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in mind when he wrote the words, Owe no man anything but to love one another. For, brethren, to love one another—to care for other people as we care for ourselves, to consider other people as we consider ourselves, to do nothing to other people that we should not like to have done to us, to have our hearts emptied of all envy, hatred, malice, and unkindness, and filled with tenderness, compassion, and charity, toward those around us—this is the only way to keep clear of debt, this is the only way to meet the claims which from a thousand quarters spring up and press upon us daily—this is to fulfil—and nothing short of this will fulfil our duty to our neighbour. As we read to-day, All the commandments are briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. So far, then, of one chief part in a Christian's preparation. If when we come to die we would die in peace, unharassed by regrets, we must, while in life, be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love. Nothing will stand us in the place of this at the bar of Christ's judgment. Not even the love of God will excuse the want of charity towards our brethren. Let us then cultivate all we can this foremost of the Christian graces. Let us be quick on all occasions to do good. In all our intercourse with one another let us take for our guiding rule the word of our Lord—His new commandment—As I have loved you, ye also love one another. But again: even love when most active is not all our preparation. It is required of under His Gospel, to be strict and regular in our lives; to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. And so in this same Epistle St. Paul goes on to urge the practice of personal godliness; the abstaining from all that is base, and sensual, and defiling, and the following after that purity and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. Plain counsel for us, brethren, and such as we can all understand. God grant that we may follow it ! God grant when tempted, as we fear must often be the case— to any of these evil practices, to cheating, or to drunkenness, or to light behaviour, or to unneighbourly quarrelling, we may have grace to overcome the tempter, we may shut the door of our hearts upon him, with the thought that the sin into which he would lead us, kills the soul; that for such things—it is clearly laid down in the Bible—for such things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. There is yet one further precept bearing on the preparation of a Christian, which St. Paul gives us in this Epistle. And it is one that includes all he had said before, Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, put on His righteousness, put on His humility, put on His patience, put on His self-denial, put on His obedience to God, put on His great love for man. Could we do this, then indeed no more were needed. But do it, at least in a degree, God helping us, we all are able. Would that all of us might be induced to try ! Would that between now and next Advent an effort were made by us all to put on more fully than we have yet done it, the Lord Jesus Christ | to make Him more our object of love, and trust, and imitation. For so surely as we did this, the way would become easier to us than at present; our path would be less beset by stumbling-blocks; we should walk more at liberty; be more free from distressing doubts and fears; more strong to resist temptation, more steadfast and persevering in well-doing. And so walking, so living, we should be at all times ready. Death might come hastily upon us, but it would not take us unawares. With Christ in our hearts—Christ formed in us—the Spoiler would have small power to hurt us. He could not take from us the armour in which we trust; he could not prevent us saying, even in the moment of our mortal agony, Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ /
Receiveye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
THE latter part of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans is among the most valuable portions of the New Testament. It deserves to be read and re-read till we have it by heart. For there we have the very essence of Christianity. There is enforced, with convincing earnestness, the great principle of mutual forbearance: the doctrine that the strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please themselves. There we are shown that what we all ought most to follow, most to aim at in all our intercourse, are things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
It is from this part of the great Epistle that my text is taken. And, before I apply it to our own wants, I will shortly state its connection with the Apostle's argument.
There were among the Christians at Rome two parties; a Jewish and a Gentile party. The former converted Jews, the latter brought into Christ's Church from among the heathen. The Jewish Christians were zealous observers of the Mosaic law : of its ceremonial as well as its moral precepts. They had been brought up in it from infancy, and could not easily see any portion of it set aside. Dear to them were its stated feasts, and solemn days of meeting. They observed, as their fathers had before them, the new moons and the sabbaths. They were careful not to eat of any forbidden meats: especially they held in abhorrence meat that, before it was exposed for sale, had been offered in sacrifice to an idol. But the Gentile party, who had no attachment to the law from early education, cared for none of these things. To them one day was as good as another; and all meats were alike acceptable and good for food. Thus differing in many points of daily use and habit, it was not to be wondered that the Jewish and Gentile Christians came to live very unharmoniously together. The Jewish party were offended at the license in which their Gentile brethren indulged—at their neglect of the Sabbath—at their free use of meats. These in turn mocked at the scruples of the Jews, and would not bear to be restrained in what they considered their lawful liberty. Hence the bond of peace was broken, and much strife and division, much hard judgment and unchristian bitterness, shewed itself in the Church: shewed itself among men who acknowledged one common Master, and who had all been baptized into the one body of Christ! Greatly did such conduct grieve the Apostle. He