Transforming Power of Fellowship

Converse much with them that live by faith, and fetch their motives and comforts from the things unseen

To converse with them that live all by sense, and shew no other desires, or joys, or sorrows, but what are fetched from fleshly sensible things, is a great means to draw us downwards with them.

And to converse with them who converse in heaven; and speak of nothing else so comfortably or so seriously; who shew us that heaven is the place they travel to, and the state that all their life doth aim at; and who make little of all the wants or plenty, pains or pleasures of the flesh; this much conduceth to make us heavenly.

As men are apt to learn and use the language, the motives, and the employments of the country and people where they live; so he that is most familiar with such as live by faith, upon things unseen, and taketh God’s promise for full security, hath a very great help to learn and live that life himself; Heb. 10:24. 25. 1 Thes. 4:17, 18. Phil. 3:20, 21.

—Richard Baxter
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 12, 167.

Love Serves One Another

Love is the cement of human society

For where love reigneth, there will be mutual service and submission: Gal. 5:13, ‘But by love serve one another;’ Rom. 12:10, ‘Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love.’

Christians should be made up of perfect kindness

Where there is love in superiors and inferiors, they will respect each other’s good and profit; and so all christians, none excepted, will be servants one to another; as being members of the same body, they ought not to live to themselves only, but promote the good of the body, and every member thereof: 1 Cor. 12:27, ‘Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.’

In their place and calling every one will do his part, and therefore love sweeteneth all things, and will make us stoop, though to serve the meanest person in the world.

—Thomas Manton
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 19, 432.

See How They Love One Another

God calls all that are in Christ to an imitation of him

Even to give up ourselves to their service, as Christ did; not in the same kind, so none can give himself for them, but as we are capable.

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren”
(1 John 3:16).

Some Christians came up fairly to this pattern in primitive times; Priscilla and Aquila laid down their necks for Paul, Rom. 16:4. i.e. eminently hazarded their lives for him; and he himself could “rejoice, if he were offered up upon the sacrifice and service of their faith,” Phil. 2:17.

And in the next times, what more known, even to the enemies of Christianity, than their fervent love one to another: See how they love one another, and are willing to die one for another!

But alas! the primitive spirit is almost lost in this degenerate age: instead of laying down life, how few will lay down twelve-pence for them? I remember, it is the observation of a late Worthy, upon Mat. 5:44. That he is persuaded there is hardly that man to he found this day alive, that fully understands and fully believes that scripture. O, did men think what they do for them, is done for Christ himself, it would produce other effects than are yet visible.

—John Flavel
The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, vol. 1, 104–105.

Love One Another

“This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:12

Now, the meaning of this is, not that we should love one another to the same degree that Christ loved us; though there ought to be a proportion, considering our nature and capacity; but that we should exercise our love one to another in like manner.

As, for instance, Christ hath loved us so as to be willing to deny himself, and to suffer greatly, in order to help us; so should we be willing to deny ourselves, in order to help one another. Christ loved us, and showed us great kindness though we were far below him; so should we show kindness to those of our fellow-men who are far below us. Christ denied himself to help us, though we are not able to recompense him; so should we be willing to lay out ourselves to help our neighbour, freely expecting nothing again. Christ loved us, was kind to us, and was willing to relieve us, though we were very evil and hateful, of an evil disposition, not deserving any good, but deserving only to be hated, and treated with indignation; so we should be willing to be kind to those who are of an ill disposition, and are very undeserving. Christ loved us, and laid himself out to relieve us, though we were his enemies, and had treated him ill; so we, as we would love one another as Christ hath loved us, should relieve those who are our enemies, hate us, have an ill spirit toward us, and have treated us ill.

—Jonathan Edwards
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 2, 171.

Brethren

Christ by his redemption has brought us into a more near relation one to another

He hath made us children of God, children in the same family.

We are all brethren, having God for our common Father, which is much more than to be brethren in any other family.

He has made us all one body; therefore, we ought to be united, and subserve to one another’s good, and bear one another’s burdens, as members of the same body in the natural body. If one of the members suffers, all the other members bear the burden with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). If one member be diseased or wounded, the other members of the body will minister to it and help it. And so surely it should be in the body of Christ; Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

We are professors of Christianity, pretend to be the followers of Jesus, pretend to make the gospel our rule. We have the Bible in our houses; let us not behave ourselves in this particular as if we had never seen the Bible, and were ignorant of Christianity.

