As a social being, man is dependent on the society with which he mingles for a very large share of his personal happiness. By sympathy, he is so connected with others, that he must often weep when they weep, and rejoice when they rejoice. By this natural instinct, he shrinks from the contemplation of extreme suffering, and feels his happiness increased by the happiness of those around him; and, by his moral nature, the believer is disqualified from the enjoying the company of the wicked, and yearns after the fellowship of those who have kindred principles and feelings with his own. This is the ground of that strong love which, notwithstanding their petty differences, subsists betwixt all the sincere disciples of Christ on earth. But here the enjoyment of Christian fellowship is marred by various causes, arising from the imperfection both of our present condition, and of our Christian graces; partly by the diversities of opinions which flow from the limited range of our present vision, or the undue influence of prejudice; party by the difficulty of discovering the true followers of Christ in the midst of so many nominal or false professors, and the suspicion, or at least the caution; which frequent disappointment, in this respect, is fitted to inspire; partly, also, by the obstacles which the necessary business of life, or the established distinctions betwixt different classes of men, interpose to that free intercourse on which the enjoyment of society depends; and, most of all, by the weakness of love, both on our part, and on the part of others. But all these impediments to social happiness shall be removed in heaven. There, our little prejudices, whether against persons or parties, shall disappear. There, we shall be in no danger of misplacing our confidence, or of being deceived by hollow professors, but "shall know, even as also we are known." There, if there be not a perfect equality in point of capacity or dignity, there will at least be no pride on the one hand, and no servile fear on the other; and there, above all, love -- pure, generous, disinterested love -- which is the cement of all happy society, shall burn in every bosom, and prompt every word and action. Oh! blessed season, when the strifes of this lower world shall cease, and be forgotten, and when, superior to every prejudice and passion, we shall dwell as brethren together in unity!
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Brethren Together in Unity
James Buchanan, Comfort in Affliction, pp. 159-160: