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“out of a pure neart, and of a good conscience, and “ of faith unfeigned, &c. So now,
I commit the same charge unto thee that thou mayest hold faith and “a good conscience, &c."
Another instance of it, we see in Phil. i. 27. to Chap ii. 16. inclusive. The apostle in a peculiar parenthesis discusses a subject, the proposition of which is contained Chap. i. 27. and afterwards (Chap. ii. 17.) he returns to what he was discoursing of in the preceding chapter. In conformity with this statement, we find (Chap. i. 23.) that Paul says he is influenced by two things, a desire both of life and death; but he knows not which of these to choose. Death is most desirable to himself, but the welfare of the Philip pians requires rather that he may be spared a little longer: and, having this confidenee, he is assured that his life will be lengthened, and that he shall see them again in person. Then, after the interruption which his discourse had received, he proceeds (Chap. ii. 17.) as follows:-"Yea, and if I be offered upon e the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and re“joice with you all.” The intervening charge is happily and judiciously introduced by the apostle, in order that the Philippians might not remit their exertions until his arrival, but contend for the faith of the Gospel with unity and humility. This cannot but be evident to those who examine the point with attention and candour.
It is, however, proper to observe, that the words which are thus insulated are never superfluous; but arise either from some pressing necessity, or from the apostle's ardent love. In this epistle to the Ephesians, for instance, how forcibly does the description of the subject insulated by the parenthesis, elucidate the point which Paul had to prove, For, if God had committed to the Apostle a dispensation of grace for the Gentiles, and the revealed mystery of Christ, that the Gentiles were co-heirs, members of the same body, and partakers together with the Jews, of the promise in Christ; Paul undertook the ministry through the gospel, and conformably with the gift of that grace (which is all contained in Chap. ii.;) and thence it certainly follows, tbat the Gentiles were not to be excluded from communion with the Jews in Christ.
The other part of the Epistle is hortatory, and flows from the doctrinal part, as a stream from its fountain. It is, indeed, St. Paul's usual custom in bis epistles, to connect practicals and theoreticals; in order that they may mutually illustrate and confirm each other. With him, however, the injunctions of Practice follow the positions of Theory, that the reader, when he has inspected the fountain, may admit the streams into his bosom in all their sweetness and rich abundance. The best example of this, is contained in the epistle to the Colossians, one part of which refers to faith, and the other to practice; and
indeed these two epistles, the Colossians and Ephesians, are well fitted to explain one another.
The main exhortation that arises from the principal Doctrine, is--concord and peace between Jew and Gentile. This may not improperly be termed the General Scope of the whole epistle, which is fully enforced from Chap. iv. ver. 1. to ver. 16. inclusive. St Paul's next object is to lay before Jew and Gentile, the difference between their present and former state, estimated from comparing their present with their former manners. In order to this (1.) he points out the difference, from ver. 17. to ver. 24; (2.) he lays down some particular precepts, which are, however, universally binding-particular, in reference to the precept given-universal, in reference to those on whom it was enjoined, ver. 25. to chap. v. ver. 21. inclusive; (3.) he delivers to all, according to their different stations in life, divers and particular commandments—to wives, ver. 22. to the end-to children, chap. vi. ver. 1-3.--to parents, ver. 4.--to servants, ver. 5–8.mto masters, ver. 9. Here Paul adopts the same method, always placing inferiors before superiors; and the weaker before the stronger. He likewise puts generals before specials throughout the whole epistle, which is the best mode of arrangement (see Col. iii. ver. 18. &c. and 1 Pet. chap. iii. ver. 1-7, &c.,) and draws all his arguments relative to any particular scope, from the principal Doctrine
propounded in the foregoing part, as plainly appears from chap. v. ver. 23. &c. (4.) He furnishes means for the attainment of the things enjoined, and for defending them “ against the wiles of the devil,” to chap. vi. 20. inclusive.
These things being explained, and Tychicus, the bearer of the epistle, being directed to give the Ephesians fuller information concerning St. Paul, (ver. 21, 22.) he concludes with saluting them, and invoking the Divine blessing..
The Occasion of the apostle's penning the epistle to the Colossians, may be safely collected from the historical circumstances, which are partly expressed and partly implied.(a)
For, FIRST, the apostle expressly mentions (ver. 3—8.) the conversion of the Colossians, effected under the ministry of Epaphras; and the accounts which had been given him by that servant of God, conceraing the present state of their church.
Secondly, Paul declares in express terms (chap. ii. ver. 1.) that he endured a great conflict for those churches which he had not seen in the flesh, and, amongst the rest, for this church. No means therefore could have been adopted, better calculated to strengthen the Colossians, than letters from himself, who was now absent and a prisoner.
THIRDLY, He intimates (chap. ii. ver. 7, 8.) that