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if we fully answer the sad character which, in professing Christians, wherever it is seen, and much more wherever it is experienced, is so justly deplorable! May divine grace ever preserve those on whom the name of Christ is named, those by whom it is known, from making their belly their god (how infamous a deity!) and from that wretched degeneracy of taste, and perverseness of mind, which would lead them to glory in their shame! Surely the cross of Christ was intended to teach us lessons so contrary to this, that there can be no greater enmity to it than to indulge such a temper, especially while we profess to plead for that cross, and to glory in it. May we not only abhor such a temper, but bewail it! Yea may rivers of tears run down our eyes when we see God's law violated and his gospel profaned.
Blessed be God, for other and better examples in the apostolic age, and that some are likewise to be traced in our own, corrupt as it is; though they are in number less frequent, and in lustre less radiant than of old! Let us however mark those that walk as we have Paul for an example. How different soever our apprehensions in some things may be, may we all unite in a care of practical religion, and whereunto we have already attained, walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing, And (), that our rule may be more and more attended to in every step of our way! and that if in any instance we mistake it, or if we fail in those notions we ought to have of any principle of Christianity which are to add a sanction to it, God may reveal even this unto us, and teach us to act in a more suitable manner! In every sense, what we see not, may he teach us, and wherein we have done iniquity, may we do no more, but stand fast in the Lord, and press forward with greater ardor towards every religious improvement, towards every thing which may increase the beauty of our character, and reflect a brighter honour upon our profession.
Exhortations to a pacific and cheerful temper ; to moderation, prayer, and
a behaviour universally amiable. Ch. iv. 249.
2 T BESEECH Euodia, and [I also] beseech Syntyche, whatever
I difference may have arisen between them, that they would attend 3 to the same thing in the Lord. And I also beseech thee, true yoke-fellow*, that thou wouldest assist those women, who labouredt with me in the gospel, with Clemens also, and my other fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice always in the Lord : again I say Rejoice. Let your 6 moderation be known to all men • The Lord is at hand. Be anx
ious about nothing, but in every thing let your petitions be made
known before God, in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. 7 And the peace of God, which far surpasseth all understanding,
* “ My genuine associate.” D. Probably an officer of considerable finfluence] in the church: perhaps husband to one of those pious women. D.-So M. who retains the C. T. and reads the last clause, “help these women."
+ « Combated together.” M. "Striven.” W.
shall guard and defend your hearts and your minds' through r
Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are
venerable, whatever things are equitable, whatever things are pure, whatever things are friendly, whatever things are reputable,
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, frequently think 9 of these things. And whatever things ye have learned and re
ceived, and heard and seen in me, these things practise ; and the God of peace shall be with you.
REFLECTIONS. How condescending is this great apostle in the kind notice he takes, not only of his fellow-labourers in the work of the Christian ministry, but even of the women, who, according to the opportunity which God gave them, lent their assistance for the service of the gospel, whatever their assistance were; whether by their prayers, or their familiar addresses to their friends, or their kind offices to the bodies of those in distress, or that uniform example by which the several virtues of Christianity were recommended, and the Christian profession adorned! Let none then object the privacy of their stations, as if that must necessarily cut them off from usefulness, but let them endeavour diligently and humbly to do their utmost, and pray for increasing wisdom and grace, to guide them in their deliberations and resolves.-It will be very subservient to this happy design, that Christians, in whatever stations they are, should be of one mind in the Lord ; that they should endeavour to lay aside mutual prejudices, and unite in love, if they cannot perfectly agree in all their sentiments. Then may they rejoice in the Lord : and it is to be urged upon them again and again, that they do so. It is to be urged, not only as a privilege, but a duty. And surely, if we consider what a Saviour he is, and how perfectly accommodated to what our necessities require, and what our hearts could wish, we shall easily enter into the reasonableness of the exhortation.
Let us often represent it to ourselves as a truth equally important and certain, that the Lord is at hand. By his spiritual presence he is ever near us, and the day of his final and visible appearance is continually approaching. Let our hearts be duly influenced by it, and particularly be taught that holy moderation which becomes those who sce the season so nearly advancing, when all these things shall be dissolved. And let this abate our anxiety about them. Why should we be solicitous about things which shall so soon be as if they had never been ? Let us seek the repose of our minds in prayer. In every thing, by humble supplication let us make known our requests unto God. And let us mingle thankful acknowledgments for past favours with our addresses to the throne of grace for what we further need. This will establish the serenity of our souls, so that the peace of God, more sweet and delightful than any who have not experienced it can conceive, will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and make our state secure as well as pleasant.
Let us study the beautiful and the venerable, as well as what is true and just in actions, and pursue every thing which shall, as such, approve itself to our consciences, every thing in which there shall be virtue and praise. Let us always in this view endeavour to keep the moral sense uncorrupted, and pray that God would, if I may be allowed the expression, preserve the delicacy of our mind in this respect, that a holy sensibility of soul may warn and alarm us, to guard against every distant appearance of evil. That so, cautious of venturing to the utmost boundaries of what may be innocent, we may be more secure than we could otherwise be from the danger of passing over to the confines of guilt, and of wandering from one degree of it to another. And, wbile we exhort others to such a care, let us ourselves endeavour to be like this holy apostle, among the brighter examples of it.
The apostle, with acknowledgments for their liberal supply, speaks of the in
dependency of temper to which divine grace had brought him. Ch. iv, 10, &c.
