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2. Instructions on Worship

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 9In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

5 For there is one God This argument might, at first sight, appear to be not very strong, that God wishes all men to be saved, because he is one; if a transition had not been made from God to men. Chrysostom — and, after him, others — view it in this sense, that there are not many gods, as idolaters imagine. But I think that Paul’s design was different, and that there is here an implied comparison of one God with the whole world and with various nations, out of which comparison arises a view of both, as they mutually regard each other. In like manner the Apostle says,

“Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yea, it is one God who justifieth the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.’ (Romans 3:29.)

Accordingly, whatever diversity might at that time exist among men, because many ranks and many nations were strangers to faith, Paul brings to the remembrance of believers the unity of God, that they may know that they are connected with all, because there is one God of all — that they may know that they who are under the power of the same God are not excluded for ever from the hope of salvation.

And one Mediator between God and men This clause is of a similar import with the former; for, as there is one God, the Creator and Father of all, so he says that there is but one Mediator, 3333     “Christ is said to be the one Mediator in the same sense that God is said to be the one God. As there is but one Creator of man, so there is but one Mediator for men. As God is the God of all that died before Christ came, as well as of those that died after; so Christ is the Mediator of all that died before his coming, as well as of those that saw his day. They had Christ for their Mediator, or some other; some other they could not have, because there is but one. They might as well have had another Creator besides God, as another Mediator besides the man Christ Jesus. In regard of the antiquity of his mediation, from the foundation of the world, he us represented, when he walks as Mediator ‘in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,’ with ‘hair as white as wool,’ a character of age (Revelation 1:14); as God is described so in regard of his eternity, (Daniel 7:9.) There is but one God from eternity; but one Mediator, whose mediation hath the same date as the foundation of the world, and runs parallel with it.” — Charnock. through whom we have access to the Father; and that this Mediator was given, not only to one nation, or to a small number of persons of some particular rank, but to all; because the fruit of the sacrifice, by which he made atonement for sins, extends to all. More especially because a large portion of the world was at that time alienated from God, he expressly mentions the Mediator, through whom they that were afar off now approach.

The universal term all must always be referred to classes: of men, and not to persons; as if he had said, that not only Jews, but Gentiles also, not only persons of humble rank, but princes also, were redeemed by the death of Christ. Since, therefore, he wishes the benefit of his death to be common to all, an insult is offered to him by those who, by their opinion, shut out any person from the hope of salvation.

The man Christ Jesus. When he declares that he is “a man,” the Apostle does not deny that the Mediator is God, but, intending to point out the bond of our union with God, he mentions the human nature rather than the divine. This ought to be carefully observed. From the beginning, men, by contriving for themselves this or that mediator, departed farther from God; and the reason was, that, being prejudiced in favor of this error, that God was at a great distance from them, they knew not to what hand to turn. Paul remedies this evil, when he represents God as present with us; for he has descended even to us, so that we do not need to seek him above the clouds. The same thing is said in Hebrews 4:15,

“We have not a high priest who cannot sympathize within our infirmities, for in all things he was tempted.”

And, indeed, if this were deeply impressed on the hearts of all, that the Son of God holds out to us the hand of a brother, and that we are united to him by the fellowship of our nature, in order that, out of our low condition, he may raise us to heaven; who would not choose to keep by this straight road, instead of wandering in uncertain and stormy paths! Accordingly, whenever we ought to pray to God, if we call to remembrance that exalted and unapproachable majesty, that we may not be driven back by the dread of it, let us, at the same time, remember “the man Christ,” who gently invites us, and takes us, as it were, by the hand, in order that the Father, who had been the object of terror and alarm, may be reconciled by him and rendered friendly to us. This is the only key to open for us the gate of the heavenly kingdom, that we may appear in the presence of God with confidence.

