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there are which belong to the true believer exclusively, and which will assuredly issue in his everlasting happiness. Wherever there is genuine love to the saints for Christ's sake, there is salvation. But to speak more particularly
It must be a love to the saints as saints
[There may be a strong attachment both to individuals. and collective bodies, without any thing beyond the workings of nature. A great variety of considerations may give rise to the emotions of love, and the heart be as far from God as ever. Of course the bare existence of this feeling towards our fellow-creatures can be no just ground for concluding ourselves to be in a state of grace. Even love to the saints may exist on grounds which do not prove it to be of divine origin. We may love them because they are amiable in themselves, or kind. to us, or an ornament of the party to which they belong. But when we love them purely because they are beloved of the Lord, and belong to him; when we love them as members of our own body; as partakers of the same divine nature with ourselves; and as heirs of the same glory; then we possess a grace which no hypocrite ever did possess; and which is inseparably connected with the salvation of the soul.]
But this love must be operative and laborious
[Our love must "not be in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth:" it must be such as "works and labours in ministering" to the welfare of the objects beloved. Love of any kind is regarded as a mere pretence, if it exert not itself in such a way as to evince its reality by a corresponding practice and much more will our pretensions to so high a principle as Christian love be deemed nugatory, if we labour not to display its efficacy by a suitable conversation. The temporal and spiritual comfort of the saints must be promoted by us to the uttermost. We are not to be indifferent to the welfare of any but, whilst we "do good unto all men, we must do it especially unto the household of faith." Nor must we do it merely occasionally, when more urgent circumstances arise to remind us of our duty: we must make it, as it were, our business to promote to the uttermost the edification of the body of Christ in general, and of all its members in particular. Nor must we shrink back from any "labour" that may be conducive to this end; or any sacrifice that may be requisite to the attainment of it. And it is only when our love is thus operative, that it approves itself to be a sure evidence of grace, and a certain pledge of glory.]
There is yet one more ingredient in this love, namely, that it must be exercised towards the saints for Christ's sake
[It must be "shewed towards the name of our God" as reconciled to us in Christ Jesus. It is this which gives to love its chief excellence. Though the saints are ostensible objects towards whom it is exercised, yet it must in reality terminate on God in them. It is to him that every thing must be done but as he personally is out of our reach, we are to do it to them as his representatives. He is to be the one great object in whom all our affections centre: and not being able to pour out our ointment upon his head, we must, in testimony of the desires of our souls, pour it out, as we are able, upon all his members.]
This principle so operating, most assuredly "accompanies salvation"
[It is declared by our blessed Lord to be that whereby we may know to a certainty our own conversion, and may be distinguished for his people by all who behold us'. Moreover, if we live in the exercise of this principle, we are assured by God himself, that "we shall never fall, but that an abundant entrance shall be ministered unto us into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"." And so infallibly is the final salvation of the soul connected with it, that every exercise of it shall be remembered, "not so much as a cup of cold water given to a disciple in the name of a disciple, ever falling short of its reward." Indeed, God would consider himself as "unrighteous, if he were to forget" to recompense these things in the eternal world. Not that any works of ours can claim any recompence on the ground of merit: but, on the ground of God's promises, we may be assured that salvation shall be given to us, if we live under the influence of this love: and we may expect it from him as a merciful, a faithful, and a righteous Judge"."]
Such being "the things that accompany salvation," we proceed to shew,
II. Our duty in relation to them
It is the duty of all to abound in them—
[It is supposed in the text that the believing Hebrews had both possessed and exercised this love: indeed, it was from a persuasion of this that St. Paul was so well satisfied of their
b John xiii. 35.
a 1 John iii. 14.
c 2 Pet. i 10, 11.
d 2 Tim. iv. 8.
being in a state of acceptance with God.
And we too must
live under the habitual influence of this gracious principle, taking every occasion to manifest it towards the saints in acts of kindness both to their bodies and their souls. walk in love, as Christ has loved us."]
It is yet further our duty to persevere in these labours even "to the end"
[We are never to be weary of well doing:" never to think that we have done enough; or rather, never to think we have done any thing, as long as any thing remains to be done. We are not to be deterred by difficulties, nor to draw back on account of disappointments. In extending our labours of love to all the saints, we shall sometimes find that we mistake the characters of those whom we have endeavoured to serve: but we must not on this account neglect or intermit our duty. We may take the more care to discriminate between the different characters of men; but must on no account refuse to give the children their meat, because some portions of our bounty have been unwittingly wasted upon dogs. If any have abused our kindness, the loss is their own: but if we neglect to shew kindness, the loss is ours. We must never lay down the habit, but with our lives.]
