Have we no right to food and to drink?
I. THE RIGHT OF MINISTERS TO A SUITABLE MAINTENANCE. This is upheld by various arguments and analogies,
1. The labourer is worthy of his reward. Three instances are adduced in illustration (ver. 7).
(1) The soldier. The duty of fighting for his country throws the burden of his support upon others. Why should it be otherwise with the Christian soldier (2 Timothy 2:4)?
(2) The husbandman. His labour is rewarded by the fruit. The minister of the gospel is also a husbandman (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).
(3) The shepherd. Does he not receive the milk of the flock, partly for food and partly for exchange? Why should not the Christian pastor, who tends the flock of Christ, have a similar return (1 Peter 5:2)? The principle in these instances is that every occupation in common life yields support to the worker, and that he does not require to go beyond it for daily sustenance. In like manner, the minister of the gospel is entitled to an adequate maintenance without having to resort to secular work to supply his wants.
2. The teaching of the Mosaic Law. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox," etc. (ver. 9; Deuteronomy 25:4; comp. 1 Timothy 5:18). What was the meaning of this injunction? It shows, indeed, the care of the Lawgiver for the brute creation, but it is only a particular application of a great principle. The Law has regard for oxen, not for their own sake, but for the sake of him to whom they are in subjection. And if even the labouring ox was to be fed, how much more should the plougher and the thresher work in hope of partaking! The Law of Moses thus confirms the teaching of natural analogy, that the labourer is to be maintained by his work.
3. The fairness of the claim. "If we sowed unto you spiritual things," etc. (ver. 11). In every case the sower expects to reap; but there is more than this in the apostle's argument. The preacher of the gospel sows spiritual things - those great truths that minister to the spirit: is it a great matter if he looks for carnal things in return - those things that minister only to the flesh? If he is the instrument, in God's hand, of saving the souls of his hearers, what amount of gold can be an adequate recognition of the service rendered?
4. Analogy of the Jewish priesthood. (Ver. 13.) The rule was that they who served at the altar should receive a portion of the sacrifices and other gifts that were constantly brought to the temple. A sufficient support was thus secured; and the Divine sanction implied in that ancient rule applies equally to the case of the Christian ministry.
5. The express ordinance of the Lord Christ. (Ver. 14.) When he sent forth his apostles to preach, he said, "Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses;... for the labourer is worthy of his food" (Matthew 10:9, 10). This was their marching order. They were to depend on the offerings of the people among whom they laboured; and the reference here shows that this was no temporary arrangement, but that it was intended to be the New Testament rule for preachers of the gospel. Instead of having to turn aside to secular pursuits, they are to be free to give themselves wholly to their work. By these various arguments the apostle establishes the right of ministers to claim support at the hands of the Christian people, and the corresponding duty of the people to contribute that support. Both the right and the duty have been but imperfectly recognized by the Church. This will appear if we consider:
(1) The average rate of ministerial support. Compare this with the incomes of men in the other learned professions or in mercantile pursuits.
(2) The manner in which giving to the cause of Christ is frequently regarded. How many either give with a grudge or do not give at all! The evil resulting is twofold - spiritual loss to the individual, and a crippling of the Church in her work. Not until all the tithes are brought into the storehouse will the Lord open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing (Malachi 3:8-10).
II. THE RENUNCIATION OF THIS SIGHT. (Vers. 15-18.) Strongly as Paul insists upon his right to temporal maintenance, it is not with a view to urge his claim upon the Corinthians, but to bring into clearer relief his renunciation of it. That he preached the gospel free of charge was to him a matter of boasting which he would rather die than be deprived of. It was no glory to him that he was a preacher; for, as a steward put in trust with the gospel, this was his simple duty. But it was no part of his stewardship to labour without support; and this, accordingly, was a proof of his sincerity in which he was entitled to boast. In this act of self denial he had a reward in making the gospel entirely free, and in securing that on this ground no hindrance should be put in its way (ver. 12). Here some practical considerations emerge.
1. How a minister of the gospel should bear himself towards pecuniary support. There are cases in which he may forego his right, especially where he sees that this renunciation will tend to the advancement of the gospel. Usually, however, it is his duty to accept a stipend at the hands of the Christian people, and that for the reason which led Paul to decline it. To receive a reasonable maintenance is to be in the best position for devoting one's self entirely to the ministry of the Word. But at all times it should be manifest that the servant of Christ does not act from mercenary motives. The shepherd is not to tend the flock for the sake of the fleece. "Not yours, but you," should be his motto (2 Corinthians 12:14).
