« PreviousContinue »
all fear, with much hatred and envy of men of this world, and with much persecution and affliction, as it appeareth tlironghout the Acts of the Apostles. Thirdly, in that Paul was an Apostle ; Apostolus is a Greek word, and betokeneth one that is sent forth of another, to do a message. So Paul did not send himself to preach the Gospel of Christ, but he was sent of God, and appointed to that office by Ananias, as it is written in the Acts, ix. So it becometh others, to be called of God and by man, that shall be preachers.
There are four manners of Apostles, as St. Jerome sheweth, (Gal. i.) First, be they which be sent of God only, as the prophets were. Secondly, be they which be called of God and sent also by man.; as Paul, Titus, and Timothy were. Thirdly, be they which be not called of God, but sent by man, by favour, love, money, service, flattery, and such-like. Fourthly, be they, which be neither called of God nor of inan, but they thrust themselves into that common office, seeking their own advantage, lucre, protit, glory, ease, rest, and such-like.
In this place St. Paul reproveth all them, that will take on hand this cominon office, as to be the minister of God, and to be his legate, which be not called of God to that office, which seek rather the glory of men and their own lucre, than the glory of God, or the profit of their neighbour. What inanner of men they should be, and what qualities they should have, that should be bishops, St. Paul declareth (1 Tim. iii. and Tit. i.); men well learned in the Scriptures of God, able for to teach wholesoine doctrine ; and by the same, to overcome all them that will speak against the truth (Tit. i.), men that be sober, sad, and discreet, that seek only the glory of God and thë salvation of others. Therefore, it becometh every man to tarry his vocation, be he never
so well learned, lest he for his hastiness, run into damnation, taking upon him and usurping a common power, before he be called to it by the superior power, to whom the vocation, as touching the out. ward vocation, belongeth. And if it be so, that the high powers in this behalf
, be negligent to seek for true ministers of God's word, and would not have faithful preachers of the Gospel, or care not for them, or care not whether the people be fed with God's word or no, which thing principally they should look for, and provide that the people be fed with the word of life: that then he, that is called of God, being well learned in the holy Scriptures, intending nothing else but God's glory and the people's salvation, may and ought to offer himself to the high powers, and desire their authority and license to preach the Gospel, as St. Paul saith (1 Tim. iii.), “ he that desireth the office of a bishop, he desireth an honest labour.” If the superior powers will not give him license, in whom they find no fault, then may he, which is called of God, walk in his calling, and do the office that he is called to of God, for a man is more bound to obey God than man. (Acts, iv.) Wherefore, I would no man, of his private authority, should take upon him this high office of God, as to preach his word openly, before he be called of God and by man, or, at the least, of God, and have attempted by lawful means, the vocation of man, shewing himself alway obedient to the lawful civil ordinances.
The Apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul was the Apostle, not of man, but of Jesus Christ, to preach Christ's will and pleasure, and not to please himself, or to be a man-pleaser, nor to preach man's fantasies and dreams, man's inventions, or man's doctrines. And here in these words he reproveth all pseudo-apostles, which study more to please men than God, which preach not God's word purely and sincerely, but mix it with man's fantasies and dreams, seeking lucre; honour, and profit of men; all such, St. Paul in these words reproveth, and willeth themi only to be the messengers of Christ Jesus, and to seek his will and pleasure only
By the will of God. Here he sheweth, how he was made the Apostle of Christ, not by his will, nor yet by the will of man, or for favour of any mang but by the will of God only. Of these words, two things we may learn. First, that sinners do repent and leave their sinful life, not of themselves by their free-will, but by the grace and will of God; example here in Paul, that sinners should give all laud and praise to God only, for the returning from sin to virtue, and nothing to themselves. The second; that we should know true and faithful preachers, as Paul was, to come to us only by the will of God, and not of man, or by the provision of man, although man's diligence, as much as may be in this behalf, is to be required ; which thing, if some men would consider, and with themselves deeply weigh the matter; that true preacher's come by the will of God, and not of man, and when it pleaseth God, and not when man willeth, they would not marvel, why God sends now in our time, more true preachers of the Gospel than in our fathers' time, to whom the truth was not so purely atid sincerely shewed as now to us in our days, by the goodness of God, of whom it cometh, and not of our merits or deservings, or at the will of man. To God we should give thanks for his truth, shewed to us morc plainly than it was to our fathers, and to accept it with all gladness, arid to follow the true doctrine of Christ, and express it in our living, nothing marvelling, that God's will is thus shewn:
To saints at Ephesus, that believe in Christ Jesus. These words shew to whom this Epistle was written,
to the saints that were at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ; the words that follow, expound them that go before, that is to say, saints be the faithful in Christ that live at Ephesus. So, the Scriptures ofttimes expound themselves. Of this place we may learn, that saints in the Scripture be not alway taken for saints departed, that be dead ; for St. Paul wrote not this Epistle to dead men, but to men that be living, whom he calleth saints, which were faithful men, believing in Christ Jesus, to whom he dedicated this Epistle; of the which, we may learn saints in the Scripture oftimes to be taken for the faithful living Christians, as here in this place. Also, methink this place maketh against them that would not have the Scripture to be given to the lay people in their common tongue, for St. Paul wrote this Epistle to the faithful Christians at Ephesus, as well to the lay people, as to the priests and bishops, and would this Epistle to be read equally to them all, that every one might have profit of it, read, heard, of shëwn ! if it should be read only in Latin to them, what profit should the simple ignorant people have had by it; that do not understand Latin ? St: Paul would it should be read and shewn to all in that language, that every one might know what he wrote to them; and have profit by his writing, and God the more glorified.
Grace be with you, and peace from God our Father; and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, he sheweth what things he desireth and wisheth to these Ephesians. He desireth and wisheth thein not 'honours, not high dignities in this world, nor yet pleasures, or worldly riches, no benefice, no bishopric, no empire, no kingdom, no corruptible goods, as carnal men do wish to their children and friends but he wisheth the grace of God, and peace of conscience with God, which peace only have they, that
be justified by faith. (Rom. v.) And this grace, favour, and peace with God, it cometh not of ourselves, of our might, power, or of free-will, but it is of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ. This place checketh all them that desire evil to others, as the pestilence, falling sickness, palsy, frensy, sudden death, or any such-like misfortune: it checketh also all them, that wish to theinselves, their children, or their friends, worldly things, rather than heavenly things. Also, he reproveth them that think the grace of God to come to them (ex merito congruo vel condigno, that is to say) of their just or deserved merits, and not of God the Father, freely by Christ Jesus.
Ver. 3—4. Blessed le God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which hath blessed us, with all manner of spiritual blessing, in heavenly things by Christ, according as he had chosen us in him, or ever the foundation of the world was laid, that we should be holy and without blame, before him in love.
Now beginneth he the narration, and sheweth the cause of this Epistle, and beginneth of thanks and praise of God for his benefits, especially for his spiritual benefits, given to us for Jesus Christ's sake. In this he teacheth us in every beginning, to laud God, and give hiun thanks for his spiritual benefits, as for our creation, and for the creation of all creatures in heaven and in earth, necessary or profitable for man. And also, that we should give God thanks for our redemption from sin, death, hell, and the devil, and deliverance from all thraldom of the devil's power;
which benefits we have not of our de servings, which deserved eternal damnation, nor yet of the merits of angels, archangels, patriarchs, or prophets, or by the merits of any man, but only by the merits of Christ, and for Christ's sake. This place commandeth us to keep alway in memory, the