"Jesus," says a writer, "came from heaven on the wings of love." It was the element in which he moved and walked. He sought to baptize the world afresh with it. When we find Him teaching us by love to vanquish an enemy, we need not wonder at the tenderness of His appeals to the brethren to "love one another." Like a fond father impressing his children, how the Divine Teacher lingers over the lesson, "This is My commandment!"
If selfishness had guided His actions, we might have expected him to demand all His people's love for himself. But He claims no such monopoly. He not only encourages mutual affection, but He makes it the badge of discipleship! He gives them at once its measure and motive. "Love one another, as I have loved you!" What a love was that! -- it reached to the lowliest and humblest, -- "Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these, ye did it unto Me."
Ah! if such was the Elder Brother's love to His younger brethren, what should the love of these younger brothers be for one another! How humbling that there should be so much that is sadly and strangely unlike the spirit which our blessed Master sought to inculcate alike by precept and example! Individual Christians, why these bitter estrangements, these censorious words, these harsh judgments, this want of kind consideration of the feelings and failings of those who may differ from you? Why are your friendships so often like the summer brook, soon dried? You hope, ere long, to meet in glory. Doubtless when you enter on that "sabbath of love," many a greeting will be this, "Alas! my brother, that on earth I did not love thee more!"
Do you see the image of God in a professing believer? It is your duty to love him for the sake of that image. No church, no outward livery, no denominational creed, should prevent your owning and claiming him as a fellow-pilgrim and fellow-heir. It has been said of a portrait, however poor the painting, however unfinished the style, however faulty the touches, however coarse and unseemly the frame, yet if the likeness be faithful, we overlook many subordinate defects. So it is with the Christian: however plain the exterior, however rough the setting, or even manifold the blemishes still found cleaving to a partially-sanctified nature, yet if the Redeemer's likeness be feebly and faintly traced there, we should love the copy for the sake of the Divine Original. There may be other bonds of association and intercourse linking spirit with spirit; family ties, mental congenialities, intellectual tastes, philanthropic pursuits; but that which ought to take the precedence of all, is the love of God's image in the brethren. What will heaven be but this love perfected -- loving Christ, and beloved by those who love Him?
Reader! seek to love Him more, and you will love His people more. John had more love than the other disciples. Why? He drank deepest of the love within that Bosom on which he delighted to lean, every beat of which was love. "Walk," then, "in love!" Let it be the very foot-road you tread; let your way to heaven be paved with it. Soon shall we come to look within the portal. Then shall every jarring and dissonant note be merged into the sublime harmonies of "the new heavens and the new earth," and we shall all "see eye to eye!"
"ARM YOURSELVES LIKEWISE WITH THE SAME MIND."