« PreviousContinue »
neighbour, i Cor. xv. 3. 4. and in parti- , God hath granted liberty, and account sucli cular keeped from wronging his soul by and such actions which in themselves are our walk. 2. Peace ; that is, reconciliation but indifferent, of great necessity towards with God thro' faith, Rom. v. 1. peace in life and salvation ; for so did the strong our own consciences, Phil. iv. 7. Col. ii. 15. here look upon their earing and drinking and following of peace with others, 2 Tim. as necessarily tending to life, and as if the ii. 22. Heb. xii
. 14. 2 Cor. xiii. 11. Mark kingdom of heaven consisted therein; and ix. 50. 3. And joy in the Holy Ghost, a therefore the apostle was forced to tell fruit of the other iwo; and it is that hear them, that the kingdom of God was not gladness and rejoicing which believers may meat and driné. win to thro' the apprehension of friend- Il. It is ordinary to see such, using fair thip made up with God thro' faiih, 1 Pet. and specious pretexts, who go on in the i. 8. and this is wrought thro’ the Holy practice of such things as are not absolutely Ghost, as being one of his fruits, Gal. v. 22. neceffary unto falvarion, to the offence and and so includech an endeavouring, on our scandal of the weak followers of Christ; and part, to help forward the joy, and to do all their fair pretexts and excuses will not vothing that may sadden the spirits, and exoner and free them at the hand of God: mar the rejoicing of any believer ; these the strong here pretended that their keepthings, would he say, are far more ne- ing up of their christian liberty, was a thing cessary, and should be far more studied. they were called to, as they would not And therefore, 3dly, he both confirmeth hazard their everlasting life and portion in the necessity, and exhorteth to the practice the kingdom of God; they pretended that of these, saying, verse 18. For he that in the kingdom of God was in meat and drink. these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to III. Tho' there be no action which we God, and approved of men; that is, he do as rational-men, but falleth under the who in the exercise of these duties is servo | law of God, either prohibiting or coming Christ and promoting his honour, is manding the fame, if it be considered as accepted of God; and not the man who is cloathed with all its circumstances; yet laying 100 much weighs upon the practice there are some actions in their own nature of indifferent things: The Lord looks up- indifferent, fo as they may, or may not be on that as acceptable service, and it is ap- done, according to the change of circumproveable of men who have any under stances; and which if abstractly considered standing in these marters; and therefore have no neceffary connection with life or the exercise of these things which will be death, so as the doing of them will render a service to Christ, rewarded of God, and us the more acceptable to God, or the highly thought of by honest men, must forbearing of them, the more unacceptable: be more necessary for salvation than the The kingdom of heaven is not in meat and eating of meats, under the pretext of chri- drink: Their earing of such meats, in itself, stian liberty, and therefore should be more was a thing indifferent, neither commendstudied and laid to heart.
ing nor discommending them unto God.
See 1 Cor. viii. 8,
IV. It is a 'heinous offence before God I. As upon the one hand people are too to practise that which is in itself indifferent, ready !o make the way to heaven broader to the scandal and offence of our brethren, than it is, in taking liberty to themselves notwithstanding of a persuasion, which we where God hath granted none; so upon may have of some necessity lying upon us the other hand, they are ready to lay too to practise the same: It was foul-murder much streis upon these things, wherein 'before God in the strong here, to eat such
meats, to the stumbling of the weak, not thing that may fadden the hearts, and withstanding the strong looked upon it as quench the joy and rejoicing of other be. a matter wherein the kingdom of heaven lievers, seeing this joy and rejoicing is the did confift.
arles of heaven, 1 Pet. i. 8. And joy in the V. In a time when offences abound, and Holy Ghost. many are ready to stumble at what another IX. Tho' carnal things may raise up a coth; it were every ones duty to be well carnal spirit to carnal joy, in the midit acquainting themselves with the nature of whereof there may be sadness; yet this these actions they are about to do, and to spiritual, heavenly joy, ravishing the foul, know whether they be absolutely necessary and making it to exult in the hope of the to be done or forborn, least they endanger glory of God, is a fruit of the spirit of their own souls by provoking God, or such God, and is wrought in the soul of one as may be done or left undone without any who is cloathed with the righteousness of detriment to our souls: therefore doth the Christ, and has seen its interest in him, apostle think it necessary here to instruct having peace and calmness in their conscithem touching the nature of these actions, ences; it is the joy of the Holy Ghost, and about which the question was : The king- it is after righteousness and peace. dom of heaven is not meat and drink.
