1 Corinthians 14:1
Earnestly pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
Sermons
Gunsaulus -- the Bible Vs. InfidelityVarious1 Corinthians 14:1
Love Controls Zeal in Behalf of Spiritual GiftsC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 14:1-5
UsefulnessE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 14:1-19
A Lesson for PreachersJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Choosing LoveScougal.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Edification, Exhortation and ComfortProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Following After LoveGreat Thoughts1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Grace and GiftsD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Ineffective PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Love Lessening Misery1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Private and Public EdificationJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Prophecy and TonguesF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Speaking in a TongueProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Spiritual GiftsEssex Congregational Remembrancer1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Spiritual Gifts and Public WorshipM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Gift of TonguesJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Gifts of the Spirit Must be Wisely EmployedJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Girls of Prophecy and TonguesA. F. Barfield.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Prompting of Love1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Three Modes of PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
True PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Unedifying Preaching1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Universal BenevolenceJ. Orr, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
In the opening verse we have three ideas, viz. love as a virtue to be diligently sought and practised, spiritual gifts as objects worthy of desire, and prophesying as a gift among gifts to be especially prized. "Rather that ye may prophesy" is the formative thought of this chapter, and it must be kept in view by the reader, since it is explicit or implicit in every associated idea. But this leading thought is closely connected with the twelfth and thirteenth chapters, and this also must be considered by the reader. To understand the reasoning of the apostle in the fourteenth chapter and sympathize with the fervour of his exhortation in the "rather that ye may prophesy," remember that he is contemplating prophecy from the standpoint of love. How else, forsooth, could he regard it, either in the logic as bearing on intellect, or in the appeal as applied to experience, or in their united effect on Christian character? Prophecy, in the light here presented, is not simply a revelation of God's will and wisdom to others, but likewise a revelation of love as a conscious influence pervading, inspiring, controlling the soul of the prophet or teacher. It is a voice from God himself by the Spirit. It is a Divine voice, moreover, in tones and accents most truly, most thoroughly, human, became of tender sympathy with the needs of its fellow men and their dependence on it for guidance, help, furtherance, in the salvation of their souls. One of the aspects of love as the '"greatest" instantly comes before the eye Prophecy, in the case of the man so gifted, is an organ of his love, so that he teaches, not to enjoy the activity and brilliance of his intellect, or make in any way a demonstration of himself, but solely to benefit his fellows. Actuated wholly by brotherly sentiment, he comes down from the pedestal of complacent self regard, and values his endowment in the degree that he is able to take the common level, and thereby instruct and console his brethren. Why, then, should the argument in this chapter follow the eulogy on love so closely? One reason - the chief reason - we may suppose to be that the gift of "tongues" was overvalued, and, as a consequence, the capacity to teach was depreciated. Without disparaging the "tongues" when rightly used, St. Paul lays a very proper stress on teaching, and gives it the preference, on the ground that it allows a fuller, freer, more effective manifestation of love. "Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. And so, too, now abide the "spiritual gifts," the gifts in general, "tongues" and "prophecy" m particular, but the "greatest of these" is "prophecy." The parallelism is complete. And how easily St. Paul glides from the chapter on love as the greatest among virtues to the chapter on teaching as the greatest among gifts! One would have supposed that, after such an effort of analytic and descriptive intellect and its interblending with emotional outgoings, there would be a rebound, a pause for nature to recover from an intense exertion; but this is not apparent. The strong man is still strong, the eye beams as brightly and the hand moves as firmly as before, and the eulogist of love passes into the eulogist of prophecy with no change other than that which the nature of the new topic necessitates. The argument in ver. 2 takes an antithetic form. There is speaking in an unknown tongue. The speech is not a communication of wisdom to others, but a mysterious activity that exalts the speaker above the ordinary sphere of self consciousness and is ecstatic. "No man understandeth him." There is the outward hearing on man's part, but no inward hearing. God is the only listener who comprehends him: "He speaketh... unto God;" "In the spirit he seeketh mysteries." The mysteries are things "which are hidden from the hearers, and sometimes also from the speaker himself" (Alford). Was language a sublimer function than we have comprehended? Are there uses of expressional power of which we know nothing? Are there utterances of intuition beyond our power to grasp? Is there some one vast generalization of speech as interiorily related to pure reason, under which, as fragmentary forms of embodied thought and as representations of the functional energies of the mental faculties, all the utilities of speech are classified? We cannot tell.

