« AnteriorContinuar »
their exhorting all Christians, as far as they had attain'd, to walk by the fame Rules without Discord or Dissension, implies the being Followers of them in these things; and not only fo, but to mark them that walk so, as yé have them for Ensamples; following such as follow them, and learning by their Pattern to do likewise.
But why doth the Apostle so earnestly press their Example upon all their Followers? Why, that the next words will tell us, For many walk of whom I have told you often, and not tell you even weeping : meaning, that there were many that walk'd fo disorderly, and so contrary to the Christian Profession, that he could not think of them without Trouble, nor speak of them without Tears. And who were they? Why, the Apostle describes them in the following words :
ist, By their being Enemies of the Crofs of Christ. Of this sort were the Jews and the Greeks in those days; the one denying, and the other deriding a crucify'd Saviour. So St, Paul tells us, that he preach'd Christ crucify'd, to the Jews a Stumbling-Block, and to the Greeks Faolishness: And such are the Deilts and Infidels of our Age, who call the preaching of Christ by the name of Priestcraft, and ridicule Religion and all the Mysteries of the Gospel. These are truly Enemies of the Cross of Chrift; and as the Apostle could not speak of those of old without weeping, so are these hardly to be mention'd without Tears, especially con. sidering what he adds in the next words, that their End is Destruction : for there being no other Name given under Heaven, by which we can be fav’d, but the Name of Christ, who is the only Peace-maker between God and Man, how can any hope for Mercy or Pardon without him? Hence the Apostle asks the Question, Hom Mall we escape, if we negle&t so great Salvation ? For this is to trample under foot the Son of God, who is alone able to heip us, and to count the Blood of the Cross an unholy thing, which is only able to fanctify us. He that rejects the Remedy, must perish without Relief; and he that refuseth Redemption, must remain a Slave for ever. They that are Enemies to the Cross of Christ, can be no true Friends to themfelves; yea, they are greater Enemies to their own Souls, than they can be to our Saviour, for they dash against the Rock of their Salvation, and must fuffer an everlasting Shipwreck. These are the Persons that drew Tears from
the Apostle, of whom he had often told the Philippians, and here tells them even weeping. Again,
2dly, He describes them by their making their Belly their God, in the next words, Whole God is their Belly: that is, their Minds are chiefly set upon what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and give themselves up to the Sway of an unruly Appetite. Of this fort are all'Gluttons and Epicures, who study all manner of Delicacies to pamper the Body, and make provision for the Lusts of the Flesh. These have their Heads and their Hearts busied about their Bellies, which they labour to ferve and please more than God; but they that fare thus well here, will fare the worse for it hereafter, when these things come to be reckon'd for. The rich Glutton in the Gospel, that fard deliciously every day, wanted at last a Cup of cold Water to cool his Tongue; and they who now with so much Care, and Coft pamper their Bo
their Body, shall e'er long pine with everlasting Hunger: And therefore our Saviour gave a strict Charge to his Followers, to take heed that their Hearts be not overcharg'd mith Surfeiting and Drunkenness, left that day come upon them unawares : Luke 21. 34. Again,
3dly, The Apostle describes these disorderly Walkers by their glorying in their Shame, in the fame Verse, Whose Glory is in their Shame : that is, they glory in the Follies and Deformities of human Nature, and boast of those base and beastly Lusts, of which they ought to be asham’d. Of this fort are all sensual and voluptuous Persons, who are Lovers of Pleasure more than Lovers of God; who having cast off 'all Blushing, pride themselves in the rehearsing of their vile Debauches : Of these the Apostle speaks, Eph. 4. 19. who being paft Shame or feeling of any Remorse, gave themselves up to Lasciviousness, committing all Uncleanness with Greediness. And too many such there are in our days, who have steel'd their foreheads, and fear'd their Consciences beyond all sense of Evil, boasting of their Wickedness, and glorying in that which should overwhelm them with Shame and Sorrow : but all fuch Boasting is vain, and will end at last in the greatest Shame and Confusion of Face for ever. And because these could not weep for themselves, the Apostle here weeps for them, considering the fatal end of all such Folly and Boasting.
Lastly, These disorderly Walkers here are describ'd by their minding earthly things, in the fame Verse, Who mind çarthly things ; that is, who cherish an inordinate Love of
this World, with a careless neglect of the other; their Hearts being so bent upon their worldly Interest, as to stick at no ways, how base or unjust soever, to compass their Ends. Of this kind are all Worldlings and covetous Perfons, who fill their Heads with carking Cares and Fears about themselves, and harbour in their Hearts unjust Desires and Hankerings after the Goods of others: such as these serve Mammon more than God, and worship the Creature more than the Creator ; for which reason Covetousness is often stil'd Idolatry, and covetous Persons are branded for Idolaters.
These are the bad Examples which the Apostle here laments with Tears, and wills all Christians not to follow, but avoid ; to have no Fellowship with such unfruitful Works of Darkness, but rather reprove them: Not to conform to such vile Practices of the World, nor to follow a Multitude, how great and numerous foever, to do Evil, all which look no higher than these earthly things, and lead only to Misery and Ruin.
