Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 6.djvu/869

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Completed by Mr. T. Reynolds.

HERE we find a canonical epistle inscribed, nrincipally, not only to a single person, but to one also of the softer sex. And why not to one of that sex r In gospel-redemption-privilege and dignity, there ia neither male nor female, they are both one in Christ Jesus ; our Lord himself neglected liis own repast, to com- mune with the woman of Samaria, in order to shew her the fountain of life ; and when almost expiring upon the cross, he would with his dying lips bequeath his blessed mother to the care of his beloved disciple, and thereby instruct him to respect female disciples for the future : it was to one of the same sex that our Lord chose to appear first after his retum from the grave, and to send by her the news of his resurrection to this as well as to the other apostles : and we find afterwards a zealous Priscilla, so well acquitting herself in her Christian race, and particularly in some hazardous service toward the apostle Paul, that she is not only often mentioned before her husband, but to her as well as to him, not only the apostle himself, but also all the Gentile churches, were ready to return their thankful acknow- ledgments. No wonder then that a heroine in the Christian religion, honoured by divine providence, and distinguished by divine grace, should be dignified also by an apostolical epistle.


1.The apostle here salutes an honourable matron and her children, r. I . . 3. Recommends to tliem faitli and love, V. 5, 6. Warns them of deceivers, (v. 7.) and to take heed to themselves, v. 8. Teaches how to treat tliose who brinnf not the doctrine of Christ, v. 10, 11. And, referring other things to personal discourse, concludes the epistle, V. 1-2, 13. . nnHE elder unto the elect lady, and JL her children, whom I love in the truth ; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth ; 2. For the truth's sake which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. Ancient epistles began, as here, with salutation and good wishes : religion consecrates, as far as may oe, old forms, and turns compliments into real ex- pressions of life and love. Here we have, as usually, . The saluter J not expressed by name, but by a chosen character — The elder. The expression, and style, and love, intimate that the penman was the Sime with that of the foregoing epistle ; he is now the elder, emphatically and eminently so ; possibly, the oldest apostle now living ; the chief elder in the church of God. An elder in the ancient house of Israel was reverend, or to be reverenced ; much more he who is so in the gospel-Israel of God. An old disciple is honourable, an old apostle and leader of disciples is more so. He was now old in holy ser- vice and experience, had seen and tasted much of heaven, and was much nearer than when at first he believed. . The saluted ; a noble Christian matron, and her children — To the elect lady, and her children. A lady, a person of eminent quality for birth, educa- tion, and estate ; it is well that the gospel has got among such ; it is pity but lords and ladies should be acquainted with the Lord Christ and his religion ; they owe more to him than others do ; though usu- ally not many noble are called. Here is a pattern for persons of quality of the same sex ; the elect lady; not only a choice one, but one chosen of God ; it is lovely and beautiful to see ladies, by holy walking, demonstrate their election of God : and her children ; probably, the lady was a widow, she and her children then are the principal part of the familv, and so this may be styled an economical epistle. Families may well be written to and encouraged, and further di- rected in their domestic love, and order, and duties. We see that children may well be taken notice of in Christian letters, and they should know it too, it may avail to their encouragement and caution ; they who love and commend them, will be apt to inquire after them ; this lady a?id her children are further notified bvthe respect paid them, and that, (!•) % the apostle himself; nvhom I love in the truth, or in truth ; whom I sincerely and heartily love. He who was the beloved disciple, had learnt the art oi exercise of love ; and he especially loved those who loved him, that Lord who loved him. (2.) By all her Christian acquaintance, all the religious who