ment. They who obtain this raiment ought to prize it, and likewise to {.. it well. 1. Let us hearken to the counsel here given by Christ, and buy of him this white raiment. Let us view him in his life, and in his death. Let us be at the pains of considering seriously the spiritual and heavenly nature of his doctrine, the concern |. has shown for our welfare, and the end of all his humiliations and sufferings, which is, that he might “purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. ii. 14. If we attend to these things, we shall be convinced, that he who is destitute of virtue and good works, ought to reckon himself as wretched and miserable in a spiritual sense, as he who is destitute of necessary clothing; and that we must add to a fair and open profession of the principles of religion the lustre of a holy life and conversation. Let us observe St. Paul's exhortation to the Colossians, where he recommends so many virtues; and let us see how we may learn them of Christ, or buy of him this white raiment. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness,” Col. iii. 12. Labour after a kind and merciful disposition, and let every virtue appear in your conversation. Put them on as your clothing, without which you would not willingly be at any time surprised. And for this end consider that you have experienced great mercy from God, through Christ Jesus. He has brought you out of a state of darkness into great light, and has made you his people, who once were far off. God clothes himself with goodness, as his garment. And the ordinary course of his providence is beneficial to the human race in general; but you have obtained some distinction by being brought into i. fellowship of his son Jesus Christ. And are therefore under special obligations to do those things which are agreeable to his will. “Put on,” particularly, “bowels of mercies.” If any among you are afflicted and distressed, do you, who are at ease, and have ability, sympathise with them, bear their burdens, tenderly compassionate their case, and afford them help and relief, proportioned to their exigence. “Put on,” also, “kindness.” Be not fierce and severe towards any, but be affable in your discourse, courteous in your behaviour; show, in all things, such mildness, and tenderness, as by no means to discourage and grieve those you converse with, especially such as are of a broken and afflicted spirit.

“ Humbleness of mind.” Be willing to condescend, and to behave, as inferiors, toward those who ought to serve and honour you; even as Jesus Christ was among his disciples, and others, “as one that serves,” Luke xxii. 27. “Meekness:” Not resenting every injury done you, but quietly submitting to some ill-treatment, rather than disturb the peace of your society. “Long-suffering :” Enduring many and repeated offences, without being provoked to wrath and revenge. “Forbearing one another:” Mutually bearing with one another's failings and weaknesses, from which none are entirely exempt. “And forgiving one another if any have a quarrel against }. :” And even forgiving and forgetting injuries, and eing willing to be reconciled again, though di.ferences may have arisen, and subsisted for some time. Of this also, however great the condescension o seem, you have a pattern in God's dealings with you. . And no more is expected from you to others, than you have experienced from Jesus Christ. “Even as Christ forgave you, so do ye.” “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection:” And upon all these put true, and undissembled, and ardent love; which, as a girdle, may encompass and bind you all about, as one body, and secure a coinplete and amiable harmony and union in the several parts of your society. By humble and earnest prayer, by a sincere resolution to deny yourselves, as to some present advantages, by often and carefully viewing the example of Jesus, and the whole of his transactions from the beginning to the end, in his humiliation, and abasement on earth, and in his glory and exaltation in heaven, you may buy and obtain of him this white raiment, that you may be clothed, and may walk with him in white, and be among the noble and honourable of his kingdom. 2. They who have obtained this “white rainent,” the wedding-garment, ought to prize it. Never therefore suffer yourselves by scoff and ridicule to be put out of countenance in it. A rich and costly dress may be depreciated by those who want it. And it may excite the envy of some others. But it fails not to procure respect from many. By this clothing you are in some measure fit for fellowship with God, and Christ, and for the society of perfect spirits. It will never cause pride in your own hearts, nor excite to a lofty deportment toward others. But the real excellence of it may fill you with a modest consciousness of the worth and dignity which God has put upon you. It is a garment properly your own, which no one can deprive you of without your consent ; which you have obtained by prayer and meditation, watchfulness and circumspection, abstinence and self-denial; which therefore you have received from Christ himself. And by wearing it, and appearing in it, as his disciples, you will do him honour and respect, which he will accept and reward hereafter. 3. Lastly, they who have received from Christ this white raiment, should be careful to keep it well. Amidst the representation of great afflictions and trials it is said in this book: “Blessed is he that keepeth his garments,” Rev. xvi. 15. He who is richly clad, is under especial obligation to a strict care of his garment, that it may be unsullied in our conversation in this world, without particular care, this garment will contract some disagreeable defilement. And in so rich a dress it cannot be overlooked. As a little folly is observed in him, who is in reputation for wisdom, so every the least spot is discernible in a white garment. In our walk in this world, amidst a variety of characters, we must have our eye about us, and take heed to ourselves, that our meekness be not tarnished by hastiness of speech or action, and that no spot of pride or ambition, or inordinate affection for earthly things, stain the purity of this raiment. This may be thought difficult; but it is not impossible. It is taken notice of at the beginning of this chapter, to the advantage of some : “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments.” It is added: “And they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” Which also shows, that care and watchfulness, on which so much depends, though somewhat tedious at present, will be fully rewarded in the end. Well then, “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Rev. xvi. 15. Blessed is he who maintains his watch in every station and condition, and in all the dangerous temptations of this life. In the warm beams of prosperity this white raiment is very apt to fade; and it can scarcely bear them in an intense degree, especially for a long season, and without interruption. In some easy circumstances likewise extraordinary care may be needful, that it be not lost in a deep sleep of security. Happy is he who then “watches, and keeps his garments,” that no man rob him of that which is his chief glory and ornament, and which he cannot lose without being filled with shame and confusion.

