What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a psalm or a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. All of these must be done to build up the church.
I. REFLECT UPON WHAT THE CHURCH IS.
2. It is the Church of Christ. "My Church" (Matthew 16:18). It
(1) bears his Name;
(2) is the place of his presence (Matthew 18:20 and Matthew 28:20);
(3) redeemed by his blood (1 Peter 1:18, 19);
(4) his body (1 Corinthians 12:27);
(5) identified with him by the world;
(6) the chief means by which his Name is made known in the earth;
(7) it is light derived from him shining in a dark place.
3. The abiding place of the Holy Ghost. (1 Corinthians 3:16.)
4. The great instrumentality for the conversion of the ungodly.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF EVERYTHING CONNECTED WITH THE CHURCH BEING AS FREE FROM FAULT AS POSSIBLE. Impropriety and disorder in the Church
(1) dishonour God;
(2) grieve Christ;
(3) tend to quench the Spirit, and
(4) to make the Church powerless for its mission.
III. WHAT VAST RESPONSIBILITY RESTS UPON THOSE WHO VIOLATE THE APOSTOLIC COMMAND. (Ver. 40.) God is a God of peace, but in this way he is made to appear a God of confusion and disorder (ver. 33). - H.
How is it then, bretheren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm,... a doctrine.I. WHAT IT INCLUDES.
II. WHAT ITS OBJECTS.
1. Mutual edification.
III. WHAT IT REQUIRES.
IV. WHAT ITS SPIRIT.
2. Submission to God's Word.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)etc., but little turns out to edifying. Yet this is not the intention of the apostle in the text. First, it is a voice to life, the description of the Church of the living God, and of the varied means of grace by which the spirit grows. It is the assurance that variety is no hindrance to edification, but rather the way to it, even as the various materials of a building do not interfere with the unity of the building, but help it forward. Then, second, it is an invocation to the sanctification of speech, with which compare Exodus 4:11. As speech distinguishes man from all the other inhabitants of the earth, so sacred speech especially distinguishes the Christian man from other men. Speech is the glorious endowment which constitutes the poet, the singer, the orator. Speech so Divine in its origin and use is to flow back to God; it is to be converted. The song is to be converted to the psalm. How dreadful is unconverted speech and its effects! When the physician visits the sick patient, one of the first things he asks him to do is to put out his tongue. He tests the state of the body by the tongue. And I am almost disposed to say to the professing Christian, "Put out your tongue." One of the first effects of holiness in the life is the purification of speech. "If a man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." But we have in the text the constituent elements of a Divine service. Here are the five chords of a human harp, by whose charm life grows into fulness and proportion. Every one hath something; let no one be depressed on his own account, let no one be scornful on account of his neighbour.
I. Strike the first chord — "EVERY ONE OF YOU HATH A PSALM," the musical adoration. Every one of you hath a psalm that is the gladness of life — life realised as good, when the soul says, "O come, let us sing unto the Lord," etc. Even as a bird in a dark grove is heard in its sweet strain, so let your voice rise, the swell of your praise, the sob of your confession, of your grief. Say it first for yourself, "Bless the Lord, O my soul! " then say it aloud to all the congregation.
II. Then strike the second chord — EVERYONE OF YOU HATH A DOCTRINE. As there is a psalm of life, there is a doctrine of life. Man is a being of feet as well as wings. There is the practical aspect of Christian truth. Surely every one of you knows something; you have lines, you have laws and statutes, even as the noblest musician has his notes and bars and scale of melody! And the doctrine is the guide, the law of life. What is arithmetic without numbers? What is language without letters? So religion is intangible without creed.
III. And then strike the third chord — EVERY ONE OF YOU HATH A TONGUE, i.e., language that is especially his own. The accent is the soul. How different are real words, real prayers, and yet the accent is true. Some tongues are as if tipped with shafts of fire, and some distil as the dew. Some words swell with passion, and some flow like music. How varied are the accents of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, and John!
IV. Then there is the fourth chord — EVERY ONE OF YOU HATH A REVELATION. Every Christian has had his own satisfying vision; this is the story of his soul, as when Paul said, "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me"; but let us not make our revelation the absolute standard to another.
V. Then there is the fifth chord — EVERY ONE OF YOU HATH AN INTERPRETATION, and that is the consolation of hope; and as the revelation is to a man, so will his interpretation be; what I have seen and felt in the Bible is that which I shall draw forth from it. Every one hath his own interpretation, his own mode of reading his Bible, if he read it with his own eyes; and of what avail is it to me to read my Bible with the eyes of another man? Conclusion: And life does all this. Life is the spirit in which all is performed; no life then, no psalm, no doctrine, etc. On the other hand, a living psalm, a living doctrine, etc., that all may be done to edifying.