X. In a time when offences do abound, VI. A soul must be cloathed with the it were good for believers to be much exrighteousness of Jesus Christ, and thro'ercised with thoughts about matters of the grace of the Spirit of God must be en- main concernment, and taken up with dudeavouring after conformity with the law ties more immediately touching a life of of God, in all the duties therein required, grace here, and of glory hereafter, and of both towards God and man, that looks to uncontroverted usefulness; for the apostle have any portion in the kingdom of God; thinks it fit at this time, to yoke them to for the kingdom of God consists in righte- other works than such as tended to deousness: But in righteousness.
bate, even to that wherein the kingdom of VII. We must be looking upon it as a heaven doth consist, as righteousaess, peace necessary duty for us, always to be labour and joy, saying, He that in these things ing to keep up peace with God, and en- fervet is Christ, is acceptable to God, &c. deavouriug what in us lieth to keep peace XI. The puting on of the righteousness with our neighbours also; and when ever of Christ thro' faith, walking in righteousa soul thro' faith has gotten on the righte- ness towards God and man, keeping peace ou fess of Jesus Christ, then followerh with God, following after it with men, repeace and reconciliation with God; But in joicing in the Lord, and promoving the righteousness, and peace. After righteous spiritual joy of others, is special service to ness followeth peace.
Christ, tending much to his honour and VllI. As the Lord is pleased sometimes glory: In these things there is a serving of 10 manifest his goodnels unto his ovn Chrif; He that in tiese things servet! people, and faew them thar he is reconcil Christ. ed unto them thro' Jelus Christ, and so XII. To be about the fore-mentioned speak peace to their consciences; so doth duties, whereby Christ is glorified, as Lord he now and then stir up the spiriçs of his and Christ, is the way for us to be acceptpeople to rejoice upon the fight of their ed of God, owned and approven of him, happy and fure estate in him, and excite and to reap the rich reward of រំ their passion of spiritual and heavenly joy; the end; He that in these things servetb and it is the dury of believers to put a great Christ, is accepted of God. price on this, and to be ware to do any Xlll. Howbeit some may be applauded
fome unto you.
and cried up for standing upon punctilios, emulations, jars and debates, and to banish and practising every thing, which the ut- peace, unanimity, hearty concord and a. most liinits of their liberty will allow, tho' greement, that should be among believers; to the sensible hazard and detriment of o. now peace should be lovely and delighither weak Christians, and be more hot a.
2. Not only is your pracbout these indiiferent matters, than about ice in this case, barring of the door on matters of more everlasting concernment peace, but also it is an enemy to edification . and receility; yet none but such as do and helping forward your neighbour, whom willingly poltpone such trivial matters, un- you are bound to edify all you can. to the things of the kingdom of heaven,
OBSERVATIONS. and are more exercised about these than İ. In a time when offences do much aabour mere indifferences, in a time when bound, thro' the practice of indiferent offences abound, are only worthy of com- things, there useth to be much uoreft, difmendation and applause of men (as he is qwetness, divisions, debates, quarrels and the only man who shall have God's ap- endless, intricate, doubtful disputes, and probation) and will have the praise of fuch every thing tending to 'foster jealousies, as are endued with spiritual understanding: controversies, ftrife and contention; the 'He that in these things serveth Christ, is apostle's proposing the earnest seeking of approven of men.
