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he deals in the same doctrine, unless he has reference to something peculiarly hard in the manner of teaching, adopted by his brother apostle. All will grant that God has a knowledge of every thing which is to be, as well as of every thing which is, but all do not consider whether his knowledge is grounded on his determination, or his determination on his knowledge, and all do not see, that if predestination makes things certain, foreknowledge does the same. If we are all so inclined to evil as to be utterly averse to good, when we turn to God, it must be his power that turns us, and he who grants this, grants the substance of what is intended by election, and he who denies it may be inquired of, why he in his prayers, or in any other way acknowledges his dependance upon God.
We are secondly to inquire what was the character of the church at Corinth, when the apostle wrote this epistle. His own words will give us the best information. And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal; even as unto babes in Christ. As he did not deny, that the church was a church of Christ; he admitted the members to be, in a measure, spiritual, as babes in Christ must be; but there was great evidence of remaining carnality, and he pointed it out to them. For it hath been declared unto me of you my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Some have thought, that the Corinthians ranged themselves under other leaders, who were false teachers, and, that the apostle, to avoid the mention of them, intent only on the division, and contention, of the church, spoke of himself, and of his two brethren, as those who were considered to be heads of the parties. Others however are of a different opinion. It is not very essential, whether these men were intended, or others, whom the Corinthians might compare with them. Apollos, we know, was at Corinth, and preached to great acceptance.
Paul was a great reasoner, a deep logical man, whose preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power. His close
argumentative manner, was his principal human recommendation. His bodily presence was weak, and by no means, such as to secure to him the favorable attention of his audience; and his speech, instead of being pleasant, and attractive, was so ungraceful, as to be called contemptible. With all these personal disadvantages, his letters were acknowledged to be weighty, and powerful, and his discourses must have been charged with the force of his mind. There were therefore among the Corinthians those who preferred him, or some man like him, to all other teachers.
It is not necessary to admit, that they who adhered to him, understood him, for often that is the most exalted, which is the least understood. The gift of speaking in an unknown tongue was more highly esteemed in the Corinthian church than the gift of prophesying. For this absurd preference of tongues to prophecy, the Apostle reproves them, and declares, In the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. We may here see how strangely men judge; and, that those who adhered to Paul, did not adhere to him on account of the uncommon edification which they received from his preaching; but because they had formed an opinion of him, as a man singularly profound. appear to have been like many others who bestow much commendation upon what they have heard without considering that if they have heard a good subject, ably discussed, they ought to take fast hold of instruction, and make it profitable to themselves.
Apollos was a very different man from Paul. He was a Jew, born at Alexandria; a celebrated city in lower Egypt; built by Alexander the great, soon after the destruction of Tyre; between three and four hundred years before Christ. Living here, Apollos might have had great advantages, particularly on account of the famous Alexandrian library, which, when it was destroyed by the Saracens, is said to have consisted of seven hundred thousand volumes. Though Apollos was mighty in the scriptures, his argumentative powers seem not to have formed his prominent distinction. Eloquence was rather that in which he excelled.
orator he attracted the attention of many, and they preferred him to Paul; not because the matter of his discourse was superior, but because his manner of delivery was more graceful; and perhaps his stature and form were more commanding. A personable man, with a sonorous, pleasant voice, who can descant upon a subject, in a style easy and elegant, is usually popular, and will gather a crowd around him, to gaze at the splendor of his abilities, if no better motive has influence to collect them.
It has been thought that Apollos left Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital, because he was displeased with the attention which was bestowed upon him, from wrong motives. The character given of Apollos, forbids us to suppose that he made a display of his eloquence, from the vanity of his mind and to win followers to himself, for the words of Christ will universally hold true, He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. The case was with him, especially at Corinth as it has often been with others; more regard was paid to the ambassador than to the commission under which he acted.
As Apollos was very different from Paul; Cephas, or as he is more commonly called, Peter, differed as much from them both. Apollos had been favored with instruction at Alexandria; Paul had been brought up at Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel, a distinguished Jewish doctor; but Peter had had little or no education; and had followed the business of catching fish upon the sea of Galilee. This want of education, perhaps recommended him to those who chose him for a leader. Many are prejudiced against learning, and suppose, that he who cannot, with ordinary help, preach without it, cannot with it. Human nature being always the same, the proof of Peter's inspiration might appear stronger to some than that of Paul, or Apollos, for they might think, that with Paul and Apollos, preaching was a profession; something for which they had qualified themselves by their studies. If you should think this inadmissible, upon the supposition, that Peter's adherents were real christians, you may call to mind the incoherent things,
sometimes advanced by such as you esteem christians. It might be known at Corinth, what success attended Peter's preaching upon the day of pentecost, when about three thousand souls were added to the church; and this affair might confirm the opinion entertained, that Peter was the first, and ablest preacher.
While at Corinth, some were for Paul; some for Apollos; and some for Cephas; some were for neither of them; nor for any other preacher; but for Christ. There have been such persons, perhaps, in all ages, calling themselves christians, and setting up high pretensions to religious experience, while living in the general neglect of public worship, if not of family worship, and of many other duties, as plainly enjoined as either. That such a course of life is to be accounted for from the carnality of the heart, is unquestionable; and whether those who live in this manner, can have any knowledge of christianity, is known only to him who has a thorough knowledge of all things. It seems to be plain, that the enjoyment of a christian must be in proportion to the sincerity, and strictness of his obedience; For if ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
It is to be noticed thirdly, that the carnality of the Corinthian church, was the reason why the Apostle fed them with milk, and not with meat; why he confined his preaching among them to the first, and easy principles of religion, instead of dwelling upon the hidden wisdom, or the abstruse things which he spoke of before those who were more perfect in knowledge, and experience. Two reasons were influential with him to regulate his practice. He well knew they could not understand the deep things of God, which God, by his spirit, had revealed to him; and of which he delighted to speak to others, when he found any capable of receiving them.
As the nurse would not give meat, but milk, to an infant; as the preceptor would not set a mathematical problem, but the alphabet, before one who had just begun to learn his letters; so the apostle, conducted, inculcating such things as the circumstances of the case rendered expedient; becoming all things to all men, that he might by all means save some, and making it his rule to keep back nothing
from any, from any motive whatever, which he judged could be profitable.
However desirous he might be to give his Corinthian brethren farther instruction, he felt himself under necessity to wait for the time to come, when their minds would be sufficiently expanded, and their hearts suitably disposed, to allow him an opportunity. He was farther sensible, that as they could not derive benefit from truths difficult to be understood, and to them quite unintelligible, so damage might accrue to them from any attempt which he should make, prematurely to instruct them; and this was another reason, why he gave them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. It is readily admitted, that unsuitable food would injure an infant, and that the mind of a child should not be pushed beyond its strength, and capacity.
But it may be thought, if salvation is secured to the christian by the covenant of grace, nothing can be an evil to him. Nothing indeed can deprive the christian of that inheritance, to which, as a child of promise, he has a title. All christians may adopt the exulting language of St. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, For I am persuaded, that neither death; nor life; nor angels; nor principalities; nor powers; nor things present; nor things to come; nor height; nor depth; nor any other creature; shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. It does not follow however, that he can sustain no damage, who will not be finally lost. Ye did run well, the apostle says to the Gallatians, who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? If by any thing they had been so hindered in their christian race, as to be turned from a course of duty to one of disobedience, it was a serious evil; it was a damage which nothing could repair, but a humble and faithful retracing of their steps. St. Peter directs husbands and wives, to live together in harmony and love, that their prayers be not hindered. As blessings are granted in answer to prayer, much must be lost by the neglect of that duty. But when ye sin so against the brethren, St. Paul says to the Corinthians, speaking of such meats as were offered in sacrifice to idols, and wound their weak