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christian must not, and will not overlook the one, but by the other he is most sacredly bound. The family of Christ, alas, is not as extensive as the family of man. It should be. He who rules in heaven has a just claim to the affection and service of every creature below. But his particular family is that portion of mankind, which, in accordance with the claims of the gospel, has submitted to his authority. To speak more particularly, those individuals of the human race, who have been led, by the teaching of the gospel and of the spirit of God, to see and feel their own sinfulness and ruin, and to receive Jesus Christ in penitence and faith as their only Saviour, trusting alone to the efficacy of his precious blood for salvation,-these, all these, and only these belong to the family of Christ on earth. There are others indeed on earth who sustain a peculiar relationship to this great family,Christ has his chosen ones among men, who may yet be living in impenitency and sin, but who shall assuredly be brought into the Kingdom of the Redeemer. These are members elect. We cannot know them at present, but Christ who has purchased their souls with his blood knows them-their names are graven upon his hands; the spirit knows them, and in the appointed time will certainly introduce them into the bosom of the family on earth. This family embraces all the invisible Church of Christ still on earth. It may be more or less extensive, in any particular locality, the visible Church. It may not include some who make profession of love to God, and who have taken the vows of consecration upon them, and thus became attached to the outward fold of Christ; it may include some, who from various reasons have made no public profession of faith; but it does embrace all those, and only those who have been born of the spirit, and who are sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption. Each contrite, humble disciple of Christ is a member of this family. Where then should we look for such? Are they all gathered within the limits of one country? Are they all to be found within the pale of our sect? Believe it not. Some may say, doth not wisdom dwell with us?-is there not safety alone with us? The Jew may consider himself the only favorite of God, and in turn the former Gentile may anathematize the outcast Jew; but the universal Church,-the company of true disciples,-the christian family has the whole earth for its dwelling-place. Each one must be renewed of the Holy Ghost, must be united to Christ by a living faith, by which the merits of Christ shall be made to secure his pardon and salvation, and then he is a member of the invisible Church of this family of Christ. And out of this, there can be no salvation. That is, regeneration and repentance and faith, by which man becomes a member of the invisible Church, are essential to salvation, and nothing else can be. It is of course the duty of each renewed and penitent sinner to make profession of his faith in Christ before the world, and join those who are organized as the visible Church of Christ, in their efforts to promote the glory of the Redeemer but little confidence can be placed in his avowed change of heart, if he does not seek to do this; yet if he fail to do it through
inability, if like the penitent thief he has no time to unite with the Church on earth, he shall yet, if truly penitent, be received into the Church above. Away with that exclusiveness which would shut out a devout christian from our warmest christian love, because he has not our own distinctive name--a name which is perpetuated only to keep in mind the departure of the disciples of Christ, from the unity and purity and love of the Apostolic Church. God forbid, that any part of the disciples of Christ should seek to make any other name more prominent, than that by which the whole family, in heaven and earth is named. Let us, my brethren, cultivate that spirit which will allow us to look among all denominations of christians for our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. If only a heart is found beating with love to Christ, let us respond to that heart in love, such an one belongs to the family of Christ.
And are not such found among christians of every different sect. If the Bible is received as the word of God-if the threatenings of God's word are received as truth and as fully believed as its promises,among the votaries of any religious system which thus leaves room for the salvation of the penitent sinner by the sole efficacy of redeeming blood, whatever differences may exist in the detail of doctrines, or the forms of worship, may we not confidently look for the members of the family of Christ?
Where are these our brothers and sisters in Christ? Rather ask, where are they not? Already are they taking possession of the whole earth. The missionary of the cross has rivalled the daring explorer of unknown lands, in his efforts to extend this family circle over the whole world. He has rivalled the anxious and active trader, seeking to export the precious bread of life to the destitute of other regions; and now, already, are established branches of this family in numerous portions of the once heathen world. Yes, christian, you have brothers and sisters among the proud Chinese, the idolatrous Hindoos, the degraded Africans, the ferocious Sea-islanders. The Pagan has cast aside his idol, the Mohommedan has forsworn his prophet,-the Jew has ceased to curse Jesus of Nazareth, and these have been united to the family of Christ. In enlightened and christian lands, multitudes may be found belonging to this family, of all conditions, and of every age. The gospel has power over the high and the low-the learned and the ignorant. There are not wanting kings and princes, who bow in subjection to the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. In our own National Council, there has been for a long time, a small company of men, who find time, amid all their business, to meet together frequently for social prayer. Some of the most affluent of our land, have consecrated themselves and their property to God. Some of the most learned, have devoted their mental powers and their valuable acquisitions of knowledge to their Maker,-while multitudes of every variety of condition, the widows with their mites-the beggar with his sores, have the same claim of relationship. There are the aged, whose hoary heads are indeed a crown of glory; the mature, in their strength
and beauty; the young, just entering upon life's duties and cares; aye, and children too-mere babes, who have embraced Jesus as their Saviour,-all these we must greet as members of the family of Christ.
