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I Tim. iii. 16, &c. and manifested by his marvellous works and doctrine, by his fufferings and death, resurrection and ascension, by the sending down of the Holy Ghost according to his pronise, and by the preaching of the Gospel, in the fulness of time that God had appointed, wherein all the prophecies that foretold his coming, and all the types and ceremonies that prefigured him, had their accomplishment.
The times of the Gospel are often called the last times by the Prophets ; for that the Jewish priesthood and ceremonies being abolished, that which suceeded was appointed by God to remain the same to the end of the world. Besides this, the time of our Saviour's incarnation may be called the last times, because although it were not near the end of time by many ages, yet in all probability it was much nearer the end of time than the beginning of it. Some resemble the time of his sufferings in the end of the world, to the paschal lamb in the evening.
It was doubtless the fit time; but notwithstanding the schoolmen offer at reasons to prove the fitness of it, as their humour is to prove all things, none dare I think conclude, but if God had so appointed, it might have been either sooner, or later, and our fafeit is to rest in that, that it was the fit time, because so it pleased Him, and to seek no other reason, why having promised the Messiah so quickly after man's fall, he deferred his coming about four thousand years, and a great part of that time shut up the knowledge of himself, and the true religion, within the narrow compass of that one nation of which Christ was to be born: Of these and such like things we can give no other reason but that which he teacheth us in a like case, Even to Father because it seemetb good unto thee, Mat. xi. 26.
3. The application of this manifeftation, For you.] The Apostle represents these things to those he writes to, particularly for their use; therefore he applies it to them, but without prejudice of the believers that
went before, or of those that were to follow in after ages. He that is here said to be fore-appointed before the foundation of the world, is therefore called, a Lamb pain from the foundation of the world, Rev. xiii. 8. And as the virtue of his death looks backward to all preceding ages, whose faith and sacrifices looked forward to it, so the fame death is of force and perpetual value to the end of the world : After he had offered one sacrifice for fins, says the Apostle to the Hebrews, chap. X. 12. 14. he sat down for ever on the right hand of God; for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are fanctified. The cross on which he was extended points in the length of it to heaven and earth, reconciling them together; and in the breadth of it to former and following ages, as being equally salvation to both.
In this appropriating and peculiar interest in Jesus Christ lies our happiness, without which it avails not that he was ordained from eternity, and in time manifested. It is not the general contemplation, but the peculiar poffeffion of Christ, that gives both solid comfort, and strong persuasion to obedience and holiness, which is here the Apostle's particular scope.
Ver. 21. Who by him do believe in God that raised him
up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God. OW, because it is faith that gives the soul this
particular title to Jesus Christ, the Apostle adds, (to declare who he meant by rou), Who by him do believe in God, &c.
Where we have, 1. The complete object of faith. 2. The ground or warrant of it. The object, God in Cbrift. The ground or warrant, In that be raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory.
1. The complete object of faith. A man may have, living out of Christ, yea, he must, he cannot chuse but have, a conviction within him that there is a God, and further he may have, even out of Christ, some kind o belief of those things that are spoken concerning God f but to repose on God, as his God, and his salvations which is indeed to believe in him, this cannot be, but where Christ is the medium through which we look upon God; for so long as we look upon God through our own guiltiness, we can see nothing but his wrath, and apprehend him as an armed enemy; and therefore are so far from resting on him, as our happiness, that the more we veiw it, it puts us upon the more speed to fly from him, and to cry out, Who can dwell witb everlasting burnings, and abide with a consuming fire ? Ifa. xxxiii. 14. But our Saviour, taking fin out of the way, puts himself betwixt our fins and God, and so makes a wonderful change of our apprehension of him. When you look through a red glass, the whole heavens seem bloody, but through pure uncoloured glass, you receive the clear light, that is so refreshing and comfortable to behold. When fin unpardoned is betwixt, and we look on God through that, we can perceive nothing but anger and wrath in his countenance: But make Christ once the medium, our pure Redeemer, and through him, as through clear transparent glass, the beams of God's favourable countenance shine in upon the soul ; the Father cannot look upon his well-beloved Son, but graciously and pleasingly. God looks on us out of Christ, sees us rebels, and fit to be condemned, we look on God as being just and powerful to punish us; but when Christ is betwixt, God looks on us in him, as justified, and we look on God in him, as paci. fied, and see the smiles of his favourable countenance : Take Christ out, all is terrible; interpose him, all is full of peace : Therefore set him always betwixt, and by him we shall believe in God.