10 DUT I have rejoiced greatly in the Lord, that your care of me
D hath now again flourished; with respect to which you were il indeed careful before, but ye wanted opportunity. Not that I
speak with respect to want : for I have learned in whatever cir12 cumstances I am, to be contented. I know how to be abased, and
I know how to abound : in every place, and in all conditions I am
instructed both to be fed plentifully, and to suffer hunger; both to 13 abound, and to fall short. I am sufficient for all things through 14 Christ, who enableth me. Nevertheless ye did well in commu15 nicating to relieve me in my affiction. For ye, O Philippians,
well know, that in the beginning of my preaching the gospel among you, as I was departing from Macedonia, no church com
municated with me in the affair of giving and receiving, but you 16 only. For even when I was at Thessalonica you sent once and 17 again to my necessity. I mention this not because I desire a fu
iure gift, but I desire that fruit may abound to your account. 18 For I have all, and abound. I am full, having received by Epaph
roditus your present, which I esteem as a fragrant odour, an ac
ceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And you will be no losers 19 by it, but my God will supply all your wants, according to his 20 riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.- Now to our God and Father be 21 glory for ever and ever. Amen.-Salute every saint in Christ 22 Jesus. The brethren who are with me salute you. All the saints
here at Rome salute you, but especially they of Cæsar's house23 hold. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
REFLECTIONS. What a noble spirit of generosity and gratitude appears in the apostle! How handsomely does he acknowledge the favour of his
friends ; still maintaining the dignity of his character, rejoicing in the tokens of their affection to him, chiefly as fruits abounding to their account, and as it would be a sweet savour acceptable to God. And surely the incense which they were presenting at the divine altar, would also by its fragrancy defight them ; surely they enjoyed what they had of their own, whether it were more or less, with greater satisfaction, when they were imparting something with filial gratitude to their Father in Christ, to make his bonds and imprisonment the less grievous.
The apostle freely professes, that he received these tokens of their affection with pleasure ; but much happier was he in that noble superiority of mind to external circumstances which he so amiably describes. Truly rich, and truly great, in knowing how to be content in every circumstance ; possessed of the noblest kind of learning, in having learned how to be exalted, and to be abased, to abound or to suffer need. This all-sufficiency, of which he boasts, is it haughty arrogance ? far from it : he is never humbler than when he speaks of himself in this exalted language. It is in the strength of another that he glories. I am sufficient for all things, through Christ which strengthens me. And here the feeblest Christian may join issue with him, and say, “ If Christ will strengthen me, I also am sufficient for all.”-His grace therefore let us constantly seek, and endeavour to maintain a continual dependence upon it, praying for ourselves, and for each other, that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ may be with us. This grace produced and maintained saints where, of all places upon carth, we should least have expected to find them, even the palace of Cesar, of Nero. Let it encourage us to look to God to supply our spiritual necessities out of the riches of his glory in Christ. And, in a cheerful hope that he will do it, let us through him ascribe glory to our God and Father for ever and ever. Amen.
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE COLOSSIANS.
POLOSSE was a large and populous city of Phrygia in Asia Minor. We U have no account when or by whom a Christian church was founded there : but it is probable that it might be by Paul, during the three years of his residence at Ephesus. See Acts xix. 20.- This epistle seems to have been written about the time of the two preceding ones. We find, from several passages in it, that these Christians had borne an honourable character for piety and zeal, but that they were in danger of being drawn aside by the subtilties of Heathen philosophers, and the insinuations of Jewish zealots. The design of the apostle in writing to them was, to guard them against both, and to excite their to a behaviour worthy their sacred character. .
The apostle praises God for calling them into his church, and prays that
they might have grace to walk worthy their privilege. Ch. i. 1-14. IDAUL an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and 2 T Timothy a brother, to the holy and faithful brethren in
Christ at Colosse : Grace unto you, and peace from God our Fa3 ther, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, always praying for you : 4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and love towards all
5 the saints. We bless him (especially for the hope, which is laid · up for you in the heavens, of which ye have heard before in the 6 true word of the gospel : which hath appeared unto you, even as
in all the world*, and bringeth forth fruit, as also it hath done
among you, from the day in which ye have heard and known the 7 grace of God in truth. As ye have also learned from Epaphras
our beloved fellow-servant, who is the faithful minister of Christ 8 for your sakes : who hath also manifested to us your love in the 9 Spirit. Therefore we also, from the day that we heard of it,
cease not to pray for you, and to offer up our requests, that ye
may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spi10 ritual understanding : that so you may walk worthy of the Lord
to all pleasingt ; fruitful and increasing in every good work, to the 11 acknowledgment of God. Being strengthened with all might,
according to his glorious power, to all patience and long-suffering 12 with joy : giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us fit for 13 a part in the inheritance of the saints in light ; who hath rescued
us from the power of darkness, and transferred us into the king14 dom of his beloved Son : in whom we have redemption by his
blood, even the remission of sins.
REFLECTIONS. We see in this epistle, as in all the rest, the most genuine discoveries of the real temper of the apostle. The same views which he had opened upon other churches, the same kind sentiments which he had expressed towards them, does he here discover and express ; still glorying in his office as an apostle of Christ ; still wishing to his Christian brethren grace and peace, as beyond all comparison the best of blessings : still congratulating them on their faith in Christ and love to each other ; still making continual mention of them in his prayers, and recommending them to the grace of God, in which we, as they, continue to stand.
For ever adored be the divine goodness, that the word of God, which sets before us an hope laid up in the heavens, hath beén manifested unto us and to all the world ! Let us often examine ourselves as to the fruit
* The chief provinces in the Roman empire. Luke i. 1.
+ Or, to all complacency. The C. T. is ambiguous, and might be understood as if it meant, pleasing to all. ED.