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our translators, we understand that as an exhortation to seek, by prayer to God, the best miraculous gifts, we may fairly infer that St. Paul intended, by that term, those gifts which were best adapted for the edification of the church (See chap. xiv. 1) : "Yet (says he) I show you a more excellent way," and then proceeds, in the chapter before us, to show them that way as consisting in LOVE to God and to each other. So Doddridge remarks, the word "must be here taken in the noblest sense, for such a love to the whole church, and the whole world, as arises from principles of true piety, and ultimately centres in God."
This love is commended, 1. For its indispensable necessity: without it all other things are nothing. The eloquence of an angel would be as unmeaning as the clanging cymbal. The highest miraculous gifts are of no avail; and even the most liberal charities, or the most ardent zeal of martyrdom, are alike unacceptable to God, unless they spring from love to him. 2. Love is commended for its many amiable qualities. It is intimately connected with all the Christian graces: patience, kindness, meekness; whatever is virtuous, and whatever is of good report. Lastly, Love is praised for its durability—when all other gifts, and even graces, fail, this shall be
What is said of the failure of the extraordinary gifts here mentioned, is, by Bp. Warburton, applied to their withdrawment from the Christian Church, when it became established in the world; and thus, indeed, the fact was: but the whole tide of commentators is against him; and the latter verses seem to have an evident reference to a future state. The passage is, therefore, generally understood to refer to the cessation, not only of the extraordinary powers given for the first propagation of The Gospel ; but also of all the knowledge and wisdom in the world, which we have
reason to believe will be but as nothing compared with that of heaven.
This the apostle illustrates by two comparisons. All the knowledge and wisdom attainable in this world is but like the edu cation of a child at school, previous to his application to the higher pursuits of science, literature, or public life; nor does the accomplished scholar look back with greater contempt on his first juvenile studies, than we, in a future state, shall look back on all our present attainments. Nor is this at all incredible: all Europe was struck with admiration at the scientific discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton; yet in what light did he consider them in the decline of life? "I seem (said he) like a boy who has been playing on the seashore, and amusing himself with picking up curious shells and pebbles." But with how much more contempt must such a man look down on these things, when he had launched into the ocean of eternity.
Secondly, St. Paul compares all the discoveries of the present state to looking through a medium imperfectly transparent, which gives but a very obscure view of the objects; or, rather, to viewing them in a brazen mirror (for such were the mirrors of the ancients, Exod. xxxviii. 8), by which they were imperfectly reflected. These are, indeed, the only ways in which we can now view divine truths: we see them either directly, and then obscurely, through a dense medium, as viewing the orb of day through a fog: or we see them, as it were, by reflection, in enigmas. This may be somewhat elucidated by a reference to Num. xii. 8, in which the God of Israel challenges Aaron and Miriam, "If there be a prophet among you (that is, if either of you be endowed with prophetic powers), I, the Lord, will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream." But, as to Moses, it is added, "With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even apparently (or by open vision), and
CHAP. XIV. Ver. 1. Follow after.-Doddridge, 'pursue." The original word alludes to the action of unters in the chace. Seek to promote love (which s the true charity), eagerly, earnestly, perpetually,
Ver. 2. Understandeth Marg. "heareth." Ver. 4. Edifieth himself-i. e. himself only. So Mackn, Comp. 1 Peter i. 10-12.
tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by know ledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
EXPOSITION-Chap. XIII. Continued. not in dark speeches" or enigmas, which is the word here used.
The knowledge of a future state will differ from our present knowledge in two respects:-1. It will be clear, and not obscured by the medium through which it is conveyed; it will not be enigmatical. 2. It will be complete, full, and not partial : "Then (says Paul) I shall know even as I am known," i. e. by the higher orders of being with which I shall be associated.
