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son Isaac whom he loved, and offer him upon the altar as a burnt-offering. When Abraham's faith was subjected to this severe trial, it could not be said that no temptation had taken him but such as is common to man. We might say the same in the case of Job, and of Daniel. But Paul, perhaps, was not thinking so much of them, as of the trials which were then endured by many Christians; “trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment.” The Corinthians were tempted to engage in the idolatrous feasts to which their former habits had accustomed them, and which, on account of former habits, it required much self-denial to abandon. But it would have been a far greater trial to one who was in heart a servant of God, if he were obliged to join in an idolatrous feast. This temptation had not taken them, a temptation which, though not common to man in general, was not uncommon to Christians of that age, and of the ages which succeeded: when they were required to take part in sacrifices and join in worship, which was, in effect, a denial of the true God: when they were forced to make choice between torture and death, on the one side, and the forfeiture of their everlasting hopes,
on the other. This temptation had not taken the Corinthians.
An assurance follows, which might afford comfort
in the prospect of temptation. No temptation shall
come upon you, but such as ye shall be able to bear:
God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also " Heb. xi. 36.
make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. He who knows your frame, your nature, and your circumstances, will provide for the spiritual safety of his people, and will fit their burthen to their strength, and adapt their strength to their burthen. The way to escape, here spoken of does not mean a way to escape temptation itself, but to escape falling under temptation. It is not promised that God's people will be exempt from conflict, but that they shall be safe from injury. Not that they shall be exposed to no storms, but that their faith shall not suffer shipwreck. It is escape from battle or from storms, to return unharmed. No other escape is promised, than strength to resist temptation. No way was made for. Daniel to avoid the severity of trial, when he was threatened with a cruel death unless he ceased from prayer. But strength was given him, that though he “knew the writing was signed” which was to compass his condemnation, “he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” No way was made for Job to escape the endurance of sorrow and disease. But “in all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” He was endued with patience, and made able to bear that weight of affliction, which has rendered him a pattern of resignation to the people of God in every age.
Admire here the wisdom of our heavenly Father, who provides for the salvation of his people in the way that seems good to him. He might, without doubt, have ordained that there should be no tempta' Dan. vi. 10. 8 Job i. 22.
tion: no labours to weary, no pleasures to allure; no wicked to trouble from without, no passion to molest within. But it has pleased him to order otherwise. It has pleased him that they who are to wear the crown of glory hereafter, should first “endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ:” that the husbandman should labour before he be “partaker of the fruits.” But still he provides that the trial which is to prove his people's strength, shall not overcome it; that the furnace which is to refine, shall not destroy. “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings:” so the Lord “watches over them that serve and fear him; guides, supports, comforts them; makes his strength perfect in their weakness; and proportions their power to the temptation, that they may be able to bear it. Therefore, “blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
14. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. 15. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
St. Paul's mind is still harassed by the habit prevailing amongst the Corinthians, of frequenting the feasts made in honour of the false deities, the “lords many and gods many” of the heathen. He represents the evil in a manner to convince their reason. I speak unto some, he says, who boast of their wisdom; who think themselves “wise unto salvation:” judge ye what I say: and see by the examples which I shall bring forward, how your partaking of these feasts, how the eating of the meats offered in the temples, may involve you in the sin of idolatry.
9 2 Tim. i. 3–6. 1 Deut. xxxii. 11. * James i. 12.
We, as well as the heathen, have a festival, the Supper of the Lord.
16. The cup of blessing” which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
17. For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
We being many, a company of persons, eat of “that bread from heaven;" it unites us as one body, so that we seem to form one bread, one substance, even as the bread is one which we break, and of which we are all partakers.”
And we are thus united as the worshippers of Christ. This social and sacred feast joins us together, as depending upon him for redemption: it is the communion of the blood of Christ, which “cleanseth
1 Cup of blessing. The cup for which we give thanks and bless God: evixaparovvrec ort rmc *Xavnç drnxWaše ro row div6pwrov 'yevoc. Chrys.
* Because the bread is one, one loaf being broken for us all, we who partake of it, being many, are one body: owning ourselves thereby all members of that body of which Christ is the head.”—Whitby after Chrysostom.
from all sin;" it is the communion of the body of Christ, “bruised for our iniquities.”
After the same rule will the heathen judge of us, if they see us sitting at meat in the idol's temple. When we drink the wine and break the bread in the company of the faithful, they know it to be an act of worship in honour of the Lord whom we call upon. And if they find you joining the banquets in the assembly of the heathen, will they not suppose that you worship with the heathen Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
Another example may be taken from the sacrifices of the Jews.
18. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifice partakers of the altar *
Consider the case of those who still remain Israel after the flesh, not being “led by the Spirit” to perceive that the law of Moses is set aside. Feasting makes a part of their worship also. Moses ordained (Levit. vii. 15) that “the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offerings for thanksgivings shall be eaten the same day that it is offered.” They that thus eat of the sacrifices, are partakers of the altar where they offer them; worship the God, to whom the altar is consecrated.
So that both by Jews and Christians, to partake of the feast which is celebrated at public worship, is considered as making a part of worship, and connecting the worshipper with the God who is honoured by it. And judge ye what I say, when I warn you that ye cannot be present at feasts in honour of an