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CORINTH was a city of Achaia, on the isthmus which joins 'Peloponne
sus (now called the Morea) to the rest of Greece. It abounded in riches, which led its inhabitants into luxury and all manner of vice. Paul's ministry here was 80 successful that he planted a numerous church, chiefly of Gentile converts, and he continued among them near two years.- About three years after he left Corinth, to preach the gospel in other parts of Greece, he had occasion to write thas epistle to the members of this church, from Ephesus, about the year 57, the 3d of Nero.
His first object was, to correct some abuses and disorders with which they were chargeable. He insists-1. On the parties and factions into which they had fallen, and the opposition made by some of them to his own apostleship. He argues the unreasonableness of setting up ministers as the heads of parties, and of indulging that regard to eloquence and philosophy to which some of their teachers made such high pretensions, but which he himself had despised, as unbecoming the simplicity of the gospel, and the servants af a cruciked master. Ch. i. iv.)-2. The case of a notorious offender among them, who was guilty of incest. (Ch. v.)-3. Their litigious temper, by which they were led to prosecute their brethren in the heathen courts. (Ch. vi, 1-11.) . The sin of fornication, to which they had been addicted in their Gentile state, of the enormity of which some of them were not sufficiently convinced. (v. 12—).
The apostle then proceeds to answer certain important questions which the Corinthians had proposed to him, wz.-1. Those which related to the marriage-state, about which difficulties naturally arose among the first converts. (Ch. vii.)-2. How far they might comply with their heathen neighbours in eating, at their feasts, things sacrificed to idols. (Ch. viii.) Having urged condescension, in this matter, towards weak brethren, he mentions his own, in declining the support which he might have claimed as his richt (Ch. ix, 1-14.) and insists on the necessity of self-denial; which he illustrates by a simile taken from the combatants in the Grecian games (v. 15–) ard enforces by the punishment of the Israelites for indulging their luxurious desires. (Ch. x. 1—-13.) He cautions them against all approaches to idolatry (v. 1422.) and gives further directions on the subject of the inquiry. (v. 23 -1.43. Concerning the manner in which women should deliver any thing in public, then under a divine impulse, and insists on the indecency of having their heads uncovered. (Ch. xi. 2-16.)-He then introduces a discourse on yet greater abuses among them, respecting the Lord's supper (v.17--) and likewise their spiritual gifts (Ch. xii.) and recommends Charity as superior to them all, giving a lovely description of that grace (Ch. xiii.) adding further directions and cautions respecting the gift of tongues. (Ch. xiv.)
As some of them denied and others doubted of the Resurrection of the dead, he firoves and illustrates that doctrine. (Ch. xv.) And concludes with some advices respecting a collection for the poor saints in Judea, and some general exhortations to fortitude and love. (Ch. xvi.)
The Apostle congratulates the Corinthians on the gifts and graces bestowed upon them; and animates their hope of continued favour in Christ, till his final appearance. Ch.i. 1-9.
1 D AUL, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of 2 I God, and Sosthenes * a brother, to the church of God which
is in Corinth, sanctified in Christ Jesus, called as saints;t and to
all that in every place invoke the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, 3 their Lord and ours : may grace and peace be with you from God 4 our father, and from Jesus Christ our Lord.--I always give thanks
to my God on your account, for the grace of God given unto you 5 in Christ Jesus ; that in all things ye are enriched in him, particu. 6 larly in all utterance, and in all knowledge of divine things ; as the
testimony of Christ which I bore was confirmed among you by 7 such various communications of the Spirit. So that you are defin
cient in no gift to render you useful, while you are waiting for the 8 manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ : who will confirm you to
the end ; 80 that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord 9 Jesus Christ. For God is faithful, by whom you were called into
the communion of his son Jesus Christ our Lord.
REFLECTIONS. Let us remember, that we also are sanctified in Christ, and saints by our calling. Though we are not enriched with such extraordinary endowments as those which were bestowed upon this primitive Corin, thian Church, yet we call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ; and let it be considered as a band of love to all those who join with us to acknowledge him under the character of their Lord and their Saviour. Let it engage us to pray, that the same grace and peace may be with them from God our Father, and from Christ Jesus our common Lord which we wish for ourselves.
