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their exhorting all Christians, as far as they had attain'd, to walk by the fame Rules without Discord or Dissension, implies the being Followers of them in these things \ and not only so, but to mark them that walk so, as ye have them for Ensamples ., following such as follow them, and learning by their Pattern to do likewise.
But why doth the Apostle so earnestly press their Example upon all their Followers? Why, that the next words will tell us, For many walk of whom I have told youoften^ and now tell you even weeping: meaning, that there were many that walk'd so disorderly, and so contrary to the Christian Profession, that he could not think of them without Trouble, nor speak of them without Tears. And who were they? Why, the Apostle describes them in the following words:
ist, By their being Enemies of the Cross of Christ. Of this sort were the Jews and the Greeks in those days; the one denying, and the other deriding a crucify'd Saviour. So St, Paul tells us, that he preach'd Christ crucify d, to the Jews a Stumbling-Block, ana to the Greeks Foolishness. And such are the Deists and Infidels of our Age, who call the preaching of Christ by the name of Priestcraft, and ridicule Religion and all the Mysteries of the Gospel. These are truly Enemies of the Cross of Christ; and as the Apostle could not speak of those of old without weeping, so are these hardly to be mention'd without Tears, especially considering what he adds in the next words, that their End it Destruction: for there being no other Name given under Heaven, by which we can be fav'd, but the Name of Christ, who is the only Peace-maker between God and Man, how can any hope for Mercy or Pardon without him? Hence the Apostle asks the Question, How shall we escape^ if we negleEl so great Salvation? For this is to trample under foot the Son of God, who is alone able to help us, and to count the Blood of the Croft an unholy thing, which is only able to fanctify us. He that rejects the Remedy, must perish without Relief-, and he that refuseth Redemption, must remain a Slave for ever. They that are Enemies to the Cross of Christ, can be no true Friends to themselves-, yea, they are greater Enemies to their own Souls, than they can be to our Saviour, for they dash against the Rock of their Salvation, and must suffer an everlasting Shipwreck. These are the Persons that drew Tears from the Apostle, of whom he had often told the Philippians, and liere tells them even weeping. Again,
zdly, He describes them by their making their Belly their God, in the next words, Whose God is their Belly: that is, their Minds are chiefly set upon what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and give themselves up to the Sway of an unruly Appetite. Of this sort are all Gluttons and Epicures, who study all manner of Delicacies to pamper the Body, and make provision for the Lusts of the Flesh. These have their Heads and their Hearts busied about their Bellies, which they labour to serve and please more than God j but they that fare thus well here, win fare the worse for it hereafter, when these things come to be reckon'd for, The rich Glutton in the Gospel, that far d delicioufly everyday, wanted at last a Cup of cold Water to cool his Tongue •, and they who now with so much Care and Cost pamper their Body, shall e'er long pine with everlasting Hunger: And therefore our Saviour gave a strict Charge to his Followers, to take heed that their Hearts be not overcharg'd with Surfeiting and Drunkenness, left that day come upon them unawares: Luke 21. 34- Again,
idly, The Apostle describes these disorderly Walkers by their glorying in their Shame, in the fame Verse, Whose Glory is in their Shame: that is, they glory in the Follies and Deformities of human Nature, and boast of those base and beastly Lusts, of which they ought to be asham'd. Of this sort are all sensual and voluptuous Persons, who are Lovers of Pleasure more than Lovers of God; who having cast off all Blushing, pride themselves in the rehearsing of their vile Debauches: Of these the Apostle speaks, Eph. 4. 19. who being past Shame or feeling of any Remorse, gave themselves up to Lascivioufnefs, committing all Uncleannefs with Greediness. And too many such there are in our days, who have steel'd their Foreheads, and sear'd their Consciences beyond all fense of Evil, boasting of their Wickedness, and glorying in that which should overwhelm them with Shame and Sorrow: but all such Boasting is vain, and will end at last in the greatest Shame and Confusion of Face for ever. And because these could not weep for themselves, the Apostle here weeps for them, considering the fatal end of all such Folly and Boasting.
Lastly, These disorderly Walkers here are describ'd by their minding earthly things, in the fame Verse, Who mind earthly things; that is, who cherish an inordinate Love of
H h 4 this this World, with a careless neglect of the other their 1 Hearts being so bent upon their worldly Interest, as to stick at no ways, how base or unjust soever, to compass their Ends. Of this kind are all Worldlings and covetous Persons, who All their Heads with carking Cares and Fears abont themselves, and harbour in their Hearts unjust Desires and Hankerings after the Goods of others: such as these serve Mammon more than God, and worship the Creature more than the Creator; for which, reason Covetousness is often stil'd Idolatry, and covetous Persons are branded for Idolaters.
These are the bad Examples which the Apostle here laments with Tears, and wills all Christians not to follow, but avoid •, to have no fellowship with such unfruitful Works of Darkness, but rather reprove them: Not to conform to such vile Practices of the World, nor to follow a Multitude, how great and numerous soever, to do Evil •, all which look no higher than these earthly things, and lead only to Misery and Ruin.
