1 Corinthians 10
Biblical Illustrator
Moreover... all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea.
The analogy between this passage and the preceding is striking. This nation that had come out of Egypt to get to Canaan corresponds to the runner who, after starting in the race, misses the prize for want of perseverance in self-sacrifice. The one runner whom the judge of the contest crowns is the counterpart of the two faithful Israelites, to whom it was given to enter the Promised Land.

(Prof. Godet.)


1. The pillar of cloud and of fire. This remarkable body — opaque by day, to screen them from the sun, and luminous by night, was at once their guide, glory, and defence. And what are the ordinances of religion but a directory and means of refreshment and defence?

2. The passage opening for them through the Red Sea (Exodus 14). Surely it can never be that any among this favoured people should ever prove forgetful of their Deliverer! Yet, so it was. And happy had it been for the Church of God if deliverances exceeding it in wonder had never been treated with equal forgetfulness!

3. The miraculous supply of food. "They did all eat the same spiritual meat." "He sent them bread from heaven."And what did they send in return? Murmurs, rebellion, and blasphemies. Then learn —

1. That miracles can neither convince nor convert, except as they are attended with the influences of the Spirit.

2. That benefits may be heaped upon man, etc. Yet he may rebel against the bountiful Donor. What are the verities of the gospel but spiritual bread? Yet in how many instances are such truths rejected; yea, even made an occasion of sin!

3. The refreshing stream issuing from the smitten rock. The water is called spiritual drink, and the bread spiritual meat, yet without spiritual discernment; while the body was nourished the soul perished.


1. They incurred the Divine displeasure. "With many of them God was not well pleased."

2. They perished under the Divine wrath: "they were overthrown in the wilderness."

(T. Mortimer, B.A.)

The Israelites are here introduced as exemplifying a common experience. They accepted the position of God's people; but failed in its duties.


1. They were all baptized unto Moses. By passing through the Red Sea at his command they definitely renounced Pharaoh and as definitely committed themselves to Moses, and were as certainly sworn to obey him as ever was Roman soldier who took the oath to serve his emperor. When, at Brederode's invitation, the patriots of Holland put on the beggar's wallet and tasted wine from the beggar's bowl, they were baptized unto William of Orange and their country's cause. When the sailors on board the Swan weighed anchor and beat out of Plynmouth, they were baptized unto Drake and pledged to follow him and fight for him to the death. Christian baptism, then, if it means anything, means a line drawn across the life, and proclaims that to whomsoever we have been bound, we now are pledged to this new Lord, and are to live in His service.

2. Israel had also a spiritual food and drink analogous to the Communion. They were not led into the desert, and left to do the best they could on their own resources. He who had encouraged them to enter on this new life was prepared to carry them through. Their food and drink were "spiritual," or sacramental, i.e., their sustenance continually spoke to them of God's nearness and reminded them that they were His people. And as Christ said of the bread at the Last Supper, "This is My body," so does Paul say, "That Rock was Christ."

II. THE MANNA AND THE WATER WERE TYPES OF CHRIST, serving for Israel the purpose which Christ serves for us, enabling them to believe in a Heavenly Father who cared for them, and accomplishing the same spiritual union with the unseen God which Christ accomplishes for us. It was in this sense that Paul could say that the Rock was Christ.

1. Israel did not know that, nor as they drank of the water did they think of One who was to come and satisfy the whole thirst of men. The types simply worked by exciting there and then the same faith in God which Christ excites in our mind. It was not knowledge that saved the Jew, but faith, attachment to the living God as his Redeemer there and then. So every sacrifice was a type of Christ; not because it revealed Christ, but because for the time being it served the same purpose as Christ now serves, enabling men to believe in the forgiveness of sins.

2. But while in the mind of the Israelite there was no connection of the type with Christ, there was in reality a connection between them. The redemption of men is one whether accomplished in the days of the Exodus or in our own. The idea of salvation is one, resting always on the same reasons and principles. The Lamb was slain "from the foundation of the world," and the virtue of the sacrifice of Calvary was efficacious for those who lived before as well as for those who lived after it.


1. Instead of learning the sufficiency of Jehovah they began to murmur and lust after evil things, and shrank from the hardships and hazards of the way.

2. And so, says Paul, it may be with you. You may have been baptized, and may have professedly committed yourself to the Christian career; you may have partaken of that bread and wine which convey undying life and energy to believing recipients, and may yet have failed to use these as spiritual food, enabling you to fulfil all the duties of the life you are pledged to. Had it been enough merely to show a readiness to enter on the more arduous life, then all Israel would have been saved, for "all" passed through the Red Sea. Had it been enough outwardly to participate in that which actually links men to God, then all Israel would have been inspired by God's Spirit and strength, for "all" partook of the spiritual food and drink. But the disastrous result was that the great mass of the people were overthrown in the wilderness. And men have not yet outlived this same danger of committing themselves to a life they find too hard and full of risk. Conclusion: The practical outcome of all Paul utters in the haunting words, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." If determined wickedness has slain its thousands, heedlessness has slain its tens of thousands. Through lack of watchfulness men fall into sin which entangles them for life and thwarts their best purposes. Every man is apt to lay too much stress on the circumstance that he has joined himself to the number of those who own the leadership of Christ. The question remains, How far has he gone with his Leader? Whoever takes it for granted that things are well with him, whoever "thinketh he standeth" — he is the man who has especial and urgent need to "take heed lest he fall."

(M. Dods, D.D.)

This chapter is closely connected with the eighth. The principle there laid down is "act from love, and not mere knowledge." The great danger was that of presuming on the freedom enjoyed under the gospel. To meet this, Paul says, "Beware lest you carry this principle too far. God once had a people privileged as no other people were. But notwithstanding this they were overthrown. And you Corinthians, as surely as you allow your liberty to degenerate into licence, will be destroyed even as the Israelites were." Consider —

I. THAT GOD RULES BY UNALTERABLE LAWS. As under Moses, so under Christ. Then people sinned, and punishment followed; and so as surely as we sin will judgment overtake us.

II. THAT SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGES ARE NO GUARANTEE OF SECURITY. The Israelites were privileged — where are they? The Corinthians were privileged — but where are the Corinthians now? England is a great nation; but as surely as her laws vary from the Divine code will her glory wane. A Church may have great activity, a fine ritual, and a popular ministry, but as certainly as that Church forgets God, "Ichabod" may be written upon her walls. The individual Christian may have conquered sin in various forms, but as soon as he begins to say, "I can do it," in that moment he shows his weakness and his fall has begun.

III. THAT SATAN IS NOT OMNIPOTENT (ver. 13) He may try his worst, but there will come a time when God will say, "Thus far, but no farther."

IV. THAT NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS. God and idols can never agree. Some of the Corinthians partook of the Lord's Supper, and then joined idolaters in their unhallowed feasts.

1. They did this probably —(1) Because they thought as an idol was nothing, there could be no harm in the act.(2) Or from some lingering feeling of superstition connected with the old forms of worship.(3) Or because they wished to avoid the jeers, and, perhaps, persecution of their old companions.

2. But the Christians who attended those sacrifices would be supposed to engage in the same worship (ver. 21). And just so now; in order to receive the Divine benediction men must be straightforward and true. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

V. A MANIFESTATION OF TRUE GREATNESS (ver. 24). Some men think it a sign of greatness when they carry their point in opposition to every one else. The apostle says true greatness is seen when self is light as a feather compared with the interests of the other. The concluding verses illustrate his meaning. Here, then, is a principle for the guidance of life. The true Christian may go anywhere, and do anything that his own conscience does not condemn; but the moment he is in danger by his liberty of leading others astray, abstain from the act, even if you deny yourself.


VII. "WHATSOEVER YE DO, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD." This is the supreme end of life, and the only right motive of action; indeed, this principle includes all others

(A. F. Barfield.)

All history is prophecy. Knowing what has been, we are far on the way to know what shall be. This is specially true in religious matters. The substance of all dispensations is the same, and even the forms for one occasion answer also to the forms in other occasions. The New Testament began in the Old, and the Old Testament is consummated in the New. This is clearly implied in the text, in which we note —

I. A SACRED BAPTISM. "Baptized unto Moses."

1. It was not an immersion. The Egyptians were immersed and perished; Israel "walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea," and did not so much as wet their feet.

2. It was a baptism of infants as well as adults. Paul says "all" were baptized. "About six hundred thousand on foot, beside children," made that passage.

3. It was a baptism of deliverance from their oppressors. It put the sea between Israel and Egypt, and drowned their pursuers. Every oppressor is gone from him who enters fully into what his baptism signifies and pledges (1 Peter 3:21).

4. It was a baptism into a transcendent change. It transferred Israel from the land of Ham and blackness to shores bordering on the primitive homes — from cruel slavery to blessed liberty — from nothingness to an independent nation. Their baptism was to them a new birth, the beginning of a new style of existence. In all the poetry of this people we find a glad recurrence to these waters as the scene of their bringing forth into the new life unto God.

II. HEAVENLY BREAD. "Did all eat the same spiritual meat?" The manna —

1. Was a direct product of God. It came down from heaven. Christ (John 6.) appropriates it as the type of Himself, sent of the Father, to give His flesh and life for the life of the world.

2. Was a new and miraculous sort of food, distantly resembling something in nature, but far above nature — "bread from heaven," "angels' food"; existing prior to this appearance, and now a marvellous type of our Saviour.

3. Was the sustenance of Israel for all their pilgrimage. Christ is the sustenance of all spiritual life.

4. Had to be gathered and appropriated in its season — each day for its needs, a double portion before the sabbath , but people had to go, collect, appropriate, and use it, or perish. Spiritual life requires constant renewal in our going to Christ and our appropriation of Him.


1. It was from a rock — a literal rock at Rephidim and in Hebron, yielding plentiful waters. "That Rock was Christ." Rock connects with unchangeable Deity. "Who is a rock save bur God? "And when Paul connects that rock with Christ, he connects Christ with eternal Godhead, as well as makes Him the only source, medium, and outlet of the saving waters of life for thirsting and perishing men.

2. It came through the smiting of that rock.

3. It attended them continually. Wherever they were they could find these waters. The Rock is ever near; and in all the wilderness of this life, wherever a soul thirsts for Him, there the Fountain flows.

4. It was free to all Israel. Salvation is for every one who will take it.Conclusion: It thus appears why the apostle did not wish the Corinthians to be ignorant concerning the fathers.

1. The most vital things of saving religion were involved in those things. To fail in understanding these things was to fail in understanding the way of life.

2. Not to give due heed to our Christian priviliges is to involve ourselves in hopeless condemnation.

(J. A. Seiss, D.D.)

The mystic and formalist say these signs, and these only, convey grace; sacraments are miraculous. But St. Paul says to the Corinthians, the Jews had symbols as living as yours. Bread, wine, water, cloud; it matters nought what the material is. God's presence is everything; God's power, God's life — wherever these exist there there is a sacrament. What is the lesson, then, which we learn? Is it that God's life, and love, and grace, are limited to certain materials, such as the rock, the bread, or the wine? or is it not much rather that every meal, every gushing stream, and drifting cloud is the symbol of God, and a sacrament to every open heart? And the power of recognising and feeling this makes all the difference between the religious and the irreligious spirit. There were those, doubtless, in the wilderness, who saw nothing wonderful in the flowing water. They rationalised upon its origin: it quenched their thirst, and that was all it meant to them. But there were others to whom it was the very love and power of God.

(F. W. Robertson, M.A.)

