« הקודםהמשך »
assured confidence in the divine promise travel on, as it were, to the accomplishment, over mountains of difficulty that may lie in our way; and let our hearts be cheered with this happy prospect, under all the grief which they feel, when we see how few now believe the report of the gospel, and to how few God hath revealed his arm.
While the glorious, expected event is delayed, let us add our fervent intercessions with God, to these prayers, by which the church has in every age been endeavouring to hasten it on. They are all written in the book of God's remembrance, and shall all be reviewed and answered in their season. Let us in the mean time comfort ourselves with this reviving thought, that the covenant which God will make with Israel in that day, is in the main the same he has made with us, to take away sin. Eased of such an insupportable burden, that would sink us into final ruin and despair, let us bear up cheerfully against all discouragements, and glory in the gospel which brings us this invaluable blessing ; how long, and how generally soever, it may be to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks, foolishness.
Practical exhortations and directions to Christians to act in a manner wor, • thy of the gospel, particularly by a faithful improvement of their various
talents. Ch. xii. 1-11.
IT ENTREAT you therefore, brethren, by the tender mercies
I of God [which I have thus displayed] both to Jews and Gentiles, that instead of animal victims, you present your bodies (i. e. your
whole persons) a living sacrifice, holy, well-pleasing to God, as 2 your rational service. And be not conformed to this world ; but
be transformed, in the renewing of your mind ; that you may experimentally know that will of God, which is good, acceptable, and perfect. And I say further according to that grace which is given to me, as my fiarticular charge to every one that is among you, not to arrogate to himself above what he ought to think, but that he
think of himself with sobriety and modesty, according to the mea. 4 sure of faith, which God hath distributed to every man. For as
in one body we have many members, but all the members have 5 not the same use : So we, though many, are one body in Christ, 6 and every one members of each other. Having therefore gifts
different according to the grace given unto us ; whether it be prophecy to foretell future events, or discourse for the edification
of the church, let us be employed in it according to the proportion ny of faith that is in us : Or having the office of ministry, as deacons,
let a man be active and faithful in ministration : or if he be an in8 structor of catechumens, in teaching : or an exhorter of the breth
ren, in exhortation. He that giveth charity, let him do it with simplicity : he that presideth in the distribution of charitics, with dili
gence : he that sheweth mercy to special objects of compassion, let 9 him do it with cheerfulness. Let love be undissembled. Abhor 10 that which is evil; adhere to that which is good. In brotherlya love, be mutually full of tender affection ; in honour preferring il one another. Be not slothful in business : be fervent in spirit;
serving the Lord.
REFLECTIONS. How rich were a Christian in practical directions for the conduct of lift even if this excellent chapter were his only treasure of this kind. Let such scriptures as these be welcome to us ; the scriptures that teach us our duty, as well as those that display before our eyes the richest variety of spiritual privileges. Indeed it is one of our greatest privileges; to be taught our duty, if at the same time we are inclined by divine grace to perform it; and if we are not, we have no privile. ges that will prevent, none that will not increase, our ruin. Wisely does the great apostle lay the foundation of all virtue in a principle of unfeigned piety towards God : in presenting before him our bodies as living sucrifices. How great an honour and happiness will it be to us, to do it! That we may be engaged to this, let us often think of his tender mercies, so many and so great ; and especially, of that most illustrious of all mercies, his redeeming us by the blood of his Son, and calling us into the Christian covenant. Can there be a more reasonable service than this ? that we should be consecrated to our Creator, to our Redeemer, to our Sanctifier, to our constant Benefactor, to our supreme end and happiness ?- The world indeed neglects him, yea, even what is called the Christian world, neglects him, to such a degree, as if we did not continually see it, we should not suppose to be possible. But let us not in this instance be conformed to it. ( that divine grace may so transform and renew our hearts, that we may not ! Nothing but experience can teach us, how good, and perfect, and acceptable, the will of God is, and how happy a thing it is to be governed, in every respect, by its unerring declarations.
