Romans 12:6
We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If one's gift is prophecy, let him use it in proportion to his faith;
Sermons
Grace and GracesAlexander MaclarenRomans 12:6
Christian HumilityT.F. Lockyer Romans 12:3-8
Diversity and Unity in the Church of ChristC.H. Irwin Romans 12:3-8
ChurchmanshipR.M. Edgar Romans 12:4-8
Duty of Teachers and MinistersH. D. Brown, B.A.Romans 12:6-8
Gifts of GraceJ. Lyth D.D.Romans 12:6-8
Gifts, Diversity OfAbp. Leighton.Romans 12:6-8
Gifts: Their Divine SourceBp. Hall.Romans 12:6-8
GivingJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:6-8
Giving with SimplicityH. W. Beecher.Romans 12:6-8
Giving, a Sign of PerfectnessH. W. Beecher.Romans 12:6-8
Giving, Blessedness OfRomans 12:6-8
Giving, Penalty of NotRomans 12:6-8
God's Gifts to the Church to be Used for His ServiceDean Close.Romans 12:6-8
Requisites to Faithful TeachingJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:6-8
Right Proportions of TruthJ. Vaughan, M.A.Romans 12:6-8
Ruling with DiligenceJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:6-8
Showing Mercy with CheerfulnessC. Neil, M.A.Romans 12:6-8
The Danger of Exaggerations in ReligionDean Goulburn.Romans 12:6-8
The Doctrine of ProportionDean Stanley.Romans 12:6-8
The Faculties of Teaching and ExhortingT. Chalmers, D.D.Romans 12:6-8
The Gift of ProphecyJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:6-8
The Proportion of FaithR. S. Storrs, D.D.Romans 12:6-8
The Proportion of FaithArchdn. Pott.Romans 12:6-8
The Requirements of True ReligionJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:6-8
The Triple LessonJ. Mould, M.A.Romans 12:6-8
Unity and DiversityJ. P. Lange, D.DRomans 12:6-8
Unity in DiversityBaur.Romans 12:6-8
Usefulness, the Least Christian to Aim AtC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 12:6-8
Varied GiftsW. Gurnall.Romans 12:6-8
Waiting on Our Ministering Needs Extra GraceC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 12:6-8


Having seen what Christian individualism is meant to be in the preceding verses, we now enter upon the wider relation of Churchmanship. For the apostle is not here speaking of human nature in its social aspects, as we find it so powerfully expounded for us in Bishop Butler's 'Sermons upon Human Nature,' but in its Church aspect, the relation of the individual to the one body which has its organic existence "in Christ." The apostle would have us to believe that we are united as closely to our fellow-believers as the members of one body are to one another. In fact, we are members one of another. A selfish individualism is out of the question; we are bound to the body of believers by vital and eternal ties. Hence we are to consider in this section the constitution of the body of Christ, that is the Church. And -

I. BELIEVERS ARE TO REGARD THEMSELVES AS ORGANICALLY UNITED, AND ARE CONSEQUENTLY TO CO-OPERATE FOR THE COMMON END. (Vers. 4, 5.) We are not meant to be isolated units, but members in sympathy. We are "joint-heirs" with Jesus Christ; we are consequently partners with one another in the great Christian enterprise. Co-operation, rather than competition, should be the guiding star of Christian people. We are distinctly made for the Christian Church, and it is our duty to promote the happiness and welfare of all our fellow-believers. Organic connection implies co-operation and sympathy of the sincerest character.

II. AS MEMBERS ONE OF ANOTHER, BELIEVERS WILL FIND THEMSELVES DISTRIBUTED A VARIETY OF POSITIONS, JUST AS THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY. (Vers. 6-8.) While believers are members one of another, we are not reduced to a dead level of uniformity. Edification is doubtless to be in the body as every joint supplieth it, but the joints are not all alike; if they were, it would be a curious medley - a conglomeration of mere atoms, which we should have in place of a body. In the body there is subordination of member to member, and part to part. The foot is not to usurp the place of the head, nor the hand that of the eye, else will the body be turned upside down, and become a monstrosity instead of a thing and form of beauty. Consequently, we find that in the apostolic Church there were a variety of offices, and the apostle here specifies the spirit in which they should be filled and their duties discharged. Let us briefly notice the offices as here described.

1. Prophecy. The apostle puts this in the very forefront. Parallel passages go to prove that it was most highly esteemed in the apostolic Church. Thus it is placed immediately after the working of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10). In another place it is spoken of as "the gift of prophecy," and is associated with the "understanding of all mysteries, and of all knowledge" (1 Corinthians 13:2). It is further represented as the necessary adjunct to speaking with tongues (1 Corinthians 14:6, 22). And it was evidently regarded as the prime requisite in the edification of the public congregation; for St. Paul declares, "If all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth" (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). Now, the more this matter is looked into, the more clearly are we landed in the conclusion that we have the prophetical office continued in Christ's Church in the ministry of the Word. Every minister who is called by Christ to the preaching of the gospel, and endowed by him for the work, is a prophet of the Highest just as really as Elijah or John the Baptist. If, then, to any of us this grace of prophecy has been committed, we must exercise it "according to the proportion of faith" (ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως). That is, "the prophet must be true and sincere, communicating only what God has given him." Moreover, and chiefly, must he show no disposition to exaggerations in the exposition of religion, but must give to each subject its due place and proportion. Hence Dr. Shedd, in his 'Commentary' upon the passage, declares, "This injunction of St. Paul is the key to systematic theology. No alleged Christian tenet can be correct which conflicts with other Christian tenets. All Christian truth must be consistent with Christianity. For example, the Deity of Christ supposes the doctrine of the Trinity; monergistic regeneration involves the doctrine of election; and an infinite atonement for sin, by God incarnate, logically implies an infinite penalty for sin."

