Hebrews 13:1
Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to, etc. The writer now proceeds to exhort his readers to the practice of sundry Christian virtues. He begins by enjoining the maintenance and manifestation of brotherly love.

I. THE MAINTENANCE OF BROTHERLY LOVE. "Let brotherly love continue."

1. That this affection existed is implied. That it had been exercised in former times is clear from Hebrews 10:32-34. That it was existent and active at the time when this Epistle was written appears from Hebrews 6:10.

2. That this affection was imperiled is also implied. There are several things which may check the growth and extinguish the life of brotherly love.

(1) Diversity of opinion. We are each gifted with individuality; we sometimes look at things from different standpoints; we arrive at different conclusions. This is the case in the interpretation of the sacred Scriptures, and in other matters. Differences of opinion sometimes lead to differences of feeling, to coldness and estrangement.

(2) Diversity of gifts. The great Master gives to one man five talents, to another two, and to another one. There is danger that pride in those of superior gifts, or envy in those who are less gifted, may crush this holy affection.

(3) Misunderstandings may arise amongst Christian brethren and blight their love of each other.

3. That this affection should be maintained. "Let brotherly love continue." Let it remain. Guard against those things which endanger its existence. Cherish it. This love of the brethren is not to be limited to those who belong to the same ecclesiastical community, or to those who hold the same views of Christian doctrine; it should embrace all the disciples of the Lord Jesus. "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in uncorruptness. The importance of maintaining this affection is manifest from many Divine utterances (John 13:34, 35; John 15:12, 17; 1 John 3:11, 14-18; 1 John 4:7, 8, 11, 20, 21).

II. THE MANIFESTATION OF BROTHERLY LOVE. TWO forms in which this affection should be expressed are adduced in our text.

1. Hospitality towards strangers. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Consider:

(1) The duty. Hospitality is frequently enjoined and commended in the Bible (Matthew 10:40-42; Matthew 25:34-46; Luke 10:4-7; Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9). "The primitive Christians," says Calmet, "considered one principal part of their duty to consist in showing hospitality to strangers. They were, in fact, so ready in discharging this duty, that the very heathen admired them for it. They were hospitable to all strangers, but especially to those who were of the household of faith. Believers scarcely ever traveled without letters of communion, which testified the purity of their faith, and procured for them a favorable reception wherever the Name of Jesus Christ was known." In the parable of the good Samaritan the great Teacher presented to his disciples a perfect example of Christian hospitality.

(2) The motive by which we are encouraged to perform this duty. "For thereby some have entertained angels unawares." There is a reference to Abraham (Genesis 18.) and to Lot (Genesis 19.). Many a guest has proved as an angel to his entertainers, brightening the home by his presence, and leaving behind him precious memories and saving influences. The kindness we have shown to strangers has often come back to us with compound interest, and in higher and holier forms. Therefore, "forget not to show love unto strangers."

2. Sympathy towards sufferers. "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." Notice two points:

(1) The obligation. "Remember them," etc. All who are distressed should be remembered tenderly, sympathized with heartily, and succored as far as opportunity will allow. "Weep with them that weep." "Bear ye one another's burdens," etc.

(2) The consideration presented as an incitement to the fulfillment of this obligation. "As being yourselves also in the body." We are not beyond the reach of persecution or distress. We may be called to suffer as some of our Christian brethren are now suffering, and then we should need the sympathy which they now require. Here is a beautiful example of this sympathy. "Thomas Samson was a working miner, and working hard for his bread. The captain of the mine said to him on one occasion, 'Thomas, I've got an easier berth for you, where there is comparatively little to do, and where you can earn more money. Will you accept it?' What do you think he said? 'Captain, there's our poor brother Tregoney. He has a sick body, and he is not able to work as hard as I am. I fear his toil will shorten his useful life. Will you let him have the berth?' The captain, pleased with his generosity, sent for Tregoney, and gave him the berth. Thomas was gratified, and added, 'I can work a little longer yet.'" - W.J.







