1 Corinthians 12:7-11
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.…
In the first verse of this chapter St. Paul proposeth to himself an argument, which he prosecuteth the whole chapter through, and, after a profitable digression into the praise of charity in the next chapter, resumeth again at the fourteenth chapter, spending also that whole chapter therein; and it is concerning spiritual gifts, "Now, concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant," etc. These gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit of God, bestowed on them for the edification of the Church, the Corinthians, by making them the fuel either of their pride in despising those that were inferior to themselves, or of their envy in malicing those that excelled therein, abused to the maintenance of schism, and faction, and emulation in the Church. For the remedying of which evils the apostle entereth upon the argument, discoursing fully of the variety of these spiritual gifts, and who is the author of them, and for what end they were given, and in what manner they should be employed, omitting nothing that was needful to be spoken anent this subject. In this part of the chapter, entreating both before and after this verse of the wondrous great, yet sweet and useful variety of these spiritual gifts, he showeth that howsoever manifold they are, either for kind or degree, so as they may differ in the material and formal, yet they do all agree both in the same efficient and the same final cause. In the same efficient cause, which is God the Lord by His Spirit (ver. 6), "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all" And in the same final cause, which is the advancement of God's glory, in the propagation of His gospel and the edification of His Church, in this verse, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." By occasion of which words we may inquire into the nature, conveyance, and use of these gifts. First, their nature in themselves and in their original; what they are, and whence. They are the works of God's Spirit in us, "the manifestation of the Spirit." Secondly, their conveyance unto us — how we come to have them, and to have property in them; it is by gift: "It is given to every man." Thirdly, their use and end; why they were given us, and what we are to do with them. They must be employed to the good of our brethren and of the Church; it is given to every man "to profit withal." Of these briefly, and in their order, and with special reference ever to us that are of the clergy. By "manifestation of the Spirit," here our apostle understandeth none other thing than he doth by the adjective word πνευματικὰ in the first, and by the substantive word χαρίσματα in the last verse of the chapter Both which, put together, do signify those spiritual gifts and graces whereby God enableth men, and especially Churchmen, to the duties of their particular callings for the general good. Such as are those particulars, which are named in the next following verses, the word of wisdom, the word knowledge, faith, the gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues. All which, and all other of like nature and use, because they are wrought by that one and selfsame Spirit, which divideth to every one severally as He will, are therefore called πνευματικὰ, "spiritual gifts"; and here φανέρωσις τοῦ πνεύματος, "the manifestation of the Spirit." The word "Spirit," though in Scripture it have many other significations, yet in this place I conceive it to be understood directly of the Holy Ghost, the Third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity. For first, in ver. 3, that which is called the Spirit of God in the former part, is in the latter part called the Holy Ghost. "I give you to understand that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Again that variety of gifts, which in ver. 4 is said to proceed from the same Spirit, is said likewise in ver. 5 to proceed from the same Lord, and in ver. 6 to proceed from the same God, and therefore such a Spirit is meant, as is also Lord and God, and that is only the Holy Ghost. And again, in those words in ver. 11: "All these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will." The apostle ascribeth to this Spirit the collation and distribution of such gifts according to the free power of His own will and pleasure, which free power belongeth to none but God alone, "Who hath set the members every one in the body, as it hath pleased Him." Which yet ought not to be so understood of the Person of the Spirit; as if the Father and the Son had no part or fellowship in this business. For all the actions and operations of the Divine Persons (those only excepted which are of intrinsical and mutual relation) are the joint and undivided works of the whole three Persons, according to the common known maxim, constantly and uniformly received in the Catholic Church, Opera Trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa. And as to this particular concerning gifts the Scriptures are clear. Wherein, as they are ascribed to God the Holy Ghost in this chapter, so they are elsewhere ascribed unto God the Father, "Every good gift and every perfect giving is from above, from the Father of Lights" (James 1.), and elsewhere to God the Son, "Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4.). Yea, and it may be that for this very reason in the three verses next before my text, these three words are used: "Spirit" in ver. 4, "Lord" in ver. 5, and "God" in