« הקודםהמשך »
Blessed be God, that he hath in his church, given not only apostles, and firophets, but also pastors and teachers. Adored be that bounty with which he hath scattered down his gifis,whether ordinary or extraordinary, on the children of men. Let all be used, not to the purposes of ostentation, but of edification. And let us be desirous of those whereby we may bear most of the image of Christ, and may most promote the great design for which he visited this low world of ours, and was pleased to unite his church unto himself, and its several members to each other, in such dear and indissoluble bonds.
To engage them to cultivate charity, as more excellent than any of those gifts about which they contended, the apostle gives a description of that grace which, in its duration, exceeds faith and hope. Ch. xiii.
THAT which I meant to recommend, as more excellent than any 1 1 of the gifts about which ye contend, is Love. If I speak with
the tongues of men and angels, but have not love to God and men, 2 I am become but as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if
I have the gift of prophesying, and know all mysteries, and all knowledge ; and if I have all the most miraculous faith, so as to re3 move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I distri
bute all my goods in alms 10 the poor, and deliver up my body to be burnt, but have not love, I shall receive no advantage by it in the
day of final account. The grace Iam recommending hath these charm.4 ing properties : Love suffereth long, and is kind : love envieth not: 5 love is not insolent; is not puffed up; doth not behave indecently ;
seeketh not her own things; is not exasperated; imputeth not evil; 6 rejoiceth not at iniquity, but rejoiceth with others in the truth ; 7 covereth all things ; believeth all things ; hopeth all things ; en8 dureth all things : Love never faileth : But whether there be
prophecies, they shall be abolished : or whether tongues, they
shall cease : and much of our present [boasted knowledge shall 9 be abolished and superseded. For we now know but in part, and 10 we prophesy only in part. But when that which is perfect is Il come, that which is in part shall be abolished.-When I was a
child, I spake as a child, I was affected as a child, I reasoned as a
child : but when I became a man, I put away the things of the 12 child. For we now see in an ambiguous and obscure manner, as
by means of a mirror ; but then we shall see face to face. Now
I know but in part ; but then I shall know, even as also I am 13 known. Now abideth these three excellent gracce, faith, hope,
and love ; but the greatest of these is love.
REFLECTIONS. Surely after having attentively surveyed the beautiful description which the apostle gives us of this divine grace, Love, it cannot be necessary that its cause should be further pleaded. It speaks for itself ; speaks to our very hearts. But O, who that enters into the
description, must not mourn, that its angelic form is so much a stranger to multitudes who bear the Christian name! So that in many instances it can hardly pass uncensured ; while those extremes which most evidently violate it, are often consecrated under honourable names, and men build much of their hopes of heaven, on breathing what is indeed the temper of hell. How many that style themselves Christians, can endure no provocations, can cover no faults of their brethren, can keep themselves within no bounds, can belicve nothing to their advantage, against whom, on party-principles, they have en. tertained prejudices ! They vaunt themselves, they are puffed up with the conceit of their own wisdom; they behave unseemly ; they seek only their own reputation and profit ; they believe the worst they can hear of others, and suspect inore than they hear ; they envy those whose endowments and stations are superior to their own ; and instead of labouring themselves to excel, they effect by calumny and slander to bring down their brethren to their own level, or rather, as far as possible, below it. Alas, that the dictates of our divine Master, and the genius of our religion, are so little understood, are no more regarded ! and that we so entirely forget the precepts of Christianity, as not to remember even those of common humanity.--Yet surely, if these precepts are wholly forgotten, it is in vain, that we remember, or contend for any of its doctrines and principles. As all languages and gifts, 80 all knowledge and faith is vain, if it be separate from love, by which true faith always operates.