—Jonathan Edwards
Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733, 377.

God-centered Love Serving One Another

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”
Hebrews 10:24

This life of love is the true improvement of all God’s doctrines, ordinances, mercies, afflictions, and other providences whatsoever!

For the use of them all is to lead us up to holy love, and to help us in the daily exercise of it.

What is the Bible else written for, but to teach us to love and to exercise the fruits of love?

What came Christ from heaven for, but to demonstrate and reveal God’s love and loveliness to man, by reconciling us to God, and freely pardoning all our sins, and promising us both grace and glory, to shew us those motives which should kindle love, and to shew us that God is most suitable and worthy of our love, and to fill us with the Spirit of love, which may give us that which he commandeth us.

What is it that we read books for, and hear sermons for, but to kindle and exercise holy love?

What join we for in the sacred worship of the assemblies, but that in an united flame of holy love, we might all mount up in praise to Jehovah?

What is the Lord’s-day separated to, but the tidings of love, the sufferings, victories, and triumphs of our Saviour’s love, the tastes and prospects of God’s love to us, and the lively and joyful exercise of ours to him, and to each other?

What use are the sacraments of, but that being entertained at the most wonderful feast of love, we should taste its sweetness, and pour out the grateful sense of it in holy thanksgiving and praise, and the exercise of uniting love to one another?

—Richard Baxter
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 15 (London: James Duncan, 1830), 250–251.

Not Forsaking The Assembly

It is an evil which prevails everywhere among mankind, that every one sets himself above others

…and especially that those who seem in anything to excel cannot well endure their inferiors to be on an equality with themselves. And then there is so much [a gloomy disposition] almost in all, that individuals would gladly make churches for themselves if they could; for they find it so difficult to accommodate themselves to the ways and habits of others. …

Extremely needed, therefore, by us all is the admonition to be stimulated to love and not to envy, and not to separate from those whom God has joined to us, but to embrace with brotherly kindness all those who are united to us in faith.

And surely it behoves us the more earnestly to cultivate unity, as the more eagerly watchful Satan is, either to tear us by any means from the Church, or stealthily to seduce us from it.

And such would be the happy effect, were no one to please himself too much, and were all of us to preserve this one object, mutually to provoke one another to love, and to allow no emulation among ourselves, but that of doing good works.

For doubtless the contempt of the brethren, [gloominess], envy, immoderate estimate of ourselves, and other sinful impulses, clearly shew that our love is either very cold, or does not at all exist.

Having said, “Not forsaking the assembling together,” he adds, But exhorting one another; by which he intimates that all the godly ought by all means possible to exert themselves in the work of gathering together the Church on every side; for we are called by the Lord on this condition, that every one should afterwards strive to lead others to the truth, to restore the wandering to the right way, to extend a helping hand to the fallen, to win over those who are without. But if we ought to bestow so much labour on those who are yet aliens to the flock of Christ, how much more diligence is required in exhorting the brethren whom God has already joined to us?

—John Calvin, 1509-1564
Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, 240–241.

Let Us Help One Another

Let Christians help one another in going this journey

There are many ways whereby Christians might greatly forward one another in their way to heaven. Therefore let them be exhorted to go this journey as it were in company, conversing together, and assisting one another. Company is very desirable in a journey, but in none so much as this.

Let them go united, and not fall out by the way, which would be to hinder one another; but use all means they can to help each other up the hill.

This would insure a more successful traveling, and a more joyful meeting at their Father’s house in glory.

—Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758

Unfeigned Love to God

To love God without zeal, is not to love him, because it is not a loving him as God

The nature of holy objects are such, so great and excellent, so transcendent and of unspeakable consequence, that we cannot be sincere in our estimation and seeking of them, without zeal.

If it were about riches or honours, a cold desire and a dull pursuit might serve the turn, and well beseem us; but about God, and Christ, and heaven, such cold desires and endeavours are but a contempt.

—Richard Baxter, 1615-1691

Seeing Death Changes How We See Life

The face of death, and nearness of eternity, did much convince me what books to read, what studies to prefer and prosecute, what company and conversation to choose.

If the thoughts of death, and the grave, and rottenness, are not pleasant to you, do not let the thoughts of sin be pleasant.

—Richard Baxter, 1615-1691