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Rule viii. Tender and affectionate participation with one another in their several states and conditions, — bearing each other’s burdens.

Gal. vi. 2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Heb. xiii. 3, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”

731 Cor. xii. 25, 26, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”

2 Cor. xi. 29, “Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?”

James i. 27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” etc.

Matt. xxv. 35, 36, 40, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

2 Tim. i. 16, 17, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.”

Acts xx. 35, “I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak,” etc.

Explication viii. The former rule concerned the carriage and frame of spirit towards our brethren in their failings; this is in their miseries and afflictions. In this, also, conformity to Christ is required, who in all the afflictions of his people is afflicted, Isa. lxiii. 9, and persecuted in their distresses, Acts ix. 4. Could we bring up our spiritual union to hold any proportion with the mutual union of many members in one body, to which it is frequently compared, this duty would be excellently performed. No man ever yet hated his own flesh. If one member be in pain, the rest have little comfort or ease. It is a rotten member which is not affected with the anguish of its companions. They are marked particularly for destruction who, in the midst of plentiful enjoyments, forget the miseries of their brethren, Amos vi. 6. If we will not feel the weight of our brethren’s afflictions, burdens, and sorrow, it is a righteous thing that our own should be double. The desolations of the church make Nehemiah grow pale in the court of a great king, Neh. ii. 1–3. They who are not concerned in the troubles, sorrows, visitations, wants, poverties, persecutions of the saints, not so far as to pity their woundings, to feel their strokes, to refresh their spirits, help bear their burdens upon their own shoulders, can never assure themselves that they are united to the Head of those saints. Now, to a right performance of this duty, and in the discharge of it, are required, —

1. A due valuation, strong desire, and high esteem of the church’s prosperity, in every member of it, Ps. cxxii. 6.

742. Bowels of compassion as a fruit of love; to be sensible of, and intimately moved for, the several burdens of the saints, Col. iii. 12.

3. Courage and boldness to own them without shame in all conditions, 2 Tim. i. 16, 17.

4. Personal visitations in sicknesses, troubles, and restraints, to advise, comfort, and refresh them, Matt. xxv. 36.

5. Suitable supportment, by administration of spiritual or temporal assistances, to the condition wherein they are. The motives are the same as to the former rule.

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