Let all things be done unto edifying
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE EDIFICATION OF OTHERS IS A DUTY TO WHICH ALL CHRISTIANS ARE OBLIGED. And this will appear —
2. From the relation that all Christians have to Christ as to their common Lord and Head. Whenever they pray that His kingdom may come, they hereby declare that they desire to see the enlargement of Christ's kingdom. And how is this consistent with being indifferent and unconcerned about the edification of others? Building is not more properly the business and employment of the professed builder than it is that of the Christian in all things to profit and edify his neighbour.
3. From the relation men have to one another, as being jointly members of the mystical body of Christ. We are not only members of Christ's body, but members also one of another. And it is the great law of the gospel that, as such, we have love one towards another. Now unless that charity can be esteemed perfect which extends to men's bodies and not to their souls, we must look on ourselves as obliged as to a very considerable branch of Christian charity to study to edify one another. And therefore Paul makes it a mark of charity that it "edifieth."
II. THAT ESPECIAL MANNER WHEREIN THE MINISTERS OF CHRIST IN PARTICULAR ARE OBLIGED TO FORWARD THIS GOOD WORK. The edifying the Church is the particular business for which they are set apart, and therefore every part of their conduct should have a particular tendency to this very thing.
1. In their public instructions. Instructing the ignorant is but one part of the preacher's business. To remind those that are careless and to induce those who are not so ignorant as some others to consideration is as much his business as the other, and is every whit as necessary. And if men are edified either way, then is preaching a proper means of edification.
2. When they are officiating in holy things. They whose duty it is to join with us in prayer will be differently affected according as they observe the several parts of Divine service to be performed negligently and perfunctorily, or with fitting care and decency. In the latter case they who bring proper sentiments to the house of God will feel their good dispositions cherished and encouraged, and will be apt to relish devotion more, and to find greater delight and satisfaction in such religious exercises. And as for those who are thoughtless, the decent and devotional deportment of those who officiate will be a powerful, though secret, check to their want of attention and levity, and will be the most likely way to awaken them from their heedlessness and indolence.
3. In the exemplariness of their lives. Concerning Christ, has observed that "He did not only point out to us the true way, but went Himself before us in it, and this He did that no one on account of the difficulty should be afraid of venturing into the ways of virtue." It is a secret objection men are apt to make within themselves against the doctrine of the gospel that it is a rule of too great perfection to be practised, and this objection cannot be more effectually removed than when the preachers of it are themselves examples of what they teach.
III. BY WAY OF MOTIVE TO THIS WORK, NOTE THE FOLLOWING ARGUMENTS.
1. The excellence of this work. It is doing our best towards restoring man to the image of his Maker; it is putting him into a state of liberty, and delivering him from the servitude of sin, and fitting him for God's favour and rewards. And what a great honour is it to mortal man!
2. The great charity of this work, inasmuch as it consists in converting sinners from the error of their ways, it is saving of souls from death.
3. The great necessity that we in particular of the clergy are under of having this good work very much at heart (1 Corinthians 9:16).
4. The exceeding great reward that attends it (Daniel 12:3).
5. The unspeakable comfort and God-like joy which must be felt even in this life by those who have been successful. It is the only thing we know of that even in heaven itself can make new joy.
IV. THE WISE PROVISION MADE BY OUR CHURCH FOR THE EDIFICATION OF ITS MEMBERS.
1. The service in the vulgar tongue is certainly much better fitted to inspire those who are present with sentiments of piety and devotion than when it is in a language which they that hear it do not understand.
2. Our liturgy is in all its parts edifying.
3. It is certainly more for edification that the business of public instruction should be in the hands of persons who by their education have been qualified for this thing, and who have been approved and sent forth by the governors of the Church, than that so important a business should be left to every one's caprice who should take it into his head that he is qualified for this office.
4. That judicious choice which our Church has made in retaining some ceremonies avid abolishing others is another thing in which our constitution is well fitted to edifying.
I. ATTENDANCE — "all with one accord in one place" (Acts 1:13, 14). Blessed unanimity! — itself a promise and prophecy of Pentecost. To promote this the meeting should be made attractive. The place, the time, the environment ought to be all favourable-light, heat, ventilation, home comfort. A fervent meeting cannot be expected with freezing feet. The household of believers should have a home atmosphere in a home gathering.
