« AnteriorContinuar »
preach'd unto them, which is a Mercy worthy of the greatest Thanksgivings, for by it they were brought out of the Darkness of Paganism, and led into the marvellous Light of Christianity : and they who before fate in the Re gions of the Shadow of Death, were by this means tranflated into the Land of everlasting Life ; for which reason, Life and Immortality are said to be brought to light by the Gospel. And this Grace is here said to be given to them by Jesus Chrift: for he first preach'd this Gospel unto them, and enlightend their minds with the Knowledg of these div. ze and heavenly Truths ; upon which account he is ftiled, T.e-true Light that lighteneth every one that cometh into the World. He who lay in the Bofom of the Father, was alone able, and accordingly hath reveal'd the whole Mind and Will of God to us; shewing in the Gospel the Way to Happiness, and discovering to all Mankind the Means of their Salvation. Christ was the first Purchaser, and likewise the first Revealer of the Kingdom of Heaven, and 'tis he alone that hath discover'd the way that leads to it; so that the Light of the Gospel is intirely his Gift, and is indeed such an invaluable Blessing, as well deserves the loudest Praises and Thanksgivings. And therefore well might the Apostle here thank God for this Grace and Fayour bestow'd on these Corinthians ; especially considering the many and great Benefits they receiv'd thereby, of which he gives fome account in the following Verses. As,
(1.) That in every thing they were enrich'd by him: meaning, that in all things pertaining unto Christ they were plentifully furnish'd, and wanted no means to attain unto them.” He particularly instances first in their being enrich'd in all Utterance, which refers to that miraculous Gift of Tongues, which was granted to some of them, for the Benefit and Instruction of the rest. By this they learnt the Christian Religion themselves, and were able also to teach and propagate it unto others; having thereby such a wonderful Variety and Fluency of Language, as enabled them to discover to all Men the wonderful Works of God. This the Apostle calls here their being enrich'd, and elsewhere their abounding in all Utterance ; 2 Cor.8.7:
Next, he tells us, they were enrich'd and abounded in all Knowledg ; that is, in the Knowledg of all the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. They had the understanding of Prophecies, and the discerning of Christ in them, which was one of the richest and most exalted parts of Know
ledg; insoniuch that what was to the Jews a Stumblingblock, and to the Greeks Foolilliness, was discern'd by them to be the Power of God unto Salvation. St. Paul prefer'd this above all other Knowledg, and therefore instilld it into these Corinthians, who abounded in this rich Treasure of Divine Knowledg; which they learnt likewise from him, in whom are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledg. Moreover, the Apostle adds,
(2.) That by this Grace of God, the Testimony of Chrift was confirm'd in them : meaning, that by preaching the Gopel to them, the Testimony which they before gave of Christ is abundantly made good and confirm'd in them; viz. that he was the promis’d Mesliah, and that great Prophet that was to come to teach and to save Mankind. Of this the Light and Knowledg they had receiv'd of him afforded Evidence enough to remove all Doubts out of Mens Minds concerning hini; and the good Fruits they had already reap'd from this Belief of him, was a fufficient Argument to incline theni and others to consent to the Truth of it.
From all which the Apostle infers, in the next Verfe, concerning these Corinthians, that they came behind in no Gift, that was necessary to the Demonstration of the Gofpel, or the Salvation of their own Souls; fo that now there was no need of any farther Addition to be made to them, but only to persevere in their Faith unto the end ; waiting for the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall appear in Glory with his holy Angels, to crown his faithful Servants with endless Felicity, and to bring everlasting Destruction upon all his Enemies. Adding withal,
That if they do their part, Christ will confirm them unto the end, and give them Grace to hold out to that time, that they may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Chrift, and may be found true and fincere Chriftians, when that time shall come,
Thus we see the Sum and Sense of the Epistle for this Day, which contains St. Paul's rejoicing and giving or thanks in the behalf of the Corinthians, for the Grace of God given unto them by Jesus Christ, and for their Faith in the Gospel ; fhewing the niany and great Benefits they receiv'd by it at present, and the much greater Happineis they might expect from it hereafter.
It renains only to infer some practical Lessons from the several Parts of it. And,
1. From the Apostle's thanking of God for the Grace bestow'd on these Corinthians, and the Benefits receiv'd thereby, we may learn to congratulate the Good that others enjoy, as well as our felves, and to thank God for one another's Welfare. There are some of so narrow and stingy a Spirit, as to look no farther than themselves, and to have little or no regard to the Good of others. They may perhaps be sensible, and in some measure grateful too, for the Mercies they receive themselves; but are too insensible and unthankful too for whatever is confer'd on their Neighbours, tho perhaps they themselves may reap some Benefit by it.
