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The Christian Brotherhood.

The Christian Brotherhood.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. WILLIAM F. STEWART.


Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together
in unity," Psalms.
BY REV. WILLIAM F. STEWART.


Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together
in unity," Psalms.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 27, 2014
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THE CHRISTIA BROTHERHOOD. BY REV. WILLIAM F. STEWART.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," Psalms. Beyond controversy the Almighty designed that the human family should constitute one great brotherhood, Hence, in man's creation, he not only sent the "one blood" coursing through all veins, thus constituting an endless and universal literal kindred, but he also planted deep in his constitution a desire, yea, a demand for society. This demand is so imperious, that neither the charms which poesy nor the importance which some religions have thrown around solitude can prevent the lone one from sighing, " 0, Solitude, where are the charms That sages have seen in thy face? Better dwell in the midst of alarms, Than reign in this horrible place." But while men are attracted "together" by inclinations, and compelled, by interest, to "dwell together," seldom is it our privilege to behold that "unity" among them which is contemplated in the text, and which is the essence of that great brotherhood which God designed. A unity of feeling, and purpose, and effort for the securement of God's glory and man's happiness is certainly both desirable and possible. " Behold how good," etc.; and, I. This unity is good; 1. Because God requires it. His will on this subject is not only learned from the history of man's creation and position, as set forth in the introductory remarks, but clearly expressed by the pen of inspiration. Hence the astonishment of Paul when informed by them of the

house of Chloe that there were contentions in the Corinthian Church, and his present exhortation: " ow, I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." And so solicitous was he that they should understand and obey the will of God in this respect, that he presses it again and again; and even when he had so nearly closed the last epistle to that Church as to say farewell, he would

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THE CHRISTIA BROTHERHOOD. Ill make, in connection with that endearing word, a final impression on this subject. " Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect; be of good comfort; be of one mind; live in peace ; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." The great apostle and his associates only echoed the teachings of Jesus Christ. When he gave to the disciples the new commandment, that they should ' ' love one another," he knew the attractive power of love. He designed that, like kindred drops of water, they should run together till they should "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." And, 0, how pointedly, impressively, and pathetically is his will manifested in that sublime prayer which he offered up for his disciples! "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I. come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are;" " either pray I for these alone, [his apostles ;] but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one; as thou,

Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us : that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them ; that they may be one, even as we are one ; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one ; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." 2. It is good, because it gives stability to the Church. Fluctuations and declensions are abundant in those congregations where Christian unity does not prevail, while advancement in experience and increase of members are peculiar to those congregations who preserve the "unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace." And we will do well to ponder well this very thing. The revivals of the Church, at the present time, great and glorious as they

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are, do not surpass those of primitive times; but the proportion of those who stand fast, as the fruits of modern revivals, is certainly smaller than in the days of the Church's infancy. Why is this? Read attentively the state of the Church at the time of the first great revival. Says the historian, " These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." And on the happy morning, 4 'they were all, with one accord, in one place." This, perhaps, is the grand reason that it is recorded of the three thousand, added that day to the Church, that "they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrines and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and

in prayers." Worldly wisdom calculates on stability, as connected with human institutions, only in proportion to the unity existing among their patrons, and appropriately says, "United we stand." Jesus calculates upon unity in every Church which seeks to stand upon the rock; and of such only has he declared, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." 3. It is good, because it gives influence to the Church. It increases her influence with God. Who has not known a want of unity to prevent the prayers and neutralize the efforts of truly pious ones? poor penitents at the altar of prayer and a part of the Church richly baptized with the spirit of the work, and yet nothing accomplished on account of those who would not come up to the help of the Lord? And till those Achans were put out of the way the Israel of God was compelled to stand still. I know the supplications of a single man of God may accomplish much. I remember Daniel, and Elijah, and Paul ; and I have read of their power at the mercy-seat : and yet I remember that Jesus taught, "If two of you shall agree, as touching one thing, it shall be granted." I remember that he taught, "If thou bring thy gift before

