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was, testifying both to Jews and Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ ! The Jews in the mean time filled up the measure of their sins, till wrath come upon them to the utter. most. And so will all the opposition that is made to the gospel and to those who are iniplacable and obstinate in it. They who believe not that Christ is He shall die in their sins. Whosoever shall fall on This stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.
Let the ministers of Christ, however Satan may attempt to hinder them, go on faithfully and courageously in their work, and watch over the souls which they have gained. When absent from them in body, let them not be absent in heart ; but let them be thinking of their state, and often caring and praying for them : for what is their hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord, but the souls which God shall graciously give them as spiritual children, or to whom he shall render them useful, for training them up in those ways of holiness in which, by the blessing of God upon the labours of others, they might be so happy as to find them ? May God give many such to all who serve him with their spirit in the gospel of his Son; and, in the views of their increasing piety, may they daily anticipate the glory and the joy with which they hope at last to deliver them to their divine master.
He informs them of his care to send Timothy to them, and of the pleasure he
received in the tidings brought by him ; praying for an opportunity of making them another visit. Ch. iii.
THEREFORE being able no longer to endure, we acquiesced 2 1 in being left alone at Athens; and sent Timothy our bro
ther, and a servant of God, and our-fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, that he might strengthen and comfort you, concerning 3 your faith ; that no man might be shaken by these afflictions ; for 4 ye yourselves know that we are appointed to these. For even
when we were with you, we told you before, that we should be 5 afflicted ; as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause also,
being no longer able to endure, I sent to know the state of your
faith, lest by any means the tempter might have tempted you, 6 and our labour should have been in vain. But now Timothy, · having returned to us from you, and brought to us the good tidings of your faith and love, and that ye have always a good re
membrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you; 7 we were hereby comforted, brethren, concerning you in all our 8 tribulation and necessity, by means of your faith. For now we 9 do indeed live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks
can we render to God concerning you, for all the joy with which 10 we rejoice on your account, before our God ; night and day su
perabundantly making it our request to see your face, and to 11 complete the deficiencies of your faith. Now r may God himself even our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ clear our way 12 to you, and may the Lord cause you to be enlarged, and to abound
in love towards each other, and to all, even as we towards you : 13 that your hearts may be strengthened, and you may be blameless
in holiness before God, even our Father, at the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
REFLECTIONS. Not further to insist on the tender affection of Paul to the Thessalonians, which has already afforded matter for so many profitable remarks, let us recollect that, as Christians, we also are appointed to afflictions, by the experience of which our fitness for heaven and our relish for our everlasting rest are to be improved. It was faithful and kind in the apostles, after the example of their great Master, to give us such admonitions ; but let us not be moved by the apprehension of any sufferings that may await us, for he who hath undertaken to support and defend us, can make us more than conquerors; he can, even while we continue in this state of warfare, establish our hearts unblamable in holiness; and how blessed a connection will that have with our being presented faultless and blameless before the presence of his glory, when Christ shall appear with all his saints, and when the sanctity of each shall be a glory to their common Master, as well as an everlasting blessing to every one of those spotless souls.
Let the ministers of the gospel nobly rise above all attachment to secular views, and make it their great business to advance in their hearers such a temper. Let it be their life, to see those Christian friends, whom God hath committed to their care, standing fast in the Lord. And, if they have reason to joy for their sakes before God, let them render their thanks to God for it, and night and day be urgent in their prayers for them, that whatever comfort they have may be continued, and that whatever is wanting in their faith and their love may be perfected, by the divine blessing on ministerial labours.
· Practical exhortations ; particularly to chastity, justice, charity, and firu
dence. Ch. iv. 1-12.
1 A S for what remaineth therefore, brethren, we beseech and
A exhort you by q the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so ye would 2 abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we 3 gave you on the part of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of
God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from forni. 4 cation : that every one of you should know how to possess his 5 vessel, this animal frame, in sanctification an honour; not in
the lust of concupiscence, even as the heathens who know not 6 God: that no man should overreach, or defraud his brother in any
affair : for the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also told 7 you before, and testified. For God hath not called us to uncleanVOL. II.
8 ness, but to holiness. He therefore who despiseth our admonition,
despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given us his Holy
Spirit. 9 But concerning brotherly-love, ye need not that I should write
to you, for ye yourselves are divinely taught to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it to all the brethren, which are in all Macedonia :
but we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound herein more and more; 11 and that you make it your ambition to live quietly, and do your
proper business, and work with your own hands (as we gave it 12 you in charge) that so ye may walk decently towards those that
are without the church; and that ye may, have need of nothing from them or others.
REFLECTIONS. Who would not wish to be instructed in every thing which might conduce to our waiking so as to please God? who would not delight in frequent exhortations, to abound in such a conduct more and more, that every day may improve upon the last, till we perfect holiness in his fear? Blessed be God, the rules are plain, and our own conscience must bear witness to the reasonableness and goodness of them. This is the will of God, even our sanctification ; that we should be honoured with his amiable image, and, by sharing something of his moral character, may share something of that happiness which in the perfection of holiness he enjoys. He hath indeed given us a compound nature, and hath appointed us for a time to struggle with its animal powers, that by a victory over them we may approve our duty and obedience, and be fitted for a purer happiness above, than this low state of being will admit. Let Christians therefore learn to possess their vessels in sanctification and honour, and not be captives to the mean lusis of concupiscence and uncleanness, as the heathens, who, not having the knowledge of God, were more excusable than we in those indulgences for which the knowledge of themselves and of their own nature would nevertheless, in some degree, condemn them.
