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Let us not overvalue the wisdom of this world, since it is little regarded by God; nor be greatly concerned, if fools account our wisdom folly, and our life madness. So censured they the prophets and apostles, before us; nor did our Master himself escape the calumny and outrage. We shall be happy enough, if we approve our fidelity to him, and if we build a wise superstructure on Christ, as the great, the only Foundation.-Let his ministers especially, be solicitous, that they may not lose the labour of their lives, by choosing unhappily to employ them, in that which will turn to no account, in the great day of his appearing. Let them carefully examine their materials. Surely if they have senses spiritually exercised, it cannot be hard to distinguish between the substantial and undoubted doctrines of christianity, which are as gold and silver and precious stones, and those fictitious, or at best, dubious and intricate points, which in comparison with the former, are but wood, and hay, and stubble. And if in urging these, they passionately inveigh against their brethren, and endeavour to bring them into contempt or suspicion, what do they but cement these combustible materials with sulphur?-0! let the frequent views of that last searching fire, that grand period of all, be much in our thoughts : that day, when not only the works of ministers, but every private person, must, as it were, pass through the flames. May we then be saved, not with difficulty, but with praise and honour! May our works of what kind soever they are, abide, so as to be found worthy of applause, and through divine grace receive a distinguished reward !
Further remedies against the pride and faction so prevalent among them :
the nature of the ministerial office ; the final judgment of God; and their obligations to his distinguishing goodness. Ch. iv. 147
INSTEAD then of forining parties under us, learn to form your il estimate of us aright. Let a man so account of us, only as the 2 servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. * Now] 3 it is demanded in stewards, that a man be found faithful. For it is
with me the smallest thing that can be, that I should be judged by A you, or by any man's judgment. Nor do I judge myself as if my
osun sentence were final ; for though I am not conscious to myself
of any thing criminal, yet I am not hereby justified: but he that 5 judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time,
until the Lord shall come, who shall bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and manifest the counsels of the hearts. And
then shall every one [who stands the test) have praise from God. 6 These things, brethren, I have by a figure transferred to myself,
and to Apollos, mentioning our námes instead of many more, not on our own account, but for your sakes, that you may learn in us, not
to cntertain too high an opinion of yourselvest above what is writ*“ As for what remains.” D.“ Moreover" C.T. Now M.
t" By us, not to csteem TEACHERS above what hath bcen (here) written.” M.
ten, that you may not be puffed up for one teacher against another. 7 For who maketh thee to differ from another ? And what hast thou,
which thou didst not receive? But if thou hast received it, why dost thou boast as if thou hadst not received it?
REFLECTIONS. Nothing can be more conducive to the advantage of Christianity, and by consequence of the world, whose happiness is so much concerned in its support and success, than that its preachers should consider, and their hearers remember, the nature of their office. They are not lords over God's household and heritage, but ministers of Christ, whose business it is to promote their master's honour ; stewards of his mysteries, who are to endeavour both to keep and dispense them with all good fidelity. From their master therefore may they take all their instructions, and to him let them refer all their administrations. Various judgments will be passed upon them; and they, who will oppose the attempts of some of their brethren to introduce corruption and confusion into his family, will have many an unkind reflection thrown upon them, and experience the severity of censure, for a conduct which merits the justest approbation. But let them learn by this excellent apostle, to be above the judgment of men, and to keep the judgment of the Lord in view; that they may not only be supported under that petulance of their fellow-servants, but may learn to guard against, what is much more dangerous, the treachery of their own hearts, and the flattery of self-love ; lest they fondly mistake the voice of prejudice for that of conscience, or in other words, the voice of an erroneous conscience, for that of a conscience well informed.
Let us often recollect the narrow limits of our own knowledge, that we may leam modesty in our censures to each other. He only can judge, who knoweth the heart ; and there is a day approaching, which will manifest all its secrets. While others, with a pitiable mixture of arrogance and ignorance, judge one another, and judge us, let us rather be concerned that we may secure that praise of God, which will be heard and felt by the soul, with the highest rapture, and will silence every echo of human applause, or censure. To conclude ; if it hath pleased God, in any respect, to distinguish us from others, by the gifts or graces which he hath bestowed upon us, let us humbly trace these distinctions to their true source : and instead of indulging the least degree of pride on their account, let us rather be the more humble. For surely the more we receive from God, the niore ve are indebted and obliged ; and the more we are obliged to the divine goodness, the greater ought our shame and confusion to be, that we have not answered those obligations by more faithful care, and more constant gratitude.
The apostle represents to the Corinthians, who were in a state of case, the hardships which he and his brethren suffered ; reminds them of their obli- . gations to himself, and warns them not to force him to use severities. Ch. iv. 8, &c.
T HAVE suggested some humbling thoughts which you may not relish, 8 l on account of your superior rank in the world; for Now you are full;
now you are rich; you have reigned* as kings without us: and I wish
you did reign in the best sense, that we might also reign with you, 9 and partake of your happiness. For I think God hath exhibited us,
the apostles, lastt, as appointed to death : for we are made a spec10 tacle to the world, to angels, and men. We are treated as fools
for the sake of Christ, but ye are in your own esteem wise in
Christ: we are weak, but ye are strong, having great confidence in }l yourselves ; you are honourable, but we are despised. Even to
this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and 12 are buffeted, and have no certain abode, and labour, working with
our own hands. Being reviled, we bless : being persecuted, we 13 endure it: being blasphemed, we entreat : we are made like the
filtht of the world, or like the refusell of all things to this day.-14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I 15 warn you ; for if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet
you have not many spiritual fathers : for in Christ Jesus I have 16 begotten you by the gospel. I beseech you therefore, that ye be 17 imitators of me. For this reason I have sent unto you Timothy,
who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who will bring to
your remembrance my ways in Christ, as I am every where teach18 ing in every church. Some I hear are puffed up, as if I would 19 not come to you, and dare not appear among you. But I will cer
tainly come to you quickly, if the Lord permit ; and will know,
not the florid speech of those that are puffed up, but the power 20 they have to vindicate their pretensions : For the kingdom of God is 21 not in speech, but in powers. What therefore do you choose ?
