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down certain indisputable principles concerning the natural body; ex. gr.
1. That the multitude of its members does not destroy its unity, nor their relation to it as a whole -all the members of that one body, being MANY, are ONE body: v. 12.
2. That their union with the body is the foundation of all the value, beauty, and excellence, of the members in their respective places. v. 15—24.
3. That the efficiency of the members consists in their mutual co-operation as parts of a common whole—that there should be no schism in the body.
4. That from their union with the body, there results, by a divine constitution, a communion of interests; a sympathy of feeling, and a reciprocation of benefits-that the members should have the same care one for another: And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. - . 25, 26.
The use of this similitude Paul declares to be an illustration of the unity of the church, and of the intimate communion of believers. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular, v. 27.
It is true that the Apostle turns his argument directly against the contentions in the Corinthian church about the superiority, or inferiority, of public offices and spiritual gifts. And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles, secondarily, prophets, fc. v 28–30. But it is also true that the principles of his argument are general; are equally applicable to every thing which tends to cherish among Christians a party feeling, at the expense of weakening the sense of their union, or of interrupting their communion, as members of the body of Christ; and were intended to be so applied: For,
They are part of the Apostle's remonstrance against the schismatic spirit which had split up the church of Corinth into a number of factions: one crying, “ I am of Paul ;” another, “ I am of Apollos;" another, “ I am of Cephas;" and another, more proud and boasting more purity than any of the rest," I am of Christ.” Scandalous, however, as their schisms were, they had not proceeded to separation, nor did they dream of breaking communion. If the Apostle so sternly reprehended their divisions as inconsistent with the unity of the church, although they continued to hold communion together, what would he have said, how would he have thundered forth his indignant rebuke had they carried their contests so far as to burst the bonds of communion, and, by that fact, virtually to disown each other as members of the body of Christ?
Moreover, the Apostle has himself extended his argument to matters which, without affecting the substance of our faith, hope, or duty, do yet produce great diversity of opinion and habit: and has shown that they ought not to infringe upon Christian union; nor, consequently, upon the expression of it in Christian communion. Between the freeman and the slave, between the barbarian and the Greek, between the Gentile and the Jew, there existed wide differences of condition and feeling, and large sources of animosity. But, saith Paul, they must all yield to the force, they must all bow before the majesty, of this consideration;—that the Christian freeman and slave-the Christian barbarian and Greekthe Christian Gentile and Jew, have“ by one Spirit been all baptized into one body.” What is this but to say, that the union of believers with each other as members of the body of Christ, is more precious than any other union, civil, national, or ecclesiastical? and will always outweigh, in the balance of God's judgment, the beaviest pleas which can be accumulated for recognising any other in preference to it; or for not recognising it in preference to every other ?
Finally. The Apostle opposes the spirit of ecclesiastical faction to the spirit of Christian
love.* This heavenly grace he exalts above prophecies, tongues, knowledge, the faith of miracles, the most magnificent alms, the very zeal of martyrdom! Now this love, the only cure for the gangrene of party strife--the most characteristic feature of Christ's image in a renewed man—the most precious fruit of his grace;
and yet the fruit which the bulk of his professed followers seem to think themselves under hardly any obligations to cultivate-this love is declared to originate in the love of God shed abroad in the heart; and to be drawn out toward the brethren precisely on this account, that they are the children of God the disciples of Christ-and therefore not on account of their adherence to one or another denomination, however sound it may be in the faith. Hereby, said the master, hereby shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.t Every one, adds the beloved John who lay in his bosom and drank deeply into his spirit, every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of lim. And surely the description which Paul has given of Christian love, in the chapter before us, corresponds to any thing else as well as to that gloomy distance and sour disdain, which are cherished by some professors towards others of whose graces the light is at least equal to their own; and which, by a hardihood not easily attained or equalled, are converted into a testimony for Jesus Christ!
* 1 Cor. xiii.
† John xii. sj.
1 1 John v. 1.
Since, therefore, the Apostle has resembled the unity of the Christian church and the union of Christians, to the unity of the human body and the union of its members; and since the use of this similitude in his expostulation with the Corinthian schismatics was only a special application of a doctrine general in itself, and applicable every where and always to feuds and divisions among those who embrace substantially the same faith, let us, in few words, gather up its results, and see how they bear
upon the subject of sacramental communion.
1. The body of Christ is one.
2. Every member of this body has, by a divine constitution, utterly independent on his own will, both union and communion with every other member, as infallibly as hands and feet, eyes, ears, and nose, are, by the very constitution of the physical body, united together as parts of a whole, and sympathise with each other accordingly.