Page images

mated by the principles of true religion. We are indebted to the devout and elegant compositions of King David, and the wise observations of his son Solomon, who also was king in Jerusalem, and long reigned in great splendour. But we owe a great deal more to Jesus Christ, who was crucified, and afterwards rose from the dead.

When all the maxims of mere philosophy never proceeded so far as to make one province or city of philosophers; when the law of Moses, with a magnificent temple, and a well endowed priesthood, could scarcely keep one single nation steady in the worship of the true God, or from falling into all the abominations of the grossest idolatry; in a short time after the preaching of the cross of Christ, multitudes of people turned from idols to serve the living and true God and many societies of men, professing the principles of true religion, were formed and planted in distant parts of the world; till many of the kingdoms of the earth became the kingdoms of our God, and his Christ.

Some have been apt to raise disputes concerning the powers and interests of reason and revelation, which might have been reconciled. Applicable here seems to be the wise answer, which our Lord gave to an ensnaring question. "Render," says he, "to Cæsar, the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things which are God's." In like manner, render to reason the things that are reason's, and to revelation the things that belong to it.

That it is very much owing to revelation, that true religion has been kept up in the world, appears from the deplorable ignorance of those who have not had that advantage. How much we owe to the christian revelation, may be concluded from the swift progress of the principles of true religion, upon the preaching of Christ's apostles. "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" that is, does not all that wisdom now appear very contemptible, as to its influence, when compared with the effect of the preaching of the gospel of Christ? Indeed, it is he to whom we are indebted for all this riches. By the preaching of his gospel we have been brought to the knowledge of the law and the prophets, and have learned the right exercise of our reason.



Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. John xiv. 27.

THE text contains our Lord's valedictory blessing, which he leaves with his disciples. And I now consider it as preparatory to a discourse on the apostolical benediction at the end of the second epistle to the Corinthians; hoping that an explication of this text may lead us to the right meaning of the other.

I. I shall first show, how we are to understand these words: "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you."

II. And then, wherein Christ's peace exceeds and surpasses "the peace which the world gives."

I. I would endeavour to show, how we are to understand these words: " Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you."


The word "peace" is used in various senses. A very common meaning of the word in our language, and often found likewise in scripture, is that of general quiet and tranquillity, in opposition to public war; or for private friendship and agreement, in opposition to strife and contention among particular persons. "There is," says Solomon, a time of peace, and a time of war," Eccl. iii. 8. "He maketh peace in thy borders,” Ps. cxlvii. 14. Where it denotes public and general quiet and tranquillity. In many other places it signifies private friendship and agreement, in opposition to strife and contention. Our Lord directs his disciples: "Have peace one with another," Mark ix. 50. And St. Paul says, 2 Cor. xii. 11, "Be of one mind, live in peace." And Rom. xii. 18, "If it be possible, as much as in you lies, live peaceably with all men."

Peace is sometimes equivalent to comfort and satisfaction of mind. Isa. xxvi. 3," Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon thee." Luke ii. 29, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace." So the word seems to be taken, Ps. cxix. 65, " Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them." Prov. iii. 17, It is said of wisdom or religion: "Her ways

[blocks in formation]

2 c

are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." John xvi. 33," These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye will have tribulation." Rom. xv. 13, "Now the God of peace fill you with all joy and peace," or all comfort and satisfaction of mind," in believing."

In the eastern languages peace is oftentimes the same as happiness or prosperity. Ps. cxxii. 6, 7, " Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." And when the Jews were going captives into Babylon, they were required to pray for the peace of the city where they dwelt. By which undoubtedly is to be understood prosperity in general: not only tranquillity, or freedom from foreign wars, and intestine seditions and commotions, but likewise plenty of all good things, and freedom from calamitous circumstances of every kind. Isa. xlviii. 18, "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments. Then had thy peace been as a river;" that is, then thy wealth and prosperity would have been very great and remarkable.

