Page images


1 Pet. iii. 19, 30.

1 Tim.i.i. 2-12, Titus i. 6, 7.

FPh. v.


34. And what more shall we say, when he graced with his presence the dark abodes of the spirits in prison, who were disobedient under all the long-suffering of God in the days of Noah : Shall we say that he encouraged still to continue in their disobedience? Or shall we not rather say that he preached unto them repentance 2 35. It is an undeniable fact, that Christ Jesus and his apostles did actually deny themselves of all the carnal works of the flesh—that they had nothing to do with the works of generation, and neither married nor gave in marriage, as did the children of this world. 36. And it is as undeni...bie, that when the gospel was preached among the Gentile nations, who had accustomed themselves to licentiousness and a plurality of wives, every man, who could not refrain, was permitted to have his own wife, and every woman her own husband. - 37. Instructions were given by the apostle of the Gentiles concerning married bishops and deacons, that such should be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well, having them in subjection—That the husband should love his wife even as himself, and the wise see that she revercnce her husband. 38. From which it is evident that none were forbidden to marry. The apostles themselves copied the example of Christ, and took up a full cross against the ficsh; but there were many professing Christ in thc apostle's days who did not. The gospel was ever a matter of free choice, and not of compulsion. 39. Nevertheless, a plain distinction is made by the sacred writers, between that which was acceptable to the Lord, and that which was of the world. This distinction is particularly made in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians; unto whom he writes as unto a carnal people, and not as unto spiritual. 40. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth chapters contain their character, which is very different from that given of the citurch at Jerusalem. The seventh contains a diversity of instructions concerning the married and unmarried ; and concerning which, it appears, they had written to him before.

41. The instructions of the apostle were adapted to *** the state of the people. There were few among them who were able to bear the doctrines of the cross, and as the apostle expresses it, he had fed them with milk, because they were not able to bear meat; and therefore, however plain and pointed he speaks in one sentence, in another he indulges them with permissions. 42. In the first verse of the seventh chapter, he an- icon, swers them very pointedly, saying, “It is good for a 1–0. man not to touch a woman.” [Gr. Yvvaixes, a wife.] In the next verse he speaks by permission, saying, “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband,” and so on. 43. Then again he pointedly says, “I would that all men were even as I myself: but every man hath his proper gift of God, [or measure of faith, one after this manner, and another after that. I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry : for it is better to marry than to burn.” 44. This was the best instruction the apostle could give the Corinthians in such circumstances. They might now live a little longer in the gratification of their flesh, or take up a full cross and follow his example, as he followed the example of Christ. 45. “It is better to marry than to burn,” says he. He well knew their licentious dispositions, and that it was better for them to be contented with one wife, than to burn in their lusts one towards another, or de-1 Cor. vi. file themselves with mankind, as some of them had " formerly done. 46. The baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire destroys that nature and power of lust, which is the cause of that burning; so that he that is dead to sin, ** vi, cannot live any longer therein, being delivered and " made free from that burning of the flesh, which is the first and moving cause to sin. 47. As long therefore, as any were under the necessity of making any provision for the flesh, it was an evidence that the affections and lusts of the flesh were never yet crucified, nor destroyed by the bapO

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

tism of the Holy Ghost and fire, with which the apos-
tles and all the true and real followers of Christ were
baptized. As it is written, They that are Christ's,
have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.
48. Concerning those who were married, the apos-
tle said, “Let not the wise depart from her husband.
But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or
be reconciled to her husband : and let not the hus-
band put away his wife.”
49. And by permission he said, “If any brother
hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to
dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the
woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and
if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave
him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by
the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by
the husband ; else were your children unclean;
but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving de-
part, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not un-
der bondage in such cases : but God hath called us
(believers) to peace.”
50. This instruction applies to the truth of Christ's

Luke xii words, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on

[ocr errors]