2. The obligation to preach the gospel. "Necessity is laid upon me." There is a Divine must in the case of every true preacher, as there was in the case of Jesus (comp. Mark 8:31; Luke 4:43; Luke 19:5; John 3:14). The love of Christ, not less than the command of Christ, constrains him. It is with him as with the prophet: "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his Name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9).
3. The doctrine of reward. The apostle's statement regarding the reward he expected for his optional renunciation of support has been adduced by popish divines in support of their doctrine of supererogation; but it will not bear such an application. The distinction he makes is between what was plainly a part of his bounden duty as a steward, and what seemed best for the furtherance of the gospel in his peculiar circumstances. In one sense it was a matter for his own choice whether he should accept a temporal maintenance, but this is not the sense required by the Romish argument. Whatever promises to conduce to the furtherance of Christ's kingdom, becomes thereby a duty to the apostle; for "to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). There is no act which is not included under love to God and love to man. There is no self denial to which the love of Christ should not prompt us. The gospel doctrine of reward does not rest on any theory of supererogation, but rather on the principle that God is pleased to recognize the fidelity of his servants. - B.
I keep under my body... lest... I myself should be a castaway.
I. IT IS QUITE ESSENTIAL TO A HIGH MORALITY TO HAVE A RESPECTFUL SENSE OF THE DIGNITY OF THE BODY. What our Lord Himself was pleased to wear, and wears flow, must, on that very account, be honourable, and His teaching and His wonder-works were addressed as much to the body as to the soul. There are times when it is as right to attend to the body as to the soul. Are they not equally the subjects of God's creation and redemption, of the Father's care and love? Never look upon it as a pious thing to depreciate the body. We are not depreciating the body when we say, "I keep under the body, and bring it into subjection." The very connection does away with that thought. For does the racer, the wrestler, the boxer, despise his body? Is not it rather his glory? Is not it because he values it very highly that he so treats it?
II. WITH THIS CAUTION, WE MAY NOW OBSERVE WHAT PLACE THE BODY OCCUPIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE SPIRIT. Originally the whole man was made in the image and after the likeness of God. Then came the fall. It was equally through the body as through the mind. In due time, Christ came, and equally redeemed both. But now here comes in the important distinction which determines everything. In the renewed man a change immediately takes place in his soul, but his body is not changed. That will take place at the resurrection. We all of us have felt the trouble of our bodies. One moment they incite us by their too much strength to pride and self-indulgence, and the next they drag us down to the dust. They are always carrying us too far, or preventing us from going far enough. To every physical temperament there is its own special danger — one to youth, another to age — one to health, another to sickness — to each according to his circumstances and constitution; but to all it is little better than "the body of this death." But, remember, there is not a member or a nerve in the body but it is capable of being a great sin or a high virtue. Every part admits of sanctification. All are given for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify God. What we have to do is not to destroy anything, but to guide it — not to despise, but to elevate — not to cast off as an enemy, but to employ as a servant. Let me take an instance or two.
1. There is the love of dress. It is a natural instinct, and is in itself a perfectly innocent thing, And some attention as to personal appearance is inseparable from every rightly-constituted mind. Yet every one knows that the love of dress is one of the greatest temptations of the age — to selfishness, vanity, extravagance, and sin. What shall we do, then, with it? Crush it? No. Employ it, control it, subject it. Always act upon a principle, and lay down for yourselves certain rules which your own judgment and conscience approve: Settle with yourself how much your dress ought to cost in the year, and be faithful to your estimate. Dress in the way that will please those whom you most ought to please, and not to please yourself. Make it a school of refinement and thought. So you will turn a dangerous thing into a good discipline, and a positive grace.
2. In like manner, as to food. Guide your conscience in this matter by the Bible; then live by your conscience. Take care that you live unselfishly. Remember whom you follow; and among whom, in this world of want and suffering, you are living.
3. The same consideration will apply to all worldly pleasures and amusements, and all corporeal gratifications. What is meant for pure and holy uses, keep for pure and holy uses.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
I. THE MANY-SIDEDNESS OF SCRIPTURE, OR, ITS POLARITY.
1. One end of a bar of magnetized iron will attract what the other repels. Now break the bar in the middle; and of either half the same will be true. And so you may keep on breaking, until you come to an atom, and even in it the two poles will be found to exist.
