You know that when you were pagans, you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
it is a Divine economy; it is the dispensation of the Holy Ghost. Something was gained whoa this was made clear. Inspiration was no wild, spasmodic, frantic thing. It was not individuality unloosed and driven into gross eccentricity. Whatever mysteries were connected with these manifestations, there was a grand system to which they appertained, and it was upheld, applied, administered, by the Holy Ghost. Such, then, is the position assumed, and it commands the whole question. This done, the places occupied by different parties, the diversity of gifts, their number and multiformity, the relativity of each to a controlling general idea, and the unity sought as a final end, could be ascertained. Naturally, then, diversities of gifts would be the first to attract attention. Difference between objects begins our perceptive education, difference in our moods of mind cultivates our consciousness, difference must be seen before the higher intellect can perform the processes of abstraction and generalization. Accordingly St. Paul starts with "diversities of gifts." It was not a new idea. The Prophet Joel had it substantially, along with the conception of universality, when he spoke of prophesyings, of dreams, of visions, and declared that servants and handmaids should rejoice in the possession of this power. Christ had closed his earthly revelation of the Father by unfolding the manifoldness of the Spirit's office. Pentecost had made good the promise, and had shown as the firstfruits of the harvest the recovery of the world's languages to the service of Christianity. St. Paul, however, handles the idea in a way altogether new. Genius passes old truths through its transforming brain, and they charm the world as fresh and wondrous disclosures. Inspiration honours individuality; nothing treats the personality of the man with such respect; and hence St. Paul's specialization of the fact of diversity. Mark how he treats it. Gifts themselves, as relative to men who are their recipients, are very unlike. Capacity in each case is a pre-existent fact of providence, and the Spirit consults providence. But in the next place, gifts are ministries, and the diversities (distributions)are for various spheres. Functional work is of many kinds, offices have each its speciality, and, as earthly industry must achieve its results by division of labour, so the economy of the Holy Ghost must differentiate one form of energy from another. Ministers are servants, and these ministries are serving forces. And again, the gifts are represented as operations by whose effects, as incorporated in society, the kingdom of God is built up. "These are not to be limited to miraculous effects, but understood commensurately with the gifts of whose working they are the results" (Alford). If, in other passages of Scripture, the person of the Father or of the Son is prominently displayed, the personality of the Holy Ghost, as proceeding from the Father and the Son, is here set forth with a distinctness and emphasis characteristic of his relations to the plan of salvation. Just before (ver. 3), St. Paul had declared the presence of the Holy Ghost in the confession of Jesus as Lord, and the name, by which he was known among men (Jesus of Nazareth) and recognized in his trial, condemnation, and crucifixion, is borne up from earth and glorified in his exaltation. And here he is the "same Spirit" in the opening thought, "diversities of gifts." There are "differences of administrations," but the "same Lord;" "diversities of operations," but the "same God that worketh all in all;" nor will the apostle specify the fulness of the Spirit's gifts and the greatness of his presiding agency over the Church without connecting him with the Father and the Son. The mystery of the Trinity remains. But the doctrine becomes a very real and practical fact, and, as such, assimilable in Christian experience, when thus identified with grace in all its workings through the Church. And so true is this that the very mystery is essential to the effect the doctrine produces, by forming an infinite background, against which the fact stands in relief. Under these circumstances, mystery commends itself., not simply to reverence, but to experimental appreciation. Reason, if made conscious of its own instinct, finds a basis for itself and a vindication of its functions in the exercise of faith, and, by means of this illumination, reason is assured that the faculties of the human mind have their laws and are bound in obedience thereunto, because the law of mystery is the primal law whence they draw their lift and support. No marvel, then, that the apostle presents God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit with such prominence in the initial stage of his argument on spiritual gifts, Most closely is the doctrine identified with the experimental and. practical truths he was about to enforce. From no lower source than the mystery of all mysteries will he bring the awe, the sense of responsibility under trust, and the greatness of Church duties arising from the diversities of gifts. It is not this or that gift alone, nor this or that office bearer alone, nor this or that outwrought result alone, but their union in one economy and their combination in a totality, which he wished to emphasize. Most impressively is this done by presenting Father, Son, and Spirit as the one God of these diverse gifts, the Trinity itself being the very ground and source of the diversification. The broad scope of the diversities in the Church is indicated in the statement that the "manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." The character of the Divine communication to "every man" is defined by the word "manifestation," which expresses the agency of the Spirit in these human instruments. First of all, the Spirit is manifested to the man and then through the man. As a condition precedent to his office, the man has an experience, and it consists in his own conscious knowledge that God has come to his soul and imbued it with the Spirit. Herein, herein only, lies his capacity for usefulness; herein his safeguard against failure. And the measure of the one manifestation is the measure of the other; for in the degree that a man feels his own soul alive to God will he impart vitality to his ministrations. Preacher, Sunday school teacher, Bible reader, tract distributer, Paul on Mars' Hill or in the prison at Rome, Bunyan writing in gaol, Hannah More at Barleywood, John Pounds with his ragged school; no matter what the manifestation, as to where made and bow modified by individuality, it is divinely human to its subject before it is made divinely human in him as an instrument. Finally, the broad scope (every man.) and the quality of the influence (manifestation) are carried forward to the object and end, viz. to profit withal. For the common advantage these gifts were bestowed; the greater the bestowment, the nearer its human connections; and the more of a recipient the man, the more of a man must he be in the outgoings of his intelligence, love, and zeal in behalf of others. "Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" Such was the argument (ch. 4.) to check partisanship in the Corinthian Church; but in this passage, "to profit withal" is exhibited in its positive aspect as the inspiration of motive and purpose and end of all Christian