« FöregåendeFortsätt »
them: As every man has received the gift. Learn, 2. That gifts are given for the benefit of others, we are to minister one to another, that is, to improve our gifts to the mutual edification of each other. Leam, 3. That such as look upon themselves as stewards of the manifold gifts of God, will wisely improve them for his glory, and the good of others, the great ends for which he has conferred them.
II If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ: to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
If any man speak, that is, 1. As a public minister, or teacher, let him speak as he is instructed from the oracles of God. Or, 2. If he speaks as a private christian, let his discourses be grave and serious, for mutual edification, especially when he speaks of divine things: speech is a noble and advantageous benefit to man, by which he excels the whole creation; our tongue is our glory, the instrument of our Creator's praise; and there is no subject so sublime and honourable for the tongue of man to be employed about, as the word and oracles of God; but then we must never mention them but with reverence. Woe be to those men that bring forth scripture in their discourse, as the Philistines brought forth Samson, only to make them sport, rendering it the theme of their giddy mirth and profane drollery ; but these men ere long will find Almighty God in earnest, though they be in jest; such men forget this injunction of the apostle's, If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.
—If any man minister,—
To supply the necessities of others, either as a deacon, whose office it then was to take care of the poor, or as a private christian, by charitable contribution, let him perform that duty readily and cheerfully, according to the ability God hath given him. Where observe,That he that with his wealth ministereth to the necessities of others, if he doth it not according to the ability which God has given him, his charity is not acceptable in God's account; not acceptable to God, because not proportiooable to what he has received from
God: the reason of this injunction is added in the next words, That Gad in all things may he glorified through Jesus Christ:— in whose strength these gifts are rightly employed, and by whose merits and intercession our intention to glorify God by them is accepted.—To 'whom, that is, to which Jesus, as to God blessed for evermore, be all honour and dominion everlastingly ascribed. Amen.
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding
Observe here, 1. The metaphor which the apostle uses to set forth the christian's afflictions and persecutions by; he calls them fiery tritils: burnings, because very painful and afflictive, very grievous and burdensome to sense, and also because men are tried by them as metals are by fire. Observe, 2. The warning given by the apostle to all christians, not to think it strange concerning these fiery trials; that is, not to look upon them as unusual things, but to expect them, and prepare for them; for unexpected trials fall upon the soul in their full weight, and suddenly overthrow it: what we fvar, for that we prepare; but when trials come, and we never looked and prepared for them, they strike us to the heart, Imcause not armed to receive the blow. Observe, 3, The gracious end that God has in the afflictions and persecutions which fall upon his people: they are to try them, not to consume them; to try their graces, and destroy their corruptions, to give them opportunity to make proof of the truth of their faith, sincerity, and constancy. Observe, 4. The high honour which God puts upon his suffering saints and servants: they are said to be partakers of Christ's sufferings, because they suffer for him, and he suffers with them, and in them, and also because he suffered the same things before them, and much worse things for them. Observe lastly, The duty which God expects and requires from them who suffer these fiery persecutions for the sake of his Son; and that is, to rejoice and be exceeding glad. From the whole learn, 1. That no afflictions or persecutions should seem
