« ПредишнаНапред »
* continue to partake in miraculous gifts and powers.' And if that be the meaning, it is argued that this benediction, or farewell prayer, is confined to those times, and cannot be reasonably used now.
For farther clearing up this point therefore, and enabling all to judge of it, so far as I am able, I would observe, that words are not always used in their fullest sense and meaning. If all believers in general at that time are spoken of as having the Spirit, yet, as to most of them, it was in a much inferior degree and measure than that of the apostles.
St. Paul says Col. i. 19. “ It pleased the Father, that in him all fulness should dwell.” In Eph. iii. 19, he prays for those Christians, that “they might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Nevertheless none can suppose, that he intends all the power and wisdom that was in Christ. The context does not lead us to think that the apostle intended any miraculous gifts at all. But he means, probably, what the evangelist John does, when he says, ch. i. 16, 17, “ And of his fulness have all we received, even grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ :" that is, the true grace of the gospel, with which all Christians ought to be well'acquainted. And the apostle there prays particularly for the Ephesians, that they may be so.
In like mamer, Eph. i. 17, 18, he prays for the same Ephesian Christians, “ that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him : that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, ye may know what is the hope of his calling.” And the rest, which there follows. Not intending, I presume, any new revelation, or immediate inspiration, or the infusing into them any
wisdom miraculously: but that in the right use of their reasonable powers and faculties, and recollecting what they had heard from him, and other preachers of the gospel, and attending to this his epistle, and other scriptures, or rightly improving any other means of religious knowledge, they might attain to and be settled in a right conception and understanding of the doctrine of the gospel, as it had been revealed by Christ and his apostles. Upon this place Mr. Locke might be fitly consulted.
Moreover, the phrase, the Holy Ghost, is, I think, plainly used for spiritual good things in general. Luke xi. 9—13. “ And I say unto you: Ask, and ye shall receive one that asketh receiveth. If a son shall ask bread of
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone ? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent ? Or, if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Which in St. Matthew is expressed by good things. And I shall likewise recite that context largely, that all may the better judge whether it is not exactly parallel. Mat. vii. 7-11. “ Ask, and it shall be given you - For every one that asketh receiveth-- Or what man is there of you, whom if his son shall ask bread, will he give him a stone ? Or, if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Father which is in heaven, give good gifts to them that ask him ?!
Prov. 1. 23. “ Behold, I will pour out my Spirit upon you. I will make known my words unto you." It is not reasonable to think, that thereby is meant inspiration, in the highest meaning of the word. But only : · If you will hearken unto me, and follow my counsels, you • will attain to wisdom, and good understanding.'
St. Paul says Eph. i. 3. « Blessed be God, which has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Which thanksgiving, I think, may be used by Christians still, though they have not exactly the same privileges with the Christians of the apostolic age.
Nor is it uncommon for the apostle, near the conclusion of his epistles, to offer up prayers or wishes in behalf of those to whom he writes, for the spiritual blessings of the gospel, or confirmation, and increase of virtue and holiness, and likewise for all that happiness which was then generally included in the word peace, comprehending both temporal and spiritual blessings. Of this some instances may be taken notice of. Eph. 6. 23. “ Peace be unto the brethren, and love, with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess. iii. 16. " Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always, by all means. The Lord be with you all." And in this very epistle, the second to the Corinthians, the words near the conclusion may be
observed. 2 Cor. xiii. 11. “ Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
All these things may lead us to think, that this benediction needs not to be understood of miraculous gifts, and therefore may be still used.
Let me propose some other observations. The first two particulars, “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,” may still be desired for all Christians. Why then should the third particular be esteemed peculiar to some ?
Farther, though the benediction at the end of this epistle is more particular, I apprehend, that it is no more than equivalent to those in the other epistles. For when it is said “grace be with you,” or “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,” therein is included a wish of all needful blessings, suited to the circumstances of Christians at that time. And this has no : 6. A frequent salutation at the beginning of St. Paul's epistles, as we have seen, is “ Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” But at the beginning of the epistles to Timothy and Titus he writes: “ Grace, mercy, and peace be to thee." Which nevertheless can import no more than a wish of all happiness. And as much is included in the other forms. So likewise St. Jude's epistle begins after this manner. Mercy unto you, and
peace and love be multiplied.” But it may be supposed, that no more is comprehended therein, than in St. Paul's wish of 5 grace and peace.
“ The communion of the Holy Ghost” therefore means a participation in all the blessings of the gospel, with all other needful good things.
Be with you all,” that is, abide with you. • May these blessings be always your portion and happiness.'
VI. From what has been said by way of explication, we seem to have reason to think, that this valedictory wish and prayer may be still used. However, the preceding argumeut is referred to the consideration of the serious and inquisitive.
VII. Though this form may be still used, it needs not, it ought not to be always used.
As there are other forms of blessing in the New Testament, it is very fit that they also should be used. Otherwise some might have a superstitious regard for one portion of scripture above another ; or indulge a weak and groundless apprehension, that something more extraordinary is proposed to them than is intended.
