Romans 15:4

That alliance is beneficial which lends the aid of the strong to bear the burdens of the weak. Sympathy renders this possible by its real participation in another's distress. Sometimes the infirmities of others are succoured by yielding up our own gratification, or by restricting our own liberty in order not to shock the scruples of the less enlightened. What is our guide in such cases? The reply is - To live in the spirit of Christ, to walk as he walked.

I. CHRIST HAS INTRODUCED INTO MORALS A BEAUTIFUL MODEL AND A POWERFUL MOTIVE. His pattern life is best appreciated by comparing it with ancient heathen manners. The impossibility of inventing such an ideal is the proof of the genuineness of the Gospel narratives. The story is vivid and consistent because a record of fact. An example instructs more than any prolixity of statement or precept. Lecturers know this by their illustrations and experiments. It is one thing to hear of truth, goodness, beauty, from the lips of Plato; quite another to see it live and breathe before our eyes. Cicero could describe the "perfect man" according to his conceptions of perfection; Christ alone exemplified it. And the relationship of Christ to his followers, as not only Teacher but Saviour, imparts tenfold force to his example. He has definite claims upon our obedience, and dearest links of love bind us to the imitation of our Master. His life on earth has been a stream irrigating the parched desert, and has taught us how to make canals of philanthropic benevolence, deriving their idea and element from the river of his love. In fanatical Jerusalem and luxurious Antioch, in philosophic Athens and pleasure-loving Corinth, in colonial Philippi and imperial Rome, this river of grace proved its power to fertilize and beautify. And today we trace a likeness to Christ in the missionary, content to dwell in malarial swamps, and yield his life for the salvation of the degraded; in the tired mother cheerfully continuing at her household toil whilst she uplifts her thoughts to the Redeemer; and in the Church officer leaving his comfortable fireside after his day's work is done to minister to a brother in sickness. In the repression of a hasty word and biting sarcasm, in the gift unostentatiously placed in the hands of the poor, we behold reflected the self-sacrifice of Christ.

II. THE FEATURE OF CHRIST'S LIFE ON WHICH STRESS IS HERE LAID. He was unselfish; he "pleased not himself." This does not imply that he felt no personal pleasure in his mission of mercy. "I delight to do thy will, O my God." But:

1. He sought not to promote his own ease and comfort, but the edification of others. He would not pander to vitiated taste; he taught what men most needed to know, not what gratified the vanity of his hearers, though he, thereby aroused their enmity and created the storm which burst in wrath upon his head. At great cost of physical labour and spiritual weariness he performed works of love. See him asleep from fatigue in the heaving vessel, and fainting under the load of his cross.

2. He gloried not himself, but the work he came to accomplish. He might have summoned angels to his side, he might have led an uprising of the populace, have overawed the rulers, and selected the wisest and wealthiest as his companions and disciples. But the truth was more than all to him. His meat and drink were to do the will of his Father. He had left for this the splendour of the upper realms, and stooped to the form of a servant, and the obedience of a shameful, agonizing death.

III. To FOLLOW CHRIST IS TO MAKE THE OLD TESTAMENT A WELLSPRING OF PATIENCE AND HOPE. The persecution which Christ met with showed him treading in the steps of Scripture heroes. The language of the psalmist is quoted by the apostle as typically expressing the lot of Christ. The chief pangs of a devoted life are caused by the opposition of an ungodly world. Our Lord exposed the hollow pretensions of the Jewish religionists by declaring that true love to God in the heart would listen to the teachings of his Son, would acknowledge in him the promised Messiah, and would recognize in his deeds the echo of the Scriptures. It fortifies Christian sufferers to know that they are in the line of the faithful. No new thing hath happened, for the same afflictions were accomplished in our brethren before. If, then, others have bravely endured and maintained their confidence, so may we. And the ancient writings testify that men, in pleasing God and serving their day and generation, realized true satisfaction, an inward peace and joy indestructible. So we, too, may discover that the road to happiness is holy self-denial. We are slow to learn that the bitter rind covers grateful fruit, that death is the gate to life, and humility the stepping-stone to honour. Obedience prepares us to wield authority; and to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing is to prove how inseparably the kingdom of God and our own good are combined. Miserly selfishness overreaches itself; the restricted heart dies of inanition. He who will always get from others knows not the blessedness of giving. The wine of Christian charity flushes the spirit with a generous emotion, pure and God-like, the nectar of the skies. - S.R.A.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.

1. "Our learning." They are God's gift of light to a dark world when it had lost its way and was groping for the wall like the blind.(1) As an intellectual boon alone we should prize them. They answer man's inquiries as to the origin and history of the world, etc., in a way which meets the anticipations of a reasoning and reflective mind.(2) For our learning also on great moral subjects; how, e.g., it comes that there are found in man such strange contrarieties of good and evil; and how, even while hedged in by influences which bind him to the present world, he is conscious of unextinguishable aspirations after a higher and unseen life.(3) For our learning, as respects God Himself. "The world by wisdom knew not God." My mind pants for information about Him in the relations of parent, benefactor, judge. But all this must come from Himself alone. Neither nature, nor reason, nor observation, nor conscience could ever have helped us to it.

2. That through the patience and comfort which these Scriptures afford to the troubled soul we might have hope. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God; that is, of the glory which shall be revealed hereafter — the mighty developments of the world unseen. And this hope comes to us, is strengthened and kept alive by patience and comfort of the Word. The Word is our hope, especially in all times of affliction. Over and over again, in the 119th Psalm, does David back up his petitions for all good with the argument, "according to Thy Word," and he well knew his warrant. The Scriptures were given for that very end.