This is what St. Paul complain'd of to the Philippians, that he knew no Man like-minded with himself, that would naturally care for their State ; for all seek their own, but none the things that are of Jesus Chrift. Phil. 2. 19, 20.
There are others of a worse or more malignant Spirit, that never look on the Good of others, but with an evil and envious Eye, and instead of rejoicing in it, and thanking God for it, only repine and murmur at it. This is a wicked and diabolical Temper, that like the evil Spirits, is griev'd at the Good, and pleas'd with the Evil that befals their Neighbour ; but St. Paul here teaches better things, to rejoice in the Gifts and Graces given to others, and to be thankful to God for them, as well as our own.
2. From the Riches of Divine Grace convey'd to these Corinthians by the preaching of the Gospel, we may learn to set a due Price and Value upon the Light of the Gospel, and the many inestimable Blessings we receive by it. If we weigh things aright, we cannot raise our Thoughts too high of this transcendent Privilege; for without it we should, like the benighted Heathens, walk on still in Darkness; and being left to the blind and uncertain Conduct of Nature, be unavoidably bewilder'd, and lose our way to Heaven. We had then been deftitute of all saving Knowledg, of God, of Christ, and of our felves, and so must have groped on in the dark to our utter Ruin. But now, by the preaching of the Gospel, we are thorowly instructed in all these, and infallibly directed in the way that leads to true Happiness. This is a Mercy that is highly worthy of our loudest Praises and Thanksgivings, and may teach us to make a right Use and Improvement of it. While
we have the Light (faith the Apostle) let us walk in the Light, and work by it, left our Ingratitude and Abuse of it cause it to be withdrawn from us, and so lose an invaluable Blessing, which we knew not how to use. The Neglect or Contempt of it will heighten both our Sin and our Punishment; and better had it been, not to have had the Gospel and the Means of Grace, than to despise or neglect them, and to turn the deaf Ear to its Calls and Admonitions. This we shall do well to remember before it be too late, left the Night come too fast upon us, and this prove at last to be our Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, but we loved Darkness rather than Light, because our Deeds were evil. John 3.
3. The Testimony given of Christ being so fully confirni'd by the Gifts and Graces of the Gospel, let us learn to persevere in the Faith, and Love of the Truth, even to the end. This the Apostle exhorts to in all his Epistles, to continue sted fast in the Faith, and not to be shaken by the Subtlety of false Teachers, many of whom are gone abroad into the World, to deprave or destroy the Faith There are other Temptations from the Allurements of the World and the Flesh, which we are to labour by the Grace of God to withstand and conquer.
To which end, the Apostle, in the last place, directs us to wait for the second Coming of our Lord Jesus, ipho Mall confirm us unto the end. The continual expecting and preparing for that Day, will keep us always upon our watch, and fortify us against the Wiles of the Wicked : 'twili make us bold fast the Profession of our Faith without wavering, and daily move us forward in our Christian Course; and by that means we shall be found blameless and unreprovable in the Day of our Lord Jesus Chrift: which God grant, for the sake of Jesus Christ, &c.
DISCOURSE XLVII. The Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday after
Trinity. St. Matthew xxii. 34, to the end. When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had put the
Sadducees to silence, they were gather'd together. Then one of them, who was a Lawyer, asked him a Question, tempting him and saying, Mafter, which is the
great Commandment in the Law, &c.
E pray in the Collect for this Day for Grace to withstand the Temptations of the World, c.
The Epistle gave us an Instance of it in some of the Corinthians, who by the Grace of the Gospel successfully withstood them. But the Gospel for the Day furnishes us with a niuch higher and better Instance of it, in the Person of our Saviour, who was set upon by the Sadducees, Scribes, and Pharisees, with all the Art and Subtlety of Temptation, and yet we read that he effectually with stood, worsted, and filenc'd them all
. We read elsewhere how he vanquish'd the Power and Temptations of the Devil, Mar.4. and here how he baffled the Wisdom and Wickedness of the World.
The Gospel begins thus, When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, &c. The Sadducees were a Sect among the Jews, that deny'd Angels and Spirits, and said there was no Resurrection. Accordingly, fonie of them, to expose the Resurrection, and to entrap our Saviour, came to him with this captious Question, concerning a Woman that had seven Husbands, asking, In the Acfurrection whose Wife shall she be of the seven, for they all had her ? Jesus knowing their Wickedness, reply'd, Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the Power of God: meaning, that they discover'd their great Ignorance of a future State ; for in tbe Resurrection they neither marry nor are