图书图片
PDF
ePub

of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ.” Eph iii. 2–5, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to . how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and |. F. by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” And afterwards in the same chapter, ver. 8, 9, “ Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God.” These texts plainly show, that by the “mystery,” the apostle often means “the' whole “ dispensation of the gospel,” with its unsearchable riches, and abundant grace and mercy: always determined in the purpose of God, but fully revealed to men in these late ages of the world. Once more in the same epistle. Eph. vi. 19, 20, “ and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds; that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.” To the like purpose in the epistle to the Colossians, which we have often observed to have a great agreement with that to the Ephesians. Col. i. 25–27, “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God, which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God, even the mystery which has been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery o the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of ‘ior .” g Aï ch. ii. 2, “ that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, even the Father, and of Jesus Christ.” And ch. iv. 3, “Withal praying for us, that God would open to us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ; for which I am also in bonds.” And in this very chapter, the third of the first epistle to Timothy, ver. 8, 9, “Likewise must the deacons be grave, "...i. the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” There can be no doubt then, but that by “the mystery of godliness” the apostle means the evangelical dispensation, or the doctrine of the gospel of Christ, which he oftentimes calls “a mystery, the mystery of the gospel, the mystery of the faith:” and here “the mystery of godliness.” To the like purpose in the sixth chapter of this first epistle to Timothy. Ver. 2, 3, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of out Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing.” And the epistle to Titus begins in this manner. “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” This doctrine of the gospel, the apostle says in the text is “great,” unquestionably so. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness.” By “great” meaning, as we may reasonably think, every thing which can be comprehended in that character. It is weighty and important; it is sublime; most true and certain; in all respects worthy of God, and carrying in it the best and kindest design toward men; most likely and most effectual to reclaim them from sin, and bring them to God and true holiness here, and to durable and unmixed happiness hereafter. Upon the comparison too it surpasseth in glory, riches, and grace, all former dispensations. Finally, it may be said to be great, as it was unsearchable, exceeding all that had entered into the heart of man to conceive; though fully determined by the Divine Being, and often hinted and foretold in the revelations of the prophets, in the more early ages of the world. Thus far we seem to have proceeded with a satisfactory evidence and perspicuity, as to the meaning of the words. It follows. “God was manifest in the flesh.” Here we have a difficulty well known to learned christians, and the laborious and diligent interpreters of scripture. For whereas we have in our text, “God was manifest in the flesh:” some think we should read, “Which was manifest in the flesh.” In favour of the reading last mentioned it is alleged, that it is found in divers ancient versions, and in several Latin authors. On the other hand, in favour of our present, and more common reading, it is said, that it is in most, and well nigh all Greek manuscripts that we know of. It is likewise observed, that several of the expressions which follow, are more properly used of a person than of a thing. For instance; of “the mystery of godliness,” it cannot be so properly said, that “it was manifested in the flesh:” nor that it was “received up into glory.” Without deciding this point, I shall now proceed to explain the several following expressions of the text. And I suppose it will appear, that which soever of these two readings we follow, the meaning is much the same. The first thing here affirmed, whether the subject be “the mystery of godliness,” or “God,” is, “was manifest,” or manifested “in the flesh.” And certainly, the connection is very good, understanding this to be spoken of the former of the two. And how it may be said, appears front many of the texts before alleged, when it was shown, that by “the mystery of godliness,” is to be understood the evangelical dispensation, or the doctrine of the gospel. For in those, and other texts, the apostle speaks of “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but is now made manifest:” and, the mystery, which had been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest unto his saints. The mystery of godliness,” or the doctrine of the gospel, had been made manifest, by the so of John the Baptist, of our Saviour himself, and his apoles after him. It had been manifested “ in the flesh,” that is, to, and among men. But take our present, and more common reading. “God was manifest in the flesh.” And the expression will not be very difficult to be understood; the same thing being often said, and spoken of in other places of scripture. For God was manifested in the human nature of Jesus Christ. As St. John says at the beginning of his gospel: “And the word was made flesh and dwelled among us.” And at the beginning of his first epistle : “For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.” And says St. Paul, Col. ii. 9, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:” that is really and durably, not figuratively and typically, as in a bright cloud or glory, sometimes appearing under the ancient dispensations. . The same apostle therefore says of Christ, Col. i. 15, that he is “the image of the invisible God.” And Heb. i. 3, “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” For in him appeared the wisdom, the power, the truth, the holiness, the goodness, the mercifulness of God. In the like manner, and for the same reason, Jesus is called “Emmanuel,” or “God with us.” Matt. i. 23; or, as St. Peter expresseth it, Acts x. 38, “Ye know, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. For God was with him.” And so far as we can perceive, those ancient christian writers, who read “which,” understood this, and also the following particulars, concerning Jesus Christ." 44 justified in the spirit, or by the spirit. This is easily understood either of “the mystery of godliness,” or of “God manifested in the flesh.” For the doctrine of the gospel was proved and attested by many miraculous works. Or, the divine authority and mission of the Lord Jesus were proved and evidenced by the spirit. As John the Baptist declares in his testimony to him. John iii. 34, “He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God. For God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him.” And our Lord himself, Matt. xii. 28, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is come unto you,” And compare Luke xi. 20, and John v. 36, “The works, which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” And to the like purpose elsewhere. The whole doctrine of the gospel, the divinity of this dispensation, and all things concerning the Lord Jesus, were confirmed by his resurrection from the dead. As St. Paul says, Rom. i. 4, “Declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead; and also by the plentiful effusion of gifts of the Spirit upon the apostles, and other believers, after his ascension, in conformity to his predictions and promises concerning that matter. So John xvi. 13, 14, “Howbeit, when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth. And he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me. For he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” And St. Paul reminds the Corinthians, I Cor. ii. 4, that he had preached to them “in demonstration of the Spirit and * Quod. Clar. Lat. Vulg. Syr. Hieron. Fulgentius aliique Latini. Qui tamen omnes cum Græcis in eo consentiunt, quod partem hanc cum sequentibus in Christi personam interpretentur. Mill. in loc. So Mill. I shall put down here the passages of some early Greek writers, who have referred to this text, and understood it of Jesus Christ. Ov xapw airs-exe Noyov, wa komuw pawn' oc wiro Nae artuaq6etc, čia aro-oxoov knowy 9sic, viro £9, ww stri-subm. Ep. ad Diognel. p. 501. D. Paris. Q pivomptov. Me6' mplwy sučov ot a) ye Mot roy Xpt-ov, Tr orépov on 1 optovrec. Clem. A. C. vii. Hypot. citat. ab (Ecum. in loc. Vid. 8. ragm. ap Potter. p. 1015. et J. Ittig. Bib. PP. p. 162. Eav če o shoc Indec avaNaps3aveata ov čoën Xsymrat. Orig. Contr. C. l. 3. p. 129. Cant. 467. C. Bened. See Vol. ii. ch. xi. and xxxviii. VOL. IX. 2 h

