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wrath was already begun); so it should pursue and surprise them suddenly and unexpectedly, as the word rendered 'come' doth imply, and that to the uttermost, without all mitigation, or to the end, as the word in the original doth read, which speaks the continuance of their judgment until Jerusalem, wherein the great part of the Jews were at that time provi. dentially assembled, was taken, sacked, and destroyed by the Romans; after which the Jews have hitherto been no more a people, but scattered abroad through the face of the earth. (For confirming this sense of the words, see Dan. ix. 26.)”
Notice, here, how he regards the conduct of the fathers as visited on the children. These Jews that crucified Christ, did not kill the prophets—they were killed by generations that preceded them; but he regards them as a nationality, as a race, responsible to God. Hence, the meaning of the expression, which some have differed from, “ This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled,” in Matthew xxiv. The common interpretation has been that “this generation of thirty years shall not pass away." But the Greek word yeved, when applied to the Jews, as it is applied here, denotes the nation ; and, therefore what I understand by that disputed phrase is, “ This race, this people, shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled ;" for God regards a nation as a whole, and deals with it as a whole ; and regards the things done by the fathers as done by the children, when the latter do not repent and reform.
“We were taken from you for a short time; but though taken from you, we were present in heart, though absent in person ; and therefore we wish to
come to you again; but Satan, by bis persecution, by his inspiring wicked ones to thwart us, hinders us."
“ The Lord, for good and wise reasons, may suffer his people so far to engage in a business, as once and again to enterprise it, having cleared their way for doing so much, and yet, having tried their obedience in that far, afterwards cast in, or suffer to be cast in, some invincible stop or let to mar them from throughing it; in which case he accepts the will for the deed, and a serious enterprise for full performance (1 Kings viïi. 18, 19); for the Lord did clear Paul's way to attempt a voyage to Thessalonica often, and yet permitted Satan to lay in a stop : We would have come once and again, but Satan hindered us.'
“It is the duty of saints to surcease from that which otherwise were a duty, when God doth call them to surcease from it, and consequently for the time doth make it no duty, either by giving them other more necessary work, or by making some inevitable hazard to their own life appear in that work, without any advantage, but with much prejudice to religion and the work of God; for Paul, upon Satan's casting in, through God's permission, some one or both of those impediments, he delays his voyage to Thessalonica, which otherwise was a duty: We would have come once and again, but Satan hindered us.'
“ As the child of God can no sooner enterprise that which is really good, but usually he doth as soon meet with some impediment; so, whoever be the means or instruments for impeding us in the way of duty, the devil himself, through God's permission, is the prime author of that woful work, and all others do but fight under his banner; for though other means were doubt
less accessory to Paul's stay, yet • Satan hindered us,' saith he.
“When once the godly are by Satan's craft or malice disjoined or separate, whether in place, affection, or judgment, the same Satan doth bend his wit to hinder their reuniting and meeting together again in one, so great an enemy is he to that rich advantage which may be attained in and by the communion of saints; for saith Paul, “We would have come unto you, but Satan hindered us.' ”
He exclaims, “ What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? Are not even ye?” Does not there seem to be contradiction here ? Paul says that Christ's cross was his glory; he says that Christ was his rejoicing. What does he mean by saying that his people were so? I will show. A minister has two aspects; there is the personal of the Christian, there is the official of the minister. As a Christian, Paul's glory was in the cross-Paul's hope was in Christ-Paul's prospects were all through Christ; as a minister, he expected that the people to whom he had been useful would praise him, and acknowledge that usefulness, and be his glory and his joy as a minister in that day, and in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I will unfold this in our next.
What an affectionate intercourse is here revealed between pastor and people—what a beautiful resumé of the preaching of a truly devoted minister, and what a model for us! May the ministers of Christ have grace to follow it; may the people of this age, like the people of Thessalonica, receive the Word preached, not as the word of man, but as it is indeed—the Word of God.
CHAPTER II, 19, 20.
OUR CROWN OF REJOICING.
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy."
Paul asks a question, to which he himself presents an answer. “What”-appealing to his own congregation of Thessalonian Christians—“What do you think, now, is our hope as apostles and ministers of Christ ? or what is our greatest joy? or what do you think we anticipate as our brightest crown? Is it a crown of laurel, or ivy, or parsley, that withers on the brows that wear it? Is it the crown of the conqueror, that is soiled by the dust and smoke of next year's battle ? Is it the diadem of an emperor? What is it, do you think? Yourselves, believers and fellow-Christians, the converts of God's grace through my humble instrumentality,” says Paul,“ye are ourjoy, our hope, our crown, our glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and at his coming.” What thorough abnegation of extrinsic greatness, what indifference to all human ambition, what superiority to proud earthly prospects, was there in this gifted and devoted minister, the Apostle Paul ! His preferment was in the sky; his labours were here; his crown, his glory, his honour, his joy arose, as a minister, from springs that God himself had opened in
the desert, out of which he drank present and prospective joy, and from which he would receive yet more abundantly.
But it is important, as already noticed, to distinguish here. Paul distinguishes between the hope of Paul the Christian and of Paul the preacher. As an individual Christian, his hope was Christ, his joy was Christ, his crown was to share with him in his glory; but as a minister of the gospel, he had, additional to his individual hope, and joy, and crown, the joy, the crown, the glory that would come in brightness by God's blessing, as the issue of his ministerial labours. As an individual, he looked into the future for Christ alone as his hope; as a minister, the office sustained by the Christian, he looked for a joy, a crown, superadded to the crown and joy that the individual Christian looks for, namely, his success in his ministry, and the appearance at that day of them who should shine as jewels in his crown, and attest the multiplicity of his labours, the faithfulness of his preaching, the beauty of his example, and the success of his ministry.
In thus looking for joy, and hope, and a crown, it is worthy of note, that Paul assumes immortality as a thing certain. There are certain great truths in Christianity that the apostles do not pause to vindicate and inculcate. They are so patent, that they constantly assume them. Now, where does the apostle look for this crown, and joy, and hope? In the presence of Christ : “ Absent from the body, present with the Lord;" and at that future day when “he shall come to be admired in all them that believe,” and “unto them that look for him shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation." He assumes the certainty