Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Rock and the Keys! Yet it was done, and done thoroughly, so that the changed body of St. Peter is quite as noteworthy as the changed mind, the same body but functionally subdued to a well-governed organism. During the forty days between the Lord's resurrection and ascension, the man and the apostle emerged from the chrysalis. At Pentecost, what a commanding figure he presents! No haste, no spasmodic action, now, but equipoise and cool wisdom and the courage of repose. In temperament, no less than in official position, St. Peter is the antecedent of St. Paul. And their difference herein, according to providential ordination, was carried out in their training and culture, so that diversity, jealous of its rights in all things, is only self insistent for the sake of prospective unity. Now, St. Paul wishes to put this subject of danger on the bodily side of human life in the strongest possible light for his own benefit and that of the Corinthians. What then? A nation rises before him. By the arm of Jehovah, Egypt has been smitten, the Red Sea has opened a pathway to their triumphant march, and waves and winds have chanted the anthem of a victory in which they had no share. And this nation passed through the sea," and "were all baptized ante Moses," as their mediatorial leader, "in the cloud and in the sea." Nay, more; the typical idea is still further wrought out, and baptism and the Lord's Supper are conjoined. "All did eat the same spiritual meat; all did drink the same spiritual drink;" the meat and drink were from above; the Holy Ghost was present as the source of the miracles and the Divine Agent of blessing; the "spiritual" is insisted on, for "that Rock was Christ." There was a revelation to the senses and there was a revelation to the spirit. To deny the supersensuous element is to destroy the force of the analogy, since it is not a resemblance to the imagination alone, but a real likeness to the reason, Christianity and its sacraments being prominent in St. Paul's view. It was not, then, a mere miracle to the body and for the body. It was likewise a supernatural demonstration, a gracious influence from the Holy Ghost, a prelusive blessedness brought within reach of experience in that dispensation of types and shadows. It was not our spirituality; nevertheless, it was spiritual, since "that Rock was Christ." Our Lord said in his Capernaum discourse, just after his great miracle that fed thousands, "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die." Did not the miracle, wrought so lavishly for the public, wrought without solicitation, seem to the excited multitude a sign that Christ was the national Messiah their hearts craved to have? Next day, he disenchanted them by sweeping away the secular illusion and telling them plainly, "I am that Bread of life." The contrast between the manna of the wilderness and the bread of life was stated and enforced at a time, in a way, under circumstances, calculated to secure its object. It did not effect its purpose. "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him;" and henceforth the popular expectation of a worldly Messiah was a waning moon in a darkening night. And this contrast was recognized by St. Paul even while adhering most closely to the parallelism. On the ground of the parallelism, he argues the eminent privileges of the Jews, the opportunities enjoyed, the Divine manifestation, the spiritual influence secured to the nation in the desert. They failed to understand and appreciate their position. Appetite, lust, idolatry, overcame them; "they were overthrown in the wilderness," and so swift was God's wrath and so overwhelming, that there "fell in one day three and twenty thousand." Here was a supernatural economy; here was a religion that provided for bodily necessities, and even gave "angels' food;" here, at the same time that the claims of a true and proper sensuousness were divinely met, a "spiritual" agency was established and administered - here, in the solitudes of sand and rock, where the chosen people were alone with God, and where neither day nor night was allowed to wear its accustomed face because of the presence of the pillar cloud of glory; and yet amid such displays of the providence and Spirit of God, men fell into idolatry, murmured against God, tempted him, and perished under miraculous judgments. It is not simply a lesson from individuals to individuals. It is a warning from a community to a community. Vice as personal, vice as social, vice as an epidemic in the air, - this is the vice of bodily degradation as it exhibits its raging enormity in lust, fornication, and idol worship. "These things were our examples," "for ensamples," "written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come," the coalescence of the ages in the grand demonstration of Christianity as the completed revelation to mankind of God in Christ. "Wherefore... take heed." We have more light; larger privileges, nobler opportunities, but there is no mechanical security in these things. The crisis age has come, the crisis trial has come with it. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." To encourage their holy endeavours, he assures them that there is no fatality in temptation. Oftentimes it happens that men are morally disabled before the struggle, before an incitement to do evil has fairly set in. By this proneness to believe in fate, they surrender in advance. Remote causes are frequently more potent than proximate causes, and many a man has been the victim of a false philosophy of morals long before he has fallen as an actual prey to Satan. Bodily sins have something in them which renders their subjects uncommonly liable to this destructive belief, and "I could not help it; I cannot help it," are words that easily rise to their lips. But the doctrine of St. Paul is a protest against such a demoralizing idea. "No trial has come upon you beyond man's power to bear" (Conybeare and Howson). "God is faithful." The laws of the universe and their administration, the presence of the Spirit as the universal Helper, and the glory of Christianity as the consummation of the ages, are so many Divine assurances that no man is doomed beforehand to fall into the snare of the devil. Satan himself is only Satan, man's adversary, within certain limits. God holds him in check. At first, the influence of evil takes effect on the involuntary nature, sensations are awakened, passions excited, but it becomes a temptation when these lower instruments are brought to bear on the consent of the will. "God is faithful" to the human will. There is nothing in man which is so constantly quickened and energized as a defensive force. And, furthermore, as a positive and aggressive force, what resources are at its command! If temptation is subtle and insinuating, who knows the number and Variety of the Spirit's secret avenues to the will? There is always "a way to escape," and this way is provided by our heavenly Father, who is evermore answering the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." - L.
I. A PICTURE OF PRIVILEGE. The privileges of the Israelites were, like our own, multifarious. Five are here enumerated.
1. The Israelites were all "under the cloud." They were thus signally protected by God. He was in the cloud; "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light "(Exodus 13:21). Divine protection is a great privilege. How safe we are if God keeps us! Of themselves, the Israelites were peculiarly helpless and defenceless; but they were stronger than the strongest because God was with them. Our great ally is God.
2. They all "passed through the sea." Special deliverance was theirs. Menaced by fearful danger, they were required merely to walk on, and they walked out of the peril. They were hedged in, but God made for them a path through the waters. God always leaves one safe way for those whom he favours. God helps us when we are at our wits' end. Everything fails, but God never fails.
3. They were all "baptized unto Moses." They became his disciples - were under his leadership; he, under God, was their ruler and head. A great privilege, for Moses was a prince among men. Association with such a man, divinely commissioned for his great work, was no slight mark of God's favour. We are baptized unto a greater than Moses. The "cloud and sea" were their baptism, typifying the "water and Spirit" of ours (John 3:5).
4. They were all fed. A table was spread for them in the wilderness - and a good table too; God does not half starve his children. No ordinary fare was theirs; it was "spiritual meat." It was not coarse; it was "angels' food" (Psalm 78:25). It was "spiritual," being derived from the great Spirit; God fed them. This meat had, therefore, a message for their spirits, as well as sustenance for their bodies; it spoke of the love of God; it was thus still further "spiritual meat." Moreover, it pointed to the bread which should by and by come down from heaven (John 6:35), of which it is now our privilege to partake, and which the pious Israelite fed upon by faith.
5. They were all supplied with drink. "They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." The water which came to them was from God, and was thus like the meat, "spiritual;" and, if intelligently received as from Divine love, quenched spiritual as well as physical thirst. But we are told that "that Rock was Christ." Not only did it foreshadow him, who was smitten that the waters of salvation might flow out to a perishing world (Isaiah 53:5), but from him came the supply of the physical wants of the Israelites. He, having had all things connected with the administration of the world committed to him, was with the people of God in the wilderness and ministered to their needs. The expected Messiah was in their midst as Ruler and miraculous Worker; yet then, as afterwards, he was hidden from their eyes. The spiritual Rock "followed them;" Christ ministered to their physical and spiritual need continuously. Divine favours never fail the believer. Always in the wilderness here, but always cared for.
II. A PICTURE OF TRANSGRESSION. As five special privileges are enumerated, five instances of transgression are recorded.
1. They lusted after evil things. They were not content with the good things provided by God. They complained of the manna and longed for the flesh pots of Egypt. That these were identified with their bondage seemed to matter to them but little. Professors of religion sometimes hanker after old delights, though these are associated with their earlier years of disobedience and sin. The provisions of God's house are "light bread;" they want the more tasty dishes of the world. The Corinthians were tempted by meats identified with idol worship; they were in danger of imitating the sin of Israel. Egypt tastes cling to us; we should mortify them.
2. They became idolatrous. Almost insensibly, but very truly. When they made the golden calf, they no doubt intended it only as a symbol of deity, and designed to worship the true God through it (Exodus 32:5), but they began by disobedience to an express command (Exodus 20:4, 5), and they terminated in gross idolatry and in many evils often connected with it. They went near to the fire, and were burned. People do not become idolatrous instantly, but by steps. The Israelites were impatient, had a great sense of their own importance and of their privileges, east off restraint - and fell. On the spot where they had solemnly promised obedience they transgressed. The danger of the Corinthians was similar. They did not intend to worship idols when they inclined towards the sacrificial feasts of the heathen, but this was the practical peril, and those who participated in these feasts were in danger of becoming apostates nigh to the very spot which had witnessed their confession of Christ. We should hot seek to go to the end of our tether; under the strain the tether may break. Those who seek to go as far as they may, often go much further. Liberty and licence live next door to each other.
3. They fell into immorality. False worship leads to false life. Idolatry to the Israelites was the door of sensuality (Numbers 25:1-9). It threatened to be so to the Corinthians. First idol recognition, then participation in idol rites, many of which were scandalously impure. It might be difficult to draw the line; not theoretically perhaps, but practically. And the temptation to go further would assuredly be strong. When we get away from God, corruption soon masters us. On the devil's ground the devil has great power. We laugh at the danger, but the author of the danger laughs at us. How low the privileged may fall! The chosen people have become as moral scum and refuse.
4. They tempted God. Or Christ, as the Angel (Exodus 23:20) and Administrator of the Divine kingdom. By their sinfulness they tried the forbearance of God - they provoked him. Their unbelief and disobedience strained his long suffering to the utmost. This was a great sin. The Corinthians were in peril of committing it by verging towards idolatry and living as much like men of the world as they dared. We should ask, not only what effect our conduct may have upon ourselves, but how it affects God. It may arouse the Divine anger. It was to those who provoked him that God sware" they shall not enter into my rest."
5. They murmured against God. And this murmuring was of no insignificant character. It was an impugning of the Divine character - a charge of evil against the infinitely good. The reference may be to Numbers 14:2 and to Numbers 16:41. The justice, the wisdom, and the love of God were assailed; and what could be a greater crime? "Murmuring;" we say and think but little of it. What creatures of words we are! The charge against God was none the less evil that it was indirect - it was made directly against Moses and Aaron. In Numbers 16:41 the Israelites say," Ye have killed the people of the Lord," though it must have been patent to all that Moses and Aaron had nothing to do with the actual death of Korah and his company. The Israelites' sin was made no better by the cowardice which prompted them to make a charge against men, which they intended for God, but dared not make against him. The Corinthians, many of them, murmured against Paul, and perhaps would murmur more after his sharp rebukes. Now, here was a question suggested for them, "Against whom are you really murmuring?" A pregnant question for us. We may half unconsciously veil our attacks upon God by directing them against our fellows. But after all, what is it we find fault with? Is it of man, confined to him? Or is it of God, coming to us through men? We should ponder what is involved in making charges against God indirectly. Note: Privilege cannot "keep us from falling." It cannot hold us up. Though numbered amongst God's people and participating in Divine favours, we may perish. Though we have sailed over many spiritual seas, we may yet "make shipwreck of faith." We need to be watchful and diligent, lest we become "castaways." The peril of the Corinthians under higher privilege than that of Israel was so clearly foreseen that these things were written for their admonition (ver. 11), and these "examples" of privilege and fall were for their eyes to behold (ver. 6). They are for ours also, for upon us, with them, "the ends of the ages are come" (ver. 11). Especially do those need to beware who are over confident. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (ver. 12). Some are so sure, that they run into temptation and perish. Self confidence leads to disaster, God confidence to security.
