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1 John ii. 9. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. THE epistle from which these words are taken, abounds with tests or signs of Christian faith ; tests by which a man may try and examine himself, and prove his own soul ; discover his state in the sight of God. Is he in the light or no ? aturally, we walk in darkness. " Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people." The Lord Jesus Christ came to disperse that darkness. It is the account which he gives of himself. " I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me should not abide in darkness." 1 1 John xii. 46. BB
370 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G But light may come into the world, and men may love darkness rather. Such was the sin of the Jews in general. Their eyes were closed ; that they could not " see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 And at all times, and in every age, there have been too many such : too many whose eyes the god of this world has blinded, 2 so that the light of truth which shines around them has never reached their hearts.
Of these St. John does not speak here. He speaks of those who profess to have come to the light, and to be walking in the light : who would be offended if any questioned their religious state, or doubted of their reconciliation with God. He does not question it, or point any accusation against them individually ; but lays down a general rule, by which any one may judge himself, or if needful, be judged of by others. If any man say that he has been convinced of his natural sinfulness, and consequent condemnation before God ; that he has pursued the way, the only way of deliverance, and been brought to embrace the faith that is in Christ Jesus ; has " received him," as sent of God " to seek and to save that which was lost;" that therefore he is no longer " appointed unto wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus 8 2 Cor. v. 6.
THE STATE OF OTHERS. 371 Christ ;" if any man say this, and that being thus delivered from the darkness of sin and death, he is enjoying the light of the divine favour, and yet hateth his brother, this man deceives himself with vain words and false notions ; he is in darkness even until now. May the light of divine truth shine on us whilst we contemplate these words ! The first inquiry must be, Who is the brother ? In the first and highest sense, the brother is the fellow-disciple ; those of whom Paul so often speaks under that endearing term, as " The saints, and faithful brethren in Christ :" those whom the Lord himself " is not ashamed to call his brethren ;" those to whom he appeared, when before his ascen-
sion he " was seen of above five hundred brethren at once." One, in short, who acknowledges the same faith, professes the same hope, and walks together in the house of God as a friend, is, in the proper sense of the term, the Christian's brother. But when our Lord was asked, in a somewhat similar inquiry, " Who is my neighbour ?" 3 his answer showed how far in his esteem the term extended, and with the term, the obligation attached to it. It extended even to the Samaritan with 3 St. Luke x. 29, &c. BB2
372 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G whom the Jews " had no dealings." And so in a like spirit he is to be regarded as my brother, who is heir of the same nature, born of the like parentage; nay, is a member of the same country, baptized in the same faith, and called by the same title of Christian. He may have forgotten " the covenant of his fathers," he may have neglected his baptismal privileges, he may be walking unworthily of his vocation. But still he is a fellowman, the offspring of the same God, the object of the same universal love : and as such, he is a brother. The next inquiry must be, what it is to hate a brother ? How it can be possible for any man to say he is in the light, and hate his brother ? Consider what hatred is. Joseph's brethren hated him, being jealous of his character, and of the superiority which seemed to await him ; and their thoughts were, " Behold, this dreamer cometh ; come, let us slay him." 4 Haman hated Mordecai, because he
was his rival in the favour of the king ; and laid a snare for his life. 5 The princes of Babylon did the same in the case of Daniel. 6 The chief priests and rulers hated Lazarus, because he afforded an evidence of the divine power of Jesus ; and they 4 Gen. xxxvii. 19. 5 See Esth. v. 6, &c. 6 Dan. vi.
THE STATE OF OTHERS. 373 " consulted to put him to death." 7 Therefore, St. John writes afterwards, " He that hateth his brother is a murderer;" he has thoughts in his heart which, if allowed to lodge and be cherished there, will lead him to desire and even to compass the death of him who is the object of them. It can scarcely, therefore, be in this strong sense of the word that St. John supposes the case of a Christian man hating his brother. Such hatred as this, and the deeds that follow it, are among the sins which " go before a man to judgment;" 8 which hardly allow him to deceive himself, and which certainly cannot deceive others. Hatred like this is the feeling of those who have no fear of God before their eyes ; who are led captive by the devil at his will ; who have never inquired about salvation, or renounced sin, or aspired to heaven. Such characters as these do not say that they are in the light. Confessedly, they walk in darkness. But if we examine into the usage of the word hate in Scripture, we find that it does not always bear this strong and active sense ; that men are spoken of as hating a thing, in a very different way from that in which Esau hated Jacob, or Saul
hated David, or Haman hated Mordecai. Men are often said to hate that which they do not 7 John xii. 10. 8 1 Tim. v. 24.
374 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G prefer ; which they give up and abandon, and in so abandoning, act as if they hated it. We know, for example, how our Lord said, " If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, yea, his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." 8 ow, brethren, I need not say that no man can be called upon to hate his parents. If he could do so, where would his religion be ? If he " gave his body to be burned, and had not that charity" which binds a man to his nearest relatives if he remembers not the sorrow which bore him, and the care which tended him, and the solicitude which prayed for him, and the labour which provided for his interests and supplied his wants, truly may we say that he is a stranger to the grace of God. How little would he resemble Him who left us an example ! Him of whom we are told, that after having shown his divinity in the temple at Jerusalem, he accompanied his parents to azareth, and " was subject unto them ;" 9 and who from the agony of the cross provided for the bereavement of her whom he was leaving, and enjoined his beloved disciple, " Behold thy mother !" 1 o man, therefore, can be in the light, and hate his father and mother. Yet he may be obliged to act s Luke xiv. 26. 9 Ibid. ii. 51. 1 John xix. 27.
