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hast been redeemed from everlasting destruction by the mercy of thy Saviour, wilt thou refuse shewing mercy 10 thy distressed brethren, the representatives of Him, who reconciled thee to God? What lesson does He teach thee by humbling himself so far as to become " a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” as to take upon Him thy sins, and bear thy infirmities, and to submit Himself to death, even the death of the cross --and all this at the very time, when thou wert.an utter enemy to Him? Thy goodness extends not to Him shew then thy sense of His abundant love by the exercise of kindness to the distressed, and of good-will to the offending
In order to enforce, more powerfully, the precept contained in the text, I shall, in conclusion, lay down some of those motives we have to the practice of this duty.
The heathen philosophy aspired no higher than to continue to do good to those, who had requited kindnesses with indifference, and obligations with contempt. But to love our enemies, and to entreat heaven with our supplications in favor of them that persecute us, is the command of Christ, and the practice of Christians only, by means of which we resemble Him from whom our being is derived; “ who maketh His sun to shine “ on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the * just and on the unjust.” God the Father, desirous of being reconciled to His rebellious creatures, proposed the means of our Salvation ; God the Son cheerfully undertook, and affectionately accomplished, the gracious purpose; God the Holy Ghost co-operates with our wills, enabling us, thereby, “ to make our * calling and election sure.” What acknowlegement
do such mercies demand? The only one we can offer is, * to love one another.” For, as St. John argues, 66 be that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, 66 how can he love God, whom he hath not seen? 56 And this commandment have we from Him, that he
who loveth God, love his brother also.” The most punctual attendance on public worship, the invariable celebration of private prayer, and the uniform obser, vance of the Gospel-ordinances, without kindness and affection to our fellow-creatures, will all be unacceptable in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. When we shall be assembled “ before the Judgment-seat of 66 Christ, to receive according to what we have done $ in the body," the kindnesses we have shewn to those who needed them, will not be forgotten. “ Verily, I $ say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto " one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done $6 it unto me."
A second motive to the practice of this duty, is the consideration that our interest is implied in it. Interest, it must be allowed, usually, preponderates in all our transactions. And to neglect it, when it is not inconsistent with our duty, is accounted, by wise and good, men, not merely a want of wisdom, but a proof of folly. Our interest is in this command so greatly concerned, as to threaten us with such consequences, as will far outweigh any imaginary advantage we might propose to ourselves by the violation of it. The forgiveness of injuries done to us, is made by God an indispensable condition of the obtaining remission of our sins committed against Him. In the Lord's Prayer we are taught to supplicate, and to expect, pardon of God, upon the express condition of our forgiving
others—“forgive us our sins, as we forgive every one “ that is indebted to us.” And our Saviour, after the recital of the whole prayer, gives us this reason for it— “ for, if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly “ Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive “ not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly * Father forgive your trespasses.” Compare ye the greatness of the reward promised to the performance of the duty of loving our brethren, and forgiving their offences, with the supposed advantages arising from the contrary practice, and then say what you shall lose by the violation, what you shall gain by the observance, of the precept P. In the one case, you may feel a mean gratification from your neighbor's distresses—which will soon be followed with remorse of conscience, and agony of mind; and, in the words of our Blessed Saviour, by exacting one hundred pence of your fellowservant, you yourself will lose the forgiveness of ten thousand talents at the hand of God. The last motive I shall mention to the observance of this duty is, that it is the special command of our Lord himself. There is not one precept of the Gospel more frequently repeated, and more earnestly inculcated, than this of loving one another. We “ call Christ our “Lord and Master: and we do well; for so He is.” But then we are to pay that reverence, and obedience, to His commands which constitute the essential parts of the duties of servants. We have enlisted under the banners of Christ. The word Christian implies a servant, and disciple of Christ, of whom He hath made this duty the token by which He is known to be our Master, and we to belong to His family. “ By this “ shall
6 shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye " have love one towards another." He, then, who refuses to fulfil this duty, discards the profession, and renounces the blessings, of Christianity. On the other hand, “if we fulfil the Royal Law," as it is called by St. James, “ of loving our neighbor as ourselves; we 6 do well," and shall, as the reward of our obedience, receive eternal life.
See, then, O Christian, thy obligations to the performance of this duty; the example of thy Saviour and thy God to teach, His commands to engage, His terrors to alarm, His mercies to entice thee, accompanied with peace of mind, and approbation of heart. Happy is the man who fulfils such obligation! He is an heir of God, a joint-heir of Christ, and when the last trumpet shall awake him to Judgment, his name will be found written in the book of life!
SE R M O N X
ST. JOHN BAPTIST'S DAY.
THE Church has celebrated the nativity of this Saint as she
has done the martyrdom, or day of death, of other Saints. For St. John the Baptist, though he laid down his life for the truth of his preaching ; yet he was not a Christian martyr, as our Saviour's Apostles were, who suffered in tes. timony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, his meinory was celebrated by the Christian Church, because he was the fore-runner of our Blessed Lord, and, by preaching the doctrine of repentance, paved the way for publishing the Gospel. His birth was foretold by an Angel, and brought to pass after an uncommon manner, his mother being past the usual time of child-bearing when she conceived him. His office of being the harbinger'or fore-runner of Christ was predicted by the Prophets. Malachi calls him “ the messenger to prepare the way of the Lord." And Isaiah calls him " the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “ prepare ye the way of the Lord.” He lived an austere and ascetic life; and till the time of his preaching, took to a retirement in the wilderness, feeding upon locusts, a sort of grasshoppers, in that country, and wild honey, which the bees had made within the hollows of trees. His apparel was suitable to this hermetical life, being only a rough garment of camel's hair, tied to him with a leathern girdle. He seemed to be an imitator of the Prophet Elijah, who lived a life of a not much unlike nature; whereupon the prophetical predictions of him give him the same name. He