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and to shew that the contests and animosities, which have disturbed the Church, are not to be rashly attributed to the misconduct of its ministers, much less to any inherent defects in our holy faith itself; but rather to the perversity of that nature, which it was intended to reform.'.
The first breach of unity upon record took place in the church at Corinth, when under the immediate superintendance of St. Paul,, whose authority was in vain exerted to repair it: for though he succeeded in restoring a temporary charmony, the epistles written by bClement to the same Church, not long after the martyrdom of that Apostle, bear testimony to the dissensions by which it still continued to be agitated. Hence then it is manifest, that schism and contention may disturbi a church, although no possible charge of deficiency, either in zeal or ability, can be brought against its ministers. fo.4.11
Where the Apostles themselves officiated, there could have been no pretence for such
an accusation : their doctrine could not have differed in essential points ; none of them could have been wanting in diligent attention to the laborious duties of their important office; and the Holy Spirit vouchsafed to all the same confirmation of their mission, by granting c“ signs and “ wonders to be done by their hands." Yet the Corinthians formed into parties, and affected to class themselves under different teachers; forgetting that they had all been called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ; and that, as brethren, it became them to be d“ perfectly joined together in “ the same mind, and in the same judg- ment.'
It requires then little argument to prove, that the original causes of disunion are not to be found in the nature of Christianity itself, nor to be charged upon the frailties or defects of its teachers. "As God is love, and willeth that his disciples should love one another, his precepts must tend to promote the harmony in which he delights:
c Acts xiv. 3.
di Cor. i. 10.
and though the ministers of Christ will never be wholly exempt from the infirmities of their brethren; their personal defects cannot justify rebellion against the authority, by which they are appointed; nor can the spirit of disorder and contention, which manifested itself even under the rule of the Apostles, be justly imputed to the e weaknesses or errors of their uninspired successors. As if however to remove all ground for such an imputation, and to vindicate those who were to follow him and his fellow-labourers in their sacred office from being undeservedly censured, as the authors of an evil, which the predictions of his blessed Master had taught him to consider as inevitable; St. Paul takes occasion in the text to fix upon the Corinthians themselves the guilt of that sin, which, in the discharge of his apostolic office, it became him to reprove.
6. Whereas there “is among you envying, and strife, and “ divisions, are ye not carnal ?”' Your contests, far from being a consequence of
your conversion to Christianity, are a convincing proof, that ye are yet in great measure strangers to its influence; that
ye submit to be directed by carnal impulses, instead of yielding yourselves as servants to Jesus Christ, and obeying the suggestions of his Holy Spirit. Whether such is the true import of these words,
ye are car“ nal,” will best be determined by the context. The Apostle tells them, that he cannot yet declare unto them the whole mystery of the doctrine of Christ, nor speak unto them in the language, which, as a ininister of Christ, he wished to employ, because they were unable to bear it; not having wholly flaid aside those evil pensities of a depraved nature, which were to be exchanged for humility, peaceableness, and docility, before their minds could be competent to the admission and comprehension of divine truth. He therefore compares them to 6
them to “ babes,” who are “ fed “ with milk,” because they cannot digest the food of men; thus giving them to un
f See Note LXXXIV. Appendix.
derstand, that what they had hitherto learned from him were but the first & rudiments of Christian knowledge; simple elements, adapted to the intellect of children, and preparatory only to that more full and perfect information, which was reserved for those who had ears to hear and hearts to receive the treasures of heavenly wisdom.
“ I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal,
even as unto babes in Christ. I have “ fed you with milk, and not with meat : “ for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, “ neither yet now are ye able. For ye are
yet carnal.” By telling them then that they “ are carnal,” may we not conceive him to mean, that they had but imperfectly adopted the Christian character ; that they were more under the rule of those h passions, which sway the natural man, than was consistent with the spirit of the i religion they now professed ?
The Apostle has still further explained
8 See Note LXXXV. Appendix.