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25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


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25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, etc. This confirms the view that has been given. The composition of the Greek word ought to be noticed; for ἐπὶsignifies an addition; then ἐπισυναγωγὴ, assembling together, means a congregation increased by additions. The wall of partition having been pulled down, God was then gathering those as his children who had been aliens from the Church; so the Gentiles were a new and unwonted addition to the Church. This the Jews regarded as a reproach to them, so that many made a secession from the Church, thinking that such a mixture afforded them a just excuse; nor could they be easily induced to surrender their own right; and further, they considered the right of adoption as peculiar, and as belonging exclusively to themselves. The Apostle, therefore, warns them, lest this equality should provoke them to forsake the Church; and that he might not seem to warn them for no reason, he mentions that this neglect was common to many. 178178     Another view is commonly given of the cause of this neglect; it was the dread of persecution, according to Doddridge; and Scott says, that it was either “timidity or lukewarmness.” As the Apostle had previously mentioned “love” the probability is that the main cause was coldness and indifference; and the cause of such a neglect is still for the most part the same. — Ed.

We now understand the design of the apostle, and what was the necessity that constrained him to give this exhortation. We may at the same time gather from this passage a general doctrine:

It is an evil which prevails everywhere among mankind, that every one sets himself above others, and especially that those who seem in anything to excel cannot well endure their inferiors to be on an equality with themselves. And then there is so much morosity almost in all, that individuals would gladly make churches for themselves if they could; for they find it so difficult to accommodate themselves to the ways and habits of others. The rich envy one another; and hardly one in a hundred can be found among the rich, who allows to the poor the name and rank of brethren. Unless similarity of habits or some allurements or advantages draw us together, it is very difficult even to maintain a continual concord among ourselves. Extremely needed, therefore, by us all is the admonition to be stimulated to love and not to envy, and not to separate from those whom God has joined to us, but to embrace with brotherly kindness all those who are united to us in faith. And surely it behaves us the more earnestly to cultivate unity, as the more eagerly watchful Satan is, either to tear us by any means from the Church, or stealthily to seduce us from it. And such would be the happy effect, were no one to please himself too much, and were all of us to preserve this one object, mutually to provoke one another to love, and to allow no emulation among ourselves, but that of doing “good works”. For doubtless the contempt of the brethren, moroseness, envy, immoderate estimate of ourselves, and other sinful impulses, clearly show that our love is either very cold, or does not at all exist.

Having said, “Not forsaking the assembling together,” he adds, But exhorting one another; by which he intimates that all the godly ought by all means possible to exert themselves in the work of gathering together the Church on every side; for we are called by the Lord on this condition, that every one should afterwards strive to lead others to the truth, to restore the wandering to the right way, to extend a helping hand to the fallen, to win over those who are without. But if we ought to bestow so much labor on those who are yet aliens to the flock of Christ, how much more diligence is required in exhorting the brethren whom God has already joined to us?

As the manner of some is, etc. It hence appears that the origin of all schisms was, that proud men, despising others, pleased themselves too much. But when we hear that there were faithless men even in the age of the Apostles, who departed from the Church, we ought to be less shocked and disturbed by similar instances of defection which we may see in the present day. It is indeed no light offense when men who had given some evidence of piety and professed the same faith with us, fall away from the living God; but as it is no new thing, we ought, as I have already said, to be less disturbed by such an event. But the Apostle introduced this clause to show that he did not speak without a cause, but in order to apply a remedy to a disease that was making progress.

And so much the more, etc. Some think this passage to be of the same import with that of Paul,

“It is time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11.)

But I rather think that reference is here made to the last coming of Christ, the expectation of which ought especially to rouse us to the practice of a holy life as well as to careful and diligent efforts in the work of gathering together the Church. For to what end did Christ come except to collect us all into one body from that dispersion in which we are now wandering? Therefore, the nearer his coming is, the more we ought to labor that the scattered may be assembled and united together, that there may be one fold and one shepherd (John 10:16.)

Were any one to ask, how could the Apostle say that those who were as yet afar off from the manifestation of Christ, saw the day near and just at hand? I would answer, that from the beginning of the kingdom of Christ the Church was so constituted that the faithful ought to have considered the Judge as coming soon; nor were they indeed deceived by a false notion, when they were prepared to receive Christ almost every moment; for such was the condition of the Church from the time the Gospel was promulgated, that the whole of that period might truly and properly be called the last. They then who have been dead many ages ago lived in the last days no less than we. Laughed at is our simplicity in this respect by the worldly­wise and scoffers, who deem as fabulous all that we believe respecting the resurrection of the flesh and the last judgment; but that our faith may not fail through their mockery, the Holy Spirit reminds us that a thousand years are before God as one day, (2 Peter 3:8;) so that whenever we think of the eternity of the celestial kingdom no time ought to appear long to us. And further, since Christ, after having completed all things necessary for our salvation, has ascended into heaven, it is but reasonable that we who are continually looking for his second manifestation should regard every day as though it were the last. 179179     “As ye see drawing nigh the day;” so are the words literally. The day of judgment, say some; the day of Jerusalem’s destruction, say other. Doddridge introduces both in his paraphrase; and Scott and Bloomfield regard the day of judgment as intended; but Stuart is in favor of the opinion that the destruction of Jerusalem is what is referred to, and so Hammond and Mede.
   The word “day” is applied to both. The day of judgment is called “that day,” (Jude 6;) and the destruction of Jerusalem is called the Son of man’s day, “his day,” (Luke 17:24) And both these days must have been well known to the Hebrews to whom Paul was writing. The reference, then, might have been well thus made to either without any addition. But the sentence itself seems to favor the opinion that the day of Jerusalem is intended; “as ye see,” he says; which denotes that there were things in the circumstances of the times which clearly betokened the approaching ruin of that city and nation. — Ed.




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