1. Deep reverence. God will have His name hallowed, for it is holy; but His Word He seems to make holier still — "Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name." We are to receive it, not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, the Word of God.

2. Diligence, earnest effort, a high appreciation of its worth. "I rejoice at Thy Word as one that findeth great spoil," says David. As in prayer, we have not, because we are not; so in our Scripture reading, it is to be feared, we find not because we seek not. Is there any human science in which proficiency would ever be obtained if its first principles were to be studied with no more of concentration and of thought than most men give to the study of the Bible? If we will not be at the pains to learn, we can have no claim either to the comfort or the hope.

3. Strong faith, large expectations, a deep persuasion of the sufficiency of Scripture for all its ordained and appointed ends. A book is commonly nothing more than just an assemblage of words which move not, neither do they speak; but the Word of God has all the properties of the most active and powerful agents in the universe. It is a spirit, and can breathe; it is a fire, and can consume; it is a hammer, and can crush; it is a sword, and can cleave; it is a rain, and can soften; it is leaven, and can spread; it has a vitality which can be claimed by nothing else. The only limit which can be put to its power is that imposed by our own unbelief. If not restrained by this, every promise becomes endorsed with a yea and amen.

(D. Moore, M.A.)

The connection between the different parts of the text is this: First, the apostle lays down a Christian's duty (vers. 1, 2). After that he brings forward, as the sanction of that duty, the spirit of the life of Christ (ver. 3). Next he adds an illustration of that principle by a quotation from Psalm 69. Lastly, he explains and defends that application (ver. 4). So we have the principle upon which the apostles used the Old Testament, and we are enabled to understand their view of inspiration. This is the deepest question of our day. In the text we find two principles.


1. This passage quoted was evidently spoken by David of himself. Nevertheless, Paul applies it to Christ. Nay, more, he uses it as belonging to all Christians (ver. 4). "No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation." Had the Psalm applied only to David, then it would have been of private interpretation; instead of which, it belongs to humanity. Take, again, the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. That seemed limited to Jerusalem; but had it ended there, then you would have had a prophecy of private — i.e., peculiar, limited — interpretation: whereas our Redeemer's principle was this: that this doom pronounced on Jerusalem was but a specimen of God's judgments. The judgment coming of the Son of Man takes place wherever there is evil grown ripe, whenever corruption is complete.

2. Promises and threatenings are made to individuals, because they are in a particular state of character; but they belong to all who are in that state, for "God is no respecter of persons."(1) Take an instance of the state of blessing. There was blessing pronounced to Abraham; but the whole argument in this Epistle is, that it was made, not to his person, but to his faith. "They who are of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham."(2) Take the case of threatening. Jonah went through Nineveh, proclaiming its destruction; but that prophecy was true only while it remained in its evil state; and therefore, as they repented, and their state was thus changed, the prophecy was left unfulfilled. In 1 Corinthians 10 the apostle tells of the state of the Jews in the wilderness, and shows that whosoever shall imitate them, the same judgments must fall upon them. "All these things happened unto them for ensamples." "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man."(3) Take a case, applied not to nations,but to individuals. Hebrews 13 quotes from the Old Testament, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"; and the apostle's inference is, that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper," etc. Now this was a promise made to Jacob; but the apostle does not hesitate to appropriate it to all Christians; for it was made, not to Jacob as a person, but to the state in which Jacob was; to all who, like Jacob, are wanderers and pilgrims in the world. The promises made to the meek belong to meekness; the promises made to the humble belong to humility.

3. And this it is which makes this Bible our Book. The teachers, the psalmists, the prophets, and the lawgivers of this despised nation spoke out truths that have struck the key-note of the heart of man; and this not because they were of Jewish, but just because they were of universal application. The orator holds a thousand men for half an hour breathless; but this Word of God has held a thousand nations for thrice a thousand years spell-bound; held them by an abiding power, even the universality of its truth; and we feel it to be no more a collection of books, but the Book.


1. St. Paul quotes these Jewish words as fulfilled in Christ. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." We must often have been perplexed at the way in which the apostles quote passages in reference to Christ, which originally had no reference to Him. In our text, e.g., David speaks only of himself; and yet St. Paul refers it to Christ. Promises belong to persons only so far as they are what they are taken to be; and, consequently, all unlimited promises made to individuals can only be true of One in whom that is fulfilled which was unfulfilled in them. Take the magnificent destinies Balaam promised to the people whom he was called to curse. Those promises have never been fulfilled, nor does it seem likely that they ever will be fulfilled in their literal sense. To whom, then, are they made? To Israel? Yes; so far as they developed God's own conception. Balaam says, "God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel." Is this the character of Israel, an idolatrous and rebellious nation? Jesus is that pure and spotless One. Christ is perfectly all that every saint was partially. Consequently St. Paul would not read the Psalm he quotes as spoken only of David. The promises are to the Christ within David; therefore they are applied to the Christ when He comes.

2. Now, let us extract from that this application. Scripture is full of Christ. From Genesis to Revelation everything breathes of Him — not every letter of every sentence, but the spirit of every chapter. Get the habit of referring all to Christ. How did He feel? — think? — act? So then must I feel, and think, and act. Observe how Christ was a living reality in St. Paul's mind. "Should I please myself?" "For even Christ pleased not Himself." "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

(F. W. Robertson, M.A.)


1. There are different modes in which God might be pleased to reveal Himself to mankind.(1) In creation God hath disclosed His power, wisdom, and love. This is an open Volume, which all men may read.(2) God has revealed Himself in Providence. And here, too, the revelation is plainly intended for all. This Book, so far as it goes, is unsealed.