new or strange things to sincere christians. 2. That the end and use of all afflictions, is the trial and improvement of the christian's graces. 3. That believers in suffering afflictions and persecutions, are partakers of Christ's sufferings; lie sutlers in them, and they are made conformable to him by them. 4. That it is the will of God, that such as suffer for him should not only be meek and patient, but be joyous and cheerful. 5. That at the great day when Christ's glory shall be revealed, then especially will the suffering saints rejoice and he glad uith exceeding joy, when they shall sec their dear Redeemer coming in the clouds, with an human body, shining brighter than ten thousand suns; a body which still retams the marks of his sufferings, and the tokens of his love. O joyful day of Christ's appearing, when this royal bridegroom shall take his suffering spouse the church by the hand, and present her to his Father, own his in the presence of men and angels, bestow a kmgdom upon them, that they may be with him where be is, eternally to behold his glory, to feed upon an happiness as large as their capacities, and as lasting as their beings ; such honour have all his suffering saints, and therefore ought greatly to rejoice, inasmuch as they are made partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, they may be glad also with exceeding joy,
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
Another argument is here offered by our apostle for glorying in sufferings and reproaches for Christ, taken from the happiness of those that are so reproached, Ifyc be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye. Note here, That the reproaches which the saints suffer for the sake of Christ, are reckoned persecutions, and yet at the same time are esteemed a part, as well as a prognostic, of their happiness: Happy arc ye, if ye be reproached for the name of Christ. Observe, 2. The reason assigned why christians, under reproach for the sake of Christ, are to be esteemed thus happy, namely, because the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon them ; that is, the glorious Spirit of God,
which is both the mean and evidence of your happiness, who is glorious in himself, and also a glory to you, upon whom be rf«ts, and in whom tie dwells. Two things arc implied by the Spirit resting upon a reproached christian: 1. Complacency, that he is well pleased where be is; men do not rest wheie they do not like. 2. Permanency', He abides where he rests, and dwells there with delight . Some take the expression to be an allusion to Noah's dove, that hovered about, but could not rest till returned to the ark. Thus the Spirit of God, called here a Spirit of glory, from its effects and fruits, namely, from its cheering, sealing, and reviving influences, which make christians glory in tribulations; this Spirit fins from place to place, and from person to person, hither and thither, but rests upon and takes up his residence and abode with such christians as sutler for the name of Christ: If ye be reproached, Src. happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: it follows,—On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified: that is, by their reproaches cast upon you, they blaspheme the Holy Spirit, as the word signifies; but he is eminently glontied by your patience and constancy of mind under all your pressures; which shows the power of the Spirit resting upon you, and mightily working in you. Learn hence, That in those reproaches which good men suffer for the sake of Christ, tlie Spirit of God in a special manner is blasphemed on the one side, and glorified on the other. O sinner! know, that all the reproaches thou castest upon religion and religious persons, as such, reach the Holy Spirit that rests upon them, and resides in them as his temples: but, O christian, remember thou, that, by thy patience and constancy under sufferings, thou glonfiest the Holy Spirit eminently, abundantly showing that by ha help afflictions are not only tolerable but joyous.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or at an evil-doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
Observe here, I. What it is that the apostle calls upon them to avoid and shun ; it is sin, not suffering :- evil doing in general,
murder and theft in particular, sins that were then very much practised among the Jews: Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer; by suffering as evil-doers we lose the comfort and reward of all our sufferings. Observe, 2. What sufferings he bids them not be ashamed of, but glory in, namely, when they suffer as christians, and purely as such. Sutst. But what is it to suffer as a christian } Am-w. 1. When we suffer for a good cause. 2. From a christian principle. 3. In a christian manner, with meekness, patience, and self-denial. Quest. 2. What is it to glorify God on behalf of our sufferings } Answ. Afflictions and sufferings, considered barely in themselves, are far from being glorious; but consider them in their cause, as sufferings for righteousness' sake, and so they are glorious; and God honours us greatly, when he calls us forth to suffer, and furnishes us with courage and resolution for sufferings, and it is our duty to give glory to him who enables us thus to do: If any man suffer as a christian, let him not be ashamed, but glorify God in this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end fie of them that obey not the gospel of God?
