« ForrigeFortsett »
partakers of a new and holy nature, and to be brought to the whole of that tcmper in all its branches, by which we shall resemble the blessed God, the bright original of universal righteousness and holiness, and the great model of perfection.
In consequence of this, remembering our relation to each other, let us spreak the truth from our hearts; and upon all occasions let us treat others with the same candour and integrity with which we would ourselves desire to be treated.-If anger rise, let it be on just occasions, and in due proportion ; and let us take care that it rest not in our bosoms, lest by indulging it we give place to the devil, and become like that malignant spirit. Let us be upright in our dealings, and, conscientiously avoiding the iniquitous practice of defrauding others, let generous and charitable sentiinents always possess us ; nor let those whose circumstances in life may constrain them to maintain themselves by their own lahour, think they may violate the strictest rules of honesty, or are dispensed with from all obligations to relieve others, more necessitous than themselves.-In short, whenever we engage in conversation let us avoid every thing that may have the remotest tendency to corrupt discourse ; and let us study what may improve and edify the minds of our hearers ; embracing every opportunity of suggesting any thing that is good, and that may tend to minister grace, or to promote the more abundant exercise of it in the minds of those in whom it is already implanted. Thus will the Spirit of God, that sacred agent by whom we are sealed to the day of redemption, be delighted, instead of being grieved, as he so frequently is by the vain and foolish discourses of those who would be thought his temples, of those who indeed are so. For his influences let us look, to dispose us to every good word and work, and seasonably to remind us of these plain but weighty admonitions, which, alas, are so little remembered by the generality of Christians, that one would imagine they had scarcely ever read them.
Practical exhortations continued, with earnest cautions against the gross im
purities of the heathen. Ch. iv. 31. V. 1-14.
31 I ET all bitterness, and indignation, and wrath, and clamour, · L and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. 32 But be obliging to each other, tenderly compassionate, freely for
giving one another, even as God in Christ hath freely forgiven v. you. Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children: and 2 walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself
up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling så3 vour*. But let not fornication, nor any kind of uncleanness or in
satiable desire, be so much as named among you, as it becometh 4 saints ; neither filthiness, nor foolishness of speech, nor lewd turnst,
* More fragrant, more acceptable, than any of the victims or perfumes offered of old.
Ambiguities of expression ; double entendres ; which Aristotle, using this very word, recommends, as what render conversation agreeable.
5 which are by no means convenient : but rather thanksgiving. For :
ye know this, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous
man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of 6 Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with vain words; for
on account of these things the wrath of God cometh on the chil. 7 dren of disobedience. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were once darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord : 9 walk as children of the light, (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all 10 goodness, and righteousness, and truth,) proving what is well il pleasing to the Lord. And be not joint-partakers in the unfruitful 12 works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame
even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things which are to be reproved, are made manifest by the 14 light : for whatsoever doth make objects manifest, is light. Where
fore (the scripture] saith, “ Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light*.
REFLECTIONS. The obligations which, as Christians, we lie under to cultivate be. nevolence and purity, are common to all countries and to all ages. Let us therefore frequently read over these plain exhortations, and solemnly charge our souls with their divine authority and importance. Let it not be enough to us that we carefully avoid all bitterness and wrath, clumour and evil-speaking ; but let us cherish all the kind af. fections of mutual love and tenderness, and practise even the most difficult duties of charity, freely forgiving those that have injured us, as sensible how much greater offences God has forgiven us ; always remembering whose children we are, and what engagements we are under to imitate our heavenly Father; and always setting before our eyes the love of Christ, who gave himself for us, and thereby offered a most pleasing sacrifice to God. Through him shall our sacrifices, proceeding from the same principle, be acceptable also to him, even the sacrifices of alms, of prayer, and of praise.