But instead of them, he exhorts them to be Followers of him and the other Apostles, who fet better Examples, and guide to higher and nobler things: for, as he goes on to tell them,
Our Conversation is in Heaven; that is, whereas others are so addicted to the Earth, as to mind only the Pleasures, Profits, and Honours of this World, we look higher than this world, and mind chiefly the things above and this will be a better Pattern for you to imitate and to lead you to Heaven, than they who are glued to the Earth, and lie groveling upon it; for our Conversation is in Heaven. The word in the Original is toonitul.dly which alludes to a City or Corporation, which hath many Privileges and Duties belonging to those that are free of it, tho they live at some distance from it: and so the Apostle's Meaning is, that tho they were born in this world, and liv'd in it, yet they belong'd to another, and were free Denizens of Heaven, which is ofren ftilld a City; and accordingly we converse and behave our felves here as those that are free of another City above, and belong to it. Hence we find them declaring, that they look'd not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen a for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal : 2 Cor. 4. 18. And elsewhere, We walk by Faith, which es the Evidence of things not seen, and not by Sight, which
reaches only to present and perishing Objects. This is that wherein the Apostle would have us to be Followers of them, and likewise to niark them that do so, according to their Example; the better to take off our Hearts from an inordi. nate Love and Pursuit of earthly things, and to raise our Minds and Affections to the things of Heaven: for both which, they have left us both their Precept and their Pattern.
But the farther to recommend and enforce their Example upon us, of having, like them, our Conversation in Heaven, here are added two great Encouragements thereunto :
1. Because from thence we also look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Chrift. And,
2. Because when he comes, he will change our vile Body that it may be fashion'd like unto his glorious Body, according to his Working, whereby be is able to subdue all things unto himself. Of each of which something briefly: And,
1. The Apostle wills us to have our Conversation in Heaven, because we also, as well as they, from thence look for the Saviour, the Lord Fesus Christ. That our Saviour Christ will come again from Heaven to judg the World at the last Day, we are often told in Holy Scripture : This fame Jesus (faith the Angel to the Disciples) which is taken up from you into Heaven, Mall so come as ye have seen him go into Heaven; Acts 1. II. He shall come from Heaven, attended with his mighty Angels, faith St. Paul, 2. Thell. 1. 7: And elsewhere, He liiall come with a Shout, and in the Clouds of Heaven. Now the Expectation hereof set the Apostles a looking, longing, and preparing for his Coming, which they did by Heavenly-Mindedness, and all other Acts of a pious Life. So St. Paul tells us, Tit. 2. 12, 13. The Grace of God which bringeth Salvation, hath appear'd to all Men ; teaching us to deny Ongodliness and worldly Lufts, and to live righteously, Süberly, and godly in this present World; looking for that blefled Hope, and the glorious Appearance of the Son of God, our Saviour fesus Chrift. And herein we are call'd upon to imitate theni, by having our Conversation in Heaven, from whence the Saviour comes, and whither we hope he will bring us ; And the rather,
2. Because when he comes, he will change our vile Body, that it may be fallion'd according to his glorious Body, &c. meaning, that our crazy Bodies ihall be then freed from all the Deformities and Infirmities that now belong to them,
and be new fram'd and molded into the Fashion, Qualities, and Perfections of Christ's Body: that is,
(1.) Our vile, base, and abjeet Bodies shall be chang'd into glorious Bodies; fo faith St. Paul, It is sown in Difhonour, it is rais'd in Glory.
(2.) Our natural, earthly, and fleshly Bodies shall be chang'd into fpiritual and heavenly Bodies; fo 'tis faid, It is somn, a natural Body, it is rais’d a spiritual Body. Again,
(3.) Our weak, frail, and passive Bodies shall be chang'd into active, vigorous, and powerfal Bodies ; fo 'tis added, It is sown in Weakness, it is rais'd in Power. And,
Lastly, (4.) Our mortal, corruptible Bodies, shall be chang’d into immortal and incorruptible Bodies; so 'tis farther said, It is sown in Corruption, it is rais'd in Incorruption; and this Corruptible must put on Incorruption, and This Mortal must put on Immortality. In a word, both our Bodies and Souls shall be refin’d and rais'd to all those glo. rious Qualities and Perfections, to which they are capable of being advanc'd; and when that which is perfect is come, then all that is Imperfect shall be done away: And all this ihall be done for us by that Infinite and Almighty Power, that is able to subdue all things to himself.
Now if we look for these great things, as we undoubtedly may, what manner of Persons ought we to be in all holy Conversation and Godliness? How frequently and firmly should our Minds and Meditations be fix'd on Heaven, from whence we expect the Coming of this Saviour, and with whom we hope to return and reign in Glory? This the Apostles did, and this they would have us to do, as also to observe and initate those that walk by their Example.
Thus having shew'd the Drift and Scope of this Epistle, it remains, in the last place, that I press upon you the great Lesson that is taught in it; and that is, to be Fol. lowers of the Holy Apostles, and to set their Lives and Actions before you, as á Pattern for yours. To this end, read often the Scriptures of the New Testament, where their memorable Works and Actions are recorded, and bear them in mind, that you may have them always ready as occasion shall require ; not that you are to be Followers of them, in doing the Miracles and other wonder. ful Works that they did, for that was a Power or Privilege