Now the God of patience and consolation
These titles and characters of God are manifestly used on account of what is before said concerning the Scriptures, and to show, that the efficacy and usefulness of them, in producing and promoting patience and comfort, entirely depend upon God the author of them: from exhorting, the apostle proceeds to petitioning; well knowing that all his exhortations would be of no avail without the power of divine grace accompanying them. The words are a prayer. The object addressed is described as "the God of patience", because he is the author and giver of that grace: it is a fruit of his Spirit, produced by the means of his word, called the word of his patience. The Heathens themselves were so sensible that this is a divine blessing, that they call patience (yewn eurhma) , "the invention of the gods" F23. God is the great pattern and exemplar of patience; he is patient himself, and bears much and long with the children of men; with wicked men, whose patient forbearance and longsuffering being despised by them, will be an aggravation of their damnation; but his longsuffering towards his elect issues in their salvation: he waits to be gracious to them before conversion, and after it bears with their infirmities, heals their backslidings, forgives their iniquities, patiently hears their cues, requests, and complaints, relieves and supports them, and carries them even to hoary hairs; and is in all a pattern to be imitated by his people. He is also the object of this grace; he it is on whom and for whom saints should and do patiently wait, until he is pleased to manifest himself, and communicate to them for the supply of their wants of every sort; and upon whose account and for whose sake they patiently suffer reproach and persecution; the exercise of patience is what he requires, and calls for, and is very grateful and well pleasing to him; to all which add, that he it is who strengthens to the exercise of it, and increases it; and which he does sometimes by tribulation; faith and other graces, being thereby tried, produce patience; and which at length, through divine grace, has its perfect work. Moreover, the object of prayer is described, as "the God of consolation"; all true, real, solid comfort springs from him, which he communicates by his son, the consolation of Israel; by his Spirit, the comforter; by his word, the doctrines and promises of which afford strong consolation to the heirs of promise, sensible sinners and afflicted souls; by the ordinances of the Gospel, which are breasts of consolation; and by the faithful ministers of Christ, who are "Barnabases", sons of consolation, ( Acts 4:36 ) . The petition follows,
grant you to be like minded one towards another;
which does not respect sameness of judgment in the doctrines of faith; though this is very necessary to an honourable and comfortable walking together in church fellowship; much less an agreement in things indifferent: the apostle's meaning is not, that they should all abstain from meats forbidden by the law of Moses, or that they should all eat every sort of food without distinction; nor that they should all observe any Jewish day, or that they should all observe none; rather, that everyone should enjoy his own sentiment, and practise as he believed: but this request regards a likeness of affection, the sameness of mutual love, that they be of one heart, and one soul; that notwithstanding their different sentiments about things of a ceremonious kind, yet that they should love one another, and cease either to despise or judge each other; but think as well and as highly of them that differ from them, as of themselves, and of those of their own sentiments, without preferring in affection one to another; but studying and devising to promote and maintain, as the Syriac here reads it, (atwywv) , "an equality" among them; showing the same equal affection and respect to one as to the other, and to one another; the Jew to the Gentile, and the Gentile to the Jew; the strong to the weak, and the weak to the strong. This is what is greatly desirable. It is grateful to God; it is earnestly wished for by the ministers of the Gospel: and is pleasant and delightful to all good men; but it is God alone that can give and continue such a Spirit: this the apostle knew, and therefore prays that he would "grant" it: and for which request there is a foundation for faith and hope concerning it; since God has promised he will give his people one heart, and one way, as to fear him, so to love one another. The rule or pattern, according to which this is desired, is next expressed,
according to Christ Jesus;
according to the doctrine of Christ, which teaches, directs, and engages, as to sameness of judgment and practice, so to mutual love and affection; and according to the new commandment of Christ, which obliges to love one another; and according to the example of Christ, who is the great pattern of patience and forbearance, of meekness and humility, of condescension and goodness, and of equal love and affection to all his members.
F23 Archilochus apud Philostrat. Vit. Apollon. l. 7. c. 12.