« PreviousContinue »
nor lightly eftcem the other, nor the other, make him fland: Thou thinkeft it hard, if be rash in cenfuring and condemning them, not impoffible, for him to be keeped on efpecially in the practice of indifferent, his feet, that is either fo weak or fo prothings; for this is Paul's exhortation, Let fane as thou imagineth; but tho' there be not him that eateth, defpife him that eat- no ftrength in thy neighbour, yet there eth not; and let not him which eateth not, is power in God for that effect; and firce judge him who eateth. he be one whom God has received, we may be fure God will let forth his ftrength For God hath received and power for his fupporting: God's ability here takes in his good will.
VERSES 3. 4.
I. Tho' there be as many and as strong bonds betwixt Chriftians as can be; whereupon they might be induced to a sweet, loving and fympathizing fellowship, one with another; yet fo mighty is corruption in all, and fo bufy is Satan to blow at the coals of diffention; that it is no fmall and eafy matter to get Chriftians brought to a chriftian and brotherly carriage towards others, when their judgments and practices are different, even tho' but in matters indifferent; for we find here the apoftle fees caufe to prefs a chriftian difpofition upon both weak and ftrong, with many argu
thefe words the apoftle is giving three arguments whereby to prefs the former exhortations: And, 1. For God hath received him: It is not lawful nor handfome for you who are strong, to contemn or defpife him who is weak; for as weak as he is, God hath not contemned him, but received him in his arms, and made him a member of his church; nor for you who are weak, to judge him that is ftrong, to be profane, or untender in his walk, feeing God has accepted of him. 2. To his own mafter he ftandeth or fallith: What haft thou to do to pafs a rash and unwarrantable fentence upon another's fervant, either as unchriftian or contemptible; he is not thy fervant, and in his standing or falling he is not accountable to thee, but to his own mafter. 3. Yea, he shall be kolden up: Tho' thou who art ftrong contemn the weak, and look upon him as a fecklefs weak one that cannot hold his feet, but ftumbleth at every thing, and fo cannot but fall; yet fince God hath taken him by the hand, he fhall not fall; and therefore thou fhouldft not carry thy-ly felf fo towards him: Again, thou who art weak, judgeth the ftronger one, who is already declining; but know that he fhall fland too; and therefore forbear to judge rafhly. And this laft argument he confirmeth with a reafon taken from the almighty power of God; for God is able to
II. As a Chriftian's bearing with others in different practices, about matters indifferent, is most neceffary and comely; fo fhould minifters by all means endeavour to procure this among Chriftians: both thefe followeth upon the apostle's ufing fo many and fo ftrong arguments here.
III. It is the duty of every Christian to be keeping charitable thoughts towards every member of the vifible church, who are not openly declaring their enmity to Christ, by their fcandalous and profane life: and to be looking upon them, as real
that which they protefs to be; for his arguments here ufed, fpeak out this much, that we ought to look on cur Chriftian profeffing neighbour, as received of God, and as a fervant of his, not only by profeffion, but really, and as one whom God will take care of.
IV. Were Chriftians banishing away unchari.able
charitable thoughts of others from them- | rafh and groundless judgment concerning felves, and labouring to entertain the beft their ftate, or condemn them for their thoughts of each member of the church walking contrary to us, in the use of of Chrift, there would not be fo much un- things indifferent: Who art thou that chriftian-like cenfuring, judging and de-judgest another man's fervant? See Matth. fpifing of others, even tho' of different judgments and practices in matters indifferent, as is clear from the general fcope of all his arguments here.
VI. Were Chriftians confidering how God had taken even fuch as could.not conform with them in practice, into his favour; they would be loath, either to defpife, or yet to be rash in cenfuring and judging them; but, on the contrary, this would make them look on them with another eye; and that which makes many fo untender of, and disrespectful towards their neighbours, who cannot conform with them, is, an unchriftian apprehension they have of their want of grace, and fo of intereft in God, as theirs; for to prefs them to another chriftian carriage to one another than was a mong them, he ufeth this argument; For God hath received him.
IX. Altho' Christians ought not to be altogether regardless of their brethren, fo as not to be affected with any thing they do; but ought to rejoice to fee them doing well, and be faddened to fee them finning against God; yet they ought not be lo much troubled with the carriage of their neighbours, as if they had no other to be accountable unto but them; but they should look upon them as fellow-fervants with themselves, and as accountable only to their mafter in heaven: To his own master he tandeth or fulleth,
VIII. The confideration of this relation hich is betwixt God and believers, viz. that he is their mafter, and they his fervants, fhould make all others forbear to call them before the bar of their private judgment, for their acting in things indifferent; fo that tho' we ought to be careful of one another, and affected with what another doth; yet we may not pafs any
X. Were Chriftians confidering how their brethren are not accountable unto them, for their carriage, they would not be fo rath in their judging and cenfuring of them, for non-conformity with them in the ufe of indifferent things; and whofoever take upon them to judge their brethren in thofe practices put themselves in God's room, and challenge to themselves God's prerogative of being fole master and judge of people: To his own master be tandeth or falleth, is another argument.".
