图书图片
PDF
ePub

11 ed. And for this cause God will send upon them the energy of

deceit, so that they shall believe the lie which they have taught ; 12 that they may all be condemned, who believed not the truth, but

had pleasure in unrighteousness and imposture to serve their presont interest.

REFLECTIONS. Let us behold with humble reverence the depths of the divine counsels and judgments : God hath been pleased to suffer the craft of Salan to display itself, in reducing from his allegiance a great part of the Christian world, yet has he taken the wise in his own craftine88, so far as to make that very apostasy from Christianity an additional proof of its divine original. Who that had only examined the genius of that holy religion, could have imagined that such a mystery of iniquity should have arisen in it, and: that man of sin have been revealed ? Surely, when the particulars of the description come to be compared with the accomplishment, it may seem owing to some judicial infatuation, that men of deep policy and great penetration, with this very passage of scripture in their hands, should have suffered the marks of antichrist to be so very apparent, even in many instances, beyond what might have seemed absolutely necessary for establishing that secular kingdom which they sought ; particularly that the pope, on high days, should set himself on a high throne, in the tempile of God, to be there solemnly adored, and should have permitted his parasites so expressly to boast that he is (a) God, and to give him, in some of their licensed and authorised works*, divine titles.

The scandalous and extravagant pretences which the followers of the Papacy have made to miracles, exceeding in number; and some of them in marvellous circumstances, those of Christ and his apostles, plainly display the energy of Satan, that father of frauds, pious and impious. And the most incredible lies which they have, by solemn and irrevocable acts, made essential to their faith, shew the strength of delusion, beyond what could have been imagined, had not fact led us into the theory. How dreadful is it to think of some of the expressions which the Spirit itself uses, when speaking of these artifices in deceit that they should be abandoned by God to believe a lie, that they may all be damned who have pleasure in unrighteousness,—that they might bring upon themselves eternal, aggravated damnation. Who would not tremble, who would not grieve for so many of our fellow men, yea of those whom (degenerate as their form of Christianity is) we must yet call our fellow Christians, who are thus dishonoured, enslaved, and endangered? The Lord grant that they may not be utterly unclone ! Let them despise us, let them by most solemn execrations annually repeated, devote us to destruction, and prepare against us all the instruments of it in their power, yet will we still pray for them. The Lord grant that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are lid captive by him at his pleasure ! Let us recommend to divine compassion the souls drawn after artsul and wicked leaders,

* See Barker's sermon at Salter's-Hall, against Popery ; and Chandler's account of the conference in Nicholas-Lane.

in the simplicity of their hearts, and take comfort in this thought, that the time will come, when the Lord shall destroy this son of perdi. tion with the breath of his mouth and the brightness of his coming. May the remnant of God's people among them take the alarm, and come out from them in time, and be separate , that they may not be partakers with them in their plagues.

SECTION IHI.

Paul thanks God for supporting them hitherto, and adds his exhorta.

tions and prayers for their continued establishment. Ch. ii. 13.iii. 15.

13 DUT we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren,

D beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning

chosen you to salvation, by sanctification of the Spirit, and belief 14 of the truth : to which he hath called you by our gospel, to the ob15 taining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, breth

ren, stand fast, and retain the instructions, which you have learned, 16 whether by word or by our letter. And may our Lord Jesus

Christ himself, and God even our Father, who hath loved us, and

given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts, and strengthen you for every good word and

work. . Finallyr, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may

run a free unobstructed course, and be glorified every where, as it is 2 among you; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable 3 and wicked men : for all men have not faith*. But the Lord is

faithful ; who will strengthen and keep you from the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord with respect to you, that ye 5 both do and will do the things which we give you in charge. And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christf.

REFLECTIONS. How wisely and happily does the apostle unite the views of the grace of God and the duties of men, while he represents our choice to salvation in a light so worthy of God, since this salvation is still to be obtained through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Our spirits must be sanctified by the operation of the divine Spirit : the truth must be not only speculatively, but powerfully and practically believed, or all our hopes will be vain. But surely, were it possible that salvation could any other way be obtained, it would be much less desirable, or rather, that which did not imply a sanctified spirit, and an heart open to receive and obey the truth, would not deserve the name of salvation. Blessed be God, who in this view hath called

* That upright and candid disposition, which would engage men to receive the testimony of the apostles,

for Christian patience: that which becomes his disciples, and is agreeable to his example.

us to obtain salvation and glory by Jesus Christ, even God our Father who hath loved us. From him do these everlasting consolations flow. It is by his blessed and gracious operation we are strengthened and established in every good word and work. His fidelity stands engaged to do it, if we humbly commit ourselves to him, and wait upon him. The prayers of the apostles, dictated no doubt from above, concur with the promises to encourage our hopes that he will direct our hearts into the love of God and the patience of Jesus Christ. On the exercise of that love and that patience doth the happiness of life chiefly depend. Too ready are our weak hearts to wander from it, and to faint under the difficulties that lie in our way. Let us call on him to preserve and maintain the graces he hath implanted, that they may be exerted with growing vigour and constancy even unto the end.

Unreasonable and wicked men will oppose the progress of the gospel, which has so powerful a tendency to promote holiness and comfort ; and, as there are those that have not faith, they will be ready to labour its destruction. But when the prayers of Christians are frequently engaged, that the word of God may run and be glorified, there is great reason to hope that much of their perverse opposition may be overruled to most contrary purposes, so that the wrath of man shall praisa him, and the remainder of that wrath be restrained.

SECTION IV.

Directions as to the exercise of discipline, with respect to some disorderly

persons. Ch. iii. €, &c.