This being a common sense of the word among the eastern people, wishing peace was a very usual form of salutation with them. In this manner David sent his salutations or compliments to Nabal, by his servants: "Thus shall ye say to him, Peace be unto thee, and peace be to thy house, and peace be unto all that thou hast," 1 Sam. xxv. 6. It is said of Joseph's brethren, that "they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him," Gen. xxxvii. 4. In the original it is: "They could not say peace to him:" that is, when they met him, they could not persuade themselves to salute him, or say, " peace be unto thee." Such grudging and envy were in their minds. This form of salutation was used by superiors to inferiors, and likewise by inferiors to the greatest. Ezra iv. 17, "Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshi, the scribe,- -and to the rest of their companions beyond the river,-Peace: and at such a time." And Ezra v. 7, "The copy of the letter of Tatnai the governor, on this side the river- -They sent a letter to Darius the king, wherein it was written: Unto Darius the king, all peace.


God himself is represented as adopting this manner of expression. Jer. xvi. 5, " For I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the Lord, even loving-kindness and mercies." As if he had said: I now withdraw from you

'my blessing, and no longer concern myself for your welfare • and prosperity.'

I may add here a few other instances. Our Lord directs his disciples: " And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house," Luke x. 5. Our Lord himself, when he came again among his disciples, after his resurrection, saluted them in the like manner. day at evening came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you, John xx. 19.

"The same

The fare"Then Eli said

Such then was the common form of salutation. well wish at parting was much the same. unto Hannah, Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him," 1 Sam. i. 17. So the prophet Elisha says to Naaman, “ Go in peace,” 2 Kings v. 19.


It may be here observed, that sometimes the same expression is used by way of farewell, as in the salutation. St. Peter concludes his first epistle: "Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. So it is in our translation: but in the original it is exactly thus: "Peace to you all that are in Christ Jesus.” Ειρηνη ύμιν πασι, κ. λ. And St. Paul, near the conclusion of his epistle to the Ephesians, ch. vi. 23," Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, by comparing the salutations at the beginning, and the valedictions at the end, of the epistles, in the New Testament, we seem to learn that it was common to begin with praying that grace and mercy might be to persons: and to conclude with a wish, that the same blessings might be with them; meaning thereby, as I apprehend, that they might remain and abide with him. So Philip. i. 2; the salutation is," Grace be unto from God our you, and peace Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." The concluding wish or farewell, ch. iv. 23, is: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." And Col. i. 2, " Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." The valediction at the end of the epistle is, "Grace be with you."

[ocr errors]

Complying with the common forms, our Lord here gives his blessing to the disciples in a like manner, and says, "Peace I leave with you." 'I wish you all happiness. I leave and bequeath it to you; and remember, it is my valedictory blessing.' My peace I give unto you. Nor do I only wish, but I actually give and impart hap'piness to you, provided you are desirous of it, and careful



[ocr errors]

to obtain it.' Or, he repeats the same wish, as we sometimes do at parting, saying, "Farewell, farewell:" or, "Again and again I wish you all happiness."

II. Which brings us to the other point to be considered by us; wherein Christ's peace exceeds and surpasses the peace which the world gives.

It may imply these several things. Christ's wish of peace is more sincere, more fervent, more valuable, and more effectual, than that of the world.

1. Christ's wish of peace is more sincere.

Men's wishes of happiness are sometimes formal only, an empty sound, mere words, and nothing else; a compliment performed out of regard to custom and fashion, without any real love, or true desire of the welfare of those who are favoured with it. In this respect, Christ's peace exceeded that of the world. His farewell wish was not without thought and meaning. He was not unconcerned about the welfare of his disciples. Their happiness was not a thing indifferent to him. He truly loved them, and wished them well. As St. John observes at the beginning of the thirteenth chapter of his gospel: "Having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them to the end." He was continually giving them marks of affection for their welfare; and at this time he was sincere as ever.

2. Christ's wish of peace exceeds that of the world in the fervour and earnestness, as well as in the truth and sincerity of it.

It was not a cold and faint desire of their happiness, but most fervent and earnest. Otherwise he had not now concerned himself about his disciples, when he was so near a time of bitter sufferings.

Indeed Christ's love was very general and extensive. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. He gave himself for "the life of the world," John vi. 51. In his difficult and important undertaking, and every part of it, he had an eye to the recovery and salvation of all, even of all such as were in darkness and ignorance, sin and misery. And certainly that love is very great and extraordinary, which produceth such effects, and carries through the sorrows of a painful and ignominious death.

In this general and fervent love the disciples had their ⚫ Bis autem eundem sensum repetit, sicut dicere solemus: Vale, Vale. Grot. in loc.

« PreviousContinue »