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it hath brought forth in our own hearts and lives. Let us be solicitous for ourselves and others, that we may in a more spiritual and intelligent manner be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all its compass and extent, so far as he has been pleased to reveal it; and that this knowledge may produce in us the most substantial effects, so as to engage us to walk worthy of the Lord, whose name we bear, and in a manher which he may behold with approbation and pleasure ; being fruitful and increasing more and more in every good work; that our barrenness may not reproach our profession, and that the great vital truths of Christianity may not seem to be dead or dormant in our hearts. To give them their full energy on our souls, we need the operation of God's glorious and mighty power, by which they may not only be established in all patient long-suffering, but inspired with holy joy. Then shall we breathe forth lively acknowledgments to the Father, who hath revealed unto us that glorious inheritance which he distributes amongst the saints in light, even that kingdom where they all reign in everlasting purity, friendship, and joy. May he prepare us to receive our lot, and take up our abode there! For this end did he rescue us from the power of darkness, and call us to the external privileges of those who constitute the kingdom of his dear Son : for this did, he set before us that redemption which we have in his blood, even the remission of our sins. And O! how inexcusable shall we be if we make ourselves the slaves of sin, while we have our abode in the visible kingdom of Christ ; and trampling upon his blood, and the act of grace which is established in it, seal ourselves up under a guilt never to be removed ; a guilt heightened to infinite degrees of provocation and malignity by the very methods which have been taken to expiate it!
The dignity of our Redeemer's person, and the methods he hath taken 10
make reconciliation for sinners. Ch. i. 15-23.
THE redemption I spoke of is cffected by one of the highest dig15 I nity : Who is the image of the invisible God, and the first16 born of the whole creation : for by him were all things created ;
things in heaven, and things on earth, visible and invisible; whe
ther they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers. All 17 things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all, and in him 18 all things subsist. And he is the head of the church, which is the
body : even he who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; 19 that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For in him it
was his si. e. the Father's] pleasure, that all fulness should reside : 20 and by him to reconcile all things to himself, having made peacə
by the blood of his cross ; by him God hath reconciled all things to each other, whether things on earth (Jews and Gentiles) or things
in heaven (celestial spirits, who are united with men, in one society). 21 And you who were once alienated, and enemies in your mind by 22 wicked works, he hath now reconciled, in the body of his flesh, by
death, that he might present you holy and blameless, and free from Vol. II.
23 all accusation in his sight: if ye continue established and grounded
in the faith, and be not removed from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which hath been preached iv the whole creation under heaven; of which I Paul am appointed a minister.
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn by this sublime discourse of our holy apostle how we are to conceive of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whose glory he so wisely and happily consecrated the labours of his pen and of his life; and while we commemorate that blood of his in which we have redemption, even the remission of our sins, let us bow to him as the image of the invisible God, and the first-born of the whole creation. And, whatever discoveries we may at any time receive, as to the display of divine power, wisdom, and goodness, in the formation of the visible or invisible world, let us remember that by Christ all things in both were created, not excepting thrones and dominions, principalities and powers. The angels of God worship him, as with and by the Father, their great original and support ; acknowledging with Paul, and with the whole catholic church, as taught by him, that in Christ all things subsist. Let us then, with the whole host of heaven, bow down before him, and worship him that sits upon the throne and the Lamb. Let us with all humility adore his condescension, in uniting us to himself in such dear and intimate bonds, and avowing himself the Head of the church, which he disdains not to call his body, though he be the beginning of the creation of God, as well as the first-born from the dead, and beyond comparison fire-eminent in all.
Important indeed are the consequences of this his condescension ! It is by him that God is reconciled to us, and dwells in us. It is the blood of his cro88 that hath made peace between Jews and Gentiles, between heaven and earth. Justly might the angels have forsaken this earth of ours, and have ascended to heaven, to enter their protest against sinful men, yea to seek a commission for executing vengeance upon the apostate creature. But now, through Christ, they are become our friends and our brethren. At his command they minister unto the heirs of salvation, and will continue their kind offices, till heaven gives the interview which earth denies, and lays a foundation for the endearments of an everlasting friendship.
