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God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: that which I see not, teach thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.” It was thus with the prodigal, when he left his father's house, and “went into a far country, and there wasted his substance in riotous living.” There came a famine in the land, and he was reduced to the lowest misery. It brought him “to himself.” It determined him to say, “I will arise, and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned.” If no misfortune had befallen him, and he had been allowed to persevere in his course of vanity and revelry, it must have ended in his destruction: he must have perished for ever. The Old Testament abounds with examples of judgments, i.e. of temporary affliction visiting the children of God, that they might not be condemned with the world. It was so with Moses and Aaron, when the Lord spake unto them, “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel,-therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” It was so with David, to whom Nathan said,” “The Lord hath put away thy sin: thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born unto thee shall surely die.” These were chastened of the Lord, that they might “not be given over unto death.” It is when his visitations are neglected and despised, that the severity of his anger must be expected; “a fearful looking
for of judgment and fiery indignation.” As the prophet Jeremiah complains”—“O Lord, thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.” Amos writes to the same purpose;"—“I have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your palaces: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. I have withholden the rain from you: I have smitten you with blasting and mildew; I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.” “Therefore, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.” If ye “receive not correction;” if “ye will revolt more and more;” and refuse to judge yourselves when ye are chastened of the Lord: ye must be included in the condemnation, and await the doom of “the world that lieth in wickedness.” " “Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and withhold pride from man. He is chastened with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy. He will
5 Ch. v. 3. * Ch. iv. 6—ll. 7 Zeph. iii. 2; Jer. vii. 28; Isa. i. 5.
deliver his soul from going down into the pit, and his life shall see the light.”
1. Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not
have you ignorant. 2. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
There have always been pretenders to spiritual gifts : and the Corinthians were in danger of being corrupted by such pretenders. They must not “believe every spirit: but try the spirits, whether they be of God.” There was a test by which they might be proved: the real prophet known, and the false prophet discovered. Paul reminds the Corinthians of the mighty change which had taken place in them: how they that “ were sometime darkness, were now light in the Lord:” had been brought to the knowledge of “the living and true God,” instead of being carried away unto these dumb idols, eren as they were led. They had come to this state of salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ: and might be sure that whatever did not tend to exalt
* See Job xxxiii. 14–20. 'l John iv. 1.
and honour Him, could not be a spiritual gift, or proceed from God. Perhaps some of the priests of those dumb idols, whose craft was failing, took what seemed to them the best means of maintaining their own interest: and pretended to speak under inspiration, whilst they decried the authority of Jesus. Besides these, there were unconverted Jews, “making their boast of God,” whose worshippers they had always been, yet indulging the most vehement enmity against Jesus, as if he had “destroyed the law and the prophets.” These would speak of him as justly put to death ; as having been rightly condemned to an accursed death,” as a blasphemer, who “ by their law ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” Nay, there had been a time when even Paul might have called Jesus accursed, and yet “verily have thought within himself” that he was speaking in accordance with the Spirit of God.” This, therefore, was the test to which they might look, the sign on which they might depend. “Hereby they might know the Spirit of God.” No man, whatever might be his claim to spiritual gifts, must be believed or trusted, who could speak lightly,
much less who could speak blasphemously of Jesus Christ.
3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
As St. John wrote afterwards, having the same truth to maintain, and the same errors to combat, * “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
* Gal. iii. 13. * John Xix. 7. * Acts xxvi. 9.
It seems an easy and simple thing, to confess that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh:” that Jesus is the Lord: and yet how much is implied in those short words! Jesus is the Lord. Then Jesus is he, “ of whom Moses and the prophets did speak:” whom the Jewish nation had been long expecting, to “redeem Israel:” whom, nevertheless, they rejected, and would not “ have to reign over them;” and at length they “crucified that same Jesus, whom God made both Lord and Christ.”"
Jesus is the Lord. Then the whole race of mankind were needing a Redeemer: till he came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” and to “give his life a ransom for many:” whom God has attested as “his beloved Son,” in that “he hath raised him from the dead,” and sent him “to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus is the Lord. Therefore let every knee bow to him, and every tongue confess him: “God hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” "
* 1 John iv. 2, 3, 7. "Acts ii. 36. 7 Acts v. 31. * John v. 22, 23.