2. The warrant and ground of believing in God by Christ is this, that God raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, which evidence the full satisfaction of his death; and in all that work, both in his humiliation aud exaltation, standing in our room, we may repute
it his as ours: If all is paid that could be exacted of him, and therefore he set free from death, then are we acquitted, and have nothing to pay: If he was raised from the dead, and exalted to glory, then so shall we; he hath taken possession of that glory for us, and we may judge ourselves possessed of it already, because he our Head poffefTeth it. And this the last words of the verse confirm to us, implying this to be the very purpose and end for which God, having given him to death, raised him up and gave him glory; it is for this end expressly, that our faith and hope might be in God: The lalt end is, that we may have life and glory through him; the nearer end, that in the mean while, till we attain them, we may have firm belief and hope of them, and rest on God as the giver of them, and so in part enjoy them before hand, and be upheld in our joy and conflicts by the comfort of them. And, as Şt Stephen in his vision, Acts vii. 55. faith doth, in a spiritual way, look through all the visible heavens, and see Christ at the Father's right-hand, and is comforted by that in the greatest troubles, though it were amidst a shower of Atones, as St Stephen was. The comfort is no less than this, that being by faith made one with Chrift, his present glory wherein he fits at the Father's right-hand, is assurance to us, that where he is we shall be also, John xiv. 3.
Ver. 22. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying
the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren ; see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. Esus Christ is made unto us of God, wisdom,
righteousnefs, fan&tification, and redemption, 1 Cor. i. 30. It is a known truth, and yet very needful to be often represented to us, that redemption and holiness are undivided companions ; yea, that we are redeemed on purpose for this end, that we should be holy. The prefsing of this, we see, is here the Apostle's scope; and
having by that reason enforced it in the general, he now takes that as concluded and confessed, and so makes use of it particularly to exhort to the excercise of that main Chriftian grace of brotherly love.
The obedience and holiness, mentioned in the foregoing verses, comprehend the whole duties and frame of a Chrftian life towards God and men ; and having urged that in the general, he specifies this grace of mutual Christian love, as the great evidence of their fincerity, and the truth of their love to God: For men are subject to much hypocrisy this way, and deceive themselves; if they find themselves diligent in religious exercises, they scarce once ask their hearts, how they stand affected this way, namely, in love to their bre. thren. They can come constantly to the church, and pray; it may be, at home too; and yet cannot find in their hearts to forgive an injury.
As forgiving injuries argues the truth of piety, so it is that which makes all converse both sweet and profitable, and besides, it graces and commends men and their holy profession to such as are without, and strangers to it, yea, even to their enemies.
Therefore it is, that our Saviour doth so much recommend this to his disciples, and they to others, as we see in all their epistles. He gives it them as the very badge and livery by which they should be known for his followers, By this all all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another, John xiii. 35. And St Paul is frequent in exhorting to and extolling this grace, Rom. xii. 10. and xiii. 8. 1 Cor. i. 13. Gal. v. 13. Eph. iv. 2. and in many other places. Col. iii. 14. he calls it the bond of perfectness, that grace which unites and binds all together. So doth our Apostle here, and often in this and the other epiftle; and that beloved disciple St John, who leaned on our Saviour's breast, drank deep of that spring of love that was there, and therefore it streams forth so abundantly in his writings; they contain nothing so much as this divine doctrine of love.