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to one another by love. 3. That all believers, which are members of this body, have every one his particular gift, his several function, his proper office, which they are duly to execute and perform, without encroaching upon others by proud curiosity, or busy meddling. But as all the members of the body labour jointly together for the preservation of the whole, so ought all the officers and members of the church to keep their distinct stations, and employ and improve regularly their several talent: for the mutual edification and benefit of each other, without encroachment or intruding upon the offices of each other. God is a God of order, and hates disorder in his church.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let vs prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let tis wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that cxhortcth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity ; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
As if our apostle had said," Seeing it has pleased God to appoint distinct officers in his church, and to furnish those officers with various degrees of gifts, and not to make all equal either in gifts or office, let every one in general faithfully execute his office, and keep within the limits of his calling, neither neglecting his own duly, nor invading another's; in particular let him that prophesieth, that is, expoundelh the scriptures in the church, do it according to the proportion of faith, or according to what is taught plainly and uniformly in the whole scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as the rule of our faith." We must not rack nor wrest the scriptures, to make them speak what we please, but what the prophets and apostles taught, whom we interpret; otherwise we do not expound according to the analogy and proportion of faith. "Let him that ministereth, teacheth, or exhorteth, attend upon that work with all diligence; and he that performs the office of a deacon, (who are called helps, 1 Cor. xii. 28.) ana is employed to relieve the poor out of the church's stock, and to take care of strangers, orphans, aged, sick, and impotent persons; let him
do it with simplicity, that is, without partiality and respect of persons; and with cheerfulness, that is, with alacrity of heart, with gentleness in words, with pleasantness of countenance, bearing with the infirmities of the aged, with the loathsomeness of the sick and diseased, and administering with delight to the necessities of all that want." Now from the whole note, 1. That God of his free bounty has beautified his church with divers officers and gifts. Note, 2. that those whom God has bestowed ministerial gifts upon, ought humbly and faithfully to improve them to the church's benefit and education.
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. lO Be kindly afFectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
The foregoing exhortations respected church officers in particular; these that now follow concern all christians in general, and acquaint them with their duties in common conversation. He begins with the grace and duty of love, that being a radical grace, the root from which all other graces and duties spring and flow. This love to one another, the Holy Ghost requires that it be 'without dissimulation, that is, sincere and unfeigned, not in word and in tongue only, but in deed and in truth ; also that it be an affectionate and tender, as well as an unfeigned and sincere love: Be kindly qffectioned one to another. The word signifies such an affectionate tenderness as a mother bears to the fruit of her womb, and as creatures bear to their young; and no wonder that such a fervent love is required, when laying down our lives for the brethren is commanded, 1 John iii. 16. Likewise, that our love to others do incline us to give preference unto others ; really conceiving others to be more worthy of honour than ourselves, and rejoicing to see them placed in a more useful and honourable post than ourselves. Yet observe, Though our love must be hot towards our neighbour, it must not hinder us from abhorring that which is sinful and evil in our neighbour: Love without dissimulation, and abhor that which is evil. When we love the persons, we must hate the vices, of men: the love of our friends must not make us in love with their faults: nor must the hatred of men's vices draw us off from delighting in, and cleaving to, that which is good in any man: Abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that shich is good.
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord:
The next duty exhorted to, is diligence and industry in all our duties both to God and man, but particularly in the duties of our calling. We must avoid the two extremes of slothful ness on the one hand, and excessive drudgery on the other, in the management of our secular affairs and worldly business. But in the service of God we must be fervent, as in the service of the world we must not be slothful. What is dooe for the world, is best done with indifferency; but what is done for God, is best done with warmth and fervency, or not done at all. Our most ardent affections and active powers must be employed in his service; for, to be cold and careless therein, disparages his excellency, and will defeat our own expectation. We must be fervent m spirit, serving the Lord; and may not be slothful in business, serving the world.
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer:
The apostle next directs the converted Romans how they should manage themselves under afflictions; namely, to endure them patiently, to rejoice in hope of present deliverance, or future happiness; and, in order to both, to be much in the duty of prayer. Learn hence, that hope, patience, and prayer, are powerful supports under all afflictions, and will render them not only tolerable, but joyous. By patience, we possess ourselves; by hope, we possess God; by prayer, we are enabled unto both.