III. A PICTURE OF PUNISHMENT. Great privilege - great sin - great punishment. Jehovah will "by no means spare the guilty." Condign punishment followed Israel's transgression. God's stern messengers to her were:
1. Sword; as Exodus 32:27.
2. Plague; as Numbers 16:44-49 and Numbers 25:9.
3. Serpents; as Numbers 21:6.
4. Other death heralds, followed by the overthrow in the wilderness of those who had sinned (vers. 5, 13). "God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). As privilege cannot save us from sin, neither can it save us from punishment. God's justice was impugned, but it was not impaired; those who murmured against it felt its stroke. How gracious is God to those who submit themselves and are obedient! how terrible to those who dare him! If his chosen people did not escape, "how shall we escape?" Our fall will be greater, as our privileges are. "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:29). These are three companion pictures to be hung in our gallery and to be often studied. - H.
I. THE CLOUD AND THE SEA. (For the narrative of the crossing of the Red Sea and the movement of the cloud, see Exodus 14.) From this it would appear that the Israelites, in a very literal sense, passed "under the cloud and through the sea," i.e. through the bed and channel of it, through its very depths. The cloud was to them emphatically "a guide, a glory, a defence," and the divided sea the instrument of their deliverance - the grave of their enemies, but to them the gate into a region of freer, nobler life. See here a beautiful memorial of the grand truth of God's perpetual guidance and guardianship of his people. The Divine providence of human life, specially of all consecrated life, was thus made visibly, palpably manifest to the men of that age. The providence that assumes a variety of forms but is always animated by one and the same spirit; the providence that arranges circumstances and determines issues, that both marks out and clears the way, that shields from harm and avenges it, that interposes difficulties and also removes them, that leads into danger and then makes a way of escape; the ever watchful, kindly, faithful providence of an all wise Father, a gracious and almighty Redeemer; - it is this that we here see typically represented. The miraculous apparition or incident, which in its very nature was local and temporary, did but bear witness to the universal and abiding fact. It is in accordance with our advanced position in the history of the kingdom of God that we should be thrown more entirely on the exercise of our faith for the apprehension of this, as of every other Divine truth. But the wing of the same beneficent providence is over us, though we have no such significant symbol of it. The overshadowing cloud leads us, often in "a way that we know not," - it may be into the entanglement of mountain difficulties, through deep waters of sorrow, over waste wildernesses of unrest; but always in the right way, the way that is best fitted to "prove" us and to develop in us the needful moral qualities. And it is a way signalized often by unexpected deliverances. The mountains are not found to be so terrible as they seemed. The waters divide when we step down into them. The very wilderness abounds with fruits of tender, succouring love that we could scarcely have known if we had never entered it, The angel of the Lord still goes before his people as in the days of old -
"Leader of faithful souls and guide II. THE BAPTISM UNTO MOSES. We regard this as referring to nothing in Christian baptism beyond the essential idea and principle of it. As a formal rite, there was nothing in the experience of the Israelites in coming out of Egypt that bears the remotest resemblance to it, and it is a waste of ingenuity to attempt to find out such a resemblance. But what is the essential moral meaning of this rite. It is consecration, dedication. It is a sign and a pledge, the avowal of a faith, the oath of an allegiance. In passing "under the cloud and through the sea," the fathers became the avowed followers of Moses. It was the pledge, the sign, the seal, of their allegiance to him as God's anointed "leader and commander of the people." And his leadership of that emancipated host did but dimly shadow forth Christ's headship of his ransomed Church (Hebrews 3:5, 6). As the uprising of that host, with all its tribes and families, at the call of Moses, was the formal pledge of submission to him, so our assumption of the sacred name of "Christian" commits us to the responsibility of following and obeying Christ. The supreme tact in the history of all the ages is God's redemption of the human race by Jesus Christ his Son. Through him God. enters into a new relation to humanity. In him humanity rises into its true freedom and dignity. By him the kingdom of God upon earth is established, consummated, led on through varying fortunes to final victory and glorious everlasting rest. "The Head of every man is Christ." He bears to every man the triple relation of "Prophet, Priest, and King." Shall not this historical covenant relation of the fathers to Moses teach us seriously to consider how far we are worthily maintaining our true personal allegiance to Him? III. THE SPIRITUAL MEAT AND DRINK. The word "spiritual," as applied to the manna and the water from the rock, refers to their supernatural origin, rather than to their essential quality. They were not the result of ordinary physical causes, but the direct and miraculous product of an unseen spiritual power. Whether, in saying the rock "followed them," the apostle gives countenance to a fanciful Jewish tradition or not, this deeper truth is sure - "that Rock was Christ." Both the manna from heaven and the water from the rock were shadows, the substance, the "body," of which is in Christ (John 4:13, 14; John 6:32-35, 49-51). Here, again, is an old world witness to that grand truth which is at once the centre and the circumference of the whole circle of Divine revelations - that in Christ alone is there life for the souls of men. He alone can satisfy their hunger and allay their thirst; he alone can nourish and build up the fabric of their being unto a blessed immortality. Faintly gleaming through those ancient types and figures, as in the morning twilight, it is to us the glorious, full orbed revelation of the gospel day - life from God for a perishing world through Jesus Christ his Son. "This is the record," etc. (1 John 5:11). The providence, the lordship, and the life-giving power of Christ are the three great truths that we find typically represented in these historical memorials. How nobly did the lives of many of our fathers bear witness to their faith in these truths! The world in which they moved may have been strangely different in its outward aspects from ours, but the substantial realities of human life were the same. "The old order changeth, giving place to new;" but the vital principles that underlie that order change not. As regards the Divine relationships and the essential needs of our being, we stand just where our fathers did. We are encompassed by the same almighty power and love. We pass through the same kind. of discipline, are exposed to the same dangers, realize the same deliverances, bear the same burdens of responsibility. We live by the same spiritual food, are saved by the same mercy, redeemed by the same atoning sacrifice. "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass," etc. (1 Peter 1:24, 25). - W.
II. THE BAPTISM UNTO MOSES. We regard this as referring to nothing in Christian baptism beyond the essential idea and principle of it. As a formal rite, there was nothing in the experience of the Israelites in coming out of Egypt that bears the remotest resemblance to it, and it is a waste of ingenuity to attempt to find out such a resemblance. But what is the essential moral meaning of this rite. It is consecration, dedication. It is a sign and a pledge, the avowal of a faith, the oath of an allegiance. In passing "under the cloud and through the sea," the fathers became the avowed followers of Moses. It was the pledge, the sign, the seal, of their allegiance to him as God's anointed "leader and commander of the people." And his leadership of that emancipated host did but dimly shadow forth Christ's headship of his ransomed Church (Hebrews 3:5, 6). As the uprising of that host, with all its tribes and families, at the call of Moses, was the formal pledge of submission to him, so our assumption of the sacred name of "Christian" commits us to the responsibility of following and obeying Christ. The supreme tact in the history of all the ages is God's redemption of the human race by Jesus Christ his Son. Through him God. enters into a new relation to humanity. In him humanity rises into its true freedom and dignity. By him the kingdom of God upon earth is established, consummated, led on through varying fortunes to final victory and glorious everlasting rest. "The Head of every man is Christ." He bears to every man the triple relation of "Prophet, Priest, and King." Shall not this historical covenant relation of the fathers to Moses teach us seriously to consider how far we are worthily maintaining our true personal allegiance to Him?
III. THE SPIRITUAL MEAT AND DRINK. The word "spiritual," as applied to the manna and the water from the rock, refers to their supernatural origin, rather than to their essential quality. They were not the result of ordinary physical causes, but the direct and miraculous product of an unseen spiritual power. Whether, in saying the rock "followed them," the apostle gives countenance to a fanciful Jewish tradition or not, this deeper truth is sure - "that Rock was Christ." Both the manna from heaven and the water from the rock were shadows, the substance, the "body," of which is in Christ (John 4:13, 14; John 6:32-35, 49-51). Here, again, is an old world witness to that grand truth which is at once the centre and the circumference of the whole circle of Divine revelations - that in Christ alone is there life for the souls of men. He alone can satisfy their hunger and allay their thirst; he alone can nourish and build up the fabric of their being unto a blessed immortality. Faintly gleaming through those ancient types and figures, as in the morning twilight, it is to us the glorious, full orbed revelation of the gospel day - life from God for a perishing world through Jesus Christ his Son. "This is the record," etc. (1 John 5:11). The providence, the lordship, and the life-giving power of Christ are the three great truths that we find typically represented in these historical memorials. How nobly did the lives of many of our fathers bear witness to their faith in these truths! The world in which they moved may have been strangely different in its outward aspects from ours, but the substantial realities of human life were the same.
"The old order changeth, giving place to new;" but the vital principles that underlie that order change not. As regards the Divine relationships and the essential needs of our being, we stand just where our fathers did. We are encompassed by the same almighty power and love. We pass through the same kind. of discipline, are exposed to the same dangers, realize the same deliverances, bear the same burdens of responsibility. We live by the same spiritual food, are saved by the same mercy, redeemed by the same atoning sacrifice. "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass," etc. (1 Peter 1:24, 25). - W.
but the vital principles that underlie that order change not. As regards the Divine relationships and the essential needs of our being, we stand just where our fathers did. We are encompassed by the same almighty power and love. We pass through the same kind. of discipline, are exposed to the same dangers, realize the same deliverances, bear the same burdens of responsibility. We live by the same spiritual food, are saved by the same mercy, redeemed by the same atoning sacrifice. "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass," etc. (1 Peter 1:24, 25). - W.
confession which puts us wholly under the redeemings and guidings of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the incidents, see Exodus 14:21, 22. The point is that the "fathers," the "Israelites," voluntarily dedicated themselves to the leadership of Moses when they went through the waters at his command. They came up out of the waters, on the further shore, a new people, devoted to Moses as the earthly ruler representing Jehovah. "The Israelites were baptized unto Moses' because, by passing through the cloud and the sea, they had become connected with him, dependent on his commands and guidance." F. W. Robertson well points out the reason for the warnings here given. "The peril of the Corinthian Church lay in their false security. They were tempted to think that all things were safe to do, because all things were lawful. They were ready to rest satisfied with the knowledge that they were God's people and God's Church. Now, the apostle shakes this sense of their safety by reminding them that the ancient Church of Israel fell, although it had the same privileges; therefore he infers that spiritual privileges are not perfect security. Now, the argument by which he proves that the privileges of ancient Israel were similar to theirs is remarkable. That people had a baptism as well as they, and a spiritual food and drink. Baptism is the solemn profession of our Christianity; and the passing through the Red Sea was the Israelites' profession of discipleship to Moses." Here, then, baptism is the symbol of confession, or profession; it is the act by which we voluntarily yield ourselves to the leadership of another. This may receive four illustrations.
I. COMPARE JOHN'S BAPTISM. Observe the connection between John's teaching and John's rite. Those who accepted his teaching yielded themselves to his leadership by the act of submitting to his rite. He led them to a change in their ideas and expectations of Messiah which should have prepared them to recognize in him a spiritual Saviour - a Saviour from sin. Through voluntary submission to John's baptism, they publicly confessed themselves to be John's disciples.
II. COMPARE OUR LORD'S BAPTISMS. It does not appear that he personally baptized any one; but his disciples did so in his Name. Here, again, the act was a public and outward acknowledgment or confession of the Messiahship of Christ, and a voluntary submission to his rule and law. It was the faith of the disciple gaining expression in a solemn public act. It brought the disciple under our Lord's leadership, just as following Moses into the sea involved full submission to his guidance.
III. COMPARE ST. PAUL'S TEACHING ABOUT BAPTISM. It is always with him the equivalent of confession. It is confession by an act rather than by a word. Such confession St. Paul declares to be an absolute necessity for salvation. With characteristic point and force, he even makes it as necessary as faith, saying in Romans 10:9, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." And from this St. Paul argues that we are now, by our own consecration, "under law to Christ." "We serve the Lord Christ."
IV. COMPARE PRESENT DAY DISCIPLESHIP. The rite is perhaps less regarded, but that which it stands for is still essential. Impress that the following things are the proper stages of religious experience: -
1. Repentance, with due forsaking of sinful ways.
2. Faith in Christ as able to grant forgiveness and to give life.
3. Confession of Christ, by some form of voluntary and public testimony.
4. Full and submissive practical obedience to his rule and law in everyday life and conduct. - R.T.
I. SPIRITUAL FOOD. The Israelites got manna as a direct and free gift from God. Christians receive Christ as "the true Bread which came down from heaven," a direct and a free gift from God. The bread is his flesh which he has given for the life of the world; i.e. Christ nourishes his people through the efficacy of his atonement. Whosoever heartily believes in Christ crucified eats by faith of the flesh which is heavenly bread. The emphasis in this passage lies on the words, "They all did eat the same." In the wilderness, every family of the whole redeemed nation ate daily of exactly the same bread with every other family. Moses himself partook of the manna, and so did the lowest of the people. There was no difference between the princes of Israel and the feeblest in the tribes, between the old people and the children, or between masters and servants. All partook of the same daily bread. So there is the same Christ for all of us. Believers have the same life and the same support or staff of life. No matter what social and intellectual distinctions may be among us, or what varieties of view on secondary points; in this we are at one, that we have the same spiritual food. And we show this when we all partake together of the Lord's Supper.