Let us not only abstain from the grossest sensual indulgences, but from every thing indecent in our words and actions: and that we may do so, let us make a covenant, not only with our eyes, but with our hearts ; remembering, that it is idolatry in the sight of God to set our hearts upon the gross delights of animal nature, to the neglect and forgetfulness of his blessed Majesty ; remembering also, that the kingdom of Christ and of God is intended only for those who by purity of heart are qualified to see and enjoy him.-.Many false and sophistical reasons men have invented to palliate and excuse their vi. ces : but if the wrath of God 'fall upon the heathen for these things. let us not imagine that we can practise them with impunity; and upon no account let us presume to be partakers with them in their sins, that so we may not share with them in their punishment. We are called from darkness into light, from the darkness of sin into the
* “Shall shine upon tlice.” M. This is supposed to be a reference to Is. 1x, 1.
light of grace ; let us remember then the happy state into which we are brought, and walk as children of light, having our conversation such as may be suitable to the character we bear, and to the obligations we are under, by the advantages we enjoy : and searching diligently what is acceptable to the Lord, let us discover and nake known to all, that we approve it upon trial, by our conforming to it, and bringing forth the fruits of goodness, righteousness, and truth, under the light and influence of the Holy Spirit, as those who have been savingly enlightened by him.
Let us avoid the works of darkness, not as unfruitful only, but as mischievous and destructive ; and be careful that we do in no degree partake of them, not even so much as by a sinful silence, when providence calls us to reprove them : but let us earnestly pray for wisdom and grace, to order these reproofs in the wisest and happiest manner; that so we may, like that light of which we are the children, not only continue ourselves unsullied in the midst of pollution, but make things manifest in their proper colours, and discountenance those indecencies, the shame of which will make the very mention of them odious to the renewed soul ; while those that practise them are so far conscious of their vileness, as to endeavour to conceal them from the light, and draw a veil of darkness over them. And O, that the almighty voice of God may rouse up and awaken sinners from their sleep, and engage them to arise from the dead, that Christ may give them light! He is the great and only source of light to sinful creatures, by whom it is sprung up on those who deserve to be consigned over to chains of everlasting darkness. Let us hail the rays of this Sun of righteousness : let us reflect them to his glory : and let it be our concern, that, being raised by him from the sleep of sin, we may spring up to his service with vigour, and prosecute it through all the remainder of our days with becoming gratitude and zeal.
Exhortations to a life of circumspection and usefulness, of temperance, and
devotion. Ch. v. 15—21.
15 CEE therefore, that ye walk accurately ; not as fools, but as16 » wise men ; redeeming the time*, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be not inconsiderate, but understanding what is the 18 will of the Lord. And be not drunk with wine, in which there is 19 excess ; but be ye filled with the Spirit ; speaking to yourselves
and each other in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing 20 and chanting in your hearts to the Lord: always giving thanks
for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God even 21 the Father. Be subject to each other in the fear of God.
REFLECTIONS. Who can read the first exhortation in this short section, without seeing cause for the deepest humiliation, on account of his own care
* The word properly signifies, recovering what has been lost.
less and inconsiderate behaviour? Alas, the wisest have their intervals of folly; and they who walk the most accurately are not without their heedless steps. In how many instances are our thoughts dissipated, and how frequently are we quite forgetful of ourselves and our God! neither watching for opportunities of doing good, nor guarding against temptations to sin ; but suffering the one to pass by us unimproved, and the other to seize us unprovided for resistance. That precious time, on the right management of which eternity depends, and in the improvement of every day and hour of which, it is manifest, that at least the degree of our everlasting happiness is interested ; that time which thousands on a dying bed, or in the invisible state, would gladly redeein at the price of the whole world; how little do we think of the value of it, and to what trifles are we daily sacrificing it! Yea, to what trifles do we not sacrifice it ! In the several divisions of it, when we come seriously to reflect on the morning ; the forenoon ; the afternoon; and the evening; how remiss are we in the proper business of each ! So that if the great business for which we were sent into the world, to understand what is the will of the Lord, and to act according to it, be not, as it often is, entirely neglected, it is performed in a manner shamefully remiss and indifferent.If we are not drunk with wine, in which there is an excess (from which, to the shame of Christianity, the followers of Mahomet totally abstain with resolute self-denial, far more easily than Christians keep themselves within the limits of sober temperance) yet how frequently are we quite intoxicated with pleasure, in which we forget the dignity of our nature, and the rules of our profession! And how seldom are we breathing after that quickening Spirit which alone can effectually remedy these disorders!
