by J.C. PHILPOT- 1802-1869
It is NOT grace which genders strife, but corruption.If,therefore, my brother’s corruption be raised against me, shall I oppose my corruption to his, and so enter into wrath; or shall I not rather beg of God that His grace in me may invite the grace that is in my brother, and so we may settle the whole in peace? If we are real Christians we must both desire only what is just and right, or we do not live like Christians; and if we both agree in desiring this as the end, how is it we differ violently about the means?
If either hath done or desired to wrong the other, the one who is more under the conduct of grace should kindly and
affectionately represent it; and if he cannot be heard, should
leave the matter to God, without raising the unholy and unhappy tumult of heat and resentment in his own mind. He that can bear and forebear most is certainly most the Christian. It is misery
and deadness to a real believer to walk and war after the base fury and discord of the flesh.
When he deserves well, and patiently suffers evil, then he is like to his Master and right in himself. The apostle directs for believers, not the vengeance of law, but Christian arbitration. Law is the last refuge, and can only be lawful when right is not to be had by better means.
If Christians who have a matter of difference would graciously agree to meet with each other in prayer, and to pray together kindly for each other before the throne of grace, surely if they meant the attainment of that right and truth which they prayed for, they might soon find it out, and settle it accordingly.
But it is the flesh which comes in and mars all. One cannot stoop; and the other will not. They are not so wise as Luther’s two goats that met on a narrow plank over a deep water. They could not go back, and they dared not to fight. At length one of them laid down, while the other went over him; And so peace and safety attended both. Why should not believers try this method?
But alas! While grace remains idle or neuter, the world jeers and triumphs; The devil is busy and excites; good men mourn and lament; the weak are stumbled and turned aside; and a long train of iniquities and jealousies fill the breast of those who humbly hope to dwell with God and each other throughout eternity. These things ought not so to be!
If my brother be in the wrong, how shall I show myself in the right? By wounding him more than he hath wounded himself? By doing wrong likewise, and rendering evil for evil? No; let me pray that God will open his eyes, and not shut my heart; that He would give him more grace, and me more patience to meet what is not gracious in him; at the utmost, that I may not be a partaker with him of anger, or those sins which follow upon it.
Am I in the wrong? What then shall I do? Shall I persist in it,
and make myself more in the wrong? This would not be gracious; this would be bringing misery by heaps upon myself. Rather let me go first to God, and then to my brother, acknowledging my fault, or my error, to both. There is no shame in confessing our sins to God, nor any meanness in owning them to men. It is the mark of a noble and generous spirit in common life; and it is
the wisdom, as well as the duty and privilege, of a much better life in the Christian.
O thou love of the brethren, whither art thou fled?
We profess to believe in the communion of the saints; but where are the saints that have this communion? We talk of the unity of God’s church with respect to its members; but where are those members who live in this unity? O shame on us that we differ at all, that we differ on trifles, that we love to differ, that we urge and promote differences, and that the healing spirit is not more to be found amongst us!
Lord, if thou should differ with us at any time, as we are ready at all times to differ with others, o how shall we stand before thee, or what could we answer for ourselves?
Give, o give more of thy grace, that we may be humble in our hearts, just in our desires, mild to others, and deeply submissive to thee!