II. AGREEMENT (Matthew 18:19, 20). A divided Church never has a true prayer service. Unity reacts on the meeting, drawing together by a common motive.
II. THE SENSE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE MASTER (Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 5:4). Every attendant helps to make the atmosphere of the meeting, and hence ought to go from the closet impelled by the expectation of seeing the Lord.
IV. SPONTANEITY. Participation should be voluntary. Anything constrained hurts the meeting. We need the flow of a fountain, not the spurt of a force-pump. Spontaneity indexes spirituality. The measure of the presence of the Spirit is shown by voluntariness of participation. If a believer takes part against his will, constrained by courtesy to the leader, his help is of doubtful value. Selection is too apt to he guided by intellectual standards. It is not always the most intelligent that most edify.
V. INFORMALITY (Acts 16:13). The prayer-meeting in primitive days was held in such places as suggested free, familiar interchange. The nearer the approach to a family gathering the better. Formality kills; all undue ceremony and dignity are hurtful.
VI. LIBERTY (2 Corinthians 3:17). This must be cultivated in ourselves and encouraged in others. Hypercriticism is its implacable foe. An aristocrat persistently advised me to do all the praying and talking, and keep others from taking part, except two whom he mentioned. All others "grated upon his ear." Alas! how are raw recruits to be developed to veterans without practice? The ideal meeting is where every one, even women, exercise the gift of the Spirit freely as led of God (Acts 1:14).
VII. SIMPLICITY. Rhetoric is generally addressed to the audience, not God. Even of the broken prayer the Lord "takes the meaning."
VIII. A SPIRITUAL, SCRIPTURAL TONE. If young people and new converts could be gathered weekly for training by the pastor or some competent person in knowledge of the Word and practice in public prayer, the prayer-meeting would show results. Conclusion: A few hints may be added as to the various exercises.
1. Praise. Song is very important, yet often perverted. The prayer-meeting is not a concert or a singing-school. The time is short — all exercises should be brief; the instrument should not be abused for playing symphonies and interludes. Awkwardness and delay in finding, reading, and starting the hymns are hurtful to impression.
2. Prayer must be audible, brief, direct.
3. The Word of God should be exalted always. Nothing so inspires faith, hope, and love, as the truth of God. Let the leader give at the outset one great thought from the Word, and set an example of point, pith, power, practical suggestion, and, above all, a Scriptural, spiritual frame of mind.
(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)I. ITS FOUNDATION.
1. The essential equality of the members before God; they are brethren.
II. ITS OBJECTS.
III. ITS MEANS.
1. Mutual service.
IV. ITS MOTIVES.
1. God is the author of peace.
2. Order is a distinguishing feature of the churches of the saints.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. HOW OCCASIONED. By self-seeking, forwardness, etc.
II. WHY CONDEMNED. Because inconsistent with —
2. Common edification.
III. HOW PREVENTED.
1. By keeping the main object in view.
2. By doing all things unto edifying.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)Luke 11:2). The same may be proved also from the nature of the thing itself by such arguments which do not only demonstrate that it is so, but likewise show how it comes to be so. For, first, in order to our being edified, so as to be made better and holier whensoever we meet together upon a religious account, it is necessary that the same good and holy things be always inculcated and pressed upon us after one and the same manner, for we cannot but all find by our own experience how difficult it is to fasten anything that is truly good either upon ourselves or others, and that it is rarely, if ever, effected without frequent repetitions of it. Moreover, that which conduceth to the quickening our souls, and to the raising up of our affections in our public devotions, must needs be acknowledged to conduce much to our edification. But it is plain that as to such purposes a set form of prayer is an extraordinary help to us; for if I hear another pray, and know not beforehand what he will say, I must first listen to what he will say next, then I am to consider whether what he saith be agreeable to sound doctrine, and whether it be proper and lawful for me to join with him in the petitions he puts up to Almighty God, and if I think it is so, then I am to do it. But before I can well do that he is got to another thing, by which means it is very difficult, if not morally impossible, to join with him in everything so regularly as I ought to do. But by a set form of prayer all this trouble is prevented. I have nothing else to do while the words are sounding in mine ears but to move my heart and affections suitably to them, to raise up my desires of those good things which are prayed for, to fix my mind wholly upon God whilst I am praising of Him, and so to employ, quicken, and lift up my whole soul in performing my devotions to Him. To this may be also added that, if we hear another praying a prayer of his own private composition or voluntary effusion, our minds are wholly bound up and confined to his words and expressions, and to his requests and petitions, be they what they will, so that at the best we can but