2. As wonderful is the polarity of truth. Take this, "Hath not the potter power over the clay," &c., and place it alongside of the text. Bring the latter near to a Calvinist, and it repels and is repelled. Bring it near to an Arminian, and it attracts and is itself attracted. And so, vice versa, of the former text. But as in the magnet there is but one force manifesting itself in duality, so with God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. God cannot be disappointed; yet man is free.
3. Let the theologian, then, follow the example of the philosopher who does not say, as he looks upon the needle, "There must be some mistake in the matter"; but "This is a great mystery: yet there are the two poles, and one is as deserving of my attention as the other."
II. RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE LOWER OR PHYSICAL CONDITIONS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. As a plant has its enemies which crawl upon the ground, and others which fly in the air, so the spiritual life has its antagonists who meet it on every level. There is the danger from intellectualism, imagination, and the affections. Then also, on the lowest and widest level, in the physical region, there is often the marshalling of forces to oppose all growth in grace. And these are what the apostle alludes to. There is —
1. The excessive development of physical appetite and passion. That this has the fearful power implied in the text is very evident. Its first and most patent effect is upon the religious life. Take the professor who is given to intemperance. Before you can trace it upon the countenance, or in the domestic sphere, you will be able to note its influence upon the pulse of the man's religion. The man dies like some trees, from the heart outward. First and foremost dies that within him which is the very core of his manhood — his spiritual sense. There is much. with which the indulged vice may make some sort of terms for a time, love of family, desire for a good name, many of the higher tastes, ambitions, and activities. But vice and spiritual life cannot exist together. The life of the one is the death of the other.
2. Too great absorption in the cares of this world. The Bible tells us to be "Not slothful in business." But there must be subordination of the temporal interests to the eternal. A man is like a vessel. He can hold so much, and no more. The cares of this world may be poured into his soul in such quantity as to leave room for nothing else. Many a man has no taste, capacity, strength, time, for anything but business. How can the spiritual hold its own in such? Where will you find place for religion? The good seed is choked. And the result is the same if honour instead of wealth fills the man. The condition of danger is, that a man be filled with the cares of this world. And these may be generated by poverty as by affluence. How can a man grow in Christian life who cannot forget his worldly cares long enough to say the Lord's Prayer? And but one result is possible; the religious life must die of starvation, and the man become a castaway.
3. The atmosphere of selfish indolence. Work is ordained of God as the one condition of healthful development. "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do." It is the very ruin of thousands that they have nothing to do. And that which was made the condition of human development at first Christ has lifted up and sanctified to the end of Christian growth and safety. "Son, go work in My vineyard." "If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross," &c.
4. The predominance of irreligious association, or, what is the same thing, living in a bad moral atmosphere. Good air, God's sunshine — these are more to the body than all else. Let a man breathe in noxious gases day by day, and it makes no difference what other special precautions he may take, his health will be gradually undermined. So is it of moral and spiritual health. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." Hence the importance which is laid upon the separation of Christians from the world, and upon the Christian communion which has been prepared for them. No man is strong enough to stand by himself. And it was never intended that the greater part of any Christian life should be spent outside of all religious association. Conclusion: In view of all that has been said it follows —
1. That Christian cultivation covers a much wider sphere than many seem to think. First in order, as a means of grace, stands the Church. And then, secondly, outside of the means of grace, there are others none the less needful, and whose places cannot be supplied by the Church and her ordinances. What matters it how much a man prays, if he is living in intemperance or impurity? What good will the communion do her who has sunken down into the depths of a perfectly selfish and indolent life? And take the man whose heart is eaten up with the cares of this world. Can the Word of God dwell richly in such a one?
2. That there is no point in the Christian's progress at which he can afford to relax in vigilant watch and care of the physical surroundings of his life.
3. That there is a very wide sphere in which human activity may co-operate with the saving power of God. Many Christian hands are idle because they do not know what to do. To such I say, look at Paul. Hear his words, "I keep under my body and bring it into subjection."
(S. S. Mitchell, D. D.)1. The simple etymological sense of the term is "I strike under the eye." The figure is that of a pugilistic encounter. Paul imagines to himself his body as rising up against his higher nature; and against this foe he directs his well-aimed blows; not to destroy or even mutilate it, but to render it what it always ought to be — the obedient slave of the inner nature.
2. But, it may be asked, does the apostle teach us that the body is the source of all inward evil? On the contrary, no man exalts the human body more. He represents it as the temple of the Holy Ghost. "Members of Christ." He prays that our body, as well as our spirit and soul, may be preserved faultless. How, then, are we to understand the phrase? — whence this mysterious collision?