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the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way ; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." From these teachings I am convinced that unity among brethren increases their influence with God. Only when she comes up unitedly to the

help of the Lord against the mighty, does she lay hold upon omnipotence ; then only do the walls of prisons shake, the doors of dungeons fly open of their own accord, and Heaven's blessings come showering thick and fast. And if the harmony of the Church gives her influence with God, certainly it greatly enlarges her influence with the world. What family exerts the most decided influence in favor of Christianity? Is it the one, where husband and wife, parents and children, professing much love for Christ, exhibit but little for each other? Does not a domestic broil throw a suspicion on the professions and curtail the influence of any family? The same is true of the Church: when divided she is always ' ' weak" if not ' ' contemptible ;" but when united, there goes out from her an influence which the world must feel, and by which it may be moved. For of a Church, in such a case, it will not only be said as of her after the Pentecostal baptism, that she "has favor with all the people/ ' but it will be added, as of that same congregation, that an influence will go forth so powerful that "fear" will "come upon every soul." How mighty such a Church! The great geometrician said, "Give me a place for my fulcrum, and I will move the world but a band of united brethren, in God's service, can move earth and heaven. that another Pentecost might come, and brethren show "How Christians lived in days of old, A proverb of reproach and love." If the plain declaration of Scripture, and the increased stability and influence of the Church sufficiently evidence 10*

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that it is "good," other considerations beside these will show that II. It is pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity. In passing to this thought we may remark: 1. It is pleasant to the members of the Church themselves to dwell together thus. The spirit of strife is an unpleasant spirit ; the spirit of peace is a pleasant spirit. An individual who had been greatly injured was asked why he did not take revenge upon the perpetrator of the wrong. He responded that he was always unhappy when he allowed himself to become angry, and for the sake of enjoyment he had resolved to restrain wrath. This was the philosophy of an unregenerated man ; and surely Christians find more enjoyment in harmony than in strife. When brethren can not meet in the same class, or kneel at the same communion board, how little comfort do they feel ! but 0, how it swells the ample breast when discord is put far away, and smiling face greets smiling face, and Christian hand grasps Christian hand, and Christian knee with Christian knee in sweet communion bends, and Christian song and prayer with Christian song and prayer sweetly blend, and swell, and rise to God ! How pleasant it is to the members ! 2. But it is pleasant to the pastors of the Church. If there ever is a time when the itinerant rejoices in the approach of conference, it is when, unhappily, strife abounds in the congregation over which he is placed as pastor. If there is ever a time when he would be willing to close his itinerant course, and "build three tabernacles here," and make a permanent abode, it is when he can look over his congregation and say, "Behold how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." He is not afraid then to visit brother B., or sup with sister C, lest brother

E. or F. will regard him as taking sides in an unfortunate difficulty. In such a congregation he has a spirit to labor,

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and is crowned with success in his labors. Of such a congregation he often dwells in sweetest memories when the infirmities of age have laid him aside from the regular work, and to such a Church he would willingly be a ministering spirit when exalted to a higher sphere of ministration. 3. But such a scene is pleasant for angels to look upon. Doubtless they feel deeply interested in the affairs of the Church. That they are thrilled with exceeding joy, upon the penitence of sinners, infallibility assures us; nor can we doubt but they rejoice in that state of things which is calculated ta bring sinners under awakening influence. And if, as we have attempted to show, the unity of brethren gives to the Church an influence mighty with God and men — an influence which penetrates the deepest chambers of the soul — in this surely they can but rejoice. The one who was with his beloved disciple on the Isle of Patmos, declared himself to be his "fellow-servant;" and we can scarcely suppose that the memories of the past, and the expanded views of the higher state, would not cause him to esteem more highly than we a scene so pleasant. I sometimes think that if angels ever smile a sweeter smile, or swell a note of higher melody, or bound away with intense joy on their missions, it is when from the battlements of heaven they look down upon such a people and sing, "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity !" Thus the goodness

and pleasantness of the Christian brotherhood have passed before us in brief review ; but there remains an important question yet to be considered. It is this : III. How can this state of things be brought about and made permanent in the Church ? I reply, first, and in general terms, by a new and continuous baptism of the Holy Ghost. But to be more particular, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we must 1. Bear with each other's infirmities. Most of us have