How numerous this family on earth may be, we cannot tell. Perhaps it always exceeds the ignorance and weak faith of the children of God. We are too apt to yield to despondency, like the prophet, when persecuted and terrified, he said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord of Hosts-for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars and slain thy prophets with the sword, and I, even I only am left, and they seek my life to take it away." This was the answer of God to the fainting Elijah,-" I have left me seven thousand in Israel, which have not bowed unto Baal." Whatever the number may now be we have the assurance, that the time is hastening on, when "the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of God," and when "all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest."
Nor can we be sure that this is all. Who shall say that the power of Christ's redeeming love does not extend to other worlds around us? If sin hath also entered those bright abodes, who shall say that this world may not be to them, what Jerusalem is to us, the place of their Savior's death? May not this world be the Calvary of the universe, to which the eyes of multitudes of this family, in other worlds, are directed, as the theatre of Christ's suffering and death?
However this may be, it will be a large and glorious company, when all who are now at a distance, inhabiting different countries, and perhaps different worlds, shall be gathered into one place, even into the Paradise above; when the family on earth shall be joined to that in heaven, and henceforth and forever constitute one. Öther families are broken up. Sometimes a prodigal son disturbs the peace of the whole household; or death enters, and takes away its members one by one, until naught is left but the remembrance of former joys. But this family shall have no such disturbances-no such separations. There at length in our Father's house, if we are christians, we shall join our elder brethren amid their glory, and there we shall be joined by all who hereafter, to the end of time, shall believe in Christ: then with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and Peter, and John, and Paul, and Saints of lesser name, with our own kindred, who have been also the kindred of Christ,-and above all, with Christ Jesus himself to lead us to fountains of living waters, we shall spend eternity in the praise and service of the Most High. Then shall ascend the final song, from ten thousand times ten thousand voices, discordant on earth, but harmonious in heaven, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." And then, "every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them," shall join in the chorus of the redeemed, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne. and unto the Lamb forever."
My hearers, do you already belong to this family? Be not deceived. Have you the evidence of love? love to God, the Father-love to Christ, the Savior, and that love to the brethren by which you may know that you have passed from death unto life? Be not satisfied with the evidence of love for your own particular Church, or your own denomination. The only love, to which you may trust as a test of christian character, is a love of Chriatians, as such, wherever they may be, and under whatever circumstances. Have you family love for the children of God?-then may you suppose that you belong to this family. And will not this lead you to regard those among you as brethren ?----to love them affectionately and fervently? Says our Savior to his disciples, in the fulness of his affection, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." Is there any measure for the generous compassion, the self-denying love of Jesus towards his disciples---those for whom he has died, and for whom he rose from the dead? Can we measure the length and breadth, the height and depth of the love of Christ? It passeth knowledge. Yet here is a comparison, instituted by Jesus himself, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." The depth and power of the tide of divine love which flows from the heart of the great Jehovah towards his eternal and equal Son---his only-begotten and well-beloved, is equalled by the current of affection which is ever gushing from the Savior's compassionate bosom towards his chosen ones. Now hear the command of the Savior for family love among his disciples; "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." The measure of the christian's love for every other christian, is to be the love of Christ for sinners---nay, it is to be measured by the love of Jehovah for his dear Son. As pure, as fervent, as self-denying, as controlling as the love of Christ for his children, and the love of God for Christ, must be the love of christians for each other. Will not the exercise of such love make them feel like members of the same family? Will it not lead them to be kind and compassionate and forbearing? to bear each others burdens, and to seek each others good? Remember, we are called to these duties, not merely that we may be useful to others, but that we may find evidence for ourselves that we really belong to Christ. If we have this requisite spirit shall we not be ready to greet a stranger with a brother's love, if only he comes to us with the name of christian? When our hearts cease to expand in warm affection towards those who bear the name of our blessed Redeemer, faith is dead within us, and hope should be. Let this common name in which we rejoice and trust, ever be dearer than any other. Let this sacred bond of union be cherished above every earthly tie, for these shall be severed, but that shall endure.
Have some of us, my hearers, no connection with this family? And yet all have an original title to this relationship. We are all the children of God. Alas, some of us who have wandered, have refused to
eturn some are alienated from God, and have become his enemies by wicked works. The proofs of such a condition are want of interest in
religion, and want of affection for the children of God. If there be nothing else against you-if there be no outbreaking sin-no violence of passion, yet the want of this peculiar love is proof of disunion from the family of Christ. And can you remain thus separated from the people of God? The arms of Jesus Christ, and the bosom of the family of Christ are open to receive you. The Spirit and the bride say, Come. Resist not the pleadings of those who love your souls. Trifle not with the Spirit's influences-with the Savior's blood. Seek admission into the company of the faithful on earth, that you may share with them the blessedness of Heaven.