2. Observe at this point, however, that neither volume discloses what it is most essential for a human being, such as man actually is, to be informed of. And therefore it was quite to be expected beforehand that God should make some clear revelation of His will and design respecting our race. This revelation we have in His Word.(1) Now, would it not be an anomalous thing if, unlike the other and less perfect disclosures, this were to be stamped with exclusiveness?(2) If the Scriptures were intended for only partial perusal, we might surely expect that this limitation would be clearly defined in the Scriptures themselves.(a) The Scriptures have been in use from the earliest times by the people, as well as by the priesthood (Deuteronomy 17:18; Deuteronomy 31:11, etc.).(b) The people were commended for studying them, and sometimes rebuked for the neglect of them. How repeatedly Christ, in addressing the people, presupposes them to have read the records of inspiration! "Have ye not read?" or, "Have ye never read?" The New Testament Scriptures contain not one single intimation to any other effect than that they were to be universally studied. In the Acts we find the Bereans commended for the study of them. When St. Paul "charges" the Thessalonians, "by the Lord, that this Epistle be read unto all the holy brethren," and tells the Colossians, "when this Epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read the Epistle from Laodicea." The Revelation opens with, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein."


1. The best that Rome has to allege is, "the evil which has in some instances arisen, and may again arise, from the indiscreet use of God's Word." We freely admit that many have drawn from the Scriptures doctrines opposed to God's truth, and pernicious to man's welfare. But what if some few have perverted a blessing into a curse? Is that any reason for withholding the blessing from others? Who made the Romish Church the guardian to step in and prevent the Scriptures from working injury? We know that in support of this objection the Romanists will appeal to the assertion of St. Peter, that in Paul's Epistles "are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." But this proves that in Peter's time the Scriptures were in free use, or how could the abuse of them have arisen? But if they are "unlearned and unstable" persons who wrest the Scriptures, surely it were a strange mode of rectifying the mischief to keep them still in a state of ignorance. And the apostle does not throw out the shadow of a hint that the Scriptures were not to be used.

2. But the objection referred to is not the real secret of Romish opposition to the free use of the Bible. That Church dares not let her doctrines and her practices be brought to the standard of Scripture. She knows that if people are allowed to read the Holy Scriptures otherwise than by the permission of, and under colour of the interpretation of the priest, they will find the doctrine of justification stated very differently from the way in which it is put forth in her teaching. They will find far less made of outward means, and a vast deal more of the inward and spiritual grace; far less of human, and a vast deal more of a Saviour's merits.

(Bp. R. Bickersteth.)

The book of nature obscured by the Fall. Philosophy from it could not find out God. The Scriptures given to reveal Him. Let us consider —


1. For the communication of knowledge of



(3)The invisible world.

2. For our comfort in every state of mind and condition of life.

3. For our hope. The hope of eternal life, founded on true faith as a solid foundation. Knowledge, consolation, and hope constitute the things for which we should look.


1. Attention.

(1)The mind should be free from vain and worldly thoughts and disordered passions.

(2)The most convenient seasons should be chosen to answer this end.

(3)To secure attention, we should consider it is God who speaks.

(4)Read with deliberation.

(5)Not read too long a time. Historical books an exception.

2. Frequently, regularly, and diligently, they should be read. This will —

(1)Give familiarity.

(2)Enable us to meditate on them.

(3)Increase our relish for them.

(4)Enlarge and confirm our knowledge.Thus, as we take food for nourishment every day, so shall the soul receive its proper aliment which will nourish it unto life eternal.

3. With judgment and discrimination.(1) Distinguish what is God's Word. Malachi quotes a speech of the wicked, "It is in vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinances?" St. Paul quotes the Epicureans, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." Job's friends were wrong, and "God was wroth with them because they had not spoken the thing that was right."(2) Put no forced construction on any part that will contradict other portions. As — "The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart." "Christ has delivered us from the law." "No man liveth and sinneth not." "By the deeds of the law no flesh living can be justified.'' "God cannot tempt any man" to evil. "We are under the law to Christ." "He that is born of God doth not commit sin." Faith must produce the fruit of good works.(3) Consider the speaker; the characters spoken to; the occasion; the allusion; the end; the connection; the meaning in similar passages. Instance of mistake, St. Paul's advice against marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, whereas he only speaks in reference to a peculiar time of persecution (ver. 26).(4) Above all, the improvement must be observed. "These things are written that ye might believe." Also St. James, "If any man be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man," etc.

4. We must read them with faith and submission.(1) Receive them as if we saw everything with our eyes, or heard God speak.(2) Avoid vain reasonings, needless curiosity, and rash inquiries, which often terminate in doubt and infidelity.(3) We must receive precepts and promises, commands and threatenings, however contrary to our passions.

5. We must read them with piety and prayer.(1) Pious intention, a love of truth, a disposition to believe and obey. "An honest and good heart, which hears the word and keeps it, and brings forth fruit with patience."(2) Prayer before reading, accompanying it, and ending. This disposition will make us attentive, diligent, discriminating, thoughtful, and faithful.

(D. Macafee.)

That we, through, patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope
There is a river in Switzerland fed by two uniting streams, bearing the same name, one of them called the "white," one of them the "grey," or dark. One comes down from the glaciers, and bears the half-melted snow in its white ripple; the other flows through a lovely valley, and is discoloured by its earth. They unite in one common current. So in these two verses (4 and 13) we have two streams, a white and a black, and they both blend together and flow out into a common hope. So both halves of the possible human experience are meant to end in, the same blessed result.

