Sidor som bilder

heartily study on this, and weary you with reiterated pressing this one thing, if there were hopes in So wearying you, to weary you out of these evils that are contrary to it; and in pressing this grace, to make any real impression of it upon your hearts: besides all the further good that follows it, there is in this love itself, so much peace and sweetness, as abundantly pays itself, and all the labour of it; whereas pride and malice do fill the heart with continual vexations and disquiet, and eat out the very bowels wherein they breed. Aspire to this, to be wholly bent, not only to procure or desire hurt to none, but to wish and seek the good of all; and, for those that are in Christ, sure that will unite thy heart to them, and stir thee up, according to thy opportunities and power, to do them good, as parts of Christ, and of the same body with thyself.

Ver. 10. As every man hath received the gift, even so min

ister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God

This is the rule concerning the gifts and graces bestowed on men; and we have here, 1. Their difference in their kind and measure. 2. Their concordance in their source and use.

1. Their difference in their kind and measure, which is expressed in the first clause, as every one - hath received. Then again in the last clause

(Bosxíra xápis) various or manifold grace, where xápis, grace, is all one with the former, xépoqua, gift, and is taken at large for all kind of endowments and furniture by which men are enabled to mutual good. One man hath riches, another authority and command, another wit or eloquence, or learning; and some, though eminent in some one, yet have a fuller conjuncture of divers of these. We find not more difference in visages and statures of body, than in qualifications and abilities of the mind, which are the visage and stature of it; yea, the odds is far greater betwixt man and man in this than it can be in the other.

Now, this difference accords well, 2dly, With the accordance here expressed in their common spring and common use; for the variety of these many gifts suits well with the singular riches and wisdom of their one Giver, and with the common advantage and benefit of the many receivers. And in the usefulness of that variety to the receivers, shines forth the bounty and wisdom of the Giver, in so ordering all that diversity, to one excellent end; so this manifold grace Foixían xágos here, commends that πολυποίκιλώ- σοφία, manifold wisdom, that the Apostle speaks of'.

There is such an admirable beauty in this variety, such a symmetry and contemperature of different, yea, of contrary, qualities, as speaks his riches, that so divers gifts are from the same Spirit. A kind of embroidering', of many colours happily mixt, as the word worxides signifies; as it is in the frame of the natural body of man as the lesser world, and in the composure of the greater world; thus in the Church of God, the mystical body of Jesus Christ, exceeding both the former in excellency and beauty.

And as there is such art in this contrivance, and such comeliness in the resulting frame, so it is no less useful; and that chiefly comiends the thing itself, and'the supreme wisdom ordering it, that as, in the body, each part hath not only its place for proportion and order, but each its use; and as, in the world, each part is beneficial to another; so here, every man's gift relates, and is fitted, to some use for the good of others.

Infer. 1. The first thing which meets us here is very useful to know, that all is received, and received of gift, of most free gift; so the words do carry. Now, this should most reasonably check all

a Eph. iii. 10. b. The Psalmist's word for the body Psm. cxxix. 15. is, curiously wrought. VOL. II.


[ocr errors]

murmuring in those that receive least; and insulting in those that receive most: whatever it is, do not repine but praise, how little soever it is, for it is a free gift. Again, how much soever it is, be not high minded, but fear; boast not thyself, but humbly bless thy Lord; for if thou hast received it, how canst thou boasts?

2. Every man hath received some gift, no man all gifts; and this, rightly considered, would keep all in a more even temper; as, in nature, nothing is altogether useless, so nothing is self-sufficient: This, duly considered, would keep the meanest from repining and discontent, even him that hath the lowest rank in most respects; yet something he hath received, that is not only a good to himself, but, rightly improved, may be so to others likewise. And this will curb the loftiness of the most advanced, and teach them, not only to see some deficiencies in themselves, and some gifts in far meaner persons, which they want : but, besides the simple discovery of this, it will put them upon the use of what is in lower persons, not only to stoop to the acknowledgment, but even, withal, to the participation and benefit of it; not to trample upon all that is below them, but to take up, and use, things useful, though lying at their feet. Some flowers and herbs that grow very low, are of a very fragrant smell, and healthful use.

