Page images


1 JOHN iv. 11.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

A new commandment give I unto you, said our Blessed Saviour, that ye love one another. A new commandment: one that had never before been taught. Till Christ came to be the light of the world, men were in darkness and ignorance: they had wrong notions upon most matters, and especially upon this one point, namely, the conduct and the feelings which were due from one man towards another. Nature, indeed, would then, as it does now, incline men's hearts to love those who loved them, but none else and even the Jews, the favoured

and chosen people of God, were taught by their wise men to love their friends, but to hate their enemies. But when He came who spake as never man spake, when Christ came to die for our sins, and to teach us the things necessary for us to attend to before our souls can be saved, He gave us a more perfect way of righteousness: He opened our eyes to the truth: He shewed us the path of life: He taught us what we must do to be saved, not only in regard to our conduct towards God, but also in respect to our behaviour towards our fellow-creatures. He gave us the new commandment, that we must love one another. Yes, it was Christ-He who loved us poor sinners so that he bore the cross for our sakes-it was Christ who taught us that without charity we are of no value in the sight of God; and that if we cannot learn to forgive others, we must not hope to be forgiven ourselves: it was Christ our Saviour who called upon us to love one another as the children of one common Father who is in heaven: to love each other as ourselves, to be merciful as

we hope for mercy, and to do unto every living soul as we should wish to be done by. This, then, is a duty laid upon us all : a commandment given us by our only Master, Lord, and Saviour: He who gave it has best taught us how to fulfil it; and unless we do fulfil it, we cannot be His children.

To those who have not learnt to take Jesus for their Master, and to give up their weak opinions to His heavenly wisdom-to those who have not learnt to admire and to love the perfect laws of their Redeemer, but rather trust to the vanity and deceitfulness of their own stubborn hearts-this commandment, which bids us love all mankind, enemies as well as friends, to wish good and to do good to all our fellowcreatures, will always seem hard and unreasonable for we learn not these meek and charitable feelings from nature. We have within us selfishness, pride, malice, vengeance; which all lead us a very different way. Our selfishness leads us to bestow all our love upon ourselves: our pride tells us that some are beneath our

notice, and that it is stooping too low to bear an injury with meekness: our malice would persuade us never to forgive an offence, and to bear a grudge against those who have offended us even without meaning it and vengeance makes us think it a sweet thing to repay with every evil that we can think of those who have done evil to us. Therefore, it is no wonder that every one who, though calling himself a Christian, is not a follower of Christ in truth, should look upon this holy commandment which He has given us to love each other, as one which is unreasonably laid upon us, and hardly to be obeyed. But they who have truly learnt to look upon the spotless Son of God as their Lord and Master-they who have faith in Jesus Christ as the Friend and Saviour of sinful men-they who have learned to put their trust in Him as the sure teacher of all that is good, the sure guide to all that is blessed and happy in this world and the nextthey who have learnt to feel that, compared with Him they are nothing, compared with His wisdom their judgment is most weak

they will find in this commandment nothing but what is easy: they will see in it nothing but what is reasonable: they will acknowledge that it is a commandment given us in mercy, like all others that we have received from God; for they will feel that it is for the good of men, in this present world, that we should have love one towards another, and that it is impossible for us to obtain the happiness of the world to come, without it.

As long as we are upon earth we must all, more or less, depend one upon another. We were made to assist and comfort one another through the short journey of life : to remove the difficulties which meet us in the way: and to lighten, as far as we may be able, the load which sin, or sorrow, or misfortune may lay upon our fellow-creatures. Yes, my brethren, we are Christians: children of one family, heirs to the same eternal kingdom. Our Blessed Master, who patiently bore the pains of the cross for us miserable men, requires of all who call themselves His disciples and followers, that they do good whenever and

« EelmineJätka »