Let us repiember, that as our sanctification, so also our humility and our usefulness are his will ; and therefore, let us endeavour to conquer every high conceit of ourselves, and every sordid and selfish sentiment. Let us often reflect, that we are all members of each other ; and being so happily united in Christ, have all but one interest, which is that of the body, and of its glorified head. Whether our station in the church be more public, or private ; whether our capacities and endowments be more or less distinguished : let us all be faithful, be affectionate, be disinterested, be active ; endeavouring to serve Christ, and even the poorest of his people, with simplicity, with diligence, with cheerfulness : preferring others to ourselves ; abhorring that love which is spent in hypocritical words and unmeaning forms; cultivating that which gives to the soul tenderness, condescension, and vigour. In a word, let us remember we are serving the Lord, the Lord Christ; and doing all in his name, and for his sake ; let this add fervour to our spirit, zeal to our diligence, and abasement to our humility; for nothing surely can be so animating, nothing so melting, nothing so humbling, as to recollect, on the one hand, how much we owe him, and on the other, how little we are able, how much less we are careful, to do for his service,
SECTION XXVIII. Exhortations to cheerfulness, patience, hospitality, mutual sympathy, humility, a peaceful temper, and a readiness to forgive injuries. Ch. xii. 12, &c.
12 T FURTHER exhort you brethren, guard against that dejection
1 of spirit which would enervate your holy activity and zeal.
Be always rejoicing in hope ; patient in tribulation ; continuing 13 instant in prayer : communicating to the necessities of the saints ; 14 pursuing hospitality. Bless them who persecute you: bless, and 15 curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice ; and weep with them 16 that weep. Be entirely united in your regards for each other. • Affect not high things, but condescend to men of low rank. Be 17 not wise in your own conceits. Render to none evil for evil. 18 Provide things reputable in the sight of all men, If it be possible,
and at least to the utmost of your power, live peaceably with all 19 men. Beloved, revenge not yourselves on such as have injured
you, but rather give place to wrath : for it is written (Deut. xxxii. 35.) “ Vengeance is mine ; I will recompence, saith the Lord.”
him drink : for by doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire * on his 21 head [and melt him into tenderness. Be not on any occasion over
come with evil, but overcome evil with good. .
REFLECTIONS. Surely if any thing consistent with the burdens and sorrows of mortal life can inspire constant joy, it must be the Christian hope ; the home of our calling. Surely with a joy thus supported, no tribulation can be too great to be endured with patience : yea with cheerfulness ; since, whatever it be, the glorious object of our hope, far from being endangered or diminished by it, shall rather be secured and increased. Let us therefore continue instant in prayer, that our minds may be so fortified and ennobled, that we may dwell upon these views.-Well may they keep the heart in so serene and pleasant a state, as to make us ready to do every act of kindness to our fellowcreatures; but especially to those who are heirs with us of this hope ; whom we ought to esteem it our great honour and privilege to be able in any measure to assist and accommodate, while they are travel. ling through this too often inhospitable wilderness, in the way to that kingdom they are going to receive. It is no wonder, that as we are not of this world, but are chosen and called out of the world to so glorious a prospect, the world should hate and persecute us : but let us neither be dismayed, nor in any degree exasperated, with the ill usage we may meet with. Rather with unfeigned compassion and good. will to the most injurious of our enemies, let us not only refrain from
* The sense cannot be, thou shalt consume or punish him : this would be getting that revenge which is forbidden. it intimates how tenderly human nature is affected with acts of kindness from one who had been considered (and treated] as an enemy.
tepaying evil with evil, but render them blessing for curses, and benefits for wrongs; since we have ourselves found such mercy, and are called to inherit such a blessing.
Let us cultivate those kind and social affections which this great proficient in them all so forcibly inculcates ; that tender sympathy which may teach us to share in the joys and sorrows of all about us : that candid humility, which shall, with graceful, unaffected freedom, stoop to the lowest and the meanest, and while it stoops, rise in unsought honours : that distrust of ourselves, which shall cause us to cease from our own wisdom, that we may repose ourselves upon the unerring guidance of our heavenly Father : that kindly obstinate attachment to peace, that heroic superiority, which melts down with kindness the heart that but a little before was glowing with rage. And on the whole, that resolute perseverance in goodness, which must be finally victorious, and will assuredly rise with a new accession of strength and of glory, from every defect.