VIII. These benedictions, when used by us, are not to be pronounced in the way of authority, but only as a prayer, or wish of all good and happiness to others.
Indeed no man can bless authoritatively. No one man, more than another, can convey blessings to any. Nay, none can be blessed of God himself, or obtain true happiness, unless they will desire and seek it, and will be in the use of proper means to obtain it.
IX. What has been now said, may satisfy us about the manner of pronouncing these benedictions.
Some, of good judgment, have scrupled to pronounce them in the form of a wish for others; thinking that to be peculiar to the apostles, and as if so doing had in it an appearance of authority. Therefore they choose to say: “ And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.” But to me this appears to be a mere scruple, without reason. For we may wish and pray for the same blessings for others, which we ask for ourselves. A writer at the end of an epistle, or a speaker at the end of a discourse, does properly express a prayer or wish of good for those to whom he has been writing or speaking. And if they will return the like prayer or wish, it will be very acceptable. You know very well that the apostles of Christ did often entreat the prayers of their fellow-christians, both for temporal and spiritual blessings, needful for them, and suited to their work, office, and particular circumstances.
X. The solemn salutations at the beginning, and valedictions at the end of the apostolical epistles, are not to be made use of upon common occasions. They are suited only to the solemnity of public worship, or some other occasions of great moment.
Upon the whole it seems to me, that the salutations at the beginning of the apostolical epistles may help us to understand the benedictions at the end. And if “ grace and peace from God, and from Christ,” at the beginning, imply a wish, or prayer of favour and blessing and all happiness : in like manner the same is the import of all the valedictions, or farewell-wishes, at the
conclusion. And I apprehend, that as to the sense, meaning and design, when applied to Christians, there is little difference whether the form be, “ Grace be with you,” or “may the God of peace be with you,” or “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you," or the form in the text. For in each, and all, is intended to be desired and asked the best of blessings, and all needful blessings : that men may have, and keep themselves in the favour of Christ, and the comfortable persuasion of it: that they may always enjoy the love of God, and do all that lies in their power to secure it: that they may grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and his gospel, and that the protection of Providence may be over them. In a word, that they may prosper in all things: that, if their soul prospers, which is the principal thing, they may be in health also : and that through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the power of his spiritual and heavenly doctrine, their whole soul and body may be preserved blameless unto his coming.
APPLICATION. I shall now mention a thought or two by way of application.
The use of these benedictions at the conclusion of our public worship, may be reckoned to hold forth two instructions, both to ministers and people.
1. One is, that they ought to bear good will to each other, and sincerely to desire each other's welfare. So much certainly is implied in him who offers these prayers. And, as before hinted, it may be considered whether they ought not also to be sincerely returned.
2. These prayers and wishes teach us in a summary way, what we ought all to desire and seek after, even the favour of Christ, the love of God, the knowledge of the gospel, and the evidences of its truth, and all the spiritual blessings attending it.
If from time to time sincere wishes and prayers are expressed, that these blessings may be your portion, should you not desire and endeavour to obtain them?
And if these blessings are commonly wished and desired at the end of our religious services, does not this intimate that our public performances ought to be suited to promote the great ends of men's spiritual improvement, and their comfort and happiness here and hereafter ? May these ends be always proposed by us! And may they be obtained ! that our profiting may be apparent to ourselves, and to others.
OF PRAYING IN THE NAME OF CHRIST.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may
be full. John xvi. 24.
66 And ye
Our Lord is speaking to the disciples of his being soon to be taken from them, and of his seeing
• At that time,
asked nothing in my name. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs. The time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs : but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name. And I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me,' and have believed that I came out from God."
Our Lord speaks of praying in his name, in some other places, to which I now only refer. As John xiv. 13, 14. and xv. 16.
In order to illustrate this point, I would first show in general how that phrase, doing any thing in the name of another, is used in the scriptures. Secondly, I shall endeavour to show dis
tinctly what it is to pray in the name of Christ. After which I intend to mention some remarks, both instructive and practical.
I. Let us observe in general the meaning of the phrase, acting in another's name.
To do any thing in the name of another is to act by his authority, and according to his directions, and as his disciples.
John v. 43. Our Lord says to the Jews : “ I am come in my Father's name,” that is, with authority from him : and I act, as by commission under him. « But ye receive me not.”
John x. 25. “ The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness of me.”
When our Lord made his public entrance at Jerusalem, his character as the Messiah, the anointed and sent of God, was acknowledged by the people in this manner : Matt. xxi. 9. “The multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosannah to the Son of David. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Or, as in St. Luke xix. 38. « Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And John xii. 13. “ Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ therefore acted in the name of God, by whom he was sent. Christ's disciples in like manner taught in his name, and wrought miracles in his name, that is, with his authority, and a commission from him, by virtue of powers derived from him. Mark xvi. 17, 18. “ And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name shall they cast out dæmons. They shall speak with new tongues. They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” St. Peter says to the lame man at the temple, Acts jii. 6. “ In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Afterwards, Acts iv. 1-9. Peter and John were summoned before the Jewish council, who " asked: By what power, or by what name, have ye done this ?" that is, by whose power and authority ? " Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them:
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God has raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand before you whole.” That a miracle was wrought they could not deny: but that the doctrine taught by the apostles might not spread, they judged it expedient to " charge them, that they speak henceforth to no man in that name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus,” ver. 16–18. When St. Peter healed Eneas
at Lydda, “ who had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy, he said unto him: Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. Arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately," Acts ix. 33, 34.
