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INFLUENCE OF RELIGION UPON TEMPER STATED,
IN AN EXPOSITION OF THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER OF THE FIRST EPISTLE
TO THE CORINTHIANS.
BY JOHN ANGELL JAMES,
AUTHOR OF THE CHRISTIAN FATHER'S PREBENT, &C.
" Truth and Love are two of the most powerful things in the world; and when they both go together, they cannot easily be withstood. The golden beams of Truth, and the silken cords of Love, twisted together, will draw men on with a sweet violence, whether they will or 00."- Cudworth.
THOMAS GEORGE, JR. 162 NASSAU STREET.
A WORK which the author published a few years its intrinsic merits. One thing is certain, the sab since, on the Duties of Church Members, concludes ject is confessedly important, and it is as plain as it with the following sentence:-"Let us remember, is important. "It requires little argument to explain that HUMILITY and Love are the necessary fruits of or to defend it; and as for eloquence to recommend our doctrines, the highest beauty of our character, and enforce it, the only power that can render it efand the guardian angels of our churches." To fectual for practical benefit, is the demonstration of prove and elucidate this sentiment, and to state at the Spirit: without this aid, a giant in literature greater length than it was possible for him to do in could do nothing, and the feeblest effort, by such asthat treatise, the nature, operations, and importance distance, may be successful. Too much has not of CHARITY; he was induced to enter upon a series been said, and cannot be said, about the doctrines of Discourses on the chapter which is the subject of the gospel; but too little may be said, and too of this volume: these Discourses were heard with little is said and thought, about its spirit. To conmuch attention, and apparent interest. Before they tribute something towards supplying this deficiency were finished, many requests were presented for in the treasures of the temple, the author offers this their publication; a promise was given to that ef- small volume; and though it be but as the widow's fect, and the intention announced to the public. On two mites, yet, as it is all he has to give, as it is a further inspection of his notes, the author saw so given willingly, and with a desire to glorify God, little that was either novel, or on any account he humbly hopes that however it may be despised worthy to meet the public eye, that he had for two by those, who he rejoices to know, are so much years quite abandoned his intention of printing. richer than himself in intellectual and moral afflaCircumstances which need not be mentioned, toge- ence, it will not be rejected by him, who more rether with frequent inquiries from his friends after gards the motive than the amount of every offering the forthcoming treatise, drew his attention again that is carried to his altar. to the subject a few months since, and revived the The author can easily suppose, that among many original purpose of sending from the press the sub- other faults which the scrutinizing eye of criticism stance of these plain and practical Discourses. will discover in his work, and which its stern That intention is now executed ; with what results, voice will condemn, one is the tautologies, of which, the sovereign grace of Jehovah, to which it is hum- in some places, it appears to be guilty. In answer bly commended, must determine.
to this, he can only remark, that in the discussion The author offers this volume primarily and of such a subject, where the parts are divided by chiefly to his own friends, to whom it is dedicated. such almost imperceptible lines, and softened down He has, however, by publishing it, placed it within so much into each other, he fonnd it very difficult the reach of the public, though he can truly say, to avoid this repetition, which, after all, is perhaps that he does not expect much interest to be produced pol always a fault-at least not a capital one. by his work, in minds of many, beyond those who are prepared, by friendship, to value it above Edgbaston, April 22, 1829.