working. Is it not, then, remarkable that Christianity approaches man at a point where he is most sensitive to self, and where he is quickest and boldest to assert his unyieldingness to the claims of others, and at this very point to demand of him "the common profit"? Make any analysis of human nature you please, pride of intellect is the most lordly of all its imperious qualities. Particularly in the case of fine gifts, men who are the possessors of them are instinctively disposed to assert a despotic sway over others, or, if not that, to indulge a feeling of self gratulation and its counterpart of self isolation because of their superiority. Yet it is just here Christianity requires humility and enforces the claims of a most vigorous sympathy. How this "common profit" is to be subserved, St. Paul proceeds to show in vers. 8-11. There is no large accumulation in one man, no fostering of the spirit of self aggrandizement no such exaltation of one as to prove a humiliation to another. Talents are divided out, and each talent bears the seal of God, and comes authenticated, not to the intellect, but to the spiritual sense of a redeemed man hood. Go through this catalogue as drawn out by the apostle; dwell on the significance of each specification; avail yourself of the helps afforded by our most critical scholars in the explication of "wisdom as intuition, of knowledge as acquired information, of faith" as transcending its ordinary limits as the grace of salvation, of the "gifts of healing" as adapted to various diseases, of the "working of miracles" as time and occasion called for, all these charisms proceeding from the same Spirit; continue the enumeration that includes "prophecy" or the illumination cf the mind by the Spirit and the exalted activity of its faculties, after that the eye of watchful judgment, "discerning of spirits," so as to discriminate between genuine inspiration and its alloys and counterfeits, then the "divers kinds of tongues," and the power to interpret or translate the unknown language; and all these the works of "one and the selfsame Spirit" that distributes the charism to each one in harmony with the law of individuality, and, at the same time, exercises the Divine sovereignty so that the distribution is made "severally as he will" (Alford, Hodge, Lange); and when you have thus expanded your views to the dimensions of this spiritual provision for the Church and the exquisite symmetry of its organism tell us if any interest possible to man's present attitude, if any craving of true life in its mortal and immortal relationships, if any outreachings toward the infinite when body, soul, and spirit have interblended their instincts, and become one in the heirship of an eternal inheritance, have been left neglected or meagrely provided for? To bring this variety and unity more vividly before the Corinthians, St. Paul employs a most apt illustration taken from the human body as an organism. Already he had argued the diversity of gifts in adaptiveness to the capacities and wants of the Church. Left at that point, the argument would have been incomplete. It was needful to see what the Church itself was as an organization, and how its wholeness stood related to its individual parts. In the earlier portion of the Epistle he had combated the unhappy tendency towards an excessive individualism. Theoretic speculations had been kept out of sight, and practical questions, lying within immediate range and urgently demanding treatment, had been scrutinized. Was the work done when domestic morals had been pleaded for, when social companionships were set in a true light; when the betrayals of a lax and over accommodating sympathy in public intercourse were exposed; when the corruptions growing out of an abuse of love feasts and extending to the Holy Communion had been faithfully dealt with; when, in addition thereunto, he had expounded the Divine import and sacredness of the Lord's Supper? Was the work done when he had opened the treasures of grace and taught his brethren how the Divine munificence had enriched their souls? Was he content to stop after delineating the correspondence between the bestowments of the Spirit in his multiformity of gifts, and the complexity of the Church as the witness to the Trinity? By no means was the subject exhausted. Specific as he had been - direct, resolute, pungent - how much remained to be said (as we shall see hereafter), to reflect back on what had been said, and bring out half latent meanings of truths stated which the argument, in its direct connections, did not exact of his logic at the instant! At this point, then, he introduces a felicitous illustration. It is done in a business like style. Image it can scarcely be called, since it has no poetic element addressed merely to the aesthetic sense, and is quite as much the product of the reason as of the imagination. We have spoken of St. Paul as one who studied the human body and was profoundly interested in considering its present and prospective condition in the light of the Christian revelation. The illustration here used extends through a large portion of the chapter, and, as a figure, is for him elaborated with unusual fulness and painstaking. Evidently it is not a creation of the moment, for there is not a mark of sudden impulse. Tracing the analogy between the Church and the human body, and recognizing the Spirit of the earlier creation in this later and more glorious one, the inspired author evinces that delight in similarity of relations which is the infallible sign both of high endowment and broad culture, and he proceeds with a quiet and steady gait till the ground has been fully traversed.
1. The human body is an organism. It is "one, and hath many members." By an organism we understand "a whole consisting of parts which exist and work each for all and all for each; in other words, which are reciprocally related as means and end" (Dr. Kling). The principle of life is a principle of organization, weaving a form for itself, shaping that form to itself, and impressing thereupon its own distinctive image. The principle assumes various organizations - simple in some, complex in others - and, in every case, the life power is the animating and determinative force. "So also is Christ" (ver. 12). In the Church, which is his body, Christ is the constituting Power. He is its Life, and without him it is nothing. Through the Spirit he maintains those operations which impart vitality to all the institutions and agencies of the Church. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (ver. 13), whether "Jews or Gentiles;" such is the almighty energy of the Holy Ghost in begetting vitality and transforming national and race distinctions into its own likeness, that they are made one. This is also true of "bond or free." The characteristics of individuality as to races and social positions remain, but whatever is incapable of unity is removed and the organism subdues to itself every element and constituent it adopts. All are made "to drink into one Spirit." Viewed externally, we see Jews and Greeks, bond and free, with their peculiarities derived from the past and respected as the signs of Providence in the ages preparatory to Christ's advent. A rich and picturesque mosaic is thus presented by the Church. Along with this, the Church is also a type of the future man, from whom all selfish antagonisms have gone and over whom the sentiment of brotherhood is supreme.
