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"We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren," — 1 John 3:16.

In the beginning of the Gospel this test of love was frequently required, and Christians not only dared to be companions of them that suffered, but were ready to suffer for them. So Paul testifies of Priscilla and Aquila, his helpers in Christ: "Who," says he, "have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the Churches of the Gentiles." It is well the providence of God does not call us to such a severe trial. But surely the principle requires us to he ready to do every thing in our power on their behalf, and will not allow us to refuse any service or sacrifice for our brethren, however arduous.

We may do much for their minds; by dissipating their doubts, removing their fears, and bringing them comfort in their spiritual distresses. Thus Jonathan went to David in the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so doth a man his friend by hearty counsel." A Christian is self-suspicious, and is afraid of every conclusion in his own favour drawn by himself. He sees not the consolation to which he is entitled, though so near him; but another, like the Angel to Hagar, may open his eyes, and show him the well. Sometimes he is cast down, supposing many things are peculiar to himself; especially those painful feelings which arise from the assaults of Satan, and his conflict with indwelling sin, more and more of which he is continually discovering. But you can relieve him by opening your own experience, and letting him know that it is so with you. There is another important case: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye, which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

What can be dearer to a man than reputation? A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; but it may be injured in various ways. And surely we ought to be alive to a brother's character, and willingly throw ourselves between him and the strife of tongues. When any thing is said to his disparagement, we should show that charity, which rejoiceth not in iniquity, but hopeth all things. We should frown away the slander of insinuation. We should not allow a relator to go on, without inquiring whether he will allow us to name it to the person aggrieved, or to the person from whom he affirms he has derived it. What a world of calumny and mischief would this single expedient prevent! He that helps not in the circulation of the report, yet, if he pleasingly, or even patiently, sits to hear it, shares half the blame; and, as Dr. South says, the tale-bearer and the tale-hearer should be both hanged up, back to back, only the one by the tongue, and the other by the ear.

The body may need help. And our Saviour bore our infirmities, and sicknesses, by compassion and sympathy. His commiseration could bear them away from the sufferers. We cannot perform miracles,but we may be useful by medical aid, and by personal attendance, and succour. And where the malady cannot be removed, the enduring may be alleviated. Is it nothing to the patient, that you visit him in his affliction; that he sees you at the side of the bed of languishing; that, by your tears and prayers, you are answering to the address, Pity me, pity me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me?

The estate of our brethren may call for assistance, and is to be relieved according to our ability. It will be as base in us as unprofitable to them, to say, Depart in peace be ye warmed and filled; while we give them not those things which are needful to the body. "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" Job could say,The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. It was the saying of our Lord, It is more blessed to give than to receive. It was the glory of Christianity, in its first powerful effect, that none who embraced it "lacked." As glory in heaven, and as grace on earth, so the blessings of Providence were free and open to all. The property of Christians went along with their affections; "and distribution was made to every one as he had need." And so tender were they of each other, that "the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common." "Oh, this is no rule for us." Well, take it and interpret it in your own way. Yet, will not what even you infer from it as a duty, include much more than is now found in the temper and practice of Christians? "But we are not able." This is commonly the language of those who are able, but not willing. Some incapacitate themselves. A decent distinction above the vulgar will not satisfy them; they must be splendid in dress, and luxurious in table, and magnificent in furniture. Others are disabled by hoarding. If accumulation be not condemned by Christianity, the extent of it is. A man may decently provide for his family, without wishing to leave them in the snares of affluence, and with a heap of wealth, which if they do not dissipate by vice and excess, they are likely only to be concerned to enlarge. And may not persons increase their powers of beneficence, by diligence, and economy, and self-denial? And is not self-denial the first lesson in the school of Christ? And you know the grace of Him, who, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you, through his poverty, might be rich. "We OUGHT TO LAY DOWN OUR LIVES FOR THE BRETHREN."

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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