pray his player, whereas when we pray by a form prescribed by the Church we pray the prayers of the whole Church we live in, which are common to the minister and people, to ourselves, and to all the members of the same Church, which cannot surely but be more effectual for the edifying, not only of ourselves in particular, but of the Church in general, than any private prayer can be. Lastly, in order to our being edified by our public devotions, as it is necessary that we know beforehand what we are to pray for, so it is necessary that we afterwards know what we have prayed for when we have done. Now, as this is a thing of greater consequence, so a set form of prayer is a greater help to us in it than it is commonly thought to be; for if we hear another utter a prayer extempore which he never said, nor we heard, before, nor ever shall do it again, it is much if he himself can remember the tenth part of what he said, how much less can we that heard him do it? And if we cannot possibly remember what we prayed for, how is it possible for us to expect it at the hands of God or to depend upon Him for it? But now it is quite otherwise when we use a set form of prayer, for by this means, when we have prayed, we can recollect ourselves, look over our prayers again, either in a book or in our minds, where they are imprinted; we can consider distinctly what we have asked at the hands of God, and so act our faith and confidence on Him for the granting every petition we have put up unto Him, according to the promises which He hath made us to that purpose. These things being duly weighed, I shall now proceed to show that that form in particular which our Church hath appointed to be used upon such occasions is agreeable to the apostolic rule in the text. First, as to the language, you all know that the whole service is preformed in English, the vulgar and common language of the nation, which every one understands, and so may be edified by it. Ours is truly common prayer, for it is written and read in that language which is common to all the congregations in the kingdom, and to every person in each congregation. So that all the people of the land, whatsoever rank or condition they are of, may join together in the use of everything that is in it, and so be jointly edified by it. But that which is chiefly to be considered in the language of the common prayer is that it is not only common, but proper too. Though the words there used be all but common words, yet they are so used that they properly express the things that are designed by them. This, I confess, may seem to be no great matter at first sight, yet it is that. without which we might be subverted by that which was intended for our edification; for impropriety of speech in matters of religion hath given occasion to all or most of the schisms, errors, and heresies that ever infested this or any other Church, as might easily be demonstrated. Hence the apostle gave Timothy a form of sound words, and charged him to hold it fast (2 Timothy 1:13), as knowing that except the words whereby he usually expressed Divine truths were sound and proper, it would be impossible for his notions and opinions of the things themselves to be so. And as the words in the common prayer are all as edifying as words can be, so, in the second place, is the matter expressed by those words, for there is nothing in it but what is necessary for our edification, and all things that are or can be for our edification are plainly in it. First, I say there is nothing in our liturgy but what is necessary for our edification. There are none of those vain disputations and impertinent controversies which have been raised in the Church, to its great disturbance, rather than its edification. And as there is nothing in it but what is edifying, so all things that are or can be edifying are in it, for nothing can be necessary to edify and make us perfect Christians but what is necessary either to be believed or done or else obtained by us. But there is nothing necessary to be known or believed but we are taught it; nothing necessary to be done but we are enjoined it; nothing necessary to be obtained but we pray for it in our public form of Divine service. There is no vice or lust but we desire it may be subdued under us; no grace or virtue but we pray it may be planted and grow in us. Insomuch that we do but constantly and sincerely pray over all those prayers, and steadfastly believe and trust in God for His answering of them, we cannot but be as real and true saints, as happy and blessed creatures, as it is possible for us to be in this world, Neither do we here pray for ourselves only, but, according to the apostle's advice, we make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks for all men; yea, for our very enemies, as our Saviour hath commanded us (Matthew 5:44). And what can be desired more than all this to make the matter of the common prayer edifying either to ourselves or others? I cannot pass from this head before I have observed one thing more unto you concerning the prayers in general, and that is that they are not carried on in one continued discourse, but divided into many short players or collects, such as that is which our Lord Himself composed; and that might be one reason wherefore our Church so ordered it, that so she might follow our Lord's example in it, who best knew what kind of prayers were fittest for us to use. There is a kind of necessity to break off sometimes to give ourselves a breathing time, that our thoughts being loosened for