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The apostles are 1. vessels, not authors of the Gospel, nor founders of the benefits of it: but simple instruments : vessels which contain the treafure : but do not give it its value; for the excellence of the Gospel is not derived from their dig. nity, we do not believe it on their account : on the contrary, it is the treasure, which they contain, that gives them authority and value. (7)
2. Earthen vessels. 1. For the meanness of their conditions, they were poor sinful men. S. Paul himself a tent-maker, intoxicated with self-love, a perfecutor, &c. (8)
a thing, but he is illuftrating This sense offers no violence a matter, the truth of which either to the literal meaning of is not disputed; if it be par- the words, or to the scope of donable to be unguarded any the place: nor is it a sense imwhere, it is in illustrating un- posed to serve a doctrinal lycontroverted points. Amidst tem. Of all the expositions of the many beauties, with which this phrase,grace for grace, and our author presents us, this they are many, this seems the little defect diminishes and most eligible. Suicer (in thedisappears.
Sauro.) has collected the va(7) The apostles are not authors rious meanings, that are afof ihe Gospel : but instruments fixed to it. Some explain it only. How beautifully does by a similar passage in the HeS. John express this? Of his lena of Euripides; v. 1250, FULNESs have all we receiv- xapos avlo xupolos 20:10, Let beed grace for THE PROMUL- nefit come for benefit. Le Clerc GATION of grace. John i. calls the first
the Gospel, 16. Accepimus GRATIAM and the last our gratitude for PRO GRATIA PROPAGANDA, it: but many of his criticisms i. e. gratiam apoftolatus, ut are forced into the service of gratiam propagemus in aliis. his creed, and this I think is Arlo finem designare frequentif- one example. See his Supplefime nemo non novit. Light- ment to Hammond, in loc. foot Hora Hebraica in Evang. (8) The apostles were poor Joannis.
Omnibus obscurum genus, et fine luce penatcs,
2. Eartben vessels for the affli&tions, to which they were subject. They were exposed to all
Nomina dura vides, insueta atque aspera dictu :
Vida Chriftiad. lib. 4. There are two grand errors ought to be a profound schoderived by many from the lar. Is he to be the pastor of condition of the apostles. The a small illiterate flock He first is an inference drawn need not have much learnfrom their condition before ing to be well qualified to their call to apostleship. The teach them. Alas! a deep apostles, fay fome, were ig- penetration, an acute habít norantilliterate men, yet they of close reasoning, and a powere preferred before wiser lite style, would render a man men by Jesus Christ, and unintelligible to such hearwere sent by him to layers. They, like S. Paul's the foundations of christian companions, would see the churches; hence we infer, that, light: but they would not unif ignorance be not a quali- derstand the voice, that spake fication, it is, however, no to them. No argument, howdisqualification for the minif- ever, can be drawn from any terial office. These reasoners of these concessions in favour mistake the calling of the a- of preferring an unlearned postles to discipleship, for their miniftry. mission to preach. They were, The other error is that of indeed, grofly ignorant at the the church of Rome, and is first period : but they were taken from the condition of well qualified at the last ; and, the apostles (or rather from befide ordinary instruction the condition of one apostle, under the ministry, and in Peter.) after their mission. the company of Jesus, they “ Apostóli ecclesiæ per towere furnished with extraor tum terrarum orbem princidinary powers to prove their pes essent. - - - Huic (i. c. mission. What are the ne- Petro.) enim qui succeslere cessary, essential, literary Romani pontifices jus in uniqualifications of a christian versam, quaqua patet, eccleminifter, is a very vague quef- fiam, ac plenitudinem poteftation; and, before any an tis sunt consecuti. Petavii swer is given, it Mould be en de Eccl. Hierarch. lib. iv.cap. quired, What are the literary 7. f. 3. abilities of the people, whole The protestant churches reminister he is required to be ? quire three things on this arIs he to be the minister of a ticle of the catholic divines. learned body of men? He 1. To prove, that S. Peter, VOL.I.
forts of accidents; to accidents of nature as other men ; to calamities which belonged to their office, as persecutions, prisons, banishments, &c.
or any of the apostles, exer When they say such things cised such a dominion as they they deserve pity for their igplead for. This they can ne norance and absurdity : but ver do.
when they go farther, and 2. To make it appear that make their pretended fuccefthe reigning pope is the legal fion a plea for their doctrine fucceffor of S. Peter. This and worship, they merit the article is equally difficult to severest censure. Thus one the catholics. They cannot of their historians,“ Sancti prove that S. Peter was Bishop patres hanc unam, cæteris ecof Rome-they cannot make clefiis pofthabitis, in Romana out a legal exercise of episco- ecclefia pontificum incorruppal functions without a volun- tam successionem tanti fecetary eležtion of the people they runt, ut eo velut fortissimo cannot even make out a clear demonftrationis genere ad vesuccession in their own way, ram tum doctrinam, tum relion account of their anti-popes, gionem probandam, usi fuewant of historical materials, rint.” Platina Hift. de vit. &c. &c.