I. We have, first of all, THE HOPE THAT IS THE CHILD OF THE NIGHT, and born in the dark. "Whatsoever things," says the apostle, "were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through patience" — or rather the brave perseverance — "and consolation" — or rather, perhaps, encouragement — "of the Scriptures might have hope." The written word is conceived for the source of patient endurance which acts as well as suffers. This grace Scripture works in us through the encouragement which it ministers in manifold ways, and the result of both is hope. So, you see, our sorrows and difficulties are not connected with, nor do they issue in, bright hopefulness, except by reason of this connecting link. We cannot pass from the black frowning cliffs on one side of the gorge to the sunny tablelands on the other without a bridge — and the bridge for a poor soul from the blackness of sorrow to the smiling pastures of hope, with all their half-open blossoms, is builded in that book, which tells us the meaning and purpose of them all, and is full of the histories of those who have overcome, have hoped and not been ashamed. Scripture is given, among other reasons, that it may encourage us:, and so may produce in us this great grace of active patience, if we may call it so. The first thing to notice, then, is how Scripture gives encouragement — for such, rather than consolation, is the meaning of the word. It seeks to make us strong and brave to face and to master our sorrows, and to infuse into us a high-hearted courage. It would be a poor aim to comfort only; but to encourage — to make strong in heart, resolved in will, and incapable of being crushed in spirit by any sorrows — that is a purpose worthy of the Book, and of the God who speaks through it. This purpose, we may say, is effected by Scripture in two ways. It encourages us by its records, and by its revelation of principles. Who can tell how many struggling souls have taken heart again as they pondered over the sweet stories of sorrow subdued which stud its pages, like stars in its firmament? We are all enough of children to be more affected by the living examples than by dissertations however true. But Scripture has another method of ministering encouragement to our often fainting heart. It cuts down through all the complications of human affairs, and lays bare the innermost motive power. It not only shows us in its narratives the working of sorrow and the power of faith, but it distinctly lays down the source and the purpose, the whence and the whither of all suffering. They all come from my Father, and they all come for my good. With that double certitude clear before us, we can face anything. The slings and arrows that strike are no more flung blindly by an "outrageous fortune," but each bear an inscription, like the fabled bolts, which tells what hand drew the bow, and they come with His love. Then, further, the courage thus born of the Scriptures produces another grand thing — patience, or rather perseverance. It is something to endure, and even while the heart is breaking, to submit unmurmuring; but, transcendent as it is, it is but half of the lesson which we have to learn and to put in practice. For if all our sorrows have a disciplinary purpose, we shall not have received them aright unless we have tried to make that purpose effectual by appropriating whatsoever spiritual teaching: they each have for us. Nor does our duty stop there. It is that dogged persistence in plain duty, that tenacious continuance in our course, which is here set forth as the result of the encouragement which Scripture gives. Many of us have all our strength exhausted in mere endurance, and have let obvious duties slip from our hands, as if we had done all that we could do when we had forced ourselves to submit. Submission would come easier if you took up some of those neglected duties, and you would be stronger for patience if you used more of your strength for service. Take the encouragement which Scripture gives, that it may animate you to bate no jot of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer right onward. And let the Scripture directly minister to you perseverance as well as indirectly supply it through the encouragement which it gives. It teaches us a solemn scorn of ills. It summons us to diligence by the visions of the prize, and glimpses of the dread fate of the slothful, by all that is blessed in hope and terrible in foreboding, by appeals to an enlightened self-regard, and by authoritative commands to conscience, by the pattern of the Master, and by the tender motives of love to Him to which He Himself has given voice. All these call on us to be followers of them who, through faith and perseverance, inherit the promises. But we have yet another step to take. These two, the encouragement and perseverance produced by the right use of Scripture, will lead to hope. The lion once slain houses a swarm of bees, who lay up honey in its carcase. If we can look back and say, "Thou hast been with me in six troubles," it is good logic to look forward and say, "and in seven Thou wilt not forsake me."

II. So much then for the genealogy of one form of the Christian hope. But we have also A HOPE THAT IS BORN OF THE DAY, the child of sunshine and gladness. "The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope." So then "the darkness and the light are both alike" to our hope, in so far as each may become the occasion for its exercise. We have seen that the bridge by which sorrow led to hope was perseverance and courage; in this second analysis of the origin of hope, joy and peace are the bridge by which faith passes over into it. Paul has found, and if we only put it to the proof we shall also find, that the simple exercise of simple faith fills the soul with "all joy and peace." Gladness in all its variety, and in full measure, calm repose in every kind, and abundant in its still depth, will pour into my heart as water does into a vessel, on condition of my taking away the barrier and opening my heart through faith. "Trust and thou shalt be glad." In the measure of thy trust shall be the measure of thy joy and peace. Notice, further, how indissolubly connected the present exercise of faith is with the present experience of joy and peace. It is only while we are looking to Jesus that we can expect to have joy and peace. There is no flashing light on the surface of the mirror, but when it is turned full to the sun. Any interruption in the electric current is registered accurately by an interruption in the continuous line, perforated on the telegraph-ribbon; and so every diversion of heart and faith from Jesus Christ is recorded by the fading of the sunshine out of the heart, and the silencing of all the song-birds. Always believe and you will always be glad and calm. Observe, again, how accurately the apostle defines for us the conditions on which Christian experience would be joyful and tranquil. It is "in believing," not in certain other exercises of mind, that these blessings are to be realised. And the forgetfulness of that plain fact leads to many good people's religion being very much more gloomy and disturbed than God meant it to be. For a large part of it consists in sadly proving their spiritual state, and gazing at their failures and imperfections. There is nothing cheerful and tranquillising in grubbing among the evils of your own heart, and it is quite possible to do that too much and too exclusively. Then, the second step in this tracing of the origin of the hope which has the brighter source, is the consideration that the joy and peace which spring from faith, in their turn produce that confident anticipation of future and progressive good. Herein lies the distinguishing blessedness of the Christian joy and peace, and that they carry in themselves the pledge of their own eternity. It is not true of this gladness that "Hereof cometh in the end despondency and madness," but its destiny is to "remain" as long as the soul in which it unfolds shall exist, and "to be full" as long as the source from which it flows does not run dry. So that the more we experience the present blessedness, which faith in Christ brings us, the more shall we be sure that nothing in the future, either in or beyond time, can put an end to it; and hence a hope that looks with confident eyes across the gorge of death to the "shining tablelands" on the other side, and is as calm as certitude, shall be ours. I saw, not long since, in a wood a mass of blue wild hyacinths, that looked like a little bit of heaven dropped down upon earth. You and I may have such a tiny bit of heaven itself lying amidst all the tangle of our lives, if only we put our trust in Christ, and so get into our hearts some little portion of that joy that is unspeakable, and that peace that passeth understanding.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.) .