things making for peace, as an antidote,
supposeth this: Let us therefore follow af. Verse 19. Let us therefore follow after ter the things that make for peace. the things which make for peace, and
II. When either there is much offence ... things wherewith one may edify another. and scandal given or taken, then the work
of God in fouls is much mared and rePon the grounds' mentioned, ver. 17. carded, little edification, or advancement in
18. he prefferh the duties mentioned, the way of holiness; it usah to be a back-ver. 17. in so far as they concerned their going time; this is also supposed while he neighbours, in two words, viz. peace, and says, Follow after the things wherewith things tending to edification, which takes one may edify another. in both righteousness, and promoving of III. How little soever many account their joy in the Holy Ghost: let us there the scandalizing and offending of their fela fere follow after, pursue horly, and with low Christians, by doing of that which at earneltness, the things which make for best is but indifferent and lawful; yet it is peace; all these things which will serve as proven by fad experience to be the very useful to procure and keep up peace with lowing of the seeds of discord, heart-burnyour neighbonr Christians, and banish ing and lasting contention; for so was is jars, contests and fruitless disputes about here, and therefore he preffech them to : indifferent things: And things where with seek for peace. one may edify another; that is, such ways IV. Tho' many think it a harmless and courses as will promove and advance thing to use the freedom that their liberry our fellow.christian in his journey towards will permit; and some may think it a com- heaven, and build him up in his most holy mendable thing to stumble and take offence faith. And withal, he points at two other arthe untender carriage of another;yet both 9 arguments to diffu de them from the exer. these are much to the prejudice of the cise of indifferent things, in this case of work of grace in a soul, and iend much to fcandal, as, . Your meddling with thee in- pull down the work of God in them; and different things now, in case of scandal, is a therefore he presserb them to mind edifi. way caly to keep up divisions, diffen:ions, cation,
V. As at all times it becometh the people by getting one stone laid upon another: of God to be thewing themselves tons of Things that make for edifying. peace, blessed peace-makers and promot- IX. As it is a duty lying upon Chriltiers of peace, amity, friendship and hearty ans (tho' principally upon ininifters, Eph. concord, one with another; lo especially iv. 11. 12. 1 Cor. iii. 9.) to be promcting in a time when offences do abound; and the work of grace, it the souls of their the serious proposing of peace and concord neighbours at all times, according to their as our end, and using all means to reach places and power; so especially should they the same, will much prevent that danger. be seriously endeavouring this in a day ous evil of scandalizing and stumbling one when that work is meering with demurs, another; therefore he says, Let us follow thro' the abounding of offences; for at this after the things that make for peace. time he puts them all to it, to be following
VI. Christians ought to be most serious after those things that edify one another ; in minding peace, and earnest in the pro and in this they should not be superficial, fecution of what makes for peace; and but serious and earneft. notwithstanding of the many difficulties ly- X. The confideration of the bitter and ing in the way, rendering it improbable, fad fruits of stumbling our neighbour if not impossible, ever to win to it; yet to by the practising of indifferent things, (as be pursuing it, by all means pollible, even the lasting war, broils and strife, utterly when it flyeth from us, with eagerness, unbecoming Christians, and the maring and zeal, constancy and firm resolution: We rerarding of the work of God in souls, must follow after the things that make for and so a crossing and contradi&ting of God peace; pursue it, as persecutors do their de- in his building up of souls for himself,) signs. See Heb. xii. 14.
