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without sufficient evidence against him, is a violation of the law of chanty.
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Charity rejoices not in any evil done, either, 1. By ourselves, in the commission or after-contemplation of it; or, 2. By others. Lord, how sad is it when it becomes matter of mirth and sport, to see another stab at once the christian name, and his own soul! Or, 3. It rejoices not in any evil done to others; charity suffers no man to be pleased or delighted with any deceit or falsehood spoken of or done to others, or with any ill stories or malicious insinuations concerning them, or in any calamity befalling them. But rejoiceth in the truth : that is, I. Charity is so far from rejoicing either in the falls or misfortunes of others, that it rejoices when the truth and innocency, the righteousness and equity, of any person or cause is made evident and manifest. A good man rejoices when he sees any suspected for, or charged with, iniquity, upon due examination cleared and acquitted. Or, 2. Rejoiceth in the truth : that is, in men's loving truth, doing justly, and living righteously, according to the rule of truth, the gospel. Oh! what a complacency and inward pleasure doth it beget in a good man's mind, when he beholds truth and righteousness, piety and goodness, prevailing in the world!
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endurcth all things.
Charity or love has strong shoulders to bear wrongs and injuries with patience, though very hard and grievous to be borne, without returning evil for evil i it will enable us to forbear one another in love, artd not cease to be kind, notwithstanding provocations. Believeth all things; that is, charity inclines a man to believe the best of his neighbour, till the contrary appears; it interprets every thing in the best sense, and makes the fairest construction of every man's case and condition. Not that a charitable man is a credulous man, and can believe whatever he pleases; but he believeth all things, so far as either reality, or probability, so far as truth, or appearance of truth, will encourage him to do it. A charitable man is very willing to believe that things are meant as they are spoken, and intended as they are done.
Oh, how uncharitable then, and unjust, are they who believe all is ill, when they know nothing ill; and think and speak ill of them, in whom they never saw any thing but what was good! It is not sufficient that we do not judge our neighbour maliciously, but we must not judge him jgnorantly; it is an injurious and unworthy jealousy, when a person's actions are fair, to suspect his intentions. Hopeth all things; that is, it is the genius of charity, and the character of love, to hope the best of persons and things, so far as there is any ground of hope; yea, though they carry in them some cause and colour of suspicion: it inclines us still to hope the best concerning men's intentions and actions; and if our brother be bad at present, not to despair of his amendment, but endeavour his reformation by all proper means. Endurcth all things: that is, it puts up with wrongs and injuries, without desiring, much less endeavouring, to revenge them; it causes us to endure provocation with much patience, and extinguishes all inclinations to revenge. Some will conceal their anger, but seek revenge; their malice is like slow poison, that does not discover violent symptoms, but destroys life insensibly. Others have such fierce passions, that they strike fire out of the least provocations; they inflame their resentments, by considering every circumstance that will exasperate their spirits: but charity beareth all things, endurcth all things.
8 Charity neverfaileth : but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
Charity never faileth. Holy love is an everlasting quality and employment; it shall not fail at death, as other graces do, but be perfected at death. Repentance should accompany us to the gates of heaven, but repentance ceases for ever in heaven; for no need of repentance where there is entire innocence. Faith is swallowed up in vision, and hope in fruition ; but love is then and there in its exaltation. Thus charity never faileth, but all other gifts will fail; prophesying, languages, sciences, and all artificial knowledge, will cease for ever; knowledge itself in heaven shall vanish away. But how vanish r The mean log is, that such knowledge as we have now shall vanish then , that imperfect knowledge we have now will cease and be useless then. Our present knowledge is attained with much labour and study; but it shall be no more difficult to know in heaven, than it is for the eye to open and see; the beautiful face of truth shall in a moment be unveiled to us in heaven, and the curtain drawn away by the hand of God, which interposed between us and the light . Again: knowledge of so imperfect a degree, as now it is of, shall vanish away, here we know what we know by divine revelation, but in part; and we prophesy by inspiration, but in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
As the imperfect twilight is done away by the opening of the perfect day; so at death, when that which is perfect takes place, then that which was imperfect shall be done away. Blessed be God for the hopes of that blessed place and state, where all imperfections shall cease, especially the imperfection of our knowledge. Alas! here all that we know, either of the word or works of God, is but a part, a little part; and blessed be God that this perfect state doth not succeed the imperfect one after a long interval, (at the resurrection and re-union of the body,) but the imperfect state of the soul immediately is done away by the coming of the perfect one; the glass is laid by as useless, when we come to see face to face, and eye to eye.
