Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
Words are not sufficient; they must be words easy to be understood. The capacity of the hearer, the humblest in the congregation, must be thoughtfully regarded, otherwise they are to him idle rhapsodies; "ye shall speak into the air." If neither "pipe," nor "harp," nor "trumpet" give an "uncertain sound," still less could it be said of human voices (languages) that they are unintelligible. "Many kinds are in the world, and none of them without signification." Varieties exist. The surface of the globe is not more diversified than language, and yet, as the globe is one, so are these languages one, although very unequal as to capacity for the conveyance of ideas. But is the "tongue" like these voices? If not, then he that speaketh in this way is a barbarian; and would you barbarians in your Christian relations, outside foreigners, you and your fellow citizens in the commonwealth of Christ shut out from intelligible communication with one another? We can see, while reading St. Paul's argument, what force it contains. Pentecost had restored what Babel had destroyed; the ambitious tower that was to reach so high had been arrested by confusion of tongues; men had scattered from one great centre, and human centralization had been stopped in the evil form threatened. Pentecost had enabled men to cooperate; all languages could now be used as vehicles of making known the gospel, and the builders could work together on the temple of the Church. Pentecost, however, was here annulled, and Corinth was making ready to scatter her Christian population, to alienate them from community of impulse and aim, and changing the members of the Church in this respect into barbarians to one another. "Even so ye," declares the apostle, who are "zealous of spiritual gifts," should esteem it your first concern to edify the Church. "Wherefore," he adds in application, let the speaker in an unknown tongue "pray that he may interpret." Whatever construction may be given this difficult passage, it is certain that St. Paul intended to teach the Corinthians the absolute insulation of this sort of speech, its essential characteristic as opposed to the true function of language, and the complete exclusion of its possessor from the fellowship of the outward world. - L.
Let all things be done decently and in order.1. Be done in its proper time.
2. Be kept to its proper use.
3. Be put in its proper place.i.e., so as not to interrupt the gravity and dignity of assemblies. "In order" — i.e., not by hazard or impulse, but by design and arrangement. The idea is not so much of any beauty or succession of parts in the worship, as of that calm and simple majesty which in the ancient world, whether Pagan or Jewish, seems to have characterised all solemn assemblies, whether civil or ecclesiastical, as distinct from the frantic or enthusiastic ceremonies which accompanied illicit or extravagant communities. The Roman senate, the Athenian areopagus, were examples of the former, as the wild Bacchanalian or Phrygian orgies were of the latter. Hence the apostle has condemned the discontinuance of the veil (1 Corinthians 9:1-16), the speaking of women (ver. 34), the indiscriminate banquetting (1 Corinthians 11:16-34), the interruption of the prophets by each other (vers. 30-32). "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets," is a principle of universal application, and condemns every impulse of religious zeal or feeling which is not strictly under the control of those who display it. A world of fanaticism is exploded by this simple axiom; and to those who have witnessed the religious frenzy which attaches itself to the various forms of Eastern worship, this advice of the apostle, himself of Eastern origin, will appear the more remarkable. The wild gambols yearly celebrated at Easter by the adherents of the Greek Church round the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem show what Eastern Christianity may become; they are the living proofs of the need of the wisdom of the apostolic precept.
I. GOD IS THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP.
1. That we may think reverently of the worship of God, let us first think of God Himself, who and what He is. If we look beyond the heaven the eye of faith beholds Him seated in light inaccessible, and surrounded with myriads of angels excelling in strength and wisdom. If we attend to the effects of His power here below, we must acknowledge Him the contriver and artificer of all those wonderful works which delight the eye and minister to the life and comfort of His creatures.
2. This great Being is surely worthy of our attention. It is an honour to us that we are invited to lift up our eyes toward the place of His dwelling, and permitted to speak to Him in prayer.
