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PARAPHRASE and COMMENT
Upon all the
Epiftles and Gofpels,
Used throughout the Year.
The First Sunday after the Epiphany.
Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the Prayers of thy People which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and alfo may have Grace and Power faithfully to fulfil the fame through Jefus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rom. xii. 1.
Befeech you therefore, Brethren, by the mercies of
Rom. xii. 2.
Since then the
Goodness of God is fo
former part of this E-
making all Men capable of Salvation by the Righteoufnefs of Faith, delivering us from the Rigour and Bondage of the Law, and admitting Gentiles, as well as Jews, to be Partakers of the Gofpel-Covenant) let me conjure you, by this Goodness, to offer and dedicate to God, your Perfons, a living (inftead of the formerly dead) Sacrifice, a pure, and holy, (as thofe were without blemish) and acceptable (for its own fake, which thofe were not.) For This will be an Oblation of rational, as thofe were of brute and irrational Creatures; and proceeds upon rational Motives.
2. The manner of doing this, must be by renouncing the finful Affections and Cuftoms of the Men of this World; and being changed into
2. And be not conformed to this World, but be ye transformed, by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect Will of God.
new Men, by pure and spiritual Affections; that fo ye may difcern, and delight in, and practife thofe Precepts of fubftantial and complete Holinefs, enjoined by the Gofpel.. And in order here
3. I (by virtue of that Authority repofed in me, as the Apoftle of Chrift) do admonish each of you, not to fet too high a Value upon
3. For I fay, through the Grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think fober • ly, according as God bath dealt to every man the meaJure of Faith.
himself, nor to defpife others; but to be content with that Part and Station, which the Providence of God, and the Gifts vouchfafed him, have allotted to his share.
4. For as we have many Members in one Body, and all Members have not the fame Office;
4. For, as it is in the Natural, fo is it likewife in the Mystical Body.
5. There the Members are many, but united under one Head,
5. So we being many, are one Body in Chrift, and every one Members one of another.
and mutually related to each other: Here again, the Perfons are many, but all united in Chrift. And, though fome be higher and fome lower, fome more and fome lefs active and honourable; yet ftill this difference of Place and Office does not hinder the mutual Relation that there is, and the mutual Help and Usefulness that there ought to be, even between those, that are moft diftant, in either of the refpects abovementioned.
HE Church, when appointing this Portion of Scripture, treads exactly in the Steps of the Bleffed Apoftle, that wrote it. He, in the foregoing Chapters, had vindicated, explained, and given due Honour to, the Wisdom and the Mercies of God, manifefted in the glorious Privileges and univerfal Extent of the Gofpel Difpenfation. He now proceeds to fhew, what the Effect of these Considerations ought to be, upon the Minds and Lives, of all who have embraced it. The Church, in like manner, from celebrating the Goodness of that God, in the Converfion
Ephef. iv. i
Epift. for Epiph.
Converfion of, and Manifestation of his Son and his Truth to, the Gentiles; makes it her next Care, to prefs the fame practical Doctrine, and to infinuate the abfolute Neceffity of walking worthy of the Vocation wherewith we are called. I befeech you therefore, Brethren, by the Mercies of God, &c. That the abounding of Holiness, and Virtue, and every good Word and Work in us, ought to be the Fruit of our clearer Knowledge; and, that the Mer cies of God, exhibited to Chriftians are, a Motive, not only proper and natural, but fufficiently ftrong for that purpose, hath, I hope, been, plainly and largely enough, demonftrated in a late Difcourfe. The Chapter now before us, is defigned to specify the particular good Qualities, they are expected to produce. Which the Apostle hath here fo artfully illuftrated, that it may very well be looked upon as a perfect, though fo fhort, a Body of Chriftian Morality. The explaining and urging thefe feveral Duties, as they deferve, is an Attempt at present impracticable, and by no means confiftent with the Bounds, that ought to be fet to Meditations of this kind. But in regard St. Paul reminds us of One Confideration, from whence an Obligation follows to every one (I think) of the Virtues here enjoined: I will make it my endeavour so to infift upon That, as at leaft to answer the end, though I do not industriously treat of every Part, of the Chapter.
This method I the rather chufe, because, in other parts of the New Testament, we find the fame Argument fo frequently and folemnly infifted on, as to prove the Weight of it. And that done, upon fuch Occafions, and to fuch Purposes, as feem abundantly to justify the Confequences, I am about to draw from it. This will appear to any, who fhall diligently compare this Twelfth to the Romans, with that of the A 2
I Cor. xii.
firft Epiftle to the Corinthians, and the fourth to the Ephefians. Which Paffages I fhall, as I find occafion, call in to my Affiftance, for the better illuftrating and enforcing that which I am now taking in hand.
The Foundation then of my Difcourfes, upon the Epiftles for This, and the Two following Sundays, fhall be laid in thofe Words at the fourth and fifth Verfes: For as we have many Members in one Body, and all Members have not the fame Office; fo we, being many, are one Body in Christ, and every one Members one of another. That thefe Words have a Retrofpect to, and are a Reason for, the Duties that went before; is plain by the Connexion of the fourth with the third Verfe, and the Divifion of the Epiftle of the Day, which they clofe up. That they are manifeftly the Ground of thofe that follow, is clear from the Beginning of the fixth Verfe; and may be yet more so, from the Reason of the Thing.
Now the Improvement I defign to make of this Paffage, will fall under the two following Heads.
First, The Nature of this Union, and mutual Relation declared here.
Secondly, The Obligations arifing from thence, upon the Parties fo united and related.
1. First, The Nature of this Union, and mutual Relation declared here, will be beft difcerned, by the feveral Paffages of Scripture, making mention of it. The principal whereof, befides that we are now treating of, are these that follow: As the Bo1 Cor. xii. 12, dy is one, and bath many Members, and all the Members of that one Body, being many, are one Body; fo alfo is Chrift: for by one Spirit we are all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the Body is not one Member, but many. Now ye are