If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
1. Does Christian unity consist in the union of Christians in one corporate, visible organization? It should do, and one day will do.
2. But even this desirable object by itself would not secure true unity. It would be but a body without life — the unity of the church yard.
3. The only true unity is that of the text, one of soul and brotherly affection.
I. Look at its EXCELLENCE. It gives peace; promotes strength and usefulness; commands attention and imitation.
1. Notice the individual man. The soul is a little kingdom. In it there dwell a variety of faculties; there are fears, hopes, likes, dislikes; appetites to urge and principles to check; self-will to prompt, self-interest to restrain; passions to hurry away, conscience to control, etc. When these are in discord what a "troubled sea" there is. But when the Spirit of God is received and obeyed, what a blessed harmony is the result — "a peace that passeth under standing."
2. Take the family. Let love reign there, sustained and cherished by mutual forbearance in the fear of God, parents honoured, sons and daughters kind and helpful, and how the power and usefulness of the family are increased. It is not to have many hands at a rope which will pull the weight, but all moved by the same impulse and pulling together.
3. Suppose the same to prevail in a parish. Why should it not? It was so once at Jerusalem, and would now as then (Acts 2:46-47) result in personal happiness and numerous conversions.
4. If the same obtained throughout the world the effect would be irresistible.
II. THE EVILS OF DISUNION AND DIVISION.
1. It is a proof of being unspiritual and carnal, as it was in the case of the Corinthians, and in some cases of being unconverted. How dwelleth the love of God in the fomenters of strife and discord.
2. It is a hindrance to grace, comfort, and usefulness.
3. It is a stumbling block to the world.
(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,