Observe here, 1. The apostle does not say, if judgment begin at the temple of idols, but, if it begin at the house of God: God will not spare his house, nor his own household: he will not spare his children or servants when they sin; he is no cockering father, to indulge his children to their ruin. Nay, observe, 2. Judgment first begins at the house of God, God will not bear so long with his own people sinning as with strangers; they shall be corrected sooner and sorer than others; the Lord will first punish them who have been forgetful of him, and trifled with him, who have been formal in their profession, and-vain in their conversation. Observe, 3. That when we see with sorrow God contending with his own people for their sins, we may with astonishment expect what will be the end of them that obey not the gospel; when God brings such troubles upon his own house, what troubles may they expect from God, who are but a den of thieves, and a cage of unclean birds? O what appearances shall they have of God! and how shall they appear before God! Ob
serve then, What little cause wicked men have to rejoice at the church's sufferings, when it presages a far more heavy judgment coming upon themselves: for if judgment begin at the house of God, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
As if he had said, " When [the day of visitation comes, which is verily at hand, and God shall begin to punish the Jews, his own people, called his house in the foregoing verse; if then the righteous among them escape the common calamity with great difficulty, and are scarcely preserved, how shall the ungodly and sinners think to escape unpunished in the day of Jerusalem's calamity, that day of vengeance, when Christ shall come to plead with them? If then the righteous be scarcely saved, that is, with great difficulty preserved from that desolating calamity, that fiery trial spoken of, verse 12. where shall the ungodly and sinner appear ? And how shall they hope to escape in safety from that dreadful judgment now ready to come on the Jewish nation?" There have been those that have made use of this text to show the difficulty of eternal salvation; and that the best and holiest of saints, even those that are most eminent in grace, are very difficultly saved; which, though a truth in itself, yet is scarcely deducible from this text, which
certainly speaks of temporal preservation.
19 Wherefore, let them that suffer aecording to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Observe here, 1. A cautionary direction given, that in all our sufferings we take care that we suffer according to the will of God: that is, for what is according to God's will, either to be believed or practised by us, for asserting and maintaining the purity of the christian doctrine and worship; and when our patience under such sufferings is as extensive and intensive as God requires, when our patience is as large and as lasting as our troubles, then may we be said to suffer according to the will of God. Observe, 2. The special privilege allowed to such sufferers as suffer
according to I he will of God: they may commit the keeping of their souls to God in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. Learn hence, 1. That when men suffer really and truly for well-doing, they may with confidence and great assurance commit their lives, and all that is dear unto them, to the special care of the divine providence; either God will keep us from, or support us under, trials, when we thus commit ourselves to him.
St. Peter elopes his epistle with »n exhortation to the ,.piriiu.d guides and governors of the church, lo discharge their duties faithfully, In feeding and ruling of the flock of God committed to them; aud this exhortation is enforced with several weighty argumeuta in the four first verses of this chapter.
"TiIIE elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
Observe here, 1. The persons exhorted, The elders that are amongst you, the guides and governors of the church: ciders by ago and office, who were both to rule well, and also to labour in the word and doctrine; and for doiog both faithfully, were to be accounted worthy of double honour. Observe, 2. The person exhorting, I exhort, who am also an elder. Maik, he says not, " I who am the universal Head of tlie church, Christ's vicar upon earth; but I, who am an elder by age, and by apostleship, who have been long the minister of the circumcision, I exhort, beseech, and entreat you, as my brethren, fellow-labourers in our Lord's vineyard." Observe, 3. The humble testimony which St. Peter gives of himself: he doth not say, '' I command, who am the chief gf the apostles, with whose confession of faith Christ was so well pleased, that he said, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church;" but, " I exhort, who am a witness of the sufferings of Christ, an eye- witnessof what our dear Lord ami Master suffered in the faithful discharge of his office, both in his life and at his death; and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; I was also an eyewitness of Christ's glory in his transfiguration here on earl h, and hope to be partaker of that gtory which shall hereafter be revealed iii heaven." Learn hence, That such ex
hortations to duty are likely to be most effectual and successful, which are propounded in the humblest manner. St. Peter was placed in an high degree above these elders, being an apostle, a chief apostle; yet he gives himself no such title, but says, The elders I exhort, who am also an elder; not an apostle, much less the head and chief of the apostles.
