Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

yet said, “I God, I speak with tongues more than ye all; 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?”

It is better to be useful than brilliant. You do not think so ? Well, then, your heart does not beat to the same music which regulated the pulses of the Apostle Paul.

Lastly, I infer the real union of the human race lies in oneness of heart. Consider what this gift was: it was not a gift of foreign languages; a Corinthian Greek might be speaking in the Spirit in the Church, and another Greek might not understand him; but a Roman or a Mesopotamian might understand him, though he spoke the Greek language : and this not by a gift of language, but by a gift of sympathy. Had it been a gift of foreign tongues, it would have only perpetuated the Babel confusion; but being a gift of the Spirit, it neutralized that confusion. The world is craving for unity; this is the distinct conscious longing of our age. It may be that centuries shall pass before this unity comes. Still it is something to be on the right track; it is something to know what we are to cultivate in order to make it come, and what we are to avoid.

Now some expect this by uniformity of customs, ecclesiastical rites and dress : let us, they say, have the same services, the same hours, the same liturgies, and we shall be one. Others expect it through oneness of language. Philosophers speculate on the probability of one language, perhaps the English, predominating. They see the vast American and Australian continents—the New Worlds-speaking this, while other languages are only learnt as polite accomplishments. Hence they hope that a time is coning when nations shall understand each other perfectly, and be one.

Christianity casts aside all these plans and speculations as utterly insufficient. It does not look to political economy, to ecclesiastical drill, nor to the absorption of all languages into

one; but it looks to the eternal Spirit of God, which proceeds from the eternal Son, the Man Christ Jesus. One heart, and then many languages will be no barrier. One spirit, and man will understand man.

As an application, at this time, we will consider one thing only. There are gifts which draw admiration to a man's self, others which solace and soothe him personally, and a third class which benefit others. The World and the Bible are at issue on the comparative worth of these. A gifted singer soon makes a fortune, and men give their guinea and their ten guineas ungrudgingly for a morning's enjoyment. An humble teacher in a school, or a missionary, can often but only just live. Gifts that are showy, and gifts that please—before these the World yields her homage, while the lowly teachers of the poor and the ignorant are forgotten and unnoticed. Only remember that, in the sight of the Everlasting Eye, the one is creating sounds which perish with the hour that gave them birth, the other is doing a Work that is For Ever-building and forming for the Eternal World an immortal human spirit.


i CORINTHIANS, Xv. 1-12.

-May 30, 1852.

N the regular course of our Sunday afternoon Expositions

First Epistle to the Corinthians. We are all aware that this is the chapter selected by our Church to be read at the Funeral Service, and to almost all of us every syllable stands associated in our memory with some sad and mournful moment in our lives; when every word, as it fell from the lips of the minister, seemed like the knell of death to our hearts. This is one reason why the exposition of this chapter is attended with some difficulty. For we have been so little accustomed to look upon it as consisting of Argument and Doctrine, and it has been, by long and solemn associations, so hallowed in our memories, that it sounds more like stately music heard in the stillness of night, than like an argument; and to separate it into parts, to break it up into fragments, appears to us to be almost a profanation, even though it be for the purpose of exposition.

The whole of this chapter is occupied with the proof of the doctrine of the Resurrection. On the present occasion, however, we confine ourselves to the first twelve verses. This subject, like almost all the others treated of in this Epistle, had been forced upon the Apostle in consequence of certain errors and heresies which had crept into the Corinthian Church. That church presented a singular spectacle—that of a Christian body, large numbers of which denied the doctrine of the Resurrection, who, notwithstanding, were still reckoned by St. Paul

For we

as not having forfeited their Christianity. The first thing we learn from this is, the great difference made by the Apostle between moral wrong.doing and intellectual error. have found in an earlier chapter, when in this same church the crime of incest had been committed by one of its members, the Apostle at once commanded that they should separate the guilty person from their communion : but here, although some had fallen into error upon one of the cardinal doctrines of the Church, the Apostle does not excommunicate them, nor does he hold that they have forfeited their Christian profession. They are wrong, greatly wrong, but still he expostulates with them, and endeavours to set them right.

Let us examine this a little further. In the present day, disbelief of the doctrine of the Resurrection is almost equivalent to the deepest infidelity. A man who doubts, or openly denies, the doctrine of a life to come, is a man we can in no case call a Christian. But there is a vast difference between this doubt as expressed in the time of the Apostle, and in the present day. In the present day this denial arises out of materialism. That is, there are men who believe that Life and Soul and Spirit are merely the phenomena resulting from the juxtaposition of certain particles of matter. Place these particles in a certain position, they say, and the result will be Motion, or Electricity-call it what you will; place them in another position, and there will follow those phenomena which we call Life, or those which we call Spirit ; and then separate those particles, and all the phenomena will cease, and this is the condition which we term Death.

Now the unbelief of those distant ages was something very different from this. It was not materialism, but an ultraspiritualism which led the Corinthians into error. They denied the resurrection of the body, because they believed that the matter of which that body was composed was the cause of all evil ; and they hailed the Gospel as the brightest boon ever given to men, chiefly because it gave them the hope of being liberated from the flesh with its corrupt desires. They looked upon the resurrection taught by the Apostle as if it were merely a figurative expression. They said, “Just as out of the depth of winter spring rises into glory, so, figuratively speaking, you may say there is a resurrection of the soul when it rises above the flesh and the carnal desires of nature. That is the resurrection ; beyond it there is none."

On examining the Epistles of St. Paul, we find many traces of the prevalence of such doctrine. So for instance, in one place we find the Apostle speaking in condemnation of some “ who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection was past already". That is, as we have said, they thought that the only resurrection was the regeneration of society. And again, in the beginning of his Second Epistle to this same Church we read : “We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” That is, in opposition to this erroneous doctrine, the Apostle taught that that which the Christian desires is not merely to be separated from the body, or, in their language, to be "unclothed,” but something higher far, to be "clothed upon ;” not the destruction or transition merely of our desires and appetites, but the enlarging and ennobling these into a higher and better life. In this chapter, the Apostle sets himself to controvert this erroneous notion. And he does it by a twofold line of argument; first, by historical proofs of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and afterwards by a demonstration of the absurdity of the denial of this Truth.

I. In the first place, by historical proofs of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are contained in the earlier verses, from the fourth to the end of the eighth, where he shows that Christ was seen, after His resurrection, by Cephas, then by the twelve ; after that by above five hundred brethren at once; and,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »