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• SECTION XXXIII.

The Apostle mentions the extent of his own labours, and his purposes of further journies, in which he hoped to visit the Romans ; in the mean time,

earnestly desiring their prayers. Ch. xv. 18, &c. 18 I HAVE indeed cause to rejoice and boast in what relates to my

I ministry : For I will not dare to speak of what Christ hath not

wrought by me, to bring the Gentiles into obedience, both in word 19 and deed, by the energy of signs and wonders, by the power of

the Spirit of God; so that I have fully preached the gospel of

Christ from Jerusalem round about, even as far as Illyricum. 20 For it hath been the object of my ambition to preach the gospel,

not where Christ was already named, lest I should build upon ano21 other man's foundation* ; but as it is written (Is. lii. 15.) “ They,

to whom nothing was declared concerning him, shall see, and they, 22 who have not heard, shall understand." Therefore I have been 23 long hindered from coming to you. But now having no longer

place in these Grecian climates, and having a great desire, for ma24 ny years, to come to you ; if I go into Spain, I will come to you

in my way; for I hope, as I pass by, to see you, and to be brought

forward by you in my way thither, if I may first be in some de25 gree satisfied with your company. But I am now going to Jerusa26 lem, ministering to the necessities of the saints there. For it hath

pleased the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, to make a certain 27 collection for the poor saints that are at Jerusalem. It hath pleas

ed them I say, and indeed they are their debtors : for if the Gen

tiles are made partakers of their spiritual things, they ought to 28 minister to them in their carnal things. Having therefore dis

patched this affair, and sealed to them this fruit of their love, I 29 will come by you into Spain. And I know that when I come

among you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gos 30 pel of Christ. But I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus

Christ, and by the love which is the fruit of the Spirit, that you 31 join your strength with mine, in your prayers to God for me ; that

Í may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea; and that my 32 ministration at Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints : that so

I may come to you with joy, by the will of God, and that I may be 33 refreshed together with you. And may the God of peace be with you all ! Amen.

REFLECTIONS. Let us behold with pleasure the modesty and humility which is joined with all the zeal of this holy apostle, while he thus obliquely

* Probably, in mentioning this, Paul may glance at those false apostles who crept into churches which he had planted, and endeavoured to establish their own reputation and influence there, by alienating the hearts of his own converts from him, their spiritual father ; while like some in our own days, who have trod most exactly in their footsteps, they built on his grand and noble foundations, an edifice of wood, hay, and stubble.

owns, in a manner which shews how familiar the thought was to his mind, that all he had done in the christian ministry, and for the propagation and advancement of the gospel, was only what Christ had done by · him, to procure such obedience of the Gentiles, both in word and in deed. Adored be the grace that made his labours so successful, and sowed the blessed seed so wide by his diligent hand, from Jerusalem unto Illyricum. Most divine instructions did he give them in matters of faith, and taught them to express that faith by their works. While he was dead to all thoughts of enriching himself, and in some instances, chose rather to maintain himself by his own labours, than to subsist on the bounty of others, his liberal soul devised liberal things for his necessitous brethren. He raised a noble collection, and was much concerned, not only that it might be safely, but acceptably delivered.

Well may our souls be edified, by observing the things which lay nearest the heart of this generous apostle, that coming to his christian friends at Rome, he might come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ, and that if he was spared through their prayers, it might be for public usefulness. St. Paul, dead as he was to human applause, was, from much nobler motives, solicitous about his acceptance ; and he shews by his manner of speaking, what a sense he had of the degree in which it depended upon the turn and disposition which God should be pleased to give to the spirits of men : may this just and pious thought frequently dwell upon the hearts of the ministers of Christ!

Some of the prayers, which the apostle so affectionately bespcaks, were answered ; and some seemed to be forgotten : Yet did God make, what seemed the rejection of some, the means of answering the rest. He was for a while delivered into the hands of those in Judea who believed not ; and this providence, which might have seemed an invincible obstacle to his design, proved the occasion of bringing him to Rome, and promoted the success of his ministry there. Let us adore the God of grace and peace, who works the most important ends, by methods to us unthought of ; and let us be greatly cautious, that we do not rashly judge that he hath rejected our prayers, because we do not see them answered in that particular way which might have been more agreeable to our own wishes.