1. All we know is that the speaker here under notice speaks from his "spirit;" intellect, emotion, the entire nature, are simultaneously excited. Barriers between the faculties are broken down; speech is no longer merely philosophic, or poetic, or impassioned, but it is in some occult way the articulation of the spirit in its wholeness. No man ever said anything that he could look upon as the complete expression of himself. Before he utters his greatest thoughts, he is very hopeful of doing full justice to them; afterwards he is half abashed, deplores his shortcoming, and gazes with a feeling somewhat reproachful on the ideal that retreated afar. Now, in the instance St. Paul has in view, the speaker is under the perfected sway of his spirit, and he transcends the limits of habitual consciousness.

2. All we know is that this exceptional speaker utters "mysteries." And the "mysteries," out of whose deep solitudes the voice comes, remain mysteries; neither word nor tone, neither look nor gesture, gives any solution of the meaning. The secrets have taken on sound, but the sense is concealed, and the very sound is a deeper silence. And has not such silence its uses? Is it a mere image to the fancy that Milton gives when he so finely personifies Silence in paradise as pleased with the song of the "wakeful nightingale"? Or when Thomson breathes the invocation: "Come, then, expressive Silence, muse his praise"? And, in the present case, the sound falls back into silence, but, nevertheless, the "unknown tongue" is among "spiritual gifts," and fills its sphere in the spiritual economy of Christ's universe. What, then, is the object of St. Paul's argument? It is a question of, comparative worth, that he discusses. These Corinthians are fascinated by the tongues, and, in their passion for high excitements, have been led to exaggerate beyond bounds the ecstatic singularity of the "unknown tongue." This unhappy craving for morbid and tumultuous agitation, this delight in sensations and emotions, threatened the decay, ay, the destruction of spirituality. It was the spirit of man, indeed, but the spirit borrowing the impulses of the lower man, instead of holding itself aloof from a depraving alliance with ungoverned blood and nerves. The remedy of the evil was in a proper estimate of the gifts as relative to brotherhood and helpfulness of others. Therefore, "desire... rather that ye may prophesy." And wherefore? That ye may "speak unto men" with three ends in view, namely, edification, exhortation, comfort. To edify is to build up the whole framework of Christian character; to exhort is to incite to duty by timely, appropriate, and effectual motives; to comfort is to show tenderness of fellow feeling and be partners of the cares, burdens, and sorrows of others. What a blessed prerogative, to go forth from the isolations of intellect and from the selfish exclusiveness that our own anxieties and sufferings not infrequently bind upon us, and impart ourselves in large sympathies to such as in their weakness need our strength! "Himself;" there the benefit lies. Lifted to a lofty height, borne upward from one sublimity to another, rapt and entranced, it is still himself that is the party concerned. There may be quickening and ennobling; the immense realm within the soul, where the surprises of possible consciousness are dormant, may suddenly yield their resources and give the soul a new and astonishing sense of itself; yet, despite of all such results, it is himself, first and last. But he "that prophesieth edifieth the Church." A community gets the benefit, not the mere man "himself." Is St. Paul depreciating the speaking with tongues? Hear his hearty wish: "I would that ye all spake with tongues." In perfect consistency with this testimony to the worth of the tongues, he adds that he desires for them more ardently the gift of prophecy. Why this more fervent wish? Because the prophet or teacher is greater than the speaker with tongues not interpreted - greater because he builds up and inspirits and cheers his brethren more than the mystical speaker with "an unknown tongue;" greater because "it is more blessed to give than to receive" - L.







Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts.
Great Thoughts.
You could see Gerald had been running fast a long way, for as he came up the garden path to his mother his face was very red and his hair quite damp with the perspiration on his forehead. "What have you been doing, my little boy?" his mother asked him. "Oh, mother," he said, almost ready to cry, "I have been running after the rainbow, trying to catch it, but when I got to the top of the hill it was just as far away as before," and the little boy threw himself down with a sob at his mother's feet. "Poor little fellow," she said, tenderly, patting his head, "mother is sorry for you." She really was sorry, so she said, "Gerald, dear, if you can wait to-day and to-morrow, on the next morning when you wake up you will see a rainbow that you can catch." "Really, mother; shall I really see one and catch it?" and the boy looked up with a happy and eager face. "Yes, dear; and what is more, you can go on catching and keeping it day by day all through your life." With this Gerald was obliged to be content for the present, although he was very impatient until the happy morning arrived. He woke early, and eagerly gazed round the room, and over the mantelpiece saw a lovely rainbow. It was a beautiful, large kind of text in a great number of bright and lovely colours. He jumped out of bed and stood close under it with his hands folded. On the sky-blue colour was printed in letters of lovely dark blue, Patience. On the red, in letters of white, was Love. On the black, in silver letters, was Peace. On the cream was Kindliness, in letters of gold. Gentleness was printed in prettiest pink, the word on cardinal, and Charity was blended in all the colours on white. While Gerald was standing admiring with delight, his mother came quietly in. "Well, dear," she said, smiling, "how do you like your rainbow?" "Oh, I like it so much, mother; and is it my very own? but what do you mean by catching it, mother? .... Well, suppose you begin to-day, and let the first thing you try to catch and keep be Love." "Oh, I see now," said the little boy, and the thought sank into his heart, so that he really tried to be as loving as he could to his little playfellows and to everybody. And every morning he looked up to his rainbow to see what he would try and catch that day, and then he knelt to ask God to help him. So little Gerald grew up to be a splendid man, and the rainbow still shines over his mantelpiece as one of his greatest treasures.

(Great Thoughts.)

When Payson was dying he exclaimed, "I long to hand a full Cup of happiness to every human being." This was the language of a heart thoroughly purged of all selfish affection, and filled with the spirit of that love which led our adorable Jesus to give His life for human redemption. If every Christian would go out daily among men filled with such longing for human happiness, what marvellous changes would soon be wrought in human society! The selfish element would be eliminated from the dealings of the Christian business man. Not justice merely, but benevolence, would enter into his every act of trade. The same spirit would rule his home and Church life. He would become an incarnation of goodwill toward all, and would so preach the gospel by his deeds that men would see his good works and glorify his heavenly Father. The spirit of Payson is worthy of every man's imitation. Happy he who can truthfully say, "I long to hand a cup of happiness to every human being."

The remark of the Rev. John Newton below deserves to be written on the tablet of every heart. "I see in this world," he observes, "two heaps — one of human happiness and one of misery; now, if I can take but the smallest bit from the second heap and add to the first, I carry a point. If, as I go home, a child has dropped a halfpenny, and if by giving it another I can wipe away its tears, I feel that I have doom something. I should be glad, indeed, to do great things, but I will not neglect such little ones as this."

Had I my choice of all things that might tend to my present felicity, I would pitch upon this; to have my heart possessed with the greatest kindness and affection toward all men in the world. I am sure this would make me partake in all the happiness of others. Certainly, next to the love and enjoyment of God, that ardent charity and affection wherewith blessed souls do embrace one another is justly to be reckoned as the greatest felicity of regions above; and, did it universally prevail in the world, it would anticipate that blessedness, and make us taste of the joys of heaven upon earth.

(Scougal.)

I. THE SEVERAL CONSIDERATIONS AND MOTIVES WHICH SHOULD DETERMINE US TO UNIVERSAL LOVE.

1. Goodwill and friendship to mankind are natural to us, which we are led to by the original propensions and inclinations of our hearts. We are plainly made for the exercise of goodness and charity, and in the very constitution of our beings it is marked out to us as the course of life which we are to follow.

2. The circumstances in which we are placed render it necessary for us to exercise benevolence towards mankind. Men are a sort of creatures who have a natural and necessary dependence upon one another, and it is impossible for them to subsist — at least, to enjoy any comfort in life — without mutual succour and an exchange of all good offices.

3. Another motive to engage us to the love of mankind may be brought from the consideration of its excellency.

4. The exercise of humanity and kindness towards mankind is essential to religion, without which it is only an empty name, and all pretences to it are most vain and impertinent.