Thou that carriest it so high, losest much by it. Many poor Christians whom thou despisest to make use of, may have that in them which might be very useful for thee, though thou overlookest it, and treadest on it. St. Paul acknowledgeth he was comforted by the coming of Titus, though far inferior to him. Sometimes a very mean illiterate Christian may speak more profitably and comfortably, even to a knowing learned man, than multitudes of his own best thoughts can do, especially in a time of weakness and darkness. 3. As all is received, and with that difference,

ci Cor. iv. 7.

so the third thing is, that all is received, to minister to each other; and mutual benefit is the true use of all, suiting the mind of him that dispenses all, and the way of his dispensation. Thou art not proprietary lord of any thing thou hast, but óxóvou@, à steward; and therefore oughtest gladly to be a good steward, that is, both faithful and prudent in thy intrusted gifts, using all thou hast to the good of the household, and so to the advantage of thy Lord and master. Hast thou abilities of estate, or body, or mind ? let all be thus employed. Thinkest thou that thy wealth, or power, or wit, is thine, to do with them as thou wilt, to engross to thyself, either to retain useless, or to use; to hoard and wrap up, or to lavish out, according as thy humour leads thee? No, all is given, as to a steward, wisely and faithfully to lay up and lay out. Not only thy outward and common gifts of mind, but even saving grace, which seems most interested and appropriated for thy private good, yet is not wholly for that; even thy graces are for the good of thy brethren.

Oh! that we would consider this in all, and look back and mourn on the fruitlessness of all that hath been in our hand all our life hitherto. If it have not been wholly fruitless, yet, how far short of that fruit we might have brought forth! any little thing done by us looks big in our eye; we view it through a magnifying glass; but who may not complain that their means, and health, and opportunities, of several kinds, of doing for God, and for our brethren, have lain dead upon their hands in a great part ? As Christians are defective in other duties of love, so most in that most important duty, of advancing the spiritual good of each other. Even they that have

grace, do not duly use it to mutual edification. · I desire none to leap over the bounds of their call

ing, or rules of Christian prudence in their converse; yea, this were much to be blamed; but I fear lest unwary hands, throwing on water to quench that evil, have let some of it fall by upon those

blown up.

sparks, that should rather have been stirred and

Neither should the disproportion of gifts and graces hinder Christians to minister one to another, nor move the weaker to envy the stronger, nor the stronger to despise the weaker; but each is, in his place, to be serviceable to another, as the Apostle excellently presses by that most fit resemblance of the parts of the body"; As the foot says not, Why am I not the eye, or the head; the head cannot say of the foot, I have no need of thee. There is no envy, no despising, in the natural body. Oh! what pity is it there should be so much in the mystical ! Were we more spiritual, this would less be found. In the mean time, Oh! that we were more agreeable to that happy estate we look for, in our present aspect and carriage one to another. Though all graces are, in some measure, where there is one, yet all not in a like measure. One Christian is more eminent in meekness, another in humility, a third in zeal, &c. Now by their spiritual converse, one with another, each may be a gainer; and many ways may a private Christian promote the good of others, with whom he lives, by seasonable admonitions, and advice, and reproof, sweetened with meekness; but most by holy example, which is the most lively, and most effectual speech.

Thou that hast greater gifts, hast more entrusted in thy hand, and therefore the more engagement to fidelity and diligence. Men in great place and public services, ought to stir themselves up by this thought to singular watchfulness and zeal; and, in private converse, one with another, to be doing and receiving spiritual good. Are we not strangers here; and, is it not strange that we so often meet and part, without a word of our home, or the way to it, or our advancement towards it? Christians should be trading, one with another, in spiritual things; and he, sure, that faithfully useth most, receives most. That is comprehended under that

di Cor. xii. 15, 21.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »