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32And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.

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32. I commend you to God. He useth a prayer which, in an oration serving to move the hearers greatly, ought not to be counted absurd. For he did not pass for dividing his sermon into parts as the Rhetoricians use to do, seeing no words were sufficient to express the vehemency of the affections wherewith he was inflamed. He had intreated already of great matters and weighty, which did far exceed man’s ability.

Therefore, he turneth himself unto prayer, and by little and little draweth toward an end of his speech, though it be rather an expressing of a desire than a direct prayer; as if he should have said, that they be unable to bear so great a burthen; but he doth wish to them new help from heaven, whereto they may trust and overcome all temptations. And it is not to be doubted, though he speak unto the pastors alone, but that he doth also comprehend the whole Church. First, he commendeth them to God; secondly, to the word of his grace. Notwithstanding, it is all one commendation; but Paul meant to express the means whereby the Lord doth defend the salvation of his, which (as Peter saith) is kept by faith, (1 Peter 1:5) and the means of this keeping dependeth upon the word, lest it come in hazard amidst so many dangers. And it is very expedient for us to know how God will keep us. For because his majesty is hid from us, until we come unto him by his word, we look to and fro, being in doubt.

Therefore, so soon as he receiveth us to be kept, he maketh his word the instrument to keep our salvation, in which sense, he addeth the adjunct “grace,” (for the genitive case, after the manner of the Hebrews, doth signify an effect) to the end the faithful might the more safely rest in the word, where God doth show forth his favor. This exposition is plain and apt; for whereas some understand it of Christ, it is too much racked.

Who is able to build farther. The participle, δυναμενος, 444444     “Quo utitur Paulus,” which Paul uses. is to be referred unto God, not unto his word. And this consolation is added for this cause, lest they faint through the feeling of their infirmities. For so long as we be environed with the infirmities of the flesh, we be like to an house whose foundation is laid. 445445     “Inchoato aedificio,” to a commenced building. All the godly must be grounded indeed in Christ, but their faith is far from being perfect. Yea, though the foundation continue stable and sure, yet some parts of the building be like to fall and quail. 446446     “Nutant,” nod, totter. Wherefore, there is great need both of continual building, and also now and then new props and stays be necessary. Nevertheless, Paul saith that “we must not faint,” because the Lord will not leave his work unfinished; as he doth likewise teach in the first chapter to the Philippians,

“He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of the Lord,”
(Philippians 1:6).

Whereto that of the Psalm (Psalm 138:8) answereth,

“Thou wilt not forsake the work of our [thy] hands.”

That which is added immediately concerning the inheritance of life appertaineth unto the very enjoying of life. So soon as Christ hath appeared to us, 447447     “Nobis affulsit,” hath shone upon us. we pass indeed from death to life; and faith is an entrance into the kingdom of heaven; neither is the Spirit of adoption given to us in vain; but Paul promiseth in this place to the faithful a continual increase of grace until they see the possession of the inheritance whereunto they have been called, which is now laid up for them in heaven. He calleth it “the power of God”, not as we use to imagine it, without effect, but which is commonly called actual. For the faithful must so lay hold upon it, that they may have it ready, like to a shield, or buckler, to hold up against all assaults of Satan. As the Scripture doth teach that we have aid enough in the power of God, so let us remember that none are strong in the Lord save those who, abandoning all hope and confidence of their own free will, trust and lean to him, who, as Paul saith very well, is able to build farther.




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