Let our hearts be ever open to such noble sentiments of christian love ; not envying the gifts or endowments of others, but rather rejoicing in them, blessing God for them, and praying that they might be largely increased ; that so the testimony of Christ may be confirmed, by the flourishing state of religion among his followers; than which no confirmation will probably carry a stronger and more affecting conviction into the hearts of those who observe it.-To quicken us to this, let us be continually waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ ; thinking seriously, how certainly and how quickly, he will be revealed from heaven, to bring us and all our brethren, to an account for the improvement we make of the various favours he hath conferred upon us: of which, surely to be called into the fellowship of Christ, and the participation of spiritual blessings by him, is to be reckoned among
* A Corinthian minister, who attended Paul in his travels. Acta xviii. 17.
† Notwithstanding some irregularities among them, the apostle considered them as a body of sincere Christians, and the exceptious comparatively few.
the chief.-Let us rejoice in the fidelity of those promises which en- ; courage us to hope, that he whose grace hath called us to a partici. pation of the gospel, will confirm us blameless, even until the day of Christ : and, as we have such prospects of present support and comfort, and of final and complete salvation from him, let us, like this blessed apostle, take a pleasure in sounding forth his name, and in keeping up a most affectionate remembrance of him, even of Jesus Christ our Lord and our Saviour, in our own minds, and in those of our Christian brethren.
Paul greatly concerned for the factions in the church of Corinth, expostulates with them on setting up christian ministers as heads of parties. Ch. i. ' 16-17.
10 I NOW beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus
1 Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there may be
no schisms among you; but that ye be all knit together in the 11 same mind, and in the same sentiment* ; because it hath been cer
tified to me, ny brethren, concerning you, by those of Chloe's fa12 mily, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say,
that every one of you lists himself under some favourite name : One, for instance, saith, I am for Paul, and a second I am for Apollos,
and a third I am for Cephas (that is Peter) and a fourth says I am 13 for Christ. Is Christ then divided ? Was Paul crucified for you? 14 Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? I thank God I bap16 tized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius ; lest any should 16 say, that I had baptized into my own name. I recollect that I
baptized also the family of Stephanus ; and I know not whether 17 I baptized any other; for Christ sent me not to baptize, but to
preach the gospel.
REFLECTIONS. While we live in the midst of so much darkness, and continue obnoxious to so many prejudices and errors, it will be absolutely impossible for us, so to speak the same thing, and so perfectly to be joined in the same mind and judgment, as that there should be no diversity of opinion, or expression. But let us labour to obey the apostle's pathetic exhortation, so far as the imperfection of this mortal state may admit. Let us be entreated in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that venerable, that endeared, that sacred name, that there be no schism among us, no mutual hatred or animosity, no uncharitable contentions, no severe censures of each other. And as we desire that there may not, let us take care, that we do not impose upon our brethren indifferent things as necessary; and thereby drive them into a sepa
* It was morally impossible that they should all agree in opinion-the words therefore must import that peaceful and unanimous itm per which christians of different opinions may and ought to maintain towards each other, which is more honourable to the gospel than the most perfect uniformity imaginable.
ration for conscience-sake ; and tempt them, at the same time, by our ill usage, to that bitterness of resentment, which would make them, what the mere separation would not, transgressors of this precept; and us partakers of their sins.-On the other hand, let none of us be disposed to dispute merely for the sake of disputing, nor unnecessarily oppose the judgment or taste of our brethren, out of an affectation of singularity, or a spirit of contention. But let us rather labour, so far as with a safe conscience we can, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And while we do this, if our brethren will exact such submissions from us, as they are not warranted by God to require, and as we cannot in conscience pay, let us follow conscience whithersoever it leads us ; taking all necessary care, that it be rightly guided; and if in that circumstance our brethren will cast us out, and say, Let the Lord be glorified; and if to the rest of their unkindness, they will add the further injury of branding us with the odious names of schismatics, or of heretics ; let it be a light thing to us, to be judged of man's judgment. Let us not render railing for railing, nor injury for injury, but rather, by our meekness, endeavour to overcome their severity ; and wait for that happy time, when more of the spirit of knowledge and of charity, shall dispose them to throw down those middle walls of partition, by which the temple of God is straitened and defaced, and the convenience, the symmetry, and grandeur of its original plan, so lamentably spoiled. Above all, let us wait that day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest ; and that world, where they who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, shall retain no remembrance of the controversies that once divided them; unless it be to balance the alienations of time with the endearments of eternity.