3. St. Paul is here speaking of his life's work, in pursuing which he makes a discovery which all of us have to make sooner or later — that he who would conquer a world must be ready to conquer himself. In vers. 4-6 St. Paul indicates three special respects in which he had turned aside from the reasonable demands of nature for his work's sake. "Have we not power to eat and to drink?" — that is to say, he might have secured for himself a comfortable competence. "Have we not power to lead about a sister?" &c. He might have surrounded himself with all the pleasures of domestic life. "Have not Barnabas and I power to forbear working?" It certainly did seem reasonable that one who worked so hard for souls should be saved from the weariness of physical toil. And what had he to say to these natural and reasonable demands? Nothing but his work, and the will of God in that work. And when he found nature urging, as nature will, her demands for some degree of consideration, just as our Lord discovered Satan in the person of the disciple who dissuaded Him from the Cross; so the apostle discovered a foe in his own flesh, when that flesh shrank from the path of self-denial, and, smiting his antagonist down, he consigned it to its own proper place; from henceforth thou art to dictate thy terms no longer; thou art slave, and not master!
4. And now for our practical lesson. We, too, are striving for the mastery in a world which has been devastated by evil. Do we not also find that our bodies rise up and resist the claims made on them by the work which has to be done?(1) It may be perhaps, with us, rather in little things that the conflict has to be waged. You know that there are sick and poor to be visited. Love for souls, and for God, would prompt you to set forth; but it is a cold wintry day. How the body pleads, Sit still; another day will do as well. Or perhaps it is so small a matter as rising from your bed in the morning sufficiently early to give yourself time for prayer and the study of God's Word; or it is your time for prayer in the evening, after the busy day of toil; or it is that you have a call to visit the haunts of wretchedness and misery, where everything is repulsive. These are occasions on which we too have to arm our right hand with spiritual power, and to smite our body down, forcibly reminding it of its true position.(2) Or perhaps the body asserts itself not so much in forbidding the painful as suggesting the pleasant — now appealing to our lower appetites with suggestions of indulgences. The mind that is taken up in any degree with the thought, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? &c., is making provision for the flesh, and in doing so is unconsciously resigning its true supremacy. The same thing is true of those higher forms of gratification which none the less have the body as their subject. There is no harm in enjoying the pleasures of the eye, or of the ear, but as soon as we give ourselves over to it, it becomes guilty. If God throws an innocent pleasure in our way, we are not called upon to suspect the gift; but when we go out of our way to pursue the pleasurable, the higher part of our nature is yielding itself as the slave of the lower.
5. How did St. Paul smite his body down, and reduce it into the condition of a slave? This much surely is obvious — a man is no match for himself! He lets us into the secret by giving us a practical direction: "If ye," he says, "through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." All turns upon this. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh."
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
( Chrysostom.)— A friend once asked an aged man what caused him so often to complain of pain and weariness in the evening. "Alas!" said he, "I have every day so much to do; for I have two falcons to tame, two hares to keep from running away, two hawks to manage, a serpent to confine, a lion to chain, and a sick man to tend and wait upon." "Why, you must be joking," said his friend; "surely no man can have all these things to do at once." "Indeed, I am not joking," said the old man; "but what I have told you is the sad and sober truth; for the two falcons are my two eyes, which I must diligently guard, lest something should please them which may be hurtful to my salvation; the two hares are my feet, which I must hold back lest they should run after evil objects, and walk in the ways of sin; the two hawks are my two hands, which I must train and keep to Work in order that I may be able to provide for myself and for my brethren who are in need; the serpent is my tongue, which I must always keep in with a bridle, lest it should speak anything unseemly; the lion is my heart, with which I have to maintain a continual fight in order that vanity and pride may not fill it, but that the grace of God may dwell and work there; the sick man is my whole body, which is always needing my watchfulness and care. All this daily wears out my strength."
Homilist.Observe this was penned towards the close of the apostle's career. Full of years, and laden with trophies, he still thinks it necessary to keep war with the flesh. View him —
I. AS AN AGED MAN. There is no period in which the spiritual warrior may relax his training. Each season of life has its appropriate and dominant passion.
II. AS AN ADVANCED CHRISTIAN. Men may make great advances in religious knowledge, but be imperfect. Consider Paul's attainments in theology — yet still he struggles; he is still imperfect.
III. AS AN EXPERIENCED MINISTER. A minister may eloquently preach, and people be delighted to listen — to real blessings to which both he and they be strangers. Again, people may be converted, and yet their minister be a castaway. So parents, masters, teachers, may help others to Christ, yet never find Him themselves. Personal religion, including persevering conflict, essential to final salvation.
