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us so bright a ray, may we walk, in every respect, worthy of it, that we may have no reason to wish for the veil of darkness to cover our shame. May we not only abstain from the vices which are here branded with the infamy they deserve ; but distinguish ourselves in cultivating the contrary virtues. And that we may do it effectually, may we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, remembering continually the obligations we are under to consider his life as the model of our own. So shall we make the gospel-day yet brighter in the eyes of all around us, and anticipate, while we are here in this world of comparative darkness, the lustre, with which we hope, through his influence and grace, to shine forth in the celestial kingdom of our Father.
Mutual candour between those Christians who did, and those who did not,
think themselves bound to observe the Mosaic ceremonies ; enforced by the prospect of the great tribunal. Ch. xiv. 1—12. 1 L IM that is weak in the faith, still retaining his Jewish prejudi
IT dices, ye Gentiles receive, in friendship, and not to debate 2 about matters in doubt. For one believeth that he may eat all
things; another, who is weak, eateth only herbs, or vegetables. 3 Let not him that eateth all things freely, despise him that eateth
not; and let not him that eateth not, judge him that eateth; for 4 God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest the servant
of another? To his own master he standeth or falleth : yea, he
shall be upheld in his christian profession, for God is able to es3 tablish him.-One man esteemeth one day above another: anoth
er esteemeth every day alike. Let every man freely enjoy his 6 own sentiment*. He that regardeth a day, regardeth it to the
Lord ; and he that regardeth not a day, it is to the Lord that he doth not regard it. He that eateth freely, eateth to the Lord, and
giveth God thanks ; and he that eateth not what the law forbids, n to the Lord he eateth not, and he also giveth God thanks. For
none of us Christians liveth to himself; and none of us dieth to 8 himself: But if we live, we live to the Lord; or if we die, we
die to the Lord; so that whether we live, or die, we are the 9 Lord's. For to this purpose Christ both died, and rose again,
and continuieth alive that he might be Lord both of the dead, and 10 of the living. But why dost thou O Jewish convert, judge thy
Gentile brother? Or why dost thou O Gentile believer, set at If nought thy Jewish brother? For we must all appear before the
tribunal of Christ : as it is written ( 18. xlv. 23.) “ As I live, saith
the Lord, surely every knee shall bow unto me, and every tongue 12 shall confess to God." So that every one of us all shall render an
account of himself to God.
* Literally, let him go on in his own way, without impediment. A strong text in favour of the right of private judgment. VOL. II.
REFLECTIONS. Let all the different sects and parties of Christians study to imbibe more of the equitable and lovely temper which the apostle here exo presses in so genuine a manner. The divisions of the church are not to be healed by imposing our own sentiments, phrases, and forms, and censuring and harassing those that will not acquiesce in them. Such a temper will only ingender strife, and mutual provocations will produce mutual increasing resentment.-Let us receive our weaker brethren with tenderness and respect; not despising those who scruple what we practise, not judging those who practise what we scruple. God may receive the one and the other: yea, the different practices of both may proceed from the same general principles, a desire to please him, and to approve ourselves in his sight-In this we all may unite, in a concern that we may not live, or die, 10 ourselves, but to Christ. His dying love, his living care, may surely challenge this. Worthy is he who died, and rose again, and revived, to be adored and obeyed, as the Lord, both of the dead and of the living. And such, in one view or another, he will finally appear. We shall know it in that day when we shall be called before his judgment-seat. Conscious of so many crimes, and even in our best days, of so many imperfections, how shall we dare to appear before him ; especially, if we should then receive judgment without mercy. Let us not tempt it, to our own everlasting confusion, by shewing no mercy.
Let us not add to all the offences which may justly cause us to tremble before his tribunal, the criminal arrogance of usurping the place and prerogative of our Judge. Let us remember our relation to him, and to each other, and act in a manner becoming it. Let us diligently judge ourselves as those who must be judged of the Lord ; so thinking of that grand account, as with an increasing solicitude to prepare for it. The Lord grant that we may find mercy of the Lord in that day! The Lord grant that it may also be imparted to many of our brethren, who have differed most from us ; yea, and through the indulgence of our compassionate Saviour, to many who have been prone to censure and condemn us for those things which he knows we have done from a desire to please him, or refused to do from a fear of offending him!