II. SPIRITUAL DRINK. The water from the rock at Horeb not only supplied the immediate want, but was of use to the tribes of Israel for many days. Now, that rock signified Christ. Jehovah said to Moses, "I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb." So God is now before us in Christ Jesus, able and willing to satisfy all the poor and needy whose hearts faint and" fail them for thirst." Christ as the Rock smitten is a Fountain of life, available to us now, and not now only, but all our lives long. As the bread resolves itself into the flesh, so the stream also into the precious blood of Christ. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, according to his own teaching at Capernaum. Thus we are again brought to the fact and virtue of the atonement. That which it would be gross and intolerable to eat and drink after a literal and carnal manner, is, after a spiritual manner, full of sweetness and strength. And again, the emphasis is on the participation by all Christians of the same spiritual drink, which is symbolized in the Lord's Supper. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" Other Scriptures follow more closely the idea of water gushing from a rocky fountain. As the blood of Christ signifies his atonement, so the water is a sign of the communication of the Holy Ghost. By the former our Lord gives peace to the conscience; by the latter, cleansing and healing to the heart. Christ, our Rock, spoke more than once of his power to impart to all comers the water of life (John 4:10-14; John 7:37-39). And now, as from a height above the plain on which his people still walk as pilgrims, our Saviour in heaven gives this water to the thirsty. To it all are welcome. Water is no luxury for the few, but an acknowledged universal necessary of life; and so a participation of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is no privilege of a few superlative Christians, but necessary to the inward life of every one who is a Christian at all "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." How can a rock follow? The rock in Horeb did not move from its place, but followed the people in the stream which issued from it and flowed through the lower levels of the wilderness. So Jesus Christ remains at God's right hand; yet is with us always in the continual efficacy of his shed blood and the continual fellowship of his Holy Spirit. The fountain never runs dry. We never find anything less than fulness in him. And there is no need to go on a long pilgrimage to our sacred well. The Rock follows us.
III. HOW TO GET THIS NOURISHMENT. By grace, through faith. When the children of Israel saw the manna, they "wist not what it was." Then Moses told them from God what it was, and bade them gather it, "every man according to his eating." So now, men do not know of themselves what Christ is; but it is preached or proclaimed as from God that this is the true Bread. Take, and eat, and live. Why should any household be without the heavenly Bread? When the rock was smitten, no one stood by but Moses and the eiders, who had gone in advance of the host. One can imagine those elders hastening back to the camp, and calling aloud to the several tribes, "Water! water! He, every one that thirsteth, come to the waters!" Shall we who have found life and peace in Jesus Christ hold our peace? Nay, but we call to every thirsty soul, "Come, and drink, and live." - F.
i.e. a fragment broken off from the rock smitten by Moses - followed the Israelites through their journey. St. Paul sees, in that symbol of the Divine presence and providing, an aid towards our realizing the gracious abiding presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with his Church. His point here is that God's people, in the olden times and still, are divinely led and divinely fed; so no excuse for apostasy can be found in any "straitening in God."
I. DIVINELY LED. By God in the pillar cloud that loomed dark against the clear sky by day, but shone like fire at night, and moved or rested to direct the people's journeyings. By God's power through the Red Sea, whose waters were held back, making a great pathway over the dried sands. The fact of such leadings ought to have bound the people to Jehovah in everlasting bonds. Then show what is the answering Christian fact to this, and how, when we are brought to Christ, a new light shines upon the wondrous providences of our whole lives, and so we feel freshly bound to our Lord, and say -
"Jesus, still lead on, II. DIVINELY FED. By God in the provision of the manna day by day. By God in the smitten rock, that provided in a miraculous manner for them when natural supplies failed. Such daily signs of Divine presence and care ought to have held them fast to daily obedience and service. Then we may realize that (1) the manna answers to Christ, the Bread of life for us; and (2) the water answers to Christ, the Rock sorely smitten for us. And then we should feel how, in the daily provisions of Christ's grace in the supply of all our need, we are bound to his service, daily urged to "yield ourselves unto him, and our members instruments of righteousness unto his service." - R.T.
II. DIVINELY FED. By God in the provision of the manna day by day. By God in the smitten rock, that provided in a miraculous manner for them when natural supplies failed. Such daily signs of Divine presence and care ought to have held them fast to daily obedience and service. Then we may realize that
(1) the manna answers to Christ, the Bread of life for us; and
(2) the water answers to Christ, the Rock sorely smitten for us. And then we should feel how, in the daily provisions of Christ's grace in the supply of all our need, we are bound to his service, daily urged to "yield ourselves unto him, and our members instruments of righteousness unto his service." - R.T.
I. HISTORICALLY. As a matter of fact, the Word, the Wisdom of God, was the Angel of the Church in the wilderness. It is the privilege of the Christian to trace his Saviour's presence throughout the whole of human history. He who was the Rock of salvation to the tribes ready to die from thirst, is the same to all mankind in every age. His presence never removes and. his grace never fails. He is Jehovah, the Rock of eternal ages.
II. SPIRITUALLY. Evidently the apostle draws his readers' attention to the supply of ether than physical necessities. To Israel and to the Church of this dispensation of grace the Lord Christ is the all sufficient channel of Divine mercy and blessing.
1. Generally speaking, there is an obvious aptness in the similitude.
(1) As a Rock, Christ is distinguished by stability, and is not to be shaken or removed.
(2) He has heights for refuge into which his people can flee, a stronghold and security to all who put their trust in him.
(3) As the rock has cliffs and clefts for shadow and for shelter from the great heat in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, so Christ screens the soul from fiery temptations and distresses.
2. Specially, and upon the suggestion of the incident referred to, it must be remarked that Christ is the Rock because he is the Source of living waters. This is no doubt the central thought of the passage, and the resemblance is very striking and very full and rich. Thus it is apparent:
(1) That Christ supplies an urgent need. It was in the sorest extremity of the nation that the rock was smitten and yielded the streams which the dry desert knew not; and, in like manner, the need of humanity was distressing and urgent when the Divine Rock gave forth the springs of life eternal.
(2) The supply came from an unexpected source. What so unlikely as the hard rock of the desert to yield rivulets of limpid water? And who that saw Christ in his humiliation, who grew up "as a root out of a dry ground," could imagine what stores of blessing were in his sacred being?
(3) From Christ proceeds satisfaction for all spiritual wants. These are the thirst of the soul, which desires knowledge, favour, peace, refreshment, and joy, - all which is included in the phrase "eternal life." "If any man thirst," says Jesus, "let him come unto me, and drink? He has promised "living water, of which whoso drinks shall not thirst again." The dying revive, the thirsting are satisfied, the weary are refreshed, the labourers are cheered, as they together draw near to the spiritual fountains which flow from Christ.
(4) The blessings which proceed from Jesus proceed in an enduring and unfailing stream of supply. Generations drink at the same/spring, and quench their thirst, only to commend the living fountain to all succeeding ages.
III. SACRAMENTALLY. The allusion is unmistakable to the communion of the Lord's Supper. Both the streams in the wilderness and the cup of the Eucharist symbolize the spiritual participation, which is the privilege of those to whom the Word of the Lord. is addressed, in the supply afforded by the Divine and living Rock. The voice of heaven reaches our grateful ear: "Eat, O friends; drink,... O beloved!" The superiority of the new covenant is manifest: the Israelites drank of water; Christ is not only the Stream of water in the desert, he is the Cup of wine at the banqueting table. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" - T.
I. ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS IS AN EXAMPLE OF WARNING.
1. Against murmuring, which, it is to be feared, never appears to many Christians to be of the nature of sin, and. against which accordingly many are not upon their guard. But murmuring is against Divine appointment, and is therefore against God himself.
2. Against sensuality. Into these it was not surprising that Israel should fall, having only just escaped from Egypt, and being surrounded by the licentious heathen. And what more important and necessary than a caution against defiling and destroying the temple of the Holy Ghost?
3. Against rebellion. Israel again and again rebelled against Moses the servant of God, and against Jehovah himself. And Christians need. to be reminded that to violate God's Law, to defy the authority of God's inspired apostles, to resist the Divine message of God's ministers, is treason, and. cannot go unpunished.
4. Against unbelief. This was the sin which lay at the root of the others, as is shown in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It contrasts with that childlike faith which is becoming in the privileged people of the Lord. All such conduct, as we may learn from the Old Testament narrative referred to, is observed, disapproved, and. censured by the omniscient Ruler. It is tempting Christ. We are reminded of the possibility and of the culpability of such sin.
II. ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS IS AN EXAMPLE OF ENCOURAGEMENT. If we look at the human side, the lesson is one of warning; but if we regard the Divine side, there we see much to cheer, animate, and inspire us. We remark:
1. Divine guidance. As Israel was led by the pillar of cloud and of fire, so will all who look up and commit their way unto the Lord, experience his directing grace.
2. Divine care, bounty, and goodness. As Israel ate of the manna from heaven and drank of the streams from the rock, so that, when earth failed, heaven interposed, in like manner will the beneficence of God satisfy the wants of all who in necessity and straits call upon him.
3. Divine protection. As Israel's foes were discomfited, as threatening dangers were averted, so shall a way of escape and a door of deliverance be provided for all who trust in a gracious and redeeming God. The arm of flesh may fail, but the arm of Omnipotence shall prove ready and victorious.
4. The final possession of the promises. God led his people to the land he promised to their fathers; not immediately, not by a way they knew, not without difficulties, hardships, contests, yet surely, safely, victoriously. Those who are "on their way to God" may well be animated by such recollections, and by the light they cast upon the position and the hopes of the Christian. Heaven may seem to us "the land which is very far off;" yet faith can bring it near and make it ours even now.
"E'en now by faith I see thee,
I. THE WAYS IN WHICH WE ARE IN DANGER OF TEMPTING CHRIST.
1. Some hearers of the gospel tempt the Lord by neglecting his gospel as unimportant and unnecessary.
2. Some by deferring that adhesion and devotion to Christ which his authority and circumstances require.
3. Some Christians tempt the Lord by their longings for the sins from which he came and died to deliver them. As the Israelites lusted for the flesh pots of Egypt, so it is to be feared there are Christians who cast a longing eye upon the sinful and worldly pleasures from which they should be delivered.
4. Some by their ingratitude, murmuring, and rebelliousness. As at Corinth there were those who were dissatisfied with the simplicity of the gospel, those who resisted the authority of the apostle, those who had little sympathy with the Christian spirit of self denial; so in the Church are there not a few whose temper and conduct are such as to put to the utmost trial the long suffering and forbearance of the Lord.
II. THE REASONS TO BE FOUND IN CHRIST HIMSELF WHY HIS PEOPLE SHOULD NOT TEMPT HIM.
1. They are bound to honour and obey him as the Son of God.
2. They are bound to acknowledge his claims upon their gratitude, love, and service.
3. They may well be affected by the touching spectacle of his patience and long suffering. Has he not "borne with their manners in the wilderness"? Can they any longer subject him to a trial so unjust and so cruel?
III. THE REASONS RELATING TO THEMSELVES WHY CHRIST'S PEOPLE SHOULD NOT TEMPT HIM.
1. Continuance in unbelief and rebellion will certainly harden the heart, and unfit and indispose for his service.
2. The blessed and sacred opportunity which life affords for grateful consecration and obedience will pass by unimproved.
3. An example of the kind deprecated will tend to embolden others to persevere in irreligion and in iniquity.
4. It must not be forgotten that, although Christ is a Saviour, he is also a Judge. His forbearance will not last for ever. Where he cannot acquit, he must and will condemn. Men may try Christ too long and too far. Sentence may be deferred, but it will be pronounced and it will be executed. After all, it is not so much the case that we are testing and trying Christ, as that he is testing and trying us. Now is the time of our probation. How do we endure when he puts us to the proof? - T.