2. The diaconate. For it is evidently to this particular ministry (διακονίαν) the apostle is here referring. To the apostolic Church this set of officers was given to attend to the temporalities of the Church, especially the care of the poor, the sick, and such like. The idea, then, is that thoroughness should characterize the diaconate just as well as the prophetical office.

3. Teaching. Now, the office of teacher is distinguished from that of prophet in such passages as 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11. It has been suggested that the prophetical office implies inspiration, while the teacher's only the common knowledge of a devout and disciplined Christian mind (Shedd, in loc.). There is evidently need of a teaching order in the Church as well as of a preaching or prophetical order. If any is called to teach, let him be thorough in his teaching.

4. Exhortation. This is a gift which can be exercised by men who do not aspire to either the prophetical or the teaching office. It deals with the heart and will. "Evangelists" are for the most part of this character: they go about to stir up the souls of men to decision and activity, while their teaching is of necessity of a very limited description.

5. Giving. This applies to the distribution by the deacon of the Church's charity, and it may also apply to the private beneficence of the Church-member. In either case simplicity of motive and of aim is to characterize the giver. Charity should be exercised without parade and without any ulterior or selfish end.

6. Ruling. This undoubtedly refers to the function exercised by the officers of the Church, and it implies that nothing but diligence can succeed. Zeal (σπουδή) for the Church's purity and honour, and for the glory of the Church's Head, should characterize all who have authority in the Church.

7. Showing mercy. This applies to the attention the deacons and private Christians show to the sick and the suffering. Well, it is to be exercised "with hilarity" (ἱλαρότητι). What a difference it often makes when we set cheerfully about our merciful ministrations, entering with alacrity into them, and not doing them "against the grain"? Our "pity," as it has been very properly said, "should be impulsive, and not an effort; an inclination, and not a volition" (so Shedd, in loc.). Now, if Churchmanship were entered into in this noble and sympathetic spirit, what a different tale would our different Churches have to tell! It would be a tale of tender and gracious ministration, a tale of real because spiritual success? May the merciful Master grant it! - R.M.E.







Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.
1. Their common source.

2. Diverse character.

3. Liberal distribution.

4. Faithful exercise.

5. Happy influence.

(J. Lyth D.D.)

As many vapours, rising from the sea, meet together in one cloud, and that cloud falls down divided into many drops, and those drops run together, making rills of water, which meet in channels, and those channels run into brooks, and those brooks into rivers, and those rivers into the sea; so it either is or should be with the gifts and graces of the Church. They all come down from God, divided severally as He will to various Christians. They should flow through the channels of their special vocations into the common streams of public use for church or commonwealth, and ultimately return into the great ocean of His glory, from whence they originally came.

(Bp. Hall.)

I. THOSE OF WHOM THE APOSTLE SPEAKS. Members of Christ's body, i.e., the Church (Ephesians 1:22, 23).

1. But what is the Church? Ask Roman Catholics, the members of the Greek Church, some members of our own Church, or the various sects, they would claim each for themselves the title of the Church. Now these are equally wrong. The Church here spoken of is no particular ecclesiastical government whatsoever, but the spiritual Church of God's elect throughout the whole world.

2. Here is the test of Church membership — "the measure of faith." No person is a member of this Church but a true believer, nor can he exercise the gifts here spoken of except he has "the gift" of faith. The apostle's illustration of the human body is totally inapplicable to the nominal Church. No such sympathy can be exercised unless men be mentally and morally conformed to God. Again, the string of spiritual duties inculcated in the text cannot be performed by mere nominal Christians. If you want a description of real Church members, read the opening address of almost every Epistle.

II. THE PERSONS OF WHOM THE APOSTLE SPEAKS ARE ALL POSSESSED OF GIFTS.

1. The time would fail me to tell of the gifts of God to individual members of His Church — outward gifts, such as station, property, influence, talent; official gifts, gifts of prophecy, of instruction, or those more directly spiritual gifts accumulated in the Church.

2. But the point of the passage is its reference to the diversity of gifts. Sometimes they almost appear to be capricious; one man rich, another poor; one richly gifted, another next akin to idiotcy; some with dispositions very amiable, others just the reverse. Spiritual gifts are not equally given to all. Some have such views of truth, such contemplations of heavenly things, that they seem to be admitted within the veil. Others seem just the reverse, going on heavily, and oftentimes cast down. So it is with all spiritual knowledge and attainments. This point is illustrated under the figure of the human body. What harmony, yet what diversity there! There is the head, the seat of wisdom; the countenance, of feeling and animation; then the various limbs or members of the body, more or less honourable; yet is the whole fitly framed together, each part marvellously adjusted to the other, and all mutually dependent.