0 happy and vast difference between the Christian's present and future state.' True, he now begins to know; he knows in part here; but verily what he here knows is little of what be should know, little of that he might know, little of that others know, little of that he desires to know, and little of that he shall know, when he comes to heaven; then all imperfections shall be done away, when that which is perfect is eome.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child,
I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Here the apostle compares the christian's imperfect state of knowledge and holiness in this life to a state of childhood; his
perfect state of holiness and happiness in heaven to a state of manhood. As a child conceives, thinks, and speaks, of things suitable to his childish state ; but when he comes to manly perfection, and to the full use and exercise of his reason, he then puts away childish conceptions and things: thus it is with the best of us in this life; like children, we conceive and think, we discourse and speak, of spiritual things, in a confused and imperfect manner; but when we arrive at our state of manly perfection in heaven, we shall have knowledge and all other graces perfecttd. Learn hence, That christians must stay for pet feet knowledge, till they come to maturity and ripeness of age; children must not expect to know what men know. Solomon's knowledge on earth, so famously celebrated, will be but ignorance, compared with the knowledge and enlargements which the saints have in heaven; there in natural things they shall be exact philosophers, in spiritual things complete divines; all dark scriptures shall be clear to them, all the knotty intrigues of providence wisely resolved: in a word, there they shall know God himself perfectly, though they can never know him to perfection.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
As if the apostle had said, Now in our minority we see divine revelations, as the prophets did of old, in a dark enigmatical manner, and by symbolical representations of things upon the fancy, as in a glass; but then in the adult state of the church we shall see them after the Mosaical manner, in a way more accommodated to human nature, and as it were face to face; we shall see clearly, immediately, not by reflection, but by intuition. These adverbs, now and then, distinguish the twofold state of gracious souls; and show what they are whilst confined to the body, and what they shall be when emancipated and freed from the body, that clog of mortality which now hangs upon them. Observe here, 1. That our imperfect knowledge of God is set forth by seeing in a glass, because it is a weak and imperfect vision; a glass gives but a weak and languid repre- , sentation of the face that is seen in it; and because it is a vanishing and transient vision, a man having looked in a glass,
presently forgets what he saw there: and because it is no immediate sight, but mediante speculo, by the glass of his word and ordinances we see and understand something of God's nature and will; though after all our searchings here to find out what God is, we rather know what he is not, than are able to declare what he is. Observe, 2. That such as have seen God here, as in a glass, in the glass of his ordinances and providences, in the glass of his word and works, shall see him face to face, and fix their eye upon him in heaven to all eternity: when once the pious soul is unsheathed from the body, it glistens gloriously; as soon as the cage is open, this bird soars aloft, and sings melodiously. It is death's office to beat down the partition-wall, a gross, earthly body; and then the glorified soul shall have a clear and perfect vision, an immediate and possessive vision, a satisfying and soul-transforming vision, a permanent and eternal vision, of the holy and blessed God, which the apostle here calls seeing face to face. Observe, 3. How St. Paul in the latter words of the verse gives us a plainer expression of that which before he had spoken more darkly and obscurely: Now I know in part, hut then I shall know even as also I am known. Where note, How the apostle changes the person: before it was, we see through a glass darkly; here it is, J know in part. He had included himself before in the word we; but he doth it more apparently in saying, I. Now I know in part. When so great an apostle acknowledges the imperfection of his knowledge, who can, who dare, boast of the largeness of his understanding? Note farther, The apostle's saying, Now I know, intimates, that he had begun his acquaintance with God here, which he expected should be improved and perfected in heaven; he that knows not God in part here, shall never know him face to face in glory; heaven is a place of perfection indeed, but nothing is perfected there, that was not begun here; no knowledge, no holiness, will be consummated there, which did not commence and begin here. Observe, 4. When the apostle says, We shall know even as we are known; he means, that we shall know God as really and truly, though not so fully and comprehensibly, as he knows us; we shall know him in his nature and attributes; then and there will his wonderful clemency be sweetly displayed, his exact justice visibly demonstrated, his per
fect wisdom clearly unfolded, all the knotty intrigues of providence wisely resolved, all themysteriousdepths of divine counsels fully discovered, to the delightful satisfaction ol the admiring and adoring soul, whoshall then see as it is seen, and know as it is known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these it charity.