a while, they may with more ease and less danger of distraction be tied up again, as it is necessary they should be all the while that we are actually praying to the Supreme Being of the world. Besides that, in order to the performing our devotions aright to the Most High God, it is necessary that our souls be possessed all along with due apprehensions of His greatness and glory. To which purpose our short prayers contribute very much, for every one of them beginning with some of the properties or perfections of God, and so suggesting to our minds right apprehensions of Him at first, it is easy to preserve them in our minds during the space of a short prayer, which in a long one would be apt to scatter and vanish away. But that which I look upon as one of the principal reasons why our public devotions are and should be divided into short collects is this: our blessed Saviour, we know, hath often told us that whatsoever we ask in His name we shall receive. And so we see it is in the common prayer, for whatsoever it is we ask of God, we presently add, through Jesus Christ our Lord, or something to that purpose. The next thing to be considered in the common prayer is the method, which is admirable, and as edifying, if possible, as the matter itself. Confession, psalms, scripture, creeds. The last thing to be considered in it is the manner of its performance, by which I mean only the several postures of the body, as standing and kneeling, which are used in it, for they also are done to edifying, While we say or sing the hymns and psalms to the praise and glory of God we stand up, not only to signify, but to excite the elevation of our minds at that time. So when we pray unto Him, we fall down as low as we can towards the earth, not daring to present our supplications to the absolute Monarch of the whole world any other way than upon our knees. First, come not to our public prayers only out of custom or for fashion's sake, as the manner of some is, but out of a sincere obedience to God's commands, and with a sure trust and confidence in His promises for His blessing upon what you do. Secondly, frequent our public prayers as often as conveniently you can. The oftener you are at them, the better you will like them and the more edified you will be by them. Thirdly, if possible, come always at the beginning of Divine service, otherwise you will certainly miss something that would have been edifying to you, and perhaps of that which at that time might have done you more good than all the rest. Fourthly, all the while that you are in God's house carry yourselves as in His special presence and suitably to the work you are about, standing while you praise God and kneeling while you pray unto Him, as our Church hath directed you. Lastly, take special care all along to keep your minds intent upon the matter in hand. By this means you will perform reasonable service unto God, and by consequence that which will be very acceptable unto Him and as profitable and edifying to yourselves.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most three, and that by course; and let one interpret
I. IT MIGHT BE ADDRESSED BY SEVERAL SPEAKERS (vers. 27, 29). If this be so —
1. Should Christian teaching be regarded us a profession? It is so now. Men are brought up to it, and live by it as doctors, lawyers, etc. Surely the preaching of the gospel should no more be regarded as a profession than the talk of loving parents to their children.
2. Is the Church justified in confining its ministry to one man? In most congregations there are some who, besides the stated minister, are qualified to instruct, comfort, etc. And is it not incumbent on every Christian to preach, i.e., call sinners to repentance?
II. IT MIGHT ALLOW ITS GODLY MEN TO SPEAK ON THE INSPIRATION OF THE MOMENT (ver. 30). May it not be that under every discourse some one or more should be so Divinely excited with a rush of holy thought as to crave for utterance not for his own sake, but for that of others? Why, then, should he not have the opportunity? What an interest such an event would add to a religious service!
III. IT SHOULD SUBMIT THE UTTERANCES OF ITS TEACHERS TO A DEVOUT CRITICAL JUDGMENT. "Let others discern (or discriminate)" (R.V.). The people were not to accept as a matter of course all that was spoken; they were to act as the Bereans.
IV. IT SHOULD IN ALL ITS SERVICES MAINTAIN ORDER (vers. 32, 33). A true teacher, however full of inspiration, will so master his impulses as to prevent confusion. Notwithstanding all the liberty of teaching, all the enthusiam of the new life, where Christianity reigns there will be no disorder. There is order in dead mechanism, and there is ,order, too, in the roar of the ocean and in the thunderstorm. All that is Divine is under law.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
I. WHAT THE CHURCH IS.
1. The Church of the living God (1 Timothy 3:15).
2. The Church of Christ (Matthew 16:18).
3. The abiding place of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 3:16).
4. The great instrument for the conversion of the world.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF EVERYTHING CONNECTED WITH IT BEING AS FREE FROM FAULT AS POSSIBLE. Impropriety in the Church —
1. Dishonours God.
2. Grieves Christ.
3. Tends to quench the Spirit.
4. Reduces it to impotence.
III. WHAT A VAST RESPONSIBILITY RESTS UPON THOSE WHO VIOLATE THE APOSTOLIC COMMAND (ver. 40). God is a God of peace, but in this way He is made to appear a God of confusion.
(E. Hurndall, M. A.)I. HINTS AS TO THIS.