3. But the most striking thought is that all are gifts of God. Money we may have earned by our own intelligence and diligence, but God gave us that diligence and intelligence. So with regard to our station in life. So most preeminently with His spiritual gifts. If we have any knowledge of the Scriptures, it is revealed to us by the Spirit of God.

4. Mark the lessons.(1) The least of God's gifts are talents entrusted to us, and should not be despised. Do not despise the day of small things, and say, "I have nothing," or "I can do nothing." Perhaps, too, there is a greater danger of our despising small gifts in others.(2) These talents being the gift of God, we must not be unduly elated by them (ver. 3; 1 Corinthians 4:7). How humbling the thought that we have nothing we can call our own!(3) The lowest gifts are as much God's as the highest. He that planted the sun in the firmament taught the little glow-worm to shine on the summer bank. He that raises up the most talented to fill with honour distinguished situations is the same God that puts the candle in the cottage and bids it shine there. How encouraging is this to the weakest, the poorest, the youngest!

III. IT IS THEIR DUTY AND PRIVILEGE TO CONSECRATE THOSE GIFTS TO THE SERVICE OF GOD. As masters and servants, parents and children, brothers and sisters, as individual members of Christ's universal Church, we have each gifts entrusted to us; and whether our talents be few or many, feeble or strong, they are the gifts of God, and must be thrown by us into the common treasury of the Church for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

(Dean Close.)

There is not greater variety of colour and qualities in plants and flowers, with which the earth, like a carpet of needlework, is variegated, for the delight and service of man, than there is of gifts natural and spiritual in the minds of men, to render them useful to one another, both in civil society and Christian fellowship.

(W. Gurnall.)

Every man has received some gift — no man has all gifts; and this, rightly considered, would keep all in a more even temper; as, in nature, nothing is altogether useless, so nothing is self-sufficient. This, duly considered, would keep the meanest from repining and discontent, even him that hath the lowest rank in most respects; yet something he hath received that is not only a good to himself, but rightly improved, may be so to others likewise. And this will curb the loftiness of the most advanced, and teach them not only to see some deficiencies in themselves, and some gifts in far meaner persons which they want; but, besides the simple discovery of this, it will put them upon the use of lower persons, not only to stoop to the acknowledgment, but even withal to the participation and benefit of it; not to trample upon all that is below them, but to take up and use things useful, though lying at their feet. Some flowers and herbs that grow very low are of a very fragrant smell and healthful use.

(Abp. Leighton.)

Diversity without unity is disorder; unity without diversity is death.

(J. P. Lange, D.D)

The spirit resolves the variety into unity, introduces variety into the unity, and reconciles unity to itself through variety.

(Baur.)

I. FAITHFULNESS IN THE CHURCH. Our gifts must be improved for the common edification (vers. 6-8).

II. LOVE TO THE BRETHREN — it must be faithful, yet kind.

III. CONSISTENCY IN THE WORLD.

1. Diligence.

2. Fervour.

3. Cheerfulness.

4. Patience.

5. Prayer.

IV. KINDNESS TO ALL MEN.

1. To the saints.

2. To enemies.

3. To all according to their need.

V. HUMILITY.

1. In our intercourse with others.

2. In our aims.

3. In our judgments.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Many true saints are unable to render much service to the cause of God. See, then, the gardeners going down to the pond and dipping in their watering-pots to carry the refreshing liquid to the flowers. A child comes into the garden and wishes to help, and yonder is a little watering-pot for him. Note well the little water-pot, though it does not hold so much, yet carries the same water to the plants; and it does not make any difference to the flowers which receive that water, whether it came out of the big pot or the little pot, so long as it is the same water, and they get it. You who are as little children in God's Church, you who do not know much, but try to tell to others what little you know; if it be the same gospel truth, and be blessed by the same Spirit, it will not matter to the souls who are blessed by you whether they were converted or comforted under a man of one or ten talents.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith
I. ITS NATURE AND REQUISITES.

II. ITS DESIGN.

1. The edification of the Church.

2. The spread of truth.

3. Salvation of souls.

III. ITS USE.

1. According to the analogy of faith.

2. In faith.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

1. "Prophet" means one who is the interpreter of another's thought. In the Hebrew word there is involved the idea of a fountain bubbling up as from between rocks, subjected to pressure from without. The prophet often declared future events; but we must not limit his function to the prediction. He brought messages to men pertaining to the present practical duty of life.

2. "According to the proportion of faith." The sense is made clearer by inserting "the" or "our faith," i.e., the objective system of truth, the gospel. It is a vast, vital, co-ordinated system, built up a unity, like the root, the stem, and branch, or the wall, the tower, and spire of a building. The balance of every part with every other part is hinted at. What is it that God's Word brings?

I. GREAT DOCTRINES.

1. The eternal personality of God — a thought the pagan mind did not grasp. And science is dwarfed when it hides this pivotal thought.

2. His providential goodness and redeeming grace. His hand is in history. The history of the race is the history of redemption. It was God who led Paul to Damascus, to Rome, Savonarola to Florence, and Luther to Worms, His creative power, His providence and grace, like the mysterious trinity of Being to which they are related, fill us with adoring wonder. The Bible lifts the race, exalting its intellectual as well as its moral capacity.

