« EdellinenJatka »
ance the scorn of the great and powerful, the frequent contradictions and continual oppositions which he met with from the scribes and pharisees, and the chief priests, and the rulers, and all the pain and ignominy of his death.
That all this may be justly understood to be comprised in this expression of the text, may be concluded from the parallel place before referred to. "Who being in the form of God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Philip. ii. 6-8.
Secondly, All this poverty was free and voluntary. Though he was rich, "for your sakes he became poor:" or, in the words just cited," he made himself of no reputation.'
That our Lord's poverty, and all the inconveniences attending it, and all the sufferings he underwent, as a man, mean, and despised of the people, were freely submitted to, is apparent. When he wrought a miracle for the sake of the tribute-money, he carried it no farther than an immediate supply for that one particular exigence; though he therein showed a command over all nature. The two miracles of the loaves, when he multiplied small provisions, are another clear demonstration that he could have abounded in all good things if he had pleased. How he declined all worldly power and splendour, is evident from his shunning, and disappointing those who would have had him assume regal state and authority. "When Jesus therefore perceived," says the Evangelist, "that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone," John vi. 18. And when, for the good of his disciples, he spake to them beforehand of his last sufferings, and Peter said, "Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee," Matt. xvi. 22, he repressed that apostle, as a seducer and tempter, with marks of great displeasure and resentment. "He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men," ver. 23. And when those sufferings were near at hand, and Peter began to make resistance, that he might not be apprehended by the Jewish officers, he said unto him: "The cup, which my Father has given me to drink, shall I not drink it ?" John xviii. 11. And, And, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he should presently give me more than twelve legions of angels ?" Matt. xxvi. 53.
That is the second thing, Christ's poverty, and the cheerfulness with which he submitted to it, and to all the inconveniences attending it.
III. The next thing observable in the words of the text is the moving cause of it, or the end aimed at and proposed in this poverty, which is our benefit, that we might be rich.
I need not say, that hereby is not particularly intended earthly riches: that the persons, to whom St. Paul is writing, or others, followers of Jesus, might have a great deal of wealth, or large estates, and worldly pomp and honour. There is no reason to doubt, that usually, or however very frequently, good Christians may have an equal share of worldly good things with other men, by the practice of the virtues of sobriety, diligence, prudence and moderation, which his doctrine recommends: nevertheless that is not what is here particularly intended, but somewhat higher. Any thing that is valuable may be represented by riches, for which men ordinarily have a great esteem. This language is common in profane authors of the best note, as well as in the sacred writings. They who are wise, whatever is their outward condition, are reckoned rich in some sense by the judicious. In the figurative stile of Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, Wisdom there says: "Riches and honour are with me, yea durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance: and I will fill their treasures,' "Prov. viii. 18, 19. It is in this sublime and exalted sense, that the apostle ought to be here understood, when he says, for your sakes Christ became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." For this is agreeable to his stile in other places. So he says to the Corinthians, "I thank my God always in your behalf, that in every thing ye are enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge," 1 Cor. i. 4, 5. In like manner in the seventh verse of this chapter, wherein is the text: "Therefore as ye abound in every thing, in faith, in utterance, and in knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this abound in this grace also."
There are several branches of this kind of riches, with which Christians are enriched by Jesus Christ, and which he proposed to enrich them with. There are riches of knowledge and
understanding in divine things, riches of virtue and holiness, riches of good works, riches of inheritance, riches of comfort, and riches of future glory and happiness.
