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son, sacrifice, and mediation. 1st Cor. i. 9- by which, as members of his body, believers are “ fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," Eph. ii. 19_" fellow. heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel," Eph. iii. 6-and “ fellow-workers in the kingdom of God,” Col. iv. 11-but having “no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," Eph. v. 11. 2nd Cor. vi. 14-18.
In this fellowship there are such giving and receiving, as minister spiritual supply ; and such working towards each other or together, as promotes the common good.
Spiritual supplies are ministered by giving and receiving, on the principle of union with “ the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God," Col. ii. 19. In this way, by speaking and doing the truth, they are the instruments of supply to each other, ministering the Spirit and spiritual supplies by the Spirit's testimony, “ speaking the truth in love,” Gal. iii, 2, 5,
The common good is promoted by disciples working towards each other or working together, as where it is said, “ But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things which is the head even Christ ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual work. ing in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love." Eph, iv, 15, 16.
The stated duties of fellowship, are those which relate to the stated meetings of the church ;-social worship in prayer and praise-reading and hearing the scriptures-preaching and hearing the word for the confession, defence and propagation of truth, in promoting the edification of the church and the conversion of the world--the observance of the Lord's Supper, making contributions for the supply of the poor, and for affording wages to “them that labour in word and doctrine,”—and such acts of discipline as occasions require,
The occasional duties of fellowship are :
1. On all occasions exercising love. “Seeing ye have purified your hearts in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye lovo ono another with a pure heart feryently,” 1st Pet, i, 22.
2. Mutual salutation. “ Salute every saint in Christ Jesus,” Phil. iv, 21,
3. Receiving one another. “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God,” Rom, xv. 7.
4. Mutual expressions of kindness and courtesy. "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another,” Rom. xii. 10.
5. Exercising sympathy and compassion one towards another. “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another," 1st Pet. iii. 8.
6. Cultivating concord and condescension. “Be of the same mind one towards another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits," Rom. xii. 16.
7. Instructing one another. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another,” Col. iii. 16.
8. Mutual exhortation. “Exhort one another daily,' &c. Heb. iii. 13; x. 24, 25.
9. Mutual support under infirmities and burdens. “ Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ," Gal. vi. 2. Rom. xv. 1, 2, 3.
.10. Mutual endeavours to promote each other's temporal prosperity. “Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth,” 1st Cor. x. 24. Phil. ii. 4.
11. Hospitality one to another, especially to strangers. “ Use hospitality one to another, without grudging," Ist Peter iv. 9. Rom. xii. 13. Heb. xiii, 2.
12. Ministering to the afflicted. “ Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world," James i. 27.
13. Mutual submission. " Likewise ve younger submit yourselves unto the elder ; ye all of you be subject one to another.” 1st Pet. v. 5. Eph. v. 21.
But there are laws applicable to all the duties of fellowship, such as-regarding the will of God in every duty. Eph. v. 17-Hearing Christ in all things. Acts iii. 22 Doing all things in the name of Christ. Col. iii. 17-Obedience to divine law in all things. 2nd Cor. ii. 9-Doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving. Eph. vi. 18. 1st Thess. v. 18- Doing all things in love and meekness. 1st Cor. xvi. 14. Phil. ii. 3—Disinterested in all things. Phil. ii. 4,5-Doing all things for peace and edification. Rom. xiv, 19. 1st Cor. xiv. 26-Doing all for maintaining mutual confidence. 2nd Cor. vii. 16—All things decently and in order. 1st Cor. xiv. 40– Doing all for the good and honour of the church, and for the glory of God. Titus ii. 10.; 1st Cor. x. 31.
It is, no doubt, the special duty of pastors to “watch for souls;" but, it is also the duty of all the members of a church to watch over one another in love-which may be done with advantage, by observing closely each other's spirit and conduct in the common intercourse of life. The interests of a church would suffer greatly, if left to the limited survey of a pastor. That this duty is binding on all, is evident from these commands : “Let us consider one another”-Heb. x, 24. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”- Phil. ii. 4. “ Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”—Heb. xii, 15.