O, that this reconciling gospel might be effectually preached to every creature under heaven! But to obtain its effect, it must subdue our hearts to holiness. To be still under the power of sin, to go on in a course of evil works, is to continue the enmity with God, and all his holy and happy creatures. Let us see to it, that we thankfully accept the reconciliation which the gospel proposes. Then shall we at length be presented blamele88, irreproachable, and holy in his sight-As we hope for this end, let nothing remove us from our sted fastne88, nor from that glorious hope of the gospel for which it is certain nothing can be an. equivalent. May divine grace establish and confirm us in it, and make us victorious over every thing that might attempt to supplant our feet and take away our crown!
The apostle expresses his solicitude to fulfil his ministry among them in the
most successful manner. Ch, i. 24 ii. 147.
24. N O W I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill ap whatever
is wanting of the afflictions of Christ, in my flesh, for the 25 sake of his body, which is the church: of which I was made a
minister, according the dispensation of God, which was given me
in respect of you, that I might thoroughly preach the word of God; 26 even that mystery which was hid from 80 many past ages and ge27 nerations, but is now manifested to his saints; to whom God was
determined to make known what is the rich glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is this, that Christ is in you the hope of glory*. This is the saviour whom we preach ; admonishing
every man, and instructing every man, with all wisdom, that we may 29 present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To which purpose
I also labour, striving according to his energy, which operateth ii with power in me. For I earnestly wish you to know what a con
tention I have for you, and those of Laodicea, and as many as have 2 not seen my face in the flesh : that their hearts may be comforted,
being knit together in love, and to the richest and most assured un
derstanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, even of 3 the Father, and of Christ ; in whom are hid all the treasures of 4 wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, that no man may deceive 5 you by enticing discourses. For though I be absent in the flesh,
yet in spirit I am with you; o rejoicing while I behold your order, 6 and the steadiness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you have 7 received Christ Jesus the Lord, 80 walk in him ; rooted and edi
fied in him, and confirmed in the faith, as ye have been taught ; abounding in it with thanksgiving.
REFLECTIONS. To bear sufferings with patience, has justly been reckoned an high attainment ; and it was the boasted strength and glory of the Pagan philosophy to teach men to do it; a glory in which it was often deficient, a strength which often failed them, who had the fairest oppor. tunities of being proficients in their schools. But Paul had learnt by the philosophy of Jesus to rejoice in them, when considered as subservient to the honour of Christ, and to the good of his church, even of those members of it whom he had never seen in the flesh ; rejoicing thereby to fulfil his embassy, and to confirm that important word of . God which taught the mystery concealed from so many ages and generations. And what was that mystery, but the same that is so clearly revealed to us, even that Christ in us is the hope of glory? To Gentile sinners that were without hope is hope now preached ; the hope not only of felicity, but glory. And this by Christ ; not only as proclaim
* Christ being formed by divine grace in your hearts, he brings to you the bright beamings of this blessed prospect.
ed amongst us (for to many that hear of his name, and of the scheme of salvation by him, he is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence) but by Christ as in u8. Highly are they honoured, who have it in charge to preach him. May they learn from the apostle how it is to be done. It is to be attended with practical instructions and admoni. tions, to be conducted with the greatest prudence and care, and to be addressed to every man, according to his respective character and circumstances in life; that so, if it be by any means possible to prevent it, none of those that are committed to their care and charge may be lost, but every man may at length be presented perfect in Christ in that day, when, among all that truly belong to him, there shall be no remaining imperfections.