And did all eat the same spiritual meat

1. Was supernatural. And did not this represent that the food of the soul mast descend from heaven? — that the person of Christ should not be produced in the ordinary course of nature?

2. Sufficed for the whole multitude. So Christ gave Himself for the world, and there is not an individual in the wide family of man for whom provision has not been made in the gospel.

3. Had any disdained it because it was common to all, he must have perished in his pride; had any loathed it because it was the same every day, hunger must have been unappeased. So there is but one mode of salvation for the king and the beggar; and as Christ died equally for the mightiest and the meanest, every man, whatever his station, may eat the bread of life, but none that refuse it can hope to escape eternal death.

4. Was ground in a mill, or broken in a mortar; so ere Christ could become the food of the world, He became a curse, and was pressed down by the weight of God's wrath against sin.

5. Was not to be kept. In this God taught that day by day Israel were to look to Him for a supply of their wants. So in spiritual things. We have no stock in hand; but when the necessity arises we must apply afresh to the Saviour. "As thy day so shall thy strength be."

6. It fell only when Israel were in the wilderness, ceasing as soon as they reached the promised land. So here in the wilderness, knowing but in part, and seeing only through a glass darkly, there are intermediate channels through which we must derive every spiritual blessing; but when we shall have entered the heavenly Canaan, then we shall eat of the corn of the land. and need not sacramental assistance. We shall still feed on Christ, but not through outward ordinances. The veil will have departed, and what need shall we have of instituted symbols?


1. There is a peculiar fitness in the metaphor, which is frequently employed in Scripture. Christ is the foundation on which the Church is built, "a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation." As Mediator, Christ sustains such a relation to ourselves that upon Him must rest our every hope, whilst He has so discharged that office, that no hope thus based can ever be disappointed.

2. But it is not Christ's resemblance to a rock in general that we are required to trace, but to a particular rock. As this rock yielded no water till it was struck by Moses, so Christ must be smitten ere forgiveness could issue forth to a perishing world. It was by the rod of the lawgiver that the rock was smitten, and by what but by the curse of the law was Christ buried? And then gushed from His body a river which ever since has been rolling along the desert of creation, and it is so abundant that the invitation is, "Whosoever will let him come, and take of the waters of life freely."

(H. Melvill, B.D.)

And did all drink... of that rock which followed them
There is resemblance —

I. IN THE APPARENT UNLIKELIHOOD OF THE SOURCE. The very name of Horeb was "hill of dried-up ground." No wonder there was the incredulous cry, "must we fetch water out of the rock?" To the untaught eye it is thus with regard to Christ. A babe in a manger; a carpenter's son; a wearied traveller; a broken-hearted sufferer; a dying malefactor. Truly He may be called "a root out of a dry ground."

II. IN THE MEANS BY WHICH BLESSINGS WERE PROCURED. The rock was smitten. It is in the working of the same law by which the bark must be bruised if you would have the healing balsam, the grape pressed if you would have the invigorating wine. Christ smitten is the rock whence flowed of old, and flows to-day, all that consoles, inspires, reconciles, saves human life. As Leader, Model, Teacher, Friend, Saviour, our Lord was "made perfect through suffering."

III. IN THE VALUE OF THE BLESSINGS CONFERRED. In the river that broke forth from Horeb for the Jews, and in the influences that proceed from Christ for humanity, there is alike —

1. Exact adaptation to conscious need. Thirst cried for water, sin cries for Christ. Nothing but "the truth as it is in Jesus" can meet the inquiries, the heart-ache, the despair of men.

2. An all-sufficient supply.

(U. R. Thomas.)

A type —


II. OF HIS PAINFUL SUFFERING. The rock was smitten.



(J. Lyth, D.D.)

In what respects did the rock at Horeb represent Christ?

I. IT FOUND THE PEOPLE PERISHING WITH THIRST. This is just our condition by nature. We are destitute of all that can refresh or satisfy the soul.

II. IT WAS A MOST IMPROBABLE MEANS OF RELIEF. In countries like our own the springs of water generally take their course along a rocky bed below the surface. But in those sandy deserts the case is far otherwise. Horeb, a vast mass of stone, only increased the desolation of the prospect. And such were the gloomy anticipations of many to whom Jesus offered Himself as their Redeemer. Scribes and Pharisees were offended at His personal meanness — the son of a carpenter! no worldly show! His own disciples were continually stumbled, and "all forsook Him and fled." Learned Gentiles heard with scorn that one executed as a malefactor was to be received as king of the world, Nay, even to this day men will hope nothing, and therefore seek nothing from Christ till they are compelled.

III. IT REQUIRED TO BE SMITTEN ERE IT GAVE A SUPPLY. And how exactly did this action typify the suffering Redeemer! It was not by His miracles nor by His instructions that Jesus provided salvation for us, but by His death, Read Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 13:7. Not only Christ was smitten; but He was to be smitten. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?" etc. Here then let us fix our attention. "Behold the wounded Lamb of God," etc., and say, " God forbid that I should glory," etc.

IV. IT YIELDED AN ABUNDANT SUPPLY. For such a host no ordinary stream of water would suffice; but here was enough and to spare. And such is the supply of spiritual blessings which is treasured up in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:19).


(J. Jowett, M.A.)

1. St. Paul is warning the Corinthians. He says, "You may come to the Communion and use the means of grace, and yet become castaways. I keep under my body lest I should be one. Look at the old Jews in the wilderness. They all partook of God's grace; but they were not all saved. Spiritual meat and spiritual drink could not keep them alive, if they sinned, and deserved death. And nothing will save you if you sin."

2. The spiritual rock which followed the Jews was Christ. It was to Him they owed their deliverance from Egypt, their knowledge of God, and His law, and whatever reason, righteousness, and good government there was among them. And to Christ we owe the same. The rock was a type of Him from whom flows living water. "Whosoever drinketh of the water which I shall give," etc.

3. Herein is a great mystery. Something of what it means, however, we may learn from Philo. The soul, he says, falls in with a scorpion in the wilderness; and then thirst, which is the thirst of the passions, seizes on it, till God sends forth on it the stream of His own perfect wisdom, and causes the changed soul to drink of unchangeable health. For the steep rock is the wisdom of God (by whom he means the Word of God, whom Philo knew not in the flesh, but whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ), which, being both sublime and the first of all things, He quarried out of His own powers; and of it He gives drink to the souls which love God; and they, when they have drunk, are filled with the most universal manna.

4. Christ is rightly called the Rock, the Rock of Ages, the Eternal Rock, because on Him all things rest, and have rested since the foundation of the world. He is rightly called the Rock of living waters; for in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and from Him they flow forth freely to all who cry to Him in their thirst after truth and holiness. To be parted from Christ is death. To be joined to Christ and the body of Christ is life — the life of the soul. Holiness, righteousness, goodness. And why? Because it is the life of Christ. For who is Christ but the likeness and the glory of God? And what is that but goodness? From Christ, and not from any created being, comes all goodness in man or angel.

5. Let the good which a man does be much or be it little, he must say, "The good which I do, I do not, but Christ who dwelleth in me." It is Christ in the child which makes it speak the truth, and shrink from whatever it has been told is wrong; in the young man, which fills him with hopes of putting forth all his powers in the service of Christ; in the middle-aged man, which makes him strong in good works; so that having drunk of the living waters himself, they may flow out of him again to others in good deeds; in the old man, which makes him look on with calm content while his own body and mind decay, knowing that the kingdom of God cannot decay. Yes, such a man knows whom he has believed. He knows that the spiritual Rock has been following him through all his wanderings in this weary world, and that that rock is Christ. He can recollect how, again and again, at his Sabbath haltings in his life's journey, it was to him in the Holy Communion as to the Israelites of old in their haltings in the wilderness, when the priests of Jehovah cried to the mystic rock, "Flow forth, O fountain," and the waters flowed.

6. But if these things are so, will they not teach us much about Holy Communion, how we may receive it worthily, and how unworthily? If what we receive in the Communion be the good Christ who is to make us good, then how can we receive it worthily, if we do not hunger and thirst after goodness? If we do not, we are like those Corinthians who came to the Lord's supper to exalt their own spiritual self-conceit; and so only ate and drank their own damnation, not discerning the Lord's body — a body of righteousness and goodness. We need not stay away because we feel ourselves burdened with many sins; that will be our very reason for coming, that we may be cleansed from our sins.

(C. Kingsley, M.A.)


1. Our sinful parentage is our Egypt, and death our Jordan. What lies between is the desert of our wanderings.

2. Consider what it is that renders a desert formidable. To the dromedary it is what the sea is to a ship; almost what the air is to a winged bird. But not so with man. His nature is not so well suited to those trackless wastes. So we were not made to feel at home here. Many tokens are there that we are only strangers and pilgrims.(1) Now it is a loss of property, now a loss of health, now a loss of friends.(2) But, to say nothing of what is lost, who needs be reminded of the countless prizes which we may sigh for, but have never gained? To no man is life a holiday. To most is it a scene rather of feverish and but poorly requited toil. The one secret of all this suffering is to be sought in the contradiction which is found to exist between our circumstances and our endowments. We are all of us like kings in exile. We have lost our thrones, and are pawning our jewels for our daily bread.(3) But the great burden and the saddest blight of all is our sense of sin. Years ago and yesterday we sinned; and all the period between is dark with remorseful memories. The soul has no perfect rest. And so the world becomes a desert to us.

3. But courage, brother. Even this blank desert is better than it seems. Though it has no waving wheat-fields, it has manna for its morning dew. Though its sands be trackless, there move on always before us the pillar of cloud and fire. But in addition to, and above all, though there be no running streams, there is the rock smitten to assuage our thirst.


1. What men call pleasure only palls upon our jaded senses. Chesterfield, in his old age, said of the world: "I have enjoyed all its pleasures, and consequently know their futility, and do not regret their loss." As for gold, no wealth ever yet purchased a night's rest. As for power, the Alexanders and Napoleons have all shed bitter tears of disappointment, either conquering or conquered. As for wisdom, from Solomon to Burke, the wisest have been also the saddest of men. As for friendship and affection, even their idols are shivered one by one. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." All around us sweeps the glimmering desert, with no refreshment for us but what is furnished by the gushing rock. And that rock is Christ.

2. But who and what is the Christ we speak of? I challenge man's own aching heart for an answer. What is the Christ thou cravest? Is it only a human brother? Is it only an awful God? Or is it the two united in a sweet but stupendous miracle of love? The answer cannot be doubtful. Annihilate my faith in the God-man, and what then is life? But give me now the God-man, and this dreary desert of my sorrow-stricken, sinful life receives at once its gushing rock. Let redeeming love shoot its beams into the darkness, let the radiant form of the Son of God be seen walking up and down the furnace of our earthly afflictions, and straightway the torturing problem is solved. We take up the line of our march through the desert without murmuring, when we behold the smitten rock moving on before us over the sterile sand. To us now this world is brighter than it would have been without the heavy shadows of sin upon it; for in its sky has been set the Star of Bethlehem. Our own nature has been dignified, as it would not have been but for our fall; for now God's own Son is our brother. Even our life of sorrow is glorified since those shining feet have traversed it so meekly from the manger to the tomb. With this rock in our desert, the desert shouts and sings.

3. But of what avail to us is this smitten rock, unless we stoop to drink? Of what avail to us the presence of this Divine humanity, unless we are consciously related to it by a living faith? To each heart there speaks the voice of mercy. And each heart must answer for himself. What shall our response be? Christ's great central work is not teaching, which rivals the lessons of sages; not example, which rivals the exploits of heroes, but atonement, which scatters the clouds of Divine wrath, and takes away our sin.