SECTION XXXI. .
Mutual tenderness and candour recommended, by the love of Christ, and the
nature of his religion. Ch. xiv. 13, &c.
13 INCE we must all shortly appear before the tribunal of Christ, Let
N us not therefore any longer judge one another, but rather
judge ye this, not to lay any stumbling-block or scandal before a 14 brother. I know and am persuaded, by the Lord Jesus Christ, that
nothing (which we cat]'is unclean of itself; But * to him that ac15 counteth any thing to be unclean, it is unclean. But if thy broth
er be grieved, being led into sin, by thy meat, thou no longer walkest according to love. Do not destroy bim by thy meat, for whom
* “Unless.” D. “Yet.” M.W.
16 Christ died. Let not then your liberty, which is itself good, be 17 slandered. For the kingdom of God consisteth not in meat and
drink, but in righteousness, and peace, and joy* in the Holy 18 Ghost. And he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable 19 to God, and approved by men. Let us therefore pursue the things 20 which tend to peace, and mutual edification. Do not for the sake
of any kind of meat destroy thy brother, the noblest work of God. . Indeed all things are in themselves pure; yet that meat is evil to a 21 man who eateth with offence, to the ensnaring of others. It is
good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing by 22 which thy brother is scandalized or weakened. Thou hast faith
( Or a just persuasion of the indifference of these things which others
scruple) : have it to thyself before God. Happy is he, who doth 23 not condemn hiinself in the thing which he alloweth. But he
that maketh a difference between one sort of food and another, is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not with faith ; for whatsoever is not of faith, or full satisfaction of mind, is sin.
REFLECTIONS. Still let that great and final account which each must render of himself to God, be kept in our mind ; that we may learn obedience to him, candour to each other, and a tender care to avoid every thing that might give unnecessary offence to our brethren. And in the views of it, let us learn always to reverence our own consciences, so as never to be engaged to do what we suspect to be unlawful; since no consideration can ever balance the infinite evil of offending God, and bringing guilt on our own souls. That is to us unclean, which we esteem to be 80, and what is not of faith, is sin.-Let us also be cautious, that we do not incur guilt and condemnation, even by things which we allow, as in the main lawful; solicitously attending, not only to the general nature, but the probable consequences of our actions. And where there is danger of injuring the souls of others, let us often reflect, that Christ died for them ; and estimate, so far as we can conceive it, the value of souls, by the value of that blood by which they were redeemed. Let us also take great heed, that we do not give occasion to others, by our imprudent conduct, to speak evil of that which is in itself good. And that we may not do it, let us study those great and generous notions of religion which this excellent passage of scripture gives us. Let it be written upon our hearts, that the kingdom of God is not meat or drink ; that it doth not consist in a zeal for, or against, any of the little distinctions by which Christians have been so often divided, and which have been too frequently the occasion of mutual alienation in their affections. Let us study and practise more righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The approbation of God, consequent on this, may well support us, though men should censure us as luke. warm ; yea, perhaps as hypocritical, and interested too, in the candid regards we shew to those which differ from each other, and from us.
* That is, I think, with Dr. Scost, a cheerful temper, supported by a consciousness of strict integrity.
God will remember their rashness and forwardness to these uncharitable censures ; but let us rather (say, “ May he cure and forgive them."
Yet while we cultivate the amiable temper here set before us, bad as the world is, we may hope that we shall be accepted by many ; and indeed, in proportion to their knowledge of our real character, by all whose acceptance and friendship is most to be valued. Let us not therefore be discouraged at any ill usage which, in particular instances, we may meet with ; but still follow the things that make for peace, and conduce to inutual edification: and the God of peace will be with us, and Jesus, the great Lord of the church, which is his house, will smile on our attempts to build it up into one united and beauteous edifice, till he calls us to his temple above, where all is order, and harmony, and love for ever.
