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many men's hearts, their love of while we do this, shall we still call dominion and power, and their scorn ourselves Christians and children of of a meek and lowly temper in other God ? Shocking inconsistency k men, that it must needs be that offen- | And there is yet another consideraces come. What lamentable testi- tion in their favour. They are the mony do the pages of church-history objects of the Saviour's love; they bear to this mournful fact! What are those for whom he laid down his an amount of sin and suffering has life; and in their welfare and eter. been produced by want of Christian nal happiness he sees of the travail charity and forbearance, by absence of his soul and is satisfied. This is of tenderness and brotherly affection the second argument by which he towards humble believers in the enforces the duty of Christian ten. Lord Jesus Christ. How often have derness and love. For the Son of humility and meekness been the Man is come to save that which is occasions of oppression, persecution, lost. He is the good shepherd, who and contempt, instead of being came to seek the poor wanderer from rightly regarded as passports to con- the fold, and even gave his life for fidence and love, and as demanding the sheep. And shall we, by our respect and cordial good-will! But evil example or influence, by unkind woe to that man by whom the offence and uncharitable tempers or procometh. Let proud professors and ceedings, labour in an opposite diproud churches tremble at their rection, and throw hindrances in doom. And let us, for our own the way of the salvation of sinners ? sakes, be on our guard against any “Destroy not him with thy meat thing which may drive or draw us for whom Christ died !” Rom. xiv. into sin. If thy hand or thy foot | 15. Rather let us concur with the offend thee, &c. (See note on ch. v. gracious designs of God respecting 29, 30).
ourselves and others, and thankfully In heaven their angels,that is, remember, for our guidance and our the angels of these little ones, these comfort, that positive assertion, “It humble child-like disciples,—do al is not the will of your Father which is ways behold the face of my Father in heaven that one of these little which is in heaven. This is one rea- ones i. e. humble, child-like disciples, son assigned by our Lord why we -meek, teachable, tractable believshould not treat any of his meek ers,--should perish. and lowly followers with contempt or disdain ; namely, that God is
HYMN I. pleased to employ the ministry of angels in their service and for their
Quiet, Lord, my froward heart, benefit. Does the king of heaven Make me teachable and mild, thus delight to honour them, and
Humble, upright, free from art;
Make me as a little child, shall we esteem them lightly and
From distrust and envy free, cast out their names as evil? And
Pleas'd with all that pleases Thee.
What Thou shalt to-day provide he shall hear thee, thou hast Let me thankfully receive;
gained thy brother. What to-morrow may betide Calmly to thy wisdom leave ;
16 But if he will not hear 'Tis enough that Thou wilt care,–
thee, then take with thee one or Why should I the burden bear!
two more, that in P the mouth As a little child relies On a care beyond its own,
of two or three witnesses every Knows he's neither strong nor wise word may be established. Fears to stir a step alone,Let me thus with thee abide,
17 And if he shall neglect to Thou my Father, Guard, and Guide! hear them, tell it unto the
church : but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto
thee as an 'heathen man and a HYMN II.
publican. Lord, if thou thy grace impart, Poor in spirit, meek in heart,
18 Verily I say unto you, I shall as my Master be ;
" Whatsoever ye shall bind on Clothed with humility.
earth shall be bound in heaSimple, teachable and mild,
ven : and whatsoever ye shall Chang'd into a little child ; Pleas'd with what the Lord provides,
loose on earth shall be loosed Wean'd from all the world besides. in heaven. Father, fix my soul on thee !
19 ' Again I say unto you, Every evil let me flee,
That if two of you shall agree Nothing seek but things above, Happy, happy, in thy love.
| on earth as touching anything
that they shall ask, 'it shall be Oh that all may seek and find Every good in Jesus join'd!
done for them of my Father Him let Israel still adore,
which is in heaven. Trust Him, praise Him, evermore!
20 For where two or three MADAN.
are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst
of them. LIX.
n Lev. xix. 17. Ecclus. xix. 13. Luke xvil. 3.-0 Jam. CHAP. XVIII. 15—20. Christ teacheth how we are to deal with our brethren when they offend us. Reader. Our blessed Lord here
| lays down some rules for the pre15 | Moreover " if thy bro
servation of peace and good feeling ther shall trespass against thee,
among his followers. And it is obgo and tell him his fault be
servable that he has appointed the tween thee and him alone ; if church, i.e. the particular congrega
tion to which the offending party him the evil of his sin that he may may belong, acting with and by its repent. If he hear thee so as to proper officers, and according to its repent and amend, thou hast won established order, as the ultimate him from the danger of his guilt, court of appeal, or means of arbitra- which may be a comfort to thee : tion and adjustment. And if one but if he defend his sin, or will not who has done wrong to another repent and amend, cease not thy should " neglect to hear the church” | love or labour, but take with thee i. e, should refuse to submit to the one or two meet persons, that two admonitions of the Christian con- or three witnesses may the more gregation of which he is a member, awe him, or credibly convict him. he must thenceforward, as long as And if he neglect to hear them, he may continue obstinate and in- (having exercised due patience for corrigible, be treated “as an hea- the trial, and fit means to convince then man and a publican " i.e. be him), then make it public by telling excluded from Christian fellowship. the church in whose communion he And in ver. 18 our Lord appears to liveth ; either by opening it in the intimate that church discipline, duly congregation, that the church guides exercised, is ratified by divine au may reprove him, and exhort him to thority; assigning, perhaps, to his repent, and pray for his repentance ; inspired Apostles an extraordinary or, when that is not convenient, tell power in this matter, as in others, it to the guides of the church, that but implying, at the same time, that they may make it public, and do the sanction of heaven would be their office. And if he neglect to given to all faithful ministers or hear this public exhortation, have rulers of the church, in the dis- no more communion or familiarity charge of their duty, to the end of with him than with a heathen or a time.
