For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea…
The apostle contends that they should persist in this.
I. THAT THEIR HEARTS MIGHT BE COMFORTED. Perseverance in Christian doctrine brings true comfort.
1. Because salvation by Christ alone brings tranquillity to the troubled conscience. For as the modulations of harmony are applied to arouse the mind when sorrowful, so the promises of God in Christ bring peace to men's hearts (Romans 5:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Philippians 2:1).
2. Because the doctrine of innovators harassed men's minds with scruples and anxieties. To be exempt from these is a great part of spiritual consolation.
II. BEING KNIT TOGETHER IN LOVE as carpenters fit together two pieces of wood, so that they adhere in indissoluble union. This concord of minds is —
1. A fruit, because the intellect is the leader of the will (Acts 4:32). Unity of faith is the firmest bond of unity of mind. Love is the fruit of unanimity of faith which so binds the minds of the godly, that though some light offences intervene, yet as the boughs of the same tree, driven asunder by the wind, immediately come together again because fixed in one root, so with the minds of the faithful, because still rooted in the same faith.
2. A condition without which spiritual comfort is not obtained. For comfort is not had out of Christ; if any one lives without love, he is without Christ, and vice versa
III. UNTO ALL RICHES OF THE FULL ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING.
1. The faith of Christians is augmented in richness when they who have learned only the principles and elements proceed to farther attainments. For as in other sciences the principles are few, but contain innumerable conclusions, so here some few necessary principles are presented to tender minds, and afterwards a rich treasury of sacred knowledge is collected for every purpose of salvation by meditation, hearing, and chiefly the internal operation and teaching of the Spirit. They therefore who persevere in the doctrine of the gospel thence obtain all riches. Hence —
(1) The laity should not be content with an elementary knowledge in religious matters (Hebrews 6:1).
(2) When these riches are sought, the means necessary to their attainment should be sought. He who would have treasure must dig.
2. Full assurance denotes that firm and certain adherence to what is believed which springs from the internal operation of the Spirit illuminating the intellect, inclining the will, and firmly stamping the impress of the things believed on the mind itself. This is at length attained by those who remain firm in the doctrine of faith. For as trees newly planted are swayed by the wind, so the early faith of the godly wavers with many doubts; but the same trees in course of time fix their roots deeper, so faith shoots its roots deeper into the mind, and at length, by grace, acquires that steadiness which cannot be overthrown (Ephesians 4:14). Hence we learn —
(1) That the faith of a Christian ought not to depend on others, but be settled by the efficacy of the Spirit, so that if ecclesiastics, or the whole world even, should depart from the faith, yet every one of the laity should hold to it (Galatians 1:9).
(2) How Romanists err who think that the assurance of our faith lies in the breast of the Pope. That cannot give lull assurance to my heart, but the operation of the Spirit can and does (1 John 2:27).
(3) That their complaint is unjust who aver that we cannot arrive at this assurance since there are so many sects and controversies. We attain truth not by disputing, but from Him who alone can both know and teach.
3. The understanding fully assured (Ephesians 1:17; 1 Peter 2:9). Hence that is not a Divine, but animal faith, which has no comprehension of the things believed. Such a faith Staphylus extols in the collier who professed that he believed what the Church believed, and the Church believed what he held, whilst he was ignorant all the time what either the Church or himself held.
4. To the acknowledgment, etc.
(1) Under the word "mystery" the apostle includes the whole doctrine of the gospel which is so called, because human reason of itself would never have found the way of salvation but for it.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;