Plain Sermons by Contributors to the Tracts for the Times
1 Corinthians 12:11
But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
But now these best gifts of God, as well as all His other gifts, are in danger of being profaned by men. And it seems that the Corinthians did profane them. They employed the power of speaking new languages, as well as other spiritual gifts, to their His glory, and not to God's glory alone. His mystical body, the Church, is like His natural body, or any of our bodies, in respect that although it is made up of many members, each having its own office, yet it is truly, strictly, mysteriously one. What makes it one, and binds it together, is the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in each person's soul and body, to unite him truly to Jesus Christ. Thus are Christians put in mind of the one Church, to which all alike belong; and they are also put in mind of the diversity of gifts, whereby each member is made different from another. First, to the weaker and less honourable member he says, you are not to be cast down nor discontented, as if no one cared for you, because others have higher places than you. "Nay," it might be said, "you surely have in you the same life, the same blood, that any other limbs of the body have. The pulse which beats in you comes from the heart, the power and will which guides you from the head; you are as much a member of the Man as any of the limbs which are most precious. If you hear instead of speaking, if you move instead of ruling, if you act instead of ordering, you are not therefore the less parts of the body." And much more should we quiet with the same gracious words all discontented and envious thoughts. Are you not a member of Christ? and what is it, in comparison of so great mercies, if another man is more learned, more respected, richer; or healthier than you are? The weak then are not to envy the strong, and the strong on the other hand are not to despise the weak. "The eye is not to say to the hand, I have no need of thee; neither again the head to the feet, I have no need of you." Those who are above others, either in learning or in dignity, are of course in some danger of becoming proud and contemptuous. Let this then be the lesson settled in our hearts; to believe that we are Christian brethren indeed, and to cherish in our hearts true brotherly feeling one towards another. Now, then, with this deep faith in Christ's Holy Spirit, as having really been given to dwell in our hearts, let us think on any other person, whomsoever we will, as being also partakers of the same Spirit. Consider; if he were partaker of the same blood with us, if it were our brother or sister after the flesh, should we not be full of love for him? Again, because this Spirit deals not with all exactly alike, but divides to every man severally as He will, how should the remembrance of Him fail to make us content in our places, orderly and diligent in our duties? since wherever we are in God's work, He assigned us our place. Are you then a rich and prosperous person? do not trust in your own riches: beware of thinking that you can do without the poor, that you need them not. Are you, on the contrary, a poor man? Then beware how you allow yourself to think sadly on the rich, as being better off than you are. Such thoughts are too likely to end in repining and envy. Again, are you in comparison learned? are you able to read the Scriptures? yet do not trust in your reading: do not think that you can make out your duty, and save yourself well enough: you still need the prayers of Christ's afflicted and poor. Are you, on the other hand, an ignorant person, and does it mortify you to see and feel that you know much less than most others? care not for it, but turn your thoughts to the infinite and wonderful truth, which, as we all know, belongs to us and to the very wisest alike. Are you so far blameless as to have kept, by God's mercy, your soul and body from wilful deadly sin? You know it is altogether the work of God's Spirit: believe and think of this; it will keep you from pride and self-righteousness.
(Plain Sermons by Contributors to the Tracts for the Times.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.