Matt x. 30

1 Cor. vii. 1s, 25–27.

earth : I tell you, Nay ; but rather division: For
from henceforth there shall be five in one house divi-
ded, three against two, and two against three.—And
a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
51. But here the remedy is prescribed by the apos-
tle ; which is nothing less than for the parties to allow
each other the free exercise of their faith in matters
of conscience ; to be kindly affectioned one towards
another ; and by love and good works serving one an-
other, and setting the same example before their
52. Thus the unbelieving husband may be sanctifi-
ed by the wife, the wife by the husband, and the chil-
dren by the parents. As it is written, “For what
knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy
husband : Or, how knowest thou, O man, whether
thou shalt save thy wife 2''
53. Concerning virgins, the apostle gives his judg-
ment, as one that had obtained mercy of the Lord to
be faithful i saying, “I suppose, therefore, that this

is good for the present distress. Art thou bound onto *** a wife 2 seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife 2 seek not a wife. 54. What was this present distress 2 Was it persecution : By no means. It was not concerning persecution that they had written to him ; but the very * subject on which he was writing through the whole of his seventh chapter. 55. By marrying they might avoid a great deal of persecution; but it was not to avoid persecution, but to avoid fornication, according to their sense of the matter, that the apostle said, “Let every man have his own wife.” - " 56. After all the indulgence which the apostle gave them, in their carnal state, the sentiments which he held up foremost to their view, was the very cause of persecution. 57. This is plain from the words of Christ, There Mark z. is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, 29, 39.' or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gosfiel’s, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with fiersecutions ; and in the world to come, etermal life. 58. Here hersecutions, are put instead of father and wife, and every necessary blessing preserved, both in this world, and that which is to come. Here was the cause of persecutions —A stumbling block to the cruel Jews, who could no longer see any way to uphold wars and fightings, for the want of a posterity of murdering Cains, to involve the earth in blood and oppression—A rock of offence to the licentious Greeks, and a mortifying stain to all flesh. 59. The readiest way to avoid persecution, would have been to advise those who professed faith in Christ, not to live contrary to the children of this world, but to run with them to the same excess of riot and ruin; but far different is the humiliating language of the gospel. 60. Except a man deny himself, said Jesus, and Jiate even his own life, and take up his cross daily and ..follow me, he cannot be my discifile. Take away, therefore, the precepts of Christ, and all obligations

[ocr errors]

chap. IV.

1 Cor. vii. 28.

of following his example, and the offence of the cross
immediately ceases.
61. “But if thou marry, said the apostle, thou
hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not
sinned : nevertheless such shall have trouble in the

jlesh.” The truth of this is so abundantly proved by

chap. iii. 2.

chap. vii. 29–31.

YMatt. vi. iQ.

1 Cor. x. Al.

experience, that it entirely excludes the propriety of
any contradiction.
62. “But I spare you,” says he. This agrees with
what he had toid them before, “I have fed you with
milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not
able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” “But
this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth,
that both they that have wives be as though they had
none ; and they that weep, as though they wept not;
and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not ;-
and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for
the sashion of this world passeth away.”
63. Observe, they that have wives, shall be as
though they had none ; and they that use this world,
as not abusing it. Can this be said, where the silent
grave has inclosed the one and left the other in deso-
late widowhood ; or where the souls of both inhabit
eternity : Or can it be said, where the tomb-stones
over their bodies have sealed their separation from all
the works of time : By no means. The apostle al-
ludes to the time for which Christ taught his disciples
to pray: Thy kingdom comes thy will be done IN
EARTH, as it is in heavcn.
64. And this time had already come to the apos-
tle, and all the true followers of Christ, as he tells
them in the same epistle, when speaking of the idol-
atries, and fornications, and murmurings of the Jews,
for which they were destroyed; saying, “Now all
these things happened unto them for ensamples: and
they are written for our admonition, [the followers
of Christ, upon whom the Ends of the world
ARE come.”
65. Whatever degree of indulgence was extended
to some among the Gentile nations, who professed
faith in Christ, because they were not able to bear
the whole truth; yet the truth did not conceal the
pointed distinction which Christ made between his
own true followers, and the children of this world.

« PreviousContinue »