4. That spiritual rock, we are told, followed the Hebrews. So, too, shall our Rock follow us. In health and peace and prosperity it shall pour its libations upon our gladness. In sickness, war, and want it shall cool our fevered veins. In death it shall moisten our parched lips.

(R. D. Hitchcock, D.D.)

Is it not perfectly simple to explain this figure by the numerous passages in which the Lord is called the Rock of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18; Isaiah 17:10; Isaiah 26:4)? Only the title of Rock of Israel is given by Paul not to Jehovah, but to Christ. The passage forms one analogy to the words (John 12:41), where the apostle applies to Jesus the vision of Isaiah (chap. Isaiah 6.). Christ is represented in these passages by Paul and John as pre-existent and presiding over the theocratic history. In chap. 1 Corinthians 8:6 Paul had designated Christ as the Being by whom God created all things. Here he represents Him as the Divine Being who accompanied God's people in the cloud through the wilderness, and who gave them the deliverances which they needed. We have the same view here as appears in "the angel of the Lord," so often identified in Genesis with the Lord Himself, and yet distinct from Him, in the Being who is called in Isaiah (Isaiah 63:9) "the angel of His presence," and in Malachi (Malachi 3:1) "the angel of the covenant, Adonai," the mediator between God and the world, especially with view to the work of salvation. It is easy to understand the relation there is between the mention of this great theocratic fact and the idea which the apostle wishes to express in our passage. The spiritual homogeneity of the two covenants, and of the gifts accompanying them, rests on this identity of the Divine Head of both. The practical consequence is obvious at a glance: Christ lived in the midst of the ancient people, and the people perished. How can you Christians think yourselves secure from the same lot?

(Prof. Godet.)

But with many of them God was not well pleased

1. Unbelief.

2. Rebellion.

3. Sin.


1. The withdrawal of His presence and favour.

2. Final destruction.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Now these things were our examples.
"Examples" here mean types. A type is an impression; anything produced by blows; then an impression which has a resemblance to something else; then a model to which some other person or thing should be, or in point of fact would be conformed. The Israelites and the facts of their history were our types, because we shall be conformed to them if we do not exercise caution. Our doom will correspond to theirs. They therefore stand as warnings to us.

(C. Hodge, D.D.)

Weekly Pulpit.
Human nature is the same in every age. The old Israelites differed from us in all those things which we class under the term "civilisation"; but as moral beings they were precisely the same. Like them we are in danger of —

I. LUSTING AFTER EVIL THINGS. Those Israelites should have been contented with what God provided for them; instead, they let appetite master them, and set them thinking of the self-indulgencies of Egypt; thinking begat longing, and longing lusting, and lusting repining, which destroyed trust in God. So they had to be severely punished. Is not hankering after something other than God provides one of the great sins of our times? We want pleasures which we see worldly people have; and we lust after them. But remember what the wilderness life of God's ancient people teaches. We go wrong if we refuse to keep our wishes narrowly within the limits of God's will.

II. IDOLATRY. At first it might seem as if this were no modern peril. But the essential idea of idolatry is putting somebody, or something else, into the place which belongs, of right, to God alone. We can do this without acknowledging any Jupiter or Vishnu. Perhaps we are making pleasure our idol; many make science their idol; it is quite possible to have a family idol. Whatever form it takes it becomes a serious Christian peril.

III. SENSUALITY. The apostle had in mind the act of Balaam, who advised Balak to entice the people by allowing free intercourse with the Moabitish women. And sensuality was one of the chief sins of Corinth. But who can read the revelations of our law courts, and of society life, without feeling the need of this warning.

IV. PRESUMPTION It must always be wrong to put God to the test, as if we doubted Him. We should never risk a doubtful or wrong thing in the hope that it will pass. A man may take advantage of God; presume upon what is his will, without asking Him. "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Then we should ever pray, "Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins."

V. MURMURINGS. Troubles and disappointments and failures are Divine testings of our professed trust; and for us to complain and fret and murmur is plainly to show lost submission and lost trust. Happy indeed are they who can trust when they cannot trace. Conclusion:

1. "Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."

2. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."

(Weekly Pulpit.)

We should not lust after evil things as they also lusted

1. Incident to humanity.

2. May possibly be excited in God's people.

II. THE CAUTION — lest, etc. — there is need of —

1. Self distrust.

2. Watchfulness.

3. Prayer.


1. Lusted.

2. Sinned.

3. Was punished.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. ITS PROGRESSIVE. NATURE. First lust, then apostasy and sensuality, lastly obstinate unbelief and murmuring.

II. A CAUTION AGAINST IT — by the example of Israel; admonition; warning.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. WHAT ARE ITS ORDINARY FORMS? Lust after evil things (vers. 6-10).


1. All.

2. Especially the self-confident.


1. By vigilance, because it is common to man.

2. By trust in God's faithfulness.

3. By dependence on His help.

4. By faithful endurance.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Neither be ye idolaters


1. Covetousness.

2. Worldliness.

3. Excessive earthly attachment.


1. Apostasy from God.

2. Licentiousness.


(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Neither let us tempt Christ as some of them also tempted
Observe —


1. The apostle refers to that portion of their history where "the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people." This was in consequence of their discontent. And this discontent was produced by several causes. "The people were much discouraged because of the way." Apparently, too, the miraculous supply of water was suspended; and, besides, the manna had grown distasteful.

2. How could God be tempted by the murmurers? "God cannot be tempted with evil," but discontent with what the Almighty allots a man to do or to bear is provoking God to change His purposes; and what is this if it be not "tempting" Him? And again, when a man questions whether God loves him, he tempts the Lord, seeing that he challenges Him to fresh demonstrations of what He has already abundantly displayed.

3. It was thus that the Israelites "tempted" God. What can be said of their perpetual disposition to murmur and distrust, if not that it virtually accused God of unfaithfulness, and challenged Him to do yet greater things, if He would have His people confide in His protection? We are, perhaps, not accustomed to think of unbelief or murmuring as a tempting of the Lord, and therefore we fail to attach to it a just degree of heinousness. Let us be warned by the fate of the Israelites, to struggle against this, and amid all difficulties hold fast the truth, that God is faithful to His word, and does all things for the best.

II. HOW IN TEMPTING GOD THEY COULD BE SAID TO TEMPT CHRIST. The apostle is speaking of events which occurred long before the Incarnation; and unless you admit Christ's pre-existence as a Person of the Godhead, it will be impossible to offer any satisfactory account of His having been tempted centuries before He appeared upon earth. A parallel passage (Hebrews 11:26) will help us here. We know that since the Fall there has been going forward upon this earth a mighty contest between evil and good. And we cannot well question that, informed as Satan was, immediately after his success over our first parents, that a Man should arise to repair the breach in creation, all his after plans would have reference to this promised Deliverer. He had so far prevailed as to have effected the ruin of this creation, and all that now remained was to prevent its restoration. Hence when he beheld the selection of a family, and perceived the travelling down of the promise from Abraham to his children, he might have learned, that if he would defeat the promised Deliverer, he must overthrow the chosen Israelites. Henceforward, therefore, he fought against Christ, by fighting against them. And if this be correct, then we must conclude that Christ was persecuted in the persecution of Moses, and tempted through the murmuring of the Israelites. He was opposed through Moses His type, both as a prophet and a leader. And in like manner there might be (as there was) great murmuring against Moses; but this murmuring, so far as it was caused by the machinations of Satan for the injury of the Israelites, was nothing less than a murmuring against Christ.


1. The Israelites virtually said that God had not done enough for them — that He must do greater things still, ere they would give Him their confidence, their love; and is not this precisely what you also say to Christ, when you are not to be moved by all the mysteries of His mercy, to the giving heed to the gospel and closing with its proffers? How little had been done for the Israelites by God, in comparison with what has been done by Jesus for us! "How," then, "shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"

2. Fiery serpents swarmed amongst the murmurers — a very significant punishment. The serpent had been the first tempter, and ever after might be regarded as the emblem of Satan. What, then, was taught, if not that to distrust God is to give one's self up to the power of the evil one? What, moreover, was taught if the occurrence were typical, but that there is no alternative to our rejecting the Saviour but our being a prey to the devil?

(H. Melvill, B.D.)

Neither murmur ye
Family Churchman.
The history of Israel in the wilderness is a history of human ingratitude and rebellion; and a history of Divine retribution, graciously tempered by Divine forbearance and mercy. The apostle takes occasion to warn Christians against falling into a snare which proved so fatal to multitudes of the chosen nation.


1. Some such are common to the human lot: e.g., infirmity of body, brevity of life, limitation of mental powers, imperfections of human society.

2. There are others more peculiar and special, e.g., personal sufferings and privations, bereavements, severe toil, uncongenial occupations, calamities, disappointments, trials and persecutions for Christ's sake.


1. The reference is not to a just disapproval of sinful conduct in men. We are not required to acquiesce contentedly in a fatalistic view of human affairs.

2. But we are forbidden to murmur against God, His ways and His will. And not only is discontented language to be repressed; the habit of feeling which thus finds vent is to be checked. Who is there whose conscience does not reproach him for having sinned in this respect?


1. The injurious moral effect which a murmuring habit has upon the character of those who give way to its encroachment.

2. The unhappy effect produced upon society by the prevalence of this habit.

3. The dishonour done to God's righteous and beneficent Providence.

4. The example of our Lord Jesus Christ should have great weight with His disciples; He neither complained of His lot of suffering, nor reviled those who wronged Him.

5. The prospect of a speedy and happy issue out of His afflictions should lead the Christian to bear with patience the appointed burden without murmuring or complaint.

(Family Churchman.)

How many of us turn from the Canaan and gaze rebellious on the desert behind, and the very conduct which shocks us in the Jews of old ourselves pursue. We too murmur as they did. In every rank, in every age, are these complainers heard. The poor man meditates in moody silence on the unequal distribution of this world's goods. The rich man may be seen joyless in all his plenty. The young complain of needless restraints imposed upon them; the old, of the weakness and infirmity attendant on declining years. Painful, says the student, is the search, and difficult the perception of truth. Yes, and even the faithful may often feel despondent, and express in bitter regret their little progress in the good they seek for. Suppose, then, being faint-hearted, we come to hesitate, to rebel, to return. The murmurers of old were destroyed of the destroyer. Our ruin likewise may be slow, but if we continue in their sin, it must be sure. In your patience possess ye your souls, endeavouring so to walk, as He also walked. The fruit of the Spirit is a richer treasure than the grapes of Eschol.

(F. Jackson.)

Seneca hath his similitude to set out the great evil of murmuring under small afflictions. Suppose, saith he, a man to have a very fair house to dwell in, with very fair orchards and gardens set about with brave tall trees for ornament: what a most unreasonable thing were it in this man to murmur because the wind blows a few leaves off the trees, though they hang full of fruit! If God takes a little, and gives us much, shall we be discontent? — if He takes our son, and gives us His own; if He cause the trees to bring forth the fruit, shall we be angry if the wind blow away the leaves?

(R. Venning.)

As the fluttering of the snared bird holdeth her faster than before, so our struggling and murmuring against God in our afflictions availeth us nothing.

