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that love and charity which edifieth ourselves and others; taking heed, that we do not demonstrate our ignorance, by a high conceit of our attainments in knowledge; for nothing can more evidently shew how small those attainments are, than not to know their limits, when these limits so soon meet us, on what side soever we attempt to make an excursion. “Give us, OLord, that love to thee which is the best proof of our knowledge, and the surest way to its highest improvements.”
Let us always remember the grand principle of the Unity of God; and with the one God and Father of all adore the one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we exist; setting him in our estimation far above all the powers, dignities, and glories, of created nature.-Belonging to so divine a Master, let us endeavour to learn the most generous principles of true religion. Let us not found our confidence on admitting and contending for, or despising and deriding, this or that particular observance, by which, as it may happen to be circumstanced, God is neither honoured, nor dishonoured, pleased, nor displeased. But let us ever maintain the tenderest concern for the edification and com. fort of our brethren ; and guard against whatever might either grieve or ensnare them. Let us remember, that Christ died for the weakest as well as the strongest ; and let their relation to him, and his tender and compassionate regard for them, melt down our hearts, when seized with that cold insensibility, which, alas, is too ready to prevail amongst Christians! It is Christ we wound, in wounding our brethren ; and in smiting them, we smite him. Let us then stay that rash hand which is so ready in mere wantonness to do mischief; and be willing to deny ourselves in any desire, for ever so long a time, rather than by our indulgence to dishonour God, and injure others. This is the excellent lesson St. Paul often inculcates, of which he was an eminent and illustrious example. But O, how low are multitudes of Christians, multitudes of ministers fallen, when they cannot deny themselves in what is unnecessary, and even unlawful, where cither interest or pleasure solicit the gratification.
The apostle' illustrates his condescension to the weak, by his waving to accept that maintenance to which, as a gospel-minister, he had a right, both from natural equity and scripture-principle. Ch. ix. 1—14.
A S to the wrong construction that is put upon my maintaining
A myself, as if I was not entitled 10 act otherwise : let me ask, I Am not I an apostle ? Am not I as free as others ? Have not I seen 2 Jesus Christ our Lord ? Are not ye my work in the Lord ? If I
am not an apostle to others, yet I doubtless am so to you ; for ye 3 are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my apology 4 to those who examine me. Have we not power to eat and to drink 5 equally with others? Have we not power to lead about with us a sister
whom we might take for a wifc, as some up the other apostles 6 and the brethren of the Lord, and Peter* in particular? Or shall
I only and Barnabas not have power to decline working for a main7 tenance 2 Who ever goeth to war at his own charge ? Who plant
eth a vineyard, and doth not eat of its fruit? Or who feedeth a flock, 8 and doth not eat of the milk of the flock? Do I speak these things
as a man on the principles of reason ? and doth not the Jewish 9 law speak also the same ? For it is written in the law of Moses
(Deut. xxy. 4.) “ Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out do the corn.” Is God so solicitous about oxen only ? Or doth he say
this on the whole for our sales ? Surely for our sakes was it
written ; that he who plougheth might plough in hope, and that 11 he who thresheth in hope, should partake of this hope. If we
have sown unto you spiritual things, is it any great matter, that we 12 should reap your carnal things ? If others partake of this power
over you, shall not we rather claim it? But we have not made use of this power ; but we rather choose to endure all things, that we may not occasion any hindrance to the gospel of Christ. I may
further argue from the provision made for the friesls and Levites 13 under the law. Know ye not that they who are employed about
holy things, are fed out of the temple, and that they who wait
ordainedt, that they who preach the gospel, should live upon the gospel.