Let brotherly love continue.
I. WHAT IS BROTHERLY LOVE? It is that feeling of mutual regard, subsisting among the members of the faithful, which is felt to be due from one brother to another, and without which, in the intercourse of domestic life, there could be neither peace in families nor comfort in society. If, though hatred should not exist among them, there were yet no cordial affection, nothing like a desire to promote each other's welfare, the members of that family would deprive themselves of the most fruitful source of enjoyment still permitted to fallen human nature. But brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus form but one family in the eyes of our common Parent; and He has commanded them to love as brethren.

II. How IS BROTHERLY LOVE TO BE CULTIVATED AND ATTAINED? There may be differences of sentiment and practice in many particulars, which human infirmity will always occasion, even among those who are endeavouring to find the way to the same heavenly city. But there must be a reception of the Lord Jesus; in all His offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, and a desire to submit to the guidance of His Word, and to be led by the gracious direction of His Spirit, as a foundation for that brotherly love in which we are commanded to live. Common feelings imply common principles; and the peculiar love of Christians must have the peculiar faith of Christians for its basis and origin.

III. How MAY BROTHERLY LOVE MOST SECURELY CONTINUE?

1. Of course the first object, with this view, should he to retain the feelings in which that pure affection for the Christian brotherhood originated; to recollect, from day to day, that" one is our Master, even Christ, and that all we are brethren"; and still more especially to look upon every trait of Christian character as a link of attachment, a feature in that family likeness which belongs to all the faithful, and gives them an instinctive interest in each other's well-being. But, after all, the chief preservative of this characteristic grace of Christianity is, the love of Christ Himself, which will always necessarily expand in love for the brethren.

2. But, further; if we desire this mutual regard for all the brethren to continue among us, and to grow, we must attend to two things.(1) We must be on the watch to do those actions which have a tendency to promote and to strengthen brotherly love. We must inquire into each other's wants, with a view to relieve them, and thus exercise the affections which we wish to cultivate.(2) We must be careful to remove those impediments which thwart and retard its growth. Now, there are a number of little causes, which, by being suffered to grow up in the bosoms of Christians, tend to narrow their affections, and restrain that brotherly love which ought to be their delight. Differences of taste will sometimes, if not controlled, engender personal dislikes, against which a wise man can never be too much on his guard. It is surprising how often some slight, but frequently recurring, peculiarities of manner will produce a distaste for the society of a person who is yet a Christian.

3. Again; every man has his infirmities, his failings, his besetting sins. There is no habit more injurious to the exercise of brotherly love than that of dwelling unnecessarily on the defects of those whom we are bound to love as brethren. Whatever be your neighbour's faults, he is still your brother, for whom Christ died. I have not now spoken of the duty of forgiveness, because, among those who are Christians indeed, the occasions for the exercise of this virtue ought to be rare. But yet a forgiving disposition is so essential an attribute of Christianity that brotherly love cannot be cultivated without it.

4. But the grand instrument for the removal of all impediments to our charity, from within or from without, is intercessory prayer.

(E. G. Marsh, M. A.)

A brother is a hallowed name. Born of the same parents, nursed with the same untiring, tender care, dependent on the same protection, and sharing in the same blessings of the same common hearthstone, expectant heirs of a common inheritance, the tie that binds me to my brother is one most sacred in its nature, and nothing ought to be allowed to injure, much lest to destroy, this hallowed relationship.

I. BROTHERLY LOVE MAY BE DISTURBED AND SOMETIMES SEVERED. Christianity does not deprive us of our individuality. With the same inspired truth before us we differ, honestly, in our opinions as to the meaning or extent of that truth. We still have our pride of opinion. Again, we are liable to have our preferences and prejudices as well as our opinions. Here is need for the exercise of that charity "that thinketh no evil"; that, in honour, prefers another to itself. Love is magnetic. It attracts pure hearts together and all to God. It throws its wondrous power over sinful opposition, and with more than the skill of Orpheus is a true tamer of wild beasts. Love is the great law of gravity in God's spiritual universe; it binds each orb and keeps it coherent, while it rolls all in harmony around the grand central sun. Love is the vitalising principle of truth and experience and duty. Love concentrates individual piety in intense beauty in the character of the Church, while it unifies and employs all the strength of the Church in its sacred mission on the earth.

II. Again, THERE IS THE PURPOSE FORMED BY EACH LOVER OF THE SAVIOUR THAT BROTHERLY LOVE SHALL CONTINUE. The first approaches of the small foxes that injure the vines are carefully guarded against. Special care is taken to put out the least spark of "envy, or malice, or uncharitableness," that the enemy may throw into the soul. The little courtesies of Christian as well as polite society are tendered with suitable delicacy, and " little deeds of kindness" are kept busily at work receiving and reciprocating true brotherly love.

III. BROTHERLY LOVE ACCORDS TO OTHERS WHAT WE CLAIM FOR OURSELVES, AND MORE — for, in true humility, in honour it "esteems others better than itself." It is deferential, forbearing, and forgiving. To rejoice in the success of a brother, more than in our own, is strong evidence that we "have been with Jesus," and breathed largely of His Spirit. "Let brotherly love continue."

1. This should be the theory and practice of the ministers and officers of the Church.

2. Among different denominations of Christians this should be observed.

3. Among members of the same Church this apostolic injunction is a vital necessity. It is utterly opposed to detraction of the gifts, ability, and usefulness either of ministers or of any member of the Church.

4. We should cultivate this principle of brotherly love, for through it we must show, by contrast with unsantified human nature, that Christ's religion makes us gentle, kind, patient, and forgiving; and as Christ's history is the loveliest exhibition of Divine love, so we must reflect the highest honour on our once crucified but now risen Lord, by loving the brethren.

5. Nowhere is there a more attractive picture of genuine piety than in " the fellowship of the saints."

(W. H. Anderson, D. D.)

Love is one of the most important and distinctive of all Christian graces, and some of the churches seem to have been distinguished by a great abundance of it. Writing to the Thessalonians, the apostle says: "Concerning brotherly love, ye have no need that I write unto you." "I thank God for all the grace that has abounded in you; still let it continue." Let us now glance at the objects of brotherly love. In the first place, it must mean Christian brotherhood. Only as we love them for Christ's sake have we any true brotherly love. But what is to be the rule of our brotherly love? It is to be after the measure and the pattern of our Lord's love to us. This is the revealed standard, and it has been set before us most plainly again and again. When the Saviour announced it to His disciples He said: "A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you," and very soon after He refers to it again and says: "This is My commandment, that ye love one another." Then He refers to the strongest proof of love: "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend." The Apostle Paul said: "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us," and the Apostle John said: "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Why, this laying down of His life is the mystery of redemption, the strongest revelation of the Divine compassion, the innermost sanctuary of the absolute goodness. How can we attain to this standard of love? It is a good rule — aim high, or you will never excel. Ay, and this, too, is needed — for brotherly love has a good deal to do, to endure, and to give — a heart divinely tender, a hand divinely strong, a soul divinely generous. And now consider some reasons why we should join the apostle in his desire: "Let brotherly love continue." First, it has a power of living and growing. Brotherly love is a living power. We may well and consistently say, "Let it continue." In the trials that will come of the furthering of the cause of Christ, let brotherly love ever continue. The want of it hinders more than almost anything else. Besides, the presence and power of it is mightily helpful. The Saviour prayed that His disciples might be all one — not in oneness of ceremonial and creed, but in character and life with the Father and with the Son. But that was only to secure another object — that the world might know, that the world might believe that the Father had sent the Son. This was the direct effect produced by the descent of the new Christian life on the Day of Pentecost. The primitive disciples were few and poor, unlearned and despised. Yet by moral force alone they emptied the temples and demolished the altars, vanquished Caesar, the philosophers and priests, and changed the aspect of the world. By what? Supremely by the vision of the Crucified — that manifestation of matchless love, which at once showed what love for sinners was and could do. And next to that was the image of brotherly love, a Divine creation, sent amongst men. In a world where the few were tyrants and knew no mercy, and the many crushed and toiling slaves that found no pity — lo! they looked up, saw this new creation — men loving one another — and they said: "See how these Christians love one another!" and their hearts were eased, and a new life began in them, and a new life was conferred upon them. Was it so? There is no question. Then "let brotherly love continue." Further, brotherly love is for the edification and establishment of the cause of Christ. Paul says: "Knowledge puffeth up; charity edifieth." The great appointed force for all Christians, where by each believing man may attain to a full salvation, is faith; but faith works by love. Christian fidelity consists not merely in speaking the truth — you only want a hot temper to do that sometimes — but in speaking the truth in love — a very rare and a very difficult thing. In the midst of all infirmities and sufferings to have a patience that never frets and an energy that never tires, forbearing one another in love — oh, there is the calm and glow of the divinest life that can possess the soul of a man I God grant that this grace of love may abide with you, because it edifies every way and everywhere. Let it continue in the midst of the infirmities and sufferings of life. One brother is rash, another sluggish; one vain, another proud; one rude, another sensitive; one shy, another forward. Amidst all imperfections there is nothing so good and nothing so helpful as brotherly love — meek, generous, thinking no evil, seeking not its own, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things. And in one way or another all have their sufferings. These sufferings are to us a great mystery; yet one feels that they furnish a grand field for the exercise of brotherly love in which to speak its kind words, do its best deeds, win its triumphs, and shine forth in all its glory. Brotherly love is also a sign of grace, and a good one. A sign of grace, I say, and a blessed sign of grace, a mark of the true Church if you try to get it and keep it. Finally, "let brotherly love continue" until it return unto glory; for by Divine appointment it shall live in heaven and be perfect there.