1. It should be intelligible to all (ver. 27).
2. Those who cannot speak to edification should be silent.
3. As a rule not more than two or three should speak on one occasion, and only one at a time (ver. 27).
4. The rest should listen and judge.
5. Every one should be ready to give way to another.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THESE HINTS.
1. That all may learn.
2. That all may be comforted (ver. 31).
(J. Lyth, . D. D.)
For ye may all prophesy1. All may speak.
2. All learn.
3. All may find comfort.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)John 7:17). For example, you know it is the duty of the Christian to pray. Exercise yourselves in prayer, then. It is the duty of a Christian parent to teach his children. Instruct your children, then: and so of the rest. As you practise religion you will make an experiment of the ease and pleasure of religious practice, and consequently you will grow more and more into a persuasion that the knowledge of God is the chief good of man. On supposition that you understand religion yourselves, we proceed to show you how to teach it to others. We suppose first the welfare of your children to lie nearest your heart. In vain you provide the comforts of life, and a settlement in the world for them without training them up in the principles of religion. It is like loading a boat with valuable commodities and sending it down a stream into the ocean without any animal except a jackdaw aboard. These principles ought to be imparted in a manner suited to their own dignity, to yours, and to that of your children. There are two general ways of teaching children the truths of religion. Some make use of catechisms, which children are made to get by heart. This is an exercise of the memory, but not of the understanding, and therefore nothing is more common than to find children, who can repeat a whole catechism, without knowing anything more than how to repeat it. The other method is by hearing them read some little histories of Scripture, and by asking them questions to set them a-thinking and judging for themselves. This is an exercise of the understanding, and when the understanding is taught its own use, it is set a-going true, and if it gets no future damage it will go true through life. A third way of teaching religion is by conference. There the doubting man may open all his suspicions, and confirmed Christians will strengthen their belief. There the fearful may learn to be valiant for the truth. There the liberal may learn to devise liberal things. There the tongue of the stammerer may learn to speak plainly. There Paul may withstand Peter to the face, because he deserves to be blamed. There the gospel may be communicated severally to them of reputation. There, in one word, ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. Finally, you have all a right if you have ability and opportunity to teach publicly. The ability we mean is at an equal distance from arrogance and slavish fear: it is what the Apostle Paul calls openness, or great plainness of speech. This ability, made up of knowledge and utterance, hath a certain proportion adapted to particular places, and that, which is equal to all the purposes of instruction in a small and obscure congregation, may be very unequal to the edification of a large and better instructed assembly: but as there are various assemblies of Christians in various circumstances, the part of a discreet man is to weigh circumstances and abilities together, and so to give them all their portion of meat in due season. All methods of teaching must be enforced by example, and without example all instruction is vain, if not wicked and dangerous. Let us finish by confirming the right of such teachers as we have been describing, to exercise their abilities to the edification of the Church. I said a right. To what? To teach, not to domineer, and play the lord and master with insolence and without control. Can anything be so wretched as to engage to think always through life as our teachers think, or, if we judge otherwise, to act against our own conviction for quiet sake? We said a right. To what? To teach, not to make a to,tune. If any man considers teaching as a trade to acquire wealth he renders his virtue doubtful, and if he exercises this trade with this view in our poor churches, he does no more honour to his understanding than to his heart. I said a right. To what? To teach, and not merely to talk. To fill up an hour, to kill time, to sound much and say nothing, to use vain repetitions; how easy are these to some men! To teach is to inform and to impress. I said a right. To what? To teach, and not to tattle. Teaching the gospel gives a man no right to interfere in the secular affairs of his brethren. When we say whoever understands Christianity hath a right to teach it, we do not say he hath a right to be heard, for as one man hath a right to teach, so another hath a right to hear, or not to hear, as he thinks proper; and the first ought not to exercise his right over the last without his consent. Sum up these articles, and they amount to this: any person who understands Christianity may teach it; but his teaching gives him no right to assume the character of a ruler over the consciences or property of his brethren, no right to trifle with their precious time, to interfere in their worldly affairs, to oblige any to hear without their consent, or under any pretence whatever to introduce disorder and inequality into a family, where one is the Master, even Christ, and all the rest without excepting one, all the rest are brethren, and where the highest endowments can make them no more.
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets1. Is in all ordinary cases possible.
2. Does not interfere with the operations of God's Spirit. He is a God of order and peace.
3. Is a religious duty, for the sake of edification and for the honour of religion.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
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