II. THE LAW OF GOD WHICH IS AS GREAT AS THE DOCTRINE OF GOD. It is high above the codes of uninspired teachers. Love to God and man are the essential elements. Every element of life is reached and ruled by it. As one sunshine floods the breadth of the sea and the face of the smallest flower, so the law touches alike the mightiest and the meanest. It enters into the whole man. Courtesy in manner is philanthropy in a trait, and heroism of character is shown in the patience of love. In a word, the law is matched to the doctrine in its supernal character and reach.

III. A SAVIOUR AS GREAT AS EITHER. He was announced by angels; a star led worshippers to His cradle; at His baptism a voice proclaimed Him the well-beloved of the Father. He laid claims on man's service — blasphemous were He not God. He put Himself between parent and child, wife and husband; or, rather, above them all, in supreme authority. By His pierced hands, Christ, the crucified and risen Redeemer, has been guiding the course of empires, and is bringing in millennial eras. Really, though often unconsciously, has the world in its advancing civilisation reflected the glory of this majestic Prince of Life. He shall yet see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. On His head will rest "many crowns."

IV. A UNIVERSAL SPIRITUAL KINGDOM IS COINCIDENT IN MAJESTY AND MIGHT WITH THE FOREGOING ELEMENTS. The idea of such a kingdom is unique and grand. To the Greeks other nations were but barbarians. Rome made other peoples her captives, without extinguishing their enmity or assimilating their life. But Christ founded His throne in the love of His redeemed people. All genius shall be developed, and all wealth shall be consecrated under the supremacy of Christ. Christianity shall be the glory of the nations.

V. GREAT WARNINGS. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" Here is, then, the "proportion of faith," the harmony of truth, the "analogy" which knits all together in a definite unity. These are the substructural truths of revelation, which are to be studied and proclaimed, each in its time, place, and proportion. Conclusion:

1. As we infer the genius of the architect from the grandeur of the building, the genius of the poet from his verse, or that of the statesman and jurist from what emanates from each, so we infer the sublime greatness of God from this revelation of truth. Can any one say that the Scriptures are the product of the Jewish mind? As well might we say that the Atlantic came from the upsetting of a child's breakfast-cup!

2. Attacking one point of this revelation is an attack on the whole. If one part be in error the value of the whole is vitiated, the entire edifice tumbles to pieces. All these facts of our common faith stand or fall together, as heart and brain are united. If one be paralysed, the whole suffers. If one stone be plucked from the arch, they all tumble in one heap; but in their entirety they reflect the Divine unity and eternity.

3. We rise into sympathy with God as we come into fuller comprehension of His truth. How unwise it is for one to try to banish God's Word from his thoughts! Here is the romance of the world. The imagination, as well as the conscience of the race, is exalted by the truth of God. It ennobles the whole man. It enriches the life that is, as well as the life that is to come.

(R. S. Storrs, D.D.)

I. WHAT IS "FAITH" HERE?

1. If we are to understand the trust of the heart towards God, then the passage will mean, that "if any man prophesy," or preach, he must do it "according to the spiritual experience which God has given him." The measure of the faith is the measure of the life; and if we wish to raise the standard of our life, we must begin by elevating our faith. We cannot go beyond our faith; and we must not fall short of it. The great business of life is to square our words and actions to the faith which God has given us.

2. But we are to take "faith" here rather as signifying not the belief, but the things believed — our creed — "the faith once delivered to the saints."

II. WE MUST KEEP THE GENERAL SYMMETRY OF THE WHOLE BODY OF "THE TRUTH AS IT IS IN JESUS."

1. There is no greater danger than disproportion — the source of almost all error. For the enemy of truth to present what is palpably false would at once startle and offend! But he secures his end much better, by putting before us what is in itself perfectly true, but which becomes false when not balanced by another and equal truth.

2. God has been pleased to give us a revelation; but He has given us also common sense. The Bible was never intended to be cut up into isolated texts. No book would bear it. If you take single sentences you may prove Socinianism, Popery, anything. What we have to do is to know all; to collate all; and to gather, from the Bible, in its integrity, the mind of God.

III. ONE OR TWO THINGS IN WHICH IT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO KEEP "THE PROPORTION OF FAITH."

1. Each Person in the Blessed Trinity has His own prerogative, office, and dispensation. Some persons' religion is all of the Father, others' all of the Son, others' all of the Spirit. See, however, how the works of each stand related to each other in the proportion of faith. The Father loved the world, and gave His Son to save it. The Son wrought out for us a complete salvation, and with Him we have union by faith. That union is our strength, and our life. That union once made, the Holy Spirit flows into us as the blood flows into a member of the body; or, as the sap flows into a branch, grafted into the tree. So that it is impossible to say to which we owe most.

2. According to "the proportion of faith," there is a wide distinction between the process of our justification and our sanctification. We are justified at once, and perfectly, by a single act of faith; hut we are sanctified by degrees with effort, and even painfulness.

(J. Vaughan, M.A.)

Proportion means things in their right place, i.e., when one object does not unduly attract our attention above another. A well-proportioned figure, e.g., is where the head is not too large, or the hands and feet too small for the body. A well-proportioned building is that in which nothing is out of place or too large or small for its place. Apply this doctrine to —

I. CHRISTIAN PRACTICE.

1. It is not enough to ask what is right in itself, but what is right under the circumstances. It is a great thing to have right men in right places, but it is also a great thing to have the right man doing the right thing in the right place, in the right way. A right thing done in a wrong way is often more mischievous than a thing done wrong altogether. A saying most true loses all its savour if said at a wrong time; and it is no defence to argue that it was good years ago or miles away. Is it good for us here and now?