(John Aldis.)

1. There is the express command of God and of Christ in regard to it. It is a permanent obligation.

2. The relationship continues, and so should the affection; the bond of brotherhood abides, and the love of the brotherhood should abide also.

3. The fountain from which it flows continues, and so also should the stream that flows from it.

4. The necessity for its cultivation continues,

(1)You have need of it.

(2)Your brethren have need of it; for oh, you know not how you grieve and wound them.

(3)The glory of Christ and the triumphs of the gospel need it.

(Thos. Main, D. D.)

Brotherly love is very apt to be impaired if we do not endeavour continually to preserve it. It is a part of the wisdom of faith to consider aright the occasions of the decay of mutual love, and the means of its preservation. Without this we cannot comply with this caution and injunction in a due manner.

I. The CAUSES OF THE DECAY OF THIS LOVE, whence it doth not continue as it ought, are —

1. Self-love.

2. Love of this present world.

3. Abounding of lusts in the hearts of men.

4. Ignorance of the true nature, both of the grace and the exercise of it, in its proper duties.

5. Principally, the loss of a concernment in the foundation of it, which is an interest in gratuitous adoption, and the participation of the same spirit, the same new nature and life. Where this is not, though conviction of truth and the profession of it may for a season make an appearance of this brotherly love, it will not long continue.

II. THE OCCASIONS OF ITS DECAY AND LOSS ARE —

1. Differences in opinion and practice about things in religion.

2. Unsuitableness of natural tempers and inclinations.

3. Readiness to receive a sense of appearing provocations.

4. Different, and sometimes inconsistent secular interests.

5. An abuse of spiritual gifts, by pride on the one hand, or envy on the other.

6. Attempts for domination, inconsistent in a fraternity; which are all to be watched against.

III. THE MEANS OF ITS CONTINUANCE OR PRESERVATION ARE —

1. An endeavour to grow and thrive in the principle of it, or the power of adopting grace.

2. A due sense of the weight or moment of this duty, from the especial institution and command of Christ.

3. Of the trial which is committed thereunto, of the sincerity of our grace, and the truth of our sanctification. For "by this we know that we are passed from death unto life."

4. A due consideration of the use, yea, necessity of this duty to the glory of God, and edification of the Church; and —

5. Of that breach of union, loss of peace, disorder and confusion, which must and will ensue on the neglect of it.

6. Constant watchfulness against all those vicious habits of mind, in self-love, or love of the world, which are apt to impair it.

7. Diligent heed that it be not insensibly impaired in its vital acts; such as are patience, forbearance, readiness to forgive, unaptness to believe evil, without which no other duties of it will be long continued.

8. Fervent prayer for supplies of grace enabling us thereunto, with sundry others of a like nature. And if we judge not this duty of such importance as to be constant in the use of these means for the maintenance of it, it will not continue.

(John Owen, D. D.)

