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nistered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
On such topics, then, the Apostle professes his affectionate design of putting the Christians in REMEMBRANCE. He might have enjoined them on the churches by his apostolical authority, but he rather uses the mildness and affection of a friend or a parent. He would not excite any uneasy feeling by appearing to distrust their fidelity, but would simply stir them up to a recollection of what they knew and professed. The address of the sacred writers in enforcing truth, is every where remarkable. They speak not as having dominion over our faith, but as helpers of our joy". As a nurse cherisheth her children, 'so are they gentle amongst us. "We may learn from this language of St. Peter," observes the judicious Calvin, "that we should so moderate our admonitions that the persons whom we wish to benefit may not conceive they are treated unkindly or injuriously. We must take care, at the same time, whilst we guard against giving offence, to let instruction have its free course, and not to allow exhortation to cease." Thus the apostle Paul observes to the Romans, And I myself am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all know
7 2 Cor. i. 24.
1 Thess. ii. 7.
ledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind. (xv. 14.) And indeed, how much have we need of being reminded! How treacherous are our memories! How soon do the lessons we have learnt lose their impression! And yet, what is truth, if it be not present and operative? What advantage do we derive from instructions or principles, if they lie dormant in the mind? How necessary, then, are animated exhortations and faithful warnings on all the doctrines and duties and graces of the Christian life! "It is proper," observes the great author whom I have just quoted, "to exhort the faithful, for otherwise fleshly indolence will creep over them. Though therefore these Christians were established in the truth, and did not need information, yet they needed to be stirred up by admonitions, lest security and indolence, as is common, should overwhelm what they had rightly learnt, and should at length entirely extinguish it."
This sentiment is confirmed by the expression of the Apostle, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Even AdVANCED AND WELL INSTRUCTED CHRISTIANS have need of perpetual exhortation. If they are indeed sincere and upright, they will rejoice to be reminded of their duties and their hopes; and if in any respects they are defective in their Chris
tian walk, or especially exposed to the temptations of false principles or practices, ministerial admonitions are the more indispensable to their safety. In fact, not only the young and uninstructed require the constant vigilance of the pastor, but Christians of every rank and cir
This is God's appointed ordinance for the nourishment of piety in the heart. This is rendered needful by the perpetual infirmity of the flesh. This is one principal design of the means of grace, both public and private, which God has commanded us to use. The very disposition also of child-like teachableness and humility which, more than any other, marks the advanced and matured Christian, is precisely adapted to welcome these faithful memorials of truth.
Accordingly we must proceed to notice the DILIGENCE AND Perseverance which the Apostle determined to employ in this duty. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance-yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance. Whatever inducements, then, the minister of Christ may have to negligence, he must steadily persevere in his duty. If he should be remiss in exhorting Christians, in connection with evangelical doctrines, to zeal in good works, as the only true evidence of their calling, and the only sure
means of obtaining an abundant entrance into heaven, he cannot expect his people to be active and consistent in their Christian profession. Such topics may not always be acceptable, and ministers may be exposed at times to great temptations to omit them, or hurry them over with indiscreet rapidity. But the conscientious pastor, after the example of the Apostle, will not be negligent in discharging this part of his ministry, because it may be unpleasant or difficult. He will be no party in deceiving the souls of men, or diffusing a false and superficial religion. He will consider it meet and right, and just (Sínaiov), a branch of his duty, both to God and to the Church, to dwell fully on these topics. If he require any apology for so frequently insisting on them to those who know them, and are established in the present truth, as the Apostle appears tacitly to do, he will find this excuse in his affection for their welfare, in his authority as a minister of the word, in the extreme urgency of the danger, and the incalculable value of eternity. Thus will he aim at keeping back nothing profitable to his people, but being pure from the blood of all men.
And this he will do, that, AFTER HIS DECEASE, the Christian flock may continue to honour the Gospel. Moreover, I will endeavour that you may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance. The Apo
stle was not only anxious for the state of the Church during the short and uncertain moment of his continuing in his earthly tabernacle, but was desirous that the effects of his labours should survive him in the holy and consistent conduct of his flock. He was careful they should be furnished with sound principles in the grace of Christ, that, under the blessing of God, they might not depend on his personal labours ; but might be able, after his departure to heaven, to guard against the error of the wicked, and preserve their own stedfastness (c. iii. 17.). I say, after his departure to heaven, for the manner in which the Apostle here speaks of his death may be noticed, as we pass on, as confirming the view we have taken of the calmness and composure with which he viewed this event. The word we render decease is odos, a going out, as the Israelites from Egypt, a departure from this world to a heavenly rest; a going out from all the sins and sorrows of time to a perfectly holy and happy eternity. The Apostle, in this expression of his anxiety, that after his decease they should have these things always in remembrance, has, undoubtedly, in his view, the Epistles which he was writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the edification of the Church. By these sacred compositions he has been, indeed, instructing the Church in every age, and is still enabling us to have these