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
The next duty exhorted to, is that of charity and alms-giving to the poor members of Jesus Christ, especially when under persecution; showing hospitality towards them, and giving entertainment to them, when they seek it of us. Learn, 1. That charity to all persons, but especially to the persecuted members of Jesus Christ, is a necessary and important duty. Learn, 2. That hospitality is an eminent part of christian charity; true hospitality, I mean, which is accompanied with prudence and sobriety. There is a wide difference be
tween riotous house-keeping and true hospitality; the latter is always designed for the help of the poor, and particularly for the godly poor. There are great housekeepers who are not good house-keepers, because their house-keeping is for the great, rather than the good, not for the household of faith, especially not for the poor of that household. As to spirituals, God fills the hungry with good things, but sends the rich empty away; whereas, most men, as to corporals, fill the rich with their good things, with the fat and the sweet; but send the poor, if not empty away, yet relieved only with the sweepings of their table. This is not according to the precept before us; Distributing to the necessities of the saints, and given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
The apostle having taVight us our duty to our friends in the former verse, teacheth us our duty here towards our enemies. Bless them that persecute you: that is, pray for them, and wish well to them, whatever provocation you may have to the contrary. Learn hence, I, That good men must make account of, and prepare for, persecution; cither the persecution of the tongue, or of the hand, or of both. Learn, 2. That it is their duty ever to bless, never to curse, their persecutors and opposers; Bless, but curse not. Where note, that the apostle doubles the exhortation, Bless your persecutors, bless and curse not This doubling the exhortation, shows both the difficulty of the duty, how contrary it isto corrupt nature; and also the constancy of the duty, we must ever bless, and never curse: always wish well, never any ill, to the worst of men. Take we great heed of giving way to secret wishes of hurt to our enemy. God forbid we should hurt ourselves by sinful passion, because others hurt us by slander and false accusation. We are naturally prone to speak ill of others, and to wish ill to others, with delight; this sin persisted in shuts out of heaven, as well as murder.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
The next duty required, is christian sympathy and mutual affection between brethren, both in prosperity and adversity, to rejoice in the one, and to mourn toge
ther in the oilier, as being members of the same body. Teaching us, that it is a christian's duty to rejoice in those good things, whether inward or outward, which befall his brethren; and also to mourn and lay to heart all those afflictions and sorrows, whether inward or outward, which come upon them. But, Lord! how far are they from this duty, who, instead of mourning for the sufferings of others, are glad at calamity, rejoice at the downfall of others! O, help us to lay the troubles of others to heart, when we ourselves are freest and farthest from trouble: let us weep -with them that weep, and rejoice with, Sec. The gospel acquamts us with the pity of God towards us, and presseth us to pity one another.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. .
These words, be ye of the tame mind one towards another, are an exhortation to unity among christians. This is threefold; an unity of the head, or an unity of judgment and opinion; an unity of the heart, or an unity in love and affection; and an unity of the tongue, which is an unity of expression. Happy we! when in all these respects -we are of the same mind one towards another. Observe next, The hindcrances of mutual concord and unitv among christians: and they are two, 1. Pride, Mind not high things. 2. Arrogancy, Be not wise in your own conceits. Mind not high things; that is, mind not preferment, nor riches, nor vain-glory, but be content with and thankful for a middle state and condition in the world; which is far more eligible and desirable than a state of riches, plenty, and abundance, as being less liable to temptations. And be not wise in your own conceits; that is, entertain humble thoughts of your own knowledge, think it not greater than it is; take heed of an over-weening opinion of your own wisdom, as if you wanted neither divine assistance and guidance, nor yet the advice and counsel of your brethren. Man is naturally a proud creature; but more proud of the endowments of his mind, than of those that adorn his body.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