XI. However fome cannot reach the
VII. As believers have given up them-length that others win to, in the matter of felves to God, and devoted themselves, and practice in things indifferent, and all Chritheir fervice to him: fo the Lord doth ftians cannot win up to a conformity in look upon them as his fervants, and own thefe matters; yet notwithstanding of this eth them as standing in fuch a relation to difcrepancy and difference both in judghim; they are another's fervant, and have ment and practice, anent the ufe of things their own master. See Cor. vi. 20. indifferent, both fuch as are accounted by fome to be unequal in their carriage, and going the full length of their liberty, and fuch as are defpifed as weak, despicable perfons, may be keeped straight in the main bufinefs, and fuch of them as are elected of God and received into his fpecial favour, fhall certainly be keeped from fumbling to their fouls ruin; and the confideration of this, fhould make each more
backward and unwilling to cenfure and condemn another for non-conformity with them in fuch matters; for this is the other argument, Yea, he shall be holden up..
XII. Howbeit we be ready enough to account it a matter near by impoffible, that a foul should be ftreight and honeft in the main, and yet differ from us in the matters of indifferency; yet the confideration of the mighty power of God, which is engaged for all his own beloved ones, fhould fettle and rectify us as to thefe thoughts; therefore to confirm this, that he fhall be holden up, he addeth, for God is able to make him stand.
when ye are fure of your warrant from God, fo that ye do not any thing in that matter doubtingly, or out of an intention to difhonour and wrong God. And in this direction there is a new argument couched up, whereby to prefs all of them to bear with, and to have a good eftimation of, a nother, notwithstanding of a difference in the practice of thefe indifferent things; for tho' there be not a full and complete conformity, yet it is not very material, providing each be perfuaded in his own mind of the lawfulnefs and expediency of what he doth; and feeing if this perfua fion be, neither their conformity nor their non-conformity will be difhonour unto God, none fhould either judge or defpife one
VERSE 5. One man efteemeth one day above another: another efteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully perfuaded in his own mind.
I. In actions about matters indifferent, it is no uncouth thing to see Chriftians walking after distinct ways, and each following their own light; for here one man esteemed one day above another, and another esteemed each day alike.
N the next place, he fets down the other part of the debate among these young converts, viz. that which was anent the keeping of days: One man, fays he, efleemeth one day above another; there is fome among you who carry fome refpect unto fuch holy days as were enjoined by the ceremonial law, such as the new moons, pafch, pentecost, and the feast of tabernacles, and the like, and look upon them ftill as holier than the rest: Others think that that law is now in no force, and look upon all fuch days as being no more holy than the reft; and therefore in their walk put no difference betwixt thefe and others. And then he addeth an exhortation tending to peace, Let every one be fully perfuaded in his own mind; as if he had faid, You cannot all agree about the practice of thofe things in themfelves indifferent, but one keepeth fome holy days, others keep none; let every one of you fo walk as ye fo walk as ye may be accepted of God, and may expect his good-will and reward; and this ye will do when ye are perfuaded in your own
minds that ye may do or forbear what yeency of what they do: Let every one be do or forbear, and not fin against God, fully perfuaded in his own mind.
II. When there is fuch divifions among Chriftians, anent the practising of things indifferent, it is not the fatest course to prefs them unto abfolute and full conformity to one another, in the practice of either the one or the other; for the apoftle never falleth upon this, to prefs all to a conformity and complete uniformity, but leaveth every man to his own liberty, except in the case of scandal, as we fhall hear in the latter part of this chapter.
III. Tho' Chriftians ought not to be preffed to an abfolute uniformity in matters indifferent, yet ought they to labour after diftin&tnefs and clearnefs in what they do; and to know that they are allowed of God to do the thing (in itself indifferent) which they do, and to forbear what they do forbear, and to do nothing contemptuoufly, or out of disrespect, but out of a perfuafion of the lawfulness and expedi
IV. It is not enough that that which a man doth, be a thing either commanded or indifferent, and fo lawful upon the matter; but it is requifite that he go about the action in a right manner, upon the ground of a warrant from God, and a warrant cleared to his own confcience, which ought to be often confulted: He fhould be fully perfuaded in his own mind; and fo ought to confider all circumftances, and thereby try whether their doing or forbearing fuch an indifferent thing will bic et nunc be to God's glory, and the edification of others, or not; and fo accordingly do or forbear.
V. Seeing our acting or not acting in things indifferent, may tend to the glory of God, if it be so and so circumftantiated; and when we fingly aim at the honour of God, and the good of others, and for this cause seriously ponder and exactly confider all circumstances, our doing or not doing will be accepted of God; therefore it is the duty of each Chriftiaa to be conftruing well of what another doth, and not to undervalue or rahly condemn them, tho' differing from them in practice; for this may be looked on as a new argument to prefs the weak to forbear to judge the ftrong, and the ftrong to forbear to contemn the weak, that every one should be fully perfuaded in his own mind.
