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esteem other better than himself.” In all communi. ties, there will often be a diversity of sentiment, and a collision of interest. Peace and happiness will therefore depend on candor and condescension.
In civil society we must never pursue our own supposed interest in a manner evidently prejudicial to the general welfare. In religious society, we must never, in circumstantial things, so stiffly adhere to our peculiar sentiments, as to deprive others of the means of edification in things essential. For the convenience of social worship, it is necessary that christians should be formed into particular churches. When a church is formed, the members, however divided in sentiment about smaller things, should, with united affection, pursue the great ob. jects in which they are agreed ; and should so far condescend to one another, that they may, with ore mind, and one mouth, glorify God.
If the whole society is but just competent to the maintenance of publick worship, the consequence of divisions is, that none will enjoy the privilege. If a part institute a mode of worship by themselves, with an intention to exclude their brethren, they render that a burden, which to the whole united would be easy ; and in the issue deprive the whole of a privilege, which all wish to enjoy. Let none therefore seek merely to please himself, but let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification.
5. We see how careful we should be, that no selfish or unworthy motive influence our social, or religious conduct.
The elders of the Jews, when they asked of Jesus a favour for the centurion, added, “ He is wor. thy for whom thou shouldst do this, for he loveth our nation, and hath built us a synagogue.” They expressed their sense, that a spirit of benevolence, and a regard to the general interest of religion, were
proper qualifications for divine favours. Christ complies with the request thus urged ; and by his compliance confirms the justness of the sentiment. A man no farther acts as a member of society, than he is guided by benevolence; and his devotions are no farther acceptable, than charity mingles itself with them. Be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer ; dan, above all things, have tervent charity among yourselves.
Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my Children),
be ye also enlarged. Of this enlargedness of mind, which the apostle recommends to the Corinthians, he himself was an eminent example. All his worldly honours, interests and prospects he cheerfully relinquished, for the service of Christ in preaching the gospel of salvation. In the prosecution of this work, he was not confined to the places, where he found it most lu. crative to himself; he rather chose to bestow his labour, where it seemed most necessary for others. In the churches of Macedonia he was received with much cordiality, and treated with singular kindness. They not only contributed to his support while he was among them, but ministered to his necessities, when he was absent from them. Alluding to their liberality, he says to the Corinthians, “I robbed other churches, taking wages of Vol. II.
themi, to do you service.” In Corinth, a place of great opulence, he found little of this liberal spirit. And such was the opposition which he met with from false apostles, that he declined to receive the scanty supplies which were offered him. He says, “ I have kept myself from being burthensome to you, and so will I keep myself. Notwithstanding the liberality of other churches, and the parsimony of this, he here bestowed a great part of his labours, both in preaching and in writing. In this chapter, after a detail of his labours and sufferings in the cause of the gospel, he, with great pathos and earnestness, addresses himself to his Corinthian brethren ; “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you ; our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us ; but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, be ye also enlarged.”
What the apostle here recommends is an enlarg. ed mind, in opposition to a straitened, contracted mind.
We will illustrate this enlarged mind, in its nature and operations; and then shew the proper means of obtaining it.
1. The nature and operations of an enlarged mind are first to be considered.
The apostle evidently intends, by the phrase, some eminent measure of a virtuous and holy temper.
1. The christian of an enlarged mind entertains comprehensive and connected ideas of the religion of the gospel, and regards the several parts of it, according to their comparative 'uscfulness and importance.
There are some, who profess a zeal for religion, but confine their zeal to a few particular things, to certain favourite sentiments and usages; and these not the most important in the christian scheme, if
they in any sense belong to it. Among many of the primitive believers an attachment to the rites and ceremonies, in which they had been educated, almost excluded benevolence and charity to their more liberal brethren. On this account, the apos. tle calls them weak in faith-babes in Christ. They might have honest intentions, but they had not consistent ideas of the nature of the gospel.
The enlarged christian imbibes his religious sentiments fresh and pure from the deep fountain of divine truth, not from the shallow, variable stream of human opinion. Regarding the Deity as the great object to which all religion is directed, he proves what is acceptable to him.
Contemplating the perfect character of God, he concludes, that all religion must consist in recti. tude of heart and holiness of life—that love to him, and benevolence to men must be its leading principles—and that to purify the heart, and promote the works of righteousness, must be the great end of all the doctrines and institutions of the gospel. He despises not the least command ; but he principally attends to the things which make the substance of religion ; and, in subservience to these, he honours every ordinance which he finds to be sanctioned by divine authority.
2. The enlarged christian, in matters of religiou, judges freely and independently.
There are some, who, with unthinking indolence, take their religious sentiments as they are dictated by others. In opposition to this implicit credulity, our Saviour says, "Call no man your Father, on earth, for one is your Father, who is in heaven.” An attention is due to the opinions of wise and good
But we are to give no man dominion over our faith. The Bertans were commended, because they received, with all readiness of mind,