5. The last argument to engage us to the exercise of charity may be brought from the advantages which will from thence accrue to ourselves. It may be justly expected that it will have a happy influence even on our external fortune or estate in the world; for charity is the most engaging quality that we can be possessed of, which will not fail to procure us the esteem of others, and make them, in any cases of difficulty and danger in which we may be, to contribute to our assistance. But a much more considerable instance of happiness than any relating to our external interest, which proceeds from the exercise of charity, is that inward joy and pleasure which it always affords us. And besides all this, if we consider the other world, it is certain that the practice of charity will procure us the greatest advantages that can be in it.

II. SOME RULES FOR RAISING AND IMPROVING A TEMPER OF SINCERE AND UNIVERSAL BENEVOLENCE IN US.

1. In order to this, let us represent mankind in the most favourable light that we justly can to ourselves. We must have some esteem of those for whose advantage we exert ourselves with any high degree of zeal; and when we sincerely esteem any persons we shall be always ready to promote their interest as we have opportunity.

2. Another method of raising and improving a benevolent temper in us is to accustom ourselves to frequent thoughts and meditations on the goodness of God.

3. Further, let us guard not only against all contempt of others and unfair suspicions of evil in them, but against an indulgence of all immoderately selfish passions, and of all angry, peevish, discontented dispositions, and endeavour, as much as we can, to preserve ourselves in a serene state of mind.

4. It will likewise be of great use for forming and increasing a temper of benevolence in us to have an habitual recollection and a lively conviction of its great excellence and importance.

(J. Orr, D. D.)

Essex Congregational Remembrancer.
By gifts we understand those natural or acquired endowments which may be used for the interest and edification of others: by graces those internal emotions which result from a Divine influence upon the heart. Gifts are valuable, but graces are essential. View Christian character as an edifice; gifts constitute its ornamental and useful parts, but graces are the foundation, without which it would soon crumble to the dust. They are not always found in close or corresponding connection. Graces may exist where there are scarcely any gifts, and vice versa. Note —

I. A FEW OF THOSE GIFTS WINCH FORM APPROPRIATE OBJECTS OF THE CHRISTIAN'S DESIRE AND PURSUIT.

1. An ability for the edifying and acceptable discharge of ministerial duty.

2. A facility of acceptably engaging in social and public prayer.

3. A readiness for joining, or, if necessary, of leading the exercise of social and public praise.

4. An aptness in turning to some profitable account the ordinary and social intercourse of life.

5. A readiness in administering to others appropriate admonition, advice, or encouragement.

II. THE NATURE AND APPROPRIATE EXERCISE OF THE DESIRE RECOMMENDED IN THE TEXT.

1. It should be operative and practical in its character. We are not to sit down and be satisfied in wishing these gifts were possessed, but to make an effort to attain them.

2. This desire should be regulated, not by personal inclination, but by an anxiety for usefulness.

III. SUGGESTIONS TO EXCITE AND DIRECT IN PURSUING THE ATTAINMENT OF THESE GIFTS. "We should —

1. Cherish a deeper sense of the privilege and honour of being in any way serviceable to the Church of Christ.

2. Diligently and conscientiously use the gifts we already possess. They, like our bodily or mental faculties, are ever improved by appropriate exercise.

3. More assiduously cultivate the graces of religion in the soul. These, by inflaming the heart more with a Saviour's love, would constrain us to attempt honouring and serving Him in every possible way.

(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

I. THE COMPARATIVE VALUE OF THE TWO CHIEF SPIRITUAL GIFTS.

1. Prophesying is speaking for God, whether the utterance regards present or future matters. The function of the prophet is indicated in ver. 3. and in vers. 24-25 the results of prophesying are described in terms precisely such as we should use to describe the results of efficacious preaching.

2. The gift of tongues, from Acts 2., would seem to have been the gift of speaking in foreign languages, and was communicated, not as a permanent acquisition, but only "as the Spirit gave utterance." It served the same purpose as other miracles; it called attention to the entrance of new powers into human nature; it was "for them that believe not, not for them that believe." It produced conviction that among the followers of Christ new powers were at work. The evidence of this took a shape which seemed to intimate that the religion of Christ was suitable for every race of mankind.

