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how many soever we be. Let us only be found doing our duty, and there is no fear that we miss our reward.
But to return to the apostle's exhortation: “ Esteem them very highly in love for their works' ~ sake.” This plainly supposes acquaintance with them, and regular attendance upon their ministrations. Love in this, as well as in other instances, is often conceived at first sight; may be the effect of a single glance; it exists, but it is impossible to tell whence it came, or whither it goes; but esteem is the fruit of intimacy and attention; it is cool and dispassionate; it flies not hastily to the embraces of a stranger, but it cannot be torn from the bosom of a friend; but still it is an affection too cold and inanimated to form of itself the perfection of this pleasing union. The approbation of the understanding, be it ever so clear and full, will never satisfy, if the more tender emotions of the heart be restrained; the apostle therefore urges his suit farther than esteem, farther than even the highest degree of it; he solicits in behalf of his brethren in the ministry, that esteem of them be crowned with love. He knew that if this affection, thus founded, could once be engaged in their favour, their mutual happiness would be complete; that an union of įnterests, of views, of pursuits, of attainments, would constitute a fulness of joy. Let Paul still plead for his fellow-labourers--they have need of all his intercession--you have an undoubted right to examine the claim that is laid to your esteem and love, nay, it becomes you to be nicely scrupulous in your inquiries. If a person pretend a regard for us, and proffer a particular service to us, we are disposed, nay, in a manner, constrained to think well of him in the first instance, for we can hardly think ill of another, merely for thinking well of us; but before we give credit to his professions, or accept his services, it is natural, and it is fit to inquire into the motives by which he may be actuated, and the ends he may probably have in view——if these apparently issue from, and end in self, we are fully warranted to hesitate, to suspect, to reject--if they have a more benevolent and disinterested aspect, though we may see proper to reject, we frankly bestow our approbation, and acknowledgments; but if such a person advance a formal claim to our affections and good offices, we are then called upon to ask in plain terms: “ On what pretence dost thou thus?” To apply to the instance before us---the ministers of the gospel, in as far as they resemble Paul, do not pretend to your favour, on the presumption of an inherent dignity in their order, “ For we preach not our“ selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves “your servants for Jesus' sake”-nor yet on personal accomplishments, whether natural or acquired: “ What things were gain” to Paul, in this respect, those he counted loss for Christ -nor as having dominion over you, for we would not be “ lords over God's heritage, but rather
ensamples to the flock.” Our simple plea is, we love you, we wish you well, we wish well to your dearest, best interests-we wish to “ im“ part unto you spiritual gifts, to the end you
may be established,”- If you find it otherwise, if you find the fleece, not the flock, to be our object, that we seek not you, but yours, despise, reject us, as a woman of sensibility and spirit would a sordid suitor, whom she discovered to be attached to her fortune, not her person, or to the latter chiefly for the sake of the former. By this test we are contented to stand or fall.If it be asked, Are not the ministers of the gospel liable to many imperfections in common with other men? it is readily admitted, they are “men of like passions with yourselves.”--Arethey not justly chargeable with many faults in temper,
many errors in conduct? Let it be with sorrow acknowledged; but still permit us to plead, that we bring you that gospel which is calculated to make both ourselves and you wiser and betterthat gospel whose native tendency it is to purify, to exalt, to perfect our nature—that gospel which is the endearing bond of union between saints on earth, and the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven.“ We beseech you therefore, bre“ thren, to know them which labour among you, “ and are over you in the Lord, and admonish
you, and to esteem them very highly in love ~ for their works' sake," and love will cover a multitude of sins, for “charity suffereth long, « and is kind; charity envieth not; charity “ vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth “ not behave itself unseemly, seeketlı not her
own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil, “ rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the “ truth; beareth all things; believeth all things;
hopeth all things; endureth all things*.”
3. The apostle prefers a third request to the church of the Thessalonians, respecting their behaviour one to another, “ And be at peace
among yourselves.” He had commended them highly on this very account, a little before,
“ But as touching brotherly love, ye need not " that I write unto you; for ye yourselves are
taught of God to love one another. And in“ deed ye do it towards all the brethren, which “ are in all Macedonia.*” But it is a duty which cannot be too often inculcated, a temper which cannot be too warmly recommendedChrist himself gives it as his special commandment, and lays it down as the distinguishing badge of his disciples : “A new commandment “ I give unto you, that ye love one another; as “ I have loved you, that ye also love one ano“ther. By this shall all men know that ye are
my disciples, if ye have love one to anothert." Paul, therefore, the servant of Christ, earnestly and repeatedly presses it in all his epistles to all the churches. It would lead me far beyond the proper bounds of a discourse, to enter into a minute discussion of this subject. The importance of the apostolic injunction is obvious it were absurd to go about to prove it. I shall satisfy myself with suggesting a few things which tend to disturb the peace of christian society, that you may be warned to avoid them, and with mentioning a few considerations, attention to which may be the means of preserving and promoting peace among yourselves.
1 Thess, iv. 9, 10. + St. John xiv. 34, 35.