SECTION XXXIV.

By way of Postscript, the Apostle recommends Phæbe 10 the Romans, and

salutes several of his friends resident among them. Ch. xvi. 1—16.

T RECOMMEND to you Phæbe, our sister, the bearer of this

I epistle, who is a servant or deacone88, of the church in Cen2 chrea* ; that you entertain her in the Lord in a manner becoming

saints, and assist her in any thing in which she may need it of

you ; for she hath been an helper of many, and of myself in 3 particular. Salute Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow labourers in

* Cenchrea was in the suburbs of Corinth, and the church here was distinct from that in the city.

4 Christ Jesus; persons who for my life have laid down their own

necks ; to whom therefore I do not only owe my own thanks, but 5 also all the churches of the Gentiles: Likewise salute the church

that is in their house. Salute also my beloved Epenetus, who is 6 one of the first-fruits of Achaia to Christ. Salute Mary, who 7 hath taken a great deal of pains on our account. Salute Andro

nicus, and Junias, my kinsmen, and once my fellow prisoners; who

were early in reputation among the apostles, and were also in the 8 church of Christ before me. Salute Amplias my beloved in the 9 Lord. Salute Urbanus my fellow labourer in Christ, and my be10 loved Stachys. Salute Apelles long approved in the cause of 11 Christ. Salute those of the family of Aristobulus. Salute my

cousin Herodion, and those belonging to the household of Narcis. 12 sus, who are believers in the Lord. Salute Tryphæna and Try

phosa, who have laboured in the service of the Lord. Salute the

beloved Persis, who distinguished herself by having laboured much 13 in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and likewise his 14 mother and mine, she having shewn me a maternal care. Salute

Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the breth15 ren with them. Salute Philologus and Julias, Nereus, and his 16 sister, and Olympas, and all the saints that are with them. Salute

one another at your assemblies with a holy kiss*. All the churches of Christ in these paris salute you.

REFLECTIONS. Though so much of this section be a mere catalogue of names, it is not without its moral and religious instruction. We see in it the good heart of the apostle ; how full he was of the sentiments of christian friendship ; how solicitous he was to express his esteem and love, for his brethren in the Lord. And God hath made him the ineans of transmitting to posterity, the memorials of many excellent persons, of whom we no where else read, or hear, any thing : of whom all that we know, is, that they were such as deserved the particular affection of St. Paul, and were professors of the gospel at Rome, in the reign of a very worthless and wicked prince, under whom it is highly probable, that some of them suffered martyrdom for Christ. His large heart opened to embrace them all, whether by birth Jews or Gentiles; and as they shared in his salutations, we cannot doubt, but they shared in his prayers too. We find some of these pious, and much esteemed friends of the apostle were women, of whom he speaks with great regard, as of persons whom divine grace had made very useful in the church; who had been helpers of many, and particularly of him ; wlio had laboured, yea had laboured much, in the Lord. Let 'not that sex therefore think that it is cut off from the service of Christ, because the ministry is appropriated to men. Eminently useful have many of them been. The most valuable ministers have often been assisted by them, in the success of their work, while their pious care, under the restraint of the strictest modesty and decorum, has happily and effcctually influenced children,

* This custom was borrowed from the Jewish Synagogue.

servants, and young friends ; yea, has been the means of sowing the seeds of religion in tender minds, before they have been capable of coming under ministerial care.

Generous was the zeal which Aquila and Priscilla shewed in exposing even their own lives in the defence of this holy apostle. Great obligations did they, thereby, lay upon all the churches of the Gentiles, and on us, who, at this distance of time, receive so many blessings from the long continuance of St. Paul's life, which they were ready so heroically to defend at the hazard of their own.-Truly valuable were these mutual friendships, of which, zeal for Christ was the common bond ; lasting, and indeed everlasting. These excellent persons are doubtless the companions of Paul in glory now, and will many of them be his crown in the day of the Lord. Some of them indeed were in Christ before him; and he speaks of it as peculiarly to their honour. Let those, who were early in Christ, rejoice in the thought. Let those who came later into his church, be exhorted to exert them. selves with the greater vigour in his service, that they may recover the time they have lost: and let us all learn to esteem it, as the most substantial proof of our love to those who are peculiarly dear to us, to shew, upon all occasions, how sincerely we wish, that they may early form an acquaintance with Christ; that they may constantly walk in him, and grow up in all things in him, as our common Head.