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our weaknesses and infirmities. But what is remarkable, is, that we can see and lament the infirmities of our brethren so much easier than we can our own. We can see that a brother prays and sings too loud, but forget that we seldom sing or pray at all. We complain that one is too forward — taking too active a part in every Church movement, and forget that we have stubbornly refused to do any thing. We can overlook the sin of fault-finding, and fix the eye only upon the sin of fault-doing . It seems that the law in optics, which requires the object of vision to be placed at some distance from the eye, finds place among the laws of depraved spiritual vision. And what is to be deplored is, that the infirmities of our brethren are always found just in the 'focal distance" so that we can see a mote in our brother's eye easier than a beam in our own. Let us turn about and place ourselves in our brethren's places of observation, and looking back upon our own infirmities we shall learn a lesson of mercy which

will prepare us, with some propriety, to say, " That mercy I to others show, That mercy show to me." We will be willing to bear and forbear, and forbear that we may be borne with. It may be asked, " Shall I never speak of the sins of my brethren?" Certainly, when they are sins, and are known to you, you may, nay, you must speak of them, not to your neighbor but to him first; not on the street or in the store, but with thee and him alone. And if you find it necessary to speak of it further, see that you do it in the way of Bible teaching. If he is guilty of sin and you can convert him, you will do a great work, even "save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins." Bearing with one another; and 2. Bearing one another's burdens. Perhaps one of the most prolific sources of alienations among the followers of Christ is the want of a spirit of bearing one another's

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burdens, or aiding to bear the common burden. Is there a sexton to be paid ; repairs of the church to be paid for ; a minister to be supported? By whom shall the burden be borne? The society consists of a hundred members. Shall ten of them bear it all, or will the ninety help ? If the ten are compelled to bear it all, will they feel pleasantly about it? Will they not be likely, in a moment of temptation, to make some remark in regard to delinquents or " pay -nothing' 9 members, which will cause an alienation

somewhere ? and may they not justly regard themselves as imposed on? If I am not and can not be excluded from any one of the privileges of the Church which my brother enjoys, am I not with him in duty bound to aid in bearing the burden as God has given me strength ? But 1 am poor, and this sister is very poor; "it would be a shame to let her give any thing while others can give, and not feel it." Yes, poor woman! she is. Only "two mites" in the world, and that is "all her living!" How shameful it was in the officer to allow her to throw her little all into the treasury ! How strange that some good man had not interposed! 0, that the Savior had been there to have rectified the matter! The Savior! he was there, and he saw it, and he knew it was all she had. He smiled ; he approved ; he mentioned it, and had it recorded, that she might be honored, and the poor encouraged to bring their offerings as long as the world shall stand. Let the poor bring their pennies; let the rich bring their hundreds ; but let all bring something. The poor woman received as rich a reward as if, in other circumstances, she had brought a fortune ; but had she not brought her mites, she would have received no reward. Find me a society where every one pays his part of the whole requirement, and I will show you one where this sermon would be read without a critique; bearing each other's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of the Lord.

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3. Love one another with pure hearts fervently. " This is the very thing," says one, "that I don't know how to do. I can bear with infirmities, and I can aid in carrying bur-

dens; but I can't love those in whose piety I have no confidence." How much confidence do you suppose the Almighty had in your piety and mine when he " so loved us " as to give his Son to die for us ? Ought we not, then, to "love one another?" "I don't deny that I ought to do it; that is plainly taught. But how can IP* He has injured you, has he ? and you can't regard him as a good brother, but as an enemy — a wolf in sheep's clothing? Christ says, "Pray for your enemies; do good to those that spitefully use you." Follow those injunctions, and the way may be mysterious, but the issue will be glorious. It is a principle deep implanted in the human heart, by the God who made it, that love will generate and grow in proportion as we extend our benefactions to any one. Mother, why do you love that weak and sickly, that unfortunate child, more than that bright-eyed and healthy one? Is it not because you have been compelled to extend to it more constant and frequent kindnesses? When you meet that offending brother, speak a kind word ; when opportunity serves, show a kind deed; and three times a day on your knees pray God that if he is right you may be convinced of it, and if not, that the Almighty Spirit may give you charity and him grace. 0, how will hatred dissipate, and anger flee, and the love of pity or complacency abound ! Remember that Christ and Satan are both interested in the eternal destiny of the man, and ask, "With which shall I throw the measure of my aid?" Bearing with one another, aiding one another, and loving one another ; bow love attracts ! how kindness binds ! how goodness blends ! The law of kindness regulating pure souls — is not this the perfection to which we press ? 0, that your society, reader, may be purified and united !

THE EW TESTAME T TEMPLE. 119 Then will it be one in regard to which a happy membership, a joyous pastor, and rejoicing angels will sing and shout, " Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren

to dwell together in unity !"

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