2. Congruity, fitness, proportion, are the graces required for the spiritual as well as the material temple. We are not mere isolated blocks of stone, but "living stones, built up into a spiritual house." What in one station or age is a grace, in another is a deformity. "To everything there is a season," etc., says the preacher in that ancient discourse on the doctrine of proportion. How many good plans have come to nought, not from wickedness or opposition, but because men have exalted a virtue or custom out of proportion, and so have driven men into an equal disproportion on the other side — over strictness leading to over laxity, excessive rashness to excessive caution, etc.

3. And so the apostle tells us to act "according to the gifts given to us." He that is endowed with the gift of preaching is to exercise his gift not in any other line, but in that. He that has the gift of practical work is not to rush out of his way in prophesying. Each has his own special calling; let us not waste our time or mar our usefulness by intruding into provinces disproportioned to our powers. Any one faculty indulged in excess becomes a curse, e.g., music, study, mechanical pursuits. How fatal to Louis XVI., who in the crisis of the French monarchy devoted himself to his favourite craft rather than to the task of saving the state; how useful to Peter the Great, who made it the means of civilising his barbarian empire!

4. In the defence of Lucknow the courage, subordination and zeal of each individual was sustained by the consciousness that on him rested the safety of the whole — a single outpost lost would be the loss of all. So if the fortress of goodness and truth is to be saved, it must be by every one doing at his own post the work that belongs to him alone. What discipline effects in the army is effected in our moral duties by a sense of the apostolical doctrine of proportion. Each one has his own work assigned him by the Captain of his salvation. Allow in others, claim for yourselves a division of labour and responsibility. A good master, servant, soldier, teacher, is made in no other way but by "waiting" on his place.

II. CHRISTIAN METHOD.

1. "He that giveth with simplicity." How greatly the value of a gift depends on the manner of giving! "He gives twice who gives soon"; so he who gives with simplicity, i.e., with singleness of purpose, gives a hundredfold more than he who gives grudgingly, late, or ostentatiously. A thousand gifts ill given are hardly better than none.

2. "He that ruleth, with diligence." He that has charge of a household, school, or commonwealth, may rule imperiously, and so that the institution may go on in apparent prosperity; and yet there may be wanting that peculiar method which will give life and substance to the whole. What is wanted is that he should rule with diligence, i.e. with heart and soul. This is the true secret of influence.

3. "He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness." How easy to show mercy in such a way that it shall be no mercy! What is wanted is the bright smile, the playful word.

III. CHRISTIAN TRUTH.

1. It is important for the teacher to teach according to the proportion of his own faith; not to assume feelings which are not his own, not to urge truths of which he does not feel the value, but to teach according to his own knowledge and experience.

2. It is important for us all so to seek, find, and teach all truth, so as not to forget what are the due proportions of the truth itself. Christian truth is not of one kind only. It has lights and shades, foregrounds and distances, lessons of infinitely various significance. Woe be to us if instead of "rightly dividing the word of truth," we confound all its parts together. We may believe correctly on every single point, yet if we view these points out of their proper proportions our view may be as completely wrong as if on every point we had been involved in error.

(Dean Stanley.)

1. Lord Bacon compares religion to the sun, which invigorates and cheers live animal substances, but turns the dead to corruption. Similarly religion invigorates a sound mind, and cheers a sound heart, while in a morbid mind it breeds superstitions, scruples, and monstrous fancies. We have only to survey the history of Christianity to see how just their comparison is. What follies, superstitions, licentious doctrines, have been founded on the Bible! This has arisen from a certain morbid tendency in the human mind to caricature truths presented to it.

I. EVERY HERESY HAS BEEN A CARICATURE OF SOME ONE POINT OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH — an exaggeration by which the fair proportion of the faith has been distorted.

1. The truth upon which the Quaker founds his system, is that the New Dispensation is spiritual. No truth can well be more vital, and through the subtle encroachments of formalism it is necessary for all of us every now and then to ask ourselves whether we are properly awake to the fact that the law, under which Christians live, is "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," written on the fleshy table of the heart, and that God is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. The Quakers would have deserved the warmest thanks if they had done nothing more than bring these truths forward. But, unhappily, they caricatured them, and robbed the Church of her sacraments.

2. The fundamental truth of our religion is that "God is love," and that He has shown His love by the sacrifice of His dear Son. Now certain divines have perceived this truth clearly, and it is impossible to perceive it too clearly, or proclaim it too loudly. But to say that anger is inconsistent with love, or that justice is inconsistent with compassion, and to acknowledge no relations with God as a Judge, because He stands to us in the relation of a Father, is to caricature the faith and mar its fair proportions. God loves me deeply, but He hates my sin, and will never consent to save me from its guilt without saving me from its power.