It is added-" Now abideth faith, hope, charity (or rather love), the three chief graces of Christianity, but the greatest of these is love"-and that in the various respects above mentioned-its necessity, its excellency, and its perpetuity. The
clause "now abideth faith," &c. (says Dr. Mucknight), implies that the graces spoken of are not always to abide: for, seeing "faith is the persuasion of things hoped for" (Heb. xi. 1), and "hope that is seen is not hope" (Rom. viii. 24) in heaven, where all the objects of faith and hope are put in our possession, there can be no place for either. It is quite otherwise with love-love will burn with a delightful warmth and brightness to all eternity."
Ver. 5. Greater is he-Every man ranks,in the Church according to his usefulness.
Ver. 6. By revelation, &c.-This seems to refer to the different ways in which the church was edified by apostolic gifts.
Ver. 7. A distinction in the sounds.-Margin, ❝ times." Mackn "notes," which is better. This verse seems to refer to dancing, as the next does to military music.
Ver. 9. Words easy to be understood.-Margin, "significant words,”`
"This is the grace that reigns on high,
at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
20 Brethren, be not children in understanding howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. (P)
21 ¶ In the law it is written, With
men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
24 But if all prophesy, and there
(P) Ver. 1-20. St. Paul farther cautions the Corinthians against a vain display of their extraordinary gifts.-" From the things written in this chapter (says Dr. Macknight) it appears that the brethren at Corinth had erred in their opinion of the comparative excellence of spiritual gifts, and had been guilty of great irregularities in the exercise of these gifts. In particular, they preferred the gift of speaking foreign languages to all the rest, because [probably] it made them appear respectable in the eyes of the unbelieving Greeks." But by their speaking long and often, to display a talent of which they were evidently vain, they excluded other brethren from speaking, whose exercises were far better adapted to instruct the church, as they were devoted chiefly to the exposition of the Old Testament Scriptures, on which their faith was primarily founded. This exposition of the prophets, and of the prophecies concerning Christ, was called prophesying, and is held in the highest honour by our apostle, and pronounced superior to the other; from which we may learn to value spiritual gifts, not according to their splendour, but their utility. The gift of tongues was evidently desigued for the conversion of the heathen, and was therefore abused when addressed to persons who could not understand them;
and the reproof given to the Corinthians on this point may be well applied to preachers, who, by their learned and eloquent discourses, shoot over the heads of their hearers-as it has sometimes been expressed.
We have seen how earnestly St. Paul renounced the words of human wisdom in the second chapter of this Epistle; and here, so far from glorying in the display of his extraordinary endowments, as to the knowledge of foreign languages, he solemnly declares that he had rather speak "five words" or sentences, so as to be generally understood, than ten thousand" to excite wonder and admiration.
Against this abuse the apostle urges several considerations, as, first, he that spoke in an unknown language spake to God only, and conveyed no instruction to his brethren; nor could they, when he engaged in public prayer, know when to introduce an audible Amen, as (says Macknight) was the custom from the beginning in the Christian Church, in imitation of the ancient Jewish worship. (See Deut. xxvii. 15; Neh. viii. 6.) This affords so powerful an argument against the use of prayers in an unknown tongue, as practised in the Church of Rome, that it seems wonderful such a custom should ever have been adopted by any who acknowledged the inspiration of St. Paul.
Ver. 20. In understanding be men.-. perfect, or of ripe age."
Ver. 21. In the law-i. e in the Old Testament, Isaiah xxviii. 11, 12; which see.
Ver. 22. Tongues are for a sign—i. e. for a miracle, to convince the unbelievers.
Ver. 23. The whole church-i. e. evidently the congregation of believers, as the word implies though used afterwards for the place of assembly as is the case with the word "Meeting," among D senters. That ye are mad-that is, from he you all talk so unintelligibly. Comp. Acts ii. J
All things to be done] 1 CORINTHIANS.
25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
27 If any man speak in an un known tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
[decently, and in order.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
34 Let your women keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are com manded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknow ledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet ta prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
40 Let all things be done decently and in order. (Q)
EXPOSITION-Chap. XIV. Continued.
