Page images








Introductory Discourse.

HE apostle Paul, first to the Corin

Tthians, chapter the 12th, directs their exercise of SPI

RITUAL GIFTS; of which they had received an abundant measure, and concerning which they had consulted him. For the Lord having much people in the city of Corinth,' whom he intended to call, encouraged the apostle to go and preach there,-gave great success to the word, and furnished the first converts with such eminent and extraordinary gifts, as might be happily instrumental in the conversion of others. In the exercise of these gifts, several persons had conducted themselves improperly, and had abused them to the purposes of emulation and ambition. On the information of some, who, loving truth, peace, and order, were troubled on this account; and, in answer to a letter of the whole church, concerning these and other occurrences, he gives them his advice for the rectifying such abuses; and to prepare their minds for instruction, by exciting humility and gratitude, he reminds them of their condition before they were converted to Christ. know that you were Gentiles, carried away with dumb

• You


idols, even as you were led,'-hurried with violent înpressions from the Devil into the service of idols. This he mentions, not to reproach them, but to let them know what frame of mind might be expected in persons who had received such an alteration in their condition. This alteration he further describes by the author and effects of it: '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.' The great dispute of the day was about Jesus. Unbelievers blasphemed, and said, 'Jesus was anathema.' They looked on him as a detestable person. Hence, on the mention of him, they used to say, ' Jesus anathema !' -he is, or let him be, accursed, detested! And this was once the condition of the Corinthians themselves. On the other hand, believers called Jesus LORD. They owned him to be JEHOVAH, over all God blessed for ever;' and they professed him to be their Lord, the Lord of their souls and consciences; as Thomas did in his great confession My Lord, and my God.' Now, this great change in the Corinthians was effected by the Holy Ghost; for no man can say that Jesus is the Lord,' but by him. This expression includes both our faith in him, and our profession of that faith; which two, when sincere, always accompany each other: for as saying that Jesus was anathema, comprised an open disclaimure of him, so the calling him Lord expresses the profession of our faith in him, and subjection to him; and that these are the works of the Holy Ghost, which none of themselves are sufficient for, shall hereafter be fully declared.


Having thus stated the original and foundation of the church, he further informs them that the same Spirit is also the author of those gifts by which it was to be built up and enlarged. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit;' and to denote the unity of their author, notwithstanding the diversity of the gifts, he calls him the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God.' As he is called the Spirit, to denote which of the divine persons is intended, so he is called Lord and God, to signify his sovereign authority in all his operations, and to produce in our hearts a due reverence towards him. Ver. 4-7.

With respect to their General Nature, the apostle distributes them into 'gifts, administrations, and operations;

[ocr errors]

and then declares the design of the Spirit in their communication to the church: but the manifestation,' or revelation, of the Spirit, is given to every man to profit withal;' that is, the gifts whereby he manifests his care of the church; and his own presence, power, and effectual operations are granted to some, that they may be used for the edification of others. These gifts are further distinguished by nine different names:-Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Working of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits, Tongues, and Interpretation of Tongues. Ver. 8-10. But now if there be such diversity of gifts, how can differences and divisions be prevented among those on whom they are bestowed? It is true, that such differences may happen; and did actually exist in the Corinthian church. One admired one gift, a second another, and so on; and among those who received them, one boasted of this or that particular gift, to the contempt of others; and those gifts which excited admiration were preferred to others of a more useful tendency. Thus the church was divided and distracted :-so foolish are the minds of men, so common is it for their lusts to turn judgment into wormwood, and to abuse the most useful effects of divine bounty! To prevent these evils for the future, and to manifest the harmony of these gifts in their source and tendency, the apostle declares both their author and the rule of their dispensation: All these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.'

I shall not now insist on these words. Frequent recourse must be had to them in our progress; for I purpose, through divine assistance, to treat from hence of the Name, Nature, Existence, and Whole Work of the Holy Spirit: a work too great for me to undertake, and beyond my ability to manage to the glory of God or the good of men; for who is sufficient for these things?'— But yet I dare not utterly faint, while I look to Him 'who giveth wisdom to them that lack it, and upbraideth them not.' The present necessity, importance, and usefulness of the subject have alone engaged me to undertake it. These, therefore, I shall briefly represent in some general considerations.

First. We may observe that the doctrine of the Spirit of God is the second great article of those Gospel-truths,

« EelmineJätka »