3. Comparing these two gifts, Paul gives the preference to the former, and this mainly on the score of its greater utility. Apart from interpretation speaking with tongues was like the blare of a trumpet, mere unintelligible sound. Prophesying, however, all could understand, and profit by it.

4. From this preference for the less showy but more useful gift, we may gather that to make public worship the occasion of self-display or sensational exhibitions is to degrade it. Preachers must resist the temptation to make a sensation, to produce fine sermons; and worshippers must resist the temptation to merely exhibit a good voice or find greater pleasure in what is sensational in worship than in what is simple and intelligible.

5. Worship in which the understanding bears no part receives no countenance from Paul (ver. 15). Where the prayers of the Church are in Latin the worshipper may indeed pray with the spirit and be edified, but his worship would be better did he pray with the understanding also. Music unaccompanied by words induces a devoutness which is apt to be either hazy or sentimental, or both, unless by the help of words the understanding goes hand in hand with feeling.

6. No countenance can be found in this chapter to the idea that worship should exclude preaching. Some temperaments incline towards worship, but resent being preached to or instructed. St. Paul, however, puts prophesying in the forefront. But St. Paul puts —

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE PUBLIC SERVICES SHOULD BE CONDUCTED.

1. The services at Corinth were characterised by great freedom (ver. 26). Each member of the congregation had something to contribute for the edification of the Church. One with a natural aptitude for poetry threw his devotional feeling into a metrical form, and furnished the Church with her earliest hymns. Another set forth some important aspect of Christian truth. Another, fresh from contact with the world, entered the meeting with the glow of conflict on his face, and had eager words of exhortation to utter. And so passed the hours of meeting, without any fixed order, appointed ministry, or uniformity of service. And certainly the freshness and variety of such services is greatly to be desired. We lose much by a silent membership.

2. And yet, as Paul observes, there was much to be desired in those Corinthian services. To appeal to this or any part of this letter in proof that there should be no distinction between clergy and laity would be a very bad policy. True there were no rulers of any kind, but then the want of them had given rise to disorder. The ideal condition, however, would be one in which authority should be lodged in certain office-bearers, while the faculty and gift of each member in some way contributed to the good of the whole Church.

3. While Paul abstains from appointing Church officers, he is careful to lay down two principles which should regulate their procedure.(1) "Let everything be done decently and in order." This advice was greatly needed in a Church in which the public services were sometimes filmed into tumults.(2) "Let all things be done unto edifying." Keep the great end of your meetings in view, and you need no formal rubrics.

4. It might be difficult to say whether the somewhat selfish ambition of those Corinthians to secure the surprising gifts of the Spirit or our own torpid indifference and lack of expectation is less to be commended. Certainly every one who attaches himself to Christ ought to indulge in great expectations. From Him we may expect at least His own Spirit. And in this "least" there is promise of all. But lack of expectation is fatal to the Christian.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Just as the hunter follows the chase with the determination to gain what he pursues, so are we to follow after charity; but we are only to "desire" spiritual gifts. The Corinthians were to be filled with the spirit of love at any cost, and when they loved they were to desire all other gifts, but especially the gift of prophecy. Now it was just the reverse of this with them. The gift they valued the most was the gift of tongues; it was this they "followed after," and so, when the Church met for public worship, a babel existed (vers. 23-26).

I. THE GIFT OF PROPHECY was not simply the power to predict future events. The Old Testament prophets predicted, but they had also to expostulate and comfort. Here are three marks of a prophet.

1. He speaketh unto man (ver. 3) — face-to-face conversation.

2. He speaketh to edification, exhortation, and comfort.

3. He speaketh so that souls are converted (ver. 24).

II. THE GIFT OF TONGUES was the power imparted to speak foreign languages, which is plainly the teaching of Acts 2. One of the great reasons for the bestowal of the gift was that the disciples might preach Christ to all without undergoing the usual tedious instruction in the language of the hearer.

III. THE GIFT OF PROPHECY IS GREATER THAN THE GIFT OF TONGUES.

1. It is better to be definite than learned (vers. 7-12). Speak with as many tongues as you can, but take care that whatever is spoken is understood.

2. It is better to appeal to the understanding than to the emotions (ver. 16). I do not undervalue the emotional in religions worship, but it is better for a man to understand what he feels than to feel what he does not understand. If an unlearned man go into a Roman Catholic chapel, e.g., everything appeals to the emotions — the paintings, the music, the incense; you have a sense of the beautiful, but you don't know why. Better be in the poorest meetinghouse listening to the rudest preacher, for then you may learn what you can understand and apply what your own soul can interpret.

3. It is better to be useful than brilliant (ver. 19).

4. It is better to honour God by winning souls than to excite ridicule and contempt (vers. 23, 24). Conclusion:

1. Preaching should be plain, but not vulgar.

2. Worship should be intelligent, not mystical.

3. It should be orderly, not confused.

(A. F. Barfield.)

Ver. 1 contains a resume of chaps, 12.-13. Charity holds the first place, and then spiritual gifts follow, and prophecy is preferable to others.

1. Note the difference between a grace and a gift. It is not that the former is from God and the latter from nature, for both are from God; but grace is that which has in it some moral quality. A man may be fluent, learned, skillful, etc., and yet be a bad man. Now this distinction explains at once why graces are preferable. Graces are what the man is, gifts what he has. He is loving, he has eloquence, etc. You only have to cut out his tongue, or to impair his memory, and the gift is gone But you must destroy his very being before he ceases to be a loving man. Yet while the Corinthians are to "follow after charity" they are not to undervalue gifts.

2. Many religious persons go into the contrary extreme; they call gifts dangerous and worldly. No, says the apostle, "desire" them; not as the highest goods, but still desirable. Only remember you are not worthy or good because of them. And remember other people are not bound to honour you for them. Admire a Napoleon's genius, but do not let your admiration of that induce you to give honour to the man. Let there be no mere "hero-worship."

3. The apostle states the principle on which one gift is preferable to another. "Rather that ye may prophesy." He prefers those which are useful to those that are showy (see ver. 12).

I. WHAT WAS PROPHECY? A prophet was commissioned to declare the will of God either as to the future or as to the present.

1. In ver. 3 is the essence of the prophet's office, but there is not one word spoken of prediction. In order fully to expound a spiritual principle, or a principle of Divine politics, it was necessary to foretell the result or transgression against it; as when the Captivity, or the fate of Babylon and Nineveh was predicted: but this was not the essence of the prophet's duty: that was to reveal truth.

2. In ver. 24 the exercise of this gift is spoken of as one specially instrumental in conversion, with which prediction has nothing to do, for before a prediction could be fulfilled the unbeliever "falls down, acknowledges God," etc. Moreover, the prophecy was something which touched his conscience.

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE GIFT OF TONGUES. From Acts

2. it is generally taken for granted that it was a miraculous gift of speaking foreign languages, and that the object of such a gift was the conversion of the heathen world; but I believe that the gift was a far higher one than that of the linguist.

1. St. Paul prefers prophecy to the gift of "tongues" as more useful, since prophecy edified others, and tongues did not. Now could he have said this had the gift been the power of speaking foreign languages?

2. The "tongues" were inarticulate or incoherent (ver. 2). The man spoke "not unto men, but unto God," did not try to make himself logically clear to men, but poured out his soul to God.

3. This gift was something internal, a kind of inspired soliloquy (ver. 4). There was an unconscious need of expressing audibly the feelings arising within, but; when so uttered they merely ended in "edifying" the person who uttered them; like the broken murmur of a poet full of deep thought in solitude.

4. The apostle compares the gift with the unworried sounds of musical instruments (vers. 7, 8), which have a meaning, but one which is felt rather than measured by the intellect. The mathematician would ask, "What does that prove?" the historian, "What information or fact does it communicate?" Have you ever heard the low moanings of hopelessness? or those, to us, unmelodious airs which to the Swiss mountaineer tell of home in a language clearer than the tongue? or have you ever listened to the unmeaning shouts of boyhood? Well, in all these you have dim illustrations of the way in which new, deep, irrepressible feelings found for themselves utterance in sounds which were called "tongues."

5. These utterances, weakly allowed full vent, were like the ravings of insanity (ver. 23). So, indeed, men on the day of Pentecost said, "These men are full of new wine." The apostle reminds the Corinthians that they were bound to control this power, lest it should degenerate into imbecility or fanaticism.

