« AnteriorContinuar »
XX. What is a man profited? . Page 384
difpenfations and revelations to man-
387 XXIII. Except ye be born of water and the Spirit, &C.
Analysis of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans - 393 Illustrations used by St. Paul in his writings - 405
On comparing spiritual things with fpiritual.
[Preached at the Primary Visitation of the Bishop of
Winchester, held at Southampton, July 15, 1788.]
WHICH THINGS WE SPEAK, NOT IN THE WORDS,
WHICH MAN'S WISDOM TEACHETH; BUT
WHEN St. Paul planted the gospel at Corinth, he found his designs chiefly opposed by two kinds of people.
The first were men of pleasure. Corinth lay commodioully for trade; and trade produces
riches ; and it had been early observed, that it was difficult for rich men to enter into the kingdom of heaven. They were more disposed to the pleasures, which riches furnish ; than to the comforts, which religion administers : and even they, who had embraced christianity, found much work for the apostle in keeping them pure from the contagion, that was spread around them.
Besides the gay, and thoughtless, the apostle had another kind of people to contend with. These were philosophers : and tho' they were a more respectable set of men than the other, they were, at the same time, perhaps more intractable. Aftate of learning is in itself, no doubt, favourable to religion, at least in a certain degree; and has ever been found so: but the philofopher himself has sometimes too much wisdom to be taught. The Corinthian philosophers certainly had; and were in general rather inclined to add something of their own to amend the gospel ; than to accept it in that simplicity, in which Paul preached it.
To the latter the text alludes. These philofon phizing christians (many of whom were probably teachers also) the apostle recalls to the simplicity of the gospel. He fets before them his own ex
ample. He came not, he tells them, with the excellency of speech, or the enticing words of man's wisdom. He knew nothing among them, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified : adding, that he had never preached the words, which man's wifdom teacheth; but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing fpiritual things with spiritual.
In this passage the apostle gives us the only true rule of interpreting scripture, which I shall endeavour to explain, by fhewing-first, How the apostles were directed by it.-And secondly, How far it seems applicable to us.
I. In the first place, the apostle tells us, he avoided the words, which man's wisdom teacheth.
In the apostle's days, indeed, man's wisdom had made but little progress in matters of religion. We read of Hymeneus, Philetus, and a few others, who seemed desirous of being teachers, before they understood what they affirmed. But their number was finall.
Man's wisdom, however, was a kind of leaven, which made a rapid progress. We need only cursorily examine ecclesiastical history to fee it's mischievous effects. There we find men run. ning such lengths of folly, extravagance, wild
ness, and I may add of wickedness, that we may well suppose, it was in the spirit of foresight, that the apostle puts us so much on our guard against man's wisdom. Man's wisdom hath filled innumerable volumes: the gospel is comprised in
In this ingrateful field wė might wander longThe history of man's wisdom is the history of his opinions; and of these there is no end. Zeal, and indiscretion; pride, and vanity ; bad meanings, and good meanings, have all contributed to interpret what the Holy Ghoft teacheth, by the words of man's wisdom. Instead therefore of wandering in this wide wilderness, let us fix our eyes on those great land-marks, which the apostle has set up to lead us fafely through it.
The apostles were immediately infpired. They taught, as the Holy Ghost instructed. Immediate inspiration brought all things to their remembrance, whatever their blessed Lord had taught them.
At the same time, it should seem that the inspiration of the apostles was restricted to what was new in the religion they taught or if not wholly new, yet so obscurely shadowed out in prophecies, and prophetic types, that it