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some in the apostolic age seduced from the faith, and led to think that the resurrection was passed already. But St. Paul entertained no fears for the ark of God. He was persuaded that God would keep his faithful people : "they overthrew the faith of some : nevertheless," &c. I. What is meant by the foundation of God
It does not seem to refer to the doctrine of the resurrection. The context indeed mentions this doctrine; but the immediate connexion of the text is with the apostasy that had prevailed. The “ foundation” relates rather to the covenant of grace. In some respects Christ is the only foundation“. Nevertheless the covenant of grace may be represented in this lightIt is the foundation of God's dealings towards us
[From a regard to it he bears with us in our unconverted stateb: from a regard to it he effects our conversion": from a regard to it he endures our backslidings after conversiond: from a regard to it he restores us after we have fallen®.] It is also the foundation of our hope towards God
[We have no claim upon God independent of the covenant; but in his covenant with Christ, and with us in him, he has engaged to give us all that we wants. We receive spiritual blessings, only as being parties in its; the continuance of those blessings to us is only in consequence of our interest in ith.]
This foundation standeth sure. II. Wherein its stability consists
The foundation of God is represented as having a sealt. This seal is God's unchanging love; “God knoweth them,” &c.
a 1 Cor. iii. 11.
b Ezek. xxxvi. 21-23, 32. c 2 Tim. i. 9. Jer. xxxi. 3. d 1 Sam. xii. 22. e Luke xxii. 32.
f 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. & Rom. viii. 29, 30.
h Rom. ix. 16. i There is no confusion of metaphor here, because foundation stones often have oppayida, an inscription (as the word means, Rev. ix. 4.) But there is peculiar propriety in the metaphor of a seal as applied to a covenant.
[Knowledge is here, as in many other places, put for lovek: in this sense it is represented as a seal of the covenant. Love is stamped, as it were, on every part of the covenant, gives a kind of validity to it, and is inseparable from it.]
This unchanging love is the stability of the covenant
[We should continually forfeit our interest in it: no believer whatever, if left to himself, would be steadfast in it. Our daily transgressions are sufficient to exclude us from it for ever; but God's love changeth not. He betroths us to himself in faithfulness for ever m. He loves and keeps us, not for our sake, but for his own name's saken: hence all our security arises]
The covenant, however, does not make void our obligations to holiness, III. The improvement we should make of it
The privileges of Christians are exceeding great: but we are in danger of turning the grace of God into licentiousness. Hence the Apostle cautions us against abusing this covenant P—
[They “ who name the name of Christ" are those who profess Christ's religion; and that profession supposes them to be interested in the covenant. But continuance in sin would be inconsistent with that profession: the covenant prohibits the indulgence even of the smallest sin. It provides strength for the mortification of every lust; it secures holiness to us as well as salvation; it engages for our salvation only in a way of holiness. Let it not then be made a ground of presumptuous security: let it rather operate as an incentive to diligence; let it incline “every one" to stand at the greatest distance from sin] INFER
What rich consolation is here for every true believer!
k Ps. i. 6.
1 Jam. i. 17. Rom. xi. 29. m Hos. ii. 19.
n Deut. vii. 6-8. • St. Paul considers the steadfastness of the foundation as connected with, and depending on, God's immutable regard for his people ; and to this is their final salvation to be ascribed, Mal. iii. 6.
p If kai were translated “but” the sense would be incomparably more clear : it has this sense in many places; and is so translated, 2 Tim. ii. 11. and 1 Cor. xvi. 12.
g 'Aποστήτω από.
[There ever have been some apostates from the Church of Christ; but their defection does not disprove the stability of God's covenant. The reason of their departure is accounted for by St. John - Let not then any be dejected when they see the falls of others. God “ knows" his sheep, and will suffer none to pluck them out of his hands." Nor need any despond on account of their indwelling corruptions : it is not sin lamented, but sin indulged, that will destroy the soul. Let every one be more anxious to lay hold on this covenant: it will be found at last, that it is “ ordered in all things and sure."]
r 1 John ii. 19.
SAINTS, VESSELS OF HONOUR.
