By Hugh Binning
We will not be curious in the ranking of the duties in which Christian love should exercise itself. All the commandments of the second table are but branches of it: they might be reduced all to the works of righteousness and of mercy. But truly these are interwoven through each other. Though the understanding of mercy is usually restricted to the showing of compassion upon men in misery, yet there is a righteousness in that mercy, and there is mercy in most all acts of righteousness, as in not judging rashly, in forgiving, and so on. Therefore we will consider the most eminent and difficult duties of love, which the word of God solemnly and frequently charges upon us in relation to others, especially those of the household of faith.
I conceive we would labor to enforce on our hearts, and persuade our souls to a love of all men, by often ruminating upon the words of the Apostle, which urge us to “abound in love towards all men,” (1st Thessalonians 3:12). And this is so concerning, that he prays earnestly that the Lord would make them increase in it, and this we should pray for too. An affectionate disposition towards our common nature is not a common thing. Christianity presses it, and it is only true humanity, (Luke 6:36-37) “Be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Don’t judge, and you will not be judged, don’t condemn, and you will not be condemned, forgive, and ye will be forgiven.”
Now in relation to all men, charity has an engagement upon it to pray for all sorts of men, from that Apostolic command, (1st Timothy 2:1) : “I exhort you therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” Prayers and supplications, earnest prayers out of affection, should be poured out even for them that cannot, or do not pray for themselves. Wherefore are we taught to pray this way, so that we may be the mouth of others? And since an intercessor is given to us above, how are we bound to be intercessors for others below, and so to be affected with the common mercies of the multitude, as to give thanks too! If man, by the law of creation, is the mouth of the stones, trees, birds, beasts, of heaven and earth, sun and moon and stars, how much more ought a Christian, a redeemed man, be the mouth of mankind to praise God for the abounding of his goodness, even towards these who are left still in that misery and bondage that he is delivered from?