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246

Ver. II.

Ver. 10.

And their Obligation to build, so as to fand vibe Trial Sect. 6. ly, and our Life, Madness. So censured they the Prophets, and Apostles,

before us; nor did our Master himself escape the Calumny and Outrage. We shall be happy enough, if we approve our Fidelity to him, and if we build a wise Superstructure on Christ, as the great, the only Founa dation.

Let his Ministers especially, be solicitous, that they may not lose the Labour of their Lives, by chofing unhappily to employ them, in that whicli will turn to no Account, in the great Day of his Appearing Let

'examine their Materials. Surely if they have Senses spiritually exercised, it cannot be had to distinguish between the subVer. 12-15. Itantial and undoubted Doctrines of Christianity, which are as Gold,

and Silver, and precious Stones, and those fictitious, or at best, dubious and intricate Points, which in Comparison with the former, are but Wood, and Hay, and Stubble. And if in urging these, they passionately inveigh against their Brethren, and endeavour to bring them into Contempt, or Suspicion, what do they but cement these combustible Materials with Sulphur.

Oh! let the frequent Views of that last searching Fire, that grand Period of all, be much in our Thoughts : That Day, when not only the Works of Ministers, but every private Person, must, as it were, pass thro' the Flames. May we then be saved, not with Difficulty, but with Praise and Honour! May our Works, of what Kind foever they are, abide, so as to be found worthy of Applause, and thro’ Divine Grace receive a distinguished Reward.

Ver. 13.

SECT.

Ministers are Stewards, and should be faithful;

247

S E C T.

VII.

To lay in a further Remedy against the Pride and Fa£tion, so ready to prevail among the Corinthians, the Apostle leads them into several useful Reflections on the Nature of the Ministerial Office, the final Judgment of bim who searcheth all Hearts, and the Obligations they were under to the Divine Goodness, for every Advan

which they were distinguished from others. 1 Cor. IV. 1,---7.

tage by

I

1 CORINTHIANS IV. 1,

1 CORINTHIANS IV. I. ET a Man so account of

HAVE told you, how rich and happy you Sect. 7. us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stew

are in the Divine Donation, in Consequence ards of the Mysteries of of which all Things are yours; and particularly,

I Cor.IV.1. GOD.

Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, with their va-
rious Gifts and Endowments. Learn therefore
to form your Estimate of us aright; and let a Man
so account of us, not as the Masters of the Church,
but as the Servants of Christ, who are in Obe-
dience in his Commands, to wait on his Family;
esteeming it Honour and Happiness enough, if
we approve ourselves, as Stewards of the Mysteries
of GOD; as Persons whose Business it is, with
the sincerest Regard to his Glory, to dispense
that Gospel, which contains such sublime Truths,

for so many Ages concealed from the Knowledge
2 Moreover, it is requir- of the World. And as for what remains to 2
ed in Stewards that a Man be done, in the Discharge of this Office, I hope
be found faithful.

we shall always remember, that it is demanded
in Stewards, that a Man be found faithful; since
they also, as well as lower Servants in the Family,
are subject to Account. And accordingly it is
my highest Ambition, that my great Master may

judge me faithful, whether iny Fellow-servants be 3 But with me it is a pleased, or displeased, with my Conduct. And

§ very if my Fidelity to my Lord may offend them, which is a very supposable Case, I am well con

tented

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Sect.7.

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248

Because be that judgeth them, is the Eordat tented to abide all its Consequences. For I will very, small Thing that I

freely declare in this View, it is with me the smal hould be judged of you.com 1 Cor. IV. 3. left Thing that can be imagined that I bould be I judge not mine own felfer

judged by you, dear as you are to me, or by any
Man's Judgment : His Day will fo foon be over ;
his Censures can effect so little, that amidst the
great Prospects I have before me, it seems scarce

i
to deserve a Mention. Nor indeed do I so judge
myself, as if my Case were finally to be deter-

mined by my own Apprehensions concerning it.
4. For tho', I bless God, I am not conscious to my-

4 For I know nothing self of any Thing criminal, of any designed Neg- by myself, yet am I noe lect of my Office, or Unfaithfulness in my Trust, judgeth me is the Lord. yet I am not hereby justified (a): That is not the main Thing in Question; I know Partiality to ourselves may often lead us to overlook many . Faults, for which God may another Day condemn us.

But be that judgeth me, the Person by whose Judgment I am to stand, or fall, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who searcheth the Hearts

and trieth the Reins of the Children of Men. 5 Therefore be strictly careful, that ye judge nothing before the Tine, until the

judge before the appointed Time, that is, until he, the Lord come, who both will great Lord of all, shall come, who shall pluck off bring to Light the hidden the Mask of every artful Hypocrite, how high so- Things of Darkness

, and ever he may bear himself in the Christian Church; will make manifest the shall bring to Light the hidden Things of Dark- And then shall every Man nefs (6), and shall manifest all the secret Counsels have Praise of God: of the Hearts (c). And then shall every one have in the most publick Manner, that Praise from

GOD,

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(a) Yet am I not hereby justified.] This seems a gentle, but a very affecting, Infinuation, that his opponents, confident as they might seem in their own Integrity and Safety, would do well to take greater Heed, that they were not imposed upon by the Deceitfulness of their own Hearts.

(b) Bring to Light the hidden Things of Darkness.] This is a lively and just Insinuation, that, under specious Forms, his Enemies concealed very dark Designs, which would not bear the Discoveries of that awful Day.

