The apostle, having delivered two exhortations, before he proceeds to more, intermixes here a prayer for the success of what he had said. Faithful ministers water their preaching with their prayers, because, whoever sows the seed, it is God that gives the increase. We can but speak to the ear; it is God’s prerogative to speak to the heart. Observe,
I. The title he gives to God: The God of patience and consolation, who is both the author and the foundation of all the patience and consolation of the saints, from whom it springs and on whom it is built. He gives the grace of patience; he confirms and keeps it up as the God of consolation; for the comforts of the Holy Ghost help to support believers, and to bear them up with courage and cheerfulness under all their afflictions. When he comes to beg the pouring out of the spirit of love and unity he addresses himself to God as the God of patience and consolation; that is, 1. As a God that bears with us and comforts us, is not extreme to mark what we do amiss, but is ready to comfort those that are cast down—to teach us so to testify our love to our brethren, and by these means to preserve and maintain unity, by being patient one with another and comfortable one to another. Or, 2. As a God that gives us patience and comfort. He had spoken (Rom. 15:4) of patience and comfort of the scriptures; but here he looks up to God as the God of patience and consolation: it comes through the scripture as the conduit-pipe, but from God as the fountain-head. The more patience and comfort we receive from God, the better disposed we are to love one another. Nothing breaks the peace more than an impatient, and peevish, and fretful melancholy temper.
II. The mercy he begs of God: Grant you to be like-minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesus. 1. The foundation of Christian love and peace is laid in like-mindedness, a consent in judgment as far as you have attained, or at least a concord and agreement in affection. To auto phronein—to mind the same thing, all occasions of difference removed, and all quarrels laid aside. 2. This like-mindedness must be according to Christ Jesus, according to the precept of Christ, the royal law of love, according to the pattern and example of Christ, which he had propounded to them for their imitation, Rom. 15:3. Or, “Let Christ Jesus be the centre of your unity. Agree in the truth, not in any error.” It was a cursed concord and harmony of those who were of one mind to give their power and strength to the beast (Rev. 17:13); this was not a like-mindedness according to Christ, but against Christ; like the Babel-builders, who were one in their rebellion, Gen. 11:6. The method of our prayer must be first for truth, and then for peace; for such is the method of the wisdom that is from above: it is first pure, then peaceable. This is to be like-minded according to Christ Jesus. 3. Like-mindedness among Christians, according to Christ Jesus, is the gift of God; and a precious gift it is, for which we must earnestly seek unto him. He is the Father of spirits, and fashions the hearts of men alike (Ps. 33:15), opens the understanding, softens the heart, sweetens the affections, and gives the grace of love, and the Spirit as a Spirit of love, to those that ask him. We are taught to pray that the will of God may be done on earth as it is done in heaven—now there it is done unanimously, among the angels, who are one in their praises and services; and our desire must be that the saints on earth may be so too.
III. The end of his desire: that God may be glorified, Rom. 15:6. This is his plea with God in prayer, and is likewise an argument with them to seek it. We should have the glory of God in our eye in every prayer; therefore our first petition, as the foundation of all the rest, must be, Hallowed be thy name. Like-mindedness among Christians is in order to our glorifying God, 1. With one mind and one mouth. It is desirable that Christians should agree in every thing, that so they may agree in this, to praise God together. It tends very much to the glory of God, who is one, and his name one, when it is so. It will not suffice that there be one mouth, but there must be one mind, for God looks at the heart; nay, there will hardly be one mouth where there is not one mind, and God will scarcely be glorified where there is not a sweet conjunction of both. One mouth in confessing the truths of God, in praising the name of God—one mouth in common converse, not jarring, biting, and devouring one another—one mouth in the solemn assembly, one speaking, but all joining. 2. As the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is his New-Testament style. God must be glorified as he has now revealed himself in the face of Jesus Christ, according to the rules of the gospel, and with an eye to Christ, in whom he is our Father. The unity of Christians glorifies God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because it is a kind of counter-part or representation of the oneness that is between the Father and the Son. We are warranted so to speak of it, and, with that in our eye, to desire it, and pray for it, from John 17:21; That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee: a high expression of the honour and sweetness of the saints’ unity. And it follows, The the world may believe that thou hast sent me; and so God may be glorified as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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