2. The human body has various correlated parts. "For the body is not one member, but many" (ver. 14). Each constitutent or "member" must be recognized as something in itself, as having an autonomy, as created for a distinct function and ordained to do its own special work. Not else could the body be worthy of its place as the head of the physical world and represent the mind of man. In this wondrous organism, which may be likened to a community, every cell is an independent activity, a citizen with rights of its own and entitled to protection against all hostile influence. The fable of Menenius is introduced, and the classic reader of our day is reminded of Coriolanus as the representative of the haughty patricians and yet more of the haughtier statesman, and of the fierce contempt felt for the people. St. Paul has given due prominence to this idea of each organ as performing its functions and as essential to the whole. If the unity is brought about from within, then it follows that every member must share the animating principle. Food must be provided for blood, blood must nourish the organs, the organs must be tributary in specific ways to the organism, or the organism must perish. So in the Church, different men are different organs. Such are the numerous offices of the Holy Ghost as the Executive of Father and Son; such are his relations as Remembrancer, Testifier, Convincer; that there must needs be much diversity of gift; and hence there are gifts of healing, helping, governing, extraordinary faith, and "divers kinds of tongues." Light is distributed in colours, and colours in tints and hues, and tints and hues multiply themselves in minute differences. Sound breaks up in notes. Form assumes multitudinous shapes and attitudes. The ocean rolls in restless lines and the earth curves to a curving sky. "Not one member, but many," and the manifoldness in the magnificence of the universe is repeated, as far as may be, in the complexity of the human organism, and, in turn, this exists for the Church. But:
3. Reciprocity of action must be fully maintained. The organs of the body are distinct but not separate, since they combine in one organism and are subordinate to a unitary result. They are supplied with blood by the same heart and they are all dependent on nerves running from nervous centres. Spinal cord, medulla, cerebellum, cerebrum, are local in position, but not local in function. Not an organ, though independent in structure and functional operation, can insulate itself and be independent of the whole. Our pleasures and pains alike testify to this dominant mutuality. A beautiful landscape is not limited to the retina; a musical sound enters the rhythm of heart and lungs, and the ear is only a fragment of the joy; so that localized sensibility, however intense, becomes generalized feeling. The special senses exist for a sensorium. St. Paul regards the body, therefore, as an assemblage or confederation of organs, and enlarges (vers. 15-26) on the idea in its several aspects. The section has been fitly spoken of as a colloquy in a highly dramatic style." The body itself is thoroughly dramatic. It represents and interprets mind. It acts the soul. Downward it may go and imitate the beast, even descend below the beast. Upward it may go, and go so high that the faces of Moses and St. Stephen glow with a light never on shore or sea. Now, this colloquy presents one member of the body arrayed against another and vainly asserting its independence. If a discontented foot envy the hand, or the ear envy the eye, "is it therefore not of the body," participating in its fights, enjoying its privileges, ennobled by the organism? They are for the sake of each other, so that "the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you? Furthermore, in the case of feeble organs, does the body turn vindictively against them? - in the case of those less honourable, are they despised? in the case of the uncomely parts, are they treated with contempt? Nay, in the well ordered commonwealth of the body, where the instincts, endowed by the Almighty with a measure of his sovereignty, retain their sway, parts that are feeble, less honourable, less comely, appeal to pity and sympathy and taste to be cheered and comforted. The whole glandular system, though assigned to the functions of secretion and excretion, is yet a wonderful provision for emotion, not only for emotion as respects others, but as self regarding and self relieving. A whispered. need of assistance from the very humblest organ is heard in every recess of the corporeal structure. Temple it is even in ruins, and its ministers, inhabiting dim vaults and mysterious crypts, hear the prayer for compassion and aid, and hasten to give sympathy and assistance. Beyond all this, what vicarious work the organs do in their considerate kindness to one another? No doubt we are open to the charge of reading between the apostle's lines and of going beyond his intended meaning. Be it so; on the lines or between them, no matter, if the philosophy and spirit of the thought he observed. St. Paul's inspiration was for our day as well as his own, and perhaps it would not be very extravagant to say that the Christian scholarship of the nineteenth century sees depths in some of his conceptions that he never saw. For it is the nature of inspiration to be ever unfolding its manifoldness of meaning, holding tenaciously to its original ground, and yet pressing back its horizon to embrace fresh territory, and thus making itself a specially quickening power to successive ages. One thing, however, is very clear, namely, St. Paul saw the analogy between the Church and the human body. By virtue of the connection of its organs, he takes occasion to urge on the Church very weighty and solemn duties. Mutual forbearance, respect, honour, must be sacredly cherished. The organic life of the Church makes it Christ's body. "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." The main thought is restated and re-enforced as to apostles, prophets, etc. (vers. 28-30); and surely nothing has been left unsaid which could convince and persuade the Corinthians that their spiritual organization was not a thing to take care of itself, nor to be trusted to haphazard, nor to be surrendered to self-appointed leaders. It was a life, a sphere, a discipline and culture, a joy and blessedness, for all. Were the weakliest among them to be overlooked as useless? If there were poor widows with only two mites to cast into God's treasury, they had their place and vocation. If there were little children, their looks and ways told of the kingdom of heaven. Were there uncomely parts? Grace was strong enough to do them abundant honour. One of the invaluable blessings of Church life is to show respect and regard for such as society excludes from its esteem, and alas! too often treats with disdain, and thereby dooms them to a fate more wretched than poverty. In honouring them, the Church teaches these persons to honour themselves, and that, once secured, improvement outward and inward is made far easier. In brief, wherever anything was lacking, there "more abundant honour" should be bestowed. And why all this? That none be neglected, that all be partakers of one another's sufferings and pleasures, and that the community be indeed a communion of one heart and mind. "That there should be no schism." This was the dread that hung over St. Paul: "schism;" this was the terror that darkened his path far more than the enemies and persecutors that pursued his steps. "Members should have the same care one for another." Brotherhood should sanctify individuality, and consummate and crown all the gifts of the Divine Giver. What a wonder this, to set before a city like Corinth! What an ideal to lift up in its resplendent glory in a period such as the first century! And this by the "ugly little Jew," a wandering tent maker, who had nothing and would have nothing to commend him to the carnal philosophy and popular tastes of the age, and who could only speak from his own soul and the Spirit in that soul to the souls of men. Yet the doctrine of Christ's headship of humanity was his stay and strength, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost were his tokens and pledges of victory for his cause. He would have others share his assurance and participate with him in the infinite blessedness. Therefore, he argues, "covet earnestly the best gifts," and the best way to secure these best gifts he will proceed at once to show them. — L.
Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols.
I. THE CONDITION OF THE HEATHEN.
1. Worshippers of dumb idols.
2. Carried away by their lusts.
3. Led by the devil and his agents.
II. THIS CONDITION WAS YOURS.
1. Literally in past times.
2. Spiritually in your own former experience.
III. THE CHANGE IN YOU HAS BEEN EFFECTED BY GOD'S GRACE.
1. Through the gospel.
2. By the agency of others.
3. Hence your obligation to send it to the world.
I. THE DEAD SILENCE OF THE STATE OF HEATHENISM — the idols standing voiceless, with neither mouths to speak, nor ears to hear — silent amongst their silent worshippers. "The oracles are dumb." This is contrasted with the music and speech of Christianity, "the sound of a mighty, rushing wind," "the voice of many waters," which resounded through the whole Church in the diffusion of the gifts, especially of prophesying and tongues.
II. THE UNCONSCIOUS IRRATIONAL STATE OF HEATHENISM, in which the worshippers were blindly hurried away by some overruling power of fate, or evil spirit of divination or priestly caste, without any will or reason of their own to worship at the shrine of inanimate idols. This is contrasted with the consciousness of an indwelling Spirit, moving in harmony with their spirits, and controlled by a sense of order and wisdom. Possibly there is the further intention of impressing the superiority of the conscious over the unconscious gifts of the Spirit.