Some people are never content with their lot, let what will happen. Clouds and darkness are over their heads, alike whether it rain or shine. To them every incident is an accident, and every accident a calamity. Even when they have their own way, they like it no better than your way, and, indeed, consider their most voluntary acts as matters of compulsion. We saw a striking illustration the other day of the infirmity we speak of in the conduct of a child, about three years old. He was crying because his mother had shut the parlour door. "Poor thing," said a neighbour, compassionately, "you have shut the child out." "It's all the same to him," said the mother; " he would cry if I called him in and then shut the door. It is a peculiarity of that boy, that if he is left rather suddenly on either side of a door, he considers himself shut out, and rebels accordingly." There are older children who take the same view of things.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples
I. THE MORAL RELATIONSHIP OF THE AGES. "These things," in Jewish history, "happened unto them for ensamples," or types. The words suggest —

1. That the Jewish history in the wilderness is a mirror of Christian life.(1) In the blessings it records. The Jews in the wilderness —(a) Had special guidance (1 Corinthians 5:1). The cloud means the Shechinah, the symbol of the Divine presence. So long as they followed this, they were safe. This cloud is an "ensample" of the Bible.(b) Were specially initiated. By passing through the sea the Jews were initiated in an especial sense to the guidance of God. There was no going back to Egypt after this. This is an "ensample" of the consecration of Christians.(c) Had special supplies (vers. 3. 4). The manna and water are "ensamples" of the blessings which Christians derive from Christ.(2) In the imperfections it records. These Jews, favoured with so many blessings, were lustful, idolatrous, frivolous, discontented. These imperfections, alas! are too often seen in the Christian Church.(3) In the perils which it records (vers. 8-10). Christians are exposed to the same peril — in danger of offending God.

2. That Jewish history in the wilderness is a monitor of Christian life. "They were written for our admonition." The principles, therefore, embodied in that history are of universal application. They are —(1) The special care which God exercises over those who commit themselves to Him.(2) The tendency of the depraved heart to go wrong.(3) The indissoluble connection between sin and suffering. These principles should be studied. You may find them in every chapter of Providence.


1. That God is in the history of all ages. Human history contains no chapter of accidents. God is in all. He originates the good, permits and controls the evil.

2. That God employs one age to benefit another. Whatsoever God does, He does for ever. The events that transpired in Arabia, during forty short years, some thousands of years ago, were to tell on the boundless future. We are very incompetent to judge of His plan. We can neither see the beginning nor the end. This thought should —(1) Restrain us from hasty judgments on Providence. The very things which we consider evils may in the long run prove the greatest blessings. When the whole history of our race is complete, it may appear that all the evils of our world, as compared with the good, are but as one jarring note in an endless anthem of joy, one cloudy hour in the sunshine of ages.(2) Impress us with the seriousness of life. All things are full of God. Christ taught that all the events of His providence are His advents. "Be ye therefore ready," etc.

III. THE GROWING RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AGES. "Upon whom the ends," etc. "Ends of the world " means the gospel dispensation, the last under which men will live on the earth. In this age we have the advantages of the experiences and discoveries of past ages.(1) Through literature. History gives us all the intellectual wealth of the ancient heathen, the chosen people, of the apostles of modern Europe. The intellectual wealth and experience of all past ages meet in this. Consequently our responsibility is great. If it shall be "more tolerable for Sodom than for Chorazin," it will be more tolerable for Chorazin than for modern Europe.(2) Through influence. The mental influence streaming down regularly from sire to son. Conclusion: The subject reminds us —

1. Of the special goodness of God to this age. "The lines are fallen to us in pleasant places," etc. The pious Jews once desired to see what we see; but they did not. The Jews lived under moonlight, cold, etc. The first Christians, under the clear dawn of morning; but it is high noon with us.

2. The necessity for a superior type of excellence. Do you admire the greatest early saints? You ought to be higher, for your advantages are greater. But alas I fear the ages which have raised us in the arts and sciences have not brought us corresponding spiritual good.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

1. Human weakness.

2. The force and variety of temptation.

3. The many admonitory examples.


1. Through pride.

2. Carelessness.

3. Unwatchfulness.


(J. Lyth, D.D.)

It is possible to begin in the Spirit, and to end in the flesh; it is possible to be seriously hindered; it is possible to come short of the promise of the grace of God. Clouds sometimes obscure the brightest evening and the sunniest morning. A slight atmospheric change may transform an Alpine ascent from a safe excitement into an imminent peril. It is thus in the natural world; and so is it in the realm of grace. There are numberless causes, arising from the circumstances of external things, or from the inbred and unsubdued corruption of our own traitorous hearts, which may endanger the constancy of the Christian, and cause his goodness to be even as the morning cloud and as the early dew, goodly and sparkling in promise, but, by the fierce heat of the sun, very speedily exhaled.

(W. M. Punshon.)

I. MAN IS EVER IN DANGER OF A MORAL "FALL" Whatever else the record of "the Fall" may teach us, it is certainly an instructive warning that no state on earth places us above the reach of temptation and the possibility of fall. The Jews spelt that awful word in the desert; Adam and Eve spelt it in Paradise. To all it meant the same.

1. A. departure from the morally erect attitude of heart that God designed for man.

2. A prostration of the manhood that was meant to be upright, vigorous in goodness. There is no garden here, be it church, college, or even home, that has not a serpent in it.

II. THERE ARE MEN WHO CONSIDER THEMSELVES ABOVE THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH A MORAL "FALL." They consider themselves as safe whoever is in peril; as "standing," whoever is falling. This misconception arises —

1. From a faulty moral standard. If that is flexible he cannot tell whether or no he is standing or falling. A ship at sea does not measure her course by another ship in motion, or still less by ever restless waves, but by star, or headland, or lighthouse. So we must measure our moral distances by the inflexible and inviolable.

2. From inattention to the true standard, even though it be recognised.

3. From self-delusion as to one's own condition. There are moral intoxicants, and under their influence many a backslider is unconscious of his egregious lapses from right, and so considers himself in no danger, though at the very moment he is falling.

III. SUCH MEN ARE IN THE GREATEST DANGER OF A MORAL FALL. All are, even those who really are standing, but especially those who "think" they are standing. It is the self-consciousness that this "thinking " involves, the self-satisfaction it implies, the self-gratulation it engenders that is the source of peril. No traveller is so likely to stumble as the Pharisee. His whole attitude and temper conspire to imperil his spiritual safety. "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

(U.R. Thomas.)

Biblical Museum.

1. Over your secular vocation.

2. Over your own heart.

3. Because of your enemies.

II. ITS NECESSITY. Be circumspect especially in times of —

1. Temporal prosperity.

2. Spiritual triumph.

3. Public usefulness.


1. Our heavenly vocation.

2. Our circumstances.

3. Our dispositions.

4. Our character and reputation, do not exempt us — beware of little and secret sins.

(Biblical Museum.)

1. Paul has been reminding the Corinthians that Israel had religious privileges which might have been blessings if they had used them rightly, but which, being abused, did them more harm than good. So with them. Hence the conclusion of the text.

2. The men whose fall the Bible has recorded for our warning, fell just when they seemed most strong. Moses was the meekest of men, and yet he sinned unadvisedly with his lips. Peter was brave, and yet for want of moral courage he denied his Lord. John was the apostle of love, but he desired to call down fire from heaven against his enemies. Elijah was not afraid to rebuke a king to his face, but he fell into such a fit of cowardly despondency that he asked God to take away his life. When a man commits some great sin, his friends often say, "Well, I never would have thought of him doing that. He is the last man in the world to have done it." And that is just why he did it, because he thought that he was quite safe, and as a consequence he took no precaution against falling.

3. Our subject, then, is the danger the best of us are in of falling into sin if we are not forearmed by being forewarned, and how much further a sin yielded to will carry us in the ways of wickedness than we thought at first that it would. In both these respects "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." A man was being served with a writ for debt. Knowing that if he got beyond the boundary of his county he could not be obliged to take it, he ran from the bailiff, and escaped. On coming up to him the bailiff said, "You have given me a good run, and no mistake, but don't let us part enemies, let us shake hands." The man did so, and the bailiff pulled him over the fence and then arrested him. That is what sin does for us if we are not on our guard against it.

4. Consider the character of the first and last in a series of temptations. The first time the temptation occurs, there is a shudder and a feeling of impossibility. "I cannot do it," we say. The next time it is treated with greater civility. We begin now to reason with it, and ask, is it really so bad after all? At last the evil thought passes into the evil act, and the second transgression becomes easier by recollecting the pleasantness of the first. We now plunge daily down the precipice on the brink of which we once trembled. The power of habit "first draws, then drags, then hauls." That temptation which in the beginning was no stronger than a cobweb, was so strengthened by indulgence that it became a cable, and we were forced to "draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope." This is every day illustrated by the liar and the drunkard. But, indeed, all sin approaches in the same gradual way. George Eliot gives in "Romola" the picture of a man, good, generous, handsome, with all the appliances and means of doing good, who, "because he tried to slip away from everything that was unpleasant, and cared for nothing so much as his own safety, came at last to commit some of the basest deeds such as make men infamous."

5. The holy man who exclaimed, as he saw a criminal led to execution, "There goes me but for the grace of God," was not exaggerating, but only speaking from observation and experience. All men who know themselves are conscious that a bias towards evil exists within them. When we see a man fall from the top of a five-storey house, we say the man is lost. We say that before he has fallen a foot; for the same principle that made him fall one foot will undoubtedly make him complete the descent by falling other eighty or ninety feet. The gravitation of sin in a human soul acts precisely in the same way.

6. In the Zulu and Afghanistan wars some of our forces suffered disaster, not because they were weak or cowardly, but because they felt so strong and brave that they thought they might be careless.

(E. J. Hardy, M.A.)

The vices are the counterfeits of virtues. Whenever God sends from the mint of heaven a precious coin of genuine metal, Satan will imitate the impress, and utter a vile production of no value. God gives love. Satan also fashioneth lust. God bestows courage. Satan inspires foolhardiness. The saving grace of faith ripens into confidence. Satan palms upon us the vice of presumption. Let us —

I. FIND OUT THE CHARACTER OF THE MAN WHO THINKS HE STANDS. I could find men in business who, because they have in one speculation been successful, will risk their all — and lose it too. I might mention others who, presuming upon their health, are spending their years in sin because they think "all men mortal but themselves." I might speak of men who will venture into the midst of temptation, confident in their boasted power. But my business now is to uncover the causes of presumption in a Christian.

1. Worldly prosperity. Give a man wealth, or, if not wealth, continued health, and the consequence, let him be the best Christian who ever breathed, will be presumption; and he will say, "I stand." "In my prosperity," says David, "I said, I shall never be moved." And we are not much better than David, nor half as good. Bless God, then, for our afflictions; but for them we might become too secure.

2. Light thoughts of sin. When we are first converted, our conscience is so very tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. But alas! very soon the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a pliant willow. It is sadly true that even a Christian will grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees we get familiar with sin. The men who work in those huge vessels, the hammering of which causes immense noise, cannot at first sleep for the continual din; but by and by they think nothing of it.

3. Low thoughts of the value of religion. We none of us value religion enough. We have nought with which to compare the soul; therefore we cannot tell its value. It is because we do not know this that we presume. Doth the miser scatter his gold on the floor that his servant may steal it? Doth the mother trust her babe by the river-side? Oh! no; what we esteem most precious, we guard with the most anxious care. So, if Christians estimated religion at its proper rate, they never would presume.

4. Ignorance of what we are, and where we stand. We say, "I have a good disposition, and none of those passions that some have; I can stand secure." Take heed, Christian, thou hast a heart of unbelief; therefore watch thou both night and day.