1. This is the text from which old Hugh Latimer was wont to preach continually in his latter days. Certainly it gave him plenty of sea room.

2. The apostle declares that the Old Testament Scriptures are meant to teach New Testament believers. Things written aforetime were written for our time. The Old Testament is not outworn; apostles learned from it. Nor has its authority ceased; it still teaches with certainty. Nor has its Divine power departed; for it works the graces of the Spirit in those who receive it — patience, comfort, hope.

3. In this verse the Holy Ghost sets His seal upon the Old Testament, and for ever enters His protest against all undervaluing of that sacred volume.

4. The Holy Scriptures produce and ripen the noblest graces. Let us carefully consider —


1. Such as they inculcate. Patience —

(1)Under every appointment of the Divine will.

(2)Under human persecution and satanic opposition.

(3)Under brotherly burdens (Galatians 6:2).

(4)In waiting for Divine promises to be fulfilled.

2. Such as they exhibit in examples.

(1)Job under divers afflictions triumphantly patient.

(2)Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob patiently waiting as sojourners with God, embracing the covenant promise in a strange land.

(3)Joseph patiently forgiving the unkindness of his brethren, and bearing the false accusation of his master.

(4)David, in many trials and under many reproaches, patiently waiting for the crown, and refusing to injure his persecutor.

(5)Our Saviour patient under all the many forms of trial.

3. Such as they produce by their influence.

(1)By calling us to the holiness which involves trial.

(2)By revealing the design of God in our tribulations, and so sustaining the soul in steadfast resolve.

(3)By declaring to us promises as to the future which make us cheerfully endure present griefs.


1. Such as they inculcate.

(1)They bid us rise above fear (Psalm 46:1-3).

(2)They urge us to think little of all transient things.

(3)They command us to find our joy in God.

(4)They stimulate us to rejoice under tribulations, because they make us like the prophets of old.

2. Such as they exhibit.

(1)Enoch walking with God.

(2)Abraham finding God his shield and exceeding great reward.

(3)David strengthening himself in God.

(4)Hezekiah spreading his letter before the Lord. Many other cases are recorded, and these stimulate our courage.

3. Such as they produce.

(1)The Holy Spirit, as the Comforter, uses them to that end.

(2)Their own character adapts them to that end.

(3)They comfort us by their gentleness, certainty, fulness, graciousness, adaptation, personality, etc.

(4)Our joyous experience is the best testimony to the consoling power of the Holy Scriptures.

III. THE HOPE OF THE SCRIPTURES. Scripture is intended to work in us a good hope. A people with a hope will purify themselves, and will in many other ways rise to a high and noble character. By the hope of the Scriptures we understand —

1. Such a hope as they hold forth.

(1)The hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

(2)"The blessed hope, and the appearing of "our Lord" (Titus 2:13).

(3)The hope of the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6).

(4)The hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). There is a good hope, a lively hope, the hope set before us in the gospel.

2. Such a hope as they exhibit in the lives of saints. A whole martyrology will be found in Hebrews 11.

3. Such a hope as they produce.

(1)We see what God has done for His people, and therefore hope.

(2)We believe the promises through the Word, and therefore hope.

(3)We enjoy present blessing, and therefore hope.Let us hold constant fellowship with the God of patience and Consolation, who is also the God of hope; and let us rise from stage to stage of joy as the order of the words suggests.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

There is much in this text as to the Scriptures.

1. Written for our learning.

2. Help to patience.

3. Full of comfort.

4. Support of hope.Let us take one branch — the "comfort of the Scriptures." Whatever are our burdens, there is comfort here.

I. ARE WE BURDENED UNDER A SENSE OF SIN? Many are so, like David (Psalm 51). The Bible does not make light of this, but rather reveals the greatness and number of our sins. Yet it is full of comfort, telling of the way of forgiveness, pointing to the fountain opened. It is a proclamation of mercy, a message — yea, many messages — from a loving Father.


1. The Bible tells of "grace sufficient for thee."

2. It points to One who can be touched in our behalf, who is our Captain and Deliverer.

3. It gives bright examples, too, of many who "out of weakness were made strong."

III. ARE WE ANXIOUS ABOUT TEMPORAL AFFAIRS? How many words of direction and encouragement meet us! Promises in the sermon on the mount, and lessons from the lilies and the fowls. Invitations to cast every care on Him who careth for us in the Scriptures also the veil over the future is uplifted, and the better and enduring inheritance exhibited.

IV. ARE WE SUFFERING FROM BEREAVEMENT? With our Bible in hand we suffer not as others who have no hope. Our minds are diverted from second causes to "It is the Lord." We read the eleventh chapter of John, and are soothed by the sympathy there manifested.