(Homilist.)I. WHAT IS IT TO BE A "CASTAWAY"? One who had been pronounced by the judges to be disqualified for the Greek games, or one who, having been permitted to enter into the contest, fails. Or the expression may have reference to metals, which, when the mass has been "proved" to be dross, is rejected. Thus we read of "reprobate silver." The theological idea of reprobation does not belong to this word, it is simply intrinsic worthlessness, brought to light by the scrutiny of God's eye, the searching efficacy of His Word, or a providential dispensation.
1. From whom may we be castaway.(1) God. God "drove out the man" Adam; and Cain "went out from the presence of the Lord"; and David says, "Cast me not away from Thy presence," &c.(2) Christ, who said, "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." Yet He drove the buyers and sellers out of the Temple; ejected demons; denounced the scribes and Pharisees, and foretold to them their doom.(3) The Spirit of God, who "will not always strive with men." "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost," said Stephen to the Jewish nation; and at length the Jewish nation was cast away. A man may sin till the Spirit of God will let him alone.(4) Good men; rejected of the Church, excommunicated. The salt having lost its savour is good for nothing but to be cast away.(5) Certain societies. You are blackballed, and your rejection may involve shame and infamy.(6) The angels of God. Did they not turn their backs upon Sodom? Did they not smite Egypt?(7) Yourselves; and this in the case of an apostate is not that salutary self-loathing which is associated with hope and pardon, but that of darkness and despair.
2. When? In part now; as when a man is excluded from the fellowship of the wise and good. Yet very often this may not be carried into effect; just as in the case of the tares, Christ told His disciples to let them grow together until harvest. The time of final discrimination, then, is the end of the man's earthly probation. When he departs from this world, he is rejected of heaven. We read of those who were "without," of the virgins who were cast away; of those to whom Christ will say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity." The most affecting thing in the universe is to be "a castaway," finally and for ever rejected.
II. THE MEANS WHICH THE APOSTLE TOOK TO PREVENT THIS. The text is only one among many.
1. He abjured confidence in himself, and his own virtue and excellence (Philippians 3.). He grounds his hope of eternal life on the atonement of Christ, and resting as he did in Christ, it was impossible for him to be "a castaway."
2. He lived, and loved, and laboured by faith (Galatians 2:20). It is when the love of Christ is not present in a man's heart and mind, that he is in danger of being a castaway. "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha."
3. He kept near to God in prayer. If you cast off prayer, you will be in peril; if you continue in prayer and supplication, you will not.
4. Taking these points antecedently to the one suggested in the text, our course becomes clear. "But I keep under my body," &c. Now the apostle does not mean anything ascetical; but that the body was subjected to the reason; and if any one of you has acquired a mastery over the animal appetites and instincts, he is on his way not to be a castaway, but to be approved and glorified of God.
5. What comes after this is sweet and sacred resignation to the Divine will "I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
6. The final thing is that Paul laid aside every weight. "This one thing I do," &c.
III. THE TRIUMPHANT ISSUE. I know not anyone name which surpasses that of Paul. He is no castaway as respects the honour done to his name in the Church. And then in the world how has his character been appreciated even by those who have rejected his doctrine! What an immense effect have his writings had on the condition of society and on human affairs! Then as respects his admission to heaven, one moment there is the axe of Nero, the next he hears, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
1. How earnestly Paul sought the kingdom of heaven (ver. 26). It was long after his conversion that Paul writes in this manner.
2. One particular in which he was very earnest. "I keep under my body," &c. (ver. 25).
3. His reason for all this earnestness — "Lest when," &c. What is it to be cast away? Wicked men shall be cast away —
1. The fruition of God.
2. The favour of God — "In Thy favour is life."
3. The blessing of God. God is the fountain of all blessing. Separate a man from God finally, and no creature can give him joy.
II. FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit is now dealing and striving with natural men. When the day of grace is done the Spirit will strive no more —
1. Through ordinances. There will be no family worship in hell — no Bible, no Sabbath, no preached gospel.
2. Through providences. There will be no more poverty or riches — no more sickness or bereavements.
3. Through conscience it will condemn, but it will not restrain.
III. FROM ALL CREATURES.
1. The angels will no longer take any interest in you.
2. The redeemed will no longer pray for you, nor shed another tear for you.
3. Ministers will no more desire your salvation. It will no more be their work.
4. Even devils will cast you off. As long as you remain on earth, the devil keeps you in his train; then you will be a part of his torment, and he will hate you and torment you, because you deceived him, and he deceived you.