Happy likewise is he who is provided with the double clothing of fortitude and patience; so that he is not afraid for the cold of adversity, nor for the tempests of affliction and persecution. That is another very dangerous circumstance. But it usually awakens attention, and is often cleansing and purifying. And our Lord adds immediately after the words of the text: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”

In fact, many “ have gone through great tribulation, and washed their robes, and made them Wi. in the blood of the Lamb,” Rev. vii. 14. By a steady faith in their great Lord and pattern, whom they have been inade to resemble in sufferings, they have become like him in meekness and patience. And in those suffering circumstances, the most displeasing and affrighting to carnal apprehensions, their robes have become resplendent ; a part of the heavenly glory has seemed to descend upon them ; the beams of which have enkindled a flame of divine love in the hearts of others, which has inspired them with a holy ambition of sharing with those followers of the Lamb in sufferings, and resembling them in virtue; that they may also partake of their uncommon comforts here, and their peculiar rewards hereafter.



And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory. 1 Tim. iii. 16.

FOR discerning the coherence we need look no farther back than to the fourteenth verse. “These things,” says the apostle, “write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know, how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” This clause seems to be added with a view to excite the care, circumspection, and diligence of Timothy; considering the vast importance of the doctrine of the gospel committed to him. Which also justifies the concern of the apostle for the right behaviour of this evangelist, and the care he took to send him proper advices and directions, and engage his due regard to them. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness,” As if he had said: “Do not therefore think me “too minute and particular, or too earnest and importunate “in the directions which I send unto you. For it is con“fessed, and acknowledged by all who are acquainted with ‘it, “that the mystery of godliness is very great,” weighty, ‘and important.” Thus we are coming to the difficult part of our undertaking to explain these words; and indeed it has no small appearance of difficulty. But i. I would suppose, and am apt to think, that the things here intended by the apostle are clear and obvious points, often said in the books of the New Testament, in other places: and understood and acknowledged by all, who are well acquainted with the christian doctrine, and its evidences, as contained in the scriptures. The obscurity therefore of this text, I presume, arises from some particular expressions here made use of. It appears to me very likely, that by “the mystery of godliness” is meant the gospel-dispensation, or the doctrine of the gospel in its extent and purity; as containing the design of God concerning the salvation of men, in and through Jesus Christ, without the works, or the ritual and peculiar ordinances of the law of Moses. We may be confirmed in this interpretation by observing some of i. many places, in which the word “mystery” occurs in the epistles of this apostle. Rom. xvi. 25, 26, “Now unto him, that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” Eph. i. 9, 10, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he had purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness

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