Col_1:9-13. We do not cease to pray for you that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
UNIVERSAL benevolence will begin to shew itself wherever Christianity gains a just ascendency. This is particularly observable in the prayers which the Apostle offered for others; the fervour and fulness of which clearly proved, that they proceeded from a heart fraught with love, and deeply impressed with the excellency of those blessings which are provided for us in the Gospel. He confined not his attention to the welfare of a few with whom he might happen to sojourn; but extended it to the whole Church, as well to those whom he had never seen, as to those amongst whom he had ministered. He needed only to be informed that a work of grace was begun in any persons, and he instantly felt an union of heart with them, and took a lively interest in all that concerned them. This remark is strongly exemplified in the prayer before us. He had heard of the blessed state of the Colossian Church; and, from the instant he had received the glad tidings, he remembered that people in all his stated prayers: and, in the passage before us, he tells them what he prayed for on their behalf. He desired that they might advance
In the knowledge of God’s will—
[The “knowledge of God’s revealed will” is the foundation of all acceptable obedience: and every Christian must of necessity be in some degree endued with it. But he will not be satisfied with a scanty measure of it: he wishes to be “filled with it,” so that it may engage all the faculties of his mind. Not that he can rest in a speculative view of Divine truth, however clear or comprehensive it may be: the knowledge which he covets, is a practical and experimental knowledge; a knowledge that diffuses “a spiritual savour” over his soul, and enables him to conduct himself, “with all wisdom,” as well in his secret conflicts with sin, as in the public exercises of his duty to God and man.
Such then was the Apostle’s first request for the converts at Colosse: he desired, that, as they already had some knowledge of God’s will, so they might be “filled” with it, enjoying at the same time its sweet savour, and its practical influence, “in all wisdom, and spiritual understanding.”
And should not such be our prayer also for ourselves? Let us not forget, that, while we aspire after divine knowledge, we must chiefly seek that which brings a feast to the soul, and endues it with a nice and accurate discernment of good and evil.]
In obedience to his commands—
[The more enlarged views the Christian has of divine truth, the more studious will he be to fulfil the will of God. And in his endeavours after holiness he will propose to himself the highest measure of obedience, and the noblest end. He will not limit himself to the rules prescribed by men; nor will he aim merely at obtaining eternal happiness: but he will consider the relation he bears to God, and the obligations he has received from him, and the expectations which he has of future benefits; and will endeavour to “walk worthy of” such a Father, such a Redeemer, such an unspeakable Benefactor. He will resemble a dutiful and affectionate servant, who does not merely consider what he must do in order to escape censure, and receive his wages, but what will please his Master. He inquires with himself, What will please my God? That is the great object of his ambition: that is the spring of his activity: and with that view he endeavours to be “fruitful,” not in some good works only, but “in every good work,” however difficult or self-denying.
Suited to these dispositions was the Apostle’s prayer: he desired for the Colossians what he knew they desired for themselves, even “that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work.” And it is certain, that in proportion as we have attained a just knowledge of God’s will, we shall desire, both for ourselves and others, an increase of righteousness and true holiness.]
In the enjoyment of his presence—
[“The knowledge of God” seems to be different from “the knowledge of his will,” that has been before mentioned: the former relates to a view of his truth, and the latter to the enjoyment of his presence. In this sense the latter is not a mere repetition, but a blessing intimately connected with a holy life. Whom will God meet, and unto whom will lie reveal himself, but “him that rejoiceth in working righteousness [Note: Isa_64:5.]?” Yes; there are manifestations which such persons shall receive, and such manifestations as the world can form no idea of [Note: Joh_14:21; Joh_14:23.]. God will “shed abroad his love in the hearts” of his people; and will testify to them their adoption into his family, and seal them unto the day of redemption. How desirable is this for every saint! and how rich a recompence is it for any self-denial he may exercise in the path of duty! Would to God that all professing Christians might experience this; and that not a single day might ever pass, in which they cannot say with the beloved Disciple, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ [Note: 1Jn_1:3.]!”]
In submission to his dispensations—
[The more any person lives in the enjoyment of God, and a diligent performance of his will, the more must he expect to be hated and persecuted by an ungodly world. But under all his trials he must be “patient:” to whatever length of time they be protracted, he must be “long-suffering:” nor must he merely possess his soul in patience; he must have it blended “with joyfulness,” regarding it as his honour and his happiness that he is counted worthy to suffer shame for his Redeemer’s sake [Note: Act_5:41.]. But “who is sufficient for these things?” It is not possible for feeble man. to maintain such a conduct, unless he be “strengthened with all might” by the Holy Ghost: yea, there must be such an exertion of omnipotence as will serve for a bright display of “his glorious power;” nor can any thing less than this effect so great a work.
Here then again we see the suitableness of the Apostle’s prayer: for if we cannot serve the Lord without participating his cross, or sustain by our own power the trials that will come upon us, what alternative remains, but either to abandon our profession, or to implore such help from God as shall make us more than conquerors over all?]
In thankfulness to him for his mercies—
[There can be no state, however afflictive, in which a Christian ought not to abound in thanksgivings to God. The Israelites, to whom he divided Canaan by lot, were unspeakably indebted to him: but how are they indebted, to whom he has given an “inheritance among the saints in light;” even in heaven, where they dwell in the immediate presence of their God! For this they are rendered “meet;” (for it is impossible that they can enjoy it, if they possess not a meetness for it:) their heavenly Father has “delivered them from the power of darkness,” even as he did Lot from Sodom, and the Israelites from Egypt, with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm: lie has moreover “translated them into the kingdom of his dear Son,” and brought them into a cheerful and unreserved obedience to his will. Must not they then give glory to their God? What if they be burning at the stake, ought they not to rejoice that God has rescued them from hell, and that they are entering on a state of uninterrupted everlasting happiness?
Surely no Christian should rest short of this attainment: but we should all unite in wrestling with our God, till he pour out his Spirit upon us, and form us to the model which was here proposed for the Colossian converts.]
How glorious are the Christian’s privileges!
[Did the Apostle incessantly ask of God what God was not willing to bestow? No; “if we opened our mouth wide, he would fill it;” and all these graces should abound in us, to the praise and glory of our God. What then must the Christian be, in whom these things are found! O believer, aim not at low things; but aspire after the highest measures of wisdom, purity, and joy.]
How dependent are we upon our God!
[It is not at our first commencement only of a religious course that we depend on God, but to the latest hour of our lives. We can have no knowledge, holiness, or joy, but as we receive it from him. Let us then make our requests known to him, and depend on him for all seasonable supplies of grace and strength.]
How great is the benefit of intercession!
[We certainly are not sufficiently apprised of this. But when we recollect the intercessions of Abraham for Sodom, of Lot for Zoar, of Moses for Israel, how can we be so remiss in this duty! Let us incessantly plead for each other, knowing that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.]