« PoprzedniaDalej »
it upon their lusts; or that they may hoard it up, to gratify their pride and avarice, no great applause is due to them. Yea, men may abound in fasting and prayer, and in giving alms, merely that their piety and charity may be admired ; and they may have their reward ; but not at the resurrection of the just.
Those to whom God will render eternal life, are here characterized as aiming at noble and worthy ends : “ Glory, honor, and immortality.” These expressions, though they seem nearly synonymous, may admit of an explanation somewhat distinct.
1. The persons described by the apostle, seek for glory
Not the glory of this world, or of the princes of this world, which cometh to nought. As most of the phrases used on spiritual and divine subjects, are taken from the names of earthly things ; so the word glory, according to its primary root, and originaluse, is said to signify the gravity, or weightiness of material substances; as grain, silver, gold, &c. by which their value is estimated. As applied to rational beings, and things of a spiritual nature, it is meant to express, either their intrinsic and real excellence, or its display and manifestation.
Intrinsic excellence, of the moral kind, is called glory, in a sense very suitable to the forementioned derivation of that word: as excellent men, are men of weight and worth ; whereas those destitute of virtue, are light and worthless, like dross or chaff. Thus it is said, “ Abimilech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.” And of Belshazzar it was written, “ TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and found wanting.” So in the first Psalm, after the character and happiness of a good man, it is added, “ The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” And in another Psalm, to set forth the want of virtue in man.
kind of all orders and degrees, it is said, “ Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.” In opposition to this, the lowest, weakest, poorest good man, is a man of weight; that is, of solid worth. To seek for glory, in this sense of the word, is to seek for moral excellence, or personal holiness. And so the word seems to be used, 2 Pet. i. 3, “ According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who hath called us to glory and virtue.” The apostle adds, Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature."
The word glory, also signifies happiness ; especially spiritual and heavenly happiness, consisting in, or resulting from, the vision and fruition of God and Christ. See Rom. v. 2, “ By whom also we have access by faith, into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” And 1 Pet. i. 8, “ Whom, having not seen, ye love ; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” İn what the happiness of heaven will most essentially consist, we are taught, Rev. xxii. I, “ And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb.” Seeking glory implies, then, seeking personal holiness, and that happiness which arises from seeing the glory of God, our Creator, and of Christ, our Redeemer, most highly advanced.
2. Those to whom God will render eternal life, are such as seek for honor.
Not honor from men, certainly : to seek this in the manner many do, is inconsistent with the seeking here spoken of, John v. 44, “ How can ye be lieve, who receive honor one of another, and seek
not the honor which cometh from God only ?" It is this last, the honor which cometh from God only, that is intended in our text. This is one great object of that hope by which christians are saved, and of that faith whereby they overcome the world. And this is promised them by their Saviour and Judge ; Rev. iii. 5, “ He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but will confess his name be. fore my Father, and before his angels." It is said, 1 Cor. iv. 5, “ Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.” That is, every man who has done well, or meant well; however his good deeds may have been concealed, or misrepresented ; or however he may have wanted the means of doing the good for which he had a willing mind. He who im. proves his talents with fidelity, whether many or few, will be openly honored with that transporting appro. bation, Matt. xxv. 21, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” This honor is for all his saints, and for this they seek.
3. They seek for immortality : or incorruption, as the original might be rendered.
The apostle has reference, probably to the resurrection. He elsewhere tells us, “ Christ hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light :” meaning no doubt, the immortality of the body, as well as of the soul : when “ this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.” These are the grand objects of those who are risen with Christ, and seek those things which are above.
The manner of their seeking these things, is next to be considered. It is said in our text to be, by patient continuance in well-doing. More particularly,
1. It is by well-doing. This implies a sincere and universal obedience to the will of God, as revealed in his word. It implies that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and that living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, which the grace of God that bringeth salvation teacheth. “ Then shall I not be ashamed,” says the psalmist, “ when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” Well-doing, with respect to ourselves, implies prudence, sobriety, self-denial, and temperance in all things. Well-doing, with respect to our neighbor, implies a careful discharge of all the duties of righteousness and charity, of truth, honesty, and kindness, towards all with whom we have any connection or intercourse. Well-doing, with respect to God our Maker, implies a constant attendance upon all his ordinances; walking humbly before him, be. ing resigned to his will, and worshipping him in spirit and in truth.
2. There must be continuance in well-doing. It is said, 2 Pet. ï. 20, 21, 22, “If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vom. it again ; and, The sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” And many such there have been in all ages of the church. But those who so run as to obtain, persevere in wel-doing to the end of their mortal race. Matt. x. 22, “ He that endureth to the end shall be saved.' And Rev. ii. 10, “ Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
3. Patient continuance in well-doing is mentioned in our text. And to hold on their way, in such a world as this, christians have need of patience. Often they are rewarded evil for their good, and hatred for their love. Often they are persecuted for righteousness' sake, and bitterly reviled and slandered for their steadfast adherence to truth and duty. Many are the temptations they meet with to recompense evil for evil, or to cease from doing good. But amidst all discouragements, the righteous, through divine grace, hold on their way, and bring forth fruit with patience,
III. We proceed to consider how far, and how universally, well-doing, in this manner, and from these motives, is necessary in order to eternal life, upon the gospel plan. And here,
1. It is certain that no more than imperfect welldoing, is now made necessary, for this end.
Not that the gospel, as a rule of life, is any lower in its requisitions, than the original law of works. In this sense Christ came not to destroy the law or the prophets. He came not to abrogate the original law of the Lord, which was perfect, and to set up a new law, conformable to the moral capacity, or disposition, of fallen, imperfect peatures. Heaven and earth might be casier overturned, or destroyed, than one jot or tittle of the moral law be abated. Perfect conformity to the eternal rule of right, in heart and life, must always be incumbent on every rational creature, under all dispensations, and in all worlds. In point of duty, sinless perfection is as much required of us as it would have been if Christ had not undertaken our redemption ; and as much required of fallen men as it was of our first parents while upright in Paradise ; or as it is of the angels in heaven. But in point of divine acceptance it is not required. From even the moral law, as a covenant of