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measure of tenderness and concern for one another's ease and quiet, or, which is the same thing, to love one another as Christ has loved us, they would no more be in danger of biting and eating up one another.
Of all things, they would be in the least danger of rejoicing in evil; and being pleafed to get an ill tale to tell of their neighbours. The Apostle directs here to a very contrary course. When a brother is overtaken in a fault, it will not be sufficient to forbear insulting him, and rejoicing over him, which is so much the way of the world, but they must make it their business to restore him. The original word is very significant: it is to rettore a dislocated member to its proper place and position. All Christians are members of the body of Christ, by their union to him their head, and consequently members one of another; and every member has its proper place and use in the body, as the Apostle elegantly represents it, Rom. xii. 4. 5. and 1 Cor. xii. 12. do feqq.
The injunction is directed to those who are spiritual, to such as are born of the Spirit, who live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit; brethren in Chrift, and are living members of his
VOL. III. 3 H . . bodya
body. And indeed no body else will either have inclination or capacity for such a work: for it is a work of that kind, as cannot be managed without all the affection and tenderness of a brother. They are to restore such an one in the Spirit of meekness. The first office of brotherly love is faithfulness. Not to suffer sin upon our brother, but by all means to rebuke him, was a precept of the law of Mofes, Lev.xis. 17.; and what is very remarkable, the neglect of it is called bating one's brother in his heart. The hatred may not be so direct as to wish him ill, much less to do him ill: but it certainly argues a want of that due concern, and brotherly love which is always watchful for our brother's good, and much more against his suffering any damage which we can prevent; and fin unrepented of is without all doubt the greatest damage one can fuftain. By no means may he be suffered to go on without being rebuked: not in the manner ignorant zealots rebuke, as lords over God's heritage, who treat every little difference, by the standard they have made for themselves, as an enormous crime; but in the spirit of meekness, that it may appear
that pure love, and tender brotherly affection to the party, is the only motive. .
The Apostle gives a good reason for this inild conduct; and if it is in the least reflected on, will most certainly be effectual. It is this, that no man can be sure that he will not some time or other fall into temptation, and even fall under it: Consider thy self, left thou also be tempted. It is but the application of our. Lord's rule, “ to do as we would be done by in the “ same circumstances ;” a short plain rule; perfectly just and equitable; and so extensive, that were it minded, every man would be in case to be a law unto himfelf.
But there is a principle deeply inlaid in the heart of every child of Adam, which puts a very great difference between himself and another; so great, that whenever the natural connections.of blood or particular friendship wear out, the principle of humanity is well known to be a very flender tie. Strangers are such as we reckon we are not concerned to mind: and not only those Christian duties of mutual concern mentioned, verf. 1. but all the duties of humanity lie by neglected; and 3 H 2
the neglect is justified by that very common excuse, that it is impertinent officiousness to meddle in other people's affairs. However that may hold in worldly affairs among the men of the world, it can never be the case among Christians. The connection among them is too close to admit of any separate interests. And the Apostle lays it down as a general rule, which admits of no exception, to bear one another's burdens. The fame which he extends further, and lays stronger, i Cor. x. 24. Let no man seek his own : but every man another's wealth. One needs not say how much this reaches beyond bare sympathizing with one another in our distresses and troubles. That is a very vain affection, if it does not engage us to exert our utmost efforts to relieve them. But the Christian's concern for his brethren in Christ is not terminated folely in their burdens and distresses. All their concerns are his, and he stands as much bound to promote their interests and welfare as his own..
But it is not only a duty arising from their near relation, but it is what they stand bound to by express commandment. The law of Christ cannot be fulfilled with
out it. There is no need of any laborious search to find out this law of Christ; it is the law of love. It is true, all God's laws are his; and he is, in the most proper sense, our lawgiver, as well as our king and judge. But what is most properly and peculiarly his law, is that which he commanded his disciples, and pressed on them by the love which he had shown them, that they mould love one another; and which he gave as the badge by which his disciples Thould be known and distinguished from all the rest of mankind. On this foundation the Apostle John, who well understood it, carries it fo far, as that we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren: and surely then we ought to bear their burdens, and concern ourfelves in all their interests of every kind, and assist them to our utmost ability; for it is notoriously true, even though our Lord had never said it, that the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment. · The Apostle understood human nature perfectly in all the views it could be taken in; and particularly how apt men are to be pleased with themselves, and even value themselves greatly above what they deserve. He knew likewise, that none of