V. ARE WE BURDENED WITH FEAR OF DEATH? There is still comfort in the Scriptures. Only let us come to Him in whom is salvation, and then the last enemy is destroyed. They promise victory (1 Corinthians 15.); a house not made with hands (2 Corinthians 5.); a prepared place (John 14). No evil to be feared (Psalm 23), and from the Apocalypse gleams of glory to be seen.

(J. Lancaster, M.A.)

ence a means of it: — These words in their connection show us that Christ and the great truths of Christianity are to be found where a superficial observer would not expect to find them. The preceding verse, quoted from Psalm 69:9, would appear to be meant only of David; and yet the apostle was taught to consider them as also referring to Christ, of whom David was a type. We have similar instances in Psalm 22:8, 18; Psalm 69:21; Psalm 11:6, 7; Psalm 102:25, 26. Indeed, our Lord Himself intimates that He is the great subject of the Old Testament (John 5:39).


1. It will be readily allowed that spiritual and eternal, not carnal and temporal, things are the objects of a Christian's hope — viz., God and His salvation (Lamentations 3:26), or the privileges and blessings of the gospel.

2. But as the subjects of this hope are already believers in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-7; Colossians 1:13), the attainment of these things is not properly the object of their hope, for these are already possessed; but a continuance of these blessings, together with guidance, protection, succour, and consolation in all difficulties and trials, timely deliverance from them, perfect holiness and meetness for heaven (Galatians 5:5), perseverance in grace, and, especially, eternal life (Titus 1:2), or the glory of God (1 Chronicles 5:2).

3. The Christian hope is an earnest desire after this, in consequence of a discovery of its great excellency, by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10). Thus the first Christians (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:4-8), and even pious Jews, expressed their desire (Psalm 17:15; Psalm 73:24).

4. It is, moreover, a well-grounded and lively expectation of it, arising from our being entitled to it —

(1)As justified (Titus 3:7).

(2)As being children and heirs (Romans 8:17).

(3)As being, in a measure at least, prepared for it, in proportion to our sanctification and recovery of God's image (Colossians 1:12).

(4)As having an earnest of it (Ephesians 1:14), and being in the way to it.

5. The fruits of this hope are joy (Romans 5:1, 2), gratitude (1 Peter 1:3), humility, and patience (1 Thessalonians 1:3), not being weary of well-doing (Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:58), aspiring after complete purity (1 John 3:3).

6. Hence we learn the vast importance of this hope; it is closely connected with the whole of religion.(1) The Christian life is a voyage, and hope an anchor (Hebrews 6:19), which we may not seem to want when wind and tide are for us; but when they are against us, it will be necessary to preserve us from losing the way we have made, from getting aground on the sand-banks of this world, from being dashed on the rocks of pride and self-confidence, or swallowed up in the whirlpools of despondency.(2) Christianity is a warfare: if righteousness be a breastplate, etc., hope is a helmet; it defends the head, where any injury received would be peculiarly dangerous.


1. The Scriptures reveal the great object of this hope, and bring life and immortality to light, which neither the light of nature nor any other religion can do.

2. They discover the foundation on which we must build it — the death and resurrection of Christ.(1) These seal the doctrine which informs us about, eternal life and the way to it, and so remove the first great hindrance to our hope — our ignorance, and unbelief.(2) They expiate sin and procure our forgiveness, and so remove the second hindrance — our guilt and condemnation.(3) They procure for us the Holy Spirit, which removes the third hindrance — our depravity.(4) Christ, as "the first-fruits of them that sleep," is our forerunner, giving us an example of immortality being destined for man.

3. They furnish the seed and ground, as of faith, so of hope, in their doctrines, precepts, and promises, laying a foundation for faith, the root of hope, and showing us the way in which we may arrive at the object of it.

4. They furnish us with many and very bright examples (Hebrews 11:13, 16, 26).


1. In one point of view patience is the effect of hope; in another it is a cause. An appetite for food is an effect of health, and yet a cause of it; an inclination and ability to use exercise and be active is an effect of health, and yet a cause thereof. And thus may we say of patience. Thus it is mentioned as a fruit of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3) and as a cause of it (Romans 5:2).

2. As to the respects in which patience is necessary, there must be —(1) A patient investigation and study of the Scriptures.(2) A patient progress through the various parts of Christian experience; we cannot step at once from our first awakening into glory.(3) A patient exercise of all our Christian graces as occasions call them forth.(4) A patient performance of all Christian duties (Romans 2:7; Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 5:9; Revelation 22:14).(5) Above all, a patient endurance of afflictions, which are chastisements of our faults, trials of our grace, purifying fires; in this respect especially we have need of patience (Hebrews 10:36).(6) But the word here used also means enduring, persevering to the end. In all these respects patience must minister to hope, and be a cause of an increase and confirmation of it.

3. But how shall this "patience have its perfect work" in us? Through the consolation of the Scriptures. They must be the medicine and food, the strength and refreshment of our souls.

(J. Benson.)

1. A lesson book of instruction.

2. A school of patience.

3. A well-spring of comfort.

4. A solid foundation of hope.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

In it —

I. WE CONVERSE WITH THE PAST — acquiring lessons of —

1. Instruction.

2. Patience.

3. Experience.



(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. THE BIBLE COMES TO US with three great powers, each of which is a guarantee of its truth, and should cause us to value it above all other books. It comes to us with the power of —

1. Tradition. Sayings that are handed on byword of mouth become altered; and so doubtless it would have been with God's words had He not caused them to be written, and then to be delivered to appointed guardians, charged to keep them inviolate. We should thank God, then, that He has given us His holy Church, Jewish and Christian, to be — "a witness and keeper" of His Word, thereby enabling us to know that, in believing it, we are not following "cunningly devised fables."

