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from the ways of sin, and to promote in all, the knowledge and practice of the sacred truth of the gospel.
You may therefore understand our great Lord and Master Jesus as speaking to each of you, who are in the number of his true disciples; that the glory which his Father had given to him, he hath given to you.
No energies or labours in his cause will be lost, wherein you have endeavoured to serve and save others. But through the divine goodness and promise, if you have not been defective in your duty in other respects, you are, and may be as fully assured of the future everlasting happiness, which will spring from such a right disposition, as if you were in present possession of it.
How ought this to excite and encourage us to excell in piety and doing good!
We must not pass by without noticing the motive which our Saviour here throws in, as what encouraged himself, and should engage his followers to make themselves meet and fit for the glory promised to them: "And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given
them, that they may be one, as we are
What a high and honourable privilege is this, "To be one with Christ and with God !" But how is it to be understood? Not, surely, that we or that Christ are to be God! It is through ignorance and extreme prejudice when such phrases have been so interpreted.
And very far is the like language, which our Saviour uses of himself in another place, from being to be so interpreted, where he says, "I and my Father are one."
God standeth by himself alone in the universe that he has made, and all other beings whatsoever derive and hold their existence from him. It is impossible for God to be man, or for any other being or person to be God.
But our Saviour Christ and we his disciples are several times spoken of in the scriptures as being one with God, or united with him in different senses, according to the subject spoken of: and here we are said to be one with him and with Christ, in carrying on the designs of his goodness for the salvation of mankind : an
honour this, far above any thing which this world has to bestow.
It may very properly be inquired by us: If Christ and his followers are thus to be one, united in the same great and heavenly work of holiness and happiness, from whence is it that christians are so little at unity with themselves?
The cause is not difficult to be assigned, though much to be regretted.
It is owing to the want of that principle of benevolence which is here and elsewhere inculcated by our Lord, as the duty and reward at the same time of his followers, in labouring to bring others from sin and baneful ignorance to useful knowledge and virtue.
Instead of this, the unity of Christ's followers has been made to consist in being united in holding the same opinions, and an uniformity of religious worship.
But such an union is never enjoined by Christ or his apostles after him. Nor is it an object possible to be attained, while human beings are what they are; for, through difference of natural capacity, temper, and disposition, from various prejudices of education and many the like causes, they will unavoid
ably oftentimes see the same things in contrary lights, and judge differently of them.
Nor is there any thing to be blamed in this, while men are diligent in their inquiries, and honest and true in acting up to their know ledge and convictions,
The true union of christians, that which makes them one with Christ and with God, and of consequence happy for ever, is to love our fellow-creatures, and to exert ourselves to promote their virtue and eternal happiness, in advancing the glorious design of the Almighty Father; for which our Saviour Christ had his mission from him, and for which we are all in various degrees sent into the world.
And this end may be cultivated and pursued in the midst of a diversity of opinions in other respects, whilst we do not think worse of or condemn others that dissent from us, or think ourselves preferable to them or more in God's favour; but that those only will be acceptable and preferred by him, who are careful to keep his commandments, and especially that the chiefest of all, next to the love of himself, to love their fellow creatures, and to be studious to do them all manner of good in
their power, both with regard to their present and future life.
O God, blessed for ever! the eternal source of all being and happiness!
With solemn and awful reverence we bow before thy throne, whom no man hath seen nor can see, whose nature is unsearchable, but absolutely perfect in all that is truly great, and lovely, and adorable!
Make us deeply and duly sensible, O thou Most High and Holy! of thine infinite conde scension towards us, in exciting us to promote the virtue and welfare of all others to whom our kind offices can be extended, by assuring us in thy holy word, that thereby we are in union with thyself as well as with our great Master Jesus! and obtain a share in thine own felicity, whose work and delight hath ever been to bring thy creatures to be holy, good, and happy.
Deliver us, therefore, we pray thee, from all narrow contracted views and selfish regards, and cause it to be our pleasure and delight to be helpful to others according to the abilities given, and especially to lead them to the