power.” See also 1 Thess. i. 5, 6, and Heb. ii. 3, 4, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” And St. Peter, 1 Epist. i. 12, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired——unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you, by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the o Ghost sent down from heaven.” That is, “justified by the Spirit.” It follows: “seen of angels:” which also may be well understood of “the mystery of godliness.” For St. Peter, in the place just cited from him, says of the ancient proo “that they did minister the things,” which had been ately “reported:——which the angels desire to look into.” And St. Paul, Eph. iii. 9, 10, “To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God——To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” Understand this article of “God manifested in the flesh,” or in the human nature of Jesus Christ. And then we may suppose to be hereby meant the appearances of angels at our Saviour's nativity, their ministering to him after his temptation in the wilderness, and upon divers other occasions, and particularly their attendance on him at his resurrection and ascension. “Preached unto the Gentiles:” that is, to all the world, not to Jews only, but to Gentiles also. This, as every one immediately perceives, may be properly said either of the mystery of follo or of the divine manifestation in the person of Christ. The doctrine of the gospel in its genuine purity, simplicity, and fulness, was preached by Paul and others both to Jews and Gentiles. And “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,” 2 Cor. v. 19. “Believed on in the world.” It met with acceptance, and had great effects all over the world. This may |. fitly understood of either of the two subjects so often mentioned. Says the apostle to the Romans, i. 5, 6, “By whom we have rcceived #. and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name. Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. ii. 14, “Now thanks

« 上一页继续 »