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celv'd; and partly of Supplications for farther Blessings to be bestow'd upon them: both which being intermingled together, I mall consider them as they are here reUted.
The Epistle begins with Thanksgiving, jn these words -, We give Thanks to God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where, by giving of Thanks., we are to understand not only an inward Sense and Remembrance of Mercies receiv'd, but likewise an outward and open Acknowledgment of them, aecompany'd with hearty Desires and Endeavours of making all possible Returns and Requital for them. The Object, to whom this Thanksgiving was made, ytasGod, the Author of all Mercies, both spiritual and temporal, and the Almighty Donor of all our Blessings; for every good Gift, and every perfeil Gift (faith St. James) is from above, and eometh down from the Father of Lights: Jam. 1. 17. who is here farther stil'd, The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whose Merits and Mediation all Divine Blessings are deriv'd to us. To this his giving of Thanks, the Apostle adds his praying always for them, since he heard of their Faith in Christ Jesus: This he heard from Epapkras, a Disciple of his, who was the main Instrument of preaching and planting the Gospel among them, as we shall find after. So that the
1st Thing that the Apostle here praises God for, and prays for the Continuance of, in the behalf of these Coloffians, Was their embracing of Christianity, or receiving the Christian Faith •, which was an inestimable Blessing to them, who were before in a State of Heathenism and Infidelity: and fo being out of the Church, they were without God, without Christ, and without Hope in the World. Whereas, by receiving the Gospel, they were receiv'd into the Favour of God, and by the Merits of Christ had well-grounded Hopes of Salvation.' i .' 1
zdly, Another thing, for which he thanks God in them, was the Love that they had to all the Saints; which appear'd by their contributing to their Necessities, and by aiding and comforting them in all their Distresses: they prov'd their Faith to be found and sincere, by its working by tove, and abounding in all the Acts of Mercy and Charity.
idly, He thanks God for the Hope that was laid up for them in Heaven; ver. 5. that is, for the lively Hope of an Inheritance immortal, incorruptible, and that fadeth not away, reserv'd in Heaven for them of which they heard by
T i 1 the the Word of the Truth of the Gospel: meaning, that they had an Assurance hereof by the Doctrine of the Gospel, which they had heard and receiv'd ^ for Faith comes by Hearings and Hearing by the Word of God: which Word of Truth is come not to them only, but to all the World, where the Gospel is preach'd; for the Grace of God, which bringeth Salvation, hath appear'd to all Men.
Lastly, He thanks God for the good Fruits it brought forth in the World, since the Publication of it, as it did also in these Colossians, since the Day they heard of it, and knew the Word of God in Truth: Which good Fruits serv'd to adorn the Gospel that was preach'd to them, and will redound to their Account in the Day of Christ,
These are the chief things for which the Apostle here gives God Thanks in the behalf of the Colofsans, which tending so much to their present and future Welfare, were highly thank-worthy. This, his praising of God for them, they learned of Epaphras, a dear Fellow-Servant of St. Paul'/, and a saithful Minister of theirs, who also declared unto the jfpostle their Love in the Spirit, and the entire Affection they bore unto himfor which cause we also (faith he) since the Day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you. And this will lead me from the Subject-matter of his Praises and. Thanksgivings for them,
Secondly, To the Matter of his Prayers and Supplications in their behalf: And the first Thing he pray'd for, or desir'd for them, was that they might be filled with the Knowle ,ig of his Will in all Wisdom and spiritual Understanding', ver. 9. Now though Knowledg, Wisdom and Understanding are ofttimes taken promiscuoufly, to signify one and the fame thing; yet here and elsewhere in Holy Scripture they have disferent Senses, and may be thus distinguish^: Knowledg signifies the bare Notion or Speculation of any Matter or Thing; Wisdom is a practical Knowledg, and implies the doing of what we know; Understanding is an experimental Knowledg, or feeling the Truth of what we know. Al l these the Apostle here desires for these Colofsans, with reference to the Will of God, and all Divine Truths,
As, (1.) He desires that they may be filled with the Knowledg of God's Will; that is, that they may have a right Notion of the things that God requires, without being misled by Ignorance, or mistaken by Error. Of our selves we are blind, and know nothing as we ought: The natural. Man (faith the Apostle) discerns not the things of Godr withes ther can he, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor. 2, 14. Hence we find David often prating, that God would teach him his Statutes, and help him to know his Testimonies ., to open his Eyes, that he might behold the wondrous things of his Law. And here St. Paul prays for the Colojsians, that they may be filled with Knowledge so as to understand things aright, and to know the Truth as it is in Jesus.
Next, The Apostle prays, that their Knowledg may be accompany'd with Wisdom, that is, with the Practice of what they know, which is a practical Knowledg in all Wisdom: An empty Notion of Divine Truths, that swims only in the Brain, without finking into the Heart, and flowing into good Works, can be of no Use or Benefit to any; 'tis acting according to our Knowledg, that gives it all its Worth and Efficacy. And therefore St. James asks" the Question, Who is a wife Man, and endowed with Knowledg among you? And then, by way of Answer, bids them to shew out of a good Conversation his Works with Meekness of Wisdom; Jam. 3. 13. All true Christian Knowledg must be attended with Practice, in which consists true Wisdom -, and without that, all Pretences to it do but betray the greater Folly.
