I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled…
We must distinguish Christian thoughts from the thoughts of Christians, and Christian deeds from the deeds of Christians; in short, we must discriminate between Christianity and Christians, because Christians are human and Christianity is Divine. It is, in fact, because of this very distinction that Christianity often suffers in the minds of those who note the unworthiness of Christians. Every fall of a Christian is an indication of the elevation of Christianity; and every indication of that elevation is a reason for our endeavour to reach it. To say that a man does not practice what he preaches is no necessary condemnation of his preaching, however much it condemns his practice. A drunkard has the right to preach temperance from the standpoint of intemperance. A slave to tobacco is not necessarily insincere because he advises abstinence from his masterful habit. "I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching," says Portia; but while that may reflect on the twenty, it is no reflection on the teaching. And so, when a Christian is derelict, that dereliction is not a fruit of his Christianity, but of his want of it. The defection of Christians cannot legitimately condemn the Church and Christianity; because Christianity and the Church first condemned the defection. Yet when a Church member or a minister turns out to be a defaulter, a blasphemer, an adulterer, the world often points its finger of scorn at the Christian profession, as if the culprit had learned the principles of deception from the pulpit, or had been instructed in defilement from the Sunday school chair or desk. A shallower argument against the Christian profession than this it would be difficult to conceive. It is really the blaming of Christianity for another instance of the neglect of Christianity; it is charging a high ideal with the consequences of a low practice; it is criminating virtue because of the existence of vice; it is reproaching truth with the fact of falsehood. It is as if we were to reflect upon Jesus by pointing at Judas. The simple question at issue is, Is the Christian standard high or low, good or evil? If it be high, live for it — no matter who falls; if it be good, practice it — no matter who fails. If it be in itself low and evil, say so squarely.
(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.