I. HUMAN LIFE ABOUNDS WITH OPPORTUNITIES AND TEMPTATIONS TO MURMUR.
1. There are such as are common to the human lot. There may be mentioned among these - infirmity and suffering of body; the brevity of its life, and its consequent insufficiency for carrying out favourite schemes or studies; the limitation of the mental powers and of knowledge; the imperfections of human society, civil, social, and religious.
2. There are such as may, at any time, be special to individuals. Some are called upon to endure personal sufferings and privations; others, sorrows and bereavements; others, unremitting toil; others, uncongenial occupations; others, calamities and disappointments; others, very limited opportunities; others, trims and persecutions for Christ's sake. All these may be occasions for murmuring, and sometimes those who are thus tried must need special grace to refrain from complaints, and to cultivate a cheerful, grateful, submissive spirit.
II. THE MURMURING HERE CENSURED IS A CERTAIN SINFUL KIND OF DISSATISFACTION AND COMPLAINT. The admonition may be misunderstood. The apostle does not exhort us to be fatalistically contented with whatever actually exists, to be silent in the presence of human wrongs and ills, to be careless and indifferent as to the improvement and amelioration of the condition of society. But we are warned against rebelling against God, complaining of his ways, and resisting his will. Circumstances may be displeasing and uncongenial to us, yet they may be permitted by the wisdom and goodness of God. The spirit of discontentment and rebellion must be repressed, and language expressing it must be silenced.
III. THERE ARE CONSIDERATIONS WHICH MAY ACT AS DISSUASIVES AND CORRECTIVES.
1. The injurious moral effect of murmuring. This is undeniable; we recognize its effect upon:
(1) The murmurer himself, whom it renders unhappy, using up energies which might be otherwise and well employed, and unfitting him for the service of God.
(2) Upon society generally; for the habit is most contagious, and is one which produces a very depressing effect upon all who yield to it and upon all who listen to their dismal complaints.
2. The dishonour done to God's providence. In fact, to murmur is to call into question, or at all events to cast some suspicion upon, God's wisdom, goodness, purposes of benevolence concerning us, and interest in and care for us.
3. Christ's example should deter his followers from murmuring. How cheerful was his demeanour! how acquiescent was he in the humiliation of his lot! how patient in suffering! how submissive in death and sacrifice! Followers and disciples of Jesus are inconsistent indeed when they give way to a spirit of complaint.
4. Murmuring is inconsistent with the proper exercises of religion. It cannot contribute to obedience; it is not consistent with giving of thanks and with praise; it is not the fruit of prayer.
5. The hope of the future should banish murmuring. The occasions for complaint - the trials of the earthly life - will soon be over. Let them have their way and do their work now. The prospect before us is one which may well inspire a contented, patient, uncomplaining disposition and habit.
PRACTICAL LESSONS AND APPLICATION.
1. The admonition of the text is the voice of Divine authority: how dare we resist it?
2. It is the voice of wisdom and reason: why should we resist it?
3. It is the voice of love and persuasion: how can we resist it? "Be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God."
"Some murmur, when their sky is clear
And some with thankful love are filled "In palaces are hearts that ask, And hearts in poorest huts admire
"In palaces are hearts that ask, And hearts in poorest huts admire
And hearts in poorest huts admire
typically." "The real point of the passage is - These things which occurred to them are to be looked upon by us, not merely as interesting historical events, but as having a typical significance. Their record remains as a standing warning that great privileges may be enjoyed by many, and used by them to their destruction. In introducing this subject, dwell on the mission of history and biography in relation to education and culture. If science and mathematics bear most powerfully on mental training, history and biography are the most important agencies in moral culture. As the poet Longfellow says
"Lives of great men all remind us I. YIELDING TO BODILY PASSIONS. In all ages there are found indications of man's danger from the corrupt inclinations of his own body. Adam and Eve sinned by yielding the conscience of duty to the bodily inclination; and brought upon the race an undue force of carnal passion, which makes the life conflict to win righteousness a heavy and a hard one for every man. Some have felt this so deeply that they have thought virtue must come by the crushing down of the body, the absolute repression of all its inclinations. This is the inspiring thought which has driven men into hermits' caves and monkish cells; but it is a truer conception of life that regards the body as providing the very conditions of our moral trial; and the problem for us to work out is the conquering and efficient using of every power and faculty. The Christian triumph is to know how to "possess the vessel of our body in sanctification and honour." This may be illustrated from the perils of the Corinthian Christians, who had to live in the midst of a society where bodily pleasure reigned supreme. The passions by which we may be overcome are: 1. Self indulgence; over responding to the appetites for (1) food, (2) drink, (3) society, (4) pleasure, (5) learning, (6) art. All for our use and for our good; but all may be unduly pursued, to our moral peril. 2. Sensuality; the passions which bear relation to our life associations. It is important to learn, from the example of the Israelites, and from the usual scenes at pagan and heathen festivals, that unusual excitement in religion fosters the sensual passions into undue strength. II. YIELDING TO IDOLATRY. It may seem as if no such peril could be near to us in these Christian times. But the Apostle John starts us upon searching thoughts of our own dangers when he says, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." For us now, (1) children may be idols; (2) friends may be; (3) success may be; (4) our house and home may be; (5) our pursuits may be; for an idol is anything in a man's life which succeeds in pushing itself before God. III. YIELDING TO PRESUMPTION. (Ver. 9.) David shows a remarkable insight of his own frailty when he prays, "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me." This is the subtle peril of advanced and experienced Christian life. A man may take advantage of God; presume upon what is his will, without asking him; and even may put God to the test; these being sure signs of lost humility and lost childlike dependence. It was the sin of Rebekah; she presumed on the promise made her concerning Jacob, and so was set upon trying to fulfil the promise by schemes of her own. IV. YIELDING TO COMPLAINING. (Ver. 10.) A peril that comes to us all when the circumstances of life will not go "according to our mind." Troubles and disappointments and failures are Divine testings of our professed trust; and for us to complain and fret and murmur is plainly to show lost submission and lost trust. He never complains who holds firmly the assurance that "all things work together for good to them that love God." - R.T.
I. YIELDING TO BODILY PASSIONS. In all ages there are found indications of man's danger from the corrupt inclinations of his own body. Adam and Eve sinned by yielding the conscience of duty to the bodily inclination; and brought upon the race an undue force of carnal passion, which makes the life conflict to win righteousness a heavy and a hard one for every man. Some have felt this so deeply that they have thought virtue must come by the crushing down of the body, the absolute repression of all its inclinations. This is the inspiring thought which has driven men into hermits' caves and monkish cells; but it is a truer conception of life that regards the body as providing the very conditions of our moral trial; and the problem for us to work out is the conquering and efficient using of every power and faculty. The Christian triumph is to know how to "possess the vessel of our body in sanctification and honour." This may be illustrated from the perils of the Corinthian Christians, who had to live in the midst of a society where bodily pleasure reigned supreme. The passions by which we may be overcome are:
1. Self indulgence; over responding to the appetites for
All for our use and for our good; but all may be unduly pursued, to our moral peril.
2. Sensuality; the passions which bear relation to our life associations. It is important to learn, from the example of the Israelites, and from the usual scenes at pagan and heathen festivals, that unusual excitement in religion fosters the sensual passions into undue strength.
II. YIELDING TO IDOLATRY. It may seem as if no such peril could be near to us in these Christian times. But the Apostle John starts us upon searching thoughts of our own dangers when he says, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." For us now,
(1) children may be idols;
(2) friends may be;
(3) success may be;
(4) our house and home may be;
(5) our pursuits may be; for an idol is anything in a man's life which succeeds in pushing itself before God.
III. YIELDING TO PRESUMPTION. (Ver. 9.) David shows a remarkable insight of his own frailty when he prays, "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me." This is the subtle peril of advanced and experienced Christian life. A man may take advantage of God; presume upon what is his will, without asking him; and even may put God to the test; these being sure signs of lost humility and lost childlike dependence. It was the sin of Rebekah; she presumed on the promise made her concerning Jacob, and so was set upon trying to fulfil the promise by schemes of her own.
IV. YIELDING TO COMPLAINING. (Ver. 10.) A peril that comes to us all when the circumstances of life will not go "according to our mind." Troubles and disappointments and failures are Divine testings of our professed trust; and for us to complain and fret and murmur is plainly to show lost submission and lost trust. He never complains who holds firmly the assurance that "all things work together for good to them that love God." - R.T.
I. THE DISPOSITION AGAINST WHICH THIS ADMONITION IS DIRECTED, It is self confidence.
1. Reliance upon outward privileges. As Israel was a chosen nation, so Christians are God's "peculiar people;" and there is danger lest this should be adduced, perhaps to one's self, as a ground for presumption and arrogance.
2. Reliance upon personal strength and purity of character. A man is assured that he can take good care of himself, that no temptation can overtake and overmaster him, that he is clad in armour proof against the fiery darts of the wicked. No need to warn him; he is safe!
3. Boastfulness. The man who thinks himself so secure is likely to glory in his own position, his strength of character, his superiority to infirmities, - to make a loud profession, and to regard the timid with a compassionate disdain.
II. THE PERILS ACCOMPANYING SUCH A DISPOSITION. Paul knew how necessary and appropriate was his counsel; his own experience of human nature and life, elevated and cleared by a Divine inspiration, led him to this most wise and salutary admonition.
1. Such a peril is suggested by the facts of human nature. It is supposed that there is an inflated, unguarded state of mind; that a violent and sudden temptation comes in the way; and that there follows an unexpected and grievous fall. What a self confident spirit is more dangerous because more liable to temptation than a lowly spirit, distrustful of self, is well known to all who have experience of human nature. Those who boast of sinlessness are on the verge of sin.
2. Notable examples recorded in Scripture prove the assertion now made. Hazael was indignant at the very supposition that he could be guilty of barbarities and cruelties such as the prophet foretold; but when the temptation came, he fell into the snare. Peter was vehement in his protestations, "Though I die with thee, I will not deny thee!" Yet when he was tempted by cowardice, he denied his Lord.
III. THE EFFECTUAL REMEDIES AGAINST A SPIRITUAL FALL. If self confidence is of no avail, where is safety to be found?
1. In self abasement and distrust.
2. In a simple trust, in the protecting, preserving, delivering power of God.
3. In watchfulness; for the Christian soldier must never be off his guard; he must arm himself, watch, and withstand his foe.
4. In prayer, which is a confession that we are exposed to danger, and is a waiting upon God and seeking his providential interposition and his spiritual aid. - T.
1. Distinguish between the man who "standeth" and the man who "thinketh" he standeth."
2. The man who "standeth" is not, necessarily, in any danger of falling.
3. The man who "thinketh he standeth" has just cause to fear. So we are led to understand that a man's moral peril never lies merely in the circumstances in which he is placed; never merely in his outward surroundings, but always in his inward moods - in his conditions of mind and feeling, and the relations in which they set him towards outward circumstances. Our standing or our falling depends on our heart rightness. Anywhere we might stand if but our heart be right with God. Everywhere we must fall if we fail to "keep our heart with all diligence." And what may we regard as the one essential thing in heart rightness? Surely it is the humility that keeps us ever leaning hard on our strong Lord, hiding in him when calamities come nigh, doing all things only "through him that strengtheneth us." It may be urged, in conclusion, that the falls of the self secure and over confident are usually sudden, violent, and overwhelming falls; though even these may be only permitted to break down the over confidence and to humble them under God's mighty hand. - R.T.
I. TEMPTATION IS PERMITTED BY GOD.
1. Seeing that it is allowed by Providence to be an incident of human life, none need expect to escape. The young are tempted by the pleasures of sense and of society; the old by avarice and the love of ease; the learned by self confidence; the great by ambition; the pious and the useful by spiritual pride.
2. There is in this very fact an element of consolation. To every tempted soul it may be said, "Your case is not peculiar; all the good have attained to goodness by passing through the fiery furnace of affliction and persecution, of doubt and spiritual conflict." Christ himself was sorely tempted, and the disciple is not above his Lord. It is the common lot, in which we have fellowship with one another and with Christ.
II. TEMPTATION IS WITHSTOOD THROUGH THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD.
1. God has undertaken to defend and deliver his servants: "He knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation." The faithfulness of a true and unchanging God is the anchor by which the tempted shall ride out the fiercest storm.