MENT OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Itwelfth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinth
ians. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the THE OCCASION OF PAUL'S DESCRIPTION AND ENFORCE- same Spirit. And there are differences of admin
istration, but the same Lord. And there are diver
sities of operations, but it is the same God which The credibility of the Gospel, as a revelation from worketh all in all.' But the manifestation of the heaven, was attested by miracles, as had been pre- Spirit is given to every man to profit withal : for to dicted by the prophet Joel. “And it shall come to one is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to pass afterwards, ihat I will pour out my Spirit upon another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall to another, faith by the same Spirit; to another the prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your working of miracles; to another prophecy; to anoyoung men shall see visions; and also upon the ther discerning of Spirits; to another divers tongues: servants and the handmaidens in those days, I will to another the interpretation of tongues.” pour out my Spirit.” This prophecy began to re- It is not necessary that we should here explain ceive its accomplishment when our Lord entered the nature, and trace the distinction, of these enupon his public ministry,—but was yet more re- dowments—a task which has been acknowledged markably fulfilled, according to the testimony of by all expositors to be difficult, and which is Peter, on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples thought by some to be impossible. But vague and “ were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to general as is the idea of them which we possess, we spea's with oiher tongues, as the Spirit gave them can form some conception of the strange and novel utterance;" and still continued to be fulfilled till the spectacle presented by a society in which they were power of working miracles was withdrawn from the in full operation. They constituted the light which Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ ceased not, dur- fell from heaven upon the Church, and to which ing his continuance on earth, to prove, by these she appealed, as the proofs of her divine origin. It splendid achievements, the truth of his claims as is not easy for us to conceive of any thing so strikThe Son of God; and constantly appeal to them in ing and impressive, as a community of men thus rehis controversy with the Jews, as the reasons and narkably endowed. We may entertain a general, the grounds of faith in his communications. By though not an adequate, idea of the spiritual glory him the power of working miracles was conferred which shone upon an assembly, where one member on his aposties, who, in the exercise of this extraor-would pour forth, in strains of inspired eloquence, dinary gift, cast out' demons, and healed all man- the profoundest views of the divine economy, and ner of sickness, and all manner of disease.” Christ would be succeeded by another, who, in the exeralso assured them that, under the dispensation of the cise of the gift of knowledge, would explain the Spirit, which was to commence after his decease, mysteries of truth, concealed under the symbols of their miraculous powers should be so much en- the Jewish dispensation ;-where one, known perlarged and multiplied, as to exceed those which had haps to be illiterate, would rise, and in a language been exercised by himself. This took place on the which he had never studied, descant, without hesiday of Pentecost, when the ability to speak all lan- tation and without embarrassment, on the sublimeguages without previous study was conferred upon est topics of revealed truth; and would be followed them. The apostles, as the ambassadors and mes- by another, who, in the capacity of an interpreter, sengers of their risen Lord, were authorized and would render into the vernacular tongue all that enabled to invest others with the high distinction; had been spoken; where one would heal the most for, to confer the power of working miracles, was a inveterate diseases of the body with a word, and prerogative confined to the apostolic office. This is another discern by a glance the secrets of the mind, evident from many parts of the New Testament.-- and disclose the hypocrisy which lurked under the But while apostles only could communicate this veil of the most specious exterior. What seeming power, any. one, not excepting the most obscure and confusion, and yet what real grandeur, must have illiterate member of the churches, could receive it; attended such a scene? What were the disputaas it was not confined to Church officers, whether tions of the schools, the eloquence of the forum, or ordinary or extraordinary. It is probable that these the martial pomp, the accumulating wealth, the gifis were sometimes distributed among all the ori- literary renown of the Augustan age of the Roinan ginal members of a church: as the society increased, Empire to this extraordinary spectacle? Yea, ihey were confined to a more limited number, and what was the gorgeous splendor of the temple of granted only to such as were more eminent among Solomon, in the zenith of its beauty, compared with the brethren, till at length they were probably confin-this? Here were the tokens and displays of a preed to the elders; thus being as gradually withdrawn sent though invisible Deity; a glory altogether unfrom the Church as they had been communicated. earthly and inimitable, and on that account the
These miraculous powers were of various kinds, more remarkable. which are enumerated at length in the epistle to the For the possession and exercise of these gists, the Romans. "Having then gifts, differing according Church at Corinth was eminently distinguished.to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, This is evident from the testimony of Paul,-"I let us prophesy according to the proportion" (ana- thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace logy) of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our mi- of God which is given you by Christ Jesus; that in pistering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or be every thing ye are enriched by him in all utterance, that exhorteth, on exhortation; or he that giveth, and in all knowledge ; even as the testimony of let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come bediligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerful-hind in no gift:" and in another place he asks them ness.” They are set forth still more at length, in the l" What is it, wherein ye wure inferior to other Churches ?" It is, indeed, bo:h a humiliativg and and a susceptibility of offence; while on the other, an admonitory consiceration, that the Church we shall wiiness an equally offensive exhibition of which, of all those planted by the apostles, was the envy, suspicion, imputation of evil, exultation over most distinguished for iis gilts, should have been tailures, and a disposition to magnify and report ofthe least eminent for its graces; for ibis was the tences. Such passions are noi entirely excluded case with the Christian Society at Corinth. What from the Church of God, at least during its militant a scandalous abuse and profanation of the Lord's staie; and they were most abundantly exhibited Supper bad crept in! What a schismatical spirit among the Christians at Corinih. Those who had prevailed! What a connivance ai sin existed !- gitis, were too apt to exult over those ihat had none; What resistance to apostolic authority was set up! while the latter indulged in envy, and ill-will to
