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ing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. The natural man is conformed to this world. It must be so. He must be changed, formed again after a new plan. The mind of Zaccheus, whilst living in the habits of other publicans, with money as his chief object, was conformed to this world.” When he entered on a different course, restoring to every man his due, and sharing his possessions with his neighbour, he was transformed by the renewing of his mind; and not his own will, but the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God became his rule. And the same principle was to direct and govern them all in their various duties and capacities. God “divides to every man severally as he will:” but he has one purpose regarding all: that they exercise the talents entrusted to them as men who have an account to render.6 3. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think ; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.7 4. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith ; * See Luke xix. 2—8. 6 Ib. 12–26. 7 Faith, as the cause, seems to be put here for the grace which is its effect, and springs from it: as afterwards in ver. 6; let us prophesy according to the proportion, or measure, of faith given to
us, from which our ability to prophesy proceeds. This is the ancient interpretation.
7. Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering ; or he that teacheth, on teaching :
8. Or that he that eachorteth, on eachortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
This is a beautiful description of a community of Christians, having different gifts and different offices: but all exercising them in obedience to God, to promote the welfare of those around them. Just as the limbs and senses of the body act in divers ways, but serve to the same end: the eye points out what the feet reach and the hands handle; and thus the object is gained, and the office of each member is fulfilled. The apostle begins with the head: issues his first instructions to the leading or ruling portion of the community: the prophet, or the expounder of Scripture, must be faithful: the minister or deacon, laborious: those employed in teaching the younger or more ignorant, and they that offer eahortations to the careless or the afflicted, must be earnest in the performance of their work. They that gave, imparted bounty, should distribute with a simple mind: they who were called to preside or rule, take diligent care that none were overlooked or despised: and they that showed mercy, either by relieving wants or comforting the sick, should make their kindness a freewill offering: for all charity has a double value when it is administered with cheerfulness.
Persons who act thus, are as one body in Christ, who has united them to himself by his Gospel: and like many members in one body, they contribute to the mutual welfare, being erery one members one of another, and supplying that which is needed by the
whole. And so each man, in his own case, proves what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God, and presents himself as that living sacrifice which is demanded of him. Abraham, when it was required, brought his son Isaac, “whom he loved, and laid him upon the altar which he had built,” and was prepared to devote his only son to the claim of God.” That would have been a costly but not a living sacrifice. What the Christian must offer is a living sacrifice, a reasonable service; doing the will of God from the heart, in whatever station he may be called to fill: whether it be appointed him to teach or to learn, to speak or to hear, to govern or to obey, to receive mercy or to exercise it, “doing all to the glory of God.” Such is the service which reason pays, and reason sanctions: that we live to him who gave us being; that we submit our faculties to the command of him who endowed us with them, and who expects to receive again “his own with usury.”
THE CONDUCT REQUIRED OF CHRISTIANS.
9. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 8 Gen. xxii. 1–13. 9 See Luke xix. 23. N
11. Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord ;
12. Rejoicing in hope ; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13. Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14. Bless them that persecute you : bless, and curse not.
15. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16. Be of the same mind one towards another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
When we read this description of what a Christian community ought to be, we seem to be transported to a different world. Certainly ours would be a different world, if men were governed by these precepts, and lived according to them. Yet there have been examples of the character here set forth; and in the grace of God there is provision for producing it.
Abraham was kindly affectioned towards Lot, when he said, the land being too scanty for them both, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me: separate thyself. I pray thee, from me; if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right: or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Thus did the elder prefer in honour the younger, giving him the priority; and instead of infringing another's right, resigning his own just claim.
Eliezer, the steward of Abraham, had profited by his master's example: he showed himself not slothful in business, but ferrent in spirit.” When admitted into the house of Laban, “there was meat laid before him. But he said, I will not eat till I have told my errand.” And whilst faithful to his earthly lord, he was at the same time serving the Lord of heaven. For we find him praying, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham.” Paul himself, with his companion Silas, was among those who could be rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer. At Philippi, having suffered many stripes, and been thrust into the inner prison, they had much to render them dejected. But the history relates, that “at midnight Saul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them,” thus practising the precepts which they gave to others. The Christians at Antioch distributed to the necessity of saints, when “every one according to his ability sent relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea,” then suffering under the miseries of famine. And Paul speaks of many, who being given to hospitality, were “fellow-helpers of the truth:” like Phoebe, who had been “a succourer of many, and of himself also:” or like the brethren of Puteoli, with whom he “tarried seven days as he went towards Rome.” Stephen has taught us, by a memorable example, what it is to bless them which persecute you, to bless and curse not ; when “he knelt down, and prayed” for
1 Gen. xiii. 7–9. * Gen. xxiv. 33.