II. WE HAVE NO OTHER WAY OF AFFRONTING GOD THAN BY NEGLECTING HIS SERVICE AND MAKING LIGHT OF HIS INSTITUTIONS. God Himself is not an object of our bodily senses; but His religion, His Churches, and His altars are present to us; and if we despise them, we do all that is in our power to show that God Himself is despised by us. The Bible teaches us, and reason must needs assent to it, that God will take to Himself every act of contempt against the Church and its administration. Tribute is due from subjects to their prince: if it is paid in base metal, the act is not only deficient, but treasonable, and would be punished accordingly. Worship is the tribute due from man to God; it is the honour due to His name: but if it is an unholy worship, it is worse than the silence and ignorance of a savage, and will be required of us as an act of treason and impiety,
III. NO BLESSING CAN BE EXPECTED UPON OURSELVES, BUT ONLY SO FAR AS OUR SERVICE IS ACCEPTABLE. The subject who pays the tribute that is required of him is rewarded with protection under an execution of the laws: and certainly God is not so unmindful of His subjects as to leave them without the protection of His providence. In what respects are order and decency required in a congregation of Christians?
1. A composed and serious mind. The want of gravity is a sign of great ignorance and ill-breeding in the company of men our superiors: how much more, then, is gravity required in the presence of our Maker!
2. Punctuality. They who come in at an unseasonable time do more harm to others than their presence is like to do good to themselves: they either drown the voice of the minister with their noise, or take off the attention of the people from their prayers.
3. Reverence and attention. We despise the Turks, yet in this they far exceed the Christians. They are called to prayers by the voice of a man crying from the tops of their steeples, at whoso voice they wash themselves, and having put off their shoes at the door of their mosque, are ready to enter with silence and gravity before their minister begins his prayer. You will never find one of them coughing, or yawning, or shifting his place, or speaking a word to his neighbour. They attend to nothing but the service, and when the service is over, they put on their shoes again in silence, and depart without entering into any impertinent conversation.
4. Union and earnestness. In the course of our liturgy the offices are divided between the minister and the people. If the minister were to fail in his part, it would be so remarkable that every person would observe it, and the service would be at a stand; but the people, being many, the inattention of particulars is not so easily perceived, and therefore it is too common for many to fail in making their proper responses. This is a bad custom, and should by all means be corrected. Conclusion: What I have said ought to dispose those who have heard me to join in those words of Jacob: "How dreadful is this place!" etc. He who blessed the piety of Jacob, will bless us also if we are the heirs of it. But if we treat the house of God, like the profane Jews, who had turned it into a house of merchandise and a den of thieves, a far worse visitation will befall us.
(W. Jones, M. A.)1. In the conduct of your affairs.
2. In the distribution of your time.
3. In the management of your fortune.
4. In the regulation of your amusements.
5. In the arrangement of your society.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. HOW THINGS OUGHT TO BE DONE — (εὐσχημόνως) consistently — in order, without discord, confusion, tumult.
II. WHERE. Everywhere — especially in the Church and in the worship of God.
III. WHY. For our own credit, for the glory of God, for the edification and prosperity of the Church.
(J. Lyth, D. D)
I. WITHOUT THOUGHTFULNESS. There is the thoughtfulness —
1. Of servants.
2. Of the feelings of others. A thousand times a day gentlewomen and polite men say and do things which wound by their thoughtlessness, because they don't consider the peculiarities of their neighbours.
3. Of our own reputation. Strange as it may seem, the best of people often do things which would be a matter of shame to persons in a lower state of life.
II. WITHOUT CAREFULNESS.
1. In property. The waste which is allowed in all classes of house, holds is astonishing. Few can realise how great it is or how sinful its results. God allows nothing to waste.
2. In habit. Some make a point of keeping others waiting; they know nothing of punctuality.
3. In dress. It will not do to be carried away with the infatuation of fashion, nor to neglect due regard to comely appearance.
4. As to cleanliness. Not merely personal, but universal; in the home, in the street, in every detail of life.
5. With regard to debt, and the strict and just keeping of accounts.
6. About the waste of time. There should be a proper division of the duties of life, and a right use of the valuable opportunities God has given us.
III. WITHOUT SELF-CONTROL.
1. Of evil feelings. Satan suggests evil thoughts, bitter sentiments. Even religious minds entertain religious and political animosities.