SECTION XXXV. The apostle concludes with other salutations ; a caution against those who

would divide the church, and a suitable doxology. Ch. xvi. 17, &c. 17 N OW I exhort you, brethren, to mark out those which cause

I divisions and offences among you, contrary to that doctrine 18 which you have learned ; and avoid them. For such serve not

the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly ; and by fair speeches,

and flattering forms of address, deceive the hearts of the inno19 cent. *, Your obedience is come abroad unto all; therefore, I re

joice on your account. But I am desirous you may be wise with respect to that which is good, and simple with regard to that which is evil., And the God of peace will quickly bruise Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be

with you! Amen. 21 Timothy my fellow-labourer, and Lucius, and Jason and Sosi

pater, messengers of the Church at Beræa, and my kinsmen, sa22 lute you. I Tertiust, who wrote this epistle, do also salute you 23 in the Lord. Gaius, my host, and that of the whole church, sa

luteth you, and Erastus the steward of the city, also saluteth you; 24 and Quartus, a christian brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus

Christ be with you all. Amen. * “For" D. ET.“ Now”M.

Paul seems not to have been well versed in the Greek characters, Gat. vi. 11. 1 Cor. xvi. 21. He therefore made use of the hand of Tertius, or Silas. Q. whether some of the intricate and unfinished sentences in these epistles might not be owing to this method of writing by an Amanuensis. Comp. Jer. Xxxvi. 17, 18.

VOL. II.

H

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you, according to my

gospel, even the preaching of Jesus Christ (agreeable to the rev26 elation of that niystery, in ancient times kept in silence, but now - made manifest by * the prophetic scriptures, according to the . commandment of the eternal God, to all nations for the obedience 27 of faith) to the only wise God be glory by Jesus Christ, to endless

ages. Amen. N. B. The notes at the end of this and other epistles are of no authority.

REFLECTIONS. Worthy are these concluding words of being deeply engraven on every heart. The gospel was a mystery long concealed in the breast of the divine wisdom, and opened but by imperfect hints, even to the church itself, in former ages. Let us be humbly thankful, that it is now made manifest ; and that we are among the nations who are called to the obedience of the faith. Let us be solicitous to answer that call ; and if we have already done it in any measure, let us remember, we are still surrounded with many snares and dangers ; so that we have continual need of being strengthened and confirmed by him who hath done us the honour to call us into the fellowship of his gospel. Let us walk worthy of it, and faithfully endeavour to advance its interests, in a noble superiority to all those secular and mercenary motives, by which bad men, under a christain profession, are often influenced, and in consequence of which, they often abuse even the ministry of religion to the most infamous purposes. Let us shew, how thorougbly we have imbibed the spirit of this divine dispensation, by the generosity of our sentiments ; guarding both against scandals and divisions ; and aiming in wisdom, integrity, and love, both to unite and edify, the body of Christ. Satan will indeed lay discouragements and stumbling-blocks in our way, and perhaps may sometimes use very subtile arts to promote discord and division among those who ought to be most dear to each other in the bonds of the Lord. But let us use a holy caution, and commit ourselves cheerfully to the divine keeping; and we may humbly hope, that the God of peace will make us victorious over all the artifice and power of our spiritual enemies, and will shortly bruise Satan under our feet. Let us hope that, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in virtue of that great original promise (Gen. iii. 13.) which was given to cheer our first parents, when they lay under their deep distress, and heavy load of new-contracted guilt. And as we see how God hath taken the subtile in his own craftiness, and triumphed over Satan, by that event which he laboured to accomplish, as his own triumph, even the death of our divine Redeemer; let us ascribe to him, as the only wise God, everlasting glory. And O, that we may join with all the redeemed world in this ascription, when the accuser of the brethren, the great enemy of God and man, with all his adherents and instruments, shall be cast out ifor ever! Amen.

* “According to." D. “By the commandment of the eternal God, in the prophetic writings in order to-" M.

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