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Duty 1. Their first duty is, to be often together in acts of Christian communion, Mal. iii. 16. Then they that feared the Lord, spake often one to another, &c. Such meetings, prayer, repetition of sermons, and Christian conference greatly conduce to mutual edification; which is the principal intention of Christian fellowship, Eph. iv. 15, 16.
Duty 2. Their second duty is, to follow and back the great design of the gospel in 304the world, and therein assist the public ministry, by their private and prudent helping on the conversion of the carnal and careless world, Phil. iv. 3. Help those women that laboured with me in the gospel, &c. For the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the spirit, strive together with me, Rom. xv. 30.
Duty 3. Their third duty is, humble condescension to the infirmities of their weaker brethren, and denying themselves in what they can, without sin, that they give them no offence, Rom. xv. 1. We then that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. And ver. 2, Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
Duty 4. Their fourth duty is, to be exceeding tender of the church's unity, both in judgment, love, and practice; avoiding (as much as may be, and as far as the gospel rule allows) all calls and occasions of division and separation, Rom. xvi. 17. Mark them which cause divisions and offences, and avoid them. And Phil. ii. 1, 2, 305 If there be any consolation in Christ, &c. be ye like minded.
Duty 5. Their fifth duty is, a respectful carriage towards the meanest Christian, and to have higher esteem of others than themselves. External things make no difference with Christ, Rom. xii. 10. In honour preferring one another. Gal. iii. 28. Ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Yet a decorum is to be kept suitable to civil differences, Eph. v. 21. Submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God.
Duty 6. Their sixth duty is, meekly to receive reproofs from each other for their sins, especially when the matter is just, and the manner of delivering it regular, Psal. cxli. 5. Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, &c.
Duty 7. Their seventh duty is, to communicate their spiritual stock of gifts, graces and experiences, not interfering with public offices, nor by sinful partiality including some, and excluding many others (to whom it is due, and who may have more need) 306from the benefit thereof, 1 Pet. iv. 10. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, 1 Tim. v. 21. Observe these things, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
Duty 8. Their eighth duty is, cheerfully to communicate their outward good things for the relief of their brethren, Heb. xiii. 16. To do good and to communicate forget not. And, the better to enable them hereunto, to be diligent in their calling, Eph. iv. 28. Working with his hands, that he may have to give to him that needeth. And especially to make comfortable provision for their ministers, not by way of courtesy, but delay, 1 Cor. ix. 14. Even so hath God ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
Duty 9. Their ninth duty is, not only to relieve the distressed members of Christ, but to seek out, and visit them, to know their spiritual and temporal wants, in order to a full discharge of that duty, Jam. i. 27. Pure religion and undefiled before God, 307and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, &c.
Duty 10. Their tenth duty is, to put charitable constructions upon doubtful words and actions; and, if either will admit a double sense, always to take it in the fairest, according to the law of charity, 1 Cor. xiii. 7. Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. And, such a charity will defend and maintain church peace and unity.
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