ver. 6, to give us intimation that these spiritual gifts proceed equally and undividedly from the whole three Persons: from God the Father, and from His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and from the eternal Spirit of them both, the Holy Ghost, as from one entire, indivisible, and co-essential Agent. But for that we are gross of understanding, and unable to conceive the distinct Trinity of Persons in the unity of the Godhead, otherwise than by apprehending some distinction of their operations and offices to usward, it hath pleased the wisdom of God in the holy Scriptures, which being written for our sakes were to be fitted to our capacities, so far to condescend to our weakness and dulness as to attribute some of those great and common works to one person, and some to another, after a more special manner than unto the rest; although indeed and in truth none of the Three Persons had more or less to do than other in any of those great and common works. This manner of speaking Divines used to call appropriation. By which appropriation, as power is ascribed to the Father, and wisdom to the Son, so is goodness to the Holy Ghost. And therefore, as the work of creation, wherein is specially seen the mighty power of God, is appropriated to the Father; and the work of redemption, wherein is specially seen the wisdom of God, to the Son; and so the works of sanctification and the infusion of habitual graces, whereby the good things of God are communicated unto us, is appropriated unto the Holy Ghost. And for this cause the gifts thus communicated unto us from God are called πνευματικὰ, "spiritual gifts," and φανέρωσις τοῦ πνευματος, "the manifestation of the Spirit." We see now, why Spirit? but then, why manifestation? The word, as most other verbals of that form, may be understood either in the active or passive signification. And it is not material, whether of the two ways we take it in this place, both being true, and neither improper. For these spiritual gifts are the manifestation of the Spirit actively, because by these the Spirit manifesteth the will of God unto the Church, these being the instruments and means of conveying the knowledge of salvation unto the people of God. And they are the manifestation of the Spirit passively too, because where any of these gifts, especially in any eminent sort, appeared in any person, it was a manifest evidence that the Spirit of God wrought in him. As we read it (Acts 10.), that they of the circumcision were astonished "when they saw that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gifts of the Holy Ghost," if it be demanded, But how did that appear? it followeth in the next verse, "For they heard them speak with tongues," etc. The spiritual gift, then, is a manifestation of the Spirit, as every other sensible effect is a manifestation of its proper cause.We are now yet further to know that the gifts and graces wrought in us by the Holy Spirit of God are of two sorts. The Scriptures sometimes distinguish them by the different terms of χάρις and χαρίσμα; although those words are sometimes again used indifferently and promiscuously, either for other. They are commonly known in the schools and differenced by the names of Gratice gratum facientes and Grutiae gratis datae. Which terms, though they be not very proper (for the one of them may be affirmed of the other, whereas the members of every good distinction ought to be opposite), yet because they have been long received (and change of terms, though haply for the better, hath by experience been found for the most part unhappy in the event, in multiplying unnecessary book-quarrels)we may retain them profitably, and without prejudice. Those former, which they call Gratum facientes, are the graces of sanctification, whereby the person that hath them is enabled to do acceptable service to God in the duties of His general calling; these latter, which they call Gratis dates, are the graces of edification, whereby the person that hath them is enabled to do profitable service to the Church of God in the duties of His particular calling. Those are given Nobis, et Nobis, both to us and for us, that is chiefly for our own good; these Nobis, sed Nostris, to us indeed, but for others; that is, chiefly for the good of our brethren. Those are given us ad salutem, for the saving of our souls; these ad lucrurm for the winning of other men's souls. Those proceed from the special love of God to the person, and may therefore be called personal, or special; these proceed from the general love of God to His Church, or yet more general to human societies, and may therefore rather be called ecclesiastical or general gifts or graces. Of the first sort are faith, hope, charity, repentance, patience, humility, and all those other holy graces, "fruits of the Spirit," which accompany salvation. Wrought by the blessed and powerful operation of the Holy Spirit of God, after a most effectual but unconceivable manner, regenerating, and renewing, and seasoning, and sanctifying the hearts of His chosen. But yet these are not the gifts so much spoken of in this chapter; and namely in my text, every branch whereof excludeth them. Of those graces of sanctification, first, we may have indeed probable inducements to persuade us that they are, or are not, in this or that man. But hypocrisy may make such a semblance that we may think we see spirit in a man in whom yet there is nothing but flesh, and infirmities may cast such a fog that we can discern nothing