By evil here, we are to understand wrongs and private injuries; by not recompensing them, is meant not revenging them. Corrupt nature is very prone to return wrong for wrong, one ill turn for another; but christianity sets a nobler pattern before us, even the example of him, " who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatened not," 1 Pet. ii. 23. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Having exhorted them before to be careful of their conversations towards God, he now presses them to be watchful over their conversations before the world, that by honesty and innocency of life they may cut off all occasion from the enemies of religion to speak evil of them, and their holy profession; that all their words and actions be justifiable and unexceptionable, to that degree that the heathens may be in love with christianity, by observing their lives and actions to be holy and honest. Learn hence, That a christian must carefully look, not only to his conscience, but to his conversation; that his conscience be holy and upright in thesight of God, and his conversation honest and unblamable before men. The world cannot discern our hearts, but they can soon discover the errors of our lives, and will throw the dirt of our sins upon religion's face; therefore we had need provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Observe here, 1. The duty directed and exhorted to, namely, pcaccableness; Live peaceably, that is, be of a peaceable temper, and follow those things which make for peace. Observe, 2. The extent and latitude of this duty: With all men live peaceably ; not with friends only, or with those of your own judgment and persuasion, but with men of disagreeing humours and interests, with men of different principles and apprehensions, from you. Again observe, 3. A double restriction and limitation with which it is bounded: first, If it be possible, implying, that there is a sort of men in the world who make peace impossible; but for others, if it may be enjoyed upon honest terms, though upon hard terms, we must not stick at them, always remembering that peace and truth are two precious things, which can never be bought too dear, if they be not purchased with sin and baseness. The second res
trjtfion follows, As much as in you licth: now this respects our endeavours, not our success. If we follow peace with all men, though we cannot overtake it, yet we shall not miss of our reward in pursuing it. Peace is the most important duty, a singular benefit and blessing, which every christian is bound to pursue and promote, and that with all men: If it be possible, See.
18 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves; but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Observe here, How the apostle renews his exhortation to all christians to watch against the sin of private and personal revenge; he urged it before, ver. 17. he reinforces it here, ver. 19. thereby showing bow prone our corrupt natures are to commit this sin, and how hard the contrary duty is to flesh and blood. The heathens reckoned revenge to be a part of justice, and ranked it amongst the number of their virtues; but the scriptures require, that instead of revenging an injury, we remit and forgive it. Dearly betoveii, avenge not yourselves: it follows, rather give place unto -wrath. What wrath? or whose wrath? Ans. Give place to your own wrath, say some interpreters; give way a httle, and turn aside from the person you are angry with, and do not suffer your anger to hurry you away to revenge. Give place lo the wrath of those that wrong you, say others; decline their wrath, and give not word for word, which will but add fuel to the fire, and oil to the flame. But it seems best to understand it of God's wrath: leave the matter to God, he will right your cause; do not take God's work out of his hand, but suffer him to come in with his wrath upon your enemies, who wrong and injure you; rather give place to the wrath of God against them, for vengeance is his, and he will repay it. Learn hence, That such, who having suffered wrong, do seek to revenge themselves, lake revenging work out of God's hand; whereas, if they leave the matter with God, his justice will right them fully.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give htm drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
As if the apostle had said, " Instead of revenge, render kindness; return courtesies for injuries, affability for affronts: If thy enemy hunger, feed him." The words, as some critics observe, signify to feed cheerfully and tenderly, as birds feed their young ones. So doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. By coals of fire, 1. Some understand, an heart-melting fire: as if the apostle had raid, " By thy kindness thou wilt melt and mollify his spirit towards thee, as hardest metals are melted by coals of fire: it must be a very stony heart indeed that this fire will not melt, a very disingenuous nature that meekness will not mollify. Clemency will melt an enemy, and even force him by a sweet compulsion to become a friend, though of a roughandruggeddisposition." 2. Bycoals of fire heaped upon the head, others understand a sin-punishing fire. Thou shalt heap coals of fire, that is, the fire of divine vengeance, upon his head, by making his malice and hatred against thee more inexcusable. Learn hence, 1. That to conquer and overcome an enemy by love and kindness, is a noble conquest; and a glorious victory, to melt him down by obliging favours into a good affection. Learn, 2. That if an enemy, alter such kind olfices, will persevere in his enmity against us, the event will certainly be this: by our patience towards him, and forbearance of him, we shall engage the wrath of God against him, and heap coals of fire, that is, the divine vengeance, upon him.