2. God effects this by the instrumentality of his Word. This is "the sword of the Spirit." When Jesus was beset by the adversary, he warded off every thrust by the rower of the Scripture.
3. God encourages his people to call upon him in the day of trial. The sentry does not advance to meet the approaching foe; he falls back, and gives warning to the garrison and the commander. So, when tempted, should we arise and call upon our God.
III. TEMPTATION IS ITSELF TEMPERED BY AN OVERRULING PROVIDENCE. It shall not exceed our powers of endurance and resistance. It may be subtle; it may be sudden; yet the watchful, prayerful soul shall repel and overcome. The dart which would pierce the unarmed falls broken from the coat of mail; the flaming torch, which would explode the powder did it fall into a powder magazine, drops harmless into a pool of water; and the Ruler of all can both moderate the force of the onset and impart strength to stand in the evil day.
IV. TEMPTATION IS, IN THE CASE OF GOD'S PEOPLE, ACCOMPANIED BY A MEANS OF ESCAPE. The same God who delivered Daniel from the lions' den, and Peter from the prison, makes a path of safety for all who trust in him. The experience of every Christian verifies this assurance. The story of the soul is the same as the story of the Church; dangers and distresses ever recur, but they ever afford to the Divine Lord an opportunity for revealing his compassion, and for effecting an interposition and securing a deliverance. It is only when Christ's followers have entered the gates of heaven that they will be beyond the reach of the tempter's arm. - T.
I. TEMPTATION COMES TO ALL. It came to the writer of this Epistle, to all the apostles, to Christ himself. It has come to the great and good in all ages, as well as to the insignificant and evil. It will come to us. The conditions of our life on earth make it unavoidable. It must not be regarded as indicative of Divine disfavour or as an evil altogether. The salutary effect of the hour of temptation has often been shown in the hour after temptation. Many who have fallen "into manifold temptations" have been led to "count it all joy" (James 1:2).
II. TO BE TEMPTED IS NOT TO SIN. We need to remember this. Some sensitive natures conclude that they must be very sinful because they are so much tempted, whereas multiplicity of temptation is often rather an evidence of faithfulness and integrity. The strongest attacks are made upon the strongest forts. Satan does not waste his ammunition. He would not be so earnestly seeking to capture us if we were already completely his captives. Repeated temptation argues the existence of resistance. Sin is consent to the temptation. Where there is no acquiescence there is no sin. The greatly tempted Christ was the perfectly sinless Christ.
III. TEMPTATION IS NOT COMPULSION. Some dread temptation, because they think it will force them to that which is evil. But since the world was, no man has ever been compelled to commit a single sin. Satan has no power of compulsion. Indeed, to be "compelled to sin" involves a contradiction in terms; if we are compelled, there can be no sin. We could not be responsible if we were under compulsion. Temptation at its strongest is only inducement. Satan said to Christ, "Cast thyself down;" he can say no mere to us; he cannot cast us down. Here the responsibility of sin comes in. Every sin that we commit is voluntary. We do it - no one else.
IV. GOD'S GRACIOUS PROVISION FOR HIS TEMPTED PEOPLE.
1. He will not allow them to be unduly tempted. Our temptations are under his control. His eye is upon us whilst we are tempted. His hand is stretched out. His voice says, "Thus far." Though he never tempts us in an evil sense, every temptation is weighed by him before it reaches us. He is faithful to his covenant with believers (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
2. He will provide the appropriate means for dealing with the temptation. A "way of escape," not necessarily from the temptation, but from the peril of it. As with Job, Daniel, Paul (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9). "The way of escape" as it should be rendered - the precise way in which the temptation should be received, borne, resisted. This way of escape comes with the temptation: when the temptation comes, this comes also; to the true believer the two are inseparable. With the sickness comes the cure, with the shaft the shield. In temptation we should look to God; from him cometh our help. When the enemy comes in like a flood, he lifts up the standard against him. The promise is only to those who are in alliance with God. Others go down under temptation, not because they are compelled, but because to the invitation from without there is a quick response from within. We should enter into covenant with God through Christ; then we shall be in his hands who can "keep us from falling" and who will. - H.
man can bear;" i.e. such as is fairly within the limitations of a human and earthly experience.
I. TEMPTATION IS A COMMON HUMAN EXPERIENCE. It is a necessity of our probationary state; it is the condition of our changing the mere innocence of ignorance for the virtue that comes by knowledge and will. If God were pleased to give us, as moral creatures, the discernment between right and wrong, with a distinct understanding that he stood by the right, then he must set his creatures in the midst of circumstances which would test their good will towards the right. So, in one sense, temptations around us, taking their thousandfold forms, make the battle and the bitterness of our human life. But, in another sense, our surrounding of temptation is but the great sphere in which we are to win holiness and virtue. None of us can get out of the way of temptation. It goes with us where we go, because God will not leave us alone: he wants us to be holy.
II. CHRISTIAN LIFE IS NOT EXEMPT FROM TEMPTATION. It cannot be too fully shown that becoming a Christian never alters a man's circumstances; it only alters his relation to the circumstances. The laws of life rule on for the Christian and the unrenewed man; and, from his higher position, the Christian has still to see all virtue wrung from the remitter. Temptation may even take more subtle and perilous forms for the Christian. His new thought and feeling may even discover temptations where duller souls would miss them.
III. THE RELATIONS IN WHICH GOD STANDS TO TEMPTATION, AS AFFECTING THE CHRISTIAN. Here three points need treatment.
1. God modifies the temptation to the bearing power of the man to whom it comes. We may be sure that God will "not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able."
2. God will provide the necessary escapes either from or through the temptation.
3. God comforts with gracious promises and assurances, to which he is ever faithful. "God permits the temptation by allowing the circumstances which create temptation to arise, but he takes care that no fate bars the loath of retreat." Then "all that a Christian has to do is to live in humble dependence upon him, neither perplexed in the present nor anxious for the future." - R.T.
"flee from idolatry." This dread of idolatry is the key to what follows. Idolatry, in those days, was a sin that included all sins, and Corinth was behind no city in the charm and splendour it threw around this iniquity. Bodily indulgences of the worst sort were notorious. Throughout Greece, Corinth was the common synonym of the most shameful vices, and that too, not in despite of idolatry, but as a constituent of religious worship, especially of Venus. Art among the Greeks had done its utmost to destroy the uglier features of the old heathenism, had called beauty and culture into the service of the priests and the ceremonial of the temples, and had succeeded in making the aesthetic a reproach to pure taste and a mocking insult to every moral virtue. Corinth was a leading centre of all the corrupting and lascivious influence of idolatry, and hence St. Paul's tender and fervent entreaty, "My dearly beloved, flee from idolatry." The connection with his foregoing argument is clear. If the athlete must subject himself to a severe and protracted discipline; if God's elect race so largely perished in the wilderness by reason of transgression; if any and every temptation may be successfully resisted, so that neither the throng of evil doers nor the show and fascination of a pompons idol worship can be an excuse for sin; - with what force could he urge, "Flee from idolatry"! St. Paul knew the strength of his appeal. And he credited these Corinthians with insight sufficient to see this strength, for he bade them hear him "as wise men," and "judge" what he said. Is he satisfied to leave the argument at this stage? Observation of current facts, historical examples preserved from oblivion for their warning, God's faithfulness, have been brought to bear on the question; and yet, so far from being content to dismiss the subject, he resumes it with new vigour of thought and a deepened intensity of emotion. The language changes. Few or no metaphoric words occur. Throughout the paragraph, it is the vocabulary of pure feeling and impassioned earnestness that he employs, for the imagination has retired from its task and left the heart to consummate the work. he begins with the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, binding the argument to the point whence he had digressed at the opening of the ninth chapter. "This liberty of yours," he had said, "might prove ruinous to weak brethren 'for whom Christ died,'" and therefore such an abuse of freedom was a sin "against the brethren" and a "sin against Christ." What is the special connection of the Lord's Supper with the completion of the argument? Obviously the position it occupies in the logic of the case is one of eminence, St. Paul having reserved it for his conclusion. It would seem that he had before his mind one particular and engrossing idea in relation to the Supper, which, although perfectly consistent with other ideas of the sacrament, and, indeed, essential to their import, was detached at the moment and set forth with very distinct and commanding prominence. It is the idea of the communion. "Cup of blessing," "bread which we break," the thanksgiving, the faith and love exercised, the recollected obligations, the spiritual conception of "the blood" and "the body of Christ" as means of an inward holiness; are not these a communication, a participation, an entering into Christ's death, a true and real fellowship with him as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world"? If so, it means separation from all evil compliances and from all dangerous associations. "Separate from sinners" was a distinguishing fact in Christ's life;" not only "holy, harmless, undefiled," but, by his separation from men, exhibiting in the fullest and most effective way the three characteristics mentioned. Near, very near, to all about him, and yet the nearer he was the further removed he stood in the dignity of his person and the exclusiveness of his office, so that the mysterious awe which invested him was profoundly felt by his friends even while ignorant of his nature and mediatorship as Son of God and Son of man, and on various occasions acknowledged by his enemies. And this separateness appeared even more conspicuously in his vicarious and propitiatory death. His life was a new revelation of life; his death was a new revelation of death. "Separate" was that death from all deaths actual and possible. He spoke of it as he never spake of aught else involving himself. He had feelings concerning it that he never indicated as touching other personal interests. For its loneliness and secret agony, for its public dishonour and humiliation, for its apparent triumph of his foes and its seeming discomfiture of himself, for its Jewish and Roman and world wide aspects, for its self sacrifice, for it as the divinely ordained means to reconcile God to man and man to God, he prepared himself as one who realized the infiniteness of the act. Previously to the great passion hour, nature had given him, of her own accord, no recognition of his Divine majesty. It was his act, not hers, when miracles transpired. But, at his death, she put forth the power of her attestation to the fact that he was "separate from sinners," and by the darkness, and the earthquake, and the opened graves, and the rent veil, signified that, "Truly this man was the Son of God." Now, in St. Paul's view, partaking of the Lord's Supper is partaking spiritually of the blood and body of Christ, and if so, it is communion with him, the communion - a special form of confessing him, a particular and most solemn act of acknowledging him as our Redeemer and Lord, in a word, a sacrament. Wine and bread are symbols; but the sacrament must not be limited to ordinary symbolism. It is a fact, a vital and absolute fact, a Divine reality, to the believer's soul, a spiritual realization of Christ. Nothing magical and superstitious, nothing mechanical, nothing that derives virtue from priest and ceremonials in the form of sacerdotal consecration, belongs to its nature, use, and end. It is simple, it is personal to the faith and love of the humble disciples of the cross, it is sublime because so perfectly spiritual in the union and fellowship with Christ which it is intended to secure. But is this all? By no means; it is communion and fellowship among believers. "We are all partakers of that one bread." Now, there are common ties among Christians that grow out of their relation to one another in Christ considered as Son of man. If he was Philanthropist, Benefactor, Friend, Healer, Teacher, Inspirer, he has left us an example that we should follow in his steps, and this example is beautifully potent when we cooperate in these beneficent duties. Yet there is a higher expression of our union when we partake of the Lord's Supper, since this recognizes his atoning death as the bond that makes us one. And as Christ's works of power and mercy throughout Galilee and Judaea went forward and attained their fullest manifestation in the atonement of Calvary, so our sympathies with one another and harmonious activity in daily acts of kindness must be ratified and scaled by being "partakers of that one bread." Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." No such drawing power did he claim for his miracles, nor for other marvellous forces that radiated in every direction from him as the great Centre of blessing in his day to the poor, the diseased, the demoniac. Where he is mightiest we are most mighty; for it pleased him, in varying the manifestations of his omnipotence and adapting them to the different instincts of man as he dealt one by one with these primal qualities, it pleased him, we say, to leave similar channels of activity for us to occupy. Therefore it is that the cross lifts us up into a higher companionship with one another. Even in common life, there is no such reconciler as death. A corpse in a divided household is a peace maker. We are all brothers at a funeral. The presence of death lingers not in the senses, nor pauses in the imagination, nor rests in the understanding, but goes down into the great original instincts, where the sense of humanity lies embedded under the shadow of the infinite. Of what immeasurable value, then, is the death of Christ as a uniting influence in behalf of brotherhood! And what an appeal the communion makes to that social sentiment which is so precious to Christianity! And who can go in a devout frame of mind to the table of the Lord without feeling that "life's poor distinctions vanish here," without a larger consciousness of the Divine loveliness of forbearance, and of patience with others, and of forgiveness of enemies, and of the blessedness unspeakable and full of glory in charity when charity as "the greatest" possesses intellect, heart, and life? God be praised for such hours! Finer spheres than sun and planets measure their coming, their stay, and. their going. Nor does the argument rest at this point. "To partake of a Jewish sacrifice as a sacrifice, and in a holy place, was an act of Jewish worship" (Hodge). Here are "our fathers," "Israel after the flesh," and they were "partakers of the altar;" and here are we, to whom "the ages" have brought their light and privileges and been perfected in the epoch of Christianity, and who "are all partakers of that one bread." Shall we be found feasting in idol temples? This is heathenish idolatry, this is communion with devils, this is fatal to brotherhood, this is treachery to the Lord Jesus Christ. What do I say? Do I declare that the idol is anything or the sacrifice anything? I, Paul, say to you, that ye cannot "drink the cup" consecrated to the Lord and "drink the cup" consecrated by the heathen to their demons deities to the Gentiles, evil spirits to Jews and Christians. For this use of the cup is an acknowledgment of fellowship with these "evil spirits," and a fraternization with their worshippers. Such conduct is utterly unjustifiable; it will "provoke the Lord to jealousy," and to a jealousy like that when wedded love has proved faithless to its holy vow. And can ye Corinthians withstand such a devouring flame of anger? Then he recurs to the statement made in 1 Corinthians 6:12, "All things are lawful," etc., and reaffirms the ethical principle of restraint on personal liberty. And with the mightier impulse which has just accented its deep tones of warning, the thought of expediency widens its application. What is the great tap root of all our evils? Selfishness. And this selfishness assumes manifold forms, intellectual and social, physical and commercial. Subtle one moment and palpable the next; disguised and then open; endless in shifts and turns; inexhaustible in resources; skilled in every variety of means; sharp, vigilant, unwearied; its five senses multiplied in its unnumbered agents; - what save Christianity, would entertain such a hope of the human race as to warrant the strong utterance, "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth"? This is laying the axe to the root of the gigantic tree with its trunk and branches. Anything less than unselfish love will not satisfy the argument at this stage. Whither has the fiery logician been? Where has he arrested his course and paused to meditate and analyze? The death of Christ and the memorials of that death, fellowship with his sufferings, communion with the "great High Priest that is passed into the heavens;" and, along with this theme, the communion with brethren and the burdening sense of that unity of believers which all great souls aspire to, but have to mourn over as a postponed reality; - such were the truths that had engaged the strength of his intellect and the ardour of his feelings. Could he tolerate the idea of one making himself the supreme object of consideration? Could he think of a man in Christ shutting himself out of the very heart of Christ? Only in such words as these can he appease the yearnings of his nature: "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." Suppose, then, that these Corinthian Christians were at a private feast, enjoying the hospitality of a friend; would it be proper for the man of scruples to inquire into the meats? Nay, this is not a "communion," though a social union, and hence you are at liberty to eat; "asking no question for conscience sake." Sentiment has its obligations no less than conscience, and, in fact, conscience is honoured when you remember that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." If, however, some one says to you, "This is offered in sacrifice unto idols," the matter takes another aspect. For the sake of a brother guest whose scruples are wide awake, do not eat. It is his conscience that your conscience is to respect, and therefore abstain. If a weak brother were to ask you to do something or avoid something for the sake of his conscience that your own conscience would not suffer you to do or to forbear, resist him and by no means comply. Weakness may be yielded to simply as the infirmity of another, but if it become dogmatic and aggressive, seeking to impose its restraints on our convictions, Christianity never requires of us to submit to such meddling dictation. Condescension to an infirm mind is very proper and commendable, provided it do not make us infirm. Easy compliances of this lax sort are dangerous snares. In the one case, the compliance is on principle; in the other, the non compliance is on principle; and, in each instance, conscience is upheld. Then the apostle rises again to a broad, general truth, "Do all to the glory of God." For this statement, that extends the sentiment of a spiritual mind over all duties, he had already prepared the way. Twice had he said, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," and, in the third chapter of the Epistle, he had declared, "All is yours." We are not like trees that can only grow in certain soils and climates. We are not like animals that are found exclusively on this or that continent. We are not creatures limited to their immediate surroundings. To form a human soul, a world and a universe of worlds are needed. Influences acting on us are not counted and tabulated by the intellect of the senses. These senses shut us up in the body. They are for today and for appropriating what is at hand. Intellect is under stern limitations. Yet the sphere of the inner life is for ever widening beyond the sphere of sensuous existence, and on the eves of "three score and ten" the stars shine with a home light unknown to young manhood, Growth is within, but there is no self nutrition. All the materials that nourish and build up the man come from without, and, hence, it is not by looking merely at ourselves and our capacities, but by regarding the world and the universe as furnishing the occasions and supplying the means of development, that we learn to measure our ability by the grace of God stored up in all things for our enrichment. Where we are interprets what we are. Now, in view of this, St. Paul lays down the principle, "Whether... ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." The range is immense; the world is not to be cut up into fragments, and the "glory of God" identified solely with them; but, as the primary condition of glorifying him, we are to believe that his Divine presence is in whatever he has created. There is nothing speculative and remote in this doctrine. How are we to glorify God? By being most truly human; by realizing that others are a part of ourselves and we a part of them; by acting on the truth that individuality attains its perfection in brotherhood; and therefore we should "please all men in all things." Nothing selfish must appear in it; "not seeking mine own profit." Nothing of effeminacy, nothing of calculating acquiescence, must taint its purity, and we must please others for their profit, that they may be saved. - L.
I. HE LIFTS THE VEIL FROM IDOLATRY. He is quite willing to allow that an idol is nothing in itself, and that meats offered to an idol are in themselves as though they had not been so offered. But he thrusts upon the attention the startling truth that, when men professedly sacrifice to idols, they really sacrifice to devils. "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not" (Deuteronomy 32:17).
1. The character of many of the heathen deities was Satanic. The conception of the worshippers was largely a conception of the character of devils.
2. Paganism is a part of the Satanic kingdom. It is not of the true God, and what is not of him is of the devil. There are but two masters. Pagan worship is the worship of the false, and the false is of Satan, not of God. Behind every idol, because it is an idol, lurks a devil. The dumb image and the supposed deity associated with it are but masks hiding the face of the fiend. An idol is nothing; yes, but "nothings" are generally the veils of very palpable "somethings." Beware of the nothings of life; they are most dangerous because least dreaded.
3. When any objects are worshipped in the place of God, the devil kingdom is served. Idolatry of whatever sort involves "sacrifice to devils." All sin is homage and offering to Satan, the "god of this world." The truth applies when pure things, as well as when impure, are substituted for God. Satanic interests are advanced; a sacrifice is laid upon the altar of darkness.
II. HE SHOWS WHAT PARTAKING OF HEATHEN SACRIFICES INVOLVES.
1. To all. As the sacrifice is virtually offered to devils, partaking of it when it is in the form of a sacrifice - this would not apply to meat sold in the shambles (ver. 25) or to meat at a friend's house (ver. 27) - involves fellowship with devils. Established by reference to:
(1) Jewish sacrifices. Those who partook of these sacrifices identified themselves with Jehovah and his altar. To partake of Jewish sacrifices was to proclaim one's self a Jew and a follower of Israel's God. So to partake of sacrifices offered to devils was to identify one's self with the service of devils and to have communion with them.
(2) The Lord's Supper. When the bread and wine are partaken of, there is a profession of attachment to him whose flesh and blood are thus set forth - of fellowship with him, of association in his service, of union with him. The union set forth is so close that it unites those who gather at the table (ver. 17). The Lord's Supper pre-eminently identifies us with Christ. At his table we may look for the closest fellowship. Similarly at the table of devils men are closely associated with these evil spirits.
2. To Christians specially. It is an attempt to serve God and his greatest enemies. This is what it amounts to really, though not necessarily with full realization of the fact on the part of the participants.
(1) A moral impossibility. Ye cannot serve two masters, especially masters diametrically opposed. "¥e cannot drink," etc. (ver. 21).
(2) A horrible spectacle. That those who have been so near to Christ should get correspondingly near to Satan and his angels. That as they have been to their Lord, so will they be to his foes.
(3) A great provocation to the Lord. Our God is "a jealous God" (ver. 22). Men might plead that they did not even think of idols or devils whilst they partook. But it was a public act, and God would regard its true import. A great provocation that his people should do this outwardly; and the outward would surely affect the inward sooner or later.
(4) An act of great folly. Running into extreme danger. "Can a man touch pitch and not be defiled?" We should not see how near we may get to sin, but how far we may keep away. The exercise of our "liberty" may lead us to bondage. Tempting God; "Are we stronger than he?" (ver. 22). - H.
I. THE SPIRIT AND METHOD PROPER TO THE CHRISTIAN PREACHER AND TEACHER.
1. He should not speak as to the ignorance of the ignorant, as if his aim were to take advantage of, to impose upon, persons whose slender knowledge, ability, and opportunities incapacitated and forbade them to receive and appreciate the truth.
2. He should not address himself to the credulity and superstition of men; for there are too many who are content to believe upon the authority of man, when they ought to inquire with regard to what comes to them whether it comes with the authority of truth, of God.
3. He should not appeal to the selfish interests or the selfish fears of men; for these are methods which are certain to produce an immediate and powerful effect, but are unlikely to work real good.
4. But he should speak as unto wise men, inviting their attention and inquiries. Christ and his apostles proceeded upon this method; they appealed to the thoughtfulness, the conscience, the right feelings of those whom they addressed. Compare the language of Scripture with that of arrogant priests, of domineering pastors, of superficial revivalists; and what is the result of the comparison? It is to produce the impression - How just, temperate, thoughtful, reasonable, convincing, persuasive, are the arguments, expositions, and appeals of Scripture!
II. THE SPIRIT AND METHOD PROPER TO HEARERS AND READERS OF THE WORD.
1. Let them cultivate wisdom; for it is to wise men that the Word of God is addressed. In the Old Testament, especially in the Proverbs, there are innumerable eulogies of wisdom, and the sons of men are entreated to listen to the voice of wisdom, to cherish, seek, and pray for it. And in the New Testament, our Lord's discourses evince the same appreciation of this quality of mind. Christ commends the wise man who built his house upon the rock, the wise virgins who took oil in their vessels, the wise and faithful servant who did his Lord's will, the disciples who are wise as serpents. Not a pretentious and proud spirit, but the wisdom of humility, is the preparation for the kingdom; the wise of this world, the wise in their own conceit, are not in the way for the blessing.
2. Let them judge the religious teaching they receive. This admonition, of St. Paul's is a copy of that of Christ himself: "Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?" It was an admonition which the apostle seems often to have repeated: "Prove all things;" "Judge ye if it is not unseemly," etc.; "We who are spiritual judge all things." There is abundant material for judging, in nature and in revelation; there are canons and counsels of judgment which all may use; and each Christian has a certain ability and opportunity to judge for himself. Happily the most really important matters are the least difficult to judge.
3. Let them judge with a view to practical conduct and under a constant sense of responsibility. We are not called upon to judge other men, but to judge of what relates to our duty as followers of Christ Jesus. The questions for us to decide are questions of pressing moment for ourselves. The responsibility of deciding such questions cannot be shifted from our shoulders to those of others. The messenger and minister of Christ speaks as unto wise men; as wise men let the hearers of the Word hear, judge, and act. - T.
I. THE HOLY COMMUNION IS A DISTINCTIVE BADGE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. It is only by recognizing this fact that we understand the introduction of a reference to it in this place. St. Paul was anxious to dissuade the Corinthian Christians from participating in the idolatrous festivals of the heathen. And he brings forward, with this end in view, the distinction between heathenism and Christianity in their characteristic festivals and observances. The Jews had their Passover, the Greeks their eranoi, the early Christians their agapae. The peculiar and distinctive observance of the Christians was, however, the Eucharist. The Corinthians were justly reminded that they must take their stand, that they could not be upon both sides, that they must not at the same time frequent the idol feasts and sit down at the table of the Lord Christ. And this distinction still substantially holds good. And young people especially may justly be urged to take their stand upon the Lord's side and pledge themselves to Christian fidelity in the ordinance distinctive of the Church of Christ.