6. The gift is compared to a barbarian tongue (ver. 11), therefore not a barbarian tongue itself.

7. It could be interpreted (ver. 13). And without this interpretation the "tongues" were obviously useless (ver. 14). And this power of interpretation is reckoned a spiritual gift as much as tongues, a gift granted in answer to prayer. Now this we shall best understand by analogies. It is a great principle that sympathy is the only condition for interpretation of feeling. The apostle compares the gift of tongues to music. Now music needs an interpreter, and the interpretation must be given, not in words, but in corresponding feelings. There must be "music in the soul." To him who has not this the language of music is simply unintelligible. Again, a child is often the subject of feelings which he does not understand. Observe how he is affected by the reading of a tale or a moving hymn. He will not say, How touching, how well imagined! but he will hide his face, or he hums, or laughs, or becomes peevish, because he does not know what is the matter with him. He has no words like a man to express his new feelings. But the grown man can interpret them, and, sympathising with the child, he says, "The child cannot contain his feelings." Or, take the instance of a physician finding words for physical feelings, because he understands them better than the patient who is unable to express them. In the same way the early Christians, being the subjects of new, deep, and spiritual feeling, declared their joy in inarticulate utterances. But the explaining what they felt was the office of the interpreter, e.g., a stranger might have been at a loss to know what was really meant. "Are you happy or miserable, O Christian, by those wild utterances? Is it madness, or new wine, or inspiration?" And none but a person in the same mood of mind, or one who had passed through it, could say to the stranger, "This is the overflow of gratefulness; he is blessing in the Spirit; it is a hymn of joy that his heart is singing to itself"; or, "It is a burst of prayer" (vers. 15-17).

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. THE GRACE OF CHARITY IS SUPERIOR TO ALL ENDOWMENTS. Whatever other endowments you may possess or desire, do not neglect the cultivation of charity.

II. SOME "ENDOWMENTS ARE SUPERIOR TO OTHERS (ver. 5). The didactic faculty is greater than the linguistic. Sense is better than sound, ideas are better than words. It often happens that the man who has the most aptitude in acquiring languages has the least capacity either for attaining or communicating great ideas. But the language of which the apostle here speaks seems to have been the inarticulate voice of new and strong emotions. Tender emotions often choke us. If expressed at all they can only be in the quivering lip, and the gleaming eye, and the convulsive chest. Such have been manifested in all great revivals of religion. I have heard such untranslatable sounds under the mighty sermons of Welsh preachers. These "tongues" are valuable. Because —

1. They are symptomatic of a new spiritual life. You can talk about history, science, theology, but not about the deepest and divinest things of the heart. They only come out in "groanings that cannot be uttered."

2. In them the soul expresses its devotions (vers. 2, 4, 14). It is delightful to think of the human soul generally so immersed in the selfish and the sensuous, bathing itself in the rising tides of spiritual emotions.

3. By them the religious sympathy of the unbelieving is often excited (ver. 22). Sound expressive of human emotion often strikes potently on the heart of the listener. Take the most thoughtless man into some vast congregation in Wales, when all the people are singing their plaintive hymns in strains of weird music, and he will not be long, even if he understands not the language, before he feels the influence. Unsyllabled speech is often the mightiest. There are melodies that carry into the soul that which no word can express.

III. THE HIGHEST ENDOWMENT IS THE ABILITY FOR SPIRITUAL TEACHING (vers. 12, 18). Teaching is not the mere impartation of the acts of the gospel but the indoctrinating of the soul with its primary elements and spirit. Note —

1. That the gospel gives to its genuine disciples intelligent convictions that should be communicated to others. He who has accepted the gospel in reality becomes instinct with mighty and irrepressible ideas; ideas which he "cannot but speak," for "necessity is laid" upon him. They are given to him to communicate, not to monopolise, and on their communication the spiritual life, growth, and perfection of mankind depend.