3. And where there is no actual heresy, this tendency may lead to a vast amount of unsuspected mischief. In many spiritual books a strain is put upon certain precepts which caricatures them, sets them at issue with other precepts, and cramps the mind which should strive after obedience to them. Take an example. When St. was dying, he said to one of his attached disciples, "Bishop, God has taught me a great secret, and I will tell it you, if you will put your head closer." The bishop did so, anxious to know what Francis considered as the crowning lesson of a life of holiness. "He has taught me," said the dying man, who was acutely suffering, "to ask nothing, and to refuse nothing." Now at this a sentimental pietism might perhaps whisper, "What beautiful resignation!" But is it in conformity to the Word of God, and the mind of Christ? We admit that we should refuse nothing which comes from our Father's hand. But where has God taught His people to ask nothing? Did not our Lord pray, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me"? Good St. Francis erred by exaggeration, and caricatured the grace of resignation. Resignation is a heavenly and Christ-like grace; but if you will push it to every length, it becomes absolutely mischievous. Thus one might conceive a beggar doing nothing to improve his condition, on the plea that such was the will of God, and that mendicancy was the state of life to which tie had been called; forgetting that there is a maxim which says that "if any man would not work, neither should he eat." In the lives of the Scriptural saints nothing is so remarkable as their perfect naturalness, and freedom from all overstrained spirituality. The great Apostle of the Gentiles, after a miraculous escape from shipwreck, gathers a bundle of sticks, and puts them on the fire (for St. Paul was not above feeling cold and wet); and when writing under the affiatus of the Holy Ghost, he bids Timothy bring the cloak which be left at Troas with Carpus, in anticipation of an approaching winter, "and the books, but especially the parchments"; for what studious man can bear to be without his books and papers? Among the early disciples you would have seen nothing overcharged in character or manner; nay, you would have seen little foibles, of temper, of superstition, of prejudice — you might have heard sharp words passing between great apostles, and you might have seen a damsel, recently engaged with others in prayer, in such a joyful trepidation of nerves when the answer arrived, that she opened not the gate for gladness.

II. HOW, THEN, SHALL THE DEVOUT MAN KEEP HIS MIND FREE FROM EXAGGERATIONS BOTH IN DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE? By an impartial study of the whole of Scripture. Pray for the Bereans' nobleness of mind who brought even the doctrine of apostles to the test of inspiration, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so. How much more, when men are not apostles, must their doctrine be thus searched and sifted!

(Dean Goulburn.)

It has been a matter of controversy whether "the faith" is to be understood in its objective or subjective sense, in other words, whether the caution is intended to guard the preacher against violating the due relation existing between one and another of the truths of revelation; or whether he does not rather use the word "faith" in its subjective meaning, and bid the Christian who is to exercise the prophetic office so to regulate his teaching as may be in accordance with the measure of faith attained by himself or his hearers. I can myself see no reason why we should not use the words in both applications.

I. First, taking THE TEXT IN ITS OBJECTIVE MEANING, what shall we say is the true proportion which is to guide us in our teaching? Surely in the first instance we must go to the Catholic creeds: these, surely, in the first place, are the natural exponents to us of the revelation of the New Testament. The great truth of the incarnation of the eternal Son lies, as we all should admit, at the root of all sound teaching connected with man's relation to God. It is the one great central truth round which a theologian would group all the subsidiary truths, which we connect with the words "atonement," "reconciliation," "pardon," "justification," and the like. A number of other points of teaching, whether we count them matters of faith or of opinion, flow out of this central head. A clergyman — a scribe instructed into the kingdom of heaven — ought to see this relation between the several parts of revelation; but every clergyman even is not a formal theologian; and, deep as is the reverence still amongst our people for the English Bible, St. Paul's Epistles are mostly read for other purposes than for that of tracing the interdependence of religious truth. We complain sometimes, and not without reason, of the way in which a past generation so magnified one particular doctrine, which they thought to be embodied in St. Paul's writings, as to obscure altogether collateral and complementary truths; so as to give a thoroughly distorted image of the apostle's teaching concerning the doctrine nearest to their own hearts. Our generation surely is not altogether clear from the same error.

II. But I suggested that St. Paul's words, where he speaks of the proportion of faith, MIGHT FAIRLY BEAR THE SUBJECTIVE AS WELL AS THE OBJECTIVE INTERPRETATION; in other words, he seems to imply that prophecy, to be effective for the edification of the Church, must be exercised in subordination, not only to the analogy of the faith of the Church itself, but also to the faith of the preacher, and I think also of the hearer. Am I wrong in saying that the prophecy of our days has not been always mindful of this rule? And has not this forgetfulness been one fruitful source of much of the disappointment which has waited on the ministry of good and earnest men? And we hear a great deal about the importance of defending the outworks from some who do not seem to understand altogether what is the citadel which they suppose these outworks to defend. I do not at all mean that there is of necessity any insincerity in all this, but there is, I think, a measure of unreality. The learner is not attracted by very decided statements on the part of the teacher, so long as there is a certain secret instinct in his own mind that the conviction of the speaker's heart is not altogether in unison with the strength of his language. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh — words not spoken out of that abundance fall dead and powerless even upon the untaught ear. But there is a third, and a different aspect of the whole question.

