« PreviousContinue »
3. What motives we have to render this duty of peace; viz. two : the ordinance of God; to which also ye are called, namely, by God: our mutual relation; because we are members of the same body.
The peace of God.] This peace is either internal, which we call peace of conscience; or external and brotherly, which we may call the peace of friendship. That former is established between God and the conscience of every individual whenever by faith he apprehends Christ, and the remission of his sins for Christ's sake, and God reconciled and propitious to him. Hence says the Apostle, Rom. v. 1, Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: and Ephes. ij. 14, He is our peace. This peace cannot have its origin from any other source than God: and hence it is named the peace of God, Phil. iv. 7, The peace of God which passeth all understanding, &c. The latter subsists among neighbours, and arises from charity; and the Apostle has respect in this place principally to this. Now this peace especially denotes that affection of the heart which inclines it to love and seek concord, and to procure and preserve it by all means : although he may also design the external effeet, that is, a peaceful state of all things among Christians, which is wont to arise from that peaceable inclination. This peace in either respect is also from God. That peaceable affection is by the inspiration of God; and the effect, or that happy and peaceful course of all things in the Church, is from the blessing of God. Isa. xlv. 7; and lxvi. 12; Galat. v. 22.*
Let it rule in your hearts, BPaßevétw 'ey rais napdraus uuwy.] Some render this, let it bear the palm; others more aptly (as it seems to me) let it command, rule, or moderate. For the Apostle would intimate, that this is the duty of this virtue, to act as an umpire or steward amongst the other
• The Translator is here so forcibly reminded of the beautiful and affect. ing Collect of our Church for the fifth Sunday after Trinity, that he cannot refrain from adducing it :-“ Grant, o Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” May every Reader's heart respond—“ Amen.”
affections: for so the word Bpaßėver signifies. When, therefore, (as is often the case) the unruly affections of wrath, hatred, and revenge rise in our hearts, this peace of God ought to discharge its office, that is, put an end to the contentions, as the umpire of the games, take away the occasions thereof, compose their tumultuous affections, and restore all things to peace.
But it is also to be noted, that the Apostle does not simply direct that the peace of God should rule, but that it should rule in our hearts; in the heart, not in the mouth only, not in the countenance. For many pretend to the desire of peace in words and look, who inwardly cherish wrath and hatred: whose words are soft, whilst war is in their heart; they are softer than oil, although they be drawn swords, as says the Psalmist, lv. 21. Nazianzen also, Orat. 12, complains, Peace is extolled by all, but it is followed by few. If then this peace truly flourishes in our hearts, and performs its office, it will incline and draw all to concord, as well the offending as the offended: the offending, whilst it keeps wrathful elation from them; the offended, whilst it removes inexorable obstinacy from them : it makes the former humble, and ready to give satisfaction; the latter easy, and kind to forgive. This is the office of this steward.
To the which ye also are called in one body, He now shews what incentives we have to perform this duty of peace.
The former; Because we are called to peace : i. e. Because Christ our Leader and Saviour has not only by his auspices established peace between us and God; but he hath called Jews and Gentiles, and so the whole world, to cultivate peace with one another, by having called them into his Church. This is clear,
1. Because this peace is foretold in many places by all the prophets. Is, ii. 4, and xi. 6, and Ixv. 12; So Mich. iv. 3; Zech. ix. 10.
2. Because this peace is enjoined upon all who are called and chosen into the family of God, that is, the Church, by the commands of God and of Christ. Have peace one with another, Mar. ix. 50. Let us follow after the things which make for peace, Rom. xiv. 19. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, Ephes. iv. 3.
3. Because this peace was observed and maintained by the primitive Church with all earnestness. The multitude that believed were of one heart and of one soul. Acts iv. 32.
4. Lastly, this peace being violated, subverts the Church which Christ would have to be perpetual. For a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand: but, like as when many draw a cord in different directions, if it break, they both fall the more heavily on either hand; so when the Church is agitated by strifes, detriment and loss come upon all.