But instead of them, he exhorts them to be Followers of him and the other Apostles, who set better Examples, and guide to higher and nobler things: for, as he goes on to tell them,
Our Conversation is in Heaven; that is, whereas others are so addicted to the Earth, as to mind only the Pleasures, Profit*, and Honours of this World, we look higher than this World, and mind chiefly the things above: and this will be a better Pattern for you to imitate and to lead you to Heaven, than they who are glued to the Earth, and lie groveling upon itfor our Conversation is in Heaven. The word in the Original is noKnwy.iL, which alludes to a City or Corporation, which hath many Privileges and Duties belonging to those that are free of it, tho they -live at some distance fropiit: and so the Apostle's Meaning is, that tho they were born in this World, and liv'd in it, yet they belong'd to another, and were free Denizens of Heaven, which is often stil'd a City; and accordingly we converse and behave our selves here as those that are free of another City above, and belong to it. Hence we find them declaring, that they look'd not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things that are seen arc temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal: : z Cor. 4, 18. And elsewhere, We walk by Faith, which nthe Evidence of ihings not seen, and not by Sight, which
reaches only to present and perishing Objects. This is. that wherein the' Apostle would have us to be Followers of them, and likewise to mark them that do so, according to their Example; the better to take off our Hearts from an inordinate Love and Pursuit of earthly things, and to raise oar Minds and Affections to the things of Heaven: for both which, they have left us both their Precept and their Pattern.
But the farther to recommend and enforce their Exam
fle upon us, of having, like them, our Converfation in leaven, here.are added two great Encouragements thereunto:
j. Because from thence we also look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ. And,
2. Because when he comes, he will change our vile Body that it may be sajf.iond like unto his glorious Body, according to his Working, whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Of each of which something briefly: And,
1. The Apostle wills us to have our Converfation in Heaven, because we also, as well as thev, from thence look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. That our Saviour Christ will come again from Heaven to judg the World at the last Day, we are often told in Holy Scripture : This same Jesus (faith the Angel to the Disciples) which is taken up from you into Heaven, stall so come as ye have seen him go into Heaven; Acts j. 11. He shall come from Heaven, attended with his mighty Angels, faith St, Paul, 2 Thess. 1. 7. And elsewhere, He frailceme with a Shout,znd in the Clouds of Heaven. Now the Expectation hereof set the Apostles a looking, longing, and preparing for his Coming, which they did by Heavenly-Mindedness, and all other Acts of a pious Life. So St. Paul tells us, Tit. 2. 12, 13. The Grace of God which bringeth Salvation, hath appear d to all Men; teaching us to .deny Ungodliness and worldly Lusts, and to live righteously, fberly, and godly in this present World; looking for that blejjed Hope, and the glorious Appearance of the Son of God, our Saviour Jests Christ. And herein we are call'd upon to imitate them, by having our Converfation in Heaven., from whence the Saviour comes, and whither we hope he will bring us : And the rather,
2. Because when he comes, he will change our vile Body, that it may be sashion d according to his glorious Body, &c. meaning, that our crazy Bodies shall be then freed from all ttye Deformities and Infirmities that now belong to them,
and and be new fram'd and molded into the Fashion, Qualities, and Perfections of Christ's Body: that is,
(i.) Our vile, base, and abject Bodies shall be chang'd into glorious Bodies; so faith St. Paul, It is sown in Dishonour it is rais'd in Glory.
(2.) Our natural, earthly, and fleshly Bodies shall be chang'd into spiritual and heavenly Bodies; so 'tis faid, It is sown & natural Body, it is rais'd a spiritual Body. Again,
(3.) Our weak, frail, and passive Bodies shall be chang'd into active, vigorous, and powerful Bodies ., so 'tis added, It is sown in Weakness, it israis'd in Power. And,
Lastly, (4.) Our mortal, corruptible Bodies, shall be chang'd into immortal and incorruptible Bodies, so 'tis farther faid, It is sown in Corruption, it is rais'd in Incorruption ^ and this Corruptible must put on Incorruption, and this Mortal must put on Immortality. In a word, both our Bodies and Souls shall be refin'd and rais'd to all those glorious Qualities and Perfections, to which they are capable of being advanc'd , and when that which is PerseEt is come, then all that is Imperfett /ball be done away: And all this shall be done for us by that Infinite and Almighty Power, that is able to subdue all things to himself.
Now if we look for these great things, as we undoubtedly may, what manner of Persons ought we to be in all holy Converfation and Godliness? How frequently and firmly should our Minds and Meditations be fix'd on Heaven, from whence we expect the Coming of this Saviour, and with whom we hope to return and reign in Glory? This the Apostles did, and this they would have us to do, as also to observe and imitate those that walk by their Example.
Thus having shew'd the Drift and Scope of this Epistle, it remains, in the last place, that I press upon you the great Lesson that is taught in it ., and that is, to be Followers of the Holy Apostles, and to set their Lives and Actions before you, as a Pattern for yours. To this end, read often the Scriptures of the New Testament, where their memorable Works and Actions are recorded, and bear them in mind, that you may have them always ready as occasion shall require ., not that you are to be Followers of them, in doing the Miracles and other wonderful Works that they did, for that was 1 Power or Privilege