First, there are the riches of knowledge and understanding in divine things. This is a fundamental blessing, on which many others depend. "In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," Col. ii. 3. From his fulness Christians have received. They gain by him a clearer knowledge of God, and the way of serving him, and approving themselves to him, than others have, or than they had, before they had heard of him and learned of him. Says the apostle to the Galatians: "But now after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements ?" Gal. iv. 9. They have juster notions of the future state of recompenses, than others. Through Christ, these Corinthians, and other Gentiles, had gained a clearer and more delightful knowledge, and fuller assurances concerning the wisdom, goodness and mercy of God, and many other religious truths, than they had
Secondly, There are also the riches of graces or virtues, the truest riches in the world, and the most valuable of all attainments. Such as the love of God and our neighbour, moderation for earthly things, meekness, patience, gentleness, long-suffering, the government of ourselves and all our passions. To have these virtuous dispositions, especially to excel in them, is great riches. St. James speaks of some, who were "rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to them that love him," Jam. ii. 5. Christ has become poor, and has given himself for us, that we might have these riches of virtue and holiness, and that we might abound therein, excelling in love, meekness, patience, zeal, and fortitude of mind in the profession of truth, and the practice of virtue.
Farther, thirdly, There are the riches of good works, when the virtuous dispositions, just mentioned, are exercised, and show themselves in their proper fruits. St. Paul requires Timothy charge them that are rich in this world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate," 1 Tim. vi. 17, 18. He himself He himself is here exhorting the Corinthians to be rich in that way. And at the beginning of this chapter he commends the churches of Macedonia for the riches of their liberality.
4. There are also the riches of inheritance, or expectation. And Christ became poor for this end, that we might be entitled to a glorious and heavenly inheritance. Though Gentiles, once afar off, we through Christ have been brought nigh unto God, and admitted into his family, and made children. "And if children, then heirs," says St. Paul," and joint heirs with Christ," Rom. viii. 17. And St. James: "Has not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to them that love him?" Jam. ii. 5. So Christians are rich in hope and expectation.
5. Consequently, they are likely to be rich in comforts. Since their expectations are vast, and also well founded, they have sources of consolation which cannot easily fail. In every condition, whether they want, or abound, as to earthly goods, they will enjoy contentment, and in all their tribulations have peace and comfort. As St. Paul says: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access into this grace and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also," Rom. v. beg. especially when they happen on account of services for the interest of true religion: "knowing, that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.'
6. The riches, which the apostle here speaks of, must include also the riches of future glory and happiness. And that is true riches, a treasure laid up in heaven, liable to no violence, nor accidents, nor decays. They, who according to the directions of Christ, and his apostles, seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness in the first place, who rightly improve their present advantages, doing good, and being rich in good works, lay up for themselves in store a good foundation," or a good treasure, "against the time to come, and will obtain eternal life." 1 Tim.
vi. 18, 19.
Thus Christ" became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich," in religious knowledge, in virtue, in good works, in the hope and expectation of a heavenly inheritance, in contentment, peace and comfort of mind now, and at length in glory, the perfection of holiness and happiness.
IV. It may be now fitly inquired by us: how does Christ's poverty conduce to our riches? It does so many ways.
For by Christ's living in this world in a mean condition we have better assurance of the reality of his miraculous works, and consequently of the truth of his doctrine, than otherwise we should have had. The evidence of them is now much more clear and credible, than it would have been if he had lived in splendour, and had enjoyed external power and authority. For in that case it might have been suspected, that some were disposed to ascribe great works to him without sufficient ground and reason. But now there is no pretence for such a suspicion.
As a teacher of the principles of true religion, a low and mean condition was on many accounts preferable, and more likely to subserve the great ends which he had in view. And therefore he submitted to it, and even chose it.
Hereby he has been a pattern of all virtues, especially the most difficult. In a word, he has given an example of virtue, suited to the afflicted, tempted state and condition which we are in.
They of low rank are a large part of mankind. He has set a pattern of the virtues suited to their condition-meekness, patience, resignation to the will of God, trust in Divine Providence. Hereby also men of higher rank are instructed to be thankful and useful in their stations. Moreover moderation for all earthly things is a disposition necessary even for the richest and the greatest. And they ought to be prepared for poverty, and every kind of abasement: forasmuch as no condition in this world is set above a liableness to the most surprising changes and vicissitudes.
V. One thing more, which we are led to observe, is "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ:" his goodness, his benevolence, his munificence in "becoming poor," that others " might be rich."
Ye know this, says the apostle. The Corinthians, and other Christians at that time, had been acquainted with it by those who had preached the gospel to them. We know it likewise from the history of our Lord's life, recorded in the gospels, and from the enlargements upon the subject of the love of Christ, which we find in the epistles of his apostles.
