Consistency Enforced. A. D. 61.
1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk
worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
This is a general exhortation to walk as becomes our Christian profession.
Paul was now a prisoner at Rome; and he was the prisoner of the Lord, or
in the Lord, which signifies as much as for the Lord. See of this, ch.
iii. 1. He mentions this once and again, to show that he was not ashamed
of his bonds, well knowing that he suffered not as an evil doer: and likewise
to recommend what he wrote to them with the greater tenderness and with
some special advantage. It was a doctrine he thought worth suffering for,
and therefore surely they should think it worthy their serious regards
and their dutiful observance. We have here the petition of a poor prisoner,
one of Christ's prisoners: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech
you," &c. Considering what God has done for you, and to what a state
and condition he has called you, as has been discoursed before, I now come
with an earnest request to you (not to send me relief, nor to use your
interest for the obtaining of my liberty, the first thing which poor prisoners
are wont to solicit from their friends, but) that you would approve yourselves
good Christians, and live up to your profession and calling; That you walk
worthily, agreeably, suitably, and congruously to those happy circumstances
into which the grace of God has brought you, whom he has converted from
heathenism to Christianity. Observe, Christians ought to accommodate themselves
to the gospel by which they are called, and to the glory to which they
are called; both are their vocation. We are called Christians; we must
answer that name, and live like Christians. We are called to God's kingdom
and glory; that kingdom and glory therefore we must mind, and walk as becomes
the heirs of them.
Exhortation to Unity; Persuasives to Unity. A. D. 61.
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing
one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in
the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are
called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in
Here the apostle proceeds to more particular exhortations. Two he enlarges
upon in this chapter:--To unity an love, purity and holiness, which Christians
should very much study. We do not walk worthy of the vocation wherewith
we are called if we be not faithful friends to all Christians, and sworn
enemies to all sin.
This section contains the exhortation to mutual love, unity, and concord,
with the proper means and motives to promote them. Nothing is pressed upon
us more earnestly in the scriptures than this. Love is the law of Christ's
kingdom, the lesson of his school, the livery of his family. Observe,
I. The means of unity: Lowliness and meekness, long-suffering, and forbearing
one another in love, v. 2. By lowliness we are to understand humility,
entertaining mean thoughts of ourselves, which is opposed to pride. By
meekness, that excellent disposition of soul which makes men unwilling
to provoke others, and not easily to be provoked or offended with their
infirmities; and it is opposed to angry resentments and peevishness. Long-suffering
implies a patient bearing of injuries, without seeking revenge. Forbearing
one another in love signifies bearing their infirmities out of a principle
of love, and so as not to cease to love them on the account of these. The
best Christians have need to bear one with another, and to make the best
one of another, to provoke one another's graces and not their passions.
We find much in ourselves which it is hard to forgive ourselves; and therefore
we must not think it much if we find that in others which we think hard
to forgive them, and yet we must forgive them as we forgive ourselves.
Now without these things unity cannot be preserved. The first step towards
unity is humility; without this there will be no meekness, no patience,
or forbearance; and without these no unity. Pride and passion break the
peace, and make all the mischief. Humility and meekness restore the peace,
and keep it. Only by pride comes contention; only by humility comes love.
The more lowly-mindedness the more like-mindedness. We do not walk worthy
of the vocation wherewith we are called if we be not meek and lowly of
heart: for he by whom we are called, he to whom we are called, was eminent
for meekness and lowliness of heart, and has commanded us therein to learn
II. The nature of that unity which the apostle prescribes: it is the
unity of the Spirit, v. 3. The seat of Christian unity is in the heart
or spirit: it does not lie in one set of thoughts, nor in one form and
mode of worship, but in one heart and one soul. This unity of heart and
affection may be said to be of the Spirit of God; it is wrought by him,
and is one of the fruits of the Spirit. This we should endeavour to keep.
Endeavouring is a gospel word. We must do our utmost. If others will quarrel
with us, we must take all possible care not to quarrel with them. If others
will despise and hate us, we must not despise and hate them. In the bond
of peace. Peace is a bond, as it unites persons, and makes them live friendly
one with another. A peaceable disposition and conduct bind Christians together,
whereas discord and quarrelling disband and disunite their hearts and affections.
Many slender twigs, bound together, become strong. The bond of peace is
the strength of society. Not that it can be imagined that all good people,
and all the members of societies, should be in every thing just of the
same length, and the same sentiments, and the same judgment: buy the bond
of peace unites them all together, with a non obstante to these. As in
a bundle of rods, they may be of different lengths and different strength;
but, when they are tied together by one bond, they are stronger than any,
even than the thickest and strongest was of itself.
III. The motives proper to promote this Christian unity and concord.
The apostle urges several, to persuade us thereto.
1. Consider how many unities there are that are the joy and glory of
our Christian profession. There should be one heart; for there is one body,
and one spirit, v. 4. Two hearts in one body would be monstrous. If there
be but one body, all that belong to that body should have one heart. The
Catholic church is one mystical body of Christ, and all good Christians
make up but one body, incorporated by one charter, that of the gospel,
animated by one Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who by his gifts and graces
quickens, enlivens, and governs that body. If we belong to Christ, we are
all actuated by one and the same Spirit, and therefore should be one. Even
as you are called in one hope of your calling. Hope is here put for its
object, the thing hoped for, the heavenly inheritance, to the hope of which
we are called. All Christians are called to the same hope of eternal life.
There is one Christ that they all hope in, and one heaven that they are
all hoping for; and therefore they should be of one heart. One Lord (v.
5), that is, Christ, the head of the church, to whom, by God's appointment,
all Christians are immediately subject. One faith, that is, the gospel,
containing the doctrine of the Christian faith: or, it is the same grace
of faith (faith in Christ) whereby all Christians are saved. One baptism,
by which we profess our faith, being baptized in the name of the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost; and so the same sacramental covenant, whereby we engage
ourselves to the Lord Christ. One God and Father of all, v. 6. One God,
who owns all the true members of the church for his children; for he is
the Father of all such by special relation, as he is the Father of all
men by creation: and he is above all, by his essence, and with respect
to the glorious perfections of his nature, and as he has dominion over
all creatures and especially over his church, and through all, by his providence
upholding and governing them: and in you all, in all believers, in whom
he dwells as in his holy temple, by his Spirit and special grace. If then
there be so many ones, it is a pity but there should be one more--one heart,
or one soul.