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the fpiritual husbandry, is what the Apostle, verf. 9. calls doing well, and, verf. 10. doing good. That which is born of the Spirit, or the new man, is created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before prepared, or ordained, for his children to walk in. Thus things stand as they should do. The great creator and sovereign has provided, and daily, in the course of his providence, prepares and lays to our hands, the work he wants to be done; and in the new creation, or new birth, fits the creature for the work; and, to cut off all evasions and excuses, has lodged an all-fufficiency of grace in his blessed Son's hand; grace to help in every time of need, that one may be able to do all thing's through Chrift strengthening him. This leaves no room to say, we cannot do this or that piece of work which is laid upon us. It is true, that in, and of ourselves “ we “can do nothing:” difficulties and discouragements arise on every side, which it is utterly impossible for man to overcome. But in Christ Jesus there is really no duty, no good work, either easier or harder than another. Without him we can do nothing ; but his grace is fufficient in every case, and his strength is perfected in weakness; and what the Apostle fays of himself, every Christian may fay with the same assurance, I can do all things through Christ that strengthenetli me: for Christ himself has told us, “ thať “ all things are possible to him that belie“ veth.”
Accordingly we find, vers. 9. he does not so directly injoin well-doing, or employing ourselves in doing what is good; for that he supposes, as appears better in the original than in our translation, though even there it is plain enough. But the admonition runs to those who are employed in doing well, not to weary in that business. The Apostle's word fignifies every kind of staggering or indifpofition to any thing, from whatsoever cause it may proceed. And there are many, very many occasions of wearying, from weakness and corruption within, and temptations without; there is a strong combination of powerful enemies, the devil, the world, and the flesh, with which a daily and hourly fight is to be maintained. And a very unequal match it would be, were it not for the mighty power of
God, and the grace that is in Christ Jesus. There indeed we have a satisfying answer, how we shall keep from wearying, and even fainting, in this warfare; the only way to fucceed, is an absolute diffidence in ourselves, and an entire confidence in Jesus Christ.
The Apostle lays a good foundation to build on, in the close of the verse: In due. time we shall reap, if we faint not. He leaves no room to ask, what shall we reap? for he had told us in the foregoing verse, that it was eternal life. This is one of those texts which have been taken out of the connection wherein the author hath set it, and abused, to induce heedless men to expect eternal life by their own good works: for, say they, is it not plain, that he makes good works the feed which grows up into eternal life? Be it so. But what are these good works? The same, to be sure, with what God has commanded, or keeping the commandments of God, which the Apostle John comprehends in these few words, i John iii. 23. “This is his commandment, that “ we believe in the name of his Son Jesus " Christ, and love one another;" the same which our great master calls the work of
God, God, and his apostle, faith working by love; which, he says, is all that can answer any purpose, because it takes in all that God has commanded. We need not then difpute about the effect of keeping God's commandments, if we keep them as he has given them; and if we do not that, they are not his commandments we keep, but our own: “ What God has joined to“ gether, no man may put asunder.”
What the Apostle here says of the time of this harvest, In due time ye shall reap, needs to be carefully noticed; for what that is, we are utterly unable to determine. What our Lord said to his disciples, it is not for you to know the times and seasons, holds of all the first fruits of the Spirit, as well as of the full harvest. These, he says, the Father has kept in his own hand; for he alone knows what time is fit and proper for bestowing any promised gift. Ma. ny poor souls have sınarted severely by incroaching on his prerogative. When they propose, in the warmth of their hearts, that in such a duty or ordinance they shall obtain the relief, and supply they want, and find themselves disappointed; (and disappointed they must be, if God's
time is not yet come); the temptation comes strong, that the promise of God fails; whereas it is only the promise they foolishly and undutifully made to themselves.
When our Lord directs his disciples to love as brethren, and as he loved them, the felfish hearts of men are ready to pick a limitation out of it, viz. that it need ex. tend no further; and that it carries a tacit allowance not to love, if not to hate our enemies: and if we can get ourselves persuaded that they are likewise God's enemies, then it must be a duty to hate them with a perfect hatred. The Apostle, as his master had done before him, allows an especial love and beneficence to those whom he calls the household of faith; but our love must extend further, even to do good to all: and good reason, when our Lord has commanded expressly to love even our enemies, and by no means to neglect any office of love or friendship; for while we were yet enemies, yea, enmity itself, even then Christ died for us.
The epithet or title which the Apostle here gives to the Christian society deserves likewise our notice, viz. the household of VOL. III.