publican, but so carry it that he The following judicious paraphrase and others may see that thou of verses 15–17, contains a very esteemest him not as one of the correct and full interpretation of Christian society whom Christ will the passage. “According to this own.” With reference to ver. 18, compassionate tenderness of God it has been well remarked, that and your Saviour, must be your “ what was said before to Peter is dealing with one another; not to here said to all the disciples, and in favour sins in any, but to seek by them to all faithful office-bearers in love to save the sinner. Therefore, the church, to the world's end. if any one that thou hast brotherly While ministers preach the word of communion with do trespass against Christ faithfully, and in their thee, by injury, or by scandalous government of the church strictly crimes within thy notice, go and tell adhere to his laws, they may be him his fault privately in brotherly assured that he will own them, and love and tenderness, yet showing stand by them, and will ratify what
they say and do, so that it shall be cannot prevail upon him to acknowtaken as said and done by himself. ledge and make due reparation for
his fault, then it possesses, and ought to exercise, the power of excluding
him from its communion. And in READER. Moreover, if thy bro- such a case, we must cease to hold ther shall trespass against thee, 8c.— fellowship with him as the member We may learn from ver. 15—18 of a Christian church; although we many important practical lessons. shall still be obliged to love, and Let me present them to you, in few pity, and pray for him as a fallen words, as they occur to my mind in and erring fellow-creature. looking at the passage. It appears Again I say unto you, that if two of then, First, that unity and brotherly you shall agree on earth, &c.—Having love is a matter of great importance pointed out the misery and disadin the kingdom or church of Christ. vantage of dissension, and the means The careful and precise directions of avoiding or healing it, our Saviour for the restoration of good-will and now declares one great benefit arisa good understanding, when broken, ing from Christian unity and fellowpoint at once to this conclusion. ship. He represents it as contribuSecondly, It should be our object, ting to the prevalence and efficacy when a Christian brother may have of prayer. The harmonious petidone as any wrong, not to revenge tions of united Christian brethren ourselves upon the offender, but to are peculiarly effectual at the throne gain him over to a right state of of grace. By the acceptance and feeling and conduct. Thirdly, Pri- fulfilment of such petitions, for rate expostulation, in a spirit of Christ's sake, God puts honour at kindness, is the means which should once upon the ordinance of prayer, be employed for this purpose in the and upon the Christian grace of love first instance; and, if this should and brotherly good-will. Let us fail, the interference of Christian beware of offering up even private friends should be sought, with a prayer in an unforgiving temper; view to obtain an amicable settle- and let us value every means and ment of the existing difference. opportunity of uniting with our Fourthly, A Christian church, or a brethren, in the great congregation, congregation of believers in which in presenting accordant petitions to all things are done decently and in the God and Father of us all. order, ought to be able and willing For where two or three are gathered to arbitrate in such cases ;—to this together in my name, there am I in the authority we should appeal, if pre- midst of them. How rich a promise vious measures should have proved to public Christian prayer! How ineffectual ;-and, if this Christian great value and dignity are hereby body should deem the party accused stamped upon our assemblies of worthy of such punishment, and religious worship; of which we may
of unitedctual at the
indeed truly say “This is none other or Divine presence, was among them. but the house of God, and this is --Let our minds and hearts dwell the gate of heaven !"_In these upon this most precious promise. words we may find a valuable in- Wherever two or three are assemstruction respecting the true nature bled in the name of Jesus, he is in and objects of Christian assemblies, the midst of them. The number of
-the constitution and work of a assembled worshippers may be small, true Christian church or congrega- but if there be true faith and devotion. We must meet together in tion and brotherly love, there is also mutual love or fraternal charity, and the favourable presence of their in the name of Christ. “When we Lord.--"Every day, perhaps every come together to worship God in a hour, two or three, or many more, dependence upon the Spirit and may be assembled in England, in grace of Christ as Mediator for as- Greenland, in Africa, in Ceylon, in sistance, and upon his merit and America, in the Sandwich Islands, righteousness as Mediator for ac- in Russia, and in Judea,—in almost ceptance, having an actual regard every part of the world,—and in to him as our way to the Father, the midst of them all is Jesus the and our advocate with the Father, Saviour.” “By his common prethen we are met together in his sence he is in all places, as God; name. We must come together by but this is a promise of his special virtue of his warrant and appoint presence. Where his saints are, ment, in token of our relation to his sanctuary is, and there he will him, professing faith in him, and in dwell; it is his rest (Psalm cxxxii. communion with all that in every 14), it is his walk (Rev. ï. 1):-he place call upon him ;—and then our is in the midst of them, to quicken congregation possesses all the need and strengthen them, to refresh and ful marks or tokens of a Christian comfort them, as the sun is in the church, and is prepared to receive midst of the universe.” May we all the blessings which flow to be- have grace with one accord to make lievers from their gracious and ever our supplications unto our God and present Head.”
Saviour, remembering for our enThere am I in the midst of them. couragement His word of promise, How plain an assertion of omni that when two or three are gathered presence, on the part of Christ, and together in his name, he will grant therefore of divinity! And this as- their requests. And may He indeed sertion, easily intelligible by our fulfil the desires and petitions of his selves, must have been peculiarly servants, as may be most expedient emphatic in the ears of Jews, be | for them, granting us in this world cause it was a current saying among | knowledge of his truth, and in the them that where two or more were world to come life everlasting ! gathered together for the purpose of studying the Law,—the Shechinah,