Hebrews xiii. 1. Let brotherly love continue.

That love which we owe to one another is called brotherly, because we are all the adopted children of one and the same Almighty Father, by whom we were created and are preserved; and wheresoever we dwell on the surface of the earth, we are but as one family. This consideration should instigate us to every thing that is sincere and disinterested in our conduct with all mankind, however remotely situated; but particularly with those residing more immediately near u«, with whom, consequently, we are obliged to be connected by that mutual want we feel for each others assistance in *A Benefit-Club Sermon.


the common affairs of life. But mankind are sel-


dom disposed to think any man has a claim to sincerity and disinterestedness, especially if a stranger. This is owing to that narrow principle of selfishness which has crept into the bosoms of the men of the world, who consider every man with whom they are not acquainted, as one that ought not to be trusted till better known: hence caution and worldly prudence detract from the merit of our best actions, by preventing us from being open and candid in our dealings one with another. If we mean honestly and are sincere ourselves, why should we be doubtful of others ? This is assuredly not to observe that excellent moral precept of our Savi» our*s — of doing to others as we wish they should do unto us. We naturally expect all men to be sincere in their dealings with us^ and yet in ours with them we are cautious and distrustful. The world indeed is become such, that he who would act according to those principles which coincide with his duties to God and man, is so often deceived in his expectation of meeting the like return, that he finds the necessity of being equally circum*

SERMON Vm. 11!


spect^ and becomes himself that suspicious distrustful character he before condemned. But in our transactions with those \vith whom we cannot but be in habits of intimacy or acquaintance; and in whom, from our general knowledge of their characters, we can hardly be deceived, it is certainly our interest, as well as our duty, 10 promote mutual good will and assistance ; and to exchange those offices of kindness which shall advance that degree of comfort and convenience, which we delight to enjoy in whatever rank we are placed; and which, if they do not amount to what the apostle advises, are at least commendable.

Men who are in such situations in life, holding that rank and superiority which property gives over the common class of individuals, have no need of establishing any resource against the trying hour of sickness, but against which, when it does come, they can provide without injury to themselves or families. For though they are equally liable to the common disorders attendant on our nature; yet they can amply repay all those whose help they require in that extremity, by an ade-



quate compensation. But it is different with that class of people who form by far the greater bulk of mankind — the labourer, the mechanic, and the artificer: as they can but ill spare so much from their earnings, as to remunerate those whose advice and assistance is necessary; it is therefore highly judicious to club a certain portion of their industry to form a general fund against the hour of calamity. It is not only the view to their own future benefit, by which the members of a society formed for this purpose ought to be influenced; but they ought also to be guided by a principle of brotherly love, that shews itself in a cheerful willingness to have the produce of their own labour appropriated for the assistance of their brother members, during the hour of need. And their duty is still further, to live in that harmony and concord as shall preserve the credit of their society; and by observing its laws, as they tend to promote the general peace and welfare of the community, will lay the foundation of that good character which is essentially necessary for them to hold in the opinion of man-


kind; to be careless of which argues a depraved


and corrupt mind. If they are desirous of the good will of all to whom they look with any degree of respect; and from whom they wish for countenance and support in their respective callings, they will be industrious, sober, and frugal But they cannot with any degree of propriety expect this, if they are wanting in the preservation of that strict attention to their moral conduct, as can alone ensure them the protection and patronage of all above them. A man may be independent in his circumstances; but he ought never to consider himself independent of the good opinion of men in general, however he may be regardless of that of the prejudiced and malicious.

There is ingrafted in us a wish to please and to be found agreeable by all; as well as a motive ta preserve our own approbation, by maintaining that respect and veneration for ourselves, which will prevent us from doing an act disgraceful or beneath


us: and though this desire is commendable, yet we are never to descend so servilely low, as to follow the vicious customs of the world : by so doing we should infallibly lose that esteem we are anxious



to obtain. There is nothing in nature so opposite as the opinions and conduct of men in general ; and when I recommend a regard to be paid to the former^ it is because all men have proper notions of what is just and right, though they may not have either the principle or integrity to act up to their sentiments at all times and upon all occasions.

When a man preserves that self-esteem which . his inward sense of what is just will lead him to do; he will discern the path he ought to pursue, and will guide his footsteps by those unerring rules his religion prescribes ; for by no other means can he obtain that peace of mind, which flows from a consciousness of acting in conformity to the laws


of God and man : — always preserving that brotherly kindness which is required of him as an individual among so many millions of inhabitants that dwell on the earth j with whom he ranks in the sight of God, as one of the rational creatures formed at his hands ; and for whom, if he walk worthy the vocation whereunto he is called, he has reserved such blessings in a future world, as shall be his portion who worthily fills up the measure of his duty, as a. man and a christian in this.


