1 Thessalonians 5:19
Quench not the Spirit.
I. THE FIRST ADVICE — "Quench not the Spirit." The Spirit is quenched as a man doth quench his reason with over-much wine; and therefore we say, "When the wine is in, the wit is out," because before he seems to have reason, and now he seems to have none; so our zeal, and our faith, and our love, are quenched with sin. Every vain thought, and every idle word, and every wicked deed, is like so many drops to quench the Spirit of God. Some quench it with the business of this world; some quench it with the lusts of the flesh; some quench it with the cares of the mind; some quench it with long delays, that is, not plying the motion when it cometh, but crossing the good thoughts with bad thoughts, and doing a thing when the Spirit adviseth not, as Ahab went to battle after he was forbidden. The Spirit is often grieved before it be quenched; and a man when he begins to grieve, and check, and persecute the Spirit, though never so lightly, never ceaseth until he have quenched it, that is, until he seem himself to have no spirit at all, but walketh like a lump of flesh.
II. THE SECOND ADVICE. After "Quench not the Spirit" followeth "Despise not prophesyings." The second admonition teacheth how the first should be kept. "Despise not prophesying," and the Spirit will not quench, because prophesying doth kindle it. This you may see in the disciples that went to Emmaus. When Christ preached unto them from the law and the prophets, their hearts waxed hot within them. This is no marvel that the spirit of a man should be so kindled and revived with the Word; for the Word is the food of the soul. The apostle might have said, Love prophesying, or honour prophesying, but he saith, "Despise not prophesying," showing that some were ashamed of it. The greatest honour we give to prophets is not to despise them, and the greatest love we carry to the Word is not to loathe it. Prophesying here doth signify preaching, as it doth in Romans 12:6. Will you know why preaching is called prophesying? To add more honour and renown to the preachers of the Word, and to make you receive them as prophets (Matthew 10:41). Hath not the despising of the preachers almost made the preachers despise preaching?
III. THE THIRD ADVICE. After "Despise not prophesyings" followeth "Prove all things," etc., that is, try all things. This made John say, "Try the spirits." We read that the Bereans would not receive Paul's doctrine before they had tried it; and how did they try it? They searched the Scriptures. This is the way Paul would teach you to try others as he was tried himself; whereby we may see that if we read the Scriptures we shall be able to try all doctrines; for the Word of God is the touchstone of everything, like the light which God made to behold all His creatures (Genesis 1:2). A man trieth his horse which must bear him, and shall he not try his faith which must save him? And when we have tried by the Word which is truth and which is error, we should keep that which is best, that is, stay at the truth, as the Magi stayed when they came to Christ. We must keep and hold the truth as a man grippeth a thing with both his hands; that is, defend it with our tongue, maintain it with our purse, further it with our labour, and, if required, seal it with our blood. Well doth Paul put "prove" before "hold;" for he which proveth may hold the best, but he which holdeth before he proveth sometimes takes the worse sooner than the best.
IV. THE FORTH ADVICE. After "Prove all things, and hold that which is good," followeth "Abstain from all appearance of evil." As if the adviser should say, That is like to be best which is so far from evil that it hath not the appearance of evil; and that is like to be the truth which is so far from error that it hath not the show of error. Paul biddeth us abstain from all appearance of evil, because sin, and heresy, and superstition are hypocrites; that is, sin hath the appearance of virtue, error the appearance of truth, and superstition the appearance of religion. If the visor be taken away from them, they will appear exactly what they are, though at the first sight the visor doth make them seem no evil, because it covereth them, like a painted sepulchre the dead men's bones beneath.
Parallel VersesKJV: Quench not the Spirit.