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them; or else sealeth up the mouth of his prophets", that they may be dumb, and reprove them no longer, and that "they may not be purged any more from their filthiness'; or else infatuates their prophets, and suffereth Satan to seduce them, and to be a lying spirit in their mouths, that he may destroy them; as we see in the ruin of Ahab, and in the captivity of Judah. '
Again; As the ministers of the gospel must use liberty, so must they likewise use sincerity in the dispensation thereof, because it is a glorious gospel.' This likewise is the apostle's inference for having spent a whole chapter in this one argument of the glory of the gospel, he presently concludeth, "Therefore, seeing we have this ministry," that is, the dispensation of such a gospel committed unto us, we faint not, but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty;" that is, as I conceive, the arts of daubing, and palliating, and covering over unclean courses with plausible reasonings, and fleshly apologies, which is the use of false prophets; "not walking in craftiness," that is, not using human slights, or cogging, to carry men about with every wind of doctrine," (as sinners are very willing to be deceived, and love to have it as false prophets P say it is) "nor handling the word of God deceitfully," that is, falsifying and adulterating it with corrupt glosses, and so tempering it to the palate of sinners, that the working and searching virtue thereof, whereby of itself it is apt to purge out and wrestle with the lusts of men, may be deaded ;-and so it may well consist with the power of lusts still; as physicians so use to qualify and allay poison by other correctives and cross ingredients, that it shall serve as an instrument to strengthen us, not extinguish life: or as immodest poets may so tamper with the chaste expressions of Virgil or Homer, as by them both to notify, and in corrupt minds, to kindle unclean lustings; "but by manifestation of the
g Mat. xxi. 41. xxxiii. 23, 37, 38. h1 Thes. ii. 16. i Ezek. xxiv. 13. k2 Kings xxii. 20, 23. I Jer. iv. 10. xiv. 13. xxiii. 13. xxxiii. 40. Lam. m 2 Cor. iv. 1, 2. 2 Cor. ii. 17. Ephes. iv. 14. Col. ii. 4. 8. Ezek. xiii. 10. P Jer. xiv. 13. v. 31. q ‘Ως οἱ καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον. τ. ε. ἀναμιγνύντες τὸν οἶνον ὕδατι-τὰς ἑαυτῶν ἡδονὰς θεραπεύοντας λόγοις ἐκ γῆς pwvovpévois kaì dvoμévois eis yñv, &c. Greg. Naz. Orat. 1. & Isid. Pelus. lib. I. ep. 169.
truth"," that is, by such spiritual and perspicuous demonstrations, as under which there cannot subesse falsum,' there can no falsity or deceit lurk, "commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God;" that is, working not the fancies, or humours, or fleshly conceits of men, (which always take the part of sin,) but their very consciences (which always is on God's side) to bear witness unto the truth which we speak,-to receive it not as the wit or learning of a man, but as the Word and wisdom of God, to acknowledge the conviction, the judicature, the penetration thereof, and so to fall down upon their faces, and to glorify God and report that he is in us of a truth;-and all this" in the sight of God;" that is, so handling the Word as that we may please and approve ourselves to his eye, whose servants we are, and whose work we do. This is that which the apostle' calleth αδιαφθορίαν, σεμνότητα, ἀφθαρσίαν, λόγον ὑγιῆ, ὑγιαίνουσαν διδασxaxíav, “Uncorruptedness, gravity, sincerity, soundness of doctrine," such as the very adversaries themselves shall not be able to pick quarrels withal, or to speak against. We must not, then, make account to adorn the gospel with our own inventions, or with superstructions of human wit and fancy. Though these things may, to fleshly reason, seem full of beauty, yet indeed they are but like the mingling of glass beads with a chain of diamonds, or of lime with pure and generous wine: they are indeed but latebræ dedecoris,' lurking places for unclean lusts to hide themselves under, or to escape away, while the corrupt fancies of men stand gazing at that which pleaseth them; as Agag when he was gloriously arrayed, thought nothing of the bitterness of death; or Sisera, of the nail and the hammer, while he saw nothing but the milk and the butter. Some there are not unlike Praxiteles, the painter, who made the silly people worship the image of his strumpet, under the title and pretence of Venus; who, by slight and cunning craftiness, impose upon weak and incautious hearers, the visions of their own fancy, the crude and unnourishing vapours of empty wit (things infi
r ̓Εν ἀποδείξει πνεύματος καὶ δυνάμεως. 1 Cor. ii. 4.---Demonstratio autem nihil relinquit aut inevidentiæ in re, aut formidinis in intellectu. s Titus ii. 1, 7, 8. t Clem. Alex. in Protrept.
nitely unsuitable to the majesty and seriousness of the foundation in the gospel) for the indubitate truth of God in his Word; which (with reverence may it be spoken) is nothing else but to put the holy prophets and apostles into a fool's coat. But however these men may please and puff up themselves in the admiration of their own wind, yet certain it is that the gospel of Christ doth as much scorn human contemperations, as a wall of marble doth a roof of straw, or the sun at noon doth the light of a candle. And, therefore, the palate of those who cannot away with the naked simplicity of the gospel, without the blandishments of human wit,-who must needs have quails to their manna,—is hereby discovered to be manifestly distempered with an itch" of lust, and their eyes blinded by the god of this world. *
Secondly, This glory of the gospel, may teach us what admiration and acceptation it should find amongst men, even as it doth with the blessed angels themselves. This is “a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation ";" worthy to be received with all readiness of mind'; worthy to be gazed upon, like the star of the wise men, with exceeding great joy;' worthy to be enamelled in the crowns of princes, and to be written in the soul of every Christian with a beam of the sun,-"That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." And indeed the faithful have ever found "beauty in the feet of those, that bring them glad tidings of this their king;" that is, in the coming of this Word of grace and salvation unto them, which is the usual phrase of the scripture setting forth more abundantly the mercy of the Lord, who did not choose one fixed place for his gospel to reside in, and unto which all nations, who would have benefit by it, should take the pains to resort, as he did for the Jews at Jerusalem; but hath made it an itinerary salvation, and hath sent it abroad to the very doors of men, who else would never have gone out of doors to seek it. What man in a sad and disconsolate estate would not spread wide open his heart, and let out his spirits, to run upon the embraces of that man who was coming unto him with a message of
u 2 Tim. iv. 3. xvii. 11.