No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed1 Corinthians 1:23)? No; for how could Christians be tempted to esteem such as inspired? Besides, we have here to do with discourses uttered in church; and how would anti-Christians have been allowed to speak there? Does, then, Paul admit the possibility of discourses from Christians to this effect? Remember the powerful fermentation of religious ideas then called forth by the gospel. In 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4, the apostle speaks of teachers newly arrived in Corinth, who preached another Jesus and raised a different spirit to that which the Church had received. It was therefore not only another doctrine, but another breath, a new principle of inspiration, which these people brought with them. In 1 Corinthians 16:22 he devotes to anathema certain persons who love not Jesus when the Lord shall come, which would be very severe if it were not a return for the anathema which they threw in His face. How was this possible in a Christian Church? We must observe the term "Jesus," detecting the historical and earthly person of our Lord, and hear in mind that from the earliest times there were people who, offended at the idea of the ignominious punishment of the Cross, and the unheard abasement of the Son of God, thought they must set up a distinction between the man Jesus and the true Christ. The first had been, according to them, a pious Jew. A heavenly Being, the true Christ, had chosen Him to serve as His organ while He acted below as the Saviour of humanity. But this Christ from above had parted from Jesus before the Passion, and left the latter to suffer and die alone. It is easy to see how, from this point of view, one might curse the Crucified One who appeared to have been cursed of God on the Cross, and that without thinking he was cursing the true Saviour, and while remaining without scruple a member of the Church. taught this doctrine, and affirms that this Epistle was written against him. The , or serpent worshippers, too, who existed before the end of the first century, asked those who wished to enter their churches to curse Jesus. In stating this first negative criterion, the apostle therefore means: However ecstatic in form or profound in matter may be a spiritual manifestation, if it tends to degrade Jesus, to make Him an impostor or a man worthy of the Divine wrath, if it does violence in any way to His holiness, you may be sure the inspiring breath of such a discourse is not that of God's Spirit. Such is the decisive standard which the prophets, e.g., are summoned to use when they sit in judgment on one another (chap. 1 Corinthians 14:29).
(Prof. Godet.)I. ITS FORMS.
1. Infidelity makes Him an impostor.
2. Socinianism robs Him of His Divinity.
3. Impenitence and unbelief resist His claims and authority.
4. All by denying practically declare Him accursed.
II. ITS CAUSE. The want of the Spirit. Hence a man is governed in his views and conduct either by a depraved reason or corrupt natural sense.
III. ITS CONSEQUENCES.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)I. WHAT IT IMPLIES.
1. A full conviction of His supreme authority as Lord and Christ.
2. A believing trust in Him.
3. A willing submission to His authority.
II. HOW IS IT ELICITED? By the Holy Ghost, who —
4. Sanctifies — him that believeth.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
I. THE GENERAL IMPOTENCY OF MAN IN SPIRITUAL DUTIES. Here we see —
1. The universality of our loss in Adam. No one hath any power to do this. Which notes their blasphemy that exempt any man from the infection of sin.
2. Where this impotency lies — in man. "No man." Which notes their blasphemy that say man may be saved by his natural faculties as he is man.
3. By just occasion of that word "can," is able, we see also the laziness of man who, though he can do nothing effectually and primarily, yet does not do so much as he might do.
II. WHAT THIS SPIRITUAL DUTY IS WHEREIN WE ARE ALL SO IMPOTENT.
1. An outward act, a profession; not that the outward act is enough, but that the inward affection alone is not enough neither. To think it, to believe it, is not sufficient; we must say it, profess it.
2. And what?(1) That Jesus is: not only assent to the history, and matter of fact that Jesus was, and did all that is recorded of Him, but that he is still that which He pretended to be. Caesar is not Caesar still, nor is Alexander, Alexander; but Jesus is Jesus still, and shall be for ever.(2) That He is the Lord. He was not sent hither as the greatest of the prophets, nor as the greatest of the priests; His work consists not only in having preached to us, nor in having sacrificed Himself, thereby to be an example to us; but He is Lord. He purchased a dominion with His blood. He is the Lord, not only the Lord paramount, but the only Lord, no other hath a lordship in our souls and no other any part in saving them but He.
III. THIS CANNOT BE DONE BUT BY THE HOLY GHOST.
1. All recalls but one are excluded, and therefore that one must necessarily be hard to be compassed. The knowledge and discerning of the Holy Ghost is a difficult thing.
2. As all other means are excluded, so this one is included as necessary. Nothing can effect it but having the Holy Ghost, and therefore the Holy Ghost may be had.
(J. Donne, D.D.)I. THE TRUTH THAT JESUS IS THE LORD. The man Jesus for thirty-three years acted as a man in connection with men, and at last died. This man is the Lord. The word he uses is almost invariably the translation of Jehovah in the LXX., a version in common use among the apostles. Now if Paul, as a Jew, called Jesus Jehovah, he must have demanded for Him all those attributes which his nation was wont to associate with that name; and that he did claim these attributes for Jesus no candid and qualified reader of his sermons and epistles can doubt.
II. THIS TREMENDOUS TRUTH IS SO TRANSCENDENT THAT IT CANNOT BE ACCEPTED WITHOUT DIVINE HELP. No man of himself can affirm it — can state it as the natural conviction of his judgment. When you tell me that Jesus was born, lived, taught, and died, I understand you; for you have narrated a natural event; but when you tell me that Jesus is the great God, you transport me from the sphere of intelligible statement and testimony into wonderland. I do not mean that the Godhead of Christ is naturally inconceivable, but simply that the doctrine is above me. I cannot say that Jesus is God unless you add some other power to my mind, or stimulate to an unnatural intensity the powers I have. St. Paul affirms that no man can: and if St. Paul had not affirmed it we should have found it out. The history of controversy has repeated it in every age. Modern philosophers maintain this in a spirit of boasting, ill concealed beneath an affectation of scientific certainty; as if it had been left for them to discover; whereas Paul asserted it from the first. And he has described this temper of mind with as much candour and accuracy as if he had been a philosopher himself! "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God," etc.; neither can he know them. The natural men have been unconsciously repeating Paul's words from his day to ours. Now there is a portion of this wonderful truth which is historic — the works and the resurrection of Jesus. These were visible facts, and might be supposed to lie within the realm of observation and testimony. But see how the natural men treat them — as they dare not treat any other history. They first say that Jesus cannot be God, and then they read the gospels to explain away New Testament facts. I do not blame these men because they are unable to say that Jesus is the Lord, any more than I would rate a blind man for not knowing the sun; but I should censure the blind man if he declared there was no sun because he could not see it.