but flesh in a man in whom yet there is spirit. But the gifts here spoken of do incur into the senses and give us evident and infallible assurance of the Spirit that wrought them; here is φανέρωσις, a "manifestation of the Spirit." Again, secondly, those graces of sanctification are not communicated by distribution — Alius sic, alius vero sic. Faith to one, charity to another, repentance to another; but where they are given they are given all at once and together, as it were strung upon one thread and linked into one chain. But the gifts here spoken of are distributed, as it were, by dole, and divided severally as it pleased God, shared out into several portions, and given to every man some, to none all; for "to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another" the word of knowledge," etc. Thirdly, those graces of sanctification, though they may and ought to be exercised to the benefit of others, who by the "shining of our light" and the "sight of our good works" may be provoked to glorify God by walking in the same paths; yet that is but utilitas emergens, and not finis proprius; a good use made of them upon the bye, but not the main proper and direct end of them, for which they were chiefly given. But the gifts here spoken of were given directly for this end, and so intended by the giver to be employed for the benefit of others and for the edifying of the Church; they were given "to profit withal." It then remaineth to understand this text and chapter of that other and later kind of spiritual gifts, those graces of edification, or gratiae gratis datae, whereby men are enabled in their several callings, according to the quality and measure of the graces they have received, to be profitable members of the public body, either in Church or Commonwealth. Under which appellation (the very first natural powers and faculties of the soul only excepted, which, flowing a principiis speciei, are in all men the same and like), I comprehend all other secondary endowments and abilities whatsoever of the reasonable soul, which are capable of the degrees of more and less, and of better and worse; together with all subsidiary helps any way conducing to the exercise of any of them. Whether they be, first, supernatural graces, given by immediate and extraordinary infusion from God; such as were the gifts of tongues and of miracles, and of healings, and of prophecy properly so called, and many other like, which were frequent in the infancy of the Church, and when this Epistle was written, according as the necessity of those primitive times considered God saw it expedient for His Church. Or whether they be, secondly, such as philosophers call natural dispositions, such as are promptness of wit, quickness of conceit, fastness of memory, clearness of understanding, soundness of judgment, readiness of speech, and other like, which flow immediately a principiis individui, from the individual condition, constitution, and temper, lure of particular persons. Or whether they be, thirdly, such as philosophers call intellectual habits, which is, when those natural dispositions are so improved and perfected by education, art, industry, observation, or experience, that men become thereby skilful linguists, subtle disputers, copious orators, profound Divines, powerful preachers, expert lawyers, physicians, historians, statesmen, commanders, artisans, or excellent in any science, profession, or faculty whatsoever. To which we may add, in the fourth place, all outward subservient helps whatsoever, which may any way further or facilitate the exercise of any of the former graces, dispositions, or habits, such as are health, strength, beauty, and all those other bona corporis, as also bona fortunae, honour, wealth, nobility, reputation, and the rest. All of these, even these among them which seem most of all to have their foundation in nature, or perfection from art, may in some sort be called πνευματικὰ, "spiritual gifts"; inasmuch as the Spirit of God is the first and principal worker of them. Nature, art, industry, and all other subsidiary furtherances, being but second agents under Him, Him and as means ordained. And now we have found out the just latitude of the spiritual gifts spoken of in this chapter, and of the manifestation of the Spirit in my text. From whence not to pass without some observable inferences for our edification, we may here first behold, and admire, and magnify the singular love, and care, and providence of God for and over His Church. Those active gifts, and graces, and abilities which are to be found in the members of the mystical body of Christ, are a strong manifestation that there is a powerful Spirit of God within, that knitteth the whole body together, and worketh all in all. and all in every part of the body. Secondly, though we have just cause to lay it to heart, when men of eminent gifts and place in the Church are taken from us, yet we should sustain ourselves with this comfort, that it is the same God that still hath care over His Church. And therefore we may, not doubt but this Spirit, as He hath hitherto done from the beginning, so will still manifest Himself from time to time, unto the end of the world; in raising up instruments for the service of His Church, and furnishing them with gifts. Thirdly, where the Spirit of God hath manifested itself to any man by the distribution of gifts, it is but reason that man should manifest the Spirit that is in him, by exercising those gifts in some lawful calling.
