Christians of all nations, and of all succeeding ages that they all may be one. And this he does with the same reference to the general conviction that must result from their visible and ostensible union-that the e world may know that thou hast sent me. (John, xvii. 21.)




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This principle of union, then, which is seated in the heart, the proper throne of charity, is required to diffuse its influence to the external behaviour of every member in the visible church of Christ; so as to render itself the subject of daily observation to all mankind. r W 11 4 4

And in this light the divine command of our great Master is understood and enforced throughout the writings of his apostles.omin

Walk in love, saith St. Paul, as Christ also loved us,` (Eph. v. 2.) WALK IN LOVE, that is, Regulate your deportment in the sight of the world, according to the principle of mutual charity. (It Or H And again: As touching brotherly love, ye need not that I should write unto you; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And, indeed, ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more that ye MAY WALK HONESTLY TOWARD THEM T WITHOUT. (1 Thess. iv. 9-12.) -If ye fulfil the royal law, saith St. James, according to the Scripture-Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyselfye do well. (James,


[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »