« ПретходнаНастави »
us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We then as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace
of God in vain.” The grace of God here as in many other places, means the gospel, which the apostle tenderly and solemnly urges the Corinthians immediately to embrace. For he closes his exhortation with these words. “Behold, now is the accepted time! behold, now is the day of salvation.”
After men have become reconciled to God, and received Christ by faith, they still need the spirit of promise to carry on a work of sanctification in their hearts. Sanctification is the same as continued regeneration, and the same divine influence, which at first reconciles the heart to God, is constantly necessary to keep it in a state of reconciliation. This sentiment the apostle taught the believers at Corinth. “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,” He does, indeed, represent believers as well as unbelievers as constantly dependent upon the divine agency, in all their internal exercises as well as external actions. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." He could not have asserted the doctrine of divine agency in human actions in plainer or stronger terms.
The doctrine of the final perseverance of saints is an infallible consequence of the divine agency in their sanctification. If it be true, that God does begin and carry on a work of grace in the hearts of all true believers, then they will certainly endure unto the end, and secure the salvation of th: eir souls. Upon this ground, the apostle assures the Corinthian believers that they should eventually reach the kingdom of heaven. He
says, “now he who establisheth us with you in Christ,
, is God: who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” He afterwards observes to the same persons, “we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We are confident therefore, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Here it is evident, that the apostle taught the Corinthians, that all real saints shall persevere in holiness, and finally enjoy eternal life.
As God begins and carries on a good work in whom he pleases; so divine sovereignty is an essential doctrine of the gospel. This, therefore is another sentiment, which the apostle plainly preached to the Corinthians. He says in a few verses below the text, I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So
. then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” In the second Epistle, he sets the amiable and awful sovereignty of God in a more striking light. “Thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place, for we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” These expressions put it beyond a doubt, that the apostle preached the doctrine of divine sovereignty in its full latitude, and taught the Corinthians to believe, that God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and causes whom he will to perish.
The doctrine of personal election is a principai branch of divine sovereignty, which the apostle also taught the saints at Corinth. In his first Epistle he addresses them as the chosen vessels of mercy, "ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. That according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” The apostle considered the doctrine of election, as having a happy tendency, to give mankind high and becoming thoughts of God, and low and debasing thoughts of themselves; and therefore did not omit such a useful and practical subject in the course of his preaching. The doctrine of election naturally carries our thoughts back to the early days of eternity, when the glorious scheme of the gospel was concerted and adopted by the ever blessed Trinity. This plainly revealed, though in some respects profoundly mysterious doctrine, the apostle abundantly taught the Corinihians. He brings it into view at the beginning and end of both his Epistles; but especially in his benediction at the close of the last. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” In this short and comprehensive sentence, the divinity, personality and equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are clearly and distinctly exhibited, and the practical use and importance of this great truth plainly taught. Thus we find from the two letters, which the apostle wrote to the Corinthians, that he publicly and plainly taught them the doctrine of total depravity, the doctrine of regeneration, the doctrine of disinterested love, the doctrine of saving faith, the doctrine of divine agency in human actions, the doctrine of the final perseverance of saints, the doctrine of divine sovereignty in the conversion of sinners, the doctrine of personal election to eternal life, and the doctrine of three equally divine persons in the only living and true God.
Let us now inquire,
“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat.” This certainly refers to the doctrines, which he had preached to the Corinthians, and which have been ascertained under the preceding particular. And we find in his Epistle to the Hebrews, that he used the same metaphor of milk, to represent those peculiar and es. sential doctrines of the gospel. “When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God: and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses ex. ercised to discern both good and evil.” This passage throws light upon the metaphor in the text, and leads us to observe,
1. The doctrines which Paul preached to the Corinthians, may properly be called milk, because they are easy to be understood.
Milk is much easier to digest than meat. Meat is for men, but milk is for babes. Those of the weakest constitution can bear this light and easy food. So the first principles of the oracles of God are plain and level to the lowest capacity. It requires attention, rather than deep penetration, to understand the doctrines of grace, which naturally arise from the mutual relation between God and his sinful creatures. Let men only realize, that they are the creatures of God, that they have broken his laws, that they have incurred his displeasure, and that they are in his hands, as the clay is in the hands of the potter, and these very doctrines, which the apostle calls milk, will naturally occur to
their minds, and be easily understood. It is very easy for any sinners, when they are constrained to look into their own hearts, to understand the doctrine of total depravity; the necessity of regeneration, the sovereignty of God in having mercy on whom he will have mercy, and all the other doctrines of the gospel, which are inseparably connected with these. Even a youth, who has spent his whole time in vanity, as soon as he falls under conviction, feels that he is an enemy to God, that he deserves to perish, that God has a right to save or destroy him, and that he can have no ground of hope but in the doctrine of election which assures him, that God can and will save some. There are no truths in the Bible more level to every capacity, than the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, which were designed to give saving knowledge to the weakest, meanest, and vilest of mankind. Hence the apostle says to the Corinthians in the beginning of this first Epistle, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” And among that number he says, “there were not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble.” The common people heard and understood Christ's preaching, while the wise and learned called his doctrines hard sayings. The fundamental doctrines of the gospel approve themselves to the understanding and conscience of every person who will attend to them. Paul tells the Corinthians to whom he preached these doctrines, that he had, "by the manifestation of the truth commended himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” The assembly of divines, who composed the shorter catechism, were men of superior knowledge and wisdom, and they supposed that the same doctrines, which Paul preached to the Corinthians, were proper to be taught to children and youth, as well as to others of riper years, and better