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Learn hence, That every christian should not only lake heed that he be not overcome of evil; but also labour and endeavour what in him lielh lo overcome evil ■with good. Quest. What arc we to understand here by evil? Ans. Any unkind or injurious dealings from others, any mischief or ill turn which our neighbour has done us. Sucst. What is it lobe overcome of evil? Ans. 1. When we dwell in our thoughts too much, too often, and too long, upon the injuries and unkindnesses we have met with. This is, as if a man that was to take down a bitter pill should be continually champing of it, and rolling it under his tongue. 2. We are overcome of evil, when we are brought over to commit the same evil, by studying to make spiteful returns by way of revenge for the injuries we have received. Suest. Wherein
consist* the duty and excellency of overcoming evil with good? Ans. It renders us like to God, who does good to us daily, though we do evil against him continually, hereby we imitate God in one of the choicest perfections of his divine nature; hereby we overcome ourselves; hereby we overcome our enemies; and make thum become our friends. Quest. How should we overcome evil with good? Ans. By doing good for evil, by returning courtesies for injuries, speaking well of others, although they speak hardly, yea, very ill, of us.
The apostlu having treated of moral duties in the former chapter, treats of political duties in this, proving that magistracy is God's ordinance, for the good of human society, and enforcing the duty of subjection unto magistrates, in obedience to the commandment of God.
T ET every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Observe here, I. The title given to magistrates, they are powers, higher powers, that is, persons invested with power, and placed in supreme authority over us. All mankind is not of one rank, doth not stand upon an equal level. Magistracy is an eminency or superiority of some persons above others. Observe, 2. The original fountain from whence all power is derived, and that is, God himself: There is no power but of God, that is, all power is derived from God, and is to be used for God; the magistrate acts by his authority, and consequently is to act for his interest, honour, and glory. It is agreeable to the will of God, that there should be such a thing as magistracy and government in the world; and it is his appointment that men should be governed by men deriving the power and authority from him: The powers that be are ordained of God. Observe, 3. The apostle's strict injunction for subjection unto magistracy, as a divine ordinance: Let every soul be subject, that is, every person, be he of what rank, or in what station he will, high or low, honourable or ignoble, rich or poor, clergy or laity, he must be subject to God's ordinance. Where note, That Christ is a friend to Caesar, and christianity no enemy to loyalty: the best christians are always the best subjects; none so true to their prince, as they that are most faithful to their God. Obedience to magistrates is both the duty of christians, ana the interest of Christianity.
2 Whosoever therefore resistetU the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
The foremenlioned duty of subjection unto magistracy, insisted upon in the foregoing verse, the apostle urges and enforces upon all christians, by sundry arguments in this and the foregoing verses; as, namely,
1. From the sinfulness of resistance: They resist the ordinance of God; they make war upon God himself; he that rebelleth against his prince, is a rebel also to his God.
2. From the danger of resistance: They shall receive to themselves damnation. That is, 1. Temporal judgment from the hand of the magistrate, to whom the sword is committed, as Korah, Absalom, and others, did experience. 2. Eternal punishment from the hand of God, who will plead the cause, and vindicate the honour of his vicegerents and representatives here on earth, and cast those into hell who pour contempt upon them, if sincere repentance by a timely interposure prevent it not.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Here we have a further argument for subjection to rulers and governors, drawn from the end of the magistrate's office, which is to punish vice, and to promote virtue: Rulers are not a terror to good works ,- that is, they ought not, and they ordinarily are not: they were not ordained for that end, and it is not their place so to be, namely, a terror to the good, but to the bad only; for God giveth no authority against himself, or his own righteous laws, which require the punishing of the bad, and the rewarding of the good. Learn hence,
1. That magistrates, by virtue of their place, ought to be a terror, or exceeding terrible, to evil works, and evil workers. Learn,
2. That magistrates are not terrible, but amiable, to good men; they fear rulers, but it is with a fear of reverence, not with a tormenting, servile fear: Do that which is good, and thou shall not be afraid of tke vower.
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for