« السابقةمتابعة »
24 Grace BE with all 24 I give my benediction also to them who love' our Lord the brethren in Asia, The favour of Jesus Christ in sincerity. 'God be evith all them who love our Amen.2 (See Pref. sect. Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. And iv. at the beginning.) in testimony that all I have writ
ten and prayed in this letter, is my real sentiments, I conclude with an Amen,
therefore, he could without offence to the rest, take particular notice of all his acquaintance. See Illust. prefixed to Rom. xvi.
Ver. 24.-1. Who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity : Ev apJagolog literally in incorruption. Our love of Christ, like our love of God, is founded in our knowledge of the excellencies of his character, and of the benefits he has conferred on us ; and consists in esteem and gratitude: And shews itself by our imitating him, and our obeying his commandments. This is the import of loving our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption, or in sin. cerity.
2. Amen. This is an Hebrew word, signifying truth. With this word, the Jews ended all their prayers, and most solemn speeches ; in which they were followed by the first Christians, who thus signified, that the things which they had spoken, whether to God or men, were their real sentiments and desires. See 2 Peter üïi. 18. note 2.
OF ST. PAUL'S
EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.
On the Mediation of Christ.
Oxe cannot view the present state of the world, without taking notice of the misery and sin which prevail in it. The earth would be a wilderness, were it not cultivated with great care and labour. It nourisheth a number of plants and animals noxious to man. The fruits forced from it by human labour, are oftentimes destroyed by inclement seasons. Men, its chief inhabitants, are many of them excessively wicked; and their wickedness is productive of much misery to themselves in the present life, and to others who are affected by it. Besides, all of them are naturally liable to a variety of painful diseases and to death.
This disordered state of the world, hath been the occasion of much anxious speculation to those, who fancying that things might have been so ordered as to exclude all evil, both natural and moral, have considered the admission of sin and misery into any system formed by an infinitely powerful, wise, and benevolent being, as absolutely impossible. Hence the ancient Persians, and after them the Manicheans, to account for the present disordered constitution of things, affirmed, that the world was the work of two independent infinitely powerful principles, the one good and the other evil.-Others of the Easterns accounted for the evils which are in the world, by supposing that mankind had existed in some prior state, and are punished here for the sins which they committed in their pre-existent state; and that their punishment is intended to purify and reform them. This was the doctrine of the Pythagoreans, and of some of the Jews, John ix. 1, 2.-But a third sort of reasoners, not
satisfied with either of these solutions, maintained that the world hath existed from eternity by successive generations and corruptions, in the manner we see it at present, without any first cause at all.' This was the opinion of the Aristotelian atheists. -A fourth sort affirmed, that the world owes its origin to what they termed the fortuitous concourse of atoms; and that it is not governed by any intelligent principle whatever. This was the scheme of the Epicureans, who, to avoid the odium of the populace, pretended indeed to acknowledge the existence of gods, but denied that they made the world, or took any concern whatever in its affairs.
In this uncertainty, or rather darkness concerning the origin of the world, revelation hath seasonably interposed. For it assureth us that there is but one first cause of all things, who is not only infinitely powerful, but infinitely good : That all the beings in the universe derive their existence from him, are absolutely dependent on him, and subject to his government: That whatever evil exists in the world, is the natural consequence of that freedom of will with which God originally endowed his rational creatures, in order to render them moral and accountable agents : And that the first parents of mankind, abusing their liberty of action, subjected themselves and their posterity to sin and death, by one single act of disobedience : But that for remedying these evils, God was graciously pleased, in his original plan, to appoint the mediation of his Son, where. by the penal consequences of sin are so far prevented, that they do not take place in all cases. For, as many of mankind as are delivered by him from the power of sin, shall at length be also delivered from its punishment, and be raised to a degree of perfection and happiness, greater than if they never had sinned. The mediation therefore of Christ, by which God remedies the evils which were introduced into the world through the disobedience of the parents of the human race, hath for its object to deliver mankind, first, from the power, and, secondly, from the punishment of sin.
Of the Mediation of Christ as a Priest, whereby the penal consequences of
sin are so far prevented, that they do not take place among mankind universally.
To prevent the penal consequences of sin from taking place among mankind universally, revelation assureth us, that the Son
of God, by the appointment of his Father, made propitiation for the sins of mankind by his sufferings and death in the human nature; that is, by his sufferings and death he hath rendered. it consistent with the character of God, as the moral governor of the world, in certain cases to pardon sinners. For we are told, Rom. v. 12. That as by the disobedience of one man, Adam, sin entered into the world, and by sin death.-So by the obedience of one man, Christ, righteousness entered into the world, and by righteousness life; that is, an opportunity of becoming righteous and of obtaining life, was granted to mankind on account of the obedience of Christ.
To this account of the ruin and recovery of the human spe. cies, various objections have been made.' And first, It hath been loudly urged, That to involve all mankind in sin and misery, on account of a disobedience to which they were nowise accessary, and to bestow righteousness and life, or an opportunity of obtaining these blessings, through an obedience in which they had no concern, are both of them contrary to our natural ideas of the justice and goodness of God.
To this objection, however, it is a sufficient answer to observe, that the very same constitution taketh place in the present state of things. For we see evils brought on the innocent, and favours communicated to the guilty, through actions in which neither the one nor the other had any hand. Thus, the misconduct of kings and rulers brings misery on their subjects, who are not accessary to their follies. The sins of parents, in like manner, bring poverty, diseases, and even death, on their innocent chil. dren. On the other hand, the wisdom and justice of princes, are productive of happiness to their people : The virtues also and heroic deeds of parents bring honours and riches to their descendants, which remain with them often to the latest posterity.
This constitution of God, whereby evils are brought on innocent persons, for the faults of others, in which they were nowise concerned ; and blessings are conveyed to the unworthy, for the good deeds of others to which they contributed nothing, is not repugnant to the ideas which mankind entertain of justice and goodness. For, by universal consent, in all well regulated human governments, without any imputation of injustice, a similar constitution is established by law, through which, on the one hand, children are involved in the punishment inflicted on their parents, for crimes of which the children are entirely