We may know it also by the conviction we have of the great difference between wealth and poverty, the advantages of the one, and the disadvantages and inconveniences of the other; the respect and homage paid to the one, the contempt and neglect which are often the portion of the other. We know it by observing how seldom respect and esteem can be secured by the most exalted virtue, and the most useful services of men of low condition. And we see what opposition our Lord met with, what contradictions he endured in the course of his ministry; which might have been prevented if he had been in power and authority: if he had not chosen to be in this world, and among his disciples, as one that serveth, and to maintain this character to the end, and lay down his life for his sheep, even those of the people of Israel, and for those who were not of that fold, but were afar off among the Gentiles.
VI. APPLICATION. Let me now add a word or two by way of application.
1. We are all here furnished with a powerful motive to condescension, meekness, forbearance, and every virtue, conducive to the welfare of our fellow creatures. "We know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." We need not therefore to have frequent and earnest admonitions to works of kindness. We have always at hand a consideration that may make us ready of ourselves to every good work, as occasions offer.
2. Let then every rational, every unprejudiced, and well-disposed mind, give honour and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ. What, and who is he, to whom Jesus does not appear amiable in his words, in his works, and in the whole of his conduct? Is generosity amiable in others? Why not in Jesus, who has given the most extraordinary and unexceptionable procfs of that great virtue?
By his grace in becoming poor, we have been made rich. For to what else; or to whom, so much as to him, do we owe our just sentiments in religion; or any measure of virtue which we have attained? To whom are we so much indebted as to him, for the comfort of our minds, for support under afflictions, and for a well grounded hope of eternal life?
We may owe something to reason. We also owe a great deal to revelation, especially to the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he taught in a mean condition, and confirmed by his willing and patient death. We are indebted to the faith of Abraham, the self-denial of Moses, and to all the noble exploits of others, who have been animated by the principles of true
religion. We are indebted to the devout and elegant compositions of King David, and the wise observations of his son Solomon, who also was king in Jerusalem, and long reigned in great splendour. But we owe a great deal more to Jesus Christ, who was crucified, and afterwards rose from the dead.
When all the maxims of mere philosophy never proceeded so far as to make one province or city of philosophers: when the law of Moses, with a magnificent temple, and a well endowed priesthood, could scarcely keep one single nation steady in the worship of the true God, or from falling into all the abominations of the grossest idolatry; in a short time after the preaching of the cross of Christ, multitudes of people turned from idols to serve the living and true God: and many societies of men, professing the principles of true religion, were formed and planted in distant parts of the world: till many of the kingdoms of the earth became the kingdoms of our God, and his Christ.
Some have been apt to raise disputes concerning the powers and interests of reason and revelation, which might have been reconciled. Applicable here seems to be the wise answer, which our Lord gave to an ensnaring question."Render," says he, "to Cæsar, the things that are Cæsar's; and to God the things which are God's." In like manner, render to reason the things that are reason's, and to revelation the things that belong to it.
That it is very much owing to revelation, that true religion has been kept up in the world, appears from the deplorable ignorance of those who have not had that advantage. How much we owe to the Christian revelation, may be concluded from the swift progress of the principles of true religion, upon the preaching of Christ's apostles. "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" that is, does not all that wisdom now appear very contemptible, as to its influence, when compared with the effect of the preaching of the gospel of Christ? Indeed, it is he to whom we are indebted for all this riches. By the preaching of his gospel we have been brought to the knowledge of the law and the prophets, and have learned the right exercise of our reason.
CHRIST'S FAREWELL WISH OF PEACE TO HIS DISCIPLES.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you.John xiv. 27.
THE text contains our Lord's valedictory blessing, which he leaves with his disciples. And I now consider it as preparatory to a discourse on the apostolical benediction at the end of the second epistle to the Corinthians; hoping that an explication of this text may lead us to the right meaning of the other.