Pontif. Rom. Præfat. 3. They are required to Some proteftant writers have prove, that Jefus Christ has had the courage to attempt to directed any of the successors of make out a regular canonical the apostles to exercise such pow. succession in favour of their er, as they exercised. The a own ministry, and thereby to postles were endued with ex prove the purity of their traordinary gifts, and em church. One of this clafs ployed in extraordinary works; calls the “ canonical succefwhen the first ceased the last fion of the English ministry ended also.
præcipuam reformationis noiWhen the popish writers træ gloriam, the chief glory of fay,
Jesus Christ was the our reformation. The pafirst pope, and held his ponti- pists, adds this violent Episcoficate 33 years, and almost 3 palian, account our clergy months-Peter was Christ's Laymen, and call the whole orvicar, second pontiff of Rome, der a royal, and a parliamentaand held the fee 25 years ry priesthood : while schismaJesus Christ appointed the bi- tics call us popishand antichrifthop of Rome for the time tian ministers ;” a melanchobeing to succeed Peter, and ly affairindeed! « Thechurch Linus was the third pope.".
of England is crucified be
3. Earthen vessels in regard to their own infirmities. S. Peter's disimulation, (which Paul reproved to his face.) his rashness in dissuading Chrift from dying, which drew on him that reproof, in which Christ called him Satan; his stupor on mount Tabor ; his fall in the high-priest's palace ; the unbelief of Thomas; the contention between Paul and Barnabas ; the spirit of authoritative pride, which made them dispute who should be the greatest; their spirit of revenge against the Samaritans, on whom they would have made fire descend from heaven, &c. all these infirmities proved their brittleness and frailty.
You may also remark the wisdom of the aposties. When they were contemned for their meannefs, they exalted themselves by their treasure, and called themselves servants of Jesus Christ, ambassadors of God, &c. they magnified their office, (as S. Paul speaks:) on proper occasions : but, when the excellence of their ministry was likely to make them overvalued, they humbled, and as it were annihilated themselves, calling themselves earthen vessels. When Paul and Barnabas were driven from Iconium, and Aed to Lystra, to thew
tween these two thieves, and the glory of a groom, who can both vilify her ; like Issachar, make out the genealogy of his She couches down between the horse. All may be true, and two burdens, that papists and yet you may not be worth schismatics lay on her ; like keeping. S. Paul, who afS. Paul's vessel, she is fallen certains what approve men into a place where two seas ministers of Christ, never meet, and is broken with the thought to enter this article : violence of the waves.” Tra- By pureness, by knowledge, by gical outcries! But what long-suffering, by kindness, by brought you into these fad the Holy Ghost, by love unfeign. circumstances ? Your attempted, by the word of truth, by to make out a canonical suc- the armour of righteousness, cession. This chief glory of &c. Fuller. Can, Suc. Ming your reformation, resembles Eccl. Angl. vindic,
the glory of their ministry they wrought a miracle : but when the people took them for gods, they tore their garments, and cried, we are men.
Proceed now to the second part of the text, and examine two things. I. The excellence of the power of the Gospel. 2. The design of God in putting such a treasure into earthen vessels, that the excellence of that power might be of him and not of inen.
1. The excellence of this power is, 1. the happy success of the Gospel in the conversion of men, which may be represented as a victorious and triumphant power, and even as an excelling, that is, a prevailing and almighty energy: Here you may remark the extensive success of the Gofpel, and how, in a very little time, the whole earth was filled with christian converts. You may add the difficulties, which the Gospel surmounted; it rose above obstacles within, the natural corruption of men, prejudices of birth and education, love of false religions, &c. obstacles without, contradictions of philosophers, persecutions of Jews, calumnies on the Gofpel and its ministers, persecutions of kings and magistrates, &c. obstacles in the Gospel itself, which exhibited one, who was crucified, foolishness to the Greeks, and a fumbling-block to tbe Jews. Yet, notwithstanding all these difficulties, conversions abounded in every place.
3. The excellence of this power consists in that admirable and divine virtue, which is in the do&trine of the Gospel, to humble man, to comfort, instruct, exhilarate, and embolden him, to fill him with faith and hope, to change and sanctify him, and, in one word, to convert and transform him into, another man.