The apostle urges obedience to magistrates ; justice in all its branches: love,
as the fulfilling of the law; and universal sanctity. Ch. xiii. 1, &c.
II ET every soul among you be in subjection to the superior civil
L authorities*. For there is no legal authority but from God.
The authorities, that exist under one form or another, are dispo2 sed and established by Godt. He therefore who sets himself against the authority possessed by magistrates, withstandeth the dis
position of God : and they who withstand, shall receive to them'3 selves condemnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works,
but to evil. Wouldest thou not therefore be afraid of the author
ity ? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from it : 4 for he that possesses it, is to thee the servant of God for good. But
if thou dost evil, be afraid ; for he holdeth not the sword in vain :
for he is as the servant of God, an avenger to execute wrath 5 against him that doth evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in sub
jection, not only out of regard to wrath, but also for the sake of 6 conscience. On this account you also pay tribute to magistrates ;
for they are the ministers of the providence of God, continually
applying themselves to this one affair in serving the public, and 7 have a right to be honourably maintained by it. Render therefore
to all their due : to whom tribute is due, render tribute : to whom custom, customt : to whom reverence, reverence : to whom hon
* There was a peculiar propriety in these admonitions to the Jews, as) they were strongly prejudiced against the thought of submitting to Heathen governors.
+ This is true of all the forms of government in the world, but this cannot make what is wrong and pernicious in any of them sacred and immutable. Nothing can be justly urged from these passages in favour of unlimited passive obedience. The author has other valuable notes on this subject.
$i.e. Taxes upon Merchandize.
8 our, honour. Owe nothing to any, but to love one another : for 9 he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law. For that [prohibi
tion,] “ Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shall not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet ;" and any other command, if such there be, is summed
up in this precept, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no evil to one's neighbour : therefore love is the
accomplishment of the law. 11 And all this I the rather urge on you, knowing the present sea
son, that it is high time now to awake out of sleep: for our salva12 tion is now nearer, than when we first believed. The night is far
advanced ; the day is drawing near ; let us therefore put off the 13 works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. And as (in re
spect to gospel light, we are] in the day, let us walk honourably and gracefully ; not in rioting, and drunken debauches ; not in cham
bering,* effeminacy, and laciviousness; not in contention, and 14 emulation. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, [be clothed with]
his temper, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil its irregular desires, nor be intent in pleasing the senses, in things not directo ly criminal.
REFLECTIONS. While subjects learn reverence and obedience to their magistrates, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake, may magistrates learn a correspondent care to answer that end of their office, which the apostle makes the foundation of such precepts as these, and to be indeed the ministers of God for good, a terror not to good but to evil works.-GreatBritain, while I write this,t is happy in a government to which this character may justly be applied. Its subjects are under the greatest obligations to the divine goodness, in having so remarkably overthrown the attempts of those who would have left us little use of the scripture ; but would themselves have abused it, to have riveted on the heaviest fetters, by perverting this passage of St. Paul, as if he had intended to subvert every free constitution under heaven, and to put a sword into the hand of merciless tyrants, to kill and take possession of the heritage of the Lord, counting his people but as sheen for the slaughter.
While we are thus happy, we shall be doubly inexcusable, if we fail of rendering both honour and tribute, where they are so justly due.
May we extend our care to the universal law of love ; and may it be so deeply engraven on our hearts, that the practice of every social virtue may become easy and delightful.- And on the whole, being animated by the approach of salvation, may we awake to the vigorous discharge of our duty, and while the light of the gospel scatters about
* Leigh explains this of lying long in bed. Though the author does not dee fend this sense, he introduces here an observation too important to be omitted. -" The difference between rising at five and at seven o'clock for forty years (going to bed at the same time) is nearly that of an addition of ten years to a man's life.”
Anno Domini 1749.