x 2 Cor. iv. 3. y 1 Tim. i. 15. iv. 9, 10. a Matt. ii. 10. Rom. x. 5. i. 10. Eph. ii. 17. 1 Thes. i. 5. ii. 1. Rom. x. 6, 7, 8. Jer. xxvi. 4. Isai. lxv. 1.
■ Acts Col. ii. 6.
more lovely and acceptable news, than the very wishes of his heart could have framed to himself? When Joseph was sent for out of prison unto Pharaoh's court, when Jacob saw the chariots which were brought to carry him unto Joseph his son, how were they revived and comforted after their distresses! When Caligula the emperor sent for Agrippa (the same which was afterwards smitten by the angel) whom Tiberius had bound in chains, and cast into prison, caused him to change his garments, and cut his hair (it seems that long and ugly hair was then the fashion of discontented prisoners) and placed a diadem on his head, made him Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis, and governor of Judea, and for his chain of iron, gave him another of gold, of equal weight, as the historian relateth, he saith that men were èv ániorią περι τῶν γεγονότων, they could not believe so wonderful a change; for things of extraordinary goodness are very difficultly believed. "When the Lord turned away the captivity of Sion, we were like them that dream" the thing was so incredibly suitable to their desires, that it seemed rather the imaginary wish of a dream, than a deliverance really acted: as Peter when he was delivered out of prison, thought he had seen a vision; Jacob could not at first believe the news of the life and honour of Joseph his son; and the disciples for very joy were not able to believe the resurrection of Christ.-Now what are all the good tidings to the gospel, which is a word of salvation, which opens prisons and lets out captives, which brings our king unto us, and makes us kings too, which gives us such a joy, as the whole world cannot rob us of? "Your joy shall no man take from you." The joy which Caligula gave unto Agripp Claudius might have taken from him, as he did after from Agrippa his son; and though he did not, yet we see the angel did. But the joy of the gospel is invariable. The angels themselves (to whom, one might think, the joys of men should seem but small) call it xapà» μeɣáλŋy, ‘a great joy. It is the joy of a treasure',' infinitely more worth than all which a man hath besides. A joy of a triumphal
Joseph. Antiq. lib. 18. cap. 8.
f Gen. xlv. 26. 8 Luke xxiv. 41.
d Psal. cxxvi. 1.
h Lukc ii. 10.
⚫ Acts. xii. 9. i Matth. xiii. 44.
harvest, and of victorious spoils,' wherein there is not only an escape from dangerous hazard, but a large reward of peace and plenty. It is a full joy';' there is no sorrow mingled with it; nay, it is all joy m,' and therefore there is nothing but sorrow without it. All joy in itself, and all joy in the midst of opposition too. A joy in the heart like gold in the mine, which turneth every thing about it into joy. Divers temptations take not away one scruple of it, no more than fire doth of gold; it is all joy still. "My brethren," saith the apostle", "count it all joy, when ye fall into divers temptations." It turneth the reproaches of men into riches," nay, in the midst of all other tribulations, it is our peace P and our glory. Therefore being so full of joy, when once aright apprehended, needs must it likewise be worthy of all acceptation too. And therefore the prophet' calleth the time of the gospel tempus acceptabile,' the acceptable time or year of the Lord ;-which Baronius falsely understands of the first year of Christ's preaching only, since the apostle useth the same phrase for the whole time of evangelical dispensation.*
And indeed, if we look into the church, we shall see what worthy acceptation this gospel hath found. Zaccheus " made haste, and received Christ in his house gladly;' so did the brethren at Jerusalem receive the apostles; so did the men of Bereay receive the Word, μετὰ πάσης προθυμίας, “ with all readiness of mind," or forward affection: so did the Galatians receive St. Paul with " the honour of an angel, yea, even as Christ Jesus himself;" for indeed Christ and his gospel go still together: the man in the gospel sold all he had for it: the saints did earnestly contend for it, and take the kingdom of heaven by violence.' Though they suffered the loss of all for Christ, yet they counted godliness great gain still. In a shipwreck I throw my goods overboard, and get my life for a prey: in this case I come no loser to Heaven; vita sibi merces;' a man's life is sufficient treasure in such an adventure. We are all, by nature,' in maligno positi,'
* Isai ix. 3, 4. • Heb. xi. 26. An. 31. numb. 78. y Acts xvii. 11.
1 John xv. 11. P Mic. v. 5.
t 2 Cor. vi. 2. z Gal. iv. 14.
m Rom. xv. 3. q Rom. v. 3.
u Luke xix. 26. a Mar. x. 29.
n James i. 2. r Isai. lxi. 2. • Baron. x Acts xxi, 17.