Hence we see, that Satan has, in all ages, followed this course, for the purpose of leading men astray from the right path. I say nothing of the various devices by which, before the coming of Christ, he alienated the minds of men, to contrive methods of approaching to God. At the very commencement of the Christian Church, when Christ, with so excellent a pledge, was fresh in their remembrance, and while the earth was still ringing with that delightfully sweet word from his mouth,

“Come to me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28,)

there were, nevertheless, some persons skilled in deception, who thrust angels into his room as mediators; which is evident from Colossians 2:18. But what Satan, at that time, contrived secretly, he carried to such a pitch, during the times of Popery, that scarcely one person in a thousand acknowledged Christ, even in words, to be the Mediator. And while the name was buried, still more was the reality unknown.

Now that God has raised up good and faithful teachers, who have labored to restore and bring to the remembrance of men what ought to have been one of the best-known principles of our faith, the sophists of the Church of Rome have resorted to every contrivance for darkening a point so clear. First, the name is so hateful to them, that, if any one mentions Christ as Mediator, without taking notice of the saints, he instantly falls under a suspicion of heresy. But, because they do not venture to reject altogether what Paul teaches in this passage, they evade it by a foolish exposition, that he is called “one Mediator,” not “the only Mediator.” As if the Apostle had mentioned God as one out of a vast multitude of gods; for the two clauses are closely connected, that “there is one God and one Mediator;” and therefore they who make Christ one out of many mediators must apply the same interpretation in speaking of God. Would they rise to such a height of impudence, if they were not impelled by blind rage to crush the glory of Christ?

There are others who think themselves more acute, and who lay down this distinction, that Christ is the only Mediator of redemption, while they pronounce the saints to be mediators of intercession. But the folly of these interpreters is reproved by the scope of the passage, in which the Apostle speaks expressly about prayer. The Holy Spirit commands us to pray for all, because our only Mediator admits all to come to him; just as by his death he reconciled all to the Father. And yet they who thus, with daring sacrilege, strip Christ of his honor, wish to be regarded as Christians.

But it is objected that this has the appearance of contradiction; for in this very passage Paul enjoins us to intercede for others, while, in the Epistle to the Romans, he declares that intercession belongs to Christ alone. (Romans 8:34.) I reply, the intercessions of the saints, by which they aid each other in their addresses to God, do not contradict the doctrine, that all have but one Intercessor; for no man’s prayers are heard either in behalf of himself, or in behalf of another, unless he rely on Christ as his advocate. When we intercede for one another, this is so far from setting aside the intercession of Christ, as belonging to him alone, that the chief reliance is given, and the chief reference made, to that very intercession.

Some person will perhaps think, that it will, therefore, be easy for us to come to an agreement with the Papists, if they place below the only intercession of Christ, all that they ascribe to the saints. This is not the case; for the reason why they transfer to the saints the office of interceding is, that they imagine that otherwise we are destitute of an advocate. It is a common opinion among them, that we need intercessors, because in ourselves we are unworthy of appearing in the presence of God. By speaking in this manner, they deprive Christ of his honor. Besides, it is a shocking blasphemy, to ascribe to saints such excellence as would procure for us the favor of God: and all the prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and even the angels themselves — are so far from making any pretension to this, that they too have need of the same intercession as ourselves.

Again, it is a mere dream, originating in their own brain, that the dead intercede for us; and, therefore, to found our prayers on this is altogether to withdraw our trust from calling upon God. But Paul lays down, as the rule for calling on God in a proper manner, faith grounded on the word of God. (Romans 10:17.) Justly, therefore, everything that men contrive, in the exercise of their own thoughts, without the authority of the word of God, is rejected by us.

But not to dwell on this subject longer than the exposition of the passage demands, let it be summed up in this manner; that they who have actually learned the office of Christ will be satisfied with having him alone, and that none will make mediators at their own pleasure but those who neither know God nor Christ. Hence I conclude, that the doctrine of the Papists — which darkens, and almost buries, the intercession of Christ, and introduces pretended intercessors without any support from Scripture — is full of wicked distrust, and also of wicked rashness.


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