Furthermore, the Apostle prays in their behalf for spiritual Understanding; that is, for such an experimental Knowledg of the things of God, that they may find and feel within them the Truth of them : for Experience is the best Knowledg, and they that, have that have the best Seal and Assurance of Divine Truths.
These things require and well deserve our most affectionate Prayers, join'd with our utmost Endeavours for the obtaining of them, both for our selves and others. Solomon, who best knew the Worth and Way of attaining of them, hath will'd us to cry for Knowledg, and to lift up our voice for Understanding, to search for them as for Silver, and to dig for them as for hidden Treasure; Prov. 2. And being such precious and invaluable Blestings, the Apostle thought he could not do better for these Colojsians, than to pray, that they might be fill'd with the Knowledg of Gad in a II Wisdom, and spiritual Understanding. The first thing he here petitions for them.
The second is, that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing \ that is, either that they might walk as becometh the Servants of the Lord, in all Humility, Love,
Ii 4 and and Obedience to him , which things as they are pleasing to all earthly Masters, so are they much more so to our great Lord and Master in Heaven: or else, that they might walk worthy of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they had receiv'd, by suiting their Lives to the Rules and Precepts of it which is of all things most pleasing and acceptable to him: Otherwise, their embracing the Go/pel would be so far from pleasing, that it would the more incense and heighten his Displeasure j for better had, ii been (faith St. Peter) not to have known the Way of Righteousness^ than after the knowing its to turn away from the Holy Commandment. And the fad Fate of Corazjn, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, who had receiv'd the Gospel of Christ, would be far heavier for their Contempt of it, than that of Tyre and Sydon, and other barbarous Countries that never heard it. For which the Apostle here prays for the Colofsians, that they might .walk so, that all their Ways may be pleasing unto God, which is a good Prayer for all Christians.
3/v, Another thing he prays for them, is, that they might be fruitful in every good Work, and increasing in the Knowledg of God. For Christianity consists not in barren and empty Speculations, that like a wither'd Tree afford no Fruit, but in doing good Works •, and like a fruitful Vine, or vvater'd Garden, brings forth Fruit in due season: nor doth it appear only in the Leaves and Blossoms of a specious Profession, but in the real Fruits of an univerfal Righteousness. Now the Fruits we are here directed to bring forth, are those of the Spirit, mention'd in GaU 5. 22. "in which all Christians should, abound, for the setting forth the Glory of God, and promoting their own Salvation. The Tree in the Gospel was cut down for bearing no Fruit •, 'and they that are barren and unfruitful in the Knowledg of Christ, will find the fame Fate, to be cut down and made the Fewel of everlasting Fire: which should make us, not only to pray, but endeavour to. be fruitful in every- . good Work.
The Apostle farther prays for these Colofsians, that they might be ftrengthned with all Might, according to his glorious Power, unto all Patience, and Long-sufferings with, Joyfulness; ver. I1. meaning, that they might be supplied with that spiritual Strength or Christian Fortitude, that might enable them to bear up under all the Afflictions and Persecutions of this Life •, not basely shrinking from the Cross of Christ, nor cowardly sinking under it, but by the,
Grace of God to be able to stand in the evil Day, and having done all, to stand-, being arm'd with Patience and Long-suffering, two of those Fruits of the Spirit, in which he would have them to abound j. that beingendu'd with Courage and the Power of God, they might despise the Frowns of Men, and rather rejoice than faint under Tribulations.
These are the things which the Apostle here pray'd for in the behalf of the Golofsians, and are indeed fit Matter for our Prayers in the behalf of all Christians.
Lastly, the Epistle ends as it began, with giving thanks unto God the Father: withal mentioning another great and inestimable Favour and Privilege conferr'd upon us, very necessary to be esplain'd and apply'd to us- , and that is. His makine, us meet to be Partakers of the Inheritance of the, Saints in Light: by which we are to understand his fitting of us here, for a blest Estate of endless Glory and Happiness hereafter. Call'd here,
(1.) By the Name of an Inheritance, to signify the Title we have to it, as purchas'd for us by Jesus Christ - , and the Tenure by which we hold it, which is not by a Term of Lives, or a Lease of Years, but by inheritance for ever. Hence 'tis sometimes ftil'd, A Kingdom that cannot be movd, and an everlasting Kingdom: At other times, an Inheritance, undesiVd, incorruptible, that never salleth or sadeth away; 1 Pet. 1. 3. Again,
(2.) Tis call'd, the Inheritance us the Saints; to signify the Persons to whom it belongs, which is not to all, whether in the Church, or out of the Chnrch -, nor yet to those that live loose, carelefc and wicked Lives in it- , but only to the Saints, that is, to such as are admitted into Christ's Holy Church, and continue true and faithful Members of it to their Lives end. For these it is, that thert is laid up a Crown of Glory, which 'Gvd the righteous Jttdg /hall give at the last day to all such as Ivve and look for his Appearance. Moreover,
(3,) 'Tis call'd the Inheritance of the Saints in Light, to signify the Glory and Splendor of that happy State: For as Darkness is made to represent a State of Horror and endless Misery, for which reason HeM is describ'd to be a Place of black and eternal Darkness, so Light is set to signify a Condition of Joy and Blessedness- , and therefore Heaven is represented as a Place of bright and evershining Light. '1 '. .'