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better than themselves; seek not every man his own things, but every man also the things of others.* How admirably would the observance of such rules assist in preserving that accordance of judgment and affection, which this inspired writer so pathetically desires ! Do we ever find ourselves, my brethren, under the influence of a troublesome and contentious spirit? Do we think that we can show ingenuity in defending or maintaining some favourite opinion, and while thus securing applause to ourselves, throw discredit on another? Whatever may be said for our argument, to our own minds this course will certainly prove pernicious; if we triumph at all it will be at a sacrifice which the imagined advantage will poorly compensate, by debasing our Christian principles, and doing special injury to our Christian love. Our true wisdom will be, instead of degrading others, to esteem them better than ourselves ; and to discard every selfish feeling from the very moment that we perceive its existence. If we would follow the example of our divine Master, or act in the spirit of His precepts, it behoves us to look with affectionate interest to the wel. fare of all around us : and while acting on this
principle, we shall be constrained to follow peace with all men; we shall feel it incumbent upon us to maintain the character here recommended ; and the more perfectly the love of self can be subdued, in that same degree will our christian dispositions be enlarged, and our attention be fixed upon the noblest objects.
(3.) In the last place, my brethren, how diligently ought we to cultivate every principle which tends to confirm in us this spirit of unity and peace!
You have seen the stress which the apostle lays upon the privileges and blessings of the gospel, as intimately connected with the disposition of christian unity and christian love. Is it not then obviously both our duty and our interest, with a view to the maintenance and growth of that spirit, to seek especially for the influence of these blessings upon our hearts ? May we be impressed more and more with a lively sense of that consolation in Christ, of that comfort of love, that fellowship of the Spirit, that compassionate mercy which, has been manifested in the gospel of our Redeemer, and wrought in some measure in our own hearts by the communications of the Holy Ghost. By these things it is that the
apostle particularly invites us to be of one accord, of one mind; and beyond all question, the more mature and perfect is our experience of these blessings, the greater will be their effects in sanctifying our nature, and in subduing those evil propensities which urge men to discord rather than to peace. May they have a powerful and permanent effect upon all our minds! and may we be enabled by His grace, who alone can work effectually in our hearts, to put on as the elect of God holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, even as Christ also forgave us; and above all, may we put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness ; and
may of God rule in our hearts, unto which we are called in one body, and be thankful.*
* Col. iii. 12–15.
THE SPIRITUAL DESIGN OF PROVIDENTIAL
DEUTERONOMY viii. 2, 3. “ And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy
God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep His commandments or no: and He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”
There are in the life and experience of almost every man in the world some occurrences, which, while he retains his faculties, he can never forget. The history of the Israelites is full of such events; events not in the regular course of human things, but of a nature peculiarly suited to gain attention, and to leave a lasting and indelible impression upon the mind. On what principle then are we to account for those admonitions of their lawgiver, in which he enjoins them again and again to remember the way which the Lord their God had led them, and the mighty works which He had wrought on their behalf? Plainly on this principle, that the mere fact of remarkable providential appointments being lodged in the memory is not necessarily connected with a right improvement of them. The recollection of such events may be vivid as ever; for how could an Israelite forget the manna from heaven, and the streams which issued from the flinty rock? Yet the lapse of successive years may have obliterated every particle of the instruction which they were suited to convey, although it might, in the first instance, have seemed to be engraven upon the heart in characters never to be effaced. It is not, therefore, without good reason that Moses enjoins so earnestly upon the Israelites the remembrance of those occurrences, which might otherwise appear to be as well known to themselves as to their leader-Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness.