Images de page
[ocr errors]

smallness of his success. The spirit which governs him must be, "not the spirit of bondage to fear, but the spirit of power, love and a sound mind."

His courage must be accompanied with prudence, humility and charity; not with rashness, pride and censoriousness: And his confidence must be grounded, not in a vain conceit of his own abilities; but in the goodness of his cause, the importance of truth and the support of divine grace.

We see that the office of a minister is difficult, as well as important. He may need more wisdom and fortitude than he possesses. As he should seek grace to guide and strengthen him, so he may reasonably expect a share in the intercessions of those for whom he labors. Whatever neglects they impute to him, if they forbear to mention him in their prayers, they may charge themselves with one criminal neglect.

We see that private Christians should zealously concur with their minister in his labors to promote religion. Their concurrence animates him to speak the word boldly. They should receive the word from him with readiness of mind, maintain religion in their houses, second his addresses to the young, preserve peace and order among themselves, and in their daily con versation hold forth the word of life, that he may not run in vain.

We see the vast importance of the gospel. Why has God appointed ministers to preach it? Why are they to speak it boldly? Why are they to instruct and reprove with all longsuffering? It is because the subject of it is great, and infinitely concerns the sons of


Now if it be a matter of such importance, can you safely neglect it? The minister who shuns to declare the counsel of God, you think, endangers his soul. Do not you endanger your own souls, when you reject this counsel? If it concerns a minister to labor for your

salvation, ought you not to labor for your own?-No pains taken by others will save you, while you disregard your own duty. Awake then to consideration and repentance; attend on God's word and apply with diligence all the means in your hands. Seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him, while he is near.


Paul's Intention in sending Tychicus to Ephesus.

EPHESIANS vi. 21, 22, 23

But that ye may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a belov ed brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things; whom I have sent unto you for this same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethen, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

THE Apostle in the preceding verse, says, that, "for the gospel's sake, he was an ambassador in bonds." He was appointed an ambassador of Christ to publish the gospel of peace to a guilty world. In the execution of this commission he was apprehended and put in chains. The place of his confinement was the city of Rome. From thence he wrote to several churches, and particularly to the church of the Ephesians, among whom he had before spent some time in preaching the gospel. His letter to this church he sent by the hand of Tychicus, who was not only a Christian, but a minister, and an assistant to Paul in the work of the gospel. In his letter he mentions this messenger by name, informs the Ephesians for what purpose he had sent him, and recommends him to


them as a beloved brother and faithful minister. then expresses the benevolent desires of his heart, that God would grant them peace and love, as the fruits of that faith, which they professed in Christ Jesus.

The paragraph now read I shall improve in several observations.

1. Paul was careful to keep up an intercourse and communion with the churches of Christ.

While he was at Rome, he sent a brother to carry a message to the Ephesians. By the same hand he sent a letter to the Colossians. He directed that the same letter should be read to the church in Laodicea; and that they also should read the letter from Laodicea. He inscribed this letter "to the saints in Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus."

We hence learn, that there ought to be a fellowship and correspondence among the churches of Christ. They should all unite their endeavors for the common edification and comfort.

The church of Christ is one. And though for the convenience of social worship, it is formed into various societies, yet it is not divided. It is still one body; and all its several members, as there is occasion and opportunity, should conspire to the promotion of the general peace and happiness. Different churches, like the different members of the body, should act in concert, and move as being animated by the same spirit. If one suffers, others should contribute to its relief; if one is honored, all should partake in the joy.

We are to acknowledge all as our brethren, who, in every place, call on the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, both theirs and ours. We should be free, as to commune with other churches, so to admit them to communion with us, statedly or occasionally, as circumstances allow. We should seek the counsel of sister churches under our difficulties; and be ready, when requested, to afford them our counsel under theirs.

Thus we should keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and be fellow helpers to the truth.

We see then, that such as form themselves into separate societies, with a view to withdraw themselves from the communion of other churches, and to exclude other churches from theirs, essentially depart from the pacific and benevolent plan of the gospel.

II. Paul was solicitous, that the Christians, among whom he had preached, should "know his state."

He sent to the Ephesians a messenger, from whom they might know his affairs. And what were his affairs? He was a prisoner of Jesus Christ in the cause of the gospel. He was in bonds; but still he maintained his faith and courage. He was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, nor afraid to avow his belief of it, though bonds, afflictions and death might be the conse quence.

He sent to the Christian churches an account of bis state, that they might be moved to pray for himmight know how to accommodate their prayers to his case-might not be terrified by his sufferings, but rather emboldened by his example of fortitude-and that his instructions and exhortations might come with greater power, being written in a state of affliction, and dictated by that spirit which supported him in all his tribulation.

It is often proper for Christians to communicate to each other their inward and outward troubles, that they may enjoy the benefit of each other's advice and prayers.

It concerns Christians under afflictions, especially under trials on account of religion, to maintain a constancy and fortitude, which may do honor to religion, and recommend it to the choice and esteem of others.

III. Paul sent to inform the Ephesians, not only what were his affairs, but "what he was doing"-how he employed himself in his confinement.

« PrécédentContinuer »