« הקודםהמשך »
13 Come now, ye that say, To-day, or to-morrow we will go to such 14 a city, and spend a year there, and traffic, and get gain; whereas
ye know not what shall be on the morrow: For what is your life?
It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little while, and then va15 nisheth away. Whereas ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall 16 live, and do this or that. But now you rejoice in your boastings: 17. All such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him, that knoweth to do
good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. v. Come now, ye rich men, weep and howl over the miseries that 2 are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your gar3 ments are moth-eaten : your gold and silver are cankered, and
their rust shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as fire. Ye have laid up treasures for the last days. Behold the wages of the labourers who have reaped your fields, who have been defrauded by you, crieth; and the out-cries of those who have gath
ered in your harvest, have come into the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 Ye have lived delicately and luxuriously upon the earth : ye have 6 pampered your hearts, as for a day of slaughter. Ye have condem
ned and murdered the righteous one, and he doth not resist you. 7 Be ye therefore, brethren, patient till the coming of the Lord.
Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth; and exerciseth patience with respect to it, till he receive the for8 mer rain, and the latter. Be ye also patient ; strengthen your
hearts ; for the appearance of the Lord is near.
REFLECTIONS. Let the law of that one great Legislator, who is able both to save and to destroy, be always seriously remembered and considered ; that we may not affront his authority in pretending to judge others, nor set up for judges and, in effect, condemners of the law, by the severity of those censures which we pass upon our brethren. We are happy in knowing that sacred rule of life, if we obey it ; otherwise, that knowledge of it which adds an aggravation even to sins of omission, will much more aggravate every presumptuous opposition to it. Let us look on this world as a scene of great uncertainty ; and on life, as a flattering vapour, which vanishes while we are bebolding it : and let a sense of its shortness and uncertainty, and of our own ignorance what shall be on the morrow, engage us to be very careful, that we do not presume upon the future, as if it were in our own power ; but set ourselves with all possible diligence to improve the present time ; referring the disposal of all future events, to the wisdom of that God on whom it depends to determine whether we shall live, and do this, or that.
Let rich men read the address of the apostle to persons in their circumstances, with holy awe, and with a jealousy over themselves, lest their present prosperity be succeeded with misery, and their joy with weeping and howling ; as it undoubtedly will be, if wealth be unjustly gotten, or sordidly hoarded up, or luxuriously employed to pamper their appetites, while the truest and noblest use of it, the relief of the poor, and the benefit of mankind is forgotten. Especially have they reason to tremble who abuse wealth and power as the instruments of oppression. Soon will all their stores be wasted ; soon will they bccome poor and indigent, and find a terrible account remaining, when all the gaieties and pleasures of life are utterly vanished. In the mean time the saints of God may be among the poor and the oppressed; but let them wait patiently for the day of the Lord, for his coming is near. They sow in tears, but let them comfort their hearts with the view of the harvest ; in like manner as the husbandman demands not immediately the fruits of that seed he has committed to the furrows. Adored be that kind providence, which gives the former and the latter rain in its season. To him from whom we have received the bounties of nature, let us humbly look for the blessings of grace, and trust him to fulfil all his promises, who without a promise to bind bim, in particular instances, gives us rain from heaven, and fruit. ful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
He inculcates moderation and fortitude, cautions them against stvearing ; recommends prayer, confessing our faults, and a concern for the common salvation, Ch. v. 9, &c. 9 D E not inwardly incensed against each other, brethren, that you
D be not condemned: behold the judge is standing before the to door. My brethren, take for an example of enduring adversity, and
of long-suffering, the prophets, who spake in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we esteem them happy who endure. Ye have heard of
the patience of Job ; and ye have seen the end of the Lord how he concluded his heavy afflictions ; that the Lord is full of compassion, and of tender mercy.
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other oath ; but let your yea, be yea, and 13 your nay, nay; that you may not fall under condemnation. Is
any among you afflicted ? let him pray. Is any cheerful ? let 14 him sing psalms. Is any one among you sick ? let him call for
the elders of the church ; and let them pray over him, anointing 15 him with oil* in the name of the Lord : and the prayer of faith
shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he
hath committed sins which have brought this visitation upon him, 16 they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another,
and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of
a righteous man, wrought by the energy of the Spirit, is of great 17 efficacy. Elijah was a man subject to the like infirmities with us,
and he prayed with a fervent prayer, that it might not rain ; and it 18 rained not upon the land for three years and six months. And
he then prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the land put 19 forth its fruits.-Brethren, if any one of you wander from the truth, 20 and one turn him back ; let him know, that he who turneth back
a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and so cover a multitude of sins.
the A token that a miracle was going to be performed, and not otherwise used. Mark vi. 13. M,
REFLECTIONS. May it ever be remembered by all, and especially by the ministers of the gospel, of how great importance it is to be instrumental in saving a soul from death, an immortal soul from everlasting death ; that so they may be animated to the most zealous and laborious efforts for that blessed purpose ; and think themselves richly rewarded, though it were for the otherwise unsuccessful labours of a whole life, by succeeding even in a single instance. In this view, may there be a care to bring them to the truth, that so they may be converted from their wandering ways, that their understanding being convinced of the truth and importance of the gospel, their conduct may be practically influenced by it; and that upon such steady principles, as may effectually prevent their return to their wanderings again. Thus may a multitude of sins be hidden, and the glory of God, and the salvation of men, be effectually promoted.
