John Flavel’s Double Scheme, pt. 2

1.  DUTY: Their first duty is to be often together in acts of Christian communion. Malachi 3:16,  “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.” Such meetings for prayers, repetition of sermons, and Christian conference, greatly conduce to mutual edification, which is the principal intention of Christian fellowship, Eph. 4:16.

2. DUTY: Their second duty is, to follow and back the great design of the gospel in the world, and therein assist in the public ministry, by their private and prudent helping on the conversion of the carnal and careless world.  Philippians 4:3, “I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel.” Romans 15:30, “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”

3.  DUTY:  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 offense.  Romans 15:1, “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” And verse 2, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”

4.  DUTY:  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 gospel rule allows) all causes and occasions of division and separation. Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” And Philippians 2:1-2, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

5.  DUTY:  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; Romans 12:10, “Give preference to one another in honor.” Galatians 3:28, “You are all one in Christ Jesus.” Yet a decorum is to be kept suitable to civil differences; Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

6. DUTY:  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; Psalm 141:5, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head.”

7.  DUTY:  Their seventh duty is to communicate their spiritual stock of gifts, graces and experiences, not interfering with public officers, nor by sinful partiality including some, and excluding many others (to who it is as due, and who may have more need) from the benefit thereof; 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Timothy 5:21, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

8.  DUTY:  Their eighth duty is, cheerful to communicate their outward good things for the relief of their brethren; Hebrews 13:16, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” And the better to enable them hereunto, to be diligent in their callings; Ephesians 4:28, “Performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”

9. DUTY:  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; James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

10. DUTY:  Their tenth duty is, to put charitable constructions upon doubtful words and actions; and if either will admit to a double sense, always to take it in the fairest, according to the law of charity; 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” And such a charity will defend and maintain church peace and unity.

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