III. THE PROPORTION OF FAITH WHICH WE HAVE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT IS THE FAITH OF OUR HEARERS AS WELL AS THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH AT LARGE, and the force with which we ourselves have apprehended the realities with which faith deals. The days in which we live are days of excitement, of controversy; I must add also days of failure and disappointment to those who have the cure of souls. We have gone out, many of us, full of expectation, and we have returned full of disappointment, "we have sown much and we have brought in little," and the bright lights of the early morning have ended in a very sober grey. Doubtless there are many causes working up to this result. Our expectation has been unreasonable, and it has been good for us that "tears, prayers, and watchings should fail." But I venture to think that there has been also a great forgetfulness of St. Paul's precept among us clergy. We have again and again looked for a sympathy amongst our people, which we had no right to expect; we have failed to apprehend the very wide difference between their standpoint and our own: we have expected to quicken their interest in religious truth, simply because our own has been quickened: and that new, possibly important, phases of doctrine should commend themselves to the spiritual apprehension of our people because they have so commended themselves to our own. These things are doubtless in a measure inevitable. I suppose every clergyman, in reviewing his own work and teaching, has found that he has fallen into many a mistake in his younger days from attempting to build up a super-structure where there was no sufficient foundation already laid. Sympathy with the spiritual and intellectual condition of others must of course be the result of experience. In a word, as years go on, I believe the oldest and the simplest standards alike of faith, and of devotion, and of practice satisfy us best. For dogmatic statements about the sacraments we turn to the catechism of our childhood, and we learn to see that all the refinements of more elaborate definition have added not one whit to the clearness of our apprehension of what is confessedly mystical. In like manner as the Lord's prayer becomes to us the most complete and satisfying formula of communion with God, each petition in its iteration becoming more and more formal, but ever pregnant with fresh meaning and with new life, so also do the Catholic creeds supply us with all that we want as a standard of faith. Curious and intricate questions about which we were once very much inclined to speculate, we are content to leave where the creeds leave them, implicitly contained perhaps in their statements of truth, but no more. It is in them that we learn the true balance, the real proportion; and alike for our own soul's guidance and for the teaching of our people, we fall back upon truths learnt at our mother's knee, and we find words which once sounded a little cold and formal become ever instinct with a new life; for that indeed they contain all that a Christian ought to know and "believe to his soul's health," the love of the Father, the Incarnation of the Son, and the indwelling power of the Spirit of God.

(Archdn. Pott.)

Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering
I was in Cologne on a very rainy day, and I was looking out for similes and metaphors, as I generally am; but I had nothing on earth to look at in the square of the city but an old pump, and what kind of a simile I could make out of it I could not tell. All traffic seemed suspended, it rained so hard; but I noticed a woman come to the pump with a bucket. Presently I noticed a man come in with a bucket; nay, he came with a yoke and two buckets. As I kept on writing and looking out every now and then, I saw the same friend with the often-buckets and blue blouse coming to the same pump again. In the course of the morning I think I saw him a dozen times. I thought to myself, "Ah, yon do not fetch water for your own house, I am persuaded: you are a water-carrier; you fetch water for lots of people, and that is why you come oftener than anybody else." Now, there was a meaning in that at once to my soul, that, inasmuch that I had not only to go to Christ for myself, but had been made a water-carrier to carry the water of everlasting life to others, I must come a great deal oftener than anybody else.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

He that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation
may be combined in the same individual; and indeed in these days, they are best laid upon one person, the ordinary minister of a congregation. Yet the two faculties are so far separate, as in other times to have given rise to separate functions; and accordingly, in the machinery of more churches than one, have we read both of the doctor and the pastor as distinct office-bearers. The one expounds truth; the other applies it, and presses it home on the case and conscience of every individual. The didactic and the hortatory are two distinct things, and imply distinct powers — insomuch, that, on the one hand, a luminous, logical, and masterly didactic may be a feeble and unimpressive hortatory preacher; and, on the other, the most effective of our hortatory men may, when they attempt the didactic, prove very obscure and infelicitous expounders of the truth. Both are best; and we should conform more to the way of that Spirit who divideth His gifts severally as He will, did we multiply and divide our offices so as to meet this variety. It were more consonant both to philosophy and Scripture, did we proceed more on the subdivision of employment in things ecclesiastical.

(T. Chalmers, D.D.)

I.STUDY — to secure right material.

II.METHOD — or the right way of communicating the truth.

III.DILIGENCE.

IV.SIMPLICITY — Or a right aim.

V.Above all FAITH — Or dependence upon Divine help.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

On Egypt's far-off soil, away from friends and home, just as the morning beams lit up the Eastern sky, an officer lay dying. With gallant daring he had led his followers through many a devious path, guided alone by the pale starlight of the heavens, until at last they reached the enemy; and now the strife is over, but he is wounded, mortally! As the general, his cheeks bedewed with tears, gazed down with sadness on his face, a sudden radiancy illumined for a moment the youth's countenance as, looking up to Wolseley, he exclaimed, "General, didn't I lead them straight?" and so he died. "Oh, brothers, when O'er our eyes there steals the film of death, and when the soul flits solemnly from time into eternity, may it be ours to say in truthful earnestness to Christ concerning those committed to our care, "We led the people straight."

(H. D. Brown, B.A.)

He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity
What is the great object of human life?

1. To prepare to die, say many, an answer which contains a small modicum of right, and an overwhelming preponderance of wrong. To be prepared to meet death is, of course, a great object, but it is not itself the great object of life. If it were, on the same principle the great object of a journey would be to get home again; and of getting up in the morning to go to bed again at night, of a fire to consume fuel, and of reading a book to get through its pages. These absurdities bring out the truth that the fag end of a thing is not always the chief object of it.