* A proverbial expression to denote great prosperity. [Some suppose the apostle to allude to the rulers of the factious parts:]
Like those gladiators which were brought last upon the stage, either to fight with each other, or with wild beasts, who were appointed to certain death. Such shews were common in all the provinces. The word arodEVER exhibited, and Decleor a spectacle on the theatre have here a beautifying propriety. The whole passage indeed is highly eloquent.
The word xalaquale has a force and meaning here which no one word in our language can express. The allusion is to those wretches taken from the dregs of the people, who were offered as expiatory sacrifices to infernal deities, and loaded with curses in the way to the altar. 11 The very sweepings of the streets and stalls.
Is not supported by confident assertions, or elegant forms of address, but miraculous gifts of the Spirit.
that I should come to you with a rod, or in love and the spirit of meekness?
REFLECTIONS. How adorable is the efficacy of divine grace which bore those zealous and faithful servants of Christ through all their labours and fatigues, when they were made a spectacle to the world, to angels, and men! How glorious a spectacle ! worthy surely, as any thing, since that wonderful scene on Calvary, of the eye of God himself.—How little are we to judge of the divine favour by external circumstances, when those best of men were of all others the most miserable, further than as their heavenly hope supported and animated them ? And when that is taken into the account, who would not emulate their lot, though hungry and thirsty, though naked and destitute, without habitation, without protector, without friends ? When we consider their share in the divine friendship, when we consider the blessed effects of their labours, and the glorious crown which awaits them after all their sufferings ; surely they must appear happy in proportion to the degree in which they seemed miserable, and glorious in proportion to the degree in which the world held them as infamous !
That illustrious person, whose epistles are now before us, knew not the pleasures of domestic life, in many of its most endearing relations. But God made him a spiritual father to multitudes; and no doubt, as he urges the consideration on his children in Christ, he felt the joy arising from it strong in his own soul, when he said, I have begotten you in Christ Jesus by the gospel. Surely it ought never to have been forgotten by them; and if through the artifices of ill-designing men, and the remaining infirmities of their own character, it was sometimes, and in some degree forgotten now, yet undoubtedly, it would be remembered by them in the heavenly world for ever ; even by as many as the Lord his God had graciously given him. And if there be any remembrance there, that they once grieved him, it will be an engagement to all those offices of an eternal friendship, which the exaltation of the heavenly state shall allow. In the mean time, his paternal affection for them wrought, not in a foolish fondness of indulgence, which in the language of divine wisdom, is hating a son ; but in the character of a prudent and faithful parent, who, desirous that his children may be as wise and good as possible, will rather use the rod than suffer them to be undone. Yet when he speaks of using it, he speaks with regret, as one who would rather choose to act in the spirit of gentleness, and without any mixture of severity, how necessary soever. The whole of his subsequent conduct to the Corinthians, as far as it may be learned from this, or the following epistle, bears a perfect consistency with these expressions, and illustrates their sincerity.-May God give to his ministers more of this truly apostolic spirit, more of those overflowings of holy love, attempering and attempcred by that ardent zeal against sin, and that
* It is plain from many passages that the apostles had a power of inflicting miraculous punishments on offenders.
firm resolution in the discharge of duty, which shone so brightly in the apostle, and in which he so freely and justiy recommends himself to the imitation of his children and brethren.
The irregularities which prevailed in the Corinthian church; the case of the
incestuous person, whom they are commanded to separate from their commimion. Ch. v.
1 TT is generally reported, that there is lewdness among you ;
1. and that such lewdness as is not heard of among the heathen, 2 that a certain person should have his father's wife. And yet ye
are puffed up with a spirit of pride and carnality : and should ye not rather have lamented, that he who hath committed this fact,
should be taken away from you, and denied further communion ? 3 For I, though absent indeed in body, but present in spirit, have,
as if I were present, judged him who hath committed this enor4 mity. And my sentence is this : That ye being gathered together
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and my spirit being present, . 5 with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, do deliver such an one
to Satan, as the executioner of divine justice, to be chastised by
some bodily disease, in order to the destruction of the flesh*, that 6 the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your
boasting is not good: do you not know that a little leaven leaven
eth the whole mass? Thus will evil examples tend to spread in the 7 Church. Therefore purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new mass, as ye are by your profession unleavened. For even
Christ our passover was slain for us; that his blood, the price of 8 our redemption, might be the means of our sanctification. Let us
then keep the feast [of the Christian pussover] not with the old leaven, nor the leaven of malignity and mischief; but with the
unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in an epistle which I sent before, that you should 10 not converse with lewd persons. But I intended, not entirely to
forbid all (intercourse with the lewd people of this world, or with
covetous men, or extortioners, or idolaters ; for then you must Il indeeed go out of the world. But I have now written unto you,
that if any who is named a Christian brother be a lewd person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or extortioner,
you should not converse, or so much as eat with such an one, 12 much less in religious solemnities. For what have I as an apostle to
dlo, to judge those that are without the pale of the church? Do not 13 you yourselves judge those that are within ? But those, who are
without, God judgetht. Therefore take away from among yourselves the wicked person.
* This must be understood of some lingering distemper, which might allow of space for repentance. En.
† Hence some suppose that the female offender was a Ileathen, Vom. II.