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Brotherly Love and Unity

Brotherly Love and Unity

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Published by glennpease
1 John iv. 20.
1 John iv. 20.

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 02, 2012
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1 John iv. 20.ASEABGHIG qaestion this ; yet a somewliat question-able argnment t From the weight of emphasis laid aponit, St. John obyionsly intends it for on argument, and acogent one ; you can tell from his tone that he is contentwith it, that he thinks it irrefragable, unanswerable : yet oneis tempted to question, if not to reject, it. " How can Ilove the God whom I have not seen, if I do not love thebrother whom I have seen I " we might say : ** Why, it is just because I see my brother, and see too much of him,that I find it so hard to love him." Or, again, we might say,** ot love my Father because I don't love my brother !Why, when I was a child at home, how I used to cuff, andscufQe, and contend with my brothers ; what keen pangs of rivalry and jealousy I have felt against them ; yet all thatdid not in any way impair my love for my father.'* Or,taking a higher tone, we might say, " ot love the goodperfect God, because I cannot love evil or imperfect men IWhy, it is precisely that in me which makes me love Himwhich also makes me withhold my love from them ; because Ilove and aspire after that which is perfect, I turn away frommen to God." In short, the argument looks so illogical thatwe may be tempted to conclude, *^ St. John was no logician.With the profoundest intaitive insight into all the mysteriesof Traih and Life, he had very little faculty for argument."But before we come to this conclofiion, before at least weuse it to ward off the heart- searching influence of the questionSt. John has asked us, let us remember that intuition is, atleast in matters of affection, truer and safer than log^c, thata conviction springing from the heart is better than the mostfaultless syllogism, that the very deepest truths are preciselythose which cannot be proved by argument. You cannot,
for instance, demonstrate your own existence or the existenceof God ; yet you know that you ar^, and that God u, andthat these two are supreme ultimate facts. Try to provethem, and you will fail, as all have failed before you ; therewill be some weak point in your chain of argument, someassumption in your premises which will vitiate your con-clusion. If, for example, you adopt the old philosophicalargument, "I think^ therefore I am,'* which looks safeenough, there are at least two weak dangerous points in it.For one inference from it is, that nothing exists save thatwhich thinks, and thus while affirming your own existenceyou deny that of the whole material universe, which, perhaps^you did not intend. Moreover, you qpiietly assume thatwhich you profess to prove : for the '< I," the person, whothinks, is the very person whose existence you were to de-monstrate; yet at the outset, in saying *< I think," you takehis existence to be granted ; for how can he think if he doesnot already exist ? Yet, though you cannot prove, you donot doubt, either your own existence or that of God. Theseare facts which appeal to that in you which is deeper thanlogic — ^to consciousness, to intuition ; you know a great dealmore than you can prove. And there are many cognatefacts in the spiritual life which approve themselves to you,which you feel to be true, though you cannot demonstratetheir truth. The longer we live, indeed, the less we trust inlogic ; the more we trust in the simple primitive inspirationH452 BROTHERLY LOVE AD UITYof the hnman heart. We find that logic has limits which areverj soon reached, that its power is much slighter than wethought ; we find hoth that the best things cannot be proved,and that to prove a thing ever so sorely goes a very littleway with men. Convinced against their will, they're of thesame opinion still ; yon must touch will and heart, yon mostrouse the convictions and intuitions latent in and common toall men before you can win them to the love and obedienceof the truth. ow it is to these deeps of our nature that
St. John calls from the deeps of his nature when he asks,'*He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, howcan he love the G-od whom he hath not seen ? " We knowand feel that the thought is a true one, even though we maythink the argumentative force of it somewhat defective.But is it so defective as it seems ? Let us take up theobjections to it which I have suggested, and see what afterall they are worth. /< it so much easier, for instance, andmore natural to love the perfect God than to love imperfectmen ? It is for the perfect, no doubt. But we are im-perfect ; and to the imperfect, perfection is terrible, if alsoattractive ; it is a standing rebuke to our weakness and de-fects : while, on the other hand, our sympathies la'ZZ go out,do what we may, to those who are of like passions and im-perfections with ourselves. Who does not love Abraham,though he shuffled and equivocated about Sarah, and was notaltogether admirable in his treatment of Hagar and her son,better than irreproachable Isaac ? David was by no means im-maculate ; yet he is dearer to us than prince Daniel, in whomno fault was found. Who does not love ardent blunderingPeter all the more for his very faults ? and is not even Thomasall the dearer to us because he was so sceptical and hard toconvince? We cannot argue, therefore, that to love a perfectGod is easier to us than to love imperfect men ; for the sym-pathies of the imperfect are, and must be, with the imperfect.BROTHERLY LOVE AD UITY 453Again. It may be very trae that brothers treat brothersroaghly ; bat is it tme that they can injure one anotherwithout lessening their love for their father ? What do youmean by love ? Does it not include obedience when it isfelt toward a superior ? If boys do not obey their father — and what father does not wish his sons to love and serve oneanother ? — does not their disobedience detract from theirlove ? Well, this is part of the Apostle's argument. In thevery next verse he tells ns, " This commandment have we

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