II. THE HOLY COMMUNION IS A MEANS BY WHICH CHRISTIANS COMMEMORATE THE DEATH OF CHRIST AND PARTAKE OF ITS SPIRITUAL BENEFITS.
1. Prominence is given to our Lord's death by the mention of his body and his blood. In the following chapter St. Paul expressly reminds his readers that in the sacrament they show (proclaim) his death - until he come.
2. But for his purpose the apostle, in this place, lays special stress upon communion in the Lord's body and blood. Amidst all the diversities of opinion and controversies which have arisen with regard to this sacrament, it may, perhaps, be affirmed that to spiritually minded Christians of all Churches, the observance of the Lord's Supper has been an act of obedience to Christ, and the means of spiritual union and fellowship with him. The true participation in the Lord's death is the privilege of the lowly, believing, reverent communicant. Necessary as are food and drink for the sustenance of the bodily life with its functions and activities, equally necessary is it for the spiritual health of the Christian that he should receive Divine nourishment - that he should feed by faith upon the Son of God.
III. THE HOLY COMMUNION IS A SIGN AND A MEANS OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. This passage casts light, not only upon the work of Christ and upon the individual appropriation of the benefits of that work, but also upon the character, constitution, and purposes of the Church. It is observable that great stress is laid upon communion, i.e. upon the common interest in the one Saviour and the one salvation, and the mutual regard of interest, confidence, and brotherly love, which is the proper consequence of union to Jesus. The one cup, the one bread, of which all partake, are the symbol of a spiritual unity, Nay, Christians are actually denominated, in virtue of their unity with their Lord and with one another, "one bread, one body." The language must have been startling when first employed; it sounds very strong, even to us who are familiar with it. Yet it expresses the simple and literal truth. A unity which no power on earth could effect, and which no thinker could have conceived, is in course of realization, through the one Saviour and the one Spirit; and of this the Holy Communion is a divinely appointed and effectual witness. - T.
(1) The reality of the communion of souls in Christ; and
(2) the value of a symbolical least which will assert that communion.
I. THE REALITY OF THE COMMUNION OF SOULS IN CHRIST. The word "communion" is often applied to the intercourse of friendship, the fellowship of two kindred souls between whom there is a recognized community of sentiment and feeling. The word is applied to our privilege of access to God; we are said to have communion with God, with his Son Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Ghost. But the term would be more precisely applied to that feeling of mutual interest which two persons have in each other because of their common interest in some object, or common love to some third person. We may not even be personally known to each other, but if we are both interested in the same thing, and working for the same ends, we have "communion" with one another. Illustrate that this is the basis on which societies and associations of men are formed. Those who have the same love to the Lord Jesus Christ feel that they are bound to one another; they gather themselves into Churches that they may have "communion" with each other. Christianity demands love to a Person. It sets forth one Person, the One who is worthy to receive the devotion of every soul. Usually, indeed, if two love one person, there rises a deadly jealousy and hatred between them, but that only springs from the fact that both cannot possess the object of their affection in the same sense; but even here on earth there are many cases in which two may love the same person, and find their common love brings them nearer to each other. You may fall into conversation with a fellow traveller, and may find that you both know and love stone third person, and at once all strangeness passes, and you converse together as do long known friends. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ can be as much to one believer as to another. He can be all to each one, and so there need be no jealousy, but mutual love fur Christ may make it easy for us to love each other. But our text significantly calls our communion the "communion of the blood and body of Christ;" and this we must try to understand. In the story of the heathen gods there is generally some one incident which is regarded as specially characteristic of each one, and from which he may even take his name or fashion his symbol. Something of the same kind may be observed in Scripture and modern biographies. There is some event of the life which is regarded above all others as revealing the man. Thus we have in the Bible, Jacob the supplanter, Moses the meek, impulsive Peter, etc., the qualifying terms recalling some characteristic incident. In the reference of the text to the "body and blood of Christ" we have something of the same kind. Everything in the life of Jesus is of supreme concern to us, but the Christian heart has always regarded the "body breaking and blood shedding" as the characteristic incident, the one so peculiarly significant as revealing the person, the spirit, and the mission of the Lord Jesus. That "body and blood" reveal to us these things - duty, love, self sacrifice. This trinity expresses the very essence of Christ's religion. And "communion in the body and the blood" is the fellowship of those in whom the essential spirit of Christianity is found; who are toned and ruled by duty, out of their sonship to God; by love, because the "love of Christ is shed abroad in their hearts;" by self sacrifice, because the spirit of their Master has become theirs. Those who have thus "communion in the body and the blood" can enter into the meaning and power of that "cup of blessing which we bless," and of that "bread which we break."
II. THE VALUE OF A SYMBOLICAL ACT WHICH WILL ASSERT THAT COMMUNION. As in everything, so in respect of symbols, two extremes are possible, and both are to be avoided. He is unhuman who thinks he may refuse the help of any symbol. He is too human who multiplies symbols, glorifies symbols, until they occupy all his thought, and he has no room for the realities of which they should testify. Symbols of spiritual things will be not only useful, they will be necessary, so long as we are in the body. We have embraced spiritual truths, but they came to us in symbolic words; they are represented to us in symbolic acts. There can be no question as to our need of symbols; the only questions concern their character and their kind. Our Lord met our need in the institution of the "Lord's Supper," the "communion of the body and the blood." We are drawn into a great and tender fellowship as we share together the one loaf, as we make affirmation of our common life in Christ; and our communion finds fitting expression in a gentle patience with our brother's failings, a loving consideration for even our brother's prejudices, and a cheerful willingness to put our own preferences aside, if they grieve or hinder our brethren. - R. T.
I. THE LARGE LIMITS OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. The Christian religion is not one which lays down exact and minute laws for the regulation and guidance of human life. It provides principles, and leaves their application to the individual. There is thus large scope for the exercise of Christian wisdom. This arrangement is an incidental proof of the Divine origin of Christianity; and it is also in harmony with the universality of its intended diffusion. There are no local or temporary elements in this religion, which is the religion of God, the religion of humanity.
II. CONDUCT THAT APPROACHES THE EXTREME LIMITS OF WHAT IS LAWFUL MAY BE INJURIOUS TO THE INDIVIDUAL AGENT HIMSELF.
1. It may promote a selfish disposition and habit of mind. He who says, "I am enlightened; I am not bound by rules; I can neglect such and such usual observances; I can indulge in such and such practices;" and all because he is living under a dispensation of liberty, and all things are lawful to him, will probably confirm the natural selfishness which he should aim at repressing.
2. Such conduct may also gradually deteriorate the religious character. There are those who need the assistance and the restraint of rules; and although these may not be laid down by inspired authority, they may be very expedient, and their neglect may be very prejudicial to the spiritual life.
III. THE TOO FREE USE OF LIBERTY MAY BE UNEDIFYING AND HURTFUL TO CHRISTIAN SOCIETY.
1. It restricts the range and the operation of sympathy. If Christians are members one of another, then, if one member suffers, all suffer with it. But where the only question is, "What may I do?" and, "What must I do?" instead of, "How may I act for my brother's welfare?" there an element of discord is introduced into society, for "all seek their own."
2. It encourages some to conduct which their conscience condemns, and so indirectly leads them into sin. So it was at Corinth, where the freedom with which some Christians partook of things offered to idols emboldened the scrupulous to partake when their conscience condemned them, and brethren were thus led into sin by the inconsiderateness of those who deemed themselves the strong. Well is it to ask, concerning any proposed conduct of a doubtful character, not only, "Is it lawful?" but, "Will it tend to the edification of those for whom Christ died?" - T.
I. A CAUTION. "Let no one seek his own."
1. Now, this is a very necessary caution, for that which is here condemned is what most persons are in danger of doing, and what even society encourages men to do, and praises them for doing.
2. And such action is even sanctioned by a certain view of religion. Under pretence, perhaps with a sincere intention of promoting their own salvation, men sometimes overlook the claims of others upon their interest and services. Thus monks and hermits and other selfish religionists have retired from the world, to make sure of their own spiritual welfare.
3. Yet it is not intended to forbid or censure a due attention, on the part of every Christian, to his own welfare, bodily and spiritually. There have been those who in bitter anguish have exclaimed, "They made us keepers of the vineyard, but our own vineyard have we not kept." One thing ought we to do, yet not to leave the other undone.
II. A RULE. "Let every one seek his neighbour's good."
1. It is a rule which expressly applies to all. Whatever a person's position in the family, in the Church, in society, he is equally under obligation to self denial, benevolence, and helpfulness. "Bear ye one another's burdens."
2. There is abundant scope in human society for such unselfish effort. There are the ignorant to instruct, the sad to console, the miserable to relieve, the young to protect, the sinner to restore, etc.
3. The rule may be especially obeyed by spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. The want of the gospel being the root of human ills, the supply of the gospel is the radical cure. Paul's missionary life was a proof that it was in this light he regarded his brethren of this sinful race; in his toils and his sufferings he was ever seeking the good of all.
III. A MOTIVE. This is not expressed, but it is implied; for the apostle wrote as a Christian, and assumed the action and operation of distinctively Christian principles.
1. The example of Christ's life and death was an example of unselfishness; m all he did and said he left us an example that we should follow in his steps.
2. Christ's love and sacrifice constitute the moral power of benevolence. He died for us that we might live for others - first to him, and then to those for whom he died. His death is the death of selfishness; for this sin was nailed to his cross.
3. It is assumed that, in the conflict with natural selfishness, and in the new and holy life of benevolence, we seek and receive the aid and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. - T.
Romans 15:1-3; Philippians 2:4). Here is given to us -
I. THE PRIMARY LAW OF HUMAN ASSOCIATION. It is the law of brotherhood which leads us to regard our brother's interests as of more importance than our own. Show how such a law universally working would, of necessity, make a heaven of earth. But it may be said, "Are we not to care for ourselves, and consider our own interests?" We shall not need to do so if, while we care for our brother's well being, that brother is as anxious to put his own aside that he may secure ours. In the mutuality of our service will lie our common safety, and our common blessing. To this height, of a practically working brotherliness, Christianity is seeking to uplift the world.
II. THE HINDRANCES TO THE WORK OF THIS LAW PUT BY HUMAN SELFISHNESS, Sin repeats before God, age after age, the words of the self seeking Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" An exaggeration of the distinction between "mine and thine" keeps men separate from each other, and makes the separation take all sorts of forms of class distinction.
III. THE RESTORATION OF THE LAW TO ITS FULL POWER THROUGH THE ADOPTION OF THE CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLE. What shall bring men together in mutual helpfulness? Try society schemes, bonds of commerce, ameliorations through education and science. None of these can reach the very root of selfishness. But if we could win a supreme love for Christ and full consecration to him, we would be sure to "love our brother also;" and find out practically how to "seek another's wealth." - R.T.
I. REALIZE AND REMEMBER THE FACT OF GOD'S UNIVERSAL PROPRIETORSHIP. It is easy to say that all things are God's, but difficult to adequately grasp and to retain this in our minds. We yield a ready acquiescence, are but little impressed because the truth is cloudy to us, and then go our way thinking, speaking, and acting, as though God did not own a square foot of ground in the universe! Yet all things are his - the earth and its fulness, small things and great, "our possessions" and the possessions of others, things consecrated to him and things unconsecrated, creatures who obey and creatures who disobey, - all are his.
II. GOD'S PROPRIETORSHIP MAKES THE WORLD MORE BEAUTIFUL.
1. His possessions become associated with himself. We prize certain things because they belong or belonged to our dear ones. All around us has been and is God's. Interesting in themselves, their interest is increased without limit as the whisper comes to us, "They are all God's and of God."
2. As his proprietorship springs from his creation of all things, we may be able to trace his mind in objects around us, to see the marks of his fingers, to behold his skill and power. He will be reflected to some extent in his works.
3. He has purposes in connection with his possessions. Everything was made for some end. We may discern some of these ends. We may know that the principle is universal, and may thus be stimulated to seek for further knowledge.
4. Brings good cheer into a world where there is much to sadden. Not the earth was the Lord's, but the earth is the Lord's. It is still in his hands. Here is light amid dense darkness. The world has not slipped from the grasp of the Eternal - he holds it now.
III. GOD'S PROPRIETORSHIP SHOULD INFLUENCE OUR USE OF THE WORLD AND THE THINGS THEREOF. If all things are God's, they should not be used
(5) contrary to his revealed will,
(6) to the dishonour of his Name.
