« FöregåendeFortsätt »
are weakest in themselves, most sensibly so. That word of the apostle is theirs; they know what it means, though a riddle to the world; When I am weak then am I strong". Now,
2. The end of all this appointment is, that in all God may be glorified through Jesus Christ ! All meet in this, if they move in their straight line, here they concentre: not only these two sorts specified in this verse, but all sorts of persons that use aright any gift of God, as they are generally comprehended in the former verse: for this end relates to all, as it is expressed universally, That in all, in all persons and all things; the word bears both, and the thing itself extends to both.
Here we have, like that of the heavens, a circular motion of all sanctified good; it comes forth from God, through Christ, unto Christians; and moving in them to the mutual good of each other, returns through Christ unto God again, and takes them along with it, in whom it was and had its motion.
All persons and things shall pay this tribute, even they that most wickedly seek to withhold it; but this is the happiness of the saints, that they move willingly thus, are sweetly drawn, not forced or driven. They are gained to seek and desire this, to set in with God in the intention of the same end; to have the same purpose with him, his glory in all, and to prosecute his end by his direction, the means and ways he appoints them.
This is his due, as God; and the declining from this, squinting from this view to self-ends, especially in God's own peculiar work, is high treason; yet the base heart of man leads naturally this way, to intend himself in all, to raise his own esteem or advantage in some way:
And in this the heart is so subtle, that it will de-, ceive the most discerning, if they be not constart in suspecting and watching it. This is the great task to overcome in this point. To have self under our feet, and God only in our eye and purpose
c 2 Cor. xii, 10.
It is most reasonable, his due as God, the author of all, not only of all supervenient good, but even of being itself
, seeing all is from him, that all be for him“: For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen,
As it is most just, so it is also most sweet to aim all at this, that God be glorified: it is the alone worthy and happy design, that fills the heart with heavenliness, and with a heavenly calmness; sets it above the clouds and storms of those passions that disquiet low self-seeking minds. He is a miserable. unsettled wretch, that cleaves to himself and forgets God; is perplexed about his credit, and gain, and base ends, which are often broke; and which, when he attains, yet they and he must shortly perish together. When his estate, or designs, or any comforts fail, how can he look to him whom he looked so little at before ? May not the Lord say, Go to the gods whom thou hast served, and let them deliver and comfort thee? Seek comfort from thyself, as thou didst all for thyself. What an appalment will this be? But he that hath resigned himself
, and is all for God, may say confidently, that the Lord is his portion. This is the Christian's aim, to have nothing in himself, nor in any thing, but in this tenure; all for the glory of my God, my estate, family, abilities, my whole self, all I have and am. And as the love of God grows in the heart, this purpose grows; the higher the flame rises, the purer it is; the eye is daily more upon it; it is oftener in the mind in all actions than before. In common things, the very works of our callings, our very refreshments, to eat, and drink, and sleep, are all for this end; and with a particular aim at it as much as may be; even the thought of it often renewed throughout the day, and, at times, generally applied
d Rom. xi. ult.
to all our ways and employments. It is that elixir that turns thy ordinary works into gold, into sacrifices, by touch of it.
Through Jesus Christ.] The Christian in covenant with God, receives all this way, and returns all this way; and Christ possesses, and hath equal right with the Father to this glory, as he is equally the spring of it with him, as God.
But it is conveyed through him as Mediator, that obtains all the grace we receive; and all the glory we return, and all our praise, as our spiritual sacrifice, is put into his hand as our high-priest, to offer up for us, that they may be accepted.
Now the holy ardour of the apostle's affections, taken with the mention of this glory of God, carries him to a doxology, as we term it, a rendering of glory in the middle of his discourse. Thus often we find in St. Paul likewise. Poor and short-lived is the glory and grandeur of men; like themselves, it is a shadow, and nothing; but this is solid and lasting, it is supreme, and abideth for ever. And the apostles, full of divine affections, and admiring nothing but God, do delight in this, and cannot refrain from this at any time in their discourse; it is always sweet and seasonable, and they find it so. And thus are spiritual minds: a word of this nature falls on them as a spark on some matter that readily takes fire; they are straight inflamed with it. But alas! to us how inuch is it otherwise ! The mention of the praises and glory of our God, is to our hearts as a spark falling either into a puddle of water, and foul water too, or at least as upon green timber, that much fire will not kindle: so much moisture of our humours and corruptions, that all dies out with us, and we remain cold and dead.
But were not this a high and blessed condition, to be in all estates in some willing readiness to bear a part in this song, to acknowledge the greatness and goodness of our God, and to wish him glory in all ? What are the angels doing? This is their business without end. And seeing we hope to partake with
them, we should even here, though in a lower key, and not so tunably neither, yet as we may, begin it: and upon all occasions, our hearts should be often following in this sweet note, or offering at it, To him be glory and dominion for ever.
Ver. 12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery
trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing hap
pened unto you: 13. But rejoice, in as much as you are partakers of Christ's
sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may glad also with exceeding joy.
This fighting life ! surely when we consider it aright, we need not be dissuaded from loving it, but have rather need to be strengthened with patience to go through, and to fight on with courage and assurance of victory; still combating in a higher strength than our own, against sin within, and troubles without. This is the great scope of this epistle, and the apostle often interchanges his advices and comforts in reference to these two. Against sin he instructs us in the beginning of this chapter, and here again, against suffering, and both in a like way; and urges us to be armed, armed with the same mind that was in Christ. After the same manner, in the mortifying of sin, we suffer with him, as there he teaches, verse 1. of this chapter; and in the encountering of affliction we suffer with him, as here we have it; and so the same mind in the same sufferings, will bring us to the same issue. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, &c. But rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye likewise may be glad with erceeding joy.
The words to the end of the chapter contain grounds of encouragement and consolation for the children of God in sufferings, especially in suffering for God.
These two verses have these two things, (1.) The
close conjunction of sufferings with the estate of a Christian. 2. The due composure of a Christian towards suffering.
1. The connection of sufferings with the estate of a Christian; it is no new, and therefore no strange thing, that sufferings, hot sufferings, fiery ones, be the companions of religion; besides the common miseries of human life, there is an accession of troubles and hatreds for that holiness of life to which the children of God are called.
It was the lot of the Church from her wicked neighbours, and in the Church, the lot of the most holy and peculiar servants of God from the profane multitude. Wo is my mother (says Jeremiah), thou hast born me a man of contentions. And of all the Prophets, says not our Saviour, handling this same argument in his sermon, So persecuted they the Prophets that were before you? And after tells them what they might look for, Behold, says he, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. And, in general, there is no following of Christ, but with his badge and burden. Something is to be left, we ourselves are to be left; whosoever will be my disciple, let him deny himself; and somewhat to take; take up my cross and follow me “. And doth not the Apostle give his scholars this universal lesson, as an infallible truth, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution ? Look in the close of that roll of believers conquering in suffering, what a cluster of sufferings and torture you have'. Thus in the primitive times, the trial and fiery trial, even liteșally so, continued long; these wicked emperors hated the very innocency of Christians; and the people, though they knew their blameless carriage, yet, when any evil came, would pick this quarrel and still cry,
Christianos ad leones.
Now this, if we look to inferior causes, is not strange, the malignant ungodly world hating holia Jer. xv. 10. b Matth. v. 12.
c Matth. x. 16. d Matth. xvi. 24,
• Heb. xi. 36, 37, &c.