Let us cultivate love more and more ; and so much the rather, as it is a plant of the celestial paradise; which will there for ever flourish when longues shall cease, and that knowledge, on which men value themselves highly, shall utterly vanish. The ripeness of adult age, and the knowledge of the most improved sciences, human or divine, is but as the trilling of an infunt, when compared with that manly and perfect state after which we are aspiring. The dim mirror of faith shall then be laid aside ; and the truth of the objects, now so imperfectly discerned, shall in full lustre be presented to our eyes, purged from every film, and strengthened for a brightness which would now overwhelm it. In the mean time, attending humbly to the narrow limits, and necessary obscurity, of our present knowledge, let us not be puffed up in ourselves, let us not despise others; but by a modest estimate and a faithful improvement, of such degrees of light as God shall be pleased to afford us, let us press on towards the regions of eternal day; where in his light we shall see light, and where amidst the fullest communications of his love, we shall for ever love him, and each other, with ardours which the best hearts, in their best moments on earth, can neither attain nor conceive.
Cautions against a vain ostentation of the gift of tongues ; and the absurd
manner in which it was abused. Ch. xiv. 1-19.
SINCE love is of such peculiar excellence, I exhort you, brethren, In eagerly pursue love : desire also spiritual gifts, but especially, 2 that ye may prophesy and teach in an cdifying manner. For he
that speaketh in a foreign] tongue, speaketh not to men, but to God, for no one else understandeth him, though in the Spirit he 3 speak mysteries; whereas he that prophesieth (or discourses by
inspiration on divine things in a known language) speaketh to men 4 for edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh
with a tongue unknown, edifieth himself only; but he that prophe5 sieth, edifieth the church also. I wish indeerl, that ye all spake
with tongues, but rather that ye might prophesy : for he that prophesieth, is greater that he who speaketh with longues which
the hearers do not understand, except he interpret, that the church 6 may receive edification. Now, brethren, if I (for instance) come
to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak
to you * in your own congue, whether by revelation, or knowledge, 7 or prophecy, or doctrine.--So also inanimate things which give a
sound, whether pipe or harp, unless they give a due distinction of 8 sounds, how can it be known what is piped, or harped ? Moreover,
if the trumpet in war give an uncertain sound, who should pre9 pare himself to battle ? So likewise in your assemblies, unless ye
utter by the tongue significant words, how shall it be known what 10 you speak ? For ye shall in that case speak to the air. There
may be ever so many sorts of languages in the world, and none of 11 them without signification. Yet unless I know the force and im.
port of the language spoken, I shall be to him that speaketh, a 12 barbarian ; and he that speaketh, shall be a barbarian to me. So
you also t, seeing ye desire spiritual gifts, seek to abound in Wem 13 for the edification of the church. Therefore let him that speaketh
in a tongue unknown to the audience, pray  that he may in14 terpret. For if I pray in a strange tongue, my spirit indeed pray15 eth; but my understanding is unfruitful 10 others. What then is my
duty? I will pray with the Spirit, but I will pray with the understand
ing also. I will sing with the Spirit, but I will sing with the under16 standing also. Moreover, if thou givest thanks in the Spirit, in an
unknown language, how shall lie that filleth up a private || place, say AMEN to thy thanksgiving, sceing he knoweth not what thou sayest?
*"1. e. intelligibly.” M. [9. d. to speak otherwise is not speaking TO YOU.) -W. translates what is above rendered profilesying, “ teaching." †“So then, as ye are ambitious of "-W. I“ Pray so as that some one may interpret.” M. 11 " The place of the private person” (the hearers]. It was the custom of the primitive church for the people to express their assent to the public praycrs by saying Amen at the closc. See Dcut. xxvii. 15. Nch. viii, 6. M."