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly ; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Observe here, 1. The title given to the church, it is the flock of God; denominations are given in scripture to persons and things, proper to the state of things and persons: thus here the church is called aflock, and sometimes a litlle flock, in opposition to the herds and huge droves of the men of the world; yet the flock consists not of a few absolutely, but comparatively only ; a flock contains a multitude. Again, as the church is called a flock for their number, so for their order; a flock is under inspection and government continually, Christ Jesus is the great overseer of this flock; and farther, it is a flock in respect of the unity and love that is amongst them; though the church be scattered over the world, yet there is an holy combination and sweet communion of the members amongst themselves. Observe, 2. The duty exhorted to, and that is double, to feed the flock, and to be an example unto the flock. 1. Feed the flock, taking the oversight of it; feed it with wholesome doctrine, guide and govern it by strict discipline, overlooking it contmually, and watch over it with unwearied diligence; and that you may do so, be perpetually resident, feed the flock that is among you. How can the flock be duly watched over, when the shepherd lives several miles from the fold, and is following his pleasure when he should be feeding his sheep i Feed the flock among you. Observe, 3. The manner directed to, how, and after which, the shepherds should feed and watch over the flocks. 1. Not by constraint, but willingly: that is, not as a burthen, but a pleasure, with a free and ready mind; what men do out of compulsion from base fear, they do with no satisfaction either to God or man. 2. Not for filthy lucre: to feed the flock purely for the sake of the fleece, and to take a living only to get a living, is an horrid impiety; to be driven into the ministerial office by necessity is bad, but to be drawn by covetousness is much worse. 3. Not as being lords over God's heritage. Where note, The title given to the church, they are God's heritage, his people, not our own, his lot and portion, he having a special and peculiar right unto them, and property in them; therefore they are not to be lorded over, not to be treated with insolence and imperiousness, ruling them by the sword, and outward force, which has made many hypocrites, but not one convert. Lastly, He requires that they be ensainples to the flock ; that is, in their daily conversation. Jfow how can they be examples to them, if they live not amongst them? They must be examples of such meekness and humility, of such patience and charity, of such mortification and self-denial, as become persons of their holy character and profession; and be patterns of those virtues amongst their people in conversation which they recommend to them from the pulpit. This duty of ministerial exemplariness in conversation is bound upon us by innumerable arguments taken from the command of Christ, from the glory of God, from the preciousness of the soul, from the dignity of our office, from the success of our ministry, which depends more upon our practice than upon our preaching; from our own interest, with respect to our present comfort and future happiness; from the influence it has upon oar people, an encouraging and confirming influence.
4 And, when the chief Shepherd •hall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
As if our apostle had said, " If is possible you may miss of your reward here from the hands of men; but when Christ, the great and good Shepherd, shall appear, when the owner, ruler, and lover of his church, shall come to judgment, you shall bare from him your full reward, a neverfading, ever-flourishing, crown of glory, for faithfully discharging your duty to God and his people." Learn hence, 1. That Jesus Christ, the chief Shepherd, will at length appear. 2. That when he doth appear,
he will call the under shepherds to account, how they have discharged every part of their ministerial office, as well private inspection, as public preaching. 3. That to all such, and to only such, as have been faithful to the interest of Christ and souls, shall the reward be assigned, even a crown of glory that fadeth not away: When the chirf Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory, Sec.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you be subject one to another,—
Having laid down the duties of pastors in the former verse, he points out the duties of the people in this, whom he calls the younger, either because they were generally younger in years than their spiritual guides, or because they ought to show that reverence and obedience to them which is suitable in young ones towards their elders; these young ones he exhorts to submit themselves to the guidance of their elders and teachers: Like-wise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder: instruction and jurisdiction belonged to the elders, subjection and obedience to the younger. Note here, That the duties of pastor and people arc mutual and reciprocal; not that their duties are alike, but because there is a like reason for the performance of their respective duties, a like engagement and obligation upon both: the duty of the one is subjection; of the other ministerial direction. He adds, —yea, all of you be subject one to another; intimating thereby that there is a duty of mutual subjection, which all christians owe one to another in love: they ought to condescend to the meanest offices one towards another; to bear with the infirmities of each other.
—And be clothed with humility: For God rcsisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
The original word, rendered clothed, signifies, first, an upper garment, a frock or cloak, put over all the rest of our clothes; and so imports, that we should be wrapped up all over with this grace, that this should be most visible in our conversations , words, and actions, and conspicuous beyond all other virtues. Secondly, It signifies a belt which girds about our garments, and so imports, that we should tie it fast unto us, and have those considerations always fixed