THE STATE OF OTHERS. 375 as if he hated them. The Lord himself did so, when he tarried behind at Jerusalem, and his parents " sought him sorrowing." 2 He did so, when he refused to hearken to their call, and leave at their solicitation the business of his ministry. 3 So a man may be bound by duty to leave his parents ; to separate himself from them ; to choose something else in preference to them. He may be called upon to act as St. Paul acted, 4 when his friends at Cesarea surrounded him, and with one voice " besought him not to go up to Jerusalem." He broke from them, saying, " What mean ye to weep and to break my heart ? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the sake of the Lord Jesus." See a byestander might have said see how this man returns hatred for goodwill. His friends intreat him to remain amongst them. He casts them off', and leaves them to themselves, that he may pursue his own journey. Just as a man, if he will be a disciple of Christ Jesus, must sometimes act as if he hated his own life. one, except in a morbid state of feeling, can really hate their own lives. But they may act as if they hated them, and wished to be rid of them. If a man did hate his own life, he could Luke ii. 48. 3 Matt. xii. 50. * Acts xxi. 13.
376 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G not do more than put it into jeopardy, or suffer it to be destroyed. And this the apostles did, when, in defiance of the threats of the chief priests
and rulers, they " ceased not in the temples and synagogues to teach and to preach in the name of Christ." They counted not their lives dear unto themselves. And what is this but, in effect, to hate and renounce them? Thus, then, I explain the meaning of the phrase, when St. John speaks of one who saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother. He does not contemplate the bitter and revengeful feelings which belong to hatred, properly so called. He does not warn us against active enmity, whether of thought, word, or deed. But he would call it hatred, to show no signs and give no proofs of any other feeling : he would call it hatred to exercise no love ; to act as those did, 8 for instance, who meeting with a man who had fallen among thieves and been left by the way naked and wounded, paid him no attention, and passed by on the other side. This he would call hatred, because it was not love ; and because it proved that some other feeling besides that of love towards a neighbour had possession of the mind ; love of ease, or love of our own pursuits, or love of our possessions. St. 5 Luke x. 40, &c.
THE STATE OF OTHERS. 377 James writes to the same purpose. " If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit ?" 6 What does it show of brotherly kindness and charity ? Yet a person might argue that he had no ill will towards these neglected individuals ; no enmity against them ; that he was in charity with all mankind ; wished them
all possible good ; nay, would gladly promote it, if he could benefit them without cost or trouble. But St. James justly replies, " What doth it profit ?" You say, " Be ye warmed and filled ;" but ye do not provide the means : ye send away the suppliant, and ye leave him to pine out of sight, and remain in his state of destitution. It matters little, when you act thus, whether you acknowledge the feelings of hatred, or pretend to the profession of love. What could hatred do more to injure, than do nothing to relieve ? What could hatred do more towards the most detested enemy, than abandon him to perish with cold and hunger ? Take example from the case of the rich man, at whose gate Lazarus is represented as lying, and being suffered to lie, " full of sores," and " desir6 James ii. 16.
378 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G ing to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table." 7 Suppose this Lazarus to have been the known enemy of the rich man, whom after a long contest he had subdued, and brought within his power. And suppose the rich man to be one who indulged without restraint the passions of malice and revenge, and thought himself at liberty to inflict upon his conquered adversary whatever his angry hatred could devise. He could not have contrived a method of revenge which should reduce his enemy to a state of greater wretchedness than that which is described as the state of Lazarus. Yet the rich man did not cause that state by any active measures of injury. Only he did not relieve it by any active measures of charity. And he is held up to us as a specimen of a character which God exceedingly disapproves,
and requires us not to imitate but to shun. For if any man saith he is in the light, believes himself to be at peace with God, and hateth his brother, he is in darkness even until now. He speaks to himself " peace, when there is no peace." And it appears that without being conscious of the sentiment of hatred, we may act the part of hatred ; that without doing the injury which actual enmity might inflict, we may incur the guilt of injuring, by 7 Luke xvi. 21.
THE STATE OF OTHERS. 379 withholding the benefit which Christian love, if it existed, would afford. And now let me observe that within the limits of this culpable neglect, which has everything of hatred except the name, all the interests of our brethren are comprehended : not the temporal wants of the body only, but the everlasting concerns of the soul. We may justly wonder how little this is taken into consideration. If there were any class of persons suffering under bodily misfortune, whose case no charitable institution reached, we know, and are thankful to know, that an immediate interest would be excited, and appeals be made to a Christian public whether such a case ought to be suffered to remain. It is the honour of our country, I ought rather to say of our Christianity, that none of the maladies which affect the body, none of the calamities to which the human frame is liable, are left without such alleviations as can be furnished by the hand of charity.