II. Consider we next, and in the second place, THE CONVEYANCE OF THESE GIFTS OVER UNTO US; HOW WE COME TO HAVE A PROPERTY IN THEM, AND BY WHAT RIGHT WE CAN CALL THEM OURS. The conveyance is by deed of gifts; the manifestation of the Spirit "is given to every man." Understand it not to be so much intended here that every particular man hath the manifestation of the Spirit, as that every man that hath the manifestation of the Spirit hath it given him and given him withal to this end, that he may do good with it. The variety both of the gifts meet for several offices, and of the offices wherein to imply those gifts, is wonderful; and no less wonderful the distribution of both gifts and offices. But all that variety is derived from one and the same fountain, the Holy Spirit of God; all those distributions pass unto us by one and the same way, of most free and liberal donation. Possibly thou wilt allege thy excellent natural parts — these were not given, but thou broughtest them into the world with thee; or thou wilt vouch what thou hast attained to by art and industry — and these were not given thee, but thou hast won them, and therefore well deservest to wear them. Deceive not thyself. But the truth is, the difference that is in men in regard of these gifts and abilities ariseth neither from the power of nature nor from the merit of labour, otherwise than as God is pleased to use these as second causes under Him. Whatsoever spiritual abilities we have, we have them of gift and by grace. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man. A point of very fruitful consideration for men of all sorts, whether they be of greater or of meaner gifts. And first, all of us generally may hence take two profitable directions; the one, if we have any useful gifts, whom to thank for them; the other, if we want any needful gifts, where to seek for them. I must now turn more particularly to you to whom God hath vouchsafed the manifestation of His Spirit in a larger proportion than unto many of your brethren, giving unto you, as unto His firstborn, double portion of His Spirit, as Elisha had of Elijah's, or perhaps dealing with you yet more liberally, as Joseph did with Benjamin, whose mess, though he were the youngest, he appointed to be five times as much as any of his brethren. It is needful that you, of all others, should be put in remembrance, that those eminent manifestations of the Spirit you have, were given you. First, it will be a good help to take down that pride which is so apt to engender in the soul through abundance of knowledge, and to let out some of the corruption. It is a very hard thing to know much, and not to know it too much. Secondly, every wise and conscionable man should advisedly weigh his own gifts, and make them his rule to work by, not thinking he doth enough if he do what law compelleth him to do, or if he do as much as other neighbours do. But thirdly, though your graces must be so to yourselves, yet beware you do not make them rules to others. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man; let no man be so severe to his brother as to look he should manifest more of the Spirit than he hath received. Now, as for you to whom God hath dealt these spiritual gifts with a more sparing hand, the freedom of God's distribution may be a fruitful meditation for you also. First, thou hast no reason, whosoever thou art, to grudge at the scantness of thy gifts, or to repine at the Giver. How little soever God hath given thee, it is more than He owed thee. He hath done thee no wrong, may He not do as He will with His own? Secondly, since the manifestation of the Spirit is a matter of free gift, thou hast no cause to envy thy brother whose portion is greater. Thirdly, if thy gifts be mean, thou hast this comfort withal, that thy accounts will be so much the easier. Merchants that have the greatest dealings are not ever the safest men. And how happy a thing had it been for many men in the world if they had had less of other men's goods in their hands. The less thou hast received, the less thou hast to answer for. Lastly, remember what the preacher saith in Ecclesiastes 10:10: "If the iron be blunt, then he must put to the more strength." Many men that are well left by their friends and full of money, because they think they shall never see the bottom of it, take no care by any employment to increase it, but spend without either fear or wit; whereas, on the contrary, industrious men that have but little to begin withal, yet by their care and providence, and painstaking, get up wonderfully. It is almost incredible what industry, and diligence, and exercise, and holy emulation are able to effect, for the bettering and increasing of our spiritual gifts; so, though thy beginnings be but small, thy latter end shall wonderfully increase. By this means thou shalt not only profit thyself in the increase of thy gifts unto thyself, thou shalt also profit others by communicating of thy gifts unto them. Which is the proper end for which they were bestowed, and of which we are next to speak. