Romans 15* Directions how to behave towards the weak. (1-7) All toreceive one another as brethren. (8-13) The writing andpreaching of the apostle. (14-21) His purposed journeys. (22-29)He requests their prayers. (30-33)1-7 Christian liberty was allowed, not for our pleasure, butfor the glory of God, and the good of others. We must please ourneighbour, for the good of his soul; not by serving his wickedwill, and humouring him in a sinful way; if we thus seek toplease men, we are not the servants of Christ. Christ's wholelife was a self-denying, self-displeasing life. And he is themost advanced Christian, who is the most conformed to Christ.Considering his spotless purity and holiness, nothing could bemore contrary to him, than to be made sin and a curse for us,and to have the reproaches of God fall upon him; the just forthe unjust. He bore the guilt of sin, and the curse for it; weare only called to bear a little of the trouble of it. He borethe presumptuous sins of the wicked; we are called only to bearthe failings of the weak. And should not we be humble,self-denying, and ready to consider one another, who are membersone of another? The Scriptures are written for our use andbenefit, as much as for those to whom they were first given.Those are most learned who are most mighty in the Scriptures.That comfort which springs from the word of God, is the surestand sweetest, and the greatest stay to hope. The Spirit as aComforter, is the earnest of our inheritance. Thislike-mindedness must be according to the precept of Christ,according to his pattern and example. It is the gift of God; anda precious gift it is, for which we must earnestly seek untohim. Our Divine Master invites his disciples, and encouragesthem by showing himself as meek and lowly in spirit. The samedisposition ought to mark the conduct of his servants,especially of the strong towards the weak. The great end in allour actions must be, that God may be glorified; nothing moreforwards this, than the mutual love and kindness of those whoprofess religion. Those that agree in Christ may well agreeamong themselves. 8-13 Christ fulfilled the prophecies and promises relating tothe Jews, and the Gentile converts could have no excuse fordespising them. The Gentiles, being brought into the church, arecompanions in patience and tribulation. They should praise God.Calling upon all the nations to praise the Lord, shows that theyshall have knowledge of him. We shall never seek to Christ tillwe trust in him. And the whole plan of redemption is suited toreconcile us to one another, as well as to our gracious God, sothat an abiding hope of eternal life, through the sanctifyingand comforting power of the Holy Spirit, may be attained. Ourown power will never reach this; therefore where this hope is,and is abounding, the blessed Spirit must have all the glory."All joy and peace;" all sorts of true joy and peace, so as tosuppress doubts and fears, through the powerful working of theHoly Spirit. 14-21 The apostle was persuaded that the Roman Christians werefilled with a kind and affectionate spirit, as well as withknowledge. He had written to remind them of their duties andtheir dangers, because God had appointed him the minister ofChrist to the Gentiles. Paul preached to them; but what madethem sacrifices to God, was, their sanctification; not his work,but the work of the Holy Ghost: unholy things can never bepleasing to the holy God. The conversion of souls pertains untoGod; therefore it is the matter of Paul's glorying, not thethings of the flesh. But though a great preacher, he could notmake one soul obedient, further than the Spirit of Godaccompanied his labours. He principally sought the good of thosethat sat in darkness. Whatever good we do, it is Christ who doesit by us. 22-29 The apostle sought the things of Christ more than his ownwill, and would not leave his work of planting churches to go toRome. It concerns all to do that first which is most needful. Wemust not take it ill if our friends prefer work which ispleasing to God, before visits and compliments, which may pleaseus. It is justly expected from all Christians, that they shouldpromote every good work, especially that blessed work, theconversion of souls. Christian society is a heaven upon earth,an earnest of our gathering together unto Christ at the greatday. Yet it is but partial, compared with our communion withChrist; for that only will satisfy the soul. The apostle wasgoing to Jerusalem, as the messenger of charity. God loves acheerful giver. Every thing that passes between Christiansshould be a proof and instance of the union they have in JesusChrist. The Gentiles received the gospel of salvation from theJews; therefore were bound to minister to them in what wasneeded for the body. Concerning what he expected from them hespeaks doubtfully; but concerning what he expected from God hespeaks confidently. We cannot expect too little from man, nortoo much from God. And how delightful and advantageous it is tohave the gospel with the fulness of its blessings! Whatwonderful and happy effects does it produce, when attended withthe power of the Spirit! 30-33 Let us learn to value the effectual fervent prayers ofthe righteous. How careful should we be, lest we forfeit ourinterest in the love and prayers of God's praying people! If wehave experienced the Spirit's love, let us not be wanting inthis office of kindness for others. Those that would prevail inprayer, must strive in prayer. Those who beg the prayers ofothers, must not neglect to pray for themselves. And thoughChrist knows our state and wants perfectly, he will know themfrom us. As God must be sought, for restraining the ill-will ofour enemies, so also for preserving and increasing the good-willof our friends. All our joy depends upon the will of God. Let usbe earnest in prayer with and for each other, that for Christ'ssake, and by the love of the Holy Spirit, great blessings maycome upon the souls of Christians, and the labours of ministers.
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