But is this all that should be expected of him who does not hate his brother ? Does love extend no further than to the least important part of man ? If we believe the Scripture, the temporary evils
380 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G that can afflict the body, great as we must own they often are, do not bear to be compared with the exceeding weight of suffering which awaits the soul, when leaving the world unreconciled to God, no pardon sought, no sins repented of, no peace secured. And if it is the sign of love to prevent suffering, and of hatred to neglect and overlook it, there may be as much of hatred in regard to the soul as to the body of our brother. This is far too little remembered. There is no consistency in our conduct on this point. We forget that in the case of the soul, no less than in the case of the body, to neglect may be to injure, not to assist, may be, virtually, to destroy. Without hesitation we should condemn the person who could entice or lead another into danger, and then escape from it by a way open to himself alone, leaving his companion behind to perish. To active malice like this we should give its proper name, and treat it with detestation. But a person might see another entering unawares into danger, and know that the end must be destruction ; yet give him no warning, offer no guidance. Would he be blameless? Should we not reckon him chargeable with the calamity that follows ? But if there is guilt in this, acknowledged guilt, we may justly ask ourselves whether it is not the
THE STATE OF OTHERS. 381 same kind of wrong to be aware of the spiritual danger of our brethren, and to leave it unredressed ; to be acquainted with their destitution of everything that can benefit the soul, and not to exert ourselves towards remedying their condition. If he, for instance, would be thought the most barbarous of men, who should see a troop of playful children entering the path of some tangled wilderness, where he knew they would be tempted to linger without thought of return, till darkness overtook them, and left them exposed to the beasts of the forest, which, " when night cometh, creep forth and seek their prey :" if this, brethren, should justly rouse our indignation, let us consider whether it would be better to allow the children growing up around us, corrupt as they are by nature, and liable to temptation, to enter upon the wilderness of a world that lieth in wickedness, with no warning against its dangers, and no attempt to give protection. An example of this kind, thus set before you, may serve to show how differently we are affected in a case of temporal danger, and of everlasting ruin; may prove how the guilt of hating others may justly be imputed to us, when we neither inflicted nor intended actual injury. We
382 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G see them " drawn unto death," 8 yet we make no exertion to " deliver them." Are we not then
" consenting to their death," and " guilty concerning our brethren ?" For such is the case to which I invite your attention now : the case of persons who having fallen into evil ways, and suffered the penalty of the offended law, are thrown upon the community again without guidance to protect them, or resources to support them. We know that there are many such annually discharged from our prisons ; and we must not close our eyes against their state, and say, " We knew it not." It may be a season of mercy to their souls. Their " sin has found them out." Their conscience has been awakened. The voice of instruction has approached them, perhaps for the first time. At length the door is opened to them, and they are once more at large. When Peter was delivered from the custody of Herod's soldiers, 9 and the gates were miraculously set open to release him, he knew which way to turn, and knocked at the door of a disciple, where " many were gathered together praying." But, alas ! there are no Christian doors open, no Christian disciples waiting to admit these outcasts; no party of pious brethren praying for their deliver8 See Prov. xxiv. 11. 9 See Acts xii. 1113.
THE STATE OF OTHERS. 383 ance, and ready to welcome them with thanksgiving. Their fellowship has been of another kind, and far different is the character of their companions. Satan finds them an easy prey, returns to their hearts again, and the " last error is worse than the first." This, brethren, is the evil against which we
desire to guard, in the HOUSES OF REFUGE 1 for which we intreat your aid. The prodigal in the parable, when he felt the consequences of sin, bethought him of his father's house, where the " hired servants had bread enough and to spare." He returned to it, and was tenderly received. Those for whom we are desirous to provide, like him are prodigals, and like him have experienced the famine which prevails in the haunts where Satan bears dominion. Many are less criminal than he was ; for he abandoned the roof of a kind and tender parent, and went away designedly " into a far country." But many of these have never known the blessings of parental kindness, or even, perhaps, the safety of a parental home ; they have not despised the counsel of a father, but are suffering for his iniquity. 2 Let 1 Houses of Refuge lately established at Chester, for male and female criminals when discharged from prison. 8 Out of 943 prisoners in the house of correction at Lewes
384 THE GUILT OF EGLECTI G, &C. them find in the asylum which Christianity affords, for it is a second nature, that care which fallen and corrupt nature denied them. So they may themselves become partakers of that second nature ; and the punishment which falls on them as violators of their country's laws, may in God's providence be made " profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." And you, my brethren, who furnish the means of this correction and instruction, may be giving an evidence that you are brought from darkness into
light, for you are not hating, but loving your fellow men. There is no clearer sign of Christian light, than to perceive the danger of an unconverted soul. There is no surer proof of Christian love, than to provide the means, the outward means, of that soul's conversion. It is to " deliver those that are drawn unto death, and them that are appointed to be slain." 3 for the year 1839-40, 392 were either orphans from childhood, or had become orphans, or been deserted by their parents, before the age of 16. See the Chaplain's valuable Report, MDCCCXL. 3 Prov.xxiv. 11.
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