I. I shall first show, how we are to understand these words: "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you.'
II. And then, wherein Christ's peace exceeds and surpasses "the peace which the world gives."
I. I would endeavour to show, how we are to understand these words: "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you."
The word "peace" is used in various senses. A very common meaning of the word in our language, and often found likewise in scripture, is that of general quiet and tranquillity, in opposition to public war; or for private friendship and agreement, in opposition to strife and contention among particular persons. "There is," says Solomon, "a time of peace, and a time of war," Ecc. iii. 8. "He maketh peace in thy borders," Ps. cxlvii. 14. Where it denotes public and general quiet and tranquillity. In many other places it signifies private friendship and agreement, in opposition to strife and contention. Our Lord directs his disciples:
"Have peace one with another," Mark ix. 50. And St. Paul says, 2 Cor. xii. 11. "Be of one mind, live in peace." And Rom. xii. 18. " If it be possible, as much as in you lies, live peaceably with all men."
Peace is sometimes equivalent to comfort and satisfaction of mind. Isa. xxvi. 3. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon thee." Luke ii. 29. "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace." So the word seems to be taken, Ps. cxix. 65. "Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them." Prov. iii. 17. It is said of wisdom or religion: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." John xvi. 33. "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye will have tribulation." Rom. xv. 13. "Now the God of peace fill you with all joy and peace,' all comfort and satisfaction of mind, " in believing."
In the eastern languages peace is oftentimes the same as happiness or prosperity. Ps. cxxii. 6, 7. " Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." And when the Jews were going captives into Babylon, they were required to pray for the peace of the city where they dwelt. By which undoubtedly is to be understood prosperity in general: not only tranquillity, or freedom from foreign wars, and intestine seditions and commotions, but likewise plenty of all good things, and freedom from calamitous circumstances of every kind. Isa. xlviii. 18. "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments. Then had thy peace been as a river;" that is, then thy wealth and prosperity would have been very great and remarkable.
This being a common sense of the word among the eastern people, wishing peace was a very usual form of salutation with them. In this manner David sent his salutations or compliments to Nabal, by his servants: "Thus shall ye say to him, Peace be unto thee, and peace be to thy house, and peace be unto all that thou hast," 1 Sam. xxv. 6. It is said of Joseph's brethren, that " they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him," Gen. xxxvii. 4. In the original it is: " they could not say peace to him:" that is, when they met him, they could not persuade themselves to salute him, or say, peace be unto thee." Such grudging and envy were in their minds. This form of salutation was used by superiors to inferiors, and likewise by inferiors to the greatest. Ezra iv. 17. "Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshi, the scribe,and to the rest of their companions beyond the river, -Peace: and at such a time." And Ezra v. 7. "The copy of the letter of Tatnai the governor, on this side the river-They sent a letter to Darius the king, wherein it was written: Unto Darius the king: all peace."
God himself is represented as adopting this manner of expression. Jer. xvi. 5. "For I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the Lord, even loving-kindness and mercies." As if he had said: I now withdraw from you my blessing, and no longer concern myself for your • welfare and prosperity.'
add here a few other instances. Our Lord directs his disciples: "And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house," Luke x. 5. Our Lord himself, when he came again among his disciples, after his resurrection, saluted them in the like manner. "The same day at evening came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you," John xx. 19.
Such then was the common form of salutation. The farewell wish at parting was much the same. "Then Eli said unto Hannah, Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him," 1 Sam. i. 17. So the prophet Elisha says to Naaman, “Go in peace," 2 Kings v. 19.
It may be here observed, that sometimes the same expression is used by way of farewell, as in the salutation. St. Peter concludes his first epistle: "Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. So it is in our translation: but in the original it is exactly thus: "Peace to you all that are in Christ Jesus." En Tasi X. λ. Ειρήνη υμιν πασι And St. Paul near the conclusion of his epistle to the Ephesians, ch. vi. 23. "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
However, by comparing the salutations at the beginning, and the valedictions at the end of the epistles, in the New Testament, we seem to learn that it was common to begin with praying that grace and mercy might be to persons; and to conclude with a wish, that the same blessings might be with them; meaning thereby, as I apprehend that they might remain and