1 Corinthians 11:17-22
Now in this that I declare to you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse.…
I. SOME OF YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS FAULT, THOUGH OTHERS BE INNOCENT. General censures, condemning whole churches, are altogether uncharitable. Angle out the offenders, but take heed of killing all with a dragnet: and grant many, yea, most to be faulty, yet some may be guiltless. Wickedness was not so general in Sodom, but that righteous Lot was an exception. Obadiah was steward of Ahab's wicked household. Yea, seeing impiety intrudes itself amongst the thickest of God's saints, just it is that God should have some names even where the throne of Satan is erected (Revelation 3:4). Let us therefore follow the wary proceedings of Jehu (2 Kings 10:23). When we are about with censuring to murder the credits of many together, let us take heed that there be not some orthodox amongst those whom we condemn to be all heretics; some that desire to be peaceful in our Israel, amongst those whom we condemn for all factious schismatics.
II. I BELIEVE THESE ACCUSATIONS ONLY IN PART, and hope they are not so bad as they are reported. When fames are brought unto us from good hands, let us not be so incredulous as to believe no part of them; nor so uncharitable as to believe all; but with St. Paul "partly believe it."
1. Because fame often creates something of nothing, always makes a great deal of a little. It is true of fame what is said of the devil; it has been "a liar from the beginning"; yea, and sometimes a murderer. Absalom slew one of David's sons, and fame killed all the rest (2 Samuel 13:30)
2. Because men in reporting things often mingle their own interests and engagements with their relations, making them better or worse, as they themselves stand affected. Water resembleth both the taste and colour of that earth through which it runneth; so reports relish of their relators, and have a smack of their partial dispositions; and therefore such relations are not to be believed in their full extent. Conclusion:
1. This confutes —
(1) Those that will believe nothing of what they hear reported, though warranted by never so good witnesses. I bear them witness, these men have charity, but not according to knowledge.
(2) But where too much charity hath slain her thousands, too little hath slain her ten thousands.
2. Let not our beliefs be altogether of clay to receive any impression; nor altogether of iron to receive none at all. But as the toes in the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream were partly iron and partly clay, so let our beliefs be composed of charity, mixed with our credulity; that, when a crime is reported, we may with St. Paul "partly believe it."
(T. Fuller, D.D.).
Parallel VersesKJV: Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.