IV. FROM THEMSELVES.
1. The understanding will be clear and full to apprehend the real nature of your misery.
2. The will in you will be all contrary to God's will.
3. Your conscience, God's viceregent, will accuse you of all your sins.
4. Your memory will be very clear.
5. Your anticipations — everlasting despair. Conclusion: Let believers learn Paul's earnest diligence. A wicked life will end in being a castaway. These two are linked together, and no man can sunder them,
(R. M, McCheyne, M. A.)
I. FALSE LIGHTS ON THE BEACH. This was often so in olden times. There are all kinds of lanterns swung on the beach — philosophical, educational, humanitarian. Men look at them, and are deceived, when there is nothing but the lighthouse of the gospel that can keep them from becoming castaways. Once, on Wolf Crag lighthouse, they tried to build a copper figure of a wolf with its mouth open, so that the storms beating into it the wolf would howl. Of course it was a failure. And so all new inventions for the saving of a man's soul are unavailing. You might better destroy all the great lighthouses on the dangerous coasts than to put out God's great ocean-lamp — the gospel.
II. THE SUDDEN SWOOP OF A TEMPEST. A vessel is sailing along in the East Indies; suddenly the breeze freshens; but before they can square the booms the vessel is in the grip of a tornado, and falls over into the trough of the sea, and broadside rolls on to the beach and keels over, leaving the crew to struggle in the merciless surf. And so there are thousands destroyed through the sudden swoop of temptations. Some great inducement to worldliness, or temper, or dissipation comes upon them. If they had time to deliberate, they could stand it; but the temptation came so suddenly, and they perish. It is the first step that costs; the second is easier; and the third; and on to the last. Once having broken loose from the anchor, it is not so easy to tie the parted strands.
III. SHEER RECKLESSNESS. The average of human life on the sea is less than twelve years. This comes from the fact that men by familiarity with danger become reckless, and in nine out of ten shipwrecks it is found out that some one was awfully to blame. So men lose their souls. There are thousands who do not care where they are in spiritual things. Drifting in their theology, in their habits, in regard to all the future; but all the time coming nearer and nearer to a dangerous coast. They do not deliberately choose to be ruined;' neither did the French frigate Medusa aim for the Arguin Banks, but there it went to pieces.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
I. THAT DELIVERANCE FROM HELL DESERVES THE MOST EARNEST SELF-DISCIPLINE. "I keep under my body"
I. strike under the eye so as to make it black and blue, a boxing phrase, indicative of strenuous efforts at mortification, as who should say, "I subdue the flesh by violent and reiterated blows." "And bring it into subjection"; "I lead it along as a slave," having subjugated it, I treat it as a bondsman, as boxers in the Palaestra used to drag off their conquered opponents. And the reason for this mortification of the flesh is, "lest I should be a castaway." Self-discipline consists of two things.
1. The entire subjugation of the body to the mind. The body was intended to be the organ, servant, and instrument of the mind, but it has become the master. The supremacy of the body is the curse of the world and the ruin of man.
2. The subjugation of the mind to the spirit of Christ. Though the mind govern the body, if the mind is false, selfish, unloyal to Christ, there is no discipline. The mind must be the servant of Christ in order to be the legitimate sovereign of the body.
II. THAT THE NECESSITY OF THIS SELF-DISCIPLINE CANNOT RE SUPERSEDED BY THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PREACHING. Paul had preached as no one else had ever preached; yet his preaching, he felt, did not do the work of self-discipline. Indeed, there is much in the work of preaching that has a tendency to operate against personal spiritual culture.
1. Familiarity with sacred truths destroys for us their charm of freshness,
2. A professional handling of God's Word interferes with its personal application.
3. The opinions of audiences, favourable or otherwise, exert an influence unfavourable to the life of the soul.
4. Satan is especially active in opposing the growth of spiritual piety in the preacher's soul. So that there is a terrible danger that whilst the preacher is cultivating the vineyards of others he is neglecting his own.
III. THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PREACHING MAY BE FOLLOWED BY ULTIMATE RUIN. A "castaway"! Who shall fathom the meaning of this word? A successful preacher "a castaway"! The Tophet of him who has offered mercy to others which he has despised, urged truths on the credence of others that he has disbelieved, enforced laws on others which he has transgressed, will burn with severer fires and peal with more awful thunders.
(D. Thomas, D. D.).
Links1 Corinthians 9:4 NIV
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