REFLECTIONS. May the disciples of Christ learn from these instructions, lo honour the Lord with their substance, and the first-fruits of all their increase! And may they feel those happy effects attending the ministration of the gospel, and reap such an abundant harvest of spiritual blessings, that the imparting temporal subsistence and accommodation, to those who are the instruments of conveying them, may not be matter of constraint, but of free and affectionate choice ! May the ministers of Christ, while they thankfully accept of that subsistence, which providence, by the instrumentality of their brethren, sends them, ever. act a moderate and generous part, and maintain such a visible superiority to all secular views, as may do an honour to the gospel, and
the office never invite bad men into it; nor its discouragements deter good men from undertaking it. And whatever censurcs a malignant world, who themselves know not any higher motive than self-interest, shall pass, may the ministers of Jesus ever have a testimony in their consciences, that they seek not the properties, but the souls, of their hearers!
Let us attend to the humane genius of the Mosaic law, manifested in the precepts which relate even to the brutes. And remember, that it is the character, and should be the care of a righteous man to extend
• Hence it appears that Peter continued to live with his wife after he became an apostle, and that he had no rights which were not common to Paul : a remark utterly subversive of Popery:
† “ The labourer is worthy of liis hire." Compare Matt. X. 10. Luke x. 7.
mercy to his beast. Much more then let us shew compassion to our fellow-men. Let us not desire to enjoy the benefit of their labours, even in the lowest employments of life, without giving them some valuable equivalent. Let us bear towards all, the hearts of equitable and generous brethren, and constantly wish the prosperity and happiness of the human family. On the whole, may there be between the teachers, and those who are taught by them, a continual intercourse of benevolent affections, and friendly actions ; as becomes those who stand in such an endearing relation to each other, and have, as Christians, the honour of being intimately related to that blessed Redeemer, who sought not his own things, but ours, and hath thereby laid the strongest engagement upon us, if we have any spark of gratitude and honour, not 10 seck our own things, but his !
The apostle illustrates his self-denial by an expressive simile, taken from
the Grecian games. Ch. ix. 15, &c.
15 DUT though I have thought it my duty to plead the right of min.
D isters to be maintained by the people, I myself have used none of these things; nor have I written thus, that it should be so done unto ime. For it were better for me to die through want,
than that any man should make my boasting (of disinterestedness] 16 void. For if I preach the gospel, I have no matter of boasting
in that ; for a necessity lieth upon me, and woe to me if I preach 17 not the gospel. If indeed I do this voluntarily, I have a reward :
but if unwillingly, a dispensation is intrusted to me, and I must 18 fulfil it? What then is my reward ? surely this, that when I
preach the gospel of Christ, I may render it unexpensive, that so
I may not abuse my power in the gospel to any low secular purpos19 cs. For being free from obligation to all men, I made myself the 20 servant of all, that I might gain the more. And accordingly, to
the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews : to those
who are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those 21 under the law: to those without the law, as without the law (yet
not without law to God, but under law to Christ) that I might 22 gain those without the law. I became to the weak, as weak, that
I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that by 23 any means I might save some. And this I do for the sake of the
gospel, that I may be a sharer in it*. 24. Do ye not know, that those who run in the racet, all indeed run,
but one receiveth the prize ? So run ye, [the Christian race) as 25 that ye inay obtain. And every one who contendeth in these games,
is temperate in all things ; and this they indeed do, that they may 26 obtain a corruptible crown ; but we an incorruptible. I for my
* In the pleasure arising from the communications of it. D." A sharer in its 't wards." M.
† The Stadium, or foot-race, in the celebrated Grecian games. [The several allusions to these games are well illustrated by the author.]