should constrain all Christians to forbear VII. In hunting after peace, our great the practice of fuch things, at such a time: desire and carneftness to have it, fhould Let us follow after the things that make not make us take any linful way to obtain for peace, and the things wherewith one it: for however peace be desirable, yet may edify another. peace upon finful terms is cursed and abominable; therefore with a purpose to VERSE 20. For meat destroy not the work have peace, he would have them joining of God. All things indeed are pure; but a purpose to edify their brethren; and it is evil for that man who eateth with therefore these two are put together: Fol- offence. low after the things that make for peace, and the things that edify one another; so is N the first part of this verse, the apostle peace and holiness joined, Heb. xii. 14. profecutes his former purpose, with o
VIII. Tho' believers be, by faith per-ther two arguments. The tenth argument fectly justified, and put in a justified state, then is this, Thy eating in this case of yet the work of conformity unto the image scandal, is a destroying of che work of God, of God, the work of holiness and fanctifi- therefore forbear it: The work of grace cation in them, comes on by degrees, and and sanctification, of holiness and comfort comes not to perfection on this side of time, | in thy brother, is the work of God, and but they are still advancing, and the build thou, by stumbling him with thy eating, ing of grace is coming up; this is cleared doth what in thee lyeth ro hinder the proby the metaphor here used, taken from a gress of that work, and so doth that which building; here believers are called a house rendeth to the hurt and utter destruction of or temple, 1 Cor. iii. 9. that must grow that work. The eleventh argument is this,
Thou destroyelt the work of God, for a pediments from others about us, and that very small inconsiderable matter : For meat not only by their doing of what may fofce troy not thou the work of God; thy meat, ter, or excite corruption in us; or doing tho' useful, is little in comparison of this that which is sinful in itself, before us; or work of God, and for so small a matter as in a carnal, finful manner, what is lawful that, wilt thou endanger the everlasting and necessary; but also, by their very ordifood of thy brother. In the latter part of nary carriage in matters of small moment, the verse, there is an objection loosed. The and indifferency: So tender a thing is objection which those, to whom the a- grace in a foul, that a small contrary blast poitle was sow speaking, were ready to will mar the growih thereof, even the unstart, was this: All meats are now pure seasonable eating and drinking of others: and clean; fince Christ is come, all cere- For thy meat, destroy not the work of God. monial unclearness is now out of the way; IV. The consideration of the dependance and why may' we not then make use of that the work of grace, and of comfort, hath meats which are now cleansed to us, and upon God, as the author and principal which the Lord allowerh us the use of ? carrier on of the fame, should strongly He answereth, granting that indeed all move all his people to carry themselves so things are pure, but he denieth the conse- tenderly and circumspe&tly in their daily quence, saying, But it is evil for that man carriage, as that they obstruct not nor mar who eateth with offence; that is, notwith the spiritual good and edification of their standing that those meats be now morally brethren, and the progress of the work of pure, and free of any ceremonial unclean- | grace and consolation in their souls; for ness, yet it is finful and unlawful to eat he useth this argument, that in so doing those meats, to the offence and scandalizing they were destroying (or doing that which of thy brother.
tended that way) the work of God.
V. The smaller and more inconsiderable OBSERVATIONS.
the matter be, in doing whereof we en1. The work of grace, and comfort in a danger and endamage the happiness and soul, is a work which God owneth as his, welfare of the foul of our brother, the he being the first author of faith, and all greater is our guilt, if we shall thereby do ocher graces
in a soul, Heb. xii. 2. Psal. ii. that which rendeth to the hurt of his soul; 13. and of the comfort and joy of believ- and such hearty love fhould we have unto ers, 2 Cor. i. 3. 4. the daily nourisher and the benefit and advantage of our brother, carrier on of the work, by his daily influ- that we should be loth to lay the good we ences, upon their souls, and the finisher can reap, by the use of such or such meats, and crowner thereof, in his own time; or any other indifferent thing, once in the hence it is called, The work of God. balance with the inevitable hurt which
11. Hoxbeit this work of grace and con- shall redound thereby unto his soul: For folation in fouls, be in such a hand, as meat desircy r.ot the work of God. fhall certainly carry it on to a perfect clo- VI. Tho' we will readily be convinced sure, and shall not suffer it to miscarry; yet of our guilt in wronging the souls of our it is liable to many stops, demurs, and ob- neighbours, when we do that wbich is finAtructions, and to such casual occurrences, ful upon the matter, whereby they are as interpretatively are means to destroy the scandalized; yet we are ready to shift any fame: Destroy not thou the work of God. conviction of wronging the work of God
III. As this work meets with many re- in our brother's soul, if that which we do tarding obstructions, from corruprion with be lawful upon the matter, thinking that in a mau's self; so doih it meet with im- | God's allowing us that liberty, and not re