The design of the apostle in these words is, 1. To inform the Corinthians, that the sanctifying graces of faith, hope, and charity, are far to be preferred before all the fore-mentioned extraordinary gifts of prophecy, miracles, tongues; healing the sick, and raising the dead, not excepted. The least degree of sanctifying grace from the Holy Spirit is to be preferred, with respect to ourselves, before the largest measure of extraordinary gifts, which are wholly for the good and benefit of others. 2. As our apostle had compared gifts and graces together before, so he compares graces amongst themselves now. Faith, hope, and charity, are set in competition, and the preference given to the last;- partly with respect to its present excellency, for charity is the end, to which faith and hope are but the means ; and partly with respect to its future duration. Faithand hope will vanish with this life ; faith will end in sight, and hope in enjoyment; but charity will never be outdated, but last and flourish when we come to heaven, and be a special ingredient in, and a considerable part of, our happiness there, which consists in the rapturous contemplation of divine love; in loving, praising, admiring, and adormg God, our great Creator, and in loving all whom he loves, and that eternally.—Learn, 1. That faith, hope, and love, are abiding graces; they do and must keep house, not only in the church-militant in general, but in the soul of every member of the church-militant in particular. Learn, 2. That of all these graces, charity is the greatest and most excellent, 1. In regard of its extent, reachmg to God, angels, and men. 2. In regard of its use, extending to the good of others; whereas faith and hope are particular and private graces. 3. In regard of perfection, as rendering us more like to God. 4. In regard of duration: farewell faith and hope, when we come to heaven; but welcome love. Therefore the greatest of these is charity.
Our Apostle having in tlie twelfth chapter acquainted liic Corinthians with the wonderful
diversity and disparity of spiritual gifts, which the wisdom of God saw then fit to bestow upon the church for the propagation and confirmation of christianity, and farther declared, that the intent and design of them was no otb_cr than the common and universal good; in the thirteenth chapter he recommends to them, and admirably deciphers before them, that great and noble grace of charity, which will render us eminent and useful in the world, which sets off all other drifts and endowments whatsoever, and directs us how to manage them to the best advantage. And here he begins this fourteenth chapter now before us, with a persuasive to follow and pursue 90 incomiiarable a grace and virtue with the utmost eagerness and vigour, and not to give over till we have perfectly attained it; for thus he speaks:
JTOLLOW after charity, and desire spiritual gifts; but rather that ye may prophesy.
Observe here, 1. The apostle propounds to the Corinthians a threefold object: charily, spiritual gifts, and prophecy. Charity has the precedency and pre-eminency; the apostle not only prefers it before all other gifts, but before the most useful and excellent graces, even faith and hope; for service and benefit to the church of God, it exceeds them all. Next he mentions spiritual gifts: such were the gift of tongues, the gift of miracles, the gift of Dealing, and lastly, prophecy, by which we are to understand an ordinary set course of preaching, interpreting and opening the holy scriptures, which contain a revelation of God's mind and will. Observe, 2. A threefold act recommended, answerable to a threefold object propounded. An act of prosecution; (iuciti, prosecute and follow after charity as close as your persecutors pursue and follow after you. It imports a most earnest, vigorous, and vehement pursuit. An act of emulation ; JijXttre, Desire earnestly spiritual gifts. An act of election and choice: Choose rather that ye may prophesy, or clearly understand the mind of God yourselves, and have an ability to expound and explain it to others; this will bring most glory to God, most profit to his church, and most comfort to yourselves.