part run not as one who is to pass undistinguished, but knowing what eyes are upon me, and attending to the boundaries marked out, I cxert myself to the utmost. I fight not, as one that beateth the
air, practising a feigned combat, or that misseth his aim, nor do I 27 allow myself in a habit of indolence or luxury. But I mortify my
budy, and bring it into servitude, lest after having served as a herald to others, I should myself be disapproved by the final judge
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn, by the example of the apostle, a generous ambition of excelling in religion. Not of doing more indeed, than our duty, for we owe God our best, and our all ; but abounding in it to the utmost, carrying our love, our zeal, and our obedience, to the highest degree we can attain, and preserving an honest readiness to know our duty, even in circumstances in which there might be some plausible excuse for overlooking it. In particular let the ministers of the gospel not think it much to their praise, to perform those services which it would be shameful and almost impossible for them to neglect; but labour to acquit themselves in the very best manner they can ; shewing in the whole of their conduct, that they are not animated only, or chiefly, by accular motives, in the labours they bestow upon the souls of men. They are peculiarly concerned to learn and imitate this condescension of the apostle, in becoming all things to all men, if by any means he might gain some. But they are not the only persons who are interested in this. It is the duty of every Christian, to endeavour to please his neighbours and brethren for their good ; and it will be our wisdom, and happiness, upon such generous principles, to learn to govern and deny ourselves. . We are all called to engage in the most important race, in the most noble combat. The children of this world fatigue themselves for trifles, and exert the noble faculties of an immortal spirit, to purposes far beneath its dignity. But all is not vanity : every crown is not withering and corruptible. We have heard of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. And whatever there was in the prospect to awaken these Corinthians, still remains to awaken and animate us. Let us therefore keep our eyes and our hearts fixed upon it, and be in good earnest in what we do; often looking to the marks which are drawn in the word of God; realizing to ourselves the certain existence, and formidable character, of our invisible enemies; suspecting especially ourselves, fearing the treachery of our own corruptions, and using all that mortification which may promote our spiritual life and usefulness.- Who would not tremble, how high soever his profession, or office may be who would not tremble, to hear St. Paul insinuate a supposed possibility, that after having preached to others, and made such animating proclamations of the heavenly prize to them, he might himself be rejected*, as unqual.
* Some have argued against this sense of the passage, (as inconsistent with the apostle's idea of perseverance ;] but it is certain God engages his people to persevere, by awful threatnings against apostasy as well as by the promises of eternal life to those who continue faithful.
ified to recieve it? Let us learn from it humility and caution ; learn to watch against dangers, which will still surround us, as long as we dwell in this body; and rejoice in the guardianship of Christ, who will at length deliver his faithful servants from every evil work, and preserve them to his heavenly kingdom,
To awaken a holy caution, the apostle represents the privileges which Israel
of old enjoyed, and the divine displeasure brought upon them, by behaving unworthy of them. Ch. x.1-13.
N O W, brethren, to excite your resolution and holy caution, I
I would by no means have you ignorant how fatally many of God's professing people have miscarried; who were peculiarly fa.
voured. You have heard that all our fathers were under the con2 duct of the cloud ; and all passed through the sea ; and were all 3 baptized into the religion of Moses in the cloud and in the sea : and 4 they did all eat the same spiritual food; and they did all drink the
same spiritual drink*: (for they drank of that spiritual rock, the
streams of which followed them; and that rock was Christ : an 5 affecting representation of him.) Yet though they enjoyed such bles
sings as these, God had no pleasure in the greatest part of them ; 6 for they were overthrown in the wilderness.--Now these things
were types and figures to us, that we might not lust after evil 7 things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters as some of
them were ; as it is written (Ex. xxxiii. 6, 19.) “ The people sat
down to eat, and drink of the idol sacrifices) apd rose up to play 8 and dance in honour of the idol.-Neither let us commit fornication,
as some of them committed it,o and there fell in one day twenty9 three thousand by the plague. (Numb. xxv. 1-9.) Neither let us
tempt Christ, by unbelief, as some of them also tempted him, and 10 were destroyed by fiery serpents. (Numb. xxi. 6.) Neither mur
mur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by 11 the destroyer. But all these things happened unto them, as ex
amples; and they are written for our admonition, on whom the 12 ends of the world are come. Therefore let him that thinketh he 13 standeth, take heed lest he fall.. No temptation hath yet taken
you, but such as is common to man. And God is faithful, who will not leave you to be tempted above your ability, but will, with the temptation, provide you also a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
REFLECTIONS. May Christians be always sensible how happy they are in having received such useful hints from the New Testament, to assist them in the interpretation of the Old ; and particularly those which are here given. We see in Israel according to the flesh, an affecting emblem
* Those miraculous supplies from heaven which were emblematical of spiritual blessings