III. THE EVIDENCE BY WHICH THIS GRAND TRUTH CAN BE AFFIRMED. The internal persuasion of the Holy Ghost. This leads us at once into the region of the supernatural. Here we part company with the wise, and the scribe, and the disputer of this world. Here we speak in parables to them that are without. The Spirit is the author of the expression or manifestation of the Christian religion. The lips of prophets were touched, and the pens of scribes were moved, by Him; the holy child Jesus was conceived by Him; the dispensing of the glad tidings, that that child was a light to lighten the Gentiles, was entrusted to Him. Now, the first step towards the confession of the Godhead of Christ is the conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost. The misery following such a conviction of sin will make a man strive against it, and learn by bitter failures his helplessness. When I preach Jesus to a man in this state, with his self-despair and his eager cries for help, he not only sees no difficulty in accepting the Godhead of Christ, but he grasps it as the only truth that can give him comfort. He wants a God-mediator because he has sinned against God. He must take his forgiveness from Him against whom he has sinned; and, being pardoned, he must render Him the full and loyal service of his heart and life. That which makes Jesus our final resting-place is His Godhead: that which gives an omnipotent potency to His blood is His equality with the Father. How easy for those whom the Holy Ghost has convinced of sin, and who have imagined under the tyranny of its power what a counter-power that must be which could redeem us from it — how easy for such to admit that Jesus is God!
(E. E. Jenkins, D.D.)I. THE STATEMENT IN THE TEXT NEEDS EXPLANATION. It does not mean that a person cannot repeat the words, "Jesus is the Lord," but by the Holy Ghost. What, then, is the true meaning, of the text? It is that none can without the Holy Spirit make this confession —
1. With a firm belief of its truth.
2. With a firm reliance on Him for salvation. In order to our relying on Jesus Christ for salvation two things are necessary.(1) We must feel our need of such a salvation.(2) We must believe that there is such a provision made for our salvation in Christ Jesus, neither of which we can do without the influence of the Holy Spirit.
3. With a full purpose of living to His glory.
II. WE ARE HERE INSTRUCTED —
1. In the nature of true religion. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ lies at the foundation of all true religion. That glorious truth, "Jesus is the Lord," that He who died upon the Cross for our sins is "the Lord," this truth is the great turning point of salvation, and whoever truly believes it is brought into a state of salvation. By the belief of this glorious truth he is also prepared for God's service, to confess Him before men, and to maintain a conduct, according to His will, in the face of all difficulties from within and from without.
2. In the need of the Holy Spirit. We cannot know and believe that "Jesus is the Lord" so as to have our hearts savingly affected by it, so as to depend on Jesus as our Saviour, so as to be renewed thereby after His image in righteousness and true holiness. To attain this faith the special operation of the Holy Ghost is needful.
3. The peculiar office of the Holy Ghost. How He works, and by what means.
(G. Maxwell, B.A.)I. THE NEED OF THE SPIRIT'S WORK. It is a matter of needful preliminary consideration, that we dwell upon the guiltiness of our own nature. And no man wants more evidence than that which he finds concurrently upon the page of the Bible and in the volume of his own heart; he has only to look into the former to see what is holy and right and good; he has only to look into the latter in order to see how utterly we have departed therefrom. And this condition is not to be changed by any power which we can set in motion. It is not to be changed by the force of education. It is true that we may train and discipline our children to a certain outward course; we may bind upon them the necessity of maintaining a certain line of conduct, but this has nothing to do with the heart. It is not even by the ordinances of God's appointment that we can ensure the conversion of souls.
II. THE MODE OF THE SPIRIT'S OPERATIONS. It is a marvellous work which is wrought upon the soul of every man who passes from a state of nature into a state of grace. It is a change of desires, hopes, purposes, objects — a new birth. We can trace it by its results; we cannot always trace it by its accomplishment. "The wind bloweth where it listeth," etc. But we are certain that if the effect be really and truly wrought upon any man the results will be manifest. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," etc. When the evil has been removed, when the hardness has been subdued, when the door of the understanding has been opened to admit the truth of Christianity, and when the door of the heart has been unclosed to all its blessed influences, the man comes to pursue earnestly and diligently those things for which he had once no esteem.
(S. Robins.)may work, but which we have no authority to suppose He will. We can no more refuse to believe what is proved, or believe what is destitute of apparent proof, than the eye can reject or change the forms and colours thrown by external objects on the retina. How then can the reception of a doctrine by the reason be affected by the operations of Divine grace? If it is proved, must it not be believed? This difficulty, however, such as it is, is not peculiar to Scripture, or religious truth, or the question of the Holy Spirit's influence. It belongs equally to the acknowledged fact that, on almost every subject, men, apparently of equivalent power of intellect, with precisely the same evidence before them, arrive at widely different conclusions. Thus it is every day in history, in politics, in much that is called science, in the judgment we form of each other's characters and conduct, and even in the credit that is given to alleged events almost within the sphere of our own observation. Whether it be that a partial and temporal blindness of the judgment is superinduced by the force of passion and the tension of the will; or whether, as seems more probable, attention, the optic glass, or rather the eye of the mind, is directed by the prevailing emotion excited by the subject in question, with more intensity on a certain class of considerations bearing upon it, while others it glances over slightly, or entirely disregards — even as the bodily eye gazing fixedly on one object is as blind for the time to all the rest as if they were not — so that from all the topics which should have been considered in due weight and measure, it culls those only which lead to the desired conclusion, or gives them such undue prominence in the field of vision that the judgment, deceived and misled, arrives, at a partial, though acceptable, decision — these are questions which may be left to the metaphysician to solve. It is enough for us that the fact is admitted, that everywhere, but in the necessary truths of demonstrative reasoning, the conclusions of reason are actually modified by the wishes, interests, or prejudices of the reasoner; so that belief is not merely the result of intellect, but is, in perhaps a large majority of cases, the mixed product of the moral and intellectual faculties combined. And if this be true where the feelings and passions are only remotely affected, and should not be so at all, how much more will it have place when the subject-matter is religion, which must teach the tenderest part of our moral nature; which strikes on hopes and fears; which bears directly on every affection, passion, motive, habit, and act; which, if admitted to be true, requires a complete revolution in the whole inner man and in great part of the outward conduct. The choice of arrangement of the materials with which reason is to work is much in the power of the will; and the will is prejudiced, and cannot, or will not, honestly do its part. It is not, then, surprising that our Lord should have attributed unbelief always to moral, never to purely intellectual causes (see John 3:18-20; John 5:40-44; John 7:17). It will follow, too — which is the point more immediately before us — not only that in the formation of a sound and living faith there is room for the agency of the Holy Spirit, but that without His aid such faith cannot exist. For if the character of our belief depends not merely on the correctness of the reasoning process, but much more on prior operations of the will, by which the antecedents and materials of reason are selected and arranged, and if our moral nature is in our unregenerate state warped and impaired so as to have a disinclination to what is good and a bias to what is evil, it is evident that the gospel, placed before such a tribunal, must be tried by a prejudiced and incapable judge; that, being wished false, and admitting of objections capable of being magnified and coloured into refutations, it is certain to be found false; and that nothing can rectify the balance of judgment, and place truth on an equal footing with falsehood, but the same external and Divine power which changes and renews the will of man, and enables it to love right instead of wrong, and to desire in all things to know and to do God's will. Let us now, in further illustration of what has been said, endeavour to trace in one or two instances the process by which moral causes, acting on the intellect, may lead to avowed or practical belief.
