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ters' favour, or anything of that kind ; otherwise, neither will their duty be pleasantly done, nor acceptable to God when it is done ; for therefore doth he enjoin it as the first piece of people's duty to their ministers, and the foundation of all the rest, to know and acknowledge them for such to whom they ought in conscience to discharge those duties : ' And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you.'
“ One great and main cause of people's backwardness to do duty unto their ministers, and of disrespect both to their persons and function, is, their ignorance and not serious perpending the weight and wearisome toil of their labour, the dignity of their office, together with the usefulness and necessity of their work among them: for therefore doth Paul describe the ministry from the dignity of their office, the toilsomeness of their labour, and the usefulness of their work to the people, as so many motives unto people to support it.
He exhorts them--as Christian laymen, mark youto “ warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” And then be bids them “ rejoice evermore.” A Christian is a happy man; he has much to rejoice in: he may have much to deplore, but he has far more to be glad of. He is to “pray without ceasing; in everything to give thanks.” In the worst dispensation, you will find some crumb of goodness ; in the heaviest trial, you will see some streak of sunshine ; and a heart ever anxious to taste God's goodness, and to recognise it, will ever feel that there is no circumstance, no condition, in which it is not a duty, a privilege, an impulse to give thanks to God.
“Quench not the Spirit”-grieve not the Spirit; avoid doing what that Spirit condemns. “Despise not prophesyings”-that is, the preaching of the truth. And then, to show the right of private judgment, “ Prove all things.” This does not mean that you are to go about tasting everything, in order to see if it be wholesome: if a man were to do so physically, he would be sure to be poisoned. You are not to go into a chemist's shop, and taste everything in every bottle, and see if that be wholesome; you are not called upon to do so. You are not to go round the world, and take a taste of Romanism, a taste of Atheism, a taste of Unitarianism, in order to prove them ; but, if these things be pressed upon you, in the providence of God, you are not to accept what is plausible, as if the plausible were always true; but you are to test all that is thrust upon you by appealing, not to what the most men think, nor to what the best men think, nor to what the Fathers think (which would be very difficult to discover), nor to what the Councils have decreed, nor to what the Church believes ; but you are to bring all to the test of God's holy Word. If they be not according to it—it matters not how beautiful, it matters not how popular, it matters not how ancient—it is because there is no life and no truth in them. Now, can any man deny that the right of private judgment is the prerogative and privilege of a Christian who reads the words, “Prove all things”? Having done so, what are you to do next? Not to be satisfied with all; you are, eliminating what is evil, and casting it away, to “hold fast that which is good,” and embody it in your daily and constant practice. Here, then, is the true guide for every Christian—“ Prove all things." Take no statement because man asserts it-many wrong things are
very popular, many erroneous notions have great patronage; you must, if needs be, be content to be alone, upholding truth, though the whole world should be against you, the advocate of error.
And then he says, finally, “ Abstain from all appearance of evil”—that is to say, you are not only to abstain from what is evil, but from what may be misconstrued as evil by a censorious, a prejudiced, and a hostile world. Here is a maxim for a Christian, of vast breadth and of admirable excellence ; that is to say, if you are where the world, looking on with the eye of a censor or a critic, or with a hostile feeling, would from the circumstances form an unfavourable impression—that, if it be possible, you are to avoid. That you will often be misconstrued, is possible; that you will often be misapprehended, is certain ; but the duty of the Christian is to give the world as short a handle as possible to lay hold on, and to give it as little ground as he conveniently can for misinterpreting his character, for misconstruing his conduct, and turning to evil that holy name by which he is called.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly ; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Finally, he says, “I charge you by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.” Dr. Paley, in his “Horæ Paulinæ,” has very admirably shown that this charge involves the authenticity and the genuineness of the epistle ; for if this epistle had not been addressed to the Thessalonians, and accepted by them, and read in their congregations, other churches among whom he requires it to be read would have detected this, and would never have accepted it as an inspired and genuine epistle of the apostle Paul. It is wonderful, if one search the New Testament, what latent lights leap out, what beautiful recondite evidences are evolved ; all indicating that truth which is as sure as rising and setting suns, that this book has God for its autbor, truth without any admixture of error for its matter, and eternal happiness to all that believe for its blessed result.
THANKSGIVING FOR INCREASE OF FAITH, AND LOVE, AND PATIENCE
- PROMISE OF RECOMPENCE-WISHES THEIR PERFECTION.
The origin of this remarkable epistle is traced to a condition of mind which had been very rapidly developed in the Thessalonian Church. Certain persons, probably teachers, had taken up the idea that the day of Christ was actually come. The original words in the second chapter, denote that some believed that the day of the Lord was actually come (οτι ενεστηκέν η nwepa tov kuplov). In consequence of this fanatical belief, the minds of the people had become unsettled. Some left their daily toils and duties, and others took advantage of this supposed new economy to walk disorderly. St. Paul shews then, that, while the advent of this day must be the desire of every believer, yet that it neither was actually present, nor could it arrive till certain great events and phenomena had appeared. He indicates the seeds of the ripening apostasy, its huge and portentous characteristics, and assures them that Christ's personal advent will take place at its