6 N OW r we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord

I Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from any brother, who walketh irregularly, and not agreeably to the instruction 7 which he hath received from us. For ye yourselves know how it

becometh you to imitate us; for we were not irregularly among 8 you ; neither did we eat any man's bread at free-cost; but with la

bour and toil we wrought, night and day, that we might not be 9 burdensome to any of you. Not that we are destitute of authori

ty, but we declined using it that we might exhibit ourselves to you 10 as an example, that ye might imitate us. And even when we

were with you, we gave this in charge to you, that if any one 11 would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there

are some among you who walk irregularly, not working at all, 12 but are impertinently busy. Them who are such, therefore, we

charge and entreat, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that working 13 with quietness, they eat their own bread. And as for you, breth

ren, faint not, while well-doing, though some should abuse your 14 goodness. But if any one be not obedient to our word by this

epistle, set a mark upon that man, and have no converse with 15 him, that he may be ashamed. Yet account him not as an enemy, 16 but admonish him as a brother. Now may the Lord of peace him

self give you peace at all times, by every means. May the Lord 17 be with you all.-The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which

18 is the token in every epistle : so I write. May the grace of our

Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

REFLECTIONS. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, given in a richer abundance to his churches, animate and engage them to maintain that discipline which is so necessary to his honour and to their own comfort and edi. fication. Scarcely can we say which is more to be lamented, the neglect of the thing, or the abuse of the name. It never could be the design of the wise legislature of the church, that secular terrors should be pressed into his service, that fines, imprisonments, and civil incapacities should be the result of censures passed in his peaceful and benevolent name. Irregularities, in those that call themselves his followers, are indeed to be observed, and discountenanced. Offenders are to be admonished, and, if lighter admonitions succeed not, they are to be avoided : but still in a view of recovering them by an ingenuous shame (if any remainder of it be left in their hearts) from those practices, which, if connived at, would soon become the shame of the society. Thus far therefore let us resolutely carry our censures, separating scandalous persons from our sacramental communion, and declining that familiar converse with those who are so separated, which might lead them to think we privately disregarded these censures which had in public so awful a form ; yet at the same time let us not treat them as enemies, or as those of whose recovery we have no hope, but remember the tenderness of brotherly love amidst all the severest acts of brotherly reproof, and the common tie of humanity, to those whom we are commanded to regard only as heathens or publicans.

May there be, in the professed disciples of Jesus, a care to avoid and discourage that sloth and petulance which would make men busy in other people's matters, while they are quite negligent of their own. Let us remember the example of the apostle, and be solicitous to eat our own bread. So shall we be most likely to enjoy inward peace and satisfaction of mind, and find that relish in the possession of a little which the largest supplies would not give to them who are conscious to themselves of sloth or dishonesty.Some worthless people there have always been in every station of life, and under all religious professions, and some idle drones, who are ready to abuse the bounty of others better than themselves. But let us not from hence seek a mean excuse for refusing to such as really stand in need, acts of liberality and charity. Let us not be weary in well-doing ; the time of rest and reward will come. While we are waiting for it, the presence of the Lord of peace may be expected, if we take care to adorn his religion by the usefulness, as well as ihe meekness, of our behaviour, in this world of misery and provocation, through which he hath appointed us to pass, and through which he has himself condescended to pass before us, to make our way safe and our exit happy.

THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY.

TIMOTHY was a native of Lystra. His father was a Greek, but his

mother Eunice was a Jewess, as was his grandmother Lois : by wh080 pious care he became early acquainted with the scriptures. It is not certain when he was converted to the Christian faith, though probably it was on Paul's first visit to Lystra. When the apostle came into those parts again, he found him in great esteem with the churches for his piety and zeal, and from that time he seems to have fixed upon him as a companion and assistant in the ministerial office, to which he ordained him when probably he was not more than twenty years old. Heappears to have been eminently qualified for the office, and the apostle treated him with a parent's affection. The date of this epistle has been much disputed. It is most generally thought to have been about the year 58, when Paul quitted Ephesus on account of the tumult raised by Demetrius, where he left Timothy to manage the affairs of the church.The design of the epistle was, to direct him in this important concern, and in choosing proper persons for the ministry, and other offices ; to caution him against the influence of judaizing teachers; 10 urge him to a constant regard, in his preaching, to practical religion ; and to animate him to diligence, fidelity, and zeal, in the discharge of his office.

SECTION I.

Paul mentions the reasons of his leaving Timothy at Ephesus, and shews the

absurdity of opposing the gospel through zeal for the Law. Ch.i. 1-11 I D AUL an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the appoint

ment of God our Saviour, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who 2 is our hope ; to Timothy my genuine son in the faith, grace,

mercy, and peace from God our Father, and from Jesus Christ 3 our Lord. As I entreated thee to continue at Ephesus, when I

went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they

should not teach other doctrine than I had delivered, 80 act; and 4 admonish them not to regard Jewish fables, and endless genealo

gies, which afford matter of debates, rather than godly edifica5 tion in the faith. But the end of the gospel declaration is love,

from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an undissembled 6 faith : from which some, baving wandered, have turned aside to 7 vain and empty discourse : desiring to be teachers of the law, and

yet neither understanding what they say, nor concerning what they 8 affirm. But we know that the law is excellent, if a man use it 9 law fully; knowing this, that a law is not made in reference to a

righteous man, but to the lawless and ungovernable, the impious

and profligate sinners, the unholy and profane ; murderers of fa10 thers and of mothers, and other assassins ; fornicators, abusers of

* Tables of lineal descent, by which the Jews endeavoured to prove their right as priests and Levites, or their alliance to the house of David.

« 上一页继续 »