« 上一页继续 »
be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” And Col. i. 5, 6, “We give thanks to God for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world, and bringeth forth fruit, as it does also in you, since the day ye heard it, and knew the grace of God in truth.” Finally, “received up into glory.” If this be understood of “the mystery of godliness,” or the doctrine of the gospel, the meaning is, that it was gloriously exalted; inasmuch as thereby the knowledge of God had been spread over the earth, more than by reason alone, or any former revelation; and that it had a more powerful effect and influence than any other doctrine whatever, for enlightening, sanctifying, j saving men. But this expression may be also very properly understood of “God manifested in the flesh,” meaning our Lord's glorious ascension. Acts i. 2, “ until the day in which he was taken up.” And ver. 11, “they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up.” inj the phrase, “received up into glory,” taken separately, might be very proerly used concerning our Lord's ascension into heaven. he chief difficulty attending this interpretation is the place in which it is mentioned, last in order; whereas the ascension of Christ preceded several things here observed: “ preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world.” However, possibly, this objection may be solved, by only supposing, that the apostle, having begun with that particular, “God j'. the flesh,” meaning his appearance in the human nature of Christ, might choose to conclude with that which put a period to our Lord’s personal presence, and visible appearance among men in this earth; his triumphant ascension to heaven, and his reception there into glory, at the right hand of God. Thus I have represented the several senses of these expressions, and according to my ability briefly explained the whole. And I presume, that the truth of the observation, mentioned at the beginning of this discourse, may now be more apparent; that there is nothing in this text but what is perfectly agreeable to many other texts of scripture; and that the several particulars here mentioned, are articles of faith received by all christians in general; whether the subject here spoken of be “the mystery of godliness,” or “God” himself.
Suppose the first. It is known and believed by all christians, that the doctrine of the gospel was “manifested,” to and among men, by Jesus Christ and his apostles: that it was “justified by the Spirit,” confirmed by miracles wrought by Christ himself, and by his apostles, and others afterwards: “seen of angels,” beheld by them with ready approbation, and with surprise and wonder: “preached to the Gentiles,” as well as Jews: “believed on in the world,” received by men of all characters in all nations: “received up into glory,” gloriously exalted, greatly honoured and magnified by that reception, and by its effects in the hearts and lives of men. Suppose this to be said of God. It is also true, and received by all christians in general. There was an especial presence, and most extraordinary manifestation of the Divine Being in the human nature, or person of Jesus Christ, who is therefore called Emmanuel, or God with us. The divine authority of Jesus was “justified by the Spirit,” by many miraculous works, and by a very plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost upon such as believed in him. He was seen and ministered to, “by angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world,” and finally “received up into glory,” in heaven. APPLICAtion. What remains after this paraphrastical explication of the words of the text, is an application in two or three inferences. 1. We must here see reason for praise and thanksgiving to God for the revelation of his will, and for the manifestation of himself to us in Christ, and his gospel; especially if we ourselves have not only been favoured with this discovery, but have also heartily embraced it, and reaped benefit by it. As our Lord said to his disciples, “to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” and who had diligently attended to the instructions afforded to them. “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them,” Matt. xiii. 16, 17. 2. We may hence perceive it to be a duty, especially incumbent upon the ministers of Christ, in his church, to support a's defend the true doctrine of the gospel. It is with this view that this matter is now mentioned to Timothy. And every thing here insisted upon is very proper to engage and influence those who are in a station
at all resembling his. And it is with redoubled earnestness, that the apostle renews his exhortation to this evangelist, near the conclusion of the epistle, ch. vi. 13, 14, “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate ...i a good confession: that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 3. And lastly, The same considerations do also in a like manner direct the conduct of all christians in general. They should be engaged to use their best endeavours to uphold and maintain the doctrine of the gospel, “the mystery of godliness,” which, confessedly, is very great. It has been “manifested,” and has been fully “justified by the Spirit, seen of angels, preached ” to all nations, “believed " by men of all characters in every part of the world, and gloriously exalted by its happy fruits and effects. After this there can be no reason to doubt of its truth. And they who have received it, ought to use all reasonable methods to preserve it pure and entire. It cannot be justly expected, that if we lose the truth, after it has been so delivered to us, God should again manifest it to us, or appoint a new series of like miracles and wonderful events to give it credit. Instead of indulging such vain expectations, we should diligently search the scriptures, and labour to know the mind of God contained therein. And “we should give earnest heed unto the things which we have heard, lest at any time,” or by any means, “we should let them slip,” Heb. ii. 1. And “we should earnestly contend for the faith, which was once delivered to the saints,” Jude ver. 3. Which, as before said, will not be so delivered any more, as it once was, by Christ himself, and his apostles. Nor can any thing else be substituted in its room, that shall be equally excellent, important, and beneficial.
ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS.
THE EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT.
Of the following Sermons, the first four were fairly transcribed by the author, but probably had not undergone his last correction; the fifth and sixth (preached at the Tuesday Lecture in the Old Jewry) were not transcribed, but had upon them this remark: “Perused, and so far as I “am able to perceive, all is right; and I humbly conceive ‘ought to be published :'', the seventh was transcribed in part; the eighth and last is entirely printed from his notes, and may therefore, with the fifth and sixth, be considered as specimens of his usual compositions for the pulpit.
Redeeming the time because the days are evil. Eph. v. 16.
WE find this advice twice given in St. Paul's epistles; and in both places recommended as a branch of prudence and circumspection. So it is here: “See then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” And in like manner in the epistle to the Colossians: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time,” Col. iv. 5. Some expositors suppose, that the right improvement of time is the direct meaning and design of the expression, as used in this place; and say, that ‘ Redeeming is a meta“ phorical expression taken from merchants, who diligently “observe the fittest time for buying and selling, and easily ‘part with their pleasure for gain. So do you also deny * yourselves in your ease and pleasure, to gain an opportu“nity for doing good.’ Again : “Time past, strictly speak‘ing, cannot be recalled. But you are to redeem, or recover ‘as far as possible, that time which has been lost by a ‘double diligence in improving what remains.” Others think, that the proper meaning of the apostle's direction is, that the christians to whom he is writing, “Should secure themselves, by a prudent carriage toward ‘ all men, from the inconveniences of those difficult times “in which they lived:’ or “redeeming the time;” that is, ‘gaining as much time as you can, prolonging your own • tranquillity, and the opportunity of spreading the gospel. ‘Observe a prudent behaviour toward unconverted Gentiles, ‘ and unbelieving Jews: that they may be as little exaspe‘ rated as possible, by your different sentiments from theirs, “ or by your pure and holy life, whereby you seem to con‘ demn, and reproach them.” I shall however take occasion from these words to discourse of the right improvement of time, or “redeeming” it in a more general sense. And I shall consider them as setting before us the same practice which Solomon recommends: “Whatever thy hand findeth to do,” whatever lies before thee, which is useful or innocent, “do it with thy might,” with vigour and perseverance: “ for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest,” Eccl. ix. 10. And indeed, if we were to suppose this exhortation connected with what precedes, we might be inclined to think, that the apostle intended to stir up these Christians to care and diligence in general, as well as to circumspection in particular, and a prudent carriage toward those who were of different sentiments, for securing and prolonging their tranquillity, and keeping off those evils which some were inclined to bring upon them. This more enlarged, and general design of the exhortation may be argued, I say, from the context. Which, if we take it in more fully than we have yet done is this: “Wherefore he says, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The right improvement of time seems to imply two things; employing ourselves in that which is good, and doing that good with care and diligence.