2. Prophecy. The Bible contains the history not only of the past and present, but also of the future. And we feel sure that all that is predicted will be fulfilled, just because all that was prophesied concerning the Jews, and Jerusalem, and Christ has been fulfilled. And then, if the prophecies of the Bible are true, all else which it contains, we may be sure, is true.

3. Edification. Parts of the Bible may be hard to understand, but none, however unlearned, ever yet studied it, prayerfully and humbly, without finding that it built them up in faith and love. Did ever you find any other book like it in this respect?


1. We should read it every day. Although we talk much about the blessing of an "open Bible," yet to a large number the Bible is kept like some rare treasure to be looked at, not used. It is a very good thing to read the Bible through continuously, endeavouring to grasp the teaching as a whole. But it is a good thing also every day to read a few verses, that all day long we may have in our minds some word of God to rest upon. And if we can commit them to memory, so much the better. Then, in time, we should have our minds stored with holy thoughts, and when Satan approached, "the sword of the Spirit" would be ready to our hand.

2. We should read with the definite desire of hearing God's voice. And this implies that we must read in a humble and teachable spirit; not approaching the Bible with our minds prejudiced, or that we may find some confirmation for our own theories and practices, but saying simply, "Lord, what wouldest Thou have me to do?"

3. In order that, in the reading of the Bible, we may thus listen for and respond to the voice of God, we must prepare our hearts and minds by earnest prayer.

4. As the Bible is the best book of private devotions, use it as such.

5. Do not be perplexed because there are some things in the Bible which you cannot understand. "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine."

6. Try to see Jesus there, and to realise the work that He accomplished and the example that He set.

(J. Beeby.)

The apostle's purpose in making the quotation of ver. 3 was to bring about a more brotherly feeling between the two great divisions of the Roman Church (ver. 1). He might have illustrated his point by referring to many acts in our Lord's life, but he refers to a passage in Psalm 69. instead. But although David in it is describing his own troubles, a Jewish Christian would not have been surprised at St. Paul's applying the words to our Lord, for he would have known that some Jewish books already understood these words of the promised Messiah; but a convert from heathenism would have had many difficulties to get over in accepting this. "Why should a psalm written by David, and referring to David's circumstances more than a thousand years before, be thus used to pourtray the life and character of Jesus?" This difficulty Paul meets by laying down a broad principle which includes a great deal else besides. "Whatsoever things," etc. Consider some of the truths which this statement seems to imply.


1. Unless a book or a man be trustworthy, it is impossible to feel confidence in it or in him, and confidence is the very first condition of receiving instruction to any good purpose. Just as wilful sin is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul, so inveracity is incompatible with the claim of a book to have been inspired by the Author of all truth. Thus in the Book of Deuteronomy, long addresses are ascribed to Moses, and Moses describes a series of events of which he claims to have been an eyewitness. If, then, these addresses and narratives were composed by some Jew, who lived many centuries after Moses, and imposed the book upon the conscience of the Jewish people as the work of Moses himself, such a representation is irreconcilable with the veracity of the book. Or if a striking prediction in Daniel 8 about Antiochus Epiphanes was really written after the event, the book in which it occurs is not a trustworthy book. Unless there be such a thing as inspiration of inveracity we must choose between the authority of some of our modern critics and any belief in inspiration — nay, more, any belief in the permanent value of the Scriptures as source of Christian instruction. Nobody now expects to be instructed by the false Decretals. Certainly every trustworthy book is not inspired; but a book claiming inspiration ought at least to be trustworthy, and a literature which is said to be inspired for the instruction cf the world must not fall below the level which is required for the ordinary purposes of human intercourse.

2. For Christians it will be enough to know that our Lord has set the seal of His infallible sanction on the whole of the Old Testament. He found the Hebrew canon just as we have it, and He treated it as an authority which was above discussion. Nay, more, He went out of His way to sanction not a few portions of it which our modern scepticism too eagerly rejects. When He would warn His hearers against the dangers of spiritual relapse, He bade them remember Lot's wife; when He would point out how worldly engagements might blind the soul to the coming judgment, He reminds them how men ate and drank, etc., until the day that Noah entered the Ark; when He would put His finger on that fact in past Jewish history which, by its admitted reality, would warrant belief in His own coming resurrection, He points to Jonah three days and nights in the whale's belly; when standing on the Mount of Olives with the Holy City at His feet, He would quote that prophecy, the fulfilment of which would mark for His followers that this impending doom had at last arrived, He desires them to flee to the mountains, when they shall see "the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy Place." The trustworthiness of the Old Testament is inseparable from the trustworthiness of our Lord.