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. To profit whom? it may be himself. It is true, "If thou art wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself," said Solomon; and Solomon knew what belonged to wisdom as well as another. He that is not good to himself, it is but a chance that he is good to anybody else. He that hath a gift, then, he should do well to look to his own, as well as to the profit of others, and as unto doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16), so as well and first to take heed unto himself, that so doing he may save himself as well as those that hear him. This, then, is to be done; but this is not all that is to be done. In wisdom we cannot do less; but in charity we are bound to do more than thus with our gifts. You see, then, what a strong obligation lieth upon every man that hath received the Spirit to call his gifts into the common treasury of the Church, to employ his good parts and spiritual graces so as they may some way or other be profitable to his brethren. It was not only for the beautifying of His Church that God gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; but also, and especially, for more necessary and profitable uses; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11, 12). The stomach eateth, not to fill itself, but to nourish the body; the eye seeth, not to please itself, but to espy for the body; the foot moveth, not to exercise itself, but to carry the body; the hand worketh, not to help itself, but to maintain the body. Now this necessity of employing spiritual gifts to the good and profit of others, ariseth first from the will and the intent of the Giver. My text showeth plainly what that intent was. The manifestation of the Spirit was therefore given to every man, that he might profit withal. Certainly, as nature doth not, so much less doth the God of nature make anything to no purpose, or barely for show, but for use; and the use, for which all these things were made and given, is edification. He that hath an estate made over to him in trust and for uses, hath in equity therein no estate at all, if he turn the commodities of the thing some other way, and not to those special uses for which he was so estated in it. It is a just thing with the Father of Lights, when He hath lighted any man a candle by bestowing spiritual gifts upon him, and lent him a candlestick, too, whereon to set it, by providing him a stay in the Church, if that man shall then hide his candle under a bushel and envy the light and comfort of it to them that are in the house, either to remove his candlestick or to put out his candle in obscurity. As the intent of the Giver, so, secondly, the nature and quality of the gift calleth upon us for employment. It is not with these spiritual gifts, as with most other things, which, when they are imparted, are impaired, and lessened by communicating. Here is no place for that allegation of the virgins, "Lest there be not enough for you and for us." These graces are of the number of those things that communicate themselves by multiplication, as the seal maketh impression in the wax, and as fire conveyeth heat into iron, and as one candle findeth a thousand, all without loss of figure, heat, or light. Had ever any man less knowledge, or wit, or learning, by teaching of others? Had he not rather more? Thirdly, our own insufficiency to all offices, and the need we have of other men's gifts, must enforce us to lend them the help and comfort of ours. Surely, then, those men, first of all, run a course strangely exorbitant, who, instead of employing them to the profit, bend those gifts they have received, whether spiritual or temporal, to the ruin and destruction of their brethren. Abusing their power to oppression, their wealth to luxury, their strength to drunkenness, their wit to scoffing, atheism, profaneness, their learning to the maintenance of heresy, idolatry, schism, novelty. Be persuaded, in the second place, all you whom God hath made stewards over His household, and blessed your basket and your store, to "bring forth of your treasures things both new and old;" manifest the spirit God hath given you, so as may be most for the profit of your brethren. Thirdly, since the end of all gifts is to profit, aim most at those gifts that will profit most, and endeavour so to frame those you have in the exercise of them, as they may be likeliest to bring profit to those that shall partake of them. "Covet earnestly the best gifts." You cannot do more good unto the Church of God, you cannot more profit the people of God by your gifts, than by pressing effectually these two great points, faith, and good works. These are good and profitable unto men. I might here add other inferences from this point, as namely, since the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every one of us, chiefly for this end, that we may profit the people with it, that therefore, fourthly, in our preaching we should rather seek to profit our hearers, though perhaps with sharp and unwelcome reproofs, than to please them by flattering them in evil; and that, fifthly, we should more desire to bring profit unto them than to gain applause unto ourselves.
Parallel VersesKJV: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.