2. That these intelligent convictions can only be conveyed to others by intelligible language (vers. 6-7 etc.). Mere "sound" is not worth much. "Things without life," such as the "pipe" and the "harp," produce sound. Nay, more, unless the sound gives out clear and distinct ideas, it is not only useless, but injurious (ver. 8). If in battle the trumpet does not sound clearly the advance or retreat when intended, it is worse than useless. So whatever might be the unintelligible utterances, whether an unvernacular language or the unsyllabled expressions of emotions. Paul indicates their inadequacy without interpretation to convey to the hearer intelligent convictions of gospel truth (ver. 9).

3. That the use of a language which the listener cannot understand should not be indulged in.(1) Not in public devotion (vers. 14-16). Unintelligible utterances in public devotion fail to excite in the assembly a spirit of united worship. So far as the individual himself is concerned, it does not matter with what tongue he speaks, or whether he speaks at all.(2) Not in public ministration. Alas! it is to be feared the language of many a sermon is an "unknown tongue." Such language gratifies the vanity of the speaker, but wastes the time and tries the patience of the hearer (vers. 18, 19). The apostle goes on to indicate that such unintelligible utterances in the Church are —

(a)Childish (ver. 20).

(b)Useless (ver. 21).

(c)Confounding (ver. 23).

(d)To be of any service must be interpreted (ver. 28).

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue
is a sort of spiritual soliloquy, and may be compared with the unutterable groanings (Romans 8:26, 27), whereby the Holy Spirit intercedes in the believer's heart.

(Prof. Godet.)

may be considered as —

1. A demonstration of Divine power.

2. An evidence of Divine truth.

3. A gift of Divine grace.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
I. ITS DESIGN. Edification, etc.

II. ITS REQUISITES. It must be intelligible, Scriptural, etc.

III. THE SOURCE OF ITS POWER. It is a gift of the Spirit who qualifies the instrument, and applies the truth.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

are co-ordinate.

I. EDIFICATION denotes a new development and a confirmation of the faith by some new view fitted to strengthen the soul.

II. EXHORTATION denotes an encouragement addressed to the will, an energetic impulse capable of effecting an awakening or advancement in Christian fidelity, relating to love as the former relates to faith.

III. COMFORT points rather to hope, παραμυθείν, to soothe the ear with a sweet myth, putting pain to sleep, or reviving hope.

(Prof. Godet.)

In the town of Goslar, in the Hartz mountains, there is a fountain in the principal square. It is evidently very ancient, and it is very beautiful. There is, however, one defect in it. Both the jets and the basin into which the water falls are above the reach of any one. The way the people have to get the water from the fountain is for each one to bring a long spout or pipe with him. This he puts up to a jet and the water runs through it into his pitcher. It seems never to have occurred to the townspeople that it would be a good thing to attach a pipe permanently to the fountain for general use. Some preachers talk in so lofty a style that their hearers need to bring a dictionary with them if they are to get any of the water of life from the sermon. They do not seek to find "acceptable" words, hence their preaching fails to edify.

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself
Observe

1. What may edify one does not always edify another.

2. Public worship contemplates general edification.

3. What, therefore, only ministers to private edification must give way for the benefit of all.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall it profit you?
I. THE OBJECT OF PREACHING. Not display, but profit.

II. THE MODE OF PREACHING.

1. It supposes the plain exposition of Divine truth — the communication of Divine knowledge.

2. Aims at edification (ver. 3) — at instruction in righteousness.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Observe —

I. HOW THEY MAY BE ABUSED.

1. By display (ver. 6).

2. By using them to no purpose (vers. 7-9).

3. By employing them under improper circumstances (vers. 10, 11).

II. HOW THEY MAY BE IMPROVED — by using them for the edification of others (ver. 12) — which must be done intelligently (vers. 13, 14), wisely (vers. 15-17), in the spirit of love (vers. 18, 19).

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

And even things without life giving sound... except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known
I.PREACHING TO THE AIR — sound without, sense.

II.PREACHING TO THE HEAD — sense without life.

III.PREACHING TO THE HEART — sense and life: the thoughts of the Spirit in easy words.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. ITS FORMS. When the preacher —

1. Surpasses the understanding of his audience.

2. Is indefinite in his statement of truth.

3. Is pointless and unimpressive.

II. ITS FOLLY.

1. It is a waste of energy.

2. Profits nobody.

3. Occasions a fearful responsibility.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

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