1. In a certain class of minds infidelity and heresy alike seem to owe their origin to intellectual pride. To believe is to, adopt the same opinions which have been the creed of multitudes before, and to be confounded in the mass of unreasoning minds which have received implicitly the same traditionary tenets. Objections, on the other hand, have an air of novelty. There is at least the appearance of power in striking out difficulties. It is an intoxicating pleasure to feel different from other men — that is, in our own judgment, superior to them — and the brain often reels under it. Besides this, there is a prejudice against the gospel from the mere circumstance of its being old. In every science new discoveries are making daily. In history, in politics, in science, men have been long mistaken, why not in religion also? With such feelings and prepossessions the mind catches up objections to Christianity, or to some of its doctrines, as just what it was expecting to find. It dwells on them; it magnifies them by the exclusion of other presumptions, till they fill the field of mental vision and leave no room for truth. Humility and faith are kindred gifts of the same Spirit.
2. Another source of unbelief is even more evidently moral. It arises when the soul would hide from God after displeasing Him by wilful sin. Some, for example, smother accusing thoughts in worldly amusements and the dissipation of frivolous gaiety. But many — far more, probably, than can be known till the secrets of all hearts are disclosed — take refuge in a kind of partial unbelief. There are difficulties in revelation, and in some of its doctrines — light as a feather, indeed, when weighed impartially in the balance against the accumulated evidences of truth, but not of course without weight when poised and pondered over by themselves. Such the writhing soul is glad to seize. Suppose the gospel should not be true? his obligations are imaginary, and his guilt and ingratitude are unreal.
(Bp. Jackson.)I. WHAT PROGRESS MAY BE MADE IN THE STUDY AND USE OF SCRIPTURE WITHOUT THE SPECIAL INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
1. It is obvious that, without such special influence of the Spirit of God, it is possible to arrive at a merely speculative belief in the truth of Scripture. Men of keen faculties in other pursuits do not forfeit them on approaching the Word of God.
2. It is possible for an individual, without the special influence of the Holy Spirit, to obtain a general acquaintance with the contents of the sacred volume. The strongest eye will make the largest discoveries.
3. It is possible, without the special influence of the Holy Spirit, to feel the highest admiration for parts of the sacred volume.
4. Such an individual may proceed clearly and strikingly to display the contents of the sacred volume to others. He may be a man of lively imagination, and conjure up the most attractive images for the illustration of the truth. He may be a master in composition and therefore able to describe forcibly what he sees distinctly. But, nevertheless, all these powers and faculties may be called into action without the operation of any principle of piety, and therefore without the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit on the soul.
II. WHAT IS THAT KNOWLEDGE AND USE OF SCRIPTURE OF WHICH THE HOLY GHOST MUST BE CONSIDERED AS THE EXCLUSIVE AUTHOR.
1. It is by the Holy Spirit we are led to make a personal application of the holy Scripture to our own case.
2. It is the Spirit of God alone who endears the promises of Scripture to the heart. They nominally called Christ "Lord" before, but they now use the expression in a higher and more appropriate sense. They are entirely His. They "yield their members as instruments of righteousness" to Him.
3. It is the Holy Spirit alone who brings the Word of God effectually to bear upon the temper and conduct. As soon as this new influence is felt on the soul our chains begin to drop from us.Conclusions:
1. Let the text teach us not to confound the results of our natural powers with the fruits of the Spirit.
2. Let the text teach us the transcendent importance of seeking habitually and devoutly the presence and influence of the Spirit of God.
3. If He does not lead us to "say that Jesus is the Lord" — to acknowledge Him, practically and spiritually, as our Redeemer, our Saviour, our Teacher, our Example — the whole of Scripture is as to us a dead letter, and we have "received the grace of God in vain."
(J. W. Cunningham.)I. There are reasons for believing that the expression, "JESUS IS LORD," WAS THE PRIMITIVE FORM OF CHRISTIAN CREED, out of which all other more elaborate forms have grown (Philippians 2:11).
1. This simple formula contains in germ the whole faith, both objectively and subjectively. We cannot heartily accept this without accepting with it the truths of His incarnation, atonement, resurrection, reign. It includes also all that we need for our own spiritual welfare. If He is Lord, we are His, He is ours.
2. So full and so mighty is this confession of faith that we cannot heartily make it save by the power of the Holy Ghost (cf. St. Matthew 16:16, 17). To make it on the authority of others, or because our reasoning faculties have been convinced of its truth, is not sufficient. It is real only when the Holy Spirit has convinced our spirit that it is a living truth.
II. From the above considerations we can gain some GUIDANCE IS THE SEARCH AFTER UNITY AMONG CHRISTIANS. If the essential primitive creed that "Jesus is the Lord" be held spiritually —
1. It may be permitted us to differ as to the exact methods in which He works upon our spiritual being. St. Paul allows that there are diversities of gifts, differences of administration, differences of operation.
2. We shall learn not to contradict the spiritual experiences of others because they have been gained by methods differing from our own. Our creed is a creed of affirmations, not of denials. The spiritual education of St. Peter differed from that of St. John, and both differed from that of St. Paul or St. James, yet they are united in their belief in the one Lord.
(Canon Vernon button.)I. THE LESSON WE ARE TO LEARN, to say. "Jesus is the Lord."
1. It is but short, but it is the whole gospel. Here is Jesus, "a Saviour" and "the Lord," and as they are joined together in one Christ, no man must put them asunder. If we wilt have Christ our Saviour, we must make Him our Lord: and if we make Him our Lord, He will then be our Saviour. Had He not been the Lord, the world had been a chaos, the Church a body without a head, a family without a father, an army without a captain, a ship without a pilot, and a kingdom without a king.