17 For thou indeed givest thanks well; nevertheless the other is not 18 edified.--I thank my God, that I speak with tongues more than you 19 all ; but in a church I had rather speak five words with my un
derstanding, that I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue,
REFLECTIONS. How weak and poor a thing is pride and ostentation, and how wise and honourable, charity and humility! Who, that has a right discernment, would not rather have been the obscurest Christian, that now, alınost unseen, joins our assemblies, and in heart at least, humbly puts his amen to the petitions presented there, than the most fluent talker at Corinth ; abusing the special gifts of the Spirit, and trilling away, in an unseasonable display of his own, then unprofitable, endowments, the precious moments, which were destined to the highest purposes of religious edification? Who must not lament to see pride and vain-glory, so early insinuating themselves into Christian societies! Who must not, from so sad an instance, learn to be greatly watchful over their own hearts, on a side where they are subject to such dangerous attacks! -Had the most able and zealous Protestant divine endeavoured to expose the absurdity of praying in an unknown tongue, as practised in the church of Rome, it is difficult to imagine what he could have written more fully to the purpose, than the apostle hath here done. And when it is considered, how perversely the Papists retain the usage of such prayers, it will seem no wonder they should keep the scriptures in an unknown tongue too. But they proclaim at the same time, their superstition and idolatry in so universal a language, that even a barbarian might perceive and learn it in their assemblies. Let us pity, and pray for them, that God may give their prejudiced minds a juster and happier turn. And since we see the unreasonable and pernicious humour of immutably adhering to ancient customs, prevailing to maintain in the church of Rome, so flagrant an absurdity, as praying in an unknown tongue, let it teach us to guard against every degree of the like disposition ; and not so much consider, what hath been the practice of any church, in which we were educated, or have chosen to worship, as what the reason of things, and the au. thority of scripture concur to dictate.
Of this wise and benevolent apostle let us learn, to estimate the value of gifts by their usefulness ; and to seek above all things the edification of our brethren : especially if we are providentially called to minister in public. There is perhaps a manner of speaking in an unknown tongue, even when the language of our own country is used; a lieight of composition, an abstruseness of thought, an obscurity of phrase, which common Christians cannot understand. Let not the ministers of the humble Jesus seek such high things ; but in this important sense of the exhortation, condescend 10 mon of low estate. If the ignorant may be instructed, if the careless may be convinced, if the vicious may be reformed, if the derotion of our Christian brethren may be excited, their love to each other cherished, and their holy resolutions confirmed, the great ends of divine ordinances are answered ; and
that plainness of speech, which may be most likely to promote them, is rather the glory, than reproach, of the Christian orator.
Advices for preventing that abuse of the gift of tongues which had been re
proved. Ch. xiv. 20, &c.
20 DRETHREN, be not children in understanding: o in malice 21 D be little infants ; but in understanding be perfect men. It is
written in the law (18. xxviii. 11.) “Surely in foreign language,
and with foreign lips I will speak unto this people ; and even so 22 they will not hear me, saith the Lord.” So that tongues are a
sign not to believers, but to infidels : whereas prophecy is not for 33 infidels, but believers. Therefore if the whole church be come
together into one place, and all speak with unknown tongues, and
any uninstructed persons, or infidels come in, will they not say 24 that you are distracted ? Whereas if all prophesy (in an intelligible
manner,) and an infidel, or ignorant man cometh in, he is convict25 ed by all, he is judged by all who this speak, and thus the secrets
of his heart are made manifest; and so falling down upon his
face, he will worship God, declaring that God is indeed among 26 you.-What a thing is it*, brethren, that when you are come to
gether for social worship, every one of you † hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpreta
tion, and so all speak together. Let all things be done for cdifica27 tion. If any speak with an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or
at most by three at one meeting, and that by course ; and let one 28 interpret. But if there be not an interpreter, let him be silent in 29 the church, and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let two
or three of the prophets speak in one assembly, and let the rest 30 judge. But if any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, 31 let the first have done speaking. For by this means ye may all
prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comfort32 ed. For the spirits, or inspirations, of the prophets are subject 33 to the prophetst (for God is not the author of confusion, but of
peace and order) as it appears in all the other churches of the
saints. 34 Let your women be silent in your assemblies; for it is not per
mitted to them to speak || (unless they have some extraordinary
* “What then, brethren, is to be done ? When ye come together, hath any of you a psalm? hath he a doctrine?" &c. W.
fie. “One hath a psalm, another hath a doctrine,” &c. M.
# Their inspiration is not a wild irresistible impulse, but leaves them masters of themselves.
Il This seems inconsistent with Chap. xi. 5, 13. If the solution in the narenthesis be not admitted, and the probibition here be thought universal, I should suppose with Whitby that prophesying, in the former place, signifies, singing psalms and praving, not as leading the devotions, but joining with others. [So the term prophesying is used i Chr. xxv. 1, 2. 1 Kings xvjü. 29. See Dr. M. on Ch. xi. 5. who considers the above as an universal prohibition of