5. Pride —(1) Of talent. How many that flamed like comets in the sky of the religious world have been quenched in darkness!(2) Of grace. A man says, "I have great faith, I shall not fall." "I have fervent love," says another, "there is no danger of my going astray." He who boasts of grace, has little grace to boast of. But there are some who think their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, else the bed of the brook shall soon be dry, and ye shall see the pebbles at the bottom.(3) Privileges. "I take the sacrament, I have been baptized; I attend such and such a ministry." Take heed, pride cometh before a fall.

II. SHOW THE DANGER. He who thinks he stands is in danger of a fall. Because such a man —

1. In the midst of temptation will be sure to be more or less careless. He is off his guard; he is not ready to parry the stroke of the evil one.

2. Will not be careful to keep out of the way of temptation, but rather will run into it. Presumptuous men will say they can go into sin, they are so full of moral strength.

3. Will not use the means of grace. I know some professedly religious people who stop away from the house of God because they conceive they are so advanced that they do not want it. They fancy that means are intended for weaker Christians; and leaving those means, they fall.

4. Quenches the Spirit who delights to dwell in the low places. He leaves every heart where pride dwelleth; that evil spirit of Lucifer he abhors.

III. GIVE THE COUNSEL. "Take heed," because —

1. So many have fallen. Could I take you into the wards of that hospital where lie sick and wounded Christians, I could make you tremble.

2. A fall will so much damage the cause of Christ. Nothing has hurt religion one thousandth part so much as the fall of God's people.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christian Age.
One of the saddest incidents connected with the disastrous fire at Chicago is that so many trusted not only their goods but their lives to buildings that were regarded as fireproof, and that they perished together. Dr. Goodall records similar incidents connected with the great fire at Constantinople in 1831, and makes a suggestive reflection, "We, like many others, fared the worse for living in houses which were considered fire-proof. In the great burning day may no such false confidence prove our ruin."

(Christian Age.)

1. This is a godly fear, and "blessed is he" which "standeth in fear," not of God's mercy, but of his own frailty (Proverbs 28:14), as Job did (Job 9:28). We must have confidence towards God, but diffidence towards ourselves; for God will be true to us if we be true to Him. This fear is not contrary to faith, but cannot stand without it.

2. The apostle warneth us that we are all in a house ready to fall, all in a ship ready to sink, and all in a body ready to sin. Who can say what he will do when he is tried? "Take heed" is a good staff to stay upon, and so often a man sins as he casts it from him; all go astray.

3. Who would have said that the chosen people should become the cursedest upon the earth? Who would have thought that Noah, when he builded the ark, because he believed in God, would have given the first example of sins to his own sons? Who would have thought that David, when he was persecuted for his godliness in the desert, would have murdered Uriah, when the blessings of God did call him to thankfulness? Who would have thought that Solomon, the wisest man, would have taken more concubines unto him than any heathen the world? "How are the mighty overthrown!" Like Peter, which said he would never forsake Christ, and forsook Him first. These strong oaks lie in the dust, that they which think they. stand may take heed lest they fall. Can I look upon these ruins without compassion, or remember them without fear? Who am I that I should stand like a shrub, when these cedars are blown down to the ground? They which are charged like Hazael (2 Kings 8:13) blush to hear thus of themselves, and would have scorned sometime at him which should once have said. when they were zealous and studious preachers, that the time would come when they should be time-servers, lovers of the world, and persecutors. What Shall we do then when we hear of other men's thoughts? Not talk as we do, but beware by them, and think, Am I better than he? am I stronger than Samson? wiser than Solomon? firmer than Peter, if God should leave me to myself? There is no salt but may lose his saltness, no wine but may lose his strength, no flower but may lose his scent, no light but may be eclipsed, no beauty but may be stained, no fruit but may be blasted, nor soul but may be corrupted.

4. So earnestly must we call upon our souls, that we be not weary of well-doing; for happier are the children that never began, than Judas, whose end was worse than his beginning.

(H. Smith.)

It is a very affecting truth, that of all the thousands who left Egypt, there were none, only Joshua and Caleb, entered the promised land. And there is something peculiarly solemn in the thought that the apostle has brought them forward as a warning to the Church. Note —


1. In doctrine.

2. In his own personal religion. Hen may get into a cold and heartless state.

3. In the outward conduct. Low principles lead to low practice.

II. THAT THERE MAY BE THE STATE OF MIND IN WHICH A MAN MAY THINK THAT HE STANDS, i.e., that he is secure. He sees others fall, and he reasons, "I am not exposed to the same falls as they were." What does it arise from? An overweening confidence in his own strength, wisdom, experience. And how does self-confidence evince itself? In the Church of old it showed itself by a state of sleep; in boasting expressions, in the case of Peter. Distinguish, however, between self-confidence and confidence in Christ. Paul was very confident in the latter sense (2 Corinthians 5:6; Philippians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 1:13, 31).


1. There is in you a perpetual proneness to fall. It is well for a man, when he rises in the morning, to have this in his soul as a certain principle, "I have in me the seed of all evil, and my prayer through this day must be, 'Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe.'"

2. Any of our outward circumstances, even the most prosperous, may prove occasions for falling (cf. Hezekiah). So with adversity (Psalm 73).

3. Our very lawful occupations — things that are positively commanded by God — yea, our very spiritual exercises, may have something in them which takes our heart from God.


1. Keep ever in mind your perpetual tendency to depart from the living God.

2. Watch over the first declensions.

3. When the Holy Ghost unfolds to your souls where, in what, and from what you have fallen, take it to Jesus — to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.

(J.H. Evans, M.A.)

I. WHAT IT IS THIS HEED REFERS TO, OR WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE DUTY TO WHICH MY TEXT DIRECTS. It denotes that heedfulness and circumspection a person would show who apprehended anger to be near. More particularly this circumspection relates —

1. To a man's outward circumstances and calling in life. Choose rather to be called unneighbourly, stiff, precise, and what not, than to sacrifice religion and conscience for a little worldly pelf, or a mere empty compliment.

2. This circumspection and care relates to a man's heart. God complains of Israel, that His heart was divided (Hosea 10:2). The true fear of God has always its seat in the heart (Jeremiah 31:33). Hypocrisy seeks a cover, but truth and sincerity begin here; if this be rotten, all your faith is vain, your hope is vain, ye are yet in your sins. It is an awful word in Hosea 7:16, and yet it is a true representation of every man's heart: "They return, but not to the Most High; they are like a deceitful bow." Alas! how ellen do our hearts fail us when we have thought we took them with us at the beginning of a duty? Take heed to your hearts, if you would stand your ground against the evil one.

3. This circumspection and care relates to the way in which our enemies are opposed and resisted by us. Take heed how you walk, if you would stand your ground; how you fight, if you would keep the field. You have the great law of arms set down (Ephesians 6:10).

4. This circumspection and care relates to a believer's life and conversation after such a conquest; take heed to your walk after any advantages you have gained against your enemy. It is Peter's advice, and his experience cost him dear (1 Peter 5:8). Pride and self-applause are apt to shove themselves in, though our own arm hath not gotten us the victory. Paul's thorn in the flesh was given to keep him humble. Take heed of a vain, wandering, loose conversation after sweet communion; pray that you may not fall from your steadfastness.

II. WHO ARE THE PERSONS THE DUTY IS DIRECTED TO? In general, it is to them that think they stand, them whose fall is least expected. Paul gives this special direction to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:16). Ministers may soon pull down in their life and conversation what they are building up in their doctrine. Some that have stood it out manfully against the storms of persecution, have been easily drawn aside from their steadfastness in a calm of liberty.

III. WHY SUCH AS THINK THEMSELVES MOST SAFE AS TO THEIR STATE SHOULD TAKE HEED LEST THEY FALL; or what are those motives and arguments contained in the term "wherefore."

1. Because many have so fallen (see ver 5). Where there are many cautions and memorandums there must be great danger; here a post and there a pillar to give warning; sure there must be some pits in the way which we are not well aware of. It is reported of a Grecian commander that wherever he went, though he was alone, he was still considering all the places he passed by, how an enemy might possess them, and lay ambushes in them to his disadvantage, should he command an army there. Oh! that Christians were half so cautious! "A prudent man seeth the evil, and hideth himself."

2. Because there is nothing in your circumstances, gifts, station of life, experience, or attainments, that will of itself keep you from falling. Corrupt nature is corrupt nature in one as well as another. Temptation meeting with approbation and acceptance in the heart, like a violent land-flood rushing down a steep place, carries all before it. When sin is committed a man wonders he should be so overtaken, so sadly soiled; he can scarcely believe that it is he that has sinned.

3. Sin, when it is committed, hardens, whoever be the person sinning (Hebrews 3:13).

4. Should you be restored after your falls the fruit of sin will be exceeding bitter.Inferences:

1. If the heedful are in so much danger, what must become of poor heedless souls!

2. Is he that thinketh he standeth in danger lest he fall? How humble should this make us in our own eyes! how pitiful and tender towards them that are fallen?

3. What a blessing is the care and watch of a gospel-church, when so many are our temptations, so great our dangers.

(J. Hill.)

The dangers to which religion and virtue are exposed during the whole of our Christian course are enough to excite the care and to exercise the prudence and fortitude of a Christian. The passions and appetites implanted in our nature, if not strictly restrained, will rise into irregularity and lead us into criminal excess. The pernicious examples with which the world abounds, unless they be carefully guarded against, will easily corrupt the heart, and seduce us into sinful practices. No inconsiderable degree of danger arises from that cheerfulness of heart and gaiety of temper which, though innocent and agreeable in themselves, may lead us inadvertently beyond the bounds of innocence. The desire of riches and wealth, that love of money which is the root of all evil, has carried away numbers of mankind, and landed them in destruction.

1. The first and most essential preservative of virtue is to maintain a lively faith in the principles of religion. By frequently recollecting the evidences of the gospel, which are the proper grounds of faith, revive that essential principle, and by reflecting on the consequences of religion keep alive a deep sense of its importance. Often call to mind the goodness of God, especially as displayed through Jesus Christ; exercise your faith in those great and precious promises which are made to good men in the gospel, and never lose sight of those awful threatenings which are denounced against impenitent sinners.

2. As another excellent mean of safety, which should be employed in the preservation of innocence, cultivate a lively sense of virtue and vice, by attending to the dictates of conscience. Never stifle the admonitions of your own minds; regarding them as so many warnings from heaven, attend to their voice and follow their directions. Allow conscience to strip vice of those artificial disguises which it assumes in the world, and which lessen the sense of its guilt and danger. Always regard sin, even under its most flattering appearance, as the reproach of human nature, as subversive of society, as peculiarly offensive to God. Nor let your abhorrence of evil be confined to those flagrant vices which expose men to shame, which lay waste the conscience, and are an outrage on religion. Look even upon less instances of vice as proportionably guilty in the sight of God and dangerous to your own souls.

3. It will greatly conduce to our spiritual safety to maintain a sense of the weakness of human nature, and of an absolute dependence upon God. Remember the imperfection of the understanding, the power of prejudice, the perverseness of the will, and the deceitfulness of the heart.

4. As a natural consequence of human weakness, and another excellent preservative of virtue, carefully avoid the occasion of sin. Allow not yourselves to proceed to the utmost bounds even in things lawful. From the utmost boundary of virtue there is but one step into the regions of vice; and he who continues to take this dangerous liberty will sometimes make the fatal transition. Make yourselves well acquainted with your own abilities, dispositions, and inclinations; that you may encounter no temptation which you are unable to resist, that you may undertake nothing to which you are unequal. But do not think it enough merely to avoid the occasions of sin. If you would effectually secure your integrity, you must make diligent use of the means of virtue. Attend with seriousness and regularity the public institutions of religion. Be as regular in your private as in your public devotions. There call your past ways to remembrance, deliberate concerning your future conduct, and ask assistance and direction from the eternal fountain of wisdom and goodness.