IV. GOD'S PROPRIETORSHIP EXTENDS TO OURSELVES. If "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," we are his.
1. We are not our own.
2. Let us not think, feel, speak, or act as though we were.
V. IF WE ARE REDEEMED, WE SHARE IN GOD'S PROPRIETORSHIP. As children do in the possessions of their father. If we are in Christ, God is our Father. We have received the adoption of children. We are "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." How rich is the condition of the poorest believer! how exalted the status of the humblest! The way to power, dignity, and wealth is the way of the cross; for thus we become the inheritors of all things. "All things are yours." - H.
I. THE PRINCIPLE IS TO BE EXPLAINED.
1. What is the glory of God? It is the bringing into prominence of his attributes, the working out of his purposes, and this especially by intelligent and voluntary beings. It is the gratitude which all owe, the obedience to which all me summoned, which show forth God's glory.
2. How can men do aught to God's glory? Not surely by the mere invocation of God's Name, so common and customary among Jews and Mohammedans. But they may fall in with his purposes, reverence his laws, recommend his service, utter his praise.
II. THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE IS TO BE EXHIBITED.
1. It is so minute and searching that it extends to the most ordinary and trivial acts of life. Even eating and drinking are included; probably they are mentioned here upon the suggestion of meals partaken in common with idolaters. "Epictetus, on being asked how any one could eat so as to please God, answered, 'By eating justly, temperately, and thankfully.'" If a heathen moralist could take so noble a view of religion, shall Christians sever their daily life and its manifold occupations from the high aims and sacred motives of their lofty vocation in Christ?
2. It is so vast that nothing escapes it. It is universal in its operation, "embracing all things." No interest in life is so wide, no relationship so sacred, no occupation so honourable, as not to come under this principle, which can give dignity and sweetness to all the functions of human life.
III. THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS PRINCIPLE ARE TO URGED.
1. It delivers him who adopts it from miserable and debasing self seeking. How many there are who do all things to the glory of self! And what a degrading and deteriorating influence does such an aim exercise over the character of those who adopt it! On the other hand, to live for God is to rise at a bound above the murky atmosphere of earth into the serenest air of heaven itself.
2. It conduces to the well being of society. When all men seek their own, society is afflicted with discord and is threatened with dissolution. When all seek their Maker's honour, this common aim and endeavour tend to sympathy, harmony, cooperation.
3. It is an aim in life just and satisfying to the mind - the right aim and motive, and the only one of which we shall never repent and never feel ashamed.
4. It is a stable and eternal aim. With this design and hope the angels serve and wait and praise in heaven. And the glorified saints who have finished their course on earth, when translated to the presence of God, may change place and occupation, but the end and aim of their being remains the same, for it is capable of no improvement, of no elevation. - T.
I. WHAT IT IS. To seek the glory of God. There have been and are many life rules; this alone is flawless. Many have themselves as life ends. Some enjoin us to make the welfare of others our life object, and preach to us "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," which would prove a very high and excellent object to aim at were it a little less obscure and a little more practicable; but it would not be high enough even then. God must be the Sun of our system, not ourselves or others. Then order and well being result, but otherwise confusion, contradiction, chaos. When we truly seek God's glory, neither our own interest nor that of others will be prejudiced, but the reverse. This life rule is:
1. Reasonable. As creatures, we should live to our Creator. All we have, and all we are, belong to God; it is intensely reasonable that they should be used for his pleasure.
2. Beneficial. It fulfils the object of our creation. If that object be frustrated, God is robbed, others are injured, and we cannot profit. Our life must be according to the Divine intent, or it will become pernicious all round.
3. Joy bringing. We are "out of gear" until our lives are thus ordered. We may gain excitement, but we shall lack solid satisfaction. The joy of heaven arises from the fact that those in it live for God; heavenly joy comes to earth where heavenly life comes.
II. To WHAT IT APPLIES. The answer is brief - to everything. It is a rule for all life, for every part of life. Note particularly that it applies to small things as well as great, to so called secular things as to sacred. But the distinction is destroyed - it makes all things sacred. It saves anything from becoming insignificant by giving it this supreme significance, "the glory of God." It makes everything interesting and useful. The apostle particularizes such acts as eating and drinking - the most familiar and commonplace. A man should eat and drink so as to be fitted for serving God. How many by gluttony and wine bibbing are unfitted! "Sunday religion" is a flagrant violation of the apostolic precept. Obedience will make our piety continuous, and there is no piety which is not so. How different our lives would be if this commandment were ever in our thoughts! What a check it would prove to self seeking and to sin generally! How much we should have to discontinue because such things could not possibly be done to the Divine glory! How strangely beautiful our lives would become if we yielded a full obedience!
III. WHAT IT INVOLVES.
1. Conversion. However it may be with others, we to whom the gospel has come cannot live to the glory of God if we reject Christ. Apart from Christ we are the enemies of God. Our lives may be moral, but the rejection of Christ is like poison mixed with good food - resulting in a poisonous mass. We must come to God in the appointed way before we can serve him. There is a parallel passage to the text: "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Colossians 3:17). We must start at Calvary. We must be converted to God before we can glorify him. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8).
2. Direct service offered to God. In worship. In Christian enterprise and labour. It we use the smaller opportunities of bringing glory to God, we shall not neglect the greater. The man who serves God in his home and business will seek to serve him also in the Church and in spheres of Christian usefulness. The man who professes to serve God on one day out of seven is more than open to suspicion, and so is the man who professes to serve God on six.
3. Duties to ourselves. Our duties to ourselves are our duties to God. We cannot glorify God unless we observe his laws, and many of these are directed towards our personal well being. By self improvement, by growth in grace, by increase in physical, mental, and spiritual health, we may glorify our Father who is in heaven.
4. Duties to others. The first and second commandments (Matthew 22:37-39) are indissolubly united. When we truly serve men we serve God. We may glorify God by seeking to advance the true interests of our fellow creatures. Under the guidance of this principle, we shall:
(1) Not offend men's consciences (ver. 28).
(2) Not hinder them in their spiritual life or cause them to sin (ver. 32).
(3) Earnestly seek their salvation (ver. 33).
(4) Be willing to practise much self denial (ver. 33). - H.
I. THE GROUND ON WHICH IT RESTS - the absolute sovereignty of God's claims. The twofold character of this Divine right is recognized.
1. Natural proprietorship. "The earth is the Lord's," etc. (vers. 26, 28; Psalm 24:12); "Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever" (Romans 11:36). The end of all creatural existence must needs be the glory of him who created it. In proportion as we recognize the fact that all the springs of our being are in God, that all the faculties of our nature, all the resources, materials, and relations of our life are from him, we shall feel that our existence answers its true end, life is worth living, just so far as it fulfils his purposes.
2. Personal redemption. There is a more tender but not less powerful claim established by that marvellous act of grace of which the "table of the Lord," with its "cup of blessing" and its "broken bread," is the perpetual memorial. "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price," etc. (ch. 6:19, 20). Here is a proprietorship superadded to that of the original and natural relation. See the fatherhood of God as it appears in the cross of Jesus, and the sovereignty of his claims comes home to you, not with the mere force of natural authority, but with the resistless persuasiveness of unparalleled self surrendering love.
II. THE SENSE OF MORAL FREEDOM IN US TO WHICH IT MAKES ITS APPEAL. The essential dignity of our nature is implied in this assertion of God's claims over us. The inferior creatures show forth his glory by fulfilling the ends for which he has created them, but their service is rendered by a law and necessity of their being which they have no power to resist. The myriad forms of lower life that people the earth and air and sea cannot but obey the instincts of their nature, and in that blind, instinctive obedience the end of their existence is attained. To us alone belongs the mysterious, self regulating power by which it lies with ourselves to determine whether we will respond to the Divine appeal or refuse to do so. These inferior creatures of God, all of which in themselves "are good" (1 Timothy 4:4), are intended to be the instruments of our higher purpose. We are "crowned with glory and honour" above them all, that we may interpret their voices and utilize their powers in presenting to him our living tribute of gratitude and love and service. Our daily life, in its deeper moral meaning, proclaims how far this is really the case with us. As every new day dawns upon us, God throws it upon us afresh to decide whether we will" use the world" as we ought to use it by living to his glory, or will "abuse it" by following the impulses of our own self will and serving the idols of our own imagination or carnal appetite.
III. THE FAMILIAR COMMONPLACE FIELD OF INTEREST IN WHICH IT IS TO BE FULFILLED. "Whether ye eat or drink," etc. The simplest materials of our life are to be consecrated to his service, and the meanest doings of life are to be made designedly a tribute to his praise. We greatly err if we imagine certain things to be so purely physical or so trivial as to have nothing to do with the sublimer interests and responsibilities of our being. You learn the deepest truth of things only when you come to see spiritual principles and laws and issues enshrined in them; that everything, in fact, in the root of it, in its inmost heart and core, is spiritual, and bears some relation to that higher part of us which will endure for ever. No doubt life is for the most part an aggregate of many little things. To some it may seem but a monotonous round of trivialities - the same things done day after day in the same way and to the same end, and that an end of very little moment. But may not the noblest principles of moral feeling and life, as motive powers, be underlying these seemingly insignificant activities, and making them really great? Infuse something of the wealth of a devout and godly soul into them, and the meanest doings of your life become no longer mean, That inner, invisible greatness of holy thought and feeling makes them great. There is no motive so lofty but it may be brought to bear upon the so called trifles that make up the story of our days. The minutest movements of the material world around us are effected by the same forces as govern the most majestic.
"The very law that moulds a tear
I. THIS IS AN ACTUAL FACT. The truly pious are the truly philanthropical. Illustrate from the general influence of Christianity in securing care for the suffering and the poor; and from individual cases, such as those of Howard, Wilberforce, Nightingale, etc.; appeal may also be made to cases within our personal experience. A weak recognition of the claims of the brotherhood is one of the surest signs of a frail, unnourished piety.
II. IT IS REASONABLE THAT THIS SHOULD BE THEE ACTUAL FACT. This may be argued:
1. From the impression of the fatherhood of God which the Christian gains. If he turn his eyes down from up looking to the Father, he cannot fail to see the Father's children.
2. From the growth of Christian life, which is a changing into God's image, until we come to think about his children as he thinks, and to work for them as he works.
3. From that simple, unquestioning obedience to God's will which would surely characterize us if we really held all for God and were set upon securing "his glory." - R.T.
I. THE CONDUCT ABJURED. Paul sought not his own profit; and he dissuades Christians generally from doing so. By this we are to understand that our own profit is not to be the one ruling principle of our life. Certainly it is not wrong to seek our own spiritual welfare and eternal salvation; for this we are responsible, to this we are called. But having found Christ ourselves, we are not to make our personal advantage our one and only concern. They who seek such an end always fail; none are more stunted in spiritual growth than those whose only thought is how they may obtain abundant nourishment for themselves. Christians must be prepared to sacrifice religious advantages and enjoyments, when such a sacrifice is demanded in the interests of their fellow men.
II. THE RULE ADOPTED. Paul's rule, which he commends to us, was to "please all men." This might easily be misunderstood, for nothing is baser than a habit of pandering to the passions and courting the favour and humouring the prejudices of all we meet with. But there is a pliancy and adaptation of character and demeanour, which flows from and expresses sympathy, and which is a sure road to most men's hearts. It is no degradation to condescend to the simple and illiterate, to enter into the thoughts and pursuits of the scholarly, to talk the languages of the foreigner, to share the ways and the life of any man, in innocence and without duplicity. It was by this habit, carried to excess, that the Jesuits gained their hold upon individual natures and upon general society. And it is by this habit, rather than by great powers of thought or of speech, that successful servants of Christ usually achieve their success.
III. THE AIM SOUGHT.
1. It respects "the many." This is just like the large heart of Paul, who in this was a true follower of Christ himself. The Lord's purpose is to draw "all men" unto himself; his prediction, that "many" shall come and sit down in his kingdom; and his commission: "Preach the gospel to every creature." He gave his life a ransom "for many;" his blood was shed for "many;" he bare the sins of "many."
2. It is their immediate "profit" or advantage. What he concerned himself not about, as far as he himself was concerned, he anxiously sought for others.
3. The final aim is the salvation of mankind; a purpose and hope which may well justify, and indeed all but compel, self denial and effort; for salvation includes all blessings of which human nature is capable, and the prolongation, the perpetuation, of those blessings throughout a glorious eternity. - T.