Let us, as we dread the displeasure and vengeance of God, the supreme Guardian of the rights of his creatures, take heed that we do not allow ourselves, when it is most in our power, to go beyond, or de. fraud our brethren in any matter, but endeavour to shew, that we have indeed been taught of God to love one another, and that we have received into our very hearts that maxim which our gracious Redeemer has given us, That we should do unto others as we would they should do unto us. On this principle likewise, let us diligently employ ourselves in our own proper affairs, that, instead of being the burdens of society, we may in our respective spheres be its supports; and, qui. etly attending to what lies within our own province, let us leave ambitious schenies and projects to others, thinking ourselves happy enough, if we may be approved by him who hath allotted to the inhabitants of earth their several parts, and will another day accept and reward them, not according to the distinction and elevation of their stations, but according to the integrity with which they have behaved themselves in them. So shall we secure a testimony even in
the consciences of those that are without, who would perhaps ungenerously and unrighteously rejoice in an occasion of charging upon the gospel of Christ the follies and irregularities of its professors. They will never be able to charge any thing on the gospel itself if they take their ideas of it from the writings of these its authentic teachers. And let it be remembered, that they gave such abundant evidence of the authority with which they taught, that he who despiseth them des. piseth not man, but God, from whom they derived the Spirit by which they preached and wrote. His voice let us hear with reverence; his dictates let us humbly obey. The hour is near in which he will assert the honour of his word, and demonstrate to all the world the wisdom of submitting to its dictates.
The apostle comforts them concerning their deceased friends, by a vieto
of their glory at the resurrection. Ch. iv. 13, &c.
13 D UT I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning
D them that are fallen asleep, that ye may not lament, as others 14 do, the heathens, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus
died and rose again, we must believe that in like manner also God 15 shall bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say
to you, by the word of the Lord*, that we who remain alive at the
coming of the Lord, shall not preventt those that are asleep, 80 a8 16 to be glorified before them. For the Lord himself shall descend
from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, even
with the trumpet of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 afterwards we who are left alive, shall together with them be
snatched up into the clouds, in order to our meeting the Lord in 18 the air : and so shall we be with the Lord for ever. Therefore
comfort one another with these words.
REFLECTIONS. O! who can be sufficiently thankful for the strong consolations which these divine words administer ! How many drooping hearts have been cheered by them in every age, while successively mourning over the pious dead! How often have we ourselves been driven to them, as to a sacred anchor, when our hearts have been overwhelmed within us; and if God continue us a few years longer, what repeated occasions may arise of flying to them again ! Let us charge it upon our hearts, that we do honour to our holy profession in every circumstance, and particularly in our sorrows as well as our joys. When providence is pleased to make such breaches upon us, let us not sorrow as those who have no hope for our deceased friends, or for ourselves. Surely we cannot doubt the very first and most fundamental articles of our faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of
* The authority of an immediate revelation from Christ.
† The word prevent in this sense is obsolete, i. e. to go before. M. renders it *anticipate."
God; and if we do indeed assuredly believe these, what a blessed train of consequences will they draw after them! and this consequence most apparently, that they who sleep in Jesus shall not finally perish, but shall be brought with him to grace his triumph. And 0, what a triumph shall that be ! Let us now anticipate the joy with which, if true believers, we shall then lift up our heads, and see our complete salvation drawing nigh. What though we die and moulder in the grave ? the saints then alive shall not prevent us : though the last memorial of our names may long have perished from the earth, it shall appear that they are written in heaven. And when the Lord himself descends from heaven with that carth-rending shout, when the trump of God shall sound, his dead shall live, like his dead body shall they revive : they that dwell in the dust shall rise and sing, for his dew is as that falling upon herbs, and the earth shall cast forth its dead.
But who can now conceive the rapture with which so many millions shall start up at once from their beds of dust, all arrayed in robes of glory, and, spurning the earth in which they have been so long entombed, and all that is mortal and corruptible, shall soar aloft in one joyful company with those who shall then be found alive, to meet the Lord in the air, forming a mighty host, bright as the sun, clear as the moon, and awful as an army with banners ; they shall soar to meet their
Lord, attracted by divine love, and borne on in their flight by an al. mighty power. We shall ascend to him, we shall be owned by him, we shall be seated near him ; for Christ who is our life shall appear, therefore shall we appear with him in glory.-Nor shall it be merely the triumph of one day, or of any limited period, how long soever. It is the promise of his faithfulness and of his love, that 80 we shall ev. er be with the Lord. It is a glory that never shall decay, a meeting secure from all danger, from all possibility of future separation. In what circumstance of affliction shall not these consolations be felt ? What torrent of tears shall they not be able to stop ! What groans of distressed nature shall they not be sufficient to turn into songs of joy ?
Thanks, everlasting, ever new, ever growing thanks be to God, who al. way& causeth us to triumph in Christ, in the views of such a felicity! And let the whole choir of saints, the living and the dead, unite in one joyful Amen.
Exhortations to a diligent preparation for the day of Christ's appear.
ance. Ch. v. I-II.
1 D UT concerning the times and seasons of these grand events, 2 D brethren, you have no need of my writing to you. For ye
yourselves assuredly know, that the day of the Lord cometh just 3 like a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and
safety ; then sudden destruction shall come upon them, as travail 4 upon a woman with child ; and they shall not escape. But you,
brethren, are not sleeping in darkness, that the day should come 5 upon you as a thief. Ye are all the children of the light, and