2. The great object of life is to live, i.e., to do one's duty as a Christian. And wherever this object is fairly and fully followed out, the last stage of life will be safe and easy. What thought is there so disheartening and disturbing as the thought that we must die, and we know not how soon? Let it be chased away with the reflection that it is our present duty to live, and the text is suited exclusively to living men; to men who will one day have to die, but whose business now is to live and do their duty.

I. TO GIVE "WITH SIMPLICITY." The word simplicity is the opposite of duplicity. Let him do it with a single eye and heart, and without any second or double meaning. Let there be no undercurrent of unworthy motive, but one pure and simple desire of benefiting the recipients of his bounty (Luke 6:35). The case of those who never, or scarcely ever, give anything, is not mentioned. Perhaps the apostle left it as a case which carried its own condemnation with it, and therefore required no special mention. But those who do give are to watch the motive of their giving. They have been "bought with a price," and they must give out of a feeling of gratitude to Him who hath done so much for them. Whatever they have has been given to them by God, and sooner or later they will have to give an account of their stewardship. That they may do so with joy they must aim at "simplicity" in the exercise of their trust.

II. TO RULE WITH DILIGENCE.

1. Persons in authority are too apt to forget or shelve their responsibilities; and there are numbers who repudiate the idea of having any authority at all. But there are very few who do not exercise some influence. Now the text drops a word of warning to all, from the queen downwards, and condemns those who talk about taking it easy, and leaving things to take care of themselves.

2. Ruling is not a process which can be performed anyhow. It requires care, and thought, and discretion. And if parents, masters, and mistresses will not take the trouble to look after their dependents, or lack moral courage to do it, we may be sure of an unsatisfactory result sooner or later. Wherever habits of idleness and indulgence, waste and extravagance, recklessness and imprudence, of unbecoming finery in dress, and morbid delicacy in eating, go uncorrected, there the seed of a fruitful crop of social evils is being sown broadcast. Such habits cling tenaciously to young people, and in the case of servants, the humble fare of whose future homes may present a painful contrast to the profusion of domestic service, such habits make them poor and keep them so.

III. TO SHOW MERCY WITH CHEERFULNESS. There is a great deal in the way in which a thing is done. The man who does a kind action, accompanying it with kind words and looks, doubles the favour which he confers. The term "cheerfulness" refers particularly to looks. What a beautiful illustration of the spirit of our religion, which seeks to bring our whole man, body as well as soul, our very looks as well as our words and actions, into captivity to the obedience of Christ! How it carries us back to the example of our Master, who never said an unkind word, or gave an unkind look, or did a favour grudgingly. There is a good deal of kindness in the world, but the kindness we experience is not always associated with "cheerfulness." Who has not heard of the poor relation, and the dependent friend, mourning in secret, not always over unkind actions, but over kind actions unkindly done?

(J. Mould, M.A.)

I. IS A CHRISTIAN DUTY. Because —

1. An acknowledgment of our stewardship.

2. An expression of —

(1)Gratitude to God.

(2)Self-denial.

(3)Goodwill to man.

II. SHOULD BE PERFORMED WITH SIMPLICITY. With —

1. A generous heart.

2. A single eye.

3. A clean hand.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

is giving just as if giving were so natural that when a man gave he did not think of changing his countenance, manners, or air at all; but did it quietly, easily, beautifully. When you are going around for proper help, some men give so that you are angry every time you ask them to contribute. They give so that their gold and silver shoot you like a bullet. Others give with such beauty that you remember it as long as you live; and you say, "It is a pleasure to go to such men." There are some men that give as springs do. Whether you go to them or not they are always full, and your part is merely to put your dish under the ever-flowing stream. Others give just as a pump does where the well is dry and the pump leaks!

(H. W. Beecher.)

It is told of John Wesley that when he bestowed a gift or rendered any one a service he lifted his hat as though he were receiving instead of conferring an obligation.

A lady who refused to give, after hearing a charity sermon, had her pocket picked as she was leaving church. On making the discovery she said, "The parson could not find the way to my pocket, but the devil did."

When wheat is growing it holds all its kernels tight in its own ear. But when it is ripe the kernels are scattered every whither, and it is only the straw that is left.

(H. W. Beecher.)

He that ruleth, with diligence
I. THE NECESSITY OF THE RULER.

1. In the world.

2. In the Church.

II. THE FUNCTIONS OF THE RULER

1. To maintain order.

2. Protect liberty.

3. Secure the common weal.

III. THE DUTY OF THE RULER. Diligence, implying —

1. Self-sacrifice.

2. Attention to all.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness
This instruction may mean —

1. That we should carry sunshine with us in our visits to the sick chamber or distressed home. In no case is cheerfulness or brightness so needed or so welcome.

2. That we should perform kind offices to the sick or sorrowful, not of constraint, but of a ready mind, con amore; not because it is our business as the paid or voluntary staff of a Church, nor as a matter merely of principle or habit, but of pleasure and privilege. That manner is something to everybody, and everything to some, is a maxim we should act upon when consoling those claiming our compassion. Besides, it is our privilege to show cheerfulness in soothing the sorrows of the afflicted, for no task tends more than this, if entered upon in a right spirit, to banish gloom and discontent from our own minds, and to enliven our own souls.

(C. Neil, M.A.)

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