MATTHEW HENRY ON CHRISTIAN UNITY
There is no greater enemy to Christian love than pride and passion. If we do things in contradiction to our brethren, this is doing them through strife; if we do them through ostentation of ourselves, this is doing them through vain glory: both are destructive of Christian love and kindle unchristian heats. Christ came to slay all enemies, therefore let there not be among Christians a spirit of opposition. Christ came to humble us, and therefore let there not be among us a spirit of pride. We must “esteem others, in lowliness of mind, better than ourselves”, be severe upon our own faults and charitable in our judgement of others, be quick in observing our own defects and infirmities, but ready to overlook and make favourable allowances for the defects of others.
(On Phil. 2)
The precept of love must be as old as human nature; but it might admit various enforcements and motives. In the state of innocence, had human nature then been propagated, men must have loved one another as being of one blood, made to dwell on the earth, as being God’s offspring, and bearing His image. In the state of sin and
promised recovery, they must love one another as related to God their Maker, as related to each other by blood, and as partners in the .same hope. When the Hebrews were peculiarly incorporated, they must accordingly love each other, as being the privileged people, whose were the covenants and the adoption, and of whose race the Messiah and head of the church must spring; and the law of love must be conveyed with new obligations to the new Israel of God, the gospel church.
(On 1 John 2)
We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them, there were ‘strifes among them, who should be the greatest’; but now all these strifes were at an end, we hear no more of them. What they had received already of the Holy Ghost, when Christ breathed on them, had in a good measure rectified the mistakes upon which hose contests were grounded, and had disposed them to a holy love. They had prayed more together than of late (ch. 1.14), and this made them love one another better.
(On Acts 2)
Christ delights even in the saints on earth, notwithstanding their weaknesses and manifold infirmities, which is a good reason why we should.
(On Psalm 16)
‘I will keep the passover with my disciples’. Note, wherever Christ is welcome, He expects that His disciples should be welcome too. When we take God for our God, we take His people for our people.
(On Matthew 26)
Though one party among them had declared for Apollos against Paul, yet Paul did not hinder Apollos from going to Corinth in his own absence, nay, he pressed him to go thither. He had no suspicions of Apollos, as if he would lessen Paul’s interest and respect among them, to the advancement of his own. Note, faithful ministers are not to entertain jealousies of each other, nor suspect of such selfish designs. True charity and brotherly love think no evil. And where should these reign, if not in the breasts of the ministers of Christ?
(On 1 Corinthians 16)
How well-natured and amiable a thing is Christian love. How lovely a mind is that which is tinctured throughout with such benevolence, and has it diffused over its whole frame! Happy the man who has this heavenly fire glowing in his heart, flowing out of His mouth, and diffusing its warmth over all with whom he has to do! How lovely a thing would Christianity appear to the world, if those who profess it were more actuated and animated by this divine principle, and paid a due regard to a command on which its blessed author laid a chief stress! ‘A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you’ (John 13.34). Blessed Jesus! How few of thy professed disciples are to be distinguished and marked out by this characteristic!
(On 1 Corinthians 13)
This brotherly love was in danger of being lost, and that in a time of persecution when it would be most necessary; it was in danger of being lost by those disputes that were among them concerning the respect they ought still to have to the ceremonies of the Mosaic law. Disputes about religion too often produce a decay of Christian affection; but this must be guarded against, and all proper means used to preserve brotherly love.
(On Hebrews 13)
Worldly glory sets men at variance; for if some be advanced others are eclipsed, and therefore, while the disciples dreamed of a temporal kingdom, they were ever and anon quarrelling; but spiritual honours being conferred alike upon all Christ’s subjects, they being all ‘made to our God kings and priests’, there is no occasion for contests nor emulation. The more Christians are taken up with the glory Christ has given them, the less desirous they will be of vain-glory, and consequently the less disposed to quarrel.
(On John 17)
Every member of the body is to preserve its own rank, and do its own office; and all are to minister to one another, and promote the good of the body in general, without envying, or despising, or neglecting, or ill-using, any one particular member. How blessed a constitution were the Christian church, if all the members did their duty.
(On 1 Corinthians 12)