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be satisfied till love becomes the element of his soul, the grand constituent principle of his being, the surrounding atmosphere in which he lives and moves and acts.
But is this indeed the desire of all those persons who mingle in our congregations and who say “ Ainen" to our collect? It is the desire of all the true members of our church. But is it yours, reader, and mine? Have we been awakened to a consciousness of the natural enmity of our hearts to God? Do we mourn on account of our want of love to Him who is both our Creator and our Redeemer ? Do we appreciate our obligations to Him at so high a rate, as to perceive that our returns can never be commensurate with them ? Do we feel our own inability to excite in our souls that Divine temper which is the very essence of heaven, and the only preparative for
Our collect proceeds to exhibit the characteristic excellence of Divine charity; and as the commendation of it is strictly scriptural, it must be strictly just
Charity is properly denominated a “most ex“cellent gift.”. For such it will indeed appear to be, whether we consider its origin as from God, who is Himself love; its object, Him in whom all excellencies meet, or its end, 'the perfect happiness of rational and immortal creatures; for love is paradise restored, heaven begun here, and perfected hereafter. If we compare it with the other graces, its excellence is unequalled ; for St. Paul gives it a decided preference both to faith and hope. These are means, that the end proposed by them. These are mortal, that immortal. These calculated only for this transitory world of sin and sorrow, that intended to flourish and bring forth its choicest fruits in the unchanging climes of bliss. These solace the pilgrim on his way through the wilderness, but that will afford him repose at its termination.
Each proper gift, which God on man bestows,
dedicates its pow'r,
As through the artist's intervening glass
observes the distant planets pass,
But soon the mediate clouds shall be dispellid:
Then constant Faith and holy Hope shall die,
With a reference to the language of St. Paul in Eph. iv. 3, our collect proceeds to extol charity as “the very bond of peace.” It is the cause and cement of union between the children of God; who, “ maintaining the truth in love,
grow up into Him in all things which is the " head, even Christ; from whom the whole
body fitly joined together, and compacted by “ that which every joint supplieth, according to “ the effectual working in the measure of every
part, maketh increase of the body unto the “edifying of itself in love.”. Among the children of this world there are as many separate interests as there are individuals, self-aggrandizement, in some shape or other, being the object of each. But
But among the genuine members of the church it is not so; or, at least it is not so if charity prevail among them. For it is the office of Christian love to dethrone the idol self, that Christ may be all in all. Those therefore who are endowed with this most excellent gift have “ one heart and one way."
- There “ is one body and one Spirit, even as they are “called in one hope of their calling. One Lord,
one faith, one baptism, one God and Father “ of all, who is above all, and through all, and « in them all.” Where Divine love is in exercise, there can be no jarring interests, no suspicious jealousies, nor divisions. For “ as the “ body is one and hath many members, and all “ the members of that one body, being many,
are one body, so also is Christ. And whether: “ one member suffer, all the members suffer “ with it or one member be honoured, all the “ members rejoice with it.” Charity is “ the very bond of peace.” Soft peace she brings wherever she arrives, She builds our quiet as she fornis our lives, Lays the rough paths of peevish nature even, And opens in each heart a little heaven.
PRIOR VOL. II.
Charity is moreover characterised as “ the « bond of all virtues.' In this part of the description the collect seems to allude to Col. iii. 14, where this grace is called “the bond of perfect« ness."* It is so denominated because where love exists, all other graces exist also.
" He " that loveth, hath fulfilled the law. For this, “ Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt “not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not “bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and “ if there he any other commandment, it is
briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou “ shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love “ worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love “ is the fulfilling of the law.” Rom. xiii. 8, 9. See also Gal. v. 14. and 1 Tim. i, 5. And as the duties of the second table are all comprehended in the word LOVE, so also are those of the first; for love to God includes the whole of our duty to Him. For thus said the Divine Law, giver, Matt. xxii. 37, &c. « Thou shalt love " the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with “ all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is " the first and great commandment. And the “ second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy
* Charitas est vinculum perfectionis inter ipsas virtutes, quia qui charitatem habet, reliquas omnes habet et ex
rcet. Huc Spectant illa Scripturæ loca, Rom. xiii. 8. Qui diligit proximum, legem implevit ; et ad Galat. v. 14. Omnis lex in uno sermone impletur, diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum. Hinc Cyprianus, In amore omnium Scripturarum volumina coarctantur ; in hoc invenit consummationem omnis religio. Dicitur itaque vinculum perfectionis, quia conjungit et copulat inter se omnium virtutum officia, ita ut ubicunque vera charitas sit, ibi etiam reperiatur integrum corpus, et quasi concatenatio omnium virtutum. Davenant in Epist. ad Coloss.
so neighbour as thyself. On these two com“ mandments hang all the law and the prophets.” As therefore, when the blood in a sick patient begins to circulate freely, and the pulse beats regularly, the body is ascertained to be in health; so when love circulates freely in all our spirit and conduct, the convalescence of the fallen soul may be ascertained also. But Oh! how feeble and irregular is the pulse of our souls ! How small the indications of returning health ! “ Lord, send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into “ our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, “ the very bond of peace and of all virtues !"
We need not wonder at the awful declaration which is added to the foregoing eulogy, that “ whosoever liveth is counted dead before God” if destitute of charity. For faith, which is the instrument of the spiritual life of justification, is constantly productive of love and can have no existence without it. And love is itself the principle of the spiritual life of holiness,
without which no man can see the Lord.” As the body without the spirit therefore is dead, so faith, the historical assent given to Scripture by the empty professor, is dead also, because it is unaccompanied with those works which love to God and man dictates. How awful is the state of those who “ have a name to live - but are dead !"
Well therefore may we again enforce our request for this excellent gift of charity, by saying, “ Grant this for Jesus Christ's sake." ? In such an employment as that to which our collect calls us, sukewarmness is folly, indifference insanity. O that the considerations which