The neglect of this commanded duty indicates a state of mind conformable to that of Cain, who said, “Am I my brother's keeper?"-a state of mind callous to the appointment of God, and the best interests of brethren,--or, some may wink at the faults of others by a false forbearance, conscious that their own conduct cannot bear inspection. The consequences resulting from such negligence are awful. Souls are in danger of perishing, from want of the means necessary to restore them from sin ; the church is exposed to corruption and trouble ; and those neglecting to watch will be held guilty by God, as the causes of those evils.
In attending to this duty, every one should take heed to his own spirit and motives, carefully watching over himself, lest he also be tempted ; thus will he be prepared to watch over his brethren in love, from sincere concern for their spiritual welfare,-not watching with a desire for their halting, or for finding matter of accusation, but to suggest or do what will remove evil and promote good, when occasion requires.
The ends intended by mutual watchfulness, must also be well understood, and care taken to promote them. On seeing what is of doubtful propriety, inquiry must be made for removing all grounds of suspicion, that the confidence of love may stand unimpaired-Acts xi. 1-18. On discovering remaining ignorance in brethren, means must be used to “instruct them in the way of the Lord more perfectly”-Acts xviii. 26. On finding them weak and in heaviness, they must be encouraged and comforted—1st Thes. v. 14. On seeing them ensnared by error, they must be admonished and restored-James v. 19, 20. On observing how they are exposed to temptation, they must be warned to avoid and resist
Col. i. 28. On seeing them wanting in duty, they must be exhorted to greater diligence-Heb. x. 24, 25. On finding them poor and needy, they must be supplied— 1st John iii. 17 ;-and, on seeing them offending, by violating the principles of their holy profession, they must be treated as the laws of Christ require--Mat. xviii. 15–17. But, it cannot be expected that all things objectionable will be at once adjusted to the satisfaction of the complainer. There are many things which, in consideration of the state of mind in reference to them, call for christian forbearance.
On this branch of love it is written, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love ; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”- Eph. iv. 1-3. “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another"-Col. iii. 12, 13. In these passages, forbearance is mentioned not as cold indifference, but as the offspring of love, which worketh no evil but good. As the coadjutor of “ kindness, meekness, and humbleness of mind,” it abstains from the proceedings of pride and anger. As following “ longsuffering," it abstains from what human passions might meditate by way of retaliation, when suffering by the faults of others. And, as providing for “ keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” it abstains from all measures tending to division. În exercising this standard grace of the social relation, it is required
1. That we be found forbearing to employ compulsory proceedings, which would violate christian liberty and the sacred rights of conscience, by compelling any to act beyond the convictions of duty, or contrary to the rule, “ Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind"-Rom. xiv. 5 ; Gal. ii. 3-5.
2. Forbearing, in so far as consists with scriptural principles, to do what would grieve or stumble a weak brother, as in the case of not eating or drinking what had been offered to idols, when doing so might injure those who are wanting in knowledge. “ If thy brother be grieved with thy meat,
now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died”-Rom. xiv. 15.
3. Forbearing all uncharitable judgment of a brother on account of difference of opinion on minor points. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” –Rom. xiv. 10.
4. Forbearing all prejudice and improper feeling on account of differences of opinion about secondary matters. “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him” – Rom. xiv. 3.
5. Forbearing to make points of difference a reason for not walking together, in so far as all are agreed. “Let us therefore, as many be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing”Phil. iii. 15, 16.
6. Forbearing to allow differences on minor matters to impair love. In the exercise of long-suffering and forbearance, Christ loves his people as they are, notwithstanding all their shortcoming in knowledge and duty; and he hath said, “ This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you”-John xv. 12. Those, then, are not loving their brethren after this rule, who allow their kind regards to be impaired by such differences, while having good reason to love one another for the truth's sake dwelling in them.
It has been alleged, that forbearance with one who is regarded as thinking or acting wrong, amounts to toleration of sin. But forbearance relates, not to the thought or action so much as to the state of mind of the individual, being regarded as incapable of thinking or acting otherwise for the time, from being ill instructed or weak. “We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves”–Rom. xv. 1. In this view of the principle, what might admit of forbearance in one, might call for rebuke in another. The man that refuses to act from conscientious scruples in some things, arising from defective knowledge or prejudice, while otherwise giving evidence of walking by faith and in the fear of the Lord, is a proper subject of forbearance. But he that violates the known rules of duty, must be treated as an offender. “ To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin"-James iv. 17.
It is not, therefore, correct or scriptural to speak of a