In the mean while, let us avoid, as much as possible, a party-spirit; and not be fond of listing ourselves under the name of this or that man, how wise, how good, how great soever. For surely if the names of Peter and Paul, were in this view to be declined, much more are those which, in these latter days, have so unhappily crumbled the Christian and Protestant interest, and have given such sad occasion to cur enemies to reproach us. Christ is not divided; nor were Luther, or Calvin, or even Peter, or Paul, crucified for us ; nor were we baptized into any of their names.
Happy shall that disciple of our compassionate Lord be, whom he shall most eminently own in healing the breaches which the artifices of the tempter, too often abetted by the infirmities of Christ's faithful servants, have already made in the Church, and which the great enemy is continually endeavouring to multiply and to widen! Happy he, who reverencing and loving his Master's image wherever he sees it, shall teach others to do so too! And who, being himself an example of yielding, so far as he conscientiously can, and of not taking upon him to censure others, where he cannot yield to them, shall do his part towards cementing, in the bonds of holy love, all the children of God, and the members of Christ ! How unsuccessful soever his efforts may be, amidst that angry and contentious, that ignorant and bigoted crowd, who miscall themselves christians ; or by whaterer suspicious and reproachful names his moderation may be stigmatized; his divine Master will neither fail to consider it in its true view, nor to honour it with proportionable tokens of his acceptance and favour. Love is the first and greatest of his commands; and after all the clamour that has been made about notions and forms, he who practises and teaches love best, shall be greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
The Apostle shews how little stress was to be laid upon eloquence and philosophy, since God had chosen gospel-preachers quite destitute of them.Ch. i. 17, &c.
17 THE principal object of my commission was, not to baptize, but
1 to preach the gospel : and that not with wisdom of words, the niceties of philosophy and rhetoric, lest the cross of Christ 18 should have been rendered vain. For the doctrine of the cross is
indeed folly to them that are perishing ; but to us who are saved, 19. it is the power of God. For it is written (Is, xxix. 14.) “ I will
destroy the wisdom of the wise, and abolish the sagacity of the 20 prudent." Where is the wise*? Where the learned scribe?
Where the disputer of this world? Hath not God made the wis21 dom of this world foolish ? For since, in the stupendous displays
of the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it e pleased God by the folly of preaching to save those that believe. 22 For whereas the Jews demand a sign from heaven, and the Greeks 23 seek wisdom and philosophy ; we nevertheless preach Christ cru
cified ; to the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and foolishness to 24 the Greeks : but to those who are called by divine grace, both Jews
and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 95 Because the folly, as the world esteems it, unworthy of God, is
wiser than men; and the weakness of God stronger than men. 26 For behold your calling, brethren; consider the state of your fel
low-christians, and of your ministers : there are not among them
many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many no27 ble. But God hath chosen those who are esteemed the fool
ish things of this world, that he may shame the wise : and the
weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may shame its 28 mighty things : and ignoble things of the world hath God chosen,
and things set at nought, and things which are not, being overlook
ed as if they did not exist, that he may abolish things that are 29 in the highest esteem : that no flesh might boast in his presence. 30 For of him ye are in Christ Jesus, who is made of God unto us
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption : 31 that, as it is written (Jer. ix. 23.) “ He that boasteth, let him
boast in the Lord.”
* This is an allusion to Is. xxxii. 18.