2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God : for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
Here observe, I. That the gift of tongues,
or speaking divers languages, was greatly valued and much desired by some in the church at that time; probably for this reason, because the apostles were very eminently endowed with this gift, the Holy Ghost descending upon them in the shape of cloven tongues; but yet the gift of prophecy, that is, of understanding and interpreting God's will, was clearly the more valuable and desirable accomplishment; for though speaking with tongues created more admiration, and conciliated greater veneration to the speaker, yet prophesying was by far the most excellent gift, and tended most to the edification of the church: it is far better to do good, than to appear great; that is most valuable and excelling which is most advantageous and edifying. Observe, 2. How the apostle enters upon a comparison between the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue, and prophesying or speaking plain! v- to the church's benefit and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, that is, in a language not understood, not explained or interpreted, he speaketh not unto men; that is, not to the understanding of men, for none understand him; but to God only, he alone understands him ; and though in the Spirit he speaks mysteries, or the deep things of God, yet all this is not to edification, because not understood by the church. Whereas, he that prophesieth, that is, he that intelligibly openelh and applieth the word of God to his auditors in the congregation, what he speaks conduces exceedingly to th. ir edification and consolation. Here note, That the apostle not only dislikes, but plainly forbids, preaching, praying, and all other offices being performed in the church in a language not understood. So that the practice of the church of Rome in their Latin prayers is a flat contradiction to this whole chapter, and to the practice of the primitive church, Acts. iv. 24; who lifted up their voice with one accord, and offered up a reasonable service to God. The prayers of the Jewish church were made in the Hebrew tongue; and God gave the gift of tongues to the christian church, that the apostles might establish the worship of God in every nation in their own language.
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edificth himself; but he that prophesieth edi1ieth 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 knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
Observe here, 1. Another argument used by the apostle to prove the gift of prophesying, that is, of interpreting the holy scripture, to be far more excellent than the gift of tongues, separated from the gift of interpretation: he that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifies none but himself, because none but himself understands it; but he that teacheth, instructeth, and exhorteth others, edifieth the church, or the whole assembly that he spake in. Observe, 2. The apostle wishes they all had the gift of tongues, because they were so very covetous and desirous of them: though, alas! rather for their own ostentation than the church's edification: yet he rather desires, with Moses, that all the Lord's people were prophets; that is, directed and assisted by the Spirit of God, to deliver plainly and persuasively the will of God to men; for he is the greatest in the church who is most eddying; and he that prophesieth, edifieth more than he that speaketh all languages uninterpreted. Ohserve, 3. He amplifies this by instancing in his own person: If I come to you speaking with tongues; as if he had said, I wonder whether what you so admire in others would please you in me! suppose that I, whom God has eminently endowed with the gift of tongues, should come and speak to you in the Arabian language, what good would it do you? What would you be the wiser or better for me, should I make known to you some revelation which I immediately received from God, or open to you some truth which you knew not before, or urge you to some needful duty, or doctrinally expound to you the matters of faith and obedience recorded in the gospel, if either myself or some interpreter did not make what I say intelligible to you, what will it profit you? To deliver the mind and will of God plainly and persuasively to the church's benefit and edification, is much more acceptable to God, profitable to man, and comfortable to ourselves, than to speak
with the tongues of men and angels, in language not understood, or not heard.
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.
Our apostle here proceeds to illustrate his former arguments by a similitude taken from musical instruments, the one used in peace, to wit, the harp; the other in war, to wit, the trumpet; as they are useless, if by distinction their signification is not perceived; for if a man hears not, or understands not, the sound of the harp or trunv pet, he cannot prepare himself either for the dance, or the battle: so if persons in the church do not speak intelligibly, they will nothing edify: it is like beating the air, all in vain and to no purpose.
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian ; and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. 12 Even as ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel, to the edifying of the church.
Here the apostle tells them, That there may probably be as many voices or languages in the world as there are nations; and every nation understands its own lauguage, and commonly no other. Now, says the apostle, if he that has the gift of tongues speak to you in a language which ye understand not, will he not be a barbarian unto you? And if you talk to him in a language he understands not, will you not be barbarians unto him? Verily, it will be just as if two men of two different countries should talk to one another, and neither understands a word of each other. He farther adds, That seeing they were so very desirous of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, they