(A. Donnan.)

Dr. Talmage tells a story of an experience-meeting held in Louisville, Kentucky, that is not without its lessons. It seems to have been a meeting where what our Transatlantic friends call "high falutin' talk" was in the ascendant. A man rose up and said, "I'm a ship steaming right ahead for glory. I can tell ye I'm going along at a spanking pace, and soon expect to enter the blessed haven of eternal felicity." Another man, whose jealousy seems to have been excited by this very high-sounding profession, immediately rose and said, "Yes, friends, like our brother who has just sat down, I also am a ship in full sail, steaming straight and fast for the heavenly shore. I'm going along at the rate of forty knots an hour, and soon shall hail the mountaintops of Immanuel's land. Glory! glor!" An aged sister who was present, and whose experience of Christian life extended over many years, rose and said, "Well, you are all gettin' 'long mighty fast. I have been a-goin' to heaven for seventy years, and I've had to walk all the way, and have often stumbled and fallen, but have got up again, and if I ever get there at all I expect I'll have jest to walk the rest of the way. As to you men who are going so fast, all I've got to say is, that if you get to goin' much faster you'll bust your bilers and never git there at all." Dr. Talmage naively adds, "There are a good many folk whose bilers have busted, all about."

A wild beast tamer boasted that he was the entire master of the animals committed to his charge. They were completely his slaves. On entering the cage in which they were confined, he was immediately set upon, and but for timely assistance would undoubtedly have perished. So men often boast themselves masters over evil habits. They can drink without becoming slaves to it. Beware, lest in an unguarded moment the so-called slave becomes the master.

(Ellen K. Tripper.)

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.

1. Nobody ever did what they have done, or came through what they have come through. There never were such children as theirs; nor such toils, nor even such headaches and worries as theirs. All this comes of a morbid self-conceit.

2. But there is a particular manifestation of this tendency which deserves our heartiest sympathy. There are those who fancy there never were such sinners as they are: that you may just leave them alone, as past all redemption; and there are others who have found some little measure of hope and peace in Christ, but who seem likely to be desponding pilgrims to the end. They will have it that there never were believers so weak as they are, and never such temptations and perils as those which they must pass through. It was to such as these that St. Paul wrote.

II. WE MAY UNDERSTAND THE TEXT AS REACHING TO ALL THAT MAKES THE COMMON LOT OF HUMAN-KIND. We fancy, when painful trials come, that things so painful were never felt before. But our text reminds us that there is a limit, within which all human experience lies. Human ability and human endurance have their tether, and cannot range very far. Here is a lesson of humility for the self-conceited; let them remember that thousands more have been at least as good. Here is comfort for those bowed down under the sense of sinfulness; thousands are now in heaven who have sinned as deeply as they. Here is encouragement for the tempted: thousands have by God's grace been led safely through. So you see that the text may be useful as a medicine for two opposite spiritual diseases, presumption and despair. But it is to the comforting view of the text that I would direct your thoughts. It speaks —

1. To those under deep conviction of sin. If you wish to persuade a sick man to send for the physician, the first thing you must do is to convince him that he is sick. So the Holy Spirit begins His saving work by showing the careless soul how sick it is. Now there is something very startling in this. It is something quite strange. For the natural thing is, to think that we are not very great sinners. Then the soul is sometimes ready to run from presumption to the other extreme of despair. In that sad time, what unspeakable comfort to know that other men have felt the like!

2. To those under the pressure of temptation. Now there is comfort under any trouble in the bare thought that others have known the like; but the special comfort of the text is, that if no temptation is likely to assail us, except that through which souls as weak as we have by God's grace passed safely into glory — then that we too may hope, by the same blessed aid, to fight our way through. That which man has done, man may do. The great adversary, and the ensnaring world, fairly vanquished in a hundred battles, may well be vanquished again. But if you are an insincere and half-hearted Christian, seeking to just reach heaven at last after having held by the world here, you need never think to cloak your own proneness to go astray under the pretext that temptation overpowered you. Never think, as some hypocritically do, to cast wholly upon Satan the sin into which they went quite readily themselves.

3. Those under great sorrow and bereavement. The mother who has lost her child is consoled when another, who has passed through the like trial, does but come and sit by her, and say no word but that she has felt the same. Surely there is something consoling amid our earthly sorrows, in the bare remembrance that our Saviour understands them, because He has felt them all! But the text suggests comfort more substantial than this, viz., that others who have known such sorrow as we feel, have been enabled by God's grace to bear it, and profit by it; and surely there is something in that thought which should enable us to bow the more submissively to our Heavenly Father's will. It is not alone that the mourner travels through this vale of tears; apostles and prophets are of the company; saints and martyrs go with him; and the sorrowful face of the Great Redeemer, though sorrowful now no more, remains for ever with the old look of brotherly sympathy to His servants' eyes and hearts. Nothing hath come to us, nothing will come to us, but has been shared by better men.

(A. K. H. Boyd, D.D.)

"Ah," said one to me, "you do not know the peculiar circumstances in which I am placed." "I ask your pardon," I replied, "I thought I had spoken of peculiar circumstances." "Yes, but mine are very peculiar circumstances." "But is Christ not a mighty Saviour?" "Yes, but mine are very, very peculiar circumstances." "Will you look away from me now, and speak to God in heaven thus: 'God, I thank Thee for Jesus Christ. I thank Thee Thou hast looked down on my lost, hell-deserving state, and that He died to save me. I want to live a holy life to Thy glory. But my circumstances are so very, very peculiar that I cannot think Jesus Christ is quite able to keep me in them. I am very sorry for Jesus Christ, and I wish He were a little stronger?'" "But," she exclaimed, "would not that be blasphemy?" "Not more than your saying that in your very, very peculiar circumstances He cannot keep you. Let us try another way. Address yourself to God thus: 'I go out to my very, very peculiar circumstances, believing that there is for me a very, very peculiar Saviour, able to keep me every day in my very, very peculiar trial. I go believing He will help me if I trust Him, and go trusting Him.' Is that all 1 have to do?" "Yes, that is all. Go on trusting, moment by moment, and He will keep you, however peculiar the circumstances, moment by moment, to the end."

(H. W. Webb-Peploe, M.A.)


1. We shall never be placed where to sin will be inevitable. God will so adjust our surroundings that we shall always be able to do what is right. Even when our difficulties arise from what we unexpectedly find in the Church, we shall not find them invincibly obstructive.

2. There is great ground of encouragement in this. We are apt to suppose that our difficulties are unique, and some have sought to improve their position by entering on some more favourable line of life. But the apostle says, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." And this is the highest and most practical wisdom. For every sphere of life has its peculiar temptations, and while we know something of those that meet us where we are, we know nothing of these that may meet us elsewhere, and they might be more perilous to us. But to one trying manfully to make the most of his lot my text comes with very potent help. All things seem to be against you. It was quite otherwise when you never tried to serve God. Still there is nothing in what you have to bear which may not be manfully borne. Christ has not come to save us by taking us out of the world, but to save us by a grace that brings salvation. Wherever you are, therefore, from that very point you may advance to sure, complete, and final conquest. Look at your sources of encouragement as well as your trials. And be sure if any man can be a Christian you are that man. There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear.


1. This is but an application of the general law that Christ's grace is sufficient for us. God is here said to make the temptation as well as the way of escape. He knows precisely the strength we need, because He has prepared the occasion on which we shall be called to use it. He never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

2. But how is it He makes a way of escape? He does not withdraw the temptation any more than He took away Paul's thorn. This would be to defeat the very purpose for which He has sent it, viz., to develop by exercise the strength we possess, and train it into greater maturity. If the temptation were removed we should only be confirmed in our feebleness. We escape it by not only avoiding the sin to which it leads, but by using it as a stepping-stone to farther attainment.

3. This way of escape must be sought for, or it may not be found. It reveals itself to the eye that waits only upon God. In our very praying we shall enter into it, and by our very prayer we shall pass through it into larger liberty and strength.

III. GOD IS FAITHFUL Therefore He not only controls the strength of temptation, but will also enable us to sustain it. Should you be disposed to doubt this, remember His faithfulness. He cannot be true to His purpose of grace, and yet allow us to be overcome by the sheer weight and pressure of evil. This would also place Him in contradiction to Himself, which cannot be. His actions are never at variance with His nature, though sometimes they may seem to us to be so. He has pledged Himself by the gift of His Son to leave nothing undone to give it the victory. Let us, therefore, be of good courage. His presence is the guarantee of victory.

(C. Moinet.)

Many think that their temptations are —

I.SINGULAR. But they are common.

II.INTOLERABLE. But they are proportioned.

III.INVINCIBLE. But there is a way of escape.

A sentinel posted on the walls, when he discerns a hostile party advancing, does not attempt to make head against them himself, but informs his commanding officer of the enemy's approach, and leaves him to take the proper measures against the foe. So the Christian does not attempt to fight temptation in his own strength: his watchfulness lies in observing its approach, and in telling God of it by prayer.

(W. Mason.)

Professor Wyville Thomson remarks that the fact that a shark "can bear without inconvenience the pressure of half a ton on the square inch is a sufficient proof that the pressure is applied under circumstances which prevent its affecting it to its prejudice; and there seems to be no reason why it should not tolerate equally well a pressure of one or two tons. At all events, it is a fact that the animals of all the invertebrate classes which abound at a depth of 2,000 fathoms do bear that extreme pressure, and that they do not seem to be affected by it in any way." We turn from the kingdom of nature to the kingdom of grace, and we say to every child of God in the depths of doubts and distresses, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able."

I. WHAT IS TEMPTATION? Generally an incentive, enticement, or provocation to sin. But there are other things called temptations which are not so in their own nature, but only as they become, through the corruption of our hearts, the occasions of sin, viz., afflictions, and the self-denying duties of the Christian life. God tempted Abraham, to try him whether he would be obedient or not. Afflictions are called temptations because they stir up impatience and provoke unbelief and apostasy. "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God." Strictly speaking He can tempt no man. He never provokes us to sin. But He does try and prove us, whether we will keep His commandments or not.

II. WHENCE COME TEMPTATIONS ? From what has been said it is evident that they come —

1. Permissively, from God. But permission does not imply approval. God looks on, and suffers creatures to work out their own purposes: that is all.

2. Externally and instrumentally, from Satan, the world, or providential circumstances.

3. Internally, and by way of assistance they derive their force from our own corruptions, and liability to be overcome. Our natures are like dry fuel, ready to kindle at the least spark. It is a happy thing that, while God permits temptation, He also governs and controls it, holding Satan himself in check.


1. To prove and develop character.

2. To show His own power and wisdom in bringing good out of evil.

3. To strengthen the graces of sanctification in His people.(1) By giving scope and exercise to those graces. What would become of them if they were not called out into action?(2) By necessitating nearness to God and perpetual dependence upon Christ.


1. By controlling the power and malice of the tempter.

2. By adopting, moderating, alleviating providential circumstances, so as to suit the measure of our strength.

3. By raising our own strength in proportion to the temptation. "As-thy day is, so shall thy strength be."


1. Therefore He will not break His word. This is the subject of express promise; and God is not a man that He should lie.