To account for ibis, it should be recollecied, that ard the former : those who were savored with the the possession of miraculous girls by no means im most distinguished endowments, vaunted of their plied the existence and influence of sanctifying Lachievemenis over those who attained only to the grace. Those extraoruinary powers were entirely humbler powers; and all the train of the irrascible distinct from the qualities which are essential to passions was indulged 10 such a degree, as well the characer of a real Christian. They were pow- nigh to banish Christian love from the fellowship of ers conferred not at all, or in a very subordinate the faithful. This unhappy state of things the degree, for the benefit of the individual himself, but apostle found it necessary to correct, which he did were distributed according to the sovereignty of the by a series of most conclusive arguments ; such, for Divine will, for the edification of believers and the instance, as that all these gitts are the bestowments conviction of unbelievers. Hence saith the apostle, of ihe Spirit, who in distributing them exercises a -“ Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, wise but irresponsible sovereignty—that they are but to them that believe noi: but prophesying serv- bestowed for mutual advantage, and not for personal eth not for them that believe not, bui lor them which glory-ihat this variety is essential to general edifibelieve." Our Lord has informed us, that miracu- i caiion-ihat ihe useful ones are to be more valued lous endowments were not necessarily connecied ihan those of a dazzling nature-ihat they are dewith, but were often disconnected from, personal pendent on each other for their efficiency; and he piety. “Many will say unto me in thai day, Lord, inen concluces his expostulation and representation, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in by introducing to their notice that heavenly virtue thy name done many wonderful works? And then which he so beautifully describes in the chapter unwill I profess unto them, I never knew you ; depart der consideration, and which he exalts in value and from me ye workers of' iniquity.” Paul supposes importance above the most coveted miraculous the same thing in the commencement of this chap- powers. “Now, ye earnestly desire (for the words ter, where he says,—“Though I speak with the should be rendered indicatively, and not imperatongues of men, and of angels, and have not charily, lively,) the best gifts, but yet I show unto you a I ain become as sounding brass or a linkling cym- more excellent way.' “Ye are ambitious to obtain bol. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and those endowments which shall cause you to be esunderstand all mysteries and all knowledge :--and teemed as the most honorable and distinguished inough I have all faith, so that I could remove persons in the Church; but, notwithstanding your mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." high notions of the respect due to those who excel This hypotherical mode of speech ceriainly implies, in miracles, I now point out to you a way to stiil that gifts and grace are not necessarily connected, greater honor, by a road open to you all, and in
This is a very awful consideration, and, by show- which your success will neither produce pride in ing low far self-deception may be carried, ought to yourselves, nor excite en vy in others. Follow AFbe felt as a solemn admonition to all professing TER CHARITY, for the possession and exercise of this Christians, to be very careful and diligent in the grace is infinitely to be preferred to the most spleneat business of self-examination.
did gift." It is evident, both from the nature of things, and Adinirable encomium - exalted eulogium on from the reasoning of the apostle, that some of the Charity! What more could be said, or be said miraculous powers were more admired, and there more properly, to raise it in our esteem, and to imfore more popular, than others. The gift of iongues, press it upon our heart? The age of miracles is as is plain from the reasoning in the fourteenth past; the signis, and the tokens, and the powers chapier, appears to have been most coveted, because which accompanied it, and which, like brilliant eloquence was so much cultivated by the Greeks: lights from heaven, hung in bright effulgence over 10 reason and declaim in public, as a talent, was the Church, are vanished. No longer can the memmuch admired and as a practice, was exceedingly bers or ministers of Christ confound the mighty, common: schools were established to teach the ari, perplex the wise, or guide the simple inquirer after and places of public resort were frequented to dis-iruth, by the demonstration of the Spirit, and of play it. Hence, in the Church of Christ, and espe- power : the control of the laws of nature, and of the ially with those whose hearts were unsanctified by spirits of darkness, is no longer intrusted to us; but Divine grace, and who converted miraculous ope that which is more excellent and more heavenly retations into a means of personal ambition, ihe gift mains: that which is more valuable in itself, and of tongues was the most admired of all these extra- less liable to abuse, continues; and that is, Charity. ordinary powers. A desire after conformity to the Miracles were but the credentials of Christianity, envied distinctions of the world, has ever been the but CILARITY is its essence; miracles but its witstare and the reproach of many of the members of nesses, which, having ushered it into the world, and the Christian community.
borne iheir testimony, retired for ever ;-but ChaWhere distinctions exist, inany evils will be sure | Rity is its very soul, which, when disencumbered to follow, as long as human naiure is in an imper- of all that is earthly, shall ascend to its native seat fect state. Talents, or the rower of fixing attention —the paradise and the presence of the eternal God. and raising admiration, will he valued above virines; and the inore popular talents will occupy, in the estimate of ambition, a higher rank than those
CHAPTER II. that are useful. Consequently, we must expect,
THE NATURE OF CHARITY. wherever opportunities present themselves, to see on the one hand, pride, vanity, arrogance, love of In the discussion of every subject, it is of great imt'isplay, boasting, selfishness, conscious superiority, , portance to ascertain, and to fix with precision, the