Whatever trials we may meet with in these charitable efforts, or in any other part of duty, may we take the prophets of old, and the apostles of our Lord, for examples of suffering adversity and patience ; especially remembering their Lord, and ours; remembering how abundantly the patience of good men has been rewarded ; the end of the Lord with respect to holy Job, and many others who have trod in his steps in succeeding ages; and remembering especially, that the Judge stands at the door, that in a very little time he will appear, not only to put an end to the trial of his servants, but to crown their virtues and graces. In the mean time, the bowels of his compassion are abundant, and he will not be wanting in communicating all necessary consolations and supports. May we be so happy, as to be acquainted with those of devotion, that in our affliction we may pray, and in our cheerfulness, sing psalms ; that we may know by blessed experience the efficacy of such a temper to soften the sorrows of life, and to sweeten its enjoyments. And as we desire to be visited of God in our afflictions, may we with Christian sympathy be ready to visit and relieve others in their sickness, or other kinds of distress. It is indeed the special office of the elders of the church, who should be sent for upon such occasions with readiness, and who, if they be worthy of their office, will attend with pleasure. But it is not their office alone. Let us be ready to pray for each other, in faith and charity ; and where offences have been committed, let there be a frank and candid acknowledgment of them on the one side, and as hearty a forgiveness on the other. In a word, let the efficacy of the forvent prayer of the righteous be often reflected on, to excite fervour, and to engage to righteousness, and to lead us to honour those who maintain such a character, and who offer such petitions and supplications ; that God may, in answer to their requests, shower down his blessings upon us, that our land may yield its increase, that righteousness may spring up out of the earth, and that in every sense, God, as our own God, may bless us.
THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER.
THE sentiments of learned men on this question, To whom was this efiis
tle written ? are various. On the whole it appears most probable that it wi8 addressed both to the Jewish and Gentile converts, who were dispersed in various regions of the world. The evident design of it is, to induce them to a conversation not merely inoffensive to all men, but in all respects worthy of the gospel; and 10 support them under the severe persecutions they already endured, or were likely to endure. It is commonly thought to have been written about the year 61, the seventh of Nero.
Peter congratulates his brethren who were dispersed abroad, in being called
to the glorious privileges and hopes of the gospel ; and expatiales on the sublime manner in which it was introduced. Ch. i. 1-12.
I D ETER an apostle of Jesas Christ, to the elect strangers, who
I are scattered abroad through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, 2 Asia, and Bithynia; elect according to the fore-knowledge of God
the Father, by sanctification of the Spirit to obedience, and the
sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ : Grace and peace be mul3 tiplied unto you.--Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Je
sus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy hath regenera
ted us to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the 4 dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading, reser5 ved in the heavens for you, who are guarded by the power of God,
through faith unto salvation, prepared to be revealed in the last 6 time. In which you greatly r rejoice, though now for a little
while, if it be necessary, you are grieved amidst various trials. 7 That the little trial of your faith (far more precious than that of
gold which perisheth, though it be tried and purified with fire) may be found to praise, and honour, and glory in the great day of 8 the revelation of Jesus Christ : whom not having seen ye love, and
in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice 9 with unutterable and glorified joy ; receiving the end of your faith, 10 even the salvation of your souls. Concerning which salvation, the
prophets, who predicted the grace which quas appointed to you, · 11 sought and diligently enquired : searching to what period, or what · manner of time, the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did refer,
when he testified long before, the sufferings which were to come 12 upon Christ, and the glory which was to succeed. To whom it
was revealed, that it was not to themselves, but to us, that they ministered these things, which now are declared to you, by those who have published the glad-tidings of the gospel among you, by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven ; which things the angels desire to bend down to contemplate* * Alluding to the bending posture of the cherubims on the mercy-seat. .
REFLECTIONS. Are we desirous of rendering it apparent to ourselves, and all around us, that we are indeed the elect of God? Let it be, by an humble application to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, on the one hand, and by the evident fruits of the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, on the other. The abundant mercy of God, hath begotten real Christians to the lively hope of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading in. heritance, reserved in heaven for them : let us keep it steadily in view, and earnestly pray, that God would preserve us by his mighty power through faith unto salvation. Whilst we are waiting for this salvation, it is very possible, yea probable, affliction may be our portion; but let us remember, it is, if need be, that we are in heaviness through manifold temptations. Our faith and our other graces, are as it were thrown into the furnace, not to be consumed, but refined ; that they may be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearance of Jesus Christ. Even at the present, may this divine faith produce that love to an unseen Jesus, which is here so naturally expressed by the apostle ; and though now we see him not, yet may that love be eminently productive of joy, even that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory; and, in the lively and vigorous exercise of these graces, may we all receive the end of our faith, even the everlasting salvation of our souls !
Let what we are here told of the prophetic writers be improved as it ought, to confirm our faith in that glorious gospel, of which these holy men have given in their writings such wonderful intimations and predictions; writings which we have such excellent advantages for more distinctly and clearly understanding, than even they themselves did. What exalted ideas should we entertain of a dispensation introduced by such a series of wonders, preached by the inspired prophets, and by the Holy Ghost in his miraculous gifts and salutary influence sent down from heaven: a dispensation into the glories of which the angels desire to pry; how much more worthy then, the attention of the children of men, who are so nearly concerned in it, who wcre redeemed from everlasting destruction by the blood of the Son of God ? () ! let us review it with the closest application, and improve it to the infinitely gracious and important purposes for which it was intended. Then will grace and peace be multiplied to us; and however we may now be dispersed and afflicted, pilgrims and strangers, we shall ere long be brought to our everlasting home, and meet together in the presence of our dear and condescending Saviour; where having a more lively sense of our obligations to him, and beholding his glory, we shall love him, infinitely better than at this distance we have been capable of, and feel our joy in him increased in a proportionable degree.