2. Therefore He will not falsify the assurances which He has given of His tender regard for the weakest of His people. They are His jewels. Will He suffer them to be trampled under foot? They are the sheep of His pasture. Will He, the Great Shepherd, permit the ravager to make havoc in the fold? They are His children. Will He abandon them to the rage of an implacable foe?


1. Beware of rushing headlong into danger. The Word of God gives no sanction to foolhardiness. Why should Peter, in the plenitude of his vainglorious zeal, thrust himself into the high priest's palace, and dare the jealous scrutiny of a thousand eyes, as though it were impossible for him to faint in the hour of trial?

2. Be armed against timidity and discouragement. If God allows you to fall into circumstances of temptation, be not dismayed. What servant of Christ was ever conducted to heaven without being often confronted by the enemy?

3. Resist to the uttermost.

(D. Katterns.)

I. THERE HATH NO TEMPTATION TAKEN YOU BUT SUCH AS IS COMMON TO MAN. Our translators were not satisfied with this rendering, so they gave "moderate" in the margin, which is further still from the meaning of the original, which signifies "such as is suited to man's nature and circumstances, and what every man may reasonably expect." Consider —

1. Your body. How many are the evils to which it is liable! Now considering that all pain implies temptation, how numberless must the temptations be which beset every man while he dwells in the body!

2. The present state of the soul. How weak is the understanding! How liable are the wisest to form false judgments!

3. The situation of even those who fear God. They dwell amidst the ruins of a disordered world, among men that know not God, with sin remaining if not reigning, and exposed to the assaults of evil spirits. "The servant is not above his Master"; and if Christ was tempted can we expect exemption?

II. GOD IS FAITHFUL, WHO WILL NOT SUFFER US TO BE TEMPTED ABOVE THAT WE ARE ABLE. "He knoweth whereof we are made; He remembereth that we are but dust," and His justice could not punish us for not resisting a temptation disproportionate to our strength. Not only His mercy but His faithfulness is pledged, for the whole tenor of His promises is "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Our great Physician observes every symptom of our distress that it may not rise above our strength.


1. By removing the occasion of it. "I was walking," says one, "over Dover cliffs with the lady I was to marry in a few days, when her foot slipped, and I saw her dashed in pieces on the beach. I cried, 'This evil admits of no remedy. I must now go mourning all my days. It is impossible I should ever find another so fitted for me in every way.' I added in an agony, 'This is just such an affliction as God Himself cannot redress!' And just as I uttered these words I awoke: for it was a dream!" Just so can God remove any temptation; making it like a dream when one waketh.

2. By delivering in the temptation — suffering the occasion to remain, but removing its bitterness so that it shall not be a temptation at all, but a ground of thanksgiving. Thus the Marquis de Renty, when asked while suffering from a violent attack of rheumatism, "Sir, are you in much pain?" answered, "My pains are extreme: but through the mercy of God I give myself up, not to them, but to Him."

(J. Wesley, M.A.)

Among the various extenuations of sin, none is more common than that, considering the weakness of human nature and the strength of some temptations, it is not to be expected that we should get the better of them. But how groundless this is the text may inform us. Let me —


1. That the apostle is not speaking of the powers of mere human nature, but of human nature Divinely assisted.

2. That he does not affirm that the measure of Divine grace shall be such as to enable us so to baffle all temptations, as to live perfectly sinless, but only that we shall be preserved from falling into such sins as to throw us out of the favour of God.

3. That the supernatural assistance which enables us to resist temptations, supposes our use of means and our concurrence with it to the best of our power.


1. By experience. There is no temptation but what hath been actually withstood by holy men and women, and what hath been already done may be repeated.

2. By reason. They who say any temptation is not to be conquered speak absurdly and inconsistently. For —(1) A temptation is an experiment, a trial, whether we will do or forbear such a thing; and therefore it supposes it to be in our power to do or forbear, else it were no trial.(2) What is grace but an extraordinary supply of strength to resist temptations? And therefore, if it be not now equal to every temptation, the grace of God has been given us in vain.(3) Is not man by nature a free agent? But if there be any such things as inducements to sin that are altogether insuperable, there is an end of his boasted freedom. The great end of man is to glorify God by living according to the perfect rule of right reason and virtue; and yet impossible it is that he should ever attain this end while he converses with temptations which he cannot surmount. Now all other beings have powers that enable them to fulfil the design of their creation. Is man alone utterly destitute of these powers?(4) Consider the nature and perfections of God.(a) How can He be holy, who is the author of sin? And how can He but be the author of sin who hath so adapted us that it is impossible for us to withstand the force of them?(b) How can He be said to be just who places us under irresistible temptations; and yet, as He Himself assures us, will punish us for not resisting them?(c) Again, how can He be true? His promises are most express and full (2 Corinthians 12:9; Romans 8:37; Numbers 23:19; Romans 3:4).


1. There is matter of encouragement arising from hence to the good (Psalm 112:7, 8). Is not He that is with you stronger than he that is against you? And hath He not promised that His strength shall support your weakness?

2. Here is ample matter of reproof to the hypocrite and the profane person. Let them not indulge the hope that in this thing the Lord will pardon His servant (2 Kings 5:18), and that one small fault will be overlooked among a crowd of other good qualities.

3. Wherefore, laying aside shifts and excuses, let us set ourselves in good earnest to resist all temptations; let us put out all the strength which we naturally have to this purpose, and beg of God supernaturally to supply us with what we have not.

(Bp. Atterbury.)

The word "temptation" in the first passage is the same as "trial" in the second; and this difference only reproduces the different use of the original word by Paul and Peter respectively. The testing to which Paul refers arises from solicitation to wrong-doing; while Peter speaks of a testing that takes the form of persecution. Our discipline arises first from the sin that is in us, and. secondly, from the sin that is without us. The first constitutes our temptation; the second our trial. The first has to do with our salvation; the second with our equipment for Christian service.

I. IT IS A UNIVERSAL LAW THAT A MAN'S REAL LIFE ONLY BEGINS WHEN HE HAS FOUGHT AND WON HIS FIRST GREAT BATTLE WITH SIN, OR WHEN HE HAS MET AND ENDURED HIS FIRST GREAT CRUSHING TRIAL. And yet, it is hardly less universally true that every man, when the hour of his temptation or his trial dawns, imagines that both are peculiar. As long as the thunder-cloud does not gather above their heads and burst upon them, they see nothing strange in the ways of God with men; hut, when the storm breaks upon them, it is "something very strange, very peculiar," they say. Now the great temptations in this century were never better summarised than they were in the Ten Commandments. The same is true of trials. They have their sources in the poverty, sickness, and bereavements which are common to man. You cannot mention a temptation or a trial of which you will not be able to find illustrations in your own community, to say nothing of past generations; so it will be to the end of time.


1. Because we are human — creatures of limited capacities. How many things we pant to do! How many things we want to know! And yet every advance only renders us more conscious of our constitutional limitations. Now, it is a severe trial to a man who is wide awake for him not to know what he wants to know, and to do what he wants to do. It is just here that we discover how it was possible for man, without any tendencies to sin, to fall from his first estate. The temptation was to resent the limitations that were imposed, to seek after a freedom that should be like the freedom of God. There will be always many more things in heaven and in earth than our loftiest philosophies dream of; problems in the moral government of God that stagger us, and where faith in His goodness and righteousness is our only refuge.

2. Because we are sinners, and because a heroic treatment is needed if we are to secure salvation from sin. "We are full of pride and obstinacy, and that covetousness which is idolatry, and self-righteousness. And so comes in the serious discipline of life, to teach us our weakness and show u s the weakness of our supports, that we may hasten to find refuge in His grace.

III. SO UNIVERSAL AND NECESSARY A DISCIPLINE AS THIS MUST BE PERFECTLY ADJUSTED TO OUR CAPACITIES AND NECESSITIES. God does not deal with men in the mass. He deals with each soul singly. In all wise parental government there is the most careful study of each child's peculiarities. One needs to be pushed; another needs the check. As a father pitieth his child, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.

1. No man is subject to any temptation for which there is not provided a way of escape; and there is no burden that needs to involve necessarily any serious injury. We hear a great deal about irresistible temptations, but there is no such thing. Sin always begins in an evil heart, and for the possession of that evil heart the sinner alone is responsible — not his circumstances nor the government of God. It is the plea of the devil when men say, "The temptation was so strong that I could not resist it." God bars no man's way up so that it becomes necessary for him to fall into captivity and to abide there.

2. And, as there are no irresistible temptations, so are there no trials so crushing that a man needs to be buried under them. God is too kind ever to impose any burdens that are heavier than our shoulders can bear.

3. And this brings me to the promised and assured deliverance. The fight may be long and hard, but it need not be of uncertain issue. The trial may be very severe, but God's pruning-knife never goes further than the requirements of the case. Every death-pang in your experience may be, by the grace of God, a birth-cry. The grave where your dearest hopes are buried may be the garden where the fairest flowers are blooming, filling your life with the very fragrance of heaven.

4. Perhaps some of you are tempted to say that your experience is like that of the apostle of the Gentiles, who had his thorn in the flesh. Well, that drove him to his knees when he found God's grace sufficient, and after thirty years of service for Christ, he learned to rejoice in tribulation and to glory in infirmities, because in his own weakness the strength of Christ was magnified.

5. But deliverance is not the sweetest nor last word in the gospel of consolation. The discipline is intended to leave us richer than we could have been without its endurance. Temptation and trial are God's drill and dynamite to blow up the obstructions that choke the channels of our affections and energies until the whole broad stream of God's life shall course through our own and have its own sweet will. There are three forms of gladness — the gladness that wells up from the comparatively innocent heart of the child, and which is only more intense in the youth; the joy which takes to itself the form of quiet contentment in the maturer years of manhood; and the blessedness of a ripe old age that has learned to submit its own will to the will of God.

(A. J. F. Behrends, D.D.)

It is said of a good portrait that the eyes of it seem always turned to the observer. So it is with Scripture. To the loving it rays forth love; to the trembling, comfort; to the presumptuous, admonition; to the desponding, encouragement. Mark this in the passage of our text. For the careless it has a look of warning: "Let him who thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." But to the anxious it turns a look of encouragement. Rouse up a child to its peril in playing on the brink of a precipice: for the moment this peril is increased; it may be scared into falling over. The hand of help, therefore, must second the voice of admonition. Hence the sudden turn in St. Paul's words, "But." Your safety lies: —

I. NOT IN WHAT YOU ARE TO YOURSELVES. Those Corinthians "thought they stood." But we may not trust —

1. Our wisdom. Paul had complimented the Corinthians on their wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:5). He makes appeal to them as wise (1 Corinthians 10:15). They could talk contemptuously of the emptiness of idolatry (1 Corinthians 8:1-7). Yet they ran into the peril of the idolatrous banquets.

2. Our wakefulness. This indeed is an important means of safety. St. Paul had warned the Corinthians, "Take heed lest ye fall" (ver. 12). Forewarned is forearmed. But this is not enough. The disciples were forewarned (Matthew 26:31). Yet they all "forsook Jesus and fled" (Matthew 26:56). Therefore Jesus did not say merely, "Keep awake," but "Keep awake and pray" (Matthew 26:41).

3. Our will. The resolute man fancies he has built up a breakwater against sin. But who knows the height to which the tide may rise? "Let not a man," says Bacon, "trust his victory over nature too far; for nature will be buried a great time, and yet revive on the occasions of temptation. Like as it was with AEsop's damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very demurely at the board's end, till a mouse ran before her."