2. Of unseemly passions. Passions of lust must be checked; passions of anger and rage be kept in hand.
3. Of self-esteem. Proper self-esteem is valuable, but it may degenerate into pride, harshness, haughtiness, and a cruel, overbearing disposition. The various forms of egotism are numerous, and are neither lovely nor of good report.
4. Of actions. Many act from impulse, and so bring upon themselves untold misery which can never be rectified. Conclusion: These things are part of religion. We find them all brought before us in the example of Christ, and in the daily acts of His life. If we neglect to carry them out, we are not acting up to our religious profession, neither are we making the world better for our being in it. "Whatsoever things are honest, just, lovely, of good report, think on these things."
(J. J. S. Bird.)
1. First, then, as to the duties of your state of life. Every man, in every department of society — the king, the statesman, the soldier, the artisan, the master, the servant — has certain particular duties to comply with, either public, domestic, or private, which successively require his attention. We in particular, who live in the midst of the agitations of the world, are called upon by Almighty God to exert ourselves in our respective stations, that we may promote His honour and glory, at the same time that we become useful to ourselves and our fellow-creatures. In proportion as the multiplicity and variety of your affairs increase, the observance of order becomes more indispensably necessary for you; and let your train of life be ever so simple and uniform, however little you may be engaged in the hurry and bustle of life, yet you cannot fail to lose something, and a great deal too, by the neglect of regularity. For the orderly conduct of your temporal affairs forms a very material part of your duty as Christians. All your employments are properly religious exercises. Who has allotted you these employments? Doubtless it was that God whom your religion honours and serves. In discharging them, therefore, you do Him homage. Oh! what a train of heroic virtues might you display in the very meanest of your employments, if you were always careful to do them well, with an upright intention, actuated by a wish to approve yourselves to Heaven! The sanctity we aspire to does not consist in doing extraordinary actions, says a great prelate, but in doing our ordinary actions extraordinary well. But will they, can they be done without regularity? Will not hurry, perplexity, and confusion take off much from their perfection? You well know that for want of your having traced out for yourselves an orderly plan of life, many of your duties have been very ill done; perhaps not done at all. By conducting your affairs with method and order you will be enabled to give to each duty a becoming share of attention. This regard to order will likewise insure you an interior peace of mind and constant cheerfulness of temper; for you will find that a peevish and fretful disposition is ever the characteristic of such as are negligent of it. The hurry and confusion in which they live, the difficulties they have to struggle with for their dispositions. But if order must be maintained in your affairs, it will be necessary that you attend to order in the distribution of your time.
2. That portion of time which Providence hath allotted for the measure of your life is intended partly for the concerns of this world, partly for those of the next; yet so that the interests of the earth be made ever subordinate to those of eternity. In the distribution of your time give to each of these concerns that space which properly belongs to it. Be ever impressed with a just sense of the value of time. Remember that by a fatal neglect and loss of it, you store up for yourselves many future pains and miseries.
3. Introduce order into the management of your fortune. Whatever be the extent of your possessions, whether great or small, let the administration of them proceed with method and economy. Provide what is necessary before you indulge yourselves in anything superfluous. Never, perhaps, was admonition more necessary than this is to the age in which we live; an age manifestly distinguished by a propensity to thoughtless extravagance. But prodigality does not only sink men to contempt and misery; it frequently impels them to open crimes. When they have begun with ostentation and vanity they often end in infamy and guilt. Be assured, then, that order, frugality, and economy are the necessary supports of Christian virtue, and will deliver you from the assaults of many very dangerous temptations. How humble and trifling soever these qualities may appear to some people, they are the guardians of innocence.
4. Observe order in your amusements; that is, allow them no more than their proper place; study to keep them within due bounds; mingle them so prudently with your serious duties that they may relieve the mind and be a preparation for acting with more vigour in the discharge of your obligations.
5. Preserve order likewise in the choice of your society. Select with prudence those with whom you choose to associate, and let virtue be the object which determines your choice. Endeavour in the first place to make yourselves happy at home. By this fondness for home it is past conception how much evil you may avoid.
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