Surely this is a cause in which it is worth their while to strive. May the strength of God work powerfuily in them for that purpose! Then will all our hearts be comforted, when we have attained to the full assurance of the truth of our religion, when we courageously acknowledge and maintain it, when we improve it to the great end for which it was preached to us, and, having professed to receive Christ Jesus as our Lord, make it our care in a suitable manner to walk in him. For this purposc, let us endeavour to be deeply rooted and grounded in him, confirmed in the faith as the apostle taught it; giving thanks to God for the instructions we receive in it, and numbering it, as we have great reason to do, among the choicest mercies we could receive, even from an Omnipotent hand, not only that we hear the sound of the gospel, but that we have felt its vital influence upon our hearts.
Cautions against being corrupted from the simplicity of Christianity, either
by Pagan philosophy, or Jewish tradition. Ch. ii. 8–19.
8 CEE to it, that no man make a prey of you by philosophy and
D vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to 9 the elements of the world*, but not according to Christ. For in
him dwelleth all the fulness of Godhead bodily and substantiallyt. 10 And ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality 11 and power. In whom ye also who are Jews, are circumcised with
the circumcision not performed with hands, by the putting off the
body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, being 12 buried with him in baptism ; in which also ye were raised with
him, by belief in that energy of God, who raised him from the 13 dead. And you Gentiles, who were dead in trespasses, and in the
uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with 14 him ; having freely forgiven all your offences; having blotted out,
with respect to us, the hand-writing of Jewish ordinances, which
* Pagan literature, justly called elements, or lessons for children, compared with the sublime instructions received in the school of Christ.
† An allusion to the Shekinah, in which God dwelt; ultimately referring to the adorable mystery of the union of the divine and human natures in the per: son of the glorious Emanuel.
was contrary to us; and hath taken it away, nailing* it to his cross : 15 having spoiled principalities and powers of their trophies, he hath
made them an open spectacle, triumphing over them by it : even 16 by that cross whereby they would have triumphed over him. There.
fore let not any one judge you in the use of meat or drink, or in 17 respect to a feast, or to a new-moon or sabbaths; which things 18 are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ. Let
no one who may desire it, deprive you of your great prize, by an
affected humility, and the worship of angels, intruding into that 19 which he hath not seen; vainly puffed up by his fleshy mind; and
not holding the head ; not adhering to Christ ; from whom the whole body, being supplied and compacted by joints and bands, increaseth in the increase of God.
REFLECTIONS. Let us contemplate, with daily pleasure, the glorious effects of the death of our blessed Redeemer, by which the Mosaic law was abole ished, the hand-writing of ordinances blotted out ; that death, by which so glorious a victory over our spiritual enemies was obtained, by which the infernal principalities and powers were stripped of their trophies, and themselves exposed as an open spectacle. Let us improve this victory to all the glorious purposes for which it was intended. Let us above all consider it as an engagement to a life of exemplary holiness, especially as we are ourselves circumcised with the circumcision of Christ; as by baptism we are solemnly engaged to mortify all irregular affections, and, being buried with Christ in that solemn rite, to rise to all newness of life, having received the forgiveness of our sins, and being raised with Christ to the hope of eternal glory. Let us be solicitous ever to maintain the strictest union with Christ as our Head, remembering how great an honour it is to be thus related to him, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of Godhead bodily. Let us be carfeful, in virtue of this union, to live in the communion of Christian love, with all the members of the body, and ourselves to grow with all the increase of God.
And let us guard against all those human traditions, or refinements of philosophical speculation, which are disagreeable to the elements of Christ into which we have been initiated ; and against every thing which could be an infringement of that liberty which Christ hath granted to his church, and which it is our duty to endeavour to maintain, against all encroachments ; even though they should be made by any in his name, and under the pretence of authority from him. It may be urged upon us as humility, to submit to such impositions, but it is the truest humility to maintain an exact obedience to the authority of our divine master, and to limit even our submission to those of our brethren whom we may most honour and love, by a regard to his command and institution. And if a due care is not taken in this respect, we may be deprived, at least in some degree, of our prize, by the methods whereby some may endeavour to persuade us that we
* He hath cancelled it, as bonds were cancelled by striking them through with a nail.