If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,…
I. THE DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY.
1. This unity is inward and consists of harmonious spiritual feeling.
(1) It can only subsist among Christians.
(2) At the same time it is possible and also common for those who in the main are brethren to fail grievously.
(3) This unity is specifically —
(a) Agreement of view.
(b) Accord in purpose.
(c) Mutual love.
2. It is also outward and visible.
(1) Wherever there is true inward feeling there is a corresponding outward manifestation.
(2) This unity when seen cannot but impress the world with a favourable conclusion.
II. THE CAUSES OF DIVISIONS. The spirit of vain-glory, self-preference, self-interest. It was from envy the brethren of Joseph hated him. The same was at the root of Absalom's and Adonijah's rebellion. This was rebuked by Christ when He set a little child in the midst of His contentious disciples. We are not willing to admit this as the cause in our own case. We persuade ourselves that real grievances are the cause, and that conscience is prompting us to be valiant for the truth. But these considerations, when genuine, would indeed lead to plainness of speech, but would, in their end and aim, promote rather than retard brotherly love and union. Grievances are only occasions for forbearance.
III. THE REMEDY. "The mind that was in Christ Jesus." His humble, self-emptying spirit. The spirit, then, of humiliation which will not stand upon claims and rights, but readily concede them, is that which will check disunion and promote unity. Conclusion:
1. Make this a means of trying your own spirits.
2. Do we wish to learn this necessary disposition?
3. Without this vain is our profession of vital Christianity.
(E. Meade, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,