In so acting we benefit ourselves no less than others
[The exercise of love is, as has been observed, an evidence of grace, and as such, a foundation of hope. And the more the acts of love are formed into a habit, the livelier our hope becomes, till at last it grows into a "full assurance of hope." We must again say, that it is not on our actions as meritorious, that our hopes are founded, but only as evidences of a true faith, and as evincing a state which God has promised to reward. But, having these evidences, we may as assuredly hope for glory, as if we saw the holy angels ready to bear our souls. to the realms of bliss. "God is love: and, if we resemble him in this world, we may well have boldness in reference to the day of judgmente." "We know by it infallibly that we are of the truth; and therefore may on safe grounds assure our hearts before him."]
Let me now, in APPLYING this subject to ourselves, tell you,
1. What is my "persuasion" respecting you
[Of many" I am persuaded," that they have these "things that accompany salvation." Many manifest it in the whole of e 1 John iv. 16, 17.
f 1 John iii. 19.
their life and conversation; and many more would manifest it, if they had the same opportunities as are offered to others. There can be no doubt but that the principle of love is deeply implanted in the hearts of many, who from various circumstances are unable to display it as they could wish. And we are assured, that God, who searcheth the heart, will bear witness to them in the last day, as well as to those who were able to carry into effect their good desires.
But, in reference to many, we have no such persuasion. Many do not even possess those things which hypocrites and apostates may have; and much less "the things which accompany salvation." How many of you are there who have never "been enlightened, never tasted of the heavenly gift, never been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, never tasted of the good word of God, or the powers of the world to come." Alas! beloved, what hope can ye enjoy? Your confidence is altogether delusive, and will deceive you to your eternal ruin. But, where these specious appearances have been found, there is in too many instances an entire lack of that gracious principle of which the text speaks. The love that has been exercised has been essentially defective in all its most distinguishing points it has not been to the saints as saints, but on account of some accidental circumstance that has attended them: it has not been laborious and persevering, but has displayed itself only in easier services, and on more partial or particular occasions and, above all, it has not originated altogether in love to God; or been exercised simply for the glory of his name. What then must be my persuasion respecting you? Must it not rather be, that, so far from possessing the things that accompany salvation, you have as yet "no part or lot in this matter; but are yet in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity." Beloved brethren, think of your danger ere it be too late; and beg of God that you may rest in nothing short of true conversion, and of that "hope which shall never make you ashamed."]
2. What is my "desire" for you
[Truly this accords with that of the Apostle Paul. On behalf of "every one of you," I would desire, that you should shew all diligence in the exercise of this grace; and that you should continue in the exercise of it even "to the end:" like him also I would desire it with all earnestness h.
I desire it, first, on your own account: for truly the exercise of love is a heaven upon earth. "Love is of God; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Look at the Christians that are full of doubts and fears;
and you will almost invariably find, that they are comparatively selfish, indolent, unprofitable servants, and greatly defective both in love to man and in zeal for God. On the other hand, look at the laborious and self-denying Christians, and you will find almost invariably that they are happy in their own souls, and happy in their prospects of the eternal world. For your own sakes therefore I would say, Live in the constant exercise of love, and spare no pains to honour God and to benefit his Church and people.
Next, I would desire it for the Church's sake. How happy must that Church be, where such is the employment of all its members! What peace, and love, and harmony will prevail among them! What mutual edification will be found in all their social intercourse! and with what joy will they go up together to the house of God! Nor will the odour of their graces refresh themselves only; it will be fragrant also in the nostrils of many who have never experienced any such emotions in their own souls, and will cause them to say, We will go with you; for we perceive that God is with you of a truth.
But, above all, I would desire it for the Lord's sake, that he may be glorified; for in comparison of this all other motives are weak and of no account. If it be true that "herein is the Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit," it must be most eminently true, when that fruit is such as is described in our text. Has the Lord Jesus Christ said, that "what we do unto the least of his Disciples, we do it unto him;" what delight must he not feel in a Church where all the members are vying with each other in the exercises of love? "When the spices of his garden thus flow out, our Beloved will surely come into it, and eat his pleasant fruits *."
To all then of every description I say, "Walk in love: and, if ye have already begun this heavenly course, labour to abound more and more."]
i 2 Cor. ix. 11-14.
k Cant. iv. 16.
If this be a Charity Sermon, the particular object of the Charity may here be stated; and if it be not to benefit saints, yet if it be to make saints, it will be no less pleasing in the sight of God.
EXHORTATION TO DILIGENCE.
Heb. vi. 12. Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
IN the general course of God's providence, we perceive that blessings are dispensed in proportion to