...... Domestic rents the people's weal disturb;
Prudente in Psychom. Thus much of the former incitement derived from the appointment of God. But there is an additional incitement to the cultivation of peace, because not only are we called thereto by the Divine appointment, but we are moreover bound to it by a certain mystical relation, which the Apostle denotes in these words,
In one body.] They who are citizens of the same republic, are mutually called upon and bound to keep the peace; yet are they only united in one body politically: but they who are members of the Church, are united in one body supernaturally and mystically, so that they all depend upon one Head, and are quickened and informed* as it were by one Spirit. This we are taught by the Apostle, Rom. xii. 4, 5, and 1 Cor. xii. 12, 25, 26, where he infers that there ought to be no difference between the members of the same body, but the greatest harmony of spirit and sympathy.
• Omnes-vivificentur et quasi informentur ab uno Spiritu.
...............“ All alike informid
“ This sovereign arbitrary soul
Now, from what hath been said concerning the origin of peace, its office, and the incentives to it, these instructions arise :
From the Author God, the peace of God. 1. That the peace of God rules among all those in whom the God of peace dwells : and on the other hand, they who reject this peace of God, thrust out the God of peace himself. Thus speaks the Apostle, 2 Cor. xiii. 11, Live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
2. Whatever of religion and holiness, therefore, schismatics pretend to, they promote the cause of the devil, not of God. For he is the author and the sower of discord : But the true God, is the God of peace, 1 Cor. xiv. 33.
3. A union, or rather a confederacy, to assail the godly, extinguish the Gospel, and disseminate errors, is not a a mark of the Church : because there is not among them the peace of God, but the peace of the devil; such subsisted between Herod and Pilate; such is preserved among the very devils. In vain do the Romanists, therefore, boast of this union as among the marks of their Church. These instructions are derived from the origin of peace.
From the office; rule in your hearts. 1. This peaceable disposition ought to prevail in all others, and to exercise as it were a regal power over them.
l. They who are opposed to this, are to be seized, restrained, and as it were put in chains, as rebels against their king. Of this kind are wrath, envy, hatred, and the other pests of human happiness and tranquillity.
3. Let counterfeit benevolence, pretended love, hypocritical reconciliation, be far from a Christian man; for charity and peace ought to hold the sway in his heart, not to play merely in his countenance or his words.
From the incentives; to the which also ye are called in one body.
1. They who disturb the peace of the Church are unmindful of their vocation, and despisers of the Divine appointment. For they whom God hath called and gathered together into his Church, the same he commands to dwell together, as it were in unanimous brotherhood, in their paternal house.
2. However they, who are the cause and the heads of factions and dissentions, flatter themselves, and seem to themselves to be lords, they are of all men the most miserable, because they are most hateful to God. These six things doth the Lord hate, yea, seven are an abomination to him, Prov. vi. 16. Now Solomon puts in the seventh place, he who soweth discord among brethren, vers. 19.
3. He who violates peace, is not only hurtful to others, but to himself. For no member of an uniform body is injured, but it occasions detriment to the whole : Since therefore, we are all members of the same body, he who tears and injures another, does the same as if any one by his own hand should beat and wound another member of his own body.
4. They who are pleased at the discords and evils of others, are either stupid members, or indeed not at all members of this one body, the head of which is Christ, and into the society of which all the godly are called. Thus much concerning peace.
And be ye thankful.] This is that other virtue to which the Apostle exhorts, namely, gratitude; which Cicero called, in Orat. pro Cn. Planc. not only the greatest of all the other virtues, but the mother of them. Now this gratitude is required as well in regard to God, as in regard to men.
We ought to be thankful to God; because without gratitude there can be no spiritual blessings within us. For since every spiritual blessing depends upon a certain perpetual influx of Divine grace, ingratitude is that infernal bar which interrupts the flow and the course of the Divine goodness. Therefore we ought to be thankful, lest we should be deprived of all our gifts. But gratitude to God is joined with peace in this place, because our gratitude towards him especially appears in this, if we cultivate peace religiously; ingratitude, if we violate it. For as a mendicant and vagrant taken into a royal family, shews himself grateful, if he endeavours with all his might to adorn and defend the royal house ; but on the contrary, proves himself ungrateful, if he aims to fill the same with enmities, and to rend it asunder by factions : so miserable