(c) Manifest all the secret Counsels of the Hearts.) This Passage also suggests a very solid Argument against magnifying one Minister above another, namely, that the secret Principles of Men's Axions are unknown ; and it is enlarged upon to very good practical Purposes while the Apostle, at the same Time, takes an Opportunity of making a very folemn Profession of his own Faithfulness, and shewing the Boldness' he had towards ĠOD, and his Modesty, and Candor to Men; all which were extremely suitable to the general Purposes he has in View.

(d) Transferred

another.

One Teacher therefore, should not be set up against another. 249

GOD, before the assembled World, which is Sect. 7. proportionable to his real Character and Con

1 Cor. IV.6. duct. 6 And these Things, Brethren, I have in a Fi

These Things, Brethren, I have by a very obvious gure transferred to my- Figure transferred to myself, and (to] Apollos (d); felf, and to Apollos, for mentioning our Names, and that of Cephas onyour Sakes : That ye might ly, instead of many more, since you know the learn in us not to think of entire Friendship there is among us, and how far written, that no one of you the Names of inost, about whom

yoll contend, be puffed up for one against are inferior to these. And I have done this, not

on our own Account, as you may easily appre-
hend, but for your Sakes, that you may learn in
attending to what has been said concerning.us,
distinguished as we are by our Office, Furniture,
and Success, not to entertain too bigh an Opinion
of yourselves, or others, whom you are most rea-
dy to admire, above what is here written (e), and
appears reasonable on the Principles which have
been laid down: That ye may not be puffed up for
one Teacher, and against another; which surely
you cannot allow with Respect to other Teachers,
when

you see us renouncing all such Attachment
7 For who maketh thee to ourselves. And indeed this would be very 7
to differ jrom another? And unreasonable, if the Distinctions were as great,
what hast thou, that thou

didit as you, or they, who have the highest Conceit

of themselves, can imagine. For allowing all,
that Self-love and Prepossession can with, let
me ask the Man who carries it to the greatest
Height, Who maketh thee to differ [from another]
in
any

Furniture, or Attainment, whether intel-
lectual, or moral (1) ? And what hast thou of any

Kind,

(d) Transferred to myself, &c.) Some, and particularly Mr. Locke, have inferred from hence, that not St. Paul, and Apollos, but some other Persons, were set up among the Corinthians for Heads of Parties, for whose Names the Apojile substituted his own, and that of his most intimate Friend; but the learned and judicious Witfis well obfcrrcs, (M-icletem. pag. 104.) that 'tis probable their Names were used among sone others onited, and the Figure was only this, that the Names'of St. Paul and 4;ollos were used to signify theinselves, and any others so extolled ; and when the Apostle would say, how little hainister's were in themselves, he chose, out of Huinility and Prudence, rather to take such Freedumri with hini. self, and his most particular and intimate Friend, than with others.

(e) What is here written.] Elsner (Observ. Vol. ii. pag. 85.) confirms this Interpretation, and produces many Instances, in which roves is used to express, having too high an Opinion of

one's Self. L'Enfant explains it in something of a different Sense, “ above what Scripture
warrants.'
(f) Whether intellectual, or moral.] I include moral Attainments, because the Afoftle
Vol. IV.

I i

had

250 Reflections on the Nature of the Ministerial Office

it Sect. 7.

Kind, which thou did not receive from God, the didst not receive? Now

great Parent of universal Good? But if thou hast doft chou glory as it thout 1 Cor. IV.7. received [it] all from him, why dost thou boast in hadist not received it?

the Gift of his liberal Goodnefs, as if thou bedst
not received [it] from him; but it were originally
and essentially thine own? Would you all but.
seriously reflect upon this, it would teach you
humbler Sentiments, much more rational in
themselves, and on the whole, much more for
your Credit, as well as Comfort.

IMPROV E M E N T.

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Ver. I.

Ver. 26

OTHING can be more conducive to the Advantage of Chriftia'

anity, and by Consequence, of the World, whose Happiness is fo much concerned in its Support and Success, than that its Preachers. should consider, and their Hearers remember, the Nature of their OFfice. They are not Lords over GOD's Houshold and Heritage, but Ministers of Christ, whose Business it is to promote their Master's Honour'; Stewards of bis Mysteries, who are to endeavour both to keep and to dispense them with all good Fidelity. From their Master therefore · may they take all their Instructions; and to him let them refer all their. Administrations. Various Judgments will be passed upon them; and they, who will oppose the Attempts of some of their Brethren to introduce Corruption and Confusion into his Family, will have many an unkind Reflection thrown upon them, and experience the Severity of Cenfure, for a Conduct which merits the justest Approbation. But let them learn by this excellent Apostle, to be above the Judgment of Men, and to keep the Judgment of the Lord in View; that they may, not only be supported under that Petulance of their Fellow-fervants, but may learn to guard against, what is much more dangerous, the Treachery of their

Ver. 3.

OWA

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had in the preceding Verses, been speaking of Fidelity in the Ministry, and he elsewhere in
this Epifle speaks of obtaining Mercy to be faithful

, (Chap. vii. 25.) and would be under-
stood, as referring, not only to his giving us our Faculties, but exciting us to the right Use
of them, both by external Calls and Advantages, and by inward Impressions of his Grace on
the Heart; tho still in a Manner suited to our free and rational Natures, and which, how-
ever forre may be distinguished by them, leaves all who choose wrong, without Excuse, and
admits the Exercise of Justice, as well as Grace, in the final Diftributions of Good and
Evil. See the Paraphrase on Chap. iii. 7. which seems very applicable to this Clause. Yet
as it is certain, the Corinthians chiefy gloried in their Gifts, and in those of their favourite
Teachers, I doubt not but it is to these that the Apostle chiefly refers in this Place, and can-
not think that the Stress of the Controversy relating to the sanctifying Influences of Divino
Grace, does by any Means rest on this Paliage.

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