Page images
PDF
EPUB

(comp. 4–40.) The persecution of the christians in Jerusalem gave rise to the spread of christianity in Samaria, and, according to 11:19–26, in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antiochia. 21: 27. ch. 28. The captivity of Paul afforded him an opportunity to defend and promote christianity in Jerusalem and Rome, 23: 11. Phil. 1: 12. 2 Cor. 4: 8-15, ο μεν θανατος εν ημιν ενεργειται, η δε ζωη εν υμιν-παντα δι' υμας as then death worketh in us, but life in you—all things for you. 12:9, “ The Lord said unto me, Your weakness places the efficacy of my power, which works through you, in so much the stronger light," i duvauis Mov ev aoTEVELO TENELOUTAL. Dissert. in Epp. ad Corinth. Note 153.

XVI. Pet. 1: 6, 7, ένα το δοκιμον της πιστεως υμωνευρεθη “Your sufferings serve as a trial of your faith.” 3: 14, ει και πασχoιτε δια δικαιοσυνην, μακαριοι and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed are ye. 4:12 &c. 2 Tim. 2:11 &c. Comp. 5 23.

$ 105.

The commixture of good and bad in the church does not justify

us in seceding from it. Even at the very commencement of the christian church, we find that some persons, who were not sincerely attached to christianity, could nevertheless give it an ostensible reception (Matth. 13: 23 &c. v. 19—22). The example of their friends and relations, or the power of the amazing miracles which were wrought, or the influence of some other motives may have induced them to make a profession of christianity (1). Children whose parents were true christians, although they were educated in the christian religion, may easily have been of a character unlike that of their parents, (Eph. 6: 4). And especially, in the course of time, when the profession of the religion of Jesus was connected rather with advantage than detriment, many would assume the name, who reflected no honour on the cause (2). But this mixture of unworthy members, (3) ought not to deter those of better (4) character from connexion with the church. Because, although others may undervalue (5) the means for the promotion of growth in grace (6) and happiness, which the christian church affords (7), they have it in their power to make a conscientious and profitable use of them. Moreover, the Head of the church can easily distinguish between his true worshippers, and those who disobey the precepts of his Gospel (8). Finally, the worthy members of the church, even if they should be a minority (Rev. 3 : 4, 2), can, not only counteract the influence, which their connexion with the nominal christians might have on their piety (9); but they can and ought to strive to promote true piety among others. § 104 and 78. In the present life(10), the church (JEJEROS TOU JEOV 2 Tim. 2: 19, comp. Not. 3,) embraces not only those who are true christians, but such also as are yet to be led on to piety. (Ονομαζουσι το ονομα κυριου 2 Tim. 2: 19, comp. Matth. 7: 21,) (anootyvai ano adıxlas 2 Tim. 2:19). The church is therefore not only a society of christians, but also a nursery, in which true christians are to be formed.

ILLUSTRATIONS.

I. Even in the apostolical church, there were some merely nominal christians.-John 2: 23 &c, "many believed in him because they saw his miracles; but he would not trust himself into their hands, because he well knew them all.” . 6: 70 &c, εξ υμων (δωδεκα) εις διαβολος εστιν οf you twelve, one is a devil. Acts 8: 13, (comp. 21-23), Simon the magician believed on account of the miracles.

II. John 2: 23, ολλοι επιστευσαν εις το όνομα αυτου many believed in his name. Comp. with 6: 64, εισιν εξ υμων τινες, οι ου πιστευουσιν there are some among, you who do not believe with sincerity. John 2: 19, εξ ημων εξηλθον, αλλ' ουκ noav x š njuwv they went out from us, but they were not of us. Thus also had the ancient people of God genuine and spurious members. Rom. 9: 6. 2: 28 &c.

ΙΙΙ. Μatth. 13: 27-30, αφετε συναυξανεσθαι αμφοτερα (το καλον σπερμα και τα ζιζανια) μεχρι του θερισμου let them both (the good grain and the darnel) grow together until the harvest. Compare v. 38-43. 22: 10--14, συνηγαγον παντας, πονηρους τε και αγαθους they collected all, the good and the bad. 2 Τim. 2: 20, εν μεγαλη οικια (ν. 19, τω θεμελιω του θεου. 1 Τim. 3: 15, οικω θεου, ήτις εστιν εκκλησια θεου ζωντος) εστι σκευη,

α μεν εις τιμην, α δε εις ατιμιαν in a large house (the foundation of God--the house of God, that is, the church of the living God) there are vessels, some to honour and some to dishonour. .