When Paul intended to cure the young woman at Philippi, who had a spirit of divination, “ he said to the spirit: I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Acts xvi. 18.
Our blessed Lord, the more effectually to convince men of the importance of real holiness, expresseth himself in this manner. Matt. vii. 22, 23. “ Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name cast out dæmons ? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” Acting as under authority from thee we have done all these things : nevertheless, if they have been workers of iniquity, they will be rejected by him.
James v. 10.“ Take, my brethren, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” The same phrase occurs frequently in the Old Testament, in speaking of the prophets. Jer. xxvi. 9. “ Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, this house shall be as Shiloh ?” ver. 16. “ Then said the princes of Judah, This man is not worthy to die: for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord.” See there also ver. 20. and ch. xliv. 16.
St. Paul directs Col. iii. 17. “ And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus :" that is, according to his command and appointment.
We will observe a few more instances of the use of this phrase, where the meaning is somewhat different. Matt. x. 41. “ He that receiveth a prophet, in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward. And he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward.” To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, or a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, is to receive them as such. Accordingly, to pray in the name of Christ will be to pray as his disciples. It follows at ver. 42. “ And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple,” that is, as a disciple of mine, “ verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
In like manner Mark ix. 39–41. “ But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name,” that is, as by authority from me, or as a disciple, though he does not follow me with you, “ that can lightly speak evil of me: for he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink, in my name,' as a disciple of mine, “ because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." And see Matt. xviii. 5. Luke ix. 48.
All these several instances of the use of this phrase are sufficient to show, that to do any thing in the name of another, and particularly in the name of Christ, is the same as to do it by his authority, according to his directions, and as his disciples, or as belonging to him.
There may be other uses of this phrase, or of a phrase resembling it. But those already mentioned are very common, and seem most suited to the point which we are considering.
Sometimes the name of a person is the same as himself. Ps. xliv. 20. “ If we have forgotten the name of our God,” that is, if we have forgotten our God. Ps. Ixix. 30. “ I will praise the name of God with a song,” that is, I will praise God in a psalm. John iii. 18. “ He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only, begotten Son of God :” that is, because he has not believed in the only begotten Son of God, or the Messiah. 1 John iii. 23. “ And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." And ch. v. 13. “ These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God :” that is, who believe in Jesus Christ, or the Son of God.
In other places the phrase is somewhat different, not " in the name,” but “ into the name.' Such is the most exact and literal version of Christ's general commission to his apostles, after his resurrection, in Matt. xxviii. 19. “Go ye therefore, and disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" or into the belief and profession of, and obedience to, the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ, with the authority of God the Father, and confirmed to be divine, by miraculous works, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. So also Rom. vi. 3. “ Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death ?” that is, they who were baptized into the belief and profession of Christ, and his doctrine, were also, and particularly baptized into the belief of his death, and a profession of an obligation to be conformed to him in sufferings, if need be: and to die to sin, and live to righteousness. And 1 Cor. x. 2. the apostle argues, that the Jewish people “were baptized into Moses, in the cloud, and in the sea :" that is, were initiated into an obligation to obey the laws and commandments delivered by him, and to be his disciples.
II. Having now seen in general what it is to do any thing in any one's name, I proceed to show distinctly what it is to ask, or pray for, any thing in the name of Christ. And I apprehend that it may be comprized in three following particulars :
1. In praying in the name of Christ it is supposed, that the persons who offer those prayers believe in Jesus Christ, and are his disciples, and do sincerely strive and endeavour to act and behave as such,
2. To pray in the name of Christ is to offer prayers to God according to his directions, and in a manner suited to his doctrine or institution.
3. Herein may be also included, that oftentimes we should present our addresses to God, through, or by hiin, as our great high priest, and intercessor with God.
1. In praying in the name of Christ it is supposed, that they who offer prayers believe in Jesus Christ, and are his disciples, and sincerely endeavour to act as such.
It seems, that this is necessarily implied, and presupposed. For who should think to pray in the name of Christ, who does not believe in him, and profess to do so? Who should go God in the name of Christ, who does not believe him to be a teacher come from God ?
It seems to be implied also, as before hinted, that they do strive and endeavour to behave as disciples of Jesus. For the doctrine of Christ being very practical, he who neglects the rules of life delivered by him, is not a Christian. He is so in name, but not in deed. And as there are many strict and comprehensive rules of duty enjoined by Christ, so his principles concerning the spiritual nature of God, the great love of God to us, and the promises of future happiness, all tend to secure and promote holiness of life.
We are led to this observation by the coherence, that is, by some things said by our Lord, in all the places where he speaks of praying in his name, as well as by general considerations, taken from the divine perfection in wisdom and holiness.