Apostolic Injunctions with Regard to Church Services
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.…

Though the Corinthians deserved blame in some things, they were entitled to praise in that they had generally observed St. Paul's directions. Despite their departure from certain of his instructions, he could say, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ;" by which he recognized that they had discernment enough to see the Lord Jesus in his personal and official character, and a sufficient brotherly sympathy to imitate his example. His commendation is hearty: "Ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." With this preface, short but conciliatory, he takes up his first topic, viz. the headship of man in the natural and spiritual order, established by Providence and maintained by the Spirit in the Church. In his writings, natural facts are ever reappearing in new and diviner connections, as if they had undergone a silent and wonderful transfiguration, and had been glorified in light and beauty. Instinct had always acknowledged the subordination of woman to man, nor, indeed, is the instinct of sex conceivable in the absence of this element in its nature. But St. Paul is careful to lay his doctrinal foundation on the fact "that the head of every man is Christ," assured that the ultimate strength of all truth is in its spirituality. Be it a law, a principle, a motive, an end, "other foundation can no man lay." Critics may entertain widely different estimates of the man, may be as broadly separated as M. Renan and Dr. Farrar, and yet none can deny that St. Paul had this incomparable advantage, namely, a great centre, from which he saw all objects that engaged his attention. His method is fully brought out in the third verse: the head of the man is Christ; the head of the woman is the man; the head of Christ is God - a statement clear, compact, exhaustive. One moment he is dealing with the relationship between man and woman: Eden rises to his view, the sleeping Adam wakening to find Eve at his side, "the woman of the man," and "the glory of the man;" and the next moment he is contemplating the Trinity in its economic and immanent relations. Yet from this sublime height of Christ's exaltation at the right hand of the Father there is no break when he descends to discuss woman's behaviour in Church assemblies. The principle involved keeps him on ground far above dress and decorum as such, and, indeed, he will not touch the matter at all until he has set forth the dignity of its associations. Let us be careful, then, lest we err by supposing that St. Paul looked upon dress and decorum, in this instance, as simply conventionalities based on whims of taste and caprices of opinion. Conventionalities they were in a certain sense, but conventionalities to be respected and observed. In brief, they were customs that had a moral meaning. If a woman appeared in public unveiled, she was deemed immodest. To wear a veil was a sign of womanly delicacy, and hence, if she went to a public assembly without her veil, she acted shamelessly. To be consistent, argues St. Paul, "let her also be shorn," and so assume the mark of a disreputable woman. A woman acting in this way sets public opinion at defiance; and as public opinion in many things is public conscience, and as such the aggregated moral feeling of a community, no woman could do this thing and not shock all right sensibility. Besides, the veil is a sign of subordination and dependence. Refusing to use this covering of the head was a mark of insubordination and independence. A symbol it was, but to cast off the symbol was to repudiate the thing signified. This was not all. If uncomely, it was also unnatural; "for her hair is given her for a covering." The argument has one passage (ver. 10) which is confessedly difficult to understand, but this does not detract an iota from the general directness and force. St. Paul's purpose is unmistakable - to set forth the order of God's economy in the relative positions of man and woman to each other, and the entire unity of their relation to God in Christ. Man's authority is guarded against all excess, and woman's dependence is beautified by delicacy, retiringness, and trustful love. So high an estimate is put on her character and attitude, that even her personal appearance, as to attire and demeanour, is a matter of moment, involving the honour and happiness of her husband, and intimately blended with the conservatism of society and the influence of the Church. Nor is the apostle's manner of appeal to be overlooked. A great truth may be conveyed to the mind, while nevertheless the mode of its communication, left to haphazard impulse, or, forsooth, in downright contempt of the mind's laws, may work an amount of harm for which the truth itself is no compensation. Rest assured that so discerning a man as St. Paul, whose eye took its seeing from sensibility no less than from reason, would not violate manner when he was discussing the worth of manners. Rest assured, too, that he would seek a very firm basis for the logic of his judgment. That such was the fact, "Judge in yourselves" demonstrates. At the very moment that he distinctly recognizes public opinion as public conscience, and counsels deference to its dicta as divinely authoritative, he yet addresses human intuitions. "There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." No other truth save this could have availed Elihu when he came to the perplexed Job and his well meaning but very mistaken friends, and, as a mediator, prepared the way to close the controversy. No other truth than the "spirit in man" and its "inspiration of the Almighty" can qualify any man to mediate where intellectual conflicts interblend with the moral and spiritual instincts. Inspiration in its highest form makes no war on inspiration in its lower form, since the inspiration that gives original truth, and that openness and sympathy which receive it, are both from God. St. Paul preached a gospel that commended itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God, and he acted in the same frame of mind when he treated of decorum and showed wherein manliness and womanliness consisted. Customs and habits vary; he goes back to the sense of custom and habit rermanent in the soul. He is not afraid of human instincts. Although he knows how they miss their way and sadly blunder in working out themselves through the mists and clouds of the intellect, yet trust them he will, nor can he suffer others to disparage their office. This inward consciousness the Holy Spirit acknowledges, and to it he brings light and warmth, in order that the intuitive judgment may be supplied with the conditions of its best activity. It is, indeed, a part of our fallen nature, but, notwithstanding that, it is a Divine remnant, and only awaits God's voice to utter its response. The dark lumps of coal when dug from the earth give no sign of the sunbeams hidden in them, but, on being ignited, they attest their origin. Therefore, argues the apostle, "judge in yourselves," since there is no knowledge of God unaccompanied by a knowledge of ourselves. Only let your judgment be in the Lord; for only in him can man and woman be seen in the perfection of their mutuality. After all, then, may we not say, in view of this argument no less than of all his methods of thinking, that St. Paul is peculiar among the apostles by his insight into the natural economy of the universe, the apostle of nature as well as of grace, because each was a portion of the same vast scheme of Providence? According to his view, the human race was in Christ from the beginning, and Adam's federal headship took its whole meaning from the pre-existence of Christ, as the Creator of man. - L.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

WEB: Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Apostolic Commendation
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