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grace (y) according (z) to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8. Wherefore (a) he saith, "When " he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts 9. unto men." (Now (b), that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the 10. lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill II. all things.). And he gave some, apostles (c); and some, prophets;
overvaluing those persons on whom the higher gifts of the spirit were conferred, or undervaluing those who had the lower gifts. The same topic occurs Rom. xii. 3. &c. ante 53. and 1 Cor. xii, post. The argument here is, the gifts are not acquired by the merit of the person on whom they are conferred, but bestowed by Christ as may best advance the interests of Christianity, and that they are all conferred to promote the general cause, not to aggrandize any individuals. He introduces it by recommending lowliness, &c. and desiring them to keep the unity of "the spirit in the bond of peace." "The
unity of the spirit" may mean its one object, to advance Christianity.
(y) "Grace," i.e. some of the extraordinary powers.
(x) According to the measure," &c. i. e. as our Saviour thinks proper to distribute them. The powers therefore are conferred, not acquired. In 1 Cor. xii. 11. after mentioning the different powers conferred, he says, " but all these worketh that one and the self
and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for (d) the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying (e) of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a (ƒ) perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more! children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men,
"led captivity captive, and received gifts " for men." The passage is perhaps
referred to for no other reason but because it speaks of gifts, and gave the opportunity of noticing our Saviour's hu miliation.
(b)" Now," &c. The object of these verses seems to be to reconcile those on whom the lowest gifts were conferred, by bringing to their recollection that our Saviour, who had been so greatly exalted, and had ascended up on high, &c. had however first submitted to the degradation of descending into the lower parts of the earth; and if that submission was not too low for him, it could be no degradation to any of his followers to execute the lowest of his commissions. In Philip. ii. 6. (ante 93.) he notices our Saviour's humiliation, to press upon the Philippian converts the duty of lowliness of mind, &c. to advance the common
(c) "Some apostles," i. e. some to be apostles, some to be prophets, &c.
(d)" For the perfecting," &c. This was the general object, to make the converts perfect, to advance the work of the ministry, to build up the body of Christianity he wishes to convince them that the different gifts are bestowed on the different receivers for the same end, the advancement of the gospel, not to be made topics of jealousy, discord, &c.
(e) Edifying," i. e. building up. (f)" A perfect man." So as to form v. a complete body of full growth: in opposition to the imperfection of mere children in the gospel, who are noticed
in verse 14.
and cunning craftiness, whereby 5. they lie in wait to deceive; but,
speaking the truth in love, may grow (g) up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16. from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every (b) joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in (i) the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
! v. 16.
(g) "Grow up," &c. i. e. advance beyond a state of childhood.
(b) Every joint," &c. As the joints in the body, when they are perfect and perform their offices, make the body compact and perfect, so will the body of Christianity be perfect if each member performs the duty allotted him. The members on whom the different gifts are conferred, are to the body of Christianity what the joints are to the natural body. In 1 Cor. xii. he enlarges upon the same idea, by reminding them that in the body there are many members, each of which has its peculiar office, and that the very lowest are as much members of the body as the very best.
(i)" In the measure," that is, in the gift allotted to each, every part working effectually in the particular assigned to bim, according to the measure of the gift, as mentioned in verse 7.
(k)" He taketh away." This corresponds with what John the Baptist taught Matt. iii. 10. "Now also the ax is laid "unto the root of the trees; therefore
every tree that bringeth not forth good "fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the "fire." So Matt. vii. 19. post, and when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, "Bring forth fruits meet for
(i. e. corresponding with) repentance," Matt. iii. 8. So our Saviour pressed strongly the necessity of good works. In his sermon on the mount he says, Matt. v. 16. "Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works,
ye abide in me. I am the 5. "vine, ye are the branches: he "that abideth in me, and I in
"and glorify your Father which is in "heaven." So the parable of the talents, Matt. xxv. 15. and the judgment on the barren fig-tree, Matt. xxi. 19. is founded upon the necessity of good works. Indeed, where religion does its perfect work, by purifying the heart, making us like-minded with our Saviour, infusing into our breasts humility, forbearance, forgiveness of injuries, perfect love to man, and perfect reverence for God, good works cannot but follow: the fruit from such a tree must be good. See Matt. xii. 33. St. Paul, in his directions to Titus, ch.iii. 8. says, "This "is a faithful saying, and these things "I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good "works." See post 148. note on Jam. i. 22.
(1) Purgeth it," i. e. assists it, in- v. 2. creases its disposition to bear. So our Saviour says, Matt. xiii. 12. and Matt. XXV. 29. "Whosoever hath, to him "shall be given, and he fhall have more abundance." God will not be wanting to us, if we are not wanting to ourselves; if we do our utmost to advance our good propensities, and correct our bad ones, he will promote our exertions; "Ask, and it shall be given you."
(m)" Clean," perhaps purged, ac- v.3. cording to verse 2.
(n) And I in you," i. e. and I will v.4. abide in you; it is in your power to retain me.
"him, the same bringeth forth "much fruit: for (o) without me 6. "ye can do nothing. If a man "abide not in me, he is (p) cast "forth as a branch, and is "withered; and men gather "them, and cast them into the "fire, and they are burned. If cc ye abide in me, and my words ❝abide in you, ye shall (q) ask "what ye will, and it shall be 8. " done unto you. Herein is my
"Father (r) glorified, that ye "bear much fruit; so shall ye "be my disciples. As the Father "hath loved me, so have I loved 66 you: continue in my love. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; " even as I have kept my Father's "commandments, and abide in "his love. These things have "I spoken unto you, that my
joy might remain in you, "and that your joy might be "full."
v.5. (0) "Without me," &c. i. e. as the branch can bear nothing without the tree, so can you bear nothing without
(p) "Cast forth," &c. i. e. as a branch cast forth from the tree withereth, and is of no use but for fire, and is accordingly picked up and burnt, so if you abide not in me, you will be useless and destroyed.