Amongst individuals who reside in any way contiguous, a link of friendship, and a bond of reciprocal obligation to promote a mutual kindness may be formed, so that bi^otherly love may continue in its full force. It is not always self-love that dictates this. Let us be so charitable as to suppose that more frequently it is that generous affection which extends to the whole human race^ but which concentrates to one point where it sheds its kindness to all within the compass of its immediate knowledge. Here it exercises its goodness and


delights in every office of generous love, still maintaining that universal philanthropy towards every fellow-creature on the face of the globe, as to entertain towards them a cordial wish for their felicity — the enjoyment of a religion that alone dictates such extensive benevolence — ^and the hope that every man in the end will " taste and see how gra'' cious the Lord is."

But should not a motive so noble, so disinterested, and so conformable to the precepts of our religion excite to this universal good-will; yet self-love may sometimes induce a man to perform actions of



kindness, in the expectation of obtaining a similar return , and although this motive is without doubt greatly inferior to the universal benevolence recommended by our Redeemer, yet it may prompt a man to return such kind offices as he has received from others.


But the precepts of our religion, in the most earnest manner, urge to this communication of benefits. We find it enforced by every consideration that can incite men to its practise. That disciple, beloved by our Saviour, who reclined on his bosom at supper, has enlarged more on this subject than any other of the Apostles. Distinguished from the rest in a peculiar manner, he enjoyed the friendship of his beloved master, and seems to have better known that divine love that influenced his conduct towards mankind; and which he evinced in all his words and actions: and which, therefore, St. John recommends in his first general epistle: — " God is love:** says he, " in this " was manifested the love of God towards us, be" cause that God sent his only begotten Son into *^ the world that we might live through him-


" Herein is love; not that we love God, but that ** he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitia" tion for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved US|


*' we ought also to love one another."

God sent his Son to redeem mankind— to wash away the guilt of sin; and after his justice was satisfied for man's transgression, now he was restored to the divine favour; to be unto him as an example whereby he might regain that felicity for which he was designed. This is a most urgent and persuasive reason why we should love God; and if so, " this commandment," says the Apostle, ** have we from him, that he who loveth God love " his brother also."

These societies, in a more particular manner, may be made to promote this brotherly love which the Apostle recommends, as they extend their benefits to many individuals who would not otherwise reap that advantage they are so well calculated to afford, ^j the administration of comfort in the hour of need, they suggest the melancholy truth, that as all mankind are liable to many infirmities entailed upon their nature through the



fall, and being equally with yourselves the children of the same universal parent ; so are they entitled to your commiseration; and where your hands cannot be extended to succour or relieve, they may be uplifted in prayer for the mitigation of those evils, to which every child of Adam is more or less prone.

But what I would earnestly recommend is that brotherly love, which, while it extends and embraces all mankind with the wish for their felicity, both in this world and in the next; and is disposed to meet every man on terms of generosity and good-will, stranger though he be; yet charitably imagines no man intends deception, and as such, is entitled to openness and candour. But as the influence of your example — your words of ingenuousness and truth; and your actions of friendship and benevolence, cannot often extend beyond a certain circle round your residence: it must be within this sphere, these virtues ought to actuate and govern your whole conduct. In the humble walks of hfe, therefore, this brotherly love may be manifested in various ways — by uprightness and



integrity — by plainness and sincerity — by kindness and good-will to all with whom you have any thing to do.

Your situations in all other respects, require such duties as prove you are guided by motives, which your religion and your sense of what is just and proper dictate to you to be due to all with whom you stand connected as a relation — as a son or a brother — a husband or a parent. As a member of this society, you will of necessity see the obligation you must be under to observe its rules, as its tendency to further and advance your own benefit, is too obvious, I should suppose, to need any positive injunction to that effect. Sickness is a dreadful calamity, and you have done prudently to devote a portion of your present earnings, as a fund to which you can apply whenever it attacks you; but unless you preserve yourselves in those habits of industry, prudence, sobriety^ and frugality, you will inevitably destroy the very intent for which you united yourself to a society^


thai provides this resource: and what is most grievous to any man of feeling, it is seldom but in

120 SERMON Vin.

your rank of life, that when you are seized by illness, every one of your family, dependent on your industry, must unavoidably suffer from a want of your labour, which perhaps is their only support. Continue then to live in the practice of those duties that will benefit your society, and effectually promote the welfare of your respective families. Brotherly love comprehends your whole duty to your neighbour : and your duty to God requires your daily thanks and praise; beseeching him to reward your labours with success, and your virtues with a mind at peace with itself and with the world around. Performing then these two duties to God and your neighbour, you will not fail hereafter to be united to that blessed society in heaven, where sickness, pain, or disease no more shall prey on our corruptible bodies, which then shall become capable of enjoying all the glories of a happy immortality.





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