Mutual condescension urged by the example of Christ, and the goodness of
God to all, both Jews and Gentiles, in sending the gospel to them, according to the tenor of the prophecies. Ch. xv. 1–17.
I THEREFORE we who are strong, ought to bear the in2 1 firmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let eve
ry one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For 3 Christ pleased not himself; but as it is written (Ps. lxix. 9.)“ The
reproaches of those who reproached thee, are fallen upon me.” For 4. whatever things were formerly written were written for our instruc
tion, that we through patience and consolation of the scriptures, 5 might have hope.-Now may the God of patience and consolation
give you the same mutual affection, according to Jesus Christ ; 6 that with one mind, and one mouth ye may glorify the God and 7 father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive ye one ano
ther, as Christ hath received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say this to you Gentiles [to excite your candour to the
prejudices of your Jewish brethren, that Jesus Christ, as he was born a Jew, was made a minister of the circumcision, being sent to the
house of Israel, for the truth of God, to confirm the promise made 9 to the fathers of that nation. And I would remind Jewish believers,
that he also came that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy, in granting them the same privileges : as it is written (Ps. xviii. 49.)
« For this cause will I confess to thee among the Gentiles, and 10 sing praises unto thy name.” And again he * saith,“ Rejoice, ye 11 Gentiles, with his people,” And again, “ Praise the Lord, all 12 ye nations, and repeat his praise, all ye people.” And again
Isaiah saith, “ There shall be a root of Jesse, and one arising to 13 rule over the Gentiles, and in him shall the Gentiles irust.” And
may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in be, lieving, that you may abound in hope through the power of the
Holy Spirit. * The scripture saith. W. Deut. xxxii, 43. Psal. cxvii. 1. Isa, xi. 10.
14 * And I am myself persuaded concerning you, my brethren,
that ye are full of goodness, being filled with all knowledge, and 15 able to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have
written, the more boldly to you in this part of my epistle, as
stirring up your remembrance because of that grace which is 16 given to me of God, that I should be the servant of Jesus Christ
unto the Gentiles, administering to them the gospel of God; that
the offering the Gentiles to him may be an acceptable sacrifice to 17 God, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. I have therefore matter
of boasting in Christ Jesus with respect to the things of Godt, and the office which I bear in his church,
REFLECTIONS. May the abundant communication of the Spirit that is in Jesus Christ, form us more to the amiable temper here recommended! That we may prove the distinguished strength of our minds, by the superior fortitude with which we bear the infirmities of our weaker brethren, and may seek the nobler pleasure of pleasing our neighbours for their good, and to their edification. Let the generous self-denial of our great Lord be, in this view, before our eyes : and let us endeavour to feel the reproaches which are cast upon God, much more sensibly than those which immediately fall upon ourselves.-Happy are we in the scriptures, which through divine providence and grace have been written for our instruction. May they inspire us with patience and consolation, and establish our souls in humble hope! May our hearts be cemented in the bond of mutual love, that with one mind and one mouth we may glorify God, and receive each other, with an endearment like that, with which, if we are true believers, notwithstanding our smaller differences, we are received by him.
Mercy is communicated by Christ to Jews and Gentiles, who therefore are justly required to unite their praises to the root of Jesse. Let us all trust under the shadow of this pleasant plant, and may we be filled with joy and peace in believing. What can furnish out so calm a peace, so sublime a joy, as the christian hope? May we all abound in it by the power of the Holy Ghost! And surely if we are filled with such joy and hope, we must be filled with all goodness too ; with a truly benevolent temper towards others, which a sense of our own happiness tends most powerfully to promote. We Gentiles have been presented to God as a holy offering ; may we be sanclified more and more by the spirit ; and established in a firm confidence in Christ, that he will transact all our concerns with God, under the character of the great Mediator ; esteeming that the most happy and glorious circumstance in the station which providence may have assigned to us, which gives us the greatest opportunity of spreading the honour of so dear a name, and of presenting praises and services to God through him.