(9) "Ask," &c. So Matt. xxi. 22. "All things whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive ;" and John xvi. 23. "whatsoever ye shall ask the "Father in my name, he will give it you."
(r) "Glorified." The good works of men, when done from religious motives, advance God's glory. See the pas sage supra, from Matt. v. 16. on verse 2. The song of the angels at our Saviour's birth, "Glory to God in the highest," imply that the religion our Saviour came to establish would increase the reverence from man to God. In Ps. 1. 23. "whoso
Third Sunday after Easter.
ALMIGHTY God, who shewest to them, that be in error, the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all them, that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion, that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profes sion, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Epistle. 1 Peter ii. 11. DEARLY beloved, I beseech you as strangers (s) and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly (t) lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your (u) good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day (x) of visitation.
"offereth me thanks and praise, he "honoureth me."
(s)" Strangers and pilgrims," considering heaven as your home, and this world a state of trial and pilgrimage. So Hebr. xiii. 14. "here we have no "continuing city, but we seek one to come." In Col. iii. 2, 3. (ante 127.) St. Paul recommends the converts to "set their affections on things above, not on things on the earth," for this reason, "for ye are dead, and life is your "hid with Christ in God."
(t)" Fleshly lusts." The apostles were very zealous in restraining the converts from these sins, and condemned them in the strongest language.
(u)" Your good works," &c. Good works are recommended in other passages with the same view, that from the good conduct of those who profess the true religion, glory may be given to God. See ante 33. note on Philipp. iv. 5.
(x)" Day of visitation," i. e. pro- v. bably that great day so often referred
13. Submit (y) yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the King, 14. as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him (z) for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of 15. them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the igno16. rance of foolish men: as (a) free,
and (b) not using your liberty for a cloak (c) of maliciousness, but 17. as (d) the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the
The Gospel. John xvi. 16. JESUS said to his disciples, "A little while (e), and ye shall
to, as "the day" or coming of the "Lord," See ante 25. note on Rom. xiii. 11. and ante 29, note on Luke xxi. 25.-or it might mean any time of destruction and vengeance.
(y) Submit," &c. The apostles not only recommend submission to the civil power, but add an additional motive," for the Lord's sake," i. e. as part of your duty to God. Thus, Rom. xiii. 1. St. Paul says, "Let every soul "be subject unto the higher powers: "for there is no power but of God: "the powers that be are ordained of "God. Whosoever therefore resisteth "the power, resisteth the ordinance of "God," &c. So he directs Titus, Tit. iii. 1. " put them in mind to be "subject to principalities and powers, "to obey magistrates," &c. The di rection too of our Saviour, to "render "unto Cæsar the things that are "Cæsar's," Matt. xxii. 21. may be considered as an injunction from him, the highest of all authorities, to submit to the powers of civil government. ante 60. note on Rom. xiii. I.
(z)" By him," i. e. (perhaps,)" by "God." According to Rom. xiii. 3, 4. 6. Rulers are God's ministers."
(a) "Free," "under" (what is called,
(e) "A little while," &c. Our Sa- v. 16. viour probably here alludes to the three great approaching events of his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. "A "little while and ye shall not see me," because I shall be put to death, "and
again a little while and ye shall see "me," because 1 fhall rise again, and shall see you in my passage to my fa ther. This conversation occurred at the last supper, when St. John was next to our Saviour; he is therefore recording what he himself heard.
(f) "We cannot tell," &c. It ap- v. 18. pears from many passages, that they did not understand until after the resurrection that he was to suffer and rise again. See ante 133. note on Luke xxiv. 45. and see ante 77. note on Luke xviii. 34. and post 147. note on John xvi. 6.
And ye 66 now therefore have sorrow : "but I will see (1) you again, "and your heart shall rejoice,
(g) "Ye shall weep," &c. When our Saviour was apprehended, the disciples all forsook him and fled, Matt. xxvi. 56. and as they had not foreseen that he was to suffer, &c. and expected that his was to be a temporal kingdom, it would of course give them great distress to find all their hopes blasted, and the person to whom they looked up removed from them, as they might suppose, for ever.
(b) "The world," i.e. my opposers: this shall be their time of triumph. Luke xxii. 53. when he was apprehended, he said, "This is your hour, "and the power of darkness."
(i) "Turned into joy." How speedily and effectually was this prophecy fulfilled? What transport and delight must they have felt when they saw him so repeatedly after his resurrection, as to be certain that he had indeed risen, and when that conviction was put beyond all sibility of doubt by the gift of the Holy Ghost, which enabled them to speak languages they had never learnt, to cure diseases, and perform other miraculous works? The effect it produced in their conduct was what might have been expected. After commenting upon the grounds we have from the apostolical accourts for being satisfied of the resurrection, Bp. Porteus, in 2 Lect. 317. writes thus: " But besides the positive "proof of this fact, there is a pre"sumptive one of a most forcible nature, "to which I have never yet seen any "answer, and am of opinion that none "can be given. The proof I allude to
peculiar force." He then contrasts with great force Peter's timidity before the crucifixion, with that instance of his courage of which we have an account in Acts iv. It may be observed too, that this courage and intrepidity of the apostles was not temporary, lasted for their lives, and that from the opposition and persecutions they experienced, it was put very severely to the test. See ante 25, note on Rom.
(k)“ A woman," &c. he puts this as 21a parallel case: as the woman's subse quent joy makes her think nothing of the pain she endured, so shall it be with