« PreviousContinue »
mention of prayer (ver. 10), and seeing some necessity of praying presently, cannot contain himself, but sets about it : “Now God himself and our Father,' &c.
“That Jesus Christ is God, equal with the Father, appeareth hence, that not only divine worship, but also divine properties, in overruling by his providence the affairs of men, are ascribed to him ; for Paul doth pray unto him, and seeketh a successful journey from him : Our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way.'
“ Though the object of divine worship be but one and the same glorious God (Matt. iv. 10), and there is but one kind of divine worship, to wit, that which is supreme, and becometh this one infinite majesty of God, and therefore whatever Person of the Godhead be expressly named in our prayers, the rest are not excluded, but included in that one, they being all three one only God, the same in essence (1 John v. 7), yet it is not only lawful, but also sometimes convenient, though not always necessary, to name expressly in our prayers the distinct Persons, and especially Jesus Christ, the second Person, with the Father, thereby to strengthen our confidence for acceptation and an answer, seeing there is no access to the Father but by him (John xiv. 6), for Paul here doth expressly direct his prayer both to the Father and the Son : • Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.'
“ The Lord's most powerful providence doth overrule the most malicious designs of Satan against his work and people, so that he could easily mar the prosecution of them, when at their greatest height, if he did not sometimes judge the contrary more convenient for his own glory and his people's good (Psa. lxxvi. 10), for Paul could not otherwise pray in faith unto God for a successful journey, when he knew Satan did ply his utmost to hinder it (chap. ii. 18): 'Now God himself direct our way unto you,' saith he.
“Seeing it is not in man to direct his own way (Jer. X. 23), therefore he ought to wait and depend on God's direction for all his undertakings; and this both for light, that he may know what, when, and how he should do (Psa. xxvii. 11), and for strength to enable him for, and bear him through, difficulties in the performance (Eph. iii. 16); for so doth Paul : 'Now God himself direct our way unto you.'”
“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another," not to be satisfied with a feeble love, but to increase and abound in it ; and not to restrict your love even to the Church, but to let it flow forth upon all mankind; “ toward all men, even as we do toward you.” The more deeply men are involved in error, the more they should be pitied ; it is very easy to stand up and fulminate anathemas on a man that differs from you ; it is a far more difficult, but a far more Christian thing to admit and denounce the error, but pity and pray for the victim, and show that our hatred to a great error does not in the least modify or dilute our affection to a fellow-creature who has the great misfortune to be the victim of it; for of all misfortunes surely that is the bitterest which involves a man in ignorance of the way to heaven; and the more, therefore, in error another is, it is for God to judge and to condemn; it is for us to how the knee, to pity, and to pray that his heart may be “established unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
“Though children, and those who are weak in grace, be tossed to and fro with every temptation (Eph. iv. 14), yet grown, and growing Christians, are not so easily shaken : growth in grace is accompanied with stability, both in truth and holiness ; for Paul teacheth so much, while having prayed (ver. 12) for growth in grace, he addeth bere, “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness.'
“ It concerneth a Christian much, by all means to endeavour that his heart and conscience may be without complaint, speak peace unto him and absolve him ; seeing if a man's heart and conscience upon good ground condemn him, much more will God, who is greater than the heart, and whose deputy the conscience is (1 John iii. 20): for Paul prayeth here that their hearts, or consciences, may be unblameable and without complaint.
“As a man, in making his heart and conscience pass sentence upon his state and way, should sift himself in God's sight, and endeavour that his conscience pass such a sentence upon all, as he thinks God the Judge of all will pass ; so in this inquiry and process, he should look upon God as a fatherly Judge, who will pass sentence as a Father, according to the covenant of grace, and not as a strict sin-pursuing Judge, according to the covenant of works ; for he wishes that their hearts may be unblameable or without complaint before God, that is, when sifted as in his sight, and calleth him 'our Father,' to show in what relation he should be taken up.
“Though it be the alone blood of Christ apprehended by faith that purifieth the conscience, and gives it ground to absolve and speak peace; seeing by it alone provoked justice is satisfied, and we are justified, where
so quiet the not meritori for all
upon our peace with God doth follow (Rom. v. 1), yet inherent holiness doth also quiet the conscience in its own order and way, to wit, though not meritoriously, and by way of satisfaction to the claim of justice, for all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa. lxiv. 6), yet by way of evidence, and as a faithful witness of our undoubted interest in Christ, and right to his blood (1 John iii. 14); for Paul prayeth that their hearts or consciences may be unblameable, without complaint, or pacified in holiness.
“Though the meanest measure of sincere holiness be a sufficient evidence in itself of an interest in Christ, and consequently may quiet the conscience (Matt. v. 6), yet that a man may clearly discern this evidence, and get his conscience actually, and upon good ground, quiet by it, it is necessary that he grow in grace, and be established in holiness, otherwise his peace is more liable to be questioned and shaken by every new assault : for Paul ascribeth this effect of pacifying the conscience to growth in grace, and stability in holiness, while having prayed for their growing in grace, he addeth,. To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness.'”
God only can touch and establish the heart. His influence penetrates the soul, and creates impressions that do not die, and character that shines forth like the morning light that increases more and more unto the perfect day.
What a magnificent procession will that be when the Son of God shall come with all his saints—with Adam, Abel, and Abraham—with prophet and evangelist, and martyr, and lowly worshipper, and humble Christian.
Number us, O Lord, with thy saints in glory everlasting.
FRUITS—CHRISTIAN AND HEATHEN-HOPES OF THE DEAD-THE
CATACOMBS -- PURGATORY — SOUL'S SLEEP— CHRIST'S ADVENT, AND THE RESURRECTION.
The whole of this chapter consists, in the first place, of prescriptions for the holy practice of the living; and, in the second place, of bright hopes and joyous expectations relating to the state and happiness of the dead. The first part of the chapter is an exhortation to cultivate whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely and of good report ; not only instinctively, as a Christian will exhibit the life of religion in the way he lives, but also for the sake of those that are around you, to let it be seen and felt as well as heard that our religion is a religion full of practical fruits, and that he who has the warmest love to God, the brightest hope of heaven, the strongest assurance that he is a child of God, will also be, and must be, if he is what he thinks himself, a practical exhibition of all that is holy—a living epistle, seen, and read, and known of all men. The New Testament consists of written epistles, inspired by the Holy Ghost ; living Christians are sculptured epistles, literally seen and read of all men. Men that will not open the Bible, to learn what Christianity is, will look at the lives of its people, and judge by their