IV. Existence of unworthy members, no ground for secession.--The farther a person has advanced in piety, the more lively is the sense which he has of the longsuffering which he himself needed (Tit. 3:3—5), and which he still requires. (Phil. 3: 12 &c. Gal. 6: 4 &c.) And (comp. $ 24. ΙΙΙ. 6) under the influence of this sense of his own imperfections, he will feel a greater benevolence for his fellowmen, and be the more willing to bear with the faults of others. Tit. 3: 2 &ο, υπομιμνησκε αυτους, είναι αμαχους, επιείκεις-προς παντας ανθρωπους, ημεν γαρ ποτε και ημεις ανοητοι κ.τ.λ. put them in mind to be no brawlers, but gentle-unto all men, for we also were ourselves foolish &c. Gal. 6: 14. 1 Cor. 13: 4, η αγαπη μακ

ροθυμεί, χρηστευεται-ου φυσιουται . 7,) παντα στεγεί-παντα υπομενει « love bears every thing, believes and hopes the best, and if her hope is not immediately realized, she awaits its fulfilment with patience."! V. Matth. 13: 19-22,

ó

σπαρεις παρα την οδον-επι τα πετρωδη-εις τας ακανθας he that received the seed by the way side-on rocky places--among the thorns.

VI. Matth. 13: 23, ο επι την γην την καλην σπαρεις-ός δε καρποφορει he who received it upon good ground-the same bringeth forth fruit.

VII. These means of grace are, instruction from the word of God, and reciprocal communication of thoughts and feelings, which render our knowledge of christianity more firm, complete and practical. 1 Ρet. 2: 2. Εph. 4: 12, 15 &c. Col. 2: 2.2 Ηeb. 10: 24.3

VIII. The Lord knoweth them that are his.--2 Tim. 2: 19, 22, εγνω κυριος τους οντας αυτου (τους επικαλούμενους τον κυριον εκ καθαρας καρδιας) the Lord knoweth those who are his (who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart). Rev. 1: 13, ειδον εκ μεσω των επτα λυχνιων (i. e. εκκλησιων ν. 20) ομοιον υδω ανθρωπου I saw in the midst of the seven candlesticks (i. e. churches) one like unto the Son of man. « Jesus is intimately acquainted and connected with the seven churches; he dwells in the midst of them, has charge of them, and knows their excellencies and defects.24 2:2 &c, 9, 13, 19, οιδα τα έργα σου I know thy works. V. 23--25, εγω ειμι ο ερευνων νεφρους και καρδιας (compare 3:4) I am he who searches the reins and hearts. .

1 Vide Dissert. in Epp. ad Corinth. Note 57. 2 Vide Dissert. I. in Ep. ad Coloss. Note 60. 3 Vide Comment, in loc. Note 0. 4 Vide New Apology for the Revelation, p. 312 &c.

IX. Necessity of church discipline.--2 Tim. 2: 21, EAV TIS εκαθαρη εαυτον απο τουτων, εσται σκευος εις τιμην if any one purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour. But although it is impossible entirely to prevent the occurrence of snares (offences Luke 17: 1); they are to be avoided as much as possible, for Paul, when speaking of the incestuous person, tells us that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (1 Cor. 5: 6, μικρα ζυμη ολον το φυραμα ζυμοι); and Christ reproved the pastors or angels of the churches of Pergamus and Thyatira, for tolerating certain seducers. Rev. 2: 6, 14, 20. Nevertheless, every individual christian is to beware lest he arrogate to himself an authority which belongs only to the church, and not to individuals. I Cor. 5:2, 13. The incestuous person was condemned, not by an individual, but by the majority of the church members (who coincided with Paul in opinion); and Paul

says (2 Cor. 2:6), “ Sufficient unto such an one is the punishment which was inflicted by many.” Let no one make encroachments on the regulations of the church, but (1 Cor. 14 : 33, 40) let all things be done decently and in order. 11: 16. There are indeed certain measures which an individual may take, such as exhortation (vovğeter 1 Thess. 5: 14. 2 Thess. 3 : 15) and shunning intercourse with unworthy members of the church (un ouvavapiyvuotai v. 14. 1. Cor. 5:9–

11); but those measures must not be taken in an irregular manner (Matth. 7: 6. Eph. 5: 16. comp. Col. 4: 5 and v. 6), or at an unseasonable time, or in such a way as shall interfere with the jurisdiction of the civil government. The civil government is now so intimately interwoven with the church, that we cannot judge every thing by the standard of the ancient christian church, which had no connexion with the government of the state, and therefore, could have more efficient internal regulations, without being in danger of interfering with civil liberty and rights.

« PreviousContinue »