VERSE 6. He that regardeth the day, re gardeth it unto the Lord; and be that regardeth not the day, to the Lord be doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
His verfe holds forth a fifth argument to prefs both the weak and the ftrong to a sober, chriftian, refpective carriage to one another, which may be taken up thus, Chriftians ought to have a fingle eye unto the glory and honour of God in their carriage, even about indif¡
ferent things; and every one of you ought to have fuch a charitable conftruction of another, as to fuppofe that he doth indeed walk fo fingly, for none of you knows the heart, and mind of another; and fo, for any thing you know, he doth indeed intend the honour of God, both in keeping and regarding a day, and in not regarding a day; it is done unto the Lord. Both the ftrong, who account each day alike, forbear to keep any other day as holy unto the Lord now under the gospel, than such as he hath commanded, viz. the fabbath or the Lord's day, knowing that the yoke of the ceremonial law is now loofed, and fo forbear in obedience to God, and in forbearing do level at the glory of God: So doth he eat all fort of meats without difference, and therein alfo aimeth at the honour of God, in giving him thanks, both for the benefit, and the liberty to use the fame. And, upon the other hand, the weak, who had not win that length as to esteem all days alike, thought that yet he was bound to keep thofe days appointed by the law, and in fo doing he fingly aimeth at the glory of God: So in his not eating thefe mears prohibited by the law, he had an eye to-wards the Lord, for he giveth God thanks even for the fmall portion he hath from him: and therefore seeing every Christian, be he weak or be he flrong, do he, or do he not, is (for any thing thou who art his neighbour knoweth to the contrary,) fingly aiming at God's glory, or at leaft ought fo
do, no body ought to judge him who obferveth not a day, and eateth of every meat; nor defpife him who obferveth a day, and cannot have liberty to eat as the other.
I. Tho' before the death of Chrift, who was the fubftance of all the ceremonial law, and the butt towards which it pointed, there was a neceffity of obferving the fame by reafon of a command; yer vow
after the death of Chrift until the full promulgation of the gofpel of peace, it became morally indifferent, and might have been obferved or not obferved by the Jews during that interval, as, confidering all circumstances, was found to be most convenient; for both he that did obferve it, and he that did not obferve it, might have done it to the Lord, which could not be, unless the keeping thereof during that time had been morally indifferent: He that obferveth a day, obferveth it to the Lord; and he who obferveth not a day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.
born the ufe of fome prohibited by the ceremonial law, and even the Gentiles were prohibited the ufe of fome meats, in the cafe of fcandal, Acts xv. 20. yet now after the gospel is clearly held forth, Chrift the end of the law, clearly preached, and the temple destroyed; it is utterly unlawful now, to rob Chriftians of their liberty which Chrift has purchased for them, and enjoin the abftainance from meats, upon any religious fcore, feeing that would be accounted will-worship and fuperftition, Col. ii. 20. 21. 22. 23. and is accounted by the apofle a doctrine of devils, 1 Tim. iv. 1. 3. and blamed even in an apoftle, Gal.
II. Tho' there be many actions in their fpecific nature left indifferent, fo that inii. 14. it was but during this time that the refpect of their specific nature they be nei- apoftle fpoke this, He that eateth not, to ther commanded nor forbidden, in which the Lord he eateth not. the kingdom of heaven doth not confift, verfe 17. and which commendeth us not unto God, fo that neither if we do are we the better, nor if we forbear are we the worfe, 2 Cor. viii. 8.; yet there is no action of a Chriftian, but, if all circumftances be noticed, and the fame confidered in its individual nature, as fo and fo circumftantiated, is either prohibited or allowed of God, and fo lawful or unlaw-is ful; for tho' the obferving of days, or forbearing of fome forts of meat, was at this time indifferent, as to their fpecific nature, yet when thefe actions came to be individuated, there was neceffary a refpect to God's glory, and this made the obferv-an ing or not obferving (together with other circumftances,) approven of God, and this (all other things being alike,) was enough to caft the ballance: He that regardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lord, &c.
III. A Chriftian fhould be fo taken up with the glory of God, that, in all his actions, even about matters indifferent, he fhould aim and level at that with fingle. nefs of heart: He that regardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lard, &c. See 1 Cor. x. 31. Col. iii. 17.
IV. Tho' at that time it was indifferent to have ufed all meats, or to have for
V. Tho' then it was true that he who regarded a day, did regard it unto the Lord, and fo it was morally indifferent, whether to keep, with a religious intention as a piece of worship, the days fet apart by God in the ceremonial law, or not, until the full time when they fhould have been buried; yet it is utterly unlawful now to keep any day holy (except the Lord's day, which
now become our Chriftian Sabbath) as holy in itfelf, by virtue of any dedication, or fequeftration, whether to Chrift's nativity, afcenfion and the like, or to faints; as a paffing from that liberty wherewith Chrift has fet us free, Gal. v. 1. and contrary to
exprefs command, Gal. iv. 9. 10. But now after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, howe turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye defire again to be in bondage? Ye obferve days, and months, and times, and years. See Col. ii. 16. It was but during that time that this was true, that he that regardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lord, &c.
VI. It is a piece of that honour which we owe to God, and fhould aim at in the ufe of his good creatures, have we them allowed to us in great abundance, or in more scarcity, to be acknowledging him