II. THAT THE JEWISH SCRIPTURES HAVE A WORLD-WIDE AND ENDURING VALUE. Some instruction, no doubt, is to be gathered from the literature of every people, but on the other hand, there is a great deal in the very finest uninspired literature that cannot be described as permanently or universally instructing; and, therefore, when the apostle says of a great collection of books of various characters and dates, and on various subjects, that whatsoever was contained in them had been set down for the instruction of men of another faith and a later age, we think it an astonishing assertion. Clearly, if the apostle is to be believed, these books cannot be like any other similar collections of national laws, records, poems, and proverbs. There must be in them some quality or qualities which warrant this lofty estimate. And here we may observe that as books rise in the scale of excellence, they tend towards exhibiting a permanence and universality of interest. They rise above the local and personal incidents of their production; they show qualities which address themselves to the minds and heart of the human race. This is the case within limits of our own Shakespeare. And yet by what an interval is Shakespeare parted from the books of the Hebrew Scriptures! His great dramatic creations we feel are only the workmanship of a very shrewd human observer, with the limitation of a human polar of view, and with the restrictive moral authority which is all that the highest human genius can claim. But here is a Book which provides for human nature as a whole, which makes this profession with aa insight and faithfulness that does not belong to the most gifted. Could any moral human author ever have stood the test which the Old Testament has stood? For what has it been to the Jewish people through the tragic vicissitudes of their wonderful history — to Christendom for nineteen centuries? It has formed the larger part of the religious note-book of the Christian Church, it has shaped Christian hopes, largely governed Christian legislation, supplied the language for Christian prayer and praise; the noblest and the saintliest souls have fed their souls on it. Throughout the Christian centuries the Old Testament has been a mine constantly worked, and far to-day from being exhausted. Its genealogies, apparently so long and so dry, may remind us when we examine the names attentively of the awful responsibility which attaches to the transmission of the gift of life, of a type of character which we had ourselves perchance modified, to another, and, perhaps, a distant generation; or sometimes they suggest the care with which all that bears upon the human ancestry of our Lord and Saviour was treasured up in the records of the people of revelation. Those minute ritual directions of the law should bring before us first one and then another aspect of that to which assuredly they point — the redeeming worth of our Lord Jesus Christ.


1. Nobody, of course, would ever expect to find the second sense in an uninspired book, however well written. In Macaulay's History, e.g., we read what he has to say about the events which he describes, and there is an end to it. But this is not true of the Old Testament Scriptures. In the account in Genesis of Abraham's relations with Hagar, Sara, Ishmael, and Isaac, the apostle bids us see the Jewish and the Christian Covenants, and the spiritual slaves of the Mosaic law, and the enfranchised sons of the mother of us all. And in like manner St. Paul teaches the Corinthians in his First Epistle to see in the Exodus and in the events which followed it, not a bare series of historical occurrences, but the fellowship of Christian privileges and of Christian failings.

2. The neglect of this secondary and spiritual sense of Scripture has sometimes led Christians to mis-apply the Old Testament very seriously. Thus, for instance, both the soldiers of Raymond of Toulouse and the Puritans appealed to the early wars of the Israelites as a sanction for indiscriminate slaughter. Dwelling on the letter of the narrative they missed its true and lasting but deeper import, the eternal witness that it bears to God's hatred of moral evil, and the duty of making war upon those passions which too easily erect their Jericho or their Ai within the Christian soul itself, and are only conquered by resolute perseverance and courage.

3. This second sense of Scripture is especially instructive as a guide to the knowledge and love of Christ, who is the end as of the law, so of the whole of the Old Testament, to every one that believeth. Prophecies such as Isaiah's of the virginal birth, and of the Man of Sorrows, or of Psalm 22 and 110, can properly be referred to no one else. But there is much which has a primary reference to some saint, or hero, or event of the day, which yet in its deeper significance points on to Him. All this great deliverance from Egypt and Babylonia, foreshadowed a greater deliverance beyond; all these elaborate rights of purification and sacrifice, which have no meaning apart from the one sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and that succession of saints and heroes who, with all their imperfections, point onwards and upwards to One who dignifies their feebler and broken lives by making them in not a few respects anticipations of His glorious self.

(Canon Liddon.)

The psalmists never hesitated to say that the Bible, as they had it, met all life's deepest necessities: "This is my comfort in my affliction, for Thy word hath quickened me" (Psalm 119:50); "I remember Thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself " (Psalm 119:52); "Unless Thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in my affliction" (Psalm 119:92); "Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet Thy commandments are my delights" (Psalm 119:143). A book of which all this can be said the world will not willingly let die. Whatever is held by the heart is held longest. The friend that will sit up all night when we are in pain and weariness is not a friend we can easily cast off. Many a summer-holiday acquaintance we can well dismiss; but the friend that knows us, that sticketh closer than a brother, that is the same in winter and in summer, that is tenderer in affliction even than in joy, is a friend whose name will stand at the top, and will survive the going away of many whose affection was superficial, and whose relation to us, though ostentatious, was flimsy. If the psalmists could say all this, what can we say? If the dawn was so beautiful, what of the mid-day? If the spring was so trim, what of the harvest?

(J. Parker, D.D.)

The best commentary upon the Bible is experience. The man who can stand up and say, "I have been in affliction, sorrow, darkness, weakness, poverty, and the Bible has proved itself to be a counsellor and light and guide and friend," is one of the best annotators the Bible ever had.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Among the manifold changes and chances of this mortal life, there are three things which we all need, and which, the more we have, the happier we shall be. These are patience, comfort, and hope. The three are closely connected. Hope produces patience, and in the patience of hope there is comfort amid all the trials of life. All these three are to be sought from God.

1. Patience. How much need we all have of it! How it sweetens life and lessens its ills! On the other hand, what mischief impatience does! Patience finds difficulties in God's Word, mysteries too deep for human intellect. Impatience turns away in a rage from these and takes refuge in the dreary darkness of unbelief. But patience waits in quiet trust upon God for mysteries to be unfolded. Patience is not blind to the many dark problems in the history of the world and in human nature. It sees them. It grieves over the slow progress of good, the seeming triumph of evil. But impatience scoffingly denies that there can be a God and a superintending Providence.

2. Comfort. Ah, what a rich store of that is to be found in the Scriptures of God! There the soul that is weighed down by the burden of its sin, the heart that is broken learns how though its sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. There the afflicted learn that they are not suffering under the strokes of an angry God, but that "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." They see the Captain of their salvation made perfect through sufferings.

3. Hope. Ah, how richly hope is sustained by the glorious promises of which the Scriptures are full!

(J. E. Vernon.)

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