Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring glory to God.
I. THEIR MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP TO CHRIST. "Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us" (ver. 7). Both have been received by Christ: why not, then, by one another? Why should our views of Episcopacy or Presbytery, Calvinism or Arminianism, interfere with our relationship as brethren in Christ? St. Paul shows that both Jews and Gentiles have a direct personal interest in Christ and relationship to him. "Jesus Christ was a Minister of the circumcision" (ver. 8). Therefore the Jew should not look upon Jesus of Nazareth as an alien, but as his kinsman according to the flesh. He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil. But because he is a Jew, he is not, therefore, without an interest in the Gentiles. The apostle shows how even the Jewish writings looked forward to an incorporation of the Gentiles with the people of God, and to their sharing the blessings which the Messiah was to confer (vers. 10-12). "In him shall the Gentiles trust." How precious, then, should be the Name of Jesus to all the children of humanity! How the universal brotherhood of Christians is here enforced!
II. THEIR MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP TO THE GOSPEL, Not only was it predicted that both Jews and Gentiles would be joint partakers in the benefits of the Messiah's kingdom, but in actual fact the gospel has come to both. St. Paul, who was himself a Jew, experienced the blessings of the gospel. He, in his turn, communicated those blessings to the Gentiles. He was "the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God" (ver. 16). Truly, the gospel is a great reconciler. How it breaks down the prejudices of race and class and caste! Let the gospel only become a real, living power in our own heart and life, and we shall go forth, like St. Paul, to share its blessings with others, winning them by a spirit of love, no matter what our prejudices against them may have been.
III. THEIR DUTY OF MUTUAL HELPFULNESS. At the time of writing this Epistle St. Paul was on an errand which gave practical proof of the mutual sympathy between Gentile and Jewish Christians. He was on his way to Jerusalem (ver. 25). He was taking with him a contribution which the Gentile Christians of Macedonia and Achaia had made for their Jewish brethren at Jerusalem, who at this time were in poverty (ver. 26). He takes the occasion to say that this act of generosity, cheerfully performed, was indeed a Christian duty. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things" (vet, 27). Here is a reason for missionary efforts among the Jews. They have been the channel through which blessings have flowed to us: shall we not be the channel through which the blessings of the gospel shall flow to them? Here is a reason for the support of the Christian ministry. It is wise and prudent that those who are to be teachers and preachers of the Word, and pastors of the flock, should devote themselves to that work only. How, then, are they to be supported? By the generosity of those to whom they minister. If the latter are "partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things." Such mutual helpfulness all Christians ought to cultivate towards one another. - C.H.I.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded.
I. PROVOCATION. Where there is nothing to try the temper there can be no patience. Humanity provokes God. The provocation is great, universal, constant. Measure His patience by the provocation.
II. SENSIBILITY. Where there is no tenderness or susceptibility of feeling, there may be obduracy and stoicism, but no patience. Patience implies feeling. God is infinitely sensitive. "Oh, do not this abominable thing," etc.
III. KNOWLEDGE. Where the provocation is not known, however great, and however sensitive the being against whom it is directed, there can be no patience. God knows all the provocations.
IV. POWER. Where a being has not the power to resent aa insult or to punish a provocation though he may feel it and know it, his forbearing is not patience, it is simply weakness. He is bound by the infirmity of his nature to be passive. God is all powerful. He could damn all His enemies in one breath.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)Nahum 1:3): —
I. THE NATURE OF THIS PATIENCE, OR SLOWNESS TO ANGER.
1. It is a modification of the Divine goodness. While goodness respects all creatures, patience has as its object only the sinner.
2. This patience is not the result of ignorance. Every transgression is in full view of Him who is one Eternal Now. And yet the Lord delays His thunders!
3. This perfection does not result from impotence (chap. Romans 9:22; Numbers 14:17).
4. Neither does it result from a connivance at sin, or a resolution to suffer it with impunity.
5. It is grounded on the everlasting covenant, and the blood of Jesus. Why was not patience exercised to the fallen angels? Because Jesus had not engaged to atone for them, as He had engaged to become the surety of man.
II. SOME OF THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS MANIFESTATIONS OF IT.
1. When our first parents sinned, patience held them in being, gave them an opportunity of securing a better Eden, and pointed them to that Messiah who should repair the ruins of the fall.
2. When the old world had corrupted its way before God, for 120 years He bore with its enormities, sent His Spirit to strive with them, and His messengers to warn them.
3. When the Canaanites indulged in every abomination, He delayed for four hundred years to inflict on them the punishments they deserved.
4. When the Gentile nations, instead of adoring the God of heaven, had placed the vilest passions and the grossest vices in the seat of the Divinity, the Lord "left not Himself without witness" (Acts 14:17).
5. When the Israelites, notwithstanding His numberless miracles and amazing mercies, rebelled against Him, did He not bear with them? But why do I mention particular examples? There is not a spot on our globe, there is not an instant that has elapsed, there is not a human being that has existed, that does not prove the forbearance of our God. Consider the number, the greatness, and the continuance of the provocations against Him by His creatures whom He hath surrounded with blessings, for whose redemption He gave His Son.
6. Consider the conduct of God towards those whom He is compelled ultimately to punish. Before the judgment He solemnly and affectionately warns them. If they are still obstinate, He delays, gives new mercies, that their souls at last may be touched. If He must punish, He does it by degrees (Psalm 78:38). If at last He must pour out His vengeance upon the incorrigible sinner, He does it with reluctance. "Why wilt thou die?" "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?"
III. THE REASONS WHY HE EXERCISES SUCH LONG-SUFFERING. Lovely as is this attribute, its exercise has often appeared mysterious to the pious, and has been abused by the sinner. Yet a little reflection would have convinced them that in this, as in all the other proceedings of His providence, the manifold wisdom of God is shown. He is patient —
1. From His nature (Lamentations 3:33).
2. That this perfection may be glorified. There can be no exercise of it in heaven, since there will be nothing to require it; none in hell, since there will be nothing but wrath (Isaiah 48:9).
3. In consequence of the prayers of pious ancestors, and of the promises made to them and their offspring after them. Ah! careless children of pious parents, you know not how much you are indebted to them.
4. From the mixture of the wicked with the pious, and the near relations subsisting between them. From love to His dear children, He spares His enemies (2 Kings 22:18, 20).
5. Because the number of His elect is not yet completed, and because many of the descendants of these wicked men shall be trophies of His grace. Had a wicked Ahaz been cut off at once, a pious Hezekiah would never have lived and pleaded the cause of God.
6. Because the measure of their sins is not yet filled up (Zechariah 5:6, etc.).
7. That sinners may be brought to repentance (2 Peter 3:15).
8. That sinners who continue impenitent may at last be without excuse.
9. That God's power may be displayed; the greatness of His protection and providence be manifested in preserving the Church in the midst of her enemies.
10. That He may exercise the trust of His servants in Him, and the "patience of His saints"; that He may call forth the graces of the righteous, and try their sincerity.
IV. INFERENCES. Is God infinitely patient?
1. With what love to Him should the consideration of this attribute inspire us?
2. What a motive to the deepest repentance (Romans 2:4).
3. Let us imitate Him in this perfection of His nature.
4. What a source of comfort is this to believers.
5. Then how patient should we be in all the afflictions with which He visits us?
6. Who, then, will not grieve at the reproaches and insults that are cast upon him?
(H. Kollock, D.D.)I. THE TITLE HE GIVES TO GOD. "The God of patience and consolation," i.e., a God that —
1. Bears with us.
2. Gives us patience and comfort.
II. THE MERCY HE BEGS OF GOD.
1. The foundation of Christian love and peace is laid in likemindedness.
2. This likemindedness must be according to Christ.
3. It is the gift of God.
III. THE END OF HIS DESIRE. That God may be glorified —
1. By Christian unity.
2. As the Father of Christ.
(M. Henry.)I. ITS NATURE. "Likeminded."
II. ITS MOTIVES.
1. The character of God.
2. The mind and will of Christ.
III. ITS SOURCE. God.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)1. Flows from the God of patience and consolation.
2. Is conformable to the mind and will of Christ.
3. Finds expression in the united praises of God, even the Father of Christ.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
According to Christ Jesus
(Newman Smyth, D.D.)
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God1. One God and Father.
2. One Lord and Saviour.
3. One heart and mind.
4. One mouth and language.
5. One object and aim.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
(T. Chalmers, D. D.)
(H. G. Salter.)
Wherefore receive ye one another as Christ also received usI. HOW CHRIST RECEIVED US.
1. When we were weak and guilty.
2. Freely and heartily.
3. To fellowship in glory.
II. HOW WE SHOULD RECEIVE ONE ANOTHER.
1. Kindly, overlooking all infirmities and differences of opinion.
2. Sincerely, with the heart.
3. Into brotherly fellowship, as heirs together of the grace of God.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)I. THE REASONABLENESS OF THIS PRACTICE, whereby it will appear to be the duty of those who profess the religion of Christ to agree together, and form themselves into particular societies.
1. Without such an agreement to unite together in the practice of Christianity, there can be no such thing as public worship regularly maintained among Christians, nor public honours paid to God in the name of Jesus.
2. Without an agreement to keep up such societies for worship, the doctrines of Christ and His gospel could not be so constantly and extensively held forth to the world, and there would be no rational hope of the continuance or increase of Christianity among men.
II. THE ADVANTAGES OF SUCH AN AGREEMENT FOR CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.
1. It gives courage to every Christian to profess and practise his religion when many persons are engaged by mutual agreement in the same profession and practice.
2. It is more for the particular edification of Christians that such societies should be .formed, where the Word of Christ is constantly preached, where the ordinances of Christ are administered, and the religion of Christ is held forth in a social and honourable manner to the world.
3. Such a holy fellowship and agreement to walk together in the ways of Christ is a happy guard against backsliding and apostacy, it is a defence against the temptations of the world and the defilements of a sinful age.
4. Christians thus united together by mutual acquaintance and agreement can give each other better assistance in everything that relates to religion, whether public or private.
III. THE PERSONS WHO SHOULD THUS RECEIVE ONE ANOTHER IN THE LORD, OR JOIN TOGETHER IN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. All that Christ has receipted to partake of His salvation (Romans 14:1-3, 17, 18). This is the general rule: but it must be; confessed that there are some Christians whose sentiments are so directly contrary to others in matters of discipline or doctrine, that it is hardly possible they should unite in public worship. But let every person take heed that he does not too much enlarge, nor too much narrow the principles of Christianity, that he does not make any article of faith or practice more or less necessary than Scripture has made it, and that he does not raise needless scruples in his own breast, nor in the hearts of others, by too great a separation from such as our common Lord has received.
IV. THE DUTIES WHICH PLAINLY ARISE FROM SUCH AN AGREEMENT OF CHRISTIANS TO WALK AND WORSHIP TOGETHER FOR THE SUPPORT OF THEIR RELIGION.
1. All the duties which the disciples of Christ owe to their fellow Christians throughout; the world are more particularly incumbent upon those who are united by their own consent in the same religious society (Galatians 6:10).
2. Those who are united by such an agreement ought to attend on the public assemblies and ministrations of that Church, where it can be done with reasonable convenience; for we have joined ourselves in society for this very purpose.
3. It is the duty cf persons thus united to maintain their Church or society by receiving in new members amongst them by a general consent.
4. In order to keep the Church pure from sin and scandal, they should separate themselves from those that walk disorderly, who are guilty of gross and known sins (2 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5, 7, 11, 13).
5. It is necessary that officers be chosen by the Church to fulfil several offices in it and for it.
6. It is the duty of those whose circumstances will afford it, to contribute of their earthly substance toward the common expenses of the society. And each one should give according to his ability: this is but a piece of common justice.
1. How beautiful is the order of the gospel and the fellowship of a Christian Church. How strong and plain are the foundations and the ground of it. It is built on eternal reason and the relations of things, as well as on the Word of God.
2. How little do they value the true interests of Christian religion, the public honour of Christ and His gospel, or the edification and comfort of their own souls, who neglect this holy communion.
3. How criminal are those persons who break the beautiful order and harmony of a Church of Christ for trifles.
4. When we behold a society of Christians flourishing in holiness, and honourably maintaining the beauty of this sacred fellowship, let us raise our thoughts to the heavenly world, to the Church of the first-born, who are assembled on high, where everlasting beauty, order, peace, and holiness are maintained in the presence of Jesus our common Lord. And when we meet with little inconveniences, uneasiness, and contest, in any Church of Christ on earth, let us point our thoughts and our hopes still upward to that Divine fellowship of the saints and the spirits of the just made perfect, where contention and disorder have no place.
(I. Watts, D.D.)
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