If our voices are employed in singing the praises of God in our public assemblies (where, nevertheless, so many are constantly silent) or if we practise it in our families, how little are our hearts engaged ! How seldom doth God receive any cheerful sacrifice of praise from us, even in our most prosperous circumstances! And how much less in every thing! Where is the person that can say, “ In: the night is my song unto thee? amidst the darkness and distress of affliction I still praise thee, though thou correctest me, yea because thou correctest me with such paternal wisdom and love ?”—And, to conclude these melancholy reflections, How little subjection is there to each other in the various relations of human life! and where there is any of it, how much more frequently doth it proceed from other considerations than from the fear of God, and a religious regard to his injunctions ! Yet these that have been mentioned are commands established by a divine authority ; and there is not a Christian in any age, country, or station, who is not by his profession solemnly obliged to observe them. What shall we say then, on the whole, but this? We lie down in our shame, and confusion covers us because we have sinned against the Lord our God. And what counsel can be given to remedy these things, but this? If any man lack wisdom (of which these are some of the most important precepts) let him ask it of God, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth none with those instances of former folly which they sincerely lament, and which they labour to amend.
The duties of Husbands and Wives. Ch. v. 22, &c.
TITIVES, be subject unto your own husbands, as unto the 23 VV Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as
Christ is the head of the church ; and he is the saviour of the 24 spiritual] body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ,
so also let wives be subject to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also hath loved the 26 church, and hath given himself for it, that he might sanctify and 27 cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might
place it in his presence, a glorious church, not having spot, or
wrinkle, or any thing of that nature ; but that it should be holy, 28 and without blame. Husbands ought so to love their wives, as . 29 their own bodies : he that loveth his wife, loveth himself : for no
man ever yet hated his own flesh ; but nourisheth, and cherisheth 30 it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, 31 of his flesh, and of his bones. Answerably to this (as we read,
Gen. ii. 24.) « a man shall leave his father, and mother, and be 32 joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." This is a 34 great mystery*, but I speak of Christ and the church. Neverthe.
less let every one of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself; and the wife see, that she reverence her husband.
REFLECTIONS. Let the love of our blessed Redeemer to his church be daily celebrated with the most cordial gratitude, and that infinite condescension adored, by which he hath been pleased to unite us to kimself in such dear and inseparable bonds. He is the saviour of the body ; and O, iu how wonderful a manner is he become so! He hath given himself for us; hath brought us from servitude and misery at the expense of his own life, and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood, as well as cleansed 718 in the laver of bapiismal water ; and intending us for the eternal displays of his love, as well as for the participation of his glory, he hath sanctified 243 by his Spirit, and formed us for it by his word; and thus is preparing us for that blessed day, when the whole body of his cleci stail be brought forth, as the bride the Lamb's wife, to those public espousals, which shall have their consummation in complete and everlasting happiness. O what a noble and illustrious day! when the eye of Christ shall survey all the millions of his people, and placing them in his presence as one with himself, shall look with full coin placency and delight on all the various members of that glorious church, and Jehold neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing ; but all comely, fair, and lovely, all answering that perfect idea which he had formed, and that scheme which he had laid for raising them, by perfect holiness, to periect felicity-In the mean time, let us think with delight
*ie. This union between the first pair ; but I am speaking of it as embler mancal of, &c. M. V. 33. “ Therefore let every one" Ib.