1 Corinthians 12:13-20
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free…
We often read of water, of living water, of drawing water out of the wells of salvation, and of thirsting and drinking. By which expressions are undoubtedly meant the inward spirit and experience of religion, with the many comforts and blessings of it. Now, says the apostle, whatever be our character or circumstances in other respects, yet having felt the renewing influence of the grace of God, we have been all made to drink into one spirit. We have all hungered and thirsted after righteousness, have all been led to the same fountain-bead, and have all, in our different proportion, drank of the same Divine blessings which freely and largely flow thence.
I. AS TO THAT DIVERSITY OF NATURAL AND EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ATTENDS THE PROFESSION OF RELIGION, it will be necessary to take a general view of it, in order to set the contrast in the stronger light, and especially as the apostle himself directs us to it in the very text.
1. It is obvious to every one, that there is a wide difference among those who fear God, in respect of their outward and worldly circumstances. Religion is not confined to any particular nation or age of the world, nor to any particular rank or condition of men.
2. There is a remarkable difference among good men as to their intellectual capacities and their natural tempers. These, be they what they may, are not the tests by which the characters of the disciples of Jesus are to be decisively determined.
3. The difference may be considerable, in respect of the particular dispensations, forms, and means of religion they may be under. The same degree of light hath not been enjoyed, nor hath the same mode of worship obtained from the beginning.
4. The diversity there is of spiritual gifts infers no real diversity as to religion itself.
5. There may be, and often is, a difference as to the degree of religion, though it still retains the. same nature. There are, in the language of Scripture, babes, young men, and fathers in Christ; some weak, and others strong in faith.
II. WHEREIN CONSISTS THAT UNIFORMITY IN RELIGION WHICH OUR TEXT MENTIONS AS A PECULIAR COMMENDATION OF ITS REAL AND INTRINSIC EXCELLENCY.
1. By the sameness of religion is here meant, the exact similarity there is in the spirit and temper of all good men. As the several individuals of mankind are all made of one blood, and as the same faculty of reason in a greater or less degree is common to each of the human species, so what the Scripture calls "a new creature" is one Divine or spiritual nature common to all the people of God.
2. The main expressions of inward religion may be comprised in this short account of it. It first humbles the heart of man — then inspires it with Divine hopes and joys — by this means refines and sanctifies it — and so makes it capable of a pure love and exalted friendship. And in respect of each of these particulars there is an exact uniformity, at least in a degree, among all the people of God. They have all been made to drink into the same spirit.
III. THE GROUNDS OR REASONS OF THIS UNIFORMITY.
1. They are all of the same nature. It is acknowledged indeed that there is a strength of genius, and a softness of natural temper in some, which renders them more amiable than others; yet the principal outlines of human apostacy are much the same in all. This inference is likewise with the same force of reason to be drawn from a contemplation —
2. Of the one grand source or origin whence religion is derived. It is from above, the offspring of God, and the genuine fruit of the influence and operation of His Spirit. Now as no fountain can send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter, so we may be very sure that what is the effect of a Divine influence on the souls of men must be of the same pure and spiritual nature and tendency. And for the like reason we may safely conclude in the general, that however the circumstances of particular persons may in some respects differ, yet the manner of the Divine operation on the hearts of men is much the same. Religion will begin then in our humiliation, and advance through various degrees of sanctification, till it rises to a perfection of happiness and glory in the heavenly world.
3. The great and important ends which religion proposes, clearly evince the simplicity and uniformity of it. The glory of God, our own happiness, and the welfare of society are acknowledged to be the principal objects of this great concern.
(S. Stennett, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.