2. What it is to say it. It is soon said: it is but three words. The devils themselves did say it (Matthew 8:29). And if the heretic will not confess it, saith Hilary, "what more fit to convince him than the cry of the devils themselves?" The "vagabond Jews" thought to work miracles with these words (Acts 19:13). To say it taketh in the tongue, the heart, the hand, i.e., an outward profession, an inward persuasion, a constant practice answerable to them both.(1) We are bound to say it (Romans 10:9; 1 John 4:15).(a) But if to say it were sufficient, there needed no Holy Ghost to teach it. We might learn to say it as the parrot did to salute Caesar. And indeed, if we take a survey or the conversation of most Christians, we shall find that our confession is much after the fashion of birds.(b) Some dare not but say it for very shame, lest those they live with should confute them. Yet the voice may be for Jesus and the heart for Mammon. "It is a voice, and no more." Thus they may name Him who never name Him but in their execrations.(2) As there is "a word floating on the tongue," so there is the word of the heart, when by due examination we are well persuaded that Jesus is the Lord. We call it "faith," which as a fire will not be concealed (Jeremiah 20:9; Psalm 39:3; Psalm 116:10). Sometimes we read of its valour (Hebrews 11:33); its policy (2 Corinthians 2:11), its strength; but that faith should be idle, or speechless, or dead, is contrary to its nature. Now there are many who maintain the truth, but by those ways which are contrary to the truth (2 Timothy 3:5); crying, "Jesus is the Lord," but scourging Him with their blasphemies, and fighting against Him with their lusts. Therefore —(3) That we may truly say it, we must speak it to God as God speaketh to us; who, if "He saith it, will make it good " (Numbers 23:19). And as He speaketh to us by His benefits, so must we speak to Him by our obedience. For if He be indeed our Lord, then shall we be under His command.
II. THE TEACHER. As the lesson is difficult, we must have a skilful master.
1. Good reason that the Holy Ghost should be our teacher. For as the lesson is, such should the master be. The lesson is spiritual; the teacher a Spirit. The lecture is a lecture of piety; and the Spirit is a Holy Spirit. It is not sharpness of wit, or quickness of apprehension, or force of eloquence, that can raise us to this truth.
2. "Christ dwelleth in us by His Spirit" (Romans 8:11). Who teaches us —(1) By sanctifying our knowledge of Christ; by showing us the riches of His gospel, and the majesty of His kingdom, with that evidence that we are forced to fall down and worship.(2) By quickening, enlivening, and even actuating our faith. For this Spirit "dwelleth in our hearts by faith," maketh us to be "rooted and grounded in love," enableth us to believe with efficacy (Ephesians 3:17).
3. A teacher then He is. But great care is to be taken that we mistake Him not, or take some other spirit for Him. And it doth not follow, because some men mistake and abuse the Spirit, that no man is taught by Him. Because I will not learn, doth not the Spirit therefore teach? And if some men take dreams for revelations, must the Holy Ghost needs lose His office?
4. But you will say perhaps that "the Holy Ghost was a teacher in the apostles' times, but doth He still keep open school?" Yes, certainly. Though we be no apostles, yet we are Christians; and the same Spirit teacheth both. And by His light we avoid all by-paths of dangerous error, and discern, though not all truth, yet all that is necessary.
III. HIS PREROGATIVE. He is our "sole instructor."
1. "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." And there are diversities of teachers, but the same Spirit.(1) The Church is "the house of learning," and "the pillar of the truth."(2) The Word is a teacher: and Christ by open proclamation hath commanded us to have recourse unto it.(3) We are taught also by Christ's discipline.
2. All these are teachers; but their authority and efficacy is from the Spirit. The Church, if not directed by the Spirit, were but a rout or conventicle; the Word, if not quickened by the Spirit, "a dead letter"; and His discipline a rod of iron, first to harden us, and then break us to pieces. But the Spirit bloweth upon His garden the Church, and the spices thereof flow (Song of Solomon 4:16); He sitteth upon the seed of the Word, and hatcheth a new creature, a subject to this Lord; He moveth upon these waters of bitterness, and then they make us "fruitful to every good work." Conclusion: Wilt thou know how to speak this language truly, that "Jesus is the Lord," and assure thyself that the Spirit teacheth thee so to speak? Mark well then those symptoms of His presence.Remember —
1. That He is a Spirit, and the Spirit of God, and so is contrary to the flesh, and teacheth nothing that may flatter or countenance it, or let it loose to insult over the spirit.
2. That He is "a right Spirit" (Psalm 51:10); not now glancing on heaven, and having an eye fixed and buried in the earth.
3. That He is a Spirit of truth. And it is the property of truth to be always like unto itself, to change neither shape nor voice.
(A. Farindon, B.D.)I. WHO DO NOT SPEAK BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, AND HAVE NOT HIS INFLUENCES. "They that call Jesus accursed" (Leviticus 27:21, 28).
1. The test put on Christians by their persecutors was, that they should revile and blaspheme Christ. Pliny, writing to Trajan, says, "When they" (the Christians) "could be induced to call on the gods... and, moreover, to revile Christ, to none of which things it is said that those who are in reality Christians can be compelled, I thought they ought to be released." And the Jews not only uttered blasphemies against Christ themselves, but extorted them, if possible, from those they apprehended to be His disciples (Acts 26:11). The apostle, therefore, here signifies that those who reviled Christ had not the Spirit. This is applicable to those who in any way detract from the glory of Christ, or that do not acknowledge Him to be Lord.
2. It includes —(1) All that blaspheme Him, or account Him, an impostor; as all infidels, heathens, Jews, Mohammedans, and whoever does not acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah (John 8:24; 1 John 4:3).(2) All that reject Him (Acts 4:11).(a) As a Teacher, not receiving the whole of His doctrine as infallibly true.(b) As a Mediator, not making His atonement or intercession the ground of their justification (Romans 9:31; Romans 10:3).(c) As a Saviour from sin and its consequences.(d) As a King, by disobeying His laws. For, as the chief end for which the Holy Spirit is given to us is to glorify Christ, if we neglect, or be indifferent about, Him, it is certain we are not inspired by that Spirit.
II. WHO HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT? All that "say that Jesus is the Lord."
1. What is implied in saying this? To say so is —(1) To believe and confess that, although He was despised and persecuted, yet He was the Lord Christ promised to the patriarchs, foretold by the prophets (Malachi 3:1; Psalm 110:1; 1 John 4:2; Matthew 16:16); anointed and qualified to be our Teacher, our Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20, 21; Hebrews 2:14), our Saviour, our Owner, our King (Philippians 2:11), our Lord and Master (Romans 14:7-9), our Judge (Romans 14:9-12).(2) To believe and confess Him to be the Son of God, in a sense that no other being is His Son (1 John 4:15; Matthew 16:16; Hebrews 1:3, etc.); therefore, to be the "heir" and "lord of all" — to be "Immanuel, God with us" (Romans 9:5). It is impossible He should sustain His offices, or be our Lord, if He be not God.