(Q) Ver. 21-40. On the exercise of miraculous gifts, cont nued.-After some farther remarks and directions as to the conduct of their devotional meetings, the apostle enters a caveat against females speaking in the church, which it has been found difficult to reconcile with the directions which he gives in chap. xi. 5, &c. as to women's prophesying. On this subject
we venture to remark, 1. That when God bestows any extraordinary gifts on females, there is no human power which has a right to forbid their exercise, and certainly no apostle would. Even Anna was allowed to prophesy in the temple as well as Simeon; Philip, the deacon, had two daughters which did prophesy, and the Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, was doubtless poured
NOTES-Chap. XIV. Con.
Ver. 25. Thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest.-This refers to the work of the Holy Spi
rit on men's consciences.
Ver. 26. Every one (Mackn." each") of you hath, &c.-This, according to Mr. Harmer, is to be understood of extemporary [rather inspired] devotional songs; such we read of repeatedly in the Old Testament, as in the times of Moses and David.
Ver. 27. Let it be by two, &c.-i. e. according to Doddr., "two or three" speakers, and one interpreter; but Mackn. renders it, "Let it be two, or at most three (sentences), and separately; and let one interpret."
Ver. 29. Let the other judge.-Literally, "discriminate" between truth and error. Dr. P. Smith.
Ver. 32. The spirits of the prophets.-In verse 12, where the original is the same, our translators render it" spiritual gifts," the noun being supplied, as
Macknight thinks it should be, here- The spiritus! (gifts) of the prophets are subject to the prophets." Ver. 33. Conjusion.-Marg. " tumult, or unquietness."
Ver 36. What? came the word, &c.-Doddr, says, the Scotticism," Whether did the word of God come forth from you alone?" would be the exacrest version. This excellent Expositor considers these words as addressed to the church at large; but Macknight, as addressed to the women only: as much as to say, "Did Christ employ any of your sex as apostles? or did the word only come to you by the ministry of men ?"
Ver 37. They are the commandments of the Lord. This is a direct assertion of the apostle's inspiration Ver. 38. But if any man be ignorant-i, e, neither a prophet, nor inspired-let him remain so. See Rev. xxii. 11.
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached into you, unless ye have believed in rain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of ll that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to he Scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that e rose again the third day according > the Scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, en of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above ve hundred brethren at once; of hom the greater part remain unto this resent, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; hen of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of e also, as of one born out of due
that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised :
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your
9 For I am the least of the apostles, sins.
pon both sexes, as had been predicted. Acts ii. 17, 18.) And Paul's prohibition fa woman's praying or prophesying uneiled, was certainly an acknowledgment their right under such regulation.In the present chapter nothing is said f women as to prophesying or praying; ut only against their speaking or talking the churches, which we humbly coneive regards rather their interference in urch government, which was unbeming their subjection to the other sex. either were they allowed to ask quesons, which might interrupt the course of eir meetings, either for business or de
votion. "Let them ask their husbands at home" (ver. 35), but, in public, "Let all things be done decently, and in order" (ver. 40), that is, according to Doddridge, "Let all [your meetings] be conducted in a regular manner, to prevent such disturbances, disputes, and scandals for the future, as have already arisen in your society, and will proceed to greater evils, if you do not immediately set upon reforming them." If women were allowed to prophesy or preach in the public congregation, we conceive it was only on particular occasions, and under special divine influence.
CHAP. XV. Ver. 2. If ye keep in memory.arg. "hold fast."What I preached.-Doddr. hose joyful tidings," &c.
Ver. 3. First of all that, &c.-Doddr. "Among e first [things], that which," &c.
Ver. 4. Rose again the third day, according, &c. e was not to see corruption, which generally ocrred before the fourth day. See John xi. 39. Ver. 5. Then of the twelve.-So they were called,
though only ten of them were present, Judas being dead, and Thomas absent. They were called the twelve, as implying their office: so the Romans spake of the Triumviri and Decemviri, whén méaning only a part of them.
Ver. 8. As of one born out of due time.-Marg. an abortive."
Ver. 13. Then is Christ not risen.--Doddr. " neither is Christ raised." So in verse 14.