posture of kneeling at our prayers, more is involved than a mere outward form. I view it as a debt due from us creatures to our Creator. I believe, too, it is a debt which, left alone and not influenced by ill example, we should of ourselves readily pay, —which we do pay when we are in private. For who is he who does not pray kneeling in his chamber? How much more ought we to do this when at church ?

Do think of this, my brethren. Do put away pride, and prejudice, and follow your own hearts' prompting on the matter — that inborn instinct of what is right and fitting, which. God has implanted in you—and I shall be much disappointed if you are not of


mind. I am convinced that, whatever may be your practice now, you

will admit the reason of what I have said ; you will feel an echo of agreement in those well-known words, in which, Sunday after Sunday, the Psalmist invites us to this same thing,-“ O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Ps. xcv. 6.)

Shiplake, Advent Sunday, 1856.



Rom. xiii. 8.

“Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he

that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."

THESE words repeat the exhortation which St. Paul gives us in the verse that precedes them, “Render therefore to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” Not content with this single charge to the fulfilment of our duty in this direction, the Apostle sets it afresh before us, and in a more striking, and concentrated form,“Owe no man anything, but to love one another.” As if he had said, “Pay every debt; meet every obligation; discharge every claim save one, and that you must still keep on owing, even while you keep ever paying it, for it is the life and soul of your religion—it is the love of your brethren.”

” To owe that debt, to live always in remembrance of it, and in an endeavour to discharge it, this, in St. Paul's mind, was to be a Christian. The man


who so lived, fulfilled God's law: he approached as near as might be to the perfect man, to the “ measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

It is true in what follows — in that part of his Epistle appointed for this Sunday - St. Paul only looks at brotherly love from one side ; from its negative side. He sees, and shows us very clearly, that the man who loves, will do no hurt to his neighbour; will not wrong him in any way; will not commit adultery; will not steal; will not bear false witness; will not covet. But no less true is it, that he intends to include in his precept the other and more active side of charity. We need not go and search for texts out of his Epistle, to convince ourselves, that when he says, “ Owe no man anything, but to love one another,” we are charged, not simply to abstain from injuring our brother, but further, are commanded to be forward in doing him kindnesses; to be quick and glad to come to his succour; to be ready to communicate with him in all good things; ready to bear in part his burdens; to sympathize in his afflictions; to promote by every means in our power his true welfare.

That such is the wide reach of the Apostle's words before us, will, I think, by all be admitted. We have in them a call to the largest charity; to that charity which is the very bond of peace and of all virtues; without which, whosoever liveth, is

[ocr errors]

counted dead before God.

6 Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."

And, indeed, brethren, this is a call which the times we live in will not let sleep. There is so much occasion for help; we touch one another socially at so many points ; our common interests are so many; there are so many evils in the world, and in our own section of it, to be redressed; so much of our Lord's work to do, that it cannot but happen that we shall have continually sounded in our ears the Apostle's charge—“Owe no man anything, but to love one another.”

Our own consciences, too, it is hoped, will in many cases be before the preacher; will be quick to stir us up to charity; will not, when we have a clear case of need brought before us, allow us to pass it by unheeded.

For, brethren--and this is one of the most cheering signs of our times- we are not, I grant, as a people, chargeable with forgetfulness of this foremost duty. The sums raised every year in this country for charitable purposes are very considerable. We have, indeed, our preferences. Some are disposed to assist in one quarter; some in another; some give more to one charity, and less to another; but the whole result witnesses to a wide extent of Christian feeling, and practice. It

[ocr errors]

proves that there is generally amongst us-- among the poor as among the rich - a willingness to give, and a gladness to distribute. It shows that Christ, and His blessed example, has not been so long with us, and we not known Him. It shows that there is in our hearts – no doubt the effect of His religion — a strong feeling of brotherly love. It is an acknowledgment on our part of the Gospel bond of mutual service. It shows that we know, and understand “the love that God hath to us," and what that love obliges us to do—“ If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

What, however, we ask, when invited to assist in any new work of charity, is, “Has it any especial claims? Is the cause a good one? Does it belong more directly to ourselves ?” Nor is the question an unfair one, when there are so many calls

upon us for aid -- some public and open, more private, and known only to ourselves —it is but reasonable that they who come to us with a fresh appeal, should make plain the ground on which it rests. It is but just that, before we give, we should be certified that we ought to give.

Now, brethren, it is to this question that I purpose to address myself in the remarks that follow. I shall endeavour to put before you, as shortly and as clearly as I am able, what are the circumstances of the Society now brought before you, in church,

« ForrigeFortsett »