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railing for railing? By no means.
Here our Saviour has left us an example, that we should follow His steps , who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not ; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. Instead of threatening, He prayed for His murderers, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. How different was the conduct of Christ on the cross towards the world, from that of the world towards Him. His heart was full of compassion for the children of men. Their hearts were full of enmity to Him. While Christ on the cross was an object of horror and abhorrence to the world, the world was an object of pity and compassion to our crucified Redeemer. This distinction of spirit and temper will always subsist between the true Christian and the worldling. The world hates the Christian; the Christian compassionates the state of the world that lieth in wickedness. He desires to promote the eternal salvation of all around him. Let us follow the example of Christ, and cleave to His cross as our only hope; and, while we name the name of Christ, let us also be careful to depart from all iniquity. Let us by well doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, who speak evil of the children of God: and let us look forward to that crown of glory which He has graciously promised to give to them that believe in Him, who love and fear His holy name.
WE ASK OR THINK, ACCORDING TO THE POWER THAT WORKETH IN US, UNTO HIM BE GLORY IN THE CHURCH BY CHRIST JESUS, THROUGHOUT ALL AGES, WORLD WITHOUT END. AMEN.
The Epistle for this day commences with a reference made by the apostle Paul'to the tribulations or afflictions which he suffered as a minister of Christ, when he went forth in his Master's name to declare the gospel of His grace to his perishing fellow sinners. The apostle had met with great opposition at Ephesus, of which an account is given in the nineteenth chapter of the
Acts of the Apostles; and to which he is also supposed to refer when he said to Timothy, Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil; the Lord will reward him according to his works ; of whom be thou ware also ; for he hath greatly with: stood our words. 35 At the time when he wrote this epistle, he called himself the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles, or in consequence of his preaching to them the gospel, that he might be the instrument of bringing salvation to their souls. But he rejoiced in his affliction that the word of God was not bound.35 It might still go forth, and be the cause of unspeakable blessings to mankind. But as he was in affliction for their sakes, they were greatly concerned about it. They sympathised with him in his sufferings, and were deeply grieved at his being called to endure them.
He therefore exhorts them, I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. Instead of being distressed, he rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer shame for the name36 of Christ; and he called upon them to rejoice with him, because his afflictions led him to the throne of grace, where he humbly and earnestly pleaded for their spiritual welfare.
He speaks of the manner in which he was accustomed to pray for them. For this cause I bow
35 2 Tim. iv. 14, 15; ii. 9.
36 Acts v. 41.
my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. His posture in prayer denoted the humility with which he made his supplications. However un-, important it may seem to some persons, a reverential posture becomes us in the presence of God. If angels veil their faces, we may well worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. 37
The worship of the heart is to be accompanied with the worship of the body. This is not a matter of indifference, or the apostle would not have mentioned his own practice. He doubtless stated it for the purpose of leading them to follow his example.
He prayed to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in this character that we are to look up to God, when we approach the throne
grace. We are to call upon Him as our Father who is in heaven ;38 with heartfelt gratitude that He is pleased to make Himself known to us, the sinful children of men, in the character of a kind and tender parent. But the only way in which we can behold Him in this gracious character is through our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. The whole family of God are His children by faith in Christ Jesus.39 We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, 40 or receive Him in the character in which He is made known to us in the
37 Psalm xcv. 6.
38 Matt. vi.9.
39 Gal. iii. 26.
40 Acts xvi. 31.
word of God, as the only begotten of the Father," God manifest in the flesh to be our Redeemer, or we cannot approach with acceptance into the Divine presence. He is the one Mediator between God and men;" and we must therefore put our cause into His hands, as our Advocate and Intercessor, and the propitiation for our sins,*if we would obtain an answer to our humble supplications. The apostle, on his bended knees, approached the almighty and most merciful Father of the family of our Lord Jesus Christ, as one of His children, to implore the rich blessings which He graciously bestows upon them that call upon His name, for Christ's sake.
He prayed to God for the members of the church at Ephesus, That He would grant them according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. The riches of His glory are the inexhaustible treasures of glorious blessings with which His hands are filled, and which He dispenses to the needy suppliants at His footstool. He is the great and glorious Fountain of all good, and is rich unto all them that call upon Him ;* ready to give them every blessing which He sees that it will be for their good to receive.
The first blessing which the apostle supplicates, is, that they might be strengthened with
41 John i. 18. 42 1 Tim. iii. 16; ii. 5. 43 1John ii.1, 2. 44 Rom. x.12.