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him, and cooperated with him, and continually assisted and followed him in all his good works: and consequently, that though his crown of glory be a crown of righteousness, that is, of God's righteousness, whereby he is obliged to make good his own covenant; yet that it is a crown of mercy too, because that covenant itself was a covenant of infinite grace and mercy.
And if the best of men, after all the good works they have done, or can do, need mercy, infinite mercy to save them; what a miserable condition are they in, who have no good works at all to shew; but on the contrary, a large catalogue of wicked works, unrepented of, to account for? We may say in this sense with St. Peter; If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 1 Pet. iv. 18. Certainly even the mercy of God cannot save this man, because his holiness will not suffer him. For though our good works are not required to make us capable of meriting heaven, (that being impossible for us;) yet they are absolutely necessary to make us fit objects for infinite mercy to bestow heaven on, or, in the excellent words of St. Paul, to make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Col. i. 12.
To which inheritance, God of his infinite mercy bring us, through Jesus Christ:
To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be given all honour and glory, adoration and worship, now and for evermore. Amen.
THAT THE SOUL OF MAN SUBSISTS AFTER DEATH, IN A PLACE OF ABODE PROVIDED BY GOD FOR IT, TILL THE
Acts i. 25. That he might go to his own place. IN the verses before my text, we have an account of the election of a new apostle, in the room of the apostate Judas, who by his defection and miserable. death consequent thereon, had rendered the complete and mysterious number of apostles, chosen by our Saviour, uneven, and made a breach in that jury of witnesses, that were to report and testify his resurrection. In this grand affair they first make use of their best judgment, by appointing two persons of the number of the seventy disciples !, Barsabas and Matthias; either of them, as they conceived, fit for the office, leaving it to their Lord and Master to determine which of the two should be the man, and stand as an apostle. This divine determination they seek for by casting of lots, an ancient way of decision in such cases, used both in the church of
[This and the following Sermon seem to have been written after the eighth, of which they are in a manner the continuation.]
b (St. Luke does not expressly say that they were of the number of the seventy disciples, Acts i. 21–23. It is stated by Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. I. 12.]
God and among the Gentiles. But before they go to tủe decision of this important affair, they betake themselves to their prayers, that God would by his special providence direct the lot; and the event was this, that the lot fell upon Matthias.
The office of the person to be elected is described in the verse out of which my text is taken, to be λαβείν τον κλήρον της διακονίας και αποστολής, to be made partaker of the ministry and apostleship, that ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell; the sad event of whose fall is said to be this, that he went to his own place or state, a place and state fit for so vile a miscreant; that he fell from the highest dignity to the greatest infelicity from the fellowship of the apostles, to the society of devils. That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
Indeed some difference hath been started about the words of my text, whether they are to be referred to Judas mentioned immediately before, or to the new apostle under election. Our learned English paraphrast refers them to the latter, understanding that the new apostle should go and betaké himself to his proper place, charge, and province in the apostleship, the words, from which Judas by transgression fell, being included in a parenthesis. But this interpretation, besides that it departs from the generally received sense of ancient and modern expositors, (which is prejudice enough against it,) is also many ways incommodious. For first it feigns a parenthesis in the text without any reason at all.
[Hammond, with whom agree Le Clerc and Ecumenius.]
And then it is not so natural to refer the words to a person mentioned at a distance in the context, as to a person named just before. Lastly, this interpretation seems to suppose, that every apostle had his distinct and proper place and province in the apostleship, which is not true. For the apostleship and every part of it was common to every apostlé, who might do all the same things in any place, that any other apostle did. Sure I am, there was no such distribution of provinces at the time of this election ; for then the apostles executed the same office all in the same place and country, among the Jews, to whom alone they were at first to preach the Gospel of Christ. The dispersion of the apostles into the several heathen nations, as they themselves saw convenient, was not till after the obstinate infidelity of the Jews gave occasion for it. This sense therefore, though foreign, yet is not so strange as some have made it, who have accused the forementioned excellent expositor of singularity, and as being the first author and inventor of it. For the learned Isidore Clarius, in his notes on my text, delivers the same sense, without expressing any the least dislike of it d. But yet, I say it is a mistake, and the common interpretation is undoubtedly the right, that Judas having forsaken and betrayed his Lord and Master, brought himself to a most wretched end, (as is before in this chapter related, ver. 16, 17, 18.)
[This is not quite correct: his words are, Si ad Judam referas, videtur intelligere laqueum quo se dignum judicavit ob proditi
Sin ad Matthiam, intellige episcopatum cui successit. Zegerus also referred the words to Judas going and hanging himself. Erasmus and others interpreted them rather of his final punishment, than the intermediate state of his soul.]
and upon his death went to his proper place, the place and state of lost reprobate spirits, and damned souls, a company with which he was far more fit to be numbered, than with the apostles of Christ. And therefore the Alexandrian MS. of venerable antiquity, reads here, to his due place, that is, to the place and state of misery which he had justly merited and deserved by his wickedness.
Now that this is the true meaning of my text, I shall farther demonstrate, by shewing that the phrase, to go to one's own place f, or to one's due or appointed places, was a known received phrase in the apostolic age, to signify a man's going presently after death into his proper place and state, either of happiness or misery, according to the life which he had before lived. Polycarp in his epistle to the Philippians, towards the end of it, speaking of the apostles and other martyrs of that age, saith, “ That * they are with the Lord, in their due place h.”
Clement bishop of Rome, of whom St. Paul makes very honourable mention, Phil. iv. 3. and who was therefore ancienter than Polycarp, in his undoubted epistle to the Corinthians, useth the same phrase more than once to the same purpose. For not far from the beginning of that epistle, speaking of the glorious end of St. Peter, he saith, “ Thus having “ suffered martyrdom, he went to his due place of “ glory i.” The same Clement, presently after in the same epistle, speaking of St. Paul's martyrdom, says, • Εις τον τόπον τον δίκαιον.
Πορευθήναι εις τον τόπον τον ίδιον. 8 Εις τον οφειλόμενον, or ωρισμένον τόπον. 1. "Ότι εις τον οφειλόμενον αυτοϊς τόπον εισί παρά τω Κυρίω. [c. ult.] Ούτω μαρτυρήσας επορεύθη εις τον οφειλόμενον τόπον της δόξης. [c. 5.]