2 Tim. ii. 20, 21. In a great house there are not only vessels
of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth ; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
IT was said by a heathen poet, and the truth and importance of the sentiment are strongly marked by its being cited by an inspired Apostle, that “evil communications corrupt good manners.” But there is by no means such attention paid to this aphorism as its importance demands. Men will indeed caution their friends against the society of those who are dissolute and profane; but, against those who may distract our minds with matters of doubtful disputation, or lower our standard of Christian duty, no one judges it necessary to put us on our guard. But St. Paul, that vigilant watchman, that faithful servant of the Most High God, has taught us to shun every thing which may pervert our judgment, or corrupt our minds, or in any way impede our progress in the Divine life. In the words which I have now read to you, he shews us, 1. What we must guard against, as injurious to our Two things he mentions, as necessary for us to be purged from; 1. Error in principle
[Even in that early age of the Church, there were many, who, instead of upholding the faith, sought, by all imaginable subtilties, to turn men from their adherence to it. False teachers there were in great numbers, who “strove about words which were of no real profit, but tended only to the subverting of the hearersa.” Against these St. Paul strongly guarded his son Timothy: “Shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred; saying, that the resurrection is passed already; and overthrow the faith of someb." Now such persons there have been in the Church, from that day even to the present hour. Some will magnify beyond due bounds the importance of some favourite doctrine, to the utter exclusion of other doctrines which have a different aspect. Others will dwell upon the circumstantials of religion, to the neglect of the points that are most essential. Others, again, will attack the fundamentals themselves; “ bringing in damnable heresies, and denying the Lord who bought them.” Some, like the Pharisees of old, will make all religion to consist in the observance of rites and ceremonies: others will cast off every kind of ritual, and divest religion of every outward form. Some will discard from religion every thing that is mysterious or spiritual; whilst others will spiritualize every thing, and involve the most common truths of Scripture in mystery and allegory, like those who reduced the doctrine of the resurrection to the mere introduction of another dispensation, or the moral change that is wrought on the hearts of Christian converts. In fact, there is no end of the absurdities which men will introduce into religion, according to their respective fancies: and their zeal for their respective peculiarities will be considered by them as the best proofs of their zeal for religion. But it will be our wisdom “ to purge ourselves from all such persons and sentiments; and to hold fast, with childlike simplicity, the truth as it is in Jesus." For, in fact, these dispositions and habits are the fruits of vain conceit; and they gender nothing but strife and contention. In a word, they all “ eat like a gangrene;" which, if not healed, will gradually destroy the whole body.] 2. Corruption in practice-
[This is invariably connected with the former: for the very alienation of heart, both from God and man, which a ver. 14.
controversial habits generate, must, of necessity, give advantage to Satan for the infusion of all manner of evil into our souls. Hence St. Paul, in his advice to Timothy, combines with a caution against error, a caution against sin also: "Flee youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with all them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart: but foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” Amongst youthful lusts we must doubtless, in the first place, number those corrupt propensities which are so powerful in the time of youth: but we must also number those which are more nearly allied with heresies, whilst yet they are peculiarly influential on the youthful mind; such as, a love of novelty, a fondness for disputation, a desire after notoriety and distinction. The tempers which these habits generate are extremely hateful to God, and injurious to man. filthiness of the flesh,” as the Apostle speaks, is, in appearance, more opposite to true religion than what he calls - the filthiness of the spirit:" but it is not so in reality : and we must be purged from this, no less than from the other, if ever we would serve God acceptably, or be approved by him in the day of judgment. The beauty of all true religion consists in a childlike spirit, which is the very reverse of that conceit and forwardness which characterize the controversialist and vain disputer. I must therefore guard you, with all earnestness, against every thing which may corrupt your mind from the simplicity that is in Christ, or weaken the influence of real piety in your souls.)
And, that my exhortation may have the greater weight, let me proceed to shew, II. What benefit we shall derive from this care
In a great house, the Apostle observes, there is a great variety of vessels; some of purer, and others of baser, materials; some to honour, and others to dishonour. So also, in the Church of Christ, there is a great variety of persons; all indeed in some way or other subserving his interests, and widely differing from each other in their value, their use, and their ultimate destination.
Now those who are infected with evil principles or practice are of no estimation before God.
[Their spirit is hateful to him, as is their conduct also; nor are they of any use in the Church of God. They tend
c ver. 22, 23.