I. ITS NATURE.

1. Unity in sentiment.

2. Union of feeling.

3. Union of effort.

II. THE DESIRABLENESS OR IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIAN UNION.

1. The teachings of Scripture.

2. The example of the early Christians.

3. The evils of division.

4. Christians are engaged in the same cause.

5. Union is strength.

6. Union is promotive of happiness.

7. It is only by the exercise of that love, which is the substratum of union, that one can resemble God, and become imbued with the spirit of heaven.

(W. C. Whitcomb.)

1. Brotherly love is a grace absolutely necessary. It is the foundation whereon all duties that have relation to the brethren are erected.

2. Brotherly love is one of the fairest and most glorious flowers in the Christian garden. It makes men amiable before God and man. It sends forth a sweet fragrant savour wheresoever it is.

3. Such is the life and vigour of brotherly love, as it puts on them in whom it is unto all duties. A stronger incitation and enforcement thereunto cannot be given.

4. So violent and irresistible is the power of love, as it will pass through all difficulties, and overthrow all obstacles. It will not be hindered from doing the good it should do.

5. Love is as salt, which infuseth a savoury and wholesome taste into such things as would otherwise be fresh and flashy. It is therefore joined with sundry other duties for this very purpose, even to season them. The apostle so far commends love in this kind, as he maketh all things unsavoury and unprofitable without it (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). He therefore giveth this general advice, "Let-all your things be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).

6. Love hath a strong operation on others. It is a fire which heateth the things that are near it. As apprehension of God's love to us works love in us to God (1 John 4:19), so others' apprehension of our love to them will make them love us. And as love puts us on to all kindness unto them, so their love of us will put them on to do all kindness unto us. David and Jonathan.

7. Love is one of the most comfortable graces that a man can have. It gives evidence to others, and brings assurance to a man's own soul of the love of God to him, of his right to Jesus Christ, of the Spirit's abode in him, and of his right to the heavenly inheritance.

8. Love is an especial means of strengthening and establishing the kingdom of Christ. It unites the subjects and members of that kingdom in one, which is a means of great stability.

9. The nearest union that is betwixt any in this world is betwixt professors of the faith, and that in their mutual relation one to another, and in the joint relation that they all have to Christ. Resemblances of the nearest relation that be, are used to set this forth, as of a foundation and edifice (Ephesians 2:20, 21) of a vine and branches (John 15:5), of a husband and wife (Ephesians 5:32; 2 Corinthians 11:2), of a head and body (Ephesians 1:22, 23). This near union should stir us up to brotherly love; for therein we love that body which is styled Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).

10. This world s hatred of saints should the more stir us up to love them. Christ enforceth this duty upon this ground (John 15:17-19). The world most hateth saints, and that, in this very respect, because they are saints. But brotherly love is a sovereign antidote against the poison of the world's hatred, and a precious cordial to revive and support the saint's spirits.

(W. Gouge.)

A truly pious man, of rank in society, was in the habit of entertaining persons of very humble circumstances of life, if they only gave evidence of true religion. A friend of his, who was accustomed to measure everything according to the standard of this world, pleasantly rallied him on the subject of his associates; intimating his surprise that he should admit to his hospitality and friendship persons of so obscure origin, and of so little estimation among men. He replied, in a tone of unaffected humility, that as he could scarcely hope to enjoy so elevated a rank as they, in a future world, he knew not why he should despise them in the present. The reproof came home to the feelings of the proud man, and he was silent; conscience whispering, meanwhile, how dim were his prospects of rising in the future world to an equality with the pious poor, if his Christian friend was in danger of falling below them.

A striking instance of the brotherly love of the early Christians transpired in the great plague that raged round Alexandria, during the reign of Gallienus. At the first appearance of the symptoms, the heathen drove the infected man from their sight; they tore themselves from their dearest connections; they threw their friends half-dead into the streets, and left their dead unburied. But, in contrast with this cruel selfishness, "the Christians, in the abundance of their brotherly love," as their Bishop Dionysius says, "did not spare themselves, but mutually attending each other, they would visit the sick without fear, and ministering to each other for the sake of Christ, cheerfully gave up their lives with them. Many died after their care had restored others to health. Many, who took the bodies of their Christian brethren into their hands and bosoms, and closed their eyes, and buried them with every mark of attention, soon followed them in death."

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