2. The importance of it.(1) It is the end of His life, death, and resurrection, that He should be acknowledged such (Philippians 2:6-11).(2) It is necessary to our salvation, and certainly connected with it (Romans 10:8-10; 1 John 4:13-15).(3) It tends to the glory of God, and the salvation of others.
3. It can only be said "by the Holy Ghost." It must be said —(1) In the mind believingly and sincerely; therefore, it must proceed from knowledge which we cannot have but by the Spirit (Matthew 11:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12; John 16:13-15; Ephesians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 4:6).(2) In the heart, affectionately (Romans 10:10; and 1 Corinthians 16:22; 1 Peter 2:7, 8); but this love we cannot have but by the Spirit (Romans 5:5).(3) With lips, openly, whatever it may cost (Romans 10:9; 2 Timothy 2:8-14; Matthew 10:25, 28, 32, 33-39), which we cannot do of ourselves, or without faith and a new birth (1 John 5:4, 5), and, therefore, without the Spirit.(4) By the life, consistently.
(J. Benson.)I. WHAT DOES THIS STATEMENT MEAN? The Holy Ghost must —
1. Convince us of its truth.
2. Reveal to us its importance.
3. Inspire us to trust in it.
II. UPON WHAT IS IT BASED? It is —
1. Necessarily a matter of revelation.
2. Contrary to the carnal mind.
3. Superior to human reason.
(W. W. Wythe.)
I. THE TEXT DOES NOT ASSERT THE INCOMPETENCY OF THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING IN MATTERS OF RELIGION. Though the understanding was greatly injured by the fall, nevertheless in the main it still faithfully executes its part. But it can only judge of things according to the representations laid before it; and if those representations be incorrect, it may deliver a wrong judgment, and yet be no ways in fault. E.g., we lay a case before a lawyer; he delivers a favourable opinion; nevertheless, when we go into court, the verdict is against us. Now, it is possible enough that the lawyer may have been to blame, but the case may not have been fairly submitted to him; a colouring may have been thrown over certain facts, which has distorted them. Then surely the lawyer is not in fault.
II. THE UNDERSTANDING MAY BE DECEIVED.
1. By the senses. Let us suppose a man born with impaired senses, but with a clear understanding. Suppose that his eye distorts everything, or is unable to discriminate colours; suppose his touch imperfect, or his ear faulty. Now what will the powers of the man's understanding avail him when such senses make their report? Would he not himself require to be made the subject of a rectifying process ere he could frame any true and fitting conceptions of the world in which he is placed?
2. By the affections. There are in all of us faculties by which we love and by which we hate certain things; the former is in right order if it fix on nothing but what is worthy of our love, and the latter if it fix on nothing but what is worthy of our hatred. But if, like the diseased eye or ear, they misrepresent objects, what will the understanding be able to do, seeing that the impression transmitted to it of evil may make it seem good, and of good may make it seem evil? And is not man in his natural state a being with depraved affections, though he may not be a being with vitiated senses? By nature he regards as worthy of his best love what God would have him despise, and gives his aversion to that which God would have him value; he seeks happiness where God asserts that it cannot be found, and denies that it exists where alone God would place it. The task demanded from the understanding by religion is, that it determine that in God is man's chief good, and that in obedience to God is also true happiness. But whilst the affections in their natural state give preference to some finite good and shrink from God's service, how can the understanding deliver the verdict required by religion any more than it could form a correct notion of a tree, if the senses represent it as lying on the ground in place of springing from it?
III. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS REQUIRED TO WORK ON THAT BY WHICH THE UNDERSTANDING IS DECEIVED, i.e., in the heart; removing the corrupt bias from the affections, and purifying them so that they shall find their chief good in God, ere the head can apprehend the great truths of the gospel, confess their force, and bow to their authority. Men often profess to count it very strange that we should make them out incapable of understanding spiritual things, when they have confessedly so much power in other departments of knowledge. The proper answer is, that the affections are to spiritual things what the senses are to natural things. If, then, the affections misrepresent the objects of which they have to give impressions to the understanding, the result will be of the same kind as if the work were done by the senses. The Holy Ghost did not come to give a new understanding, for there was strength enough in the head; He came to set in order those faculties through which the understanding is necessarily influenced. And it follows indubitably, from such passages as our text, that until a man has submitted himself to the influences of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the meaning of the Bible, and yield himself to the duties of religion.
(H. Melvill, B.D.)
Essex Congregational RemembrancerI. THE MANNER IN WHICH A TRUE CHRISTIAN IS HERE DESCRIBED.
1. He says "Jesus is the Lord." The term "Lord" is here used to signify Christ's Messiahship, including His authority and dominion. "He is Lord of all." Christ has authority —(1) To teach, to prescribe the faith of His followers, to enact laws for His Church, to direct and command in all things pertaining to our present duty, and our hopes for the future.(2) To rule. As Lord of all, He is the head of that mediatorial government which externals over the world, for the sake of His Church which is in the world. His reign is a reign of grace. His throne is in the hearts of the faithful, who are made willing in the day of His power, and find their pleasure in their obedience.(3) To pardon and save. When on earth He had power to forgive sins; and He is now "exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give remission of sins." We are required to look unto Him, that we might be saved.(4) He will hereafter come in the clouds of heaven with all authority to judge.
2. But what is meant by saying that Jesus is the Lord?(1) That to say it aright you must cordially receive Christ, and trust in Him as your Redeemer and Saviour (John 1:12, 13).(2) With this is connected a spirit of submission, and a practical acknowledgment of His lordship over us. To say He is the Lord, and yet to refuse to obey Him, is to mock Him with vain words.(3) To this must be joined those exercises of the mind which are the proper workings of faith, the fruits of the Spirit of grace.
II. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN PRODUCING A CORDIAL SUBJECTION TO CHRIST THE LORD.
1. The human mind shows a reluctance to that spiritual reception of the gospel which is meant by saying that Jesus is the Lord.
2. It is not to be expected that the heart, under this wrong bias, will cure itself. Nor can so desirable a change be effected, except by our heavenly Father's gracious assumption of this work to Himself (Ezekiel 36:26). The scriptures connect the sanctification of the Spirit with the belief of the truth. What occasions the rejection of the authority of Jesus the Lord? Is it not ignorance and unbelief? And how shall these be removed but by instruction and evidence? These are to be obtained from the Word of God, and it is by means of His own truth as there revealed that souls are renewed and reconciled. His Spirit helpeth our infirmities, and "worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).Conclusion:
1. Let us infer, for our improvement, the great importance of the work of the Holy Spirit in the concerns of our salvation.
2. Let us all carefully use the means whereby our souls may be quickened to all holy obedience.
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer .)
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