April 27 PDF Print E-mail
"Members one of another." — Romans 12:5

All mankind are joined together by a connexion which only death can dissolve. The remoteness of the situation in which we are placed does not hinder this connexion, but rather strengthens it. We see this in the traffic of different nations, and their mutual exchange of commodities. The inhabitants of one region cultivate the productions of the ground, and produce articles of manufacture for the use of those of another, and those of another do the same in return for them; and we sometimes find the four quarters of the globe in the furniture of one house, or the provisions of one table. The sea, which seemed likely to separate the dwellers upon earth, has, in the progress of science and arts, rendered them accessible to each other; and navigation has become the principal medium of trade.

There are various distinctions in life, and the Scripture does not discountenance them. Neither are we to view them as selfish, or terminating only in the advantage of the superior ranks. The lowest are useful, as well as the highest. The rich benefit the poor, and the poor labour for the rich. The king is the protector of his subjects, and every subject contributes to the support of the king — the king is served by the labour of the field. There is no such thing as independence, and were it not for ignorance and pride, we should never think of it. The under ranks are even the basis of the community — the lowest parts of the wall sustain the higher. The more we rise, and possess, the less claim have we to independence, as a larger building requires more support than a smaller. A nobleman employs a thousand hands; a peasant wants but two, and these are his own.

If this reasoning be true as to men, it is more so as to Christians. And it is in this light Paul so frequently and largely speaks of it: "I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." To show how important it is to display a mutual dependence, he remarks, "The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary." They have all their respective places and uses. Each is necessary, necessary to each, and necessary to the whole — necessary to the beauty, the strength, the happiness the perfection of the whole. Why, then, should we set at nought a brother?

Yet the harmony is often broken, and a schism found in the body. The Christian Church would never have been reduced to its present disjointed state, if the members had not been beguiled from the simplicity that is in Christ. The first wrong step took them to a distance from the Spirit; and as though Christ had been divided, and had imparted himself and his Gospel to some, exclusively of others, the names of creatures became noted as the sources from which particular doctrines were derived, and by whom particular modes of discipline were established. The words the Holy Ghost used were less regarded than the words which man's wisdom teacheth. The worthy name by which Christians were originally called, was no longer sufficient. They ranged themselves under different leaders, and called "Rabbi;" forgetting who had forbidden this, and that one was their Master, even Christ, while all they are only brethren. Hence feuds and animosities followed; and the professors of meekness itself learned to bite and devour one another. The consequences of such measures are known and felt even at the present day; and though much of the violence of religious parties has subsided, distinctions unscriptural, and unnecessary, (in the degree, if not in the existence) are supported; and though all hold the same Head, the members of one communion often look for no more honour and assistance from those of another, than if they were not of the body.

But "if the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say. Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?" "But now are they many members, yet but one body," "that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

Christians are not only as so many members in a natural body, but as so many members in a civil, or domestic state. However different and distant they were by nature from each other, an effectual method has been taken by Divine Grace to bring them together. They are reconciled in one body on the Cross. They are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Therefore they are one in Christ, by obligation, as well as by connexion and dependence. Christ over his own house, has right to enact a law, for the well-ordering and governing of those placed under him. This law is clearly contained in the Scripture, and vain is every other proof of our belonging to him, unless we obey it. And what says He? "Then are ye my disciples, if ye love one another." According to this, we must not live to ourselves; each is to live for the good of each, and of all. Even a gratification, harmless in itself, is to be avoided, if the peace of a weak conscience will thereby be destroyed. Such was the example of Paul; such was the example of Jesus: "Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification: for even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me."

"Now, by the bowels of my God,
His sharp distress, his sore complaints,
By his last groans, his dying blood,
I charge my soul to love the saints."

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

 
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