II. BUT IN WHAT GOD IS TO YOU. "God is faithful."

1. To His love for us. Mark the implied contrast in the word. You, alas! are becoming unfaithful to your relation to God (vers. 1-9).

2. To His care over us. "God will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." One seems to see a careful father fitting gymnastic exercises to his son's age and skill and strength. The youth must indeed be exercised; trial is the very condition of growth; the fresh breeze is indispensable to the opening leaf; in the furnace we must be hardened into vessels unto honour, meet for the Master's use; but see the care with which the Father proportions these exercises, laying on such burdens only as the son's weak shoulders can bear; changing them according to his proficiency, fitting his discipline to his powers, and his powers to his discipline, so that while he becomes well breathed he may not be breathless; while stimulated, not broken down.

3. To His designs for us. "God will make a way to escape." He has ulterior views in everything. He makes all things work in concert for our ultimate good. And He will help us to bear up under every intermediate evil, till the way of escape, the passage out of it, is found. Imagine a forlorn hope, sent forward with promise of "supports" to follow (as in the storming of the Redan): the enemy may be mighty; he may now urge by promises, now scare by threats, into surrender; the spirits may faint; a treacherous whisper may arise, "It is no use to struggle any longer." But the "supports" are coming! Bear up therefore; hold on. Each particular temptation has its outlet; Jesus found it so with Satan's reiterated attacks. "Consider," then, those who have fought before you: observe "the end of their struggle"; the "way of escape out of it" (the same word in Hebrews 13:7, as in our text).

(T. Griffth, M.A.)

1. Of all the evils incident to man, there is none from which an escape is so difficult and desirable as from temptations. All escape imports some precedent danger — the difficulty of getting through it, and a final deliverance from it: so in this business of temptation, the danger threatening is damnation; the difficulty of escaping it is due partly to the importunity of the evil one, and partly to an inbred inclination to sin heightened by custom, and inflamed by circumstances.

2. Therefore nothing less than a Being infinitely wise can sound all the depths, and outreach all the intrigues of this tempting spirit; and nothing but a Being of infinite power can support the weaknesses and supply the defects of a poor mortal engaged against him. Now how God does this we shall now inquire.

I. If the force of the temptation be chiefly from the importunities of the evil spirit, God often puts an issue to the temptation, BY REBUKING AND COMMANDING DOWN THE TEMPTER HIMSELF. For although he acts the part of an enemy, yet he does the work of a servant. He is in a chain and that chain is in God's hand. Certain it is that God has put it into the power of no created being to make a man do an ill thing against his will; yet though Satan cannot compel to sin, yet he can follow a man with vehement and continual solicitations to it. Though none of his fiery darts should kill, yet it is next to death to be always warding off deadly blows. And being brought thereby to the very brink of destruction, God is then pleased to step in and command the tempter to hold his peace, or his hand, and so takes him off before he is able to fasten.

II. If the force of a temptation be from the weakness of a man's mind, God oftentimes delivers BY MIGHTY INWARD SUPPLIES OF STRENGTH. The former way God delivers a man by removing his enemy, but this latter by giving him wherewithal to conquer him. It is with the soul and temptation as with weak sight and the sunbeams: if you divert the beam you relieve the man, but if you give him an eagle's eye he will look the sun in the face, and so if God gives an assistance greater than the opposition, the man is delivered by a method as much more noble as the trophies of a conqueror surpass the inglorious safeties of an escape. Thus it was with St. Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). God Himself fought his battles, and that brought him off, not only safe, but triumphant. But this kind of deliverance was never so signal and illustrious as in the noble army of martyrs. As God brings His servants into different conditions, He fails not to measure out to them a spirit proportioned to the exigences of each condition. And, therefore, let us so prepare for the day of trial before it comes, as not to despond under it when it comes.

III. If the force of a temptation springs chiefly from those circumstances which expose a man to tempting objects, God frequently delivers BY A PROVIDENTIAL CHANGE OF THE WHOLE COURSE OF HIS LIFE, and the circumstances of his condition. And this He may do either by a general public change which always carries with it the rise and fall of a vast number of particular interests, or by a personal change, affecting a man only. Accordingly, if God shall transplant a voluptuous person from a delicate way of living into a life of hardship, those temptations which drew their main force from his opulence will attack him but very faintly under penury. There is, however, such an impregnable strength in some natures as to baffle all providential methods, and even when occasions of sin are wanting, to supply the want by concupiscence from within. So that a man can be proud though in rags, and an epicure with the bread and water of affliction. In a word, a man can be his own tempter, and so is always sure of a temptation. Nevertheless, the way God took with His own people was to plague them in their bodies and estates for the salvation of their souls. And so now if riches debauch a man, poverty shall reform him. If high places turn his head, a lower condition shall settle it. If his table becomes his snare, God will diet him into a more temperate course of living.

IV. If the force of a temptation be chiefly from the solicitation of some unruly affection, God delivers from it BY THE OVERPOWERING INFLUENCE OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT gradually weakening, and at length totally subduing it. The tempter for the most part prevails not so much by what be suggests to a man as by what he finds in him. Archimedes said that he would turn the whole earth if he could but have some place beside the earth to fix his feet upon. So, skillful an engineer as the devil is, he will never be able to play his engines to any purpose unless he finds something to fasten them to. If he finds a man naturally passionate he has numberless ways and arts to transport him into a rage. It being with the soul as with some impregnable fort, nothing but treachery within itself can deliver it up to the enemy. "I withheld thee from sinning against Me," says God to Abimelech (Genesis 20:6); and no doubt God has innumerable ways by which He does this. God may withhold a man from sin by plucking away the baneful object, by diverting his thoughts and desires, by putting impediments in his way, and by various methods of restraint. But when, over and above all this, God, by the powerful impressions of His almighty Spirit, shall subdue and mortify the sinful appetite and inclination itself, and plant a mighty contrary bias in the room of it, this is a greater, a nobler, and a surer deliverance out of temptation than even the prevention of the sinful act itself.

(R. South, D.D.)

The design of the apostle seems to be the establishment of two things —

1. That it is not man himself, but God, who delivers out of temptation; and —

2. That the ways by which God does this are above man's power, and for the most part beyond his knowledge. Now these considerations are great in themselves, but greater in their practical consequences. These are: —

I. THAT THE ONLY TRUE ESTIMATE OF AN ESCAPE FROM TEMPTATION IS TO BE TAKEN FROM THE FINAL RESULT OF IT. From whence these two things follow. First, that an escape from a temptation may consist with a long continuance under it; indeed so long, that God may put an end to its life altogether. Secondly, that a final escape may well consist with several foils under a temptation. For a foil given or received is not a conquest. The tempter may be worsted in many a conflict, and yet come off victorious at last. True, "if we resist the tempter he will fly from us," but he may return and carry all before him. It is not every skirmish which determines the victory. Let no man then flatter himself, yet let him not despond; for God may deliver him for all this; only let him continue the combat still. Nothing should make us give up our hope till it forces us to give up the ghost too. But God will have us wait His leisure. There is a ripeness for mercy as well as for judgment, and consequently there is a fulness of time for both.

II. NO WAY OUT OF ANY CALAMITY IF BROUGHT ABOUT BY SIN OUGHT TO RE ACCOUNTED A WAY MADE OR ALLOWED BY GOD. On the contrary, it is a seeking to cure the burnings of a fever by the infections of a plague; a flying from the devil as a tempter, and running into his hands as a destroyer. The temptations which men generally attempt thus to rid themselves of are either from suffering, or from the pretence of compassing some great good by an action in itself indeed evil, but vastly exceeded by the good brought to pass thereby. But this is a wretched fallacy. The procurement of the greatest good cannot warrant the least evil, nor the safety of a kingdom commute for the loss of personal innocence. While men fly from suffering, they are so fatally apt to take sanctuary in sin: which is to go to the devil to deliver them out of temptation. For so men certainly do where suffering is the temptation, and sin must be the deliverance.

III. TO CHOOSE OR SUBMIT TO THE COMMISSION OF A LESSER SIN TO AVOID THE COMMISSION OF A GREATER OUGHT NOT TO BE RECKONED AMONGST THOSE WAYS WHEREBY GOD DELIVERS MEN FROM TEMPTATION. I have heard it reported of a certain monk, who for a long time was worried with three temptations, viz., to commit murder, or incest, or to be drunk; till at length, quite wearied out, he pitches upon the sin of drunkenness, as the least, to avoid his solicitation to the other two. But the tempter was the better artist. For having prevailed upon him to be drunk, he quickly brought him in the strength thereof to commit both the other sins too. Such are we when God abandons us to our own deluded and deluding judgment.

IV. IF IT BE THE PREROGATIVE OF GOD TO DELIVER MEN OUT OF TEMPTATION, LET NO MAN, WHEN THE TEMPTATION IS FOUNDED IN SUFFERING, BE SO SOLICITOUS HOW TO GET OUT OF IT, AS HOW TO BEHAVE HIMSELF UNDER IT. Nothing so much entitles a tempted person to relief from above as an unwearied looking up for it. In every arduous enterprise, action must begin the work, and courage carry it on; but it is perseverance only which gives the finishing stroke.

V. THERE CAN BE NO SUFFERING BUT MAY BE ENDURED WITHOUT SIN; AND IF SO, MAY BE LIKEWISE MADE A MEANS WHEREBY GOD BRINGS A MAN OUT OF TEMPTATION. The Christian martyrs were a glorious and irrefragable proof of this. No evil, how afflictive soever, ought to be accounted intolerable, which may be made a direct means to escape one intolerably greater. And death itself, which nature fears and flies from as its greatest enemy, is yet the grand instrument in the hand of mercy to put a final period to all temptations.

(R. South, D.D.)

The verb to tempt meant originally to try, to test, or to prove. This is its meaning in John 6:6; Acts 26:7; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Revelation 2:2, etc. This is its meaning in the Lord's Prayer, which means "Lead us not into trial." The text suggests that —

I. GOD PERMITS THEM. "God will not suffer you," etc. It has been asked, Is not a being responsible for an evil which he can prevent? Answer.

1. If the prevention would outrage the constitutional liberty of the moral creature, it would be wrong.

2. If the permitter of this evil had determined to subordinate it to the highest beneficence, its permission involves no wrong. If I had the power of preventing a terrible trial befalling an ungodly man, which I knew would turn him to God, should I be justified in preventing it?

II. HE ADAPTS THEM. "Above that ye are able." He adapts them —

1. To the character. The trial that would touch one man's leading central imperfection would not affect another. Some men require a blow that shall wound their sensuality, others their greed, others their ambition, others their love. The trial that is needed He will "suffer" to come.

2. To the capacity. He will not allow any trial to happen which the sufferer is incapable of bearing. "As thy day so thy strength shall be."

III. HE SUBORDINATES THEM. "Will with the temptation also make a way to escape." Or, "make the issue that ye may be able to bear it." Whether the trial is a temptation to your patience, honesty, resignation, confidence in God, etc., He will cause this issue to be good. And this virtually will be for you a deliverance. All the good in heaven have come out of "great tribulations."

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Homiletic Monthly.
(text and 2 Corinthians 12:9): — There is nothing more wonderful than a man whose nature is essentially evil, whose path is thronged with spiritual enemies, should be brought off "more than a conqueror." The only explanation is to be found in our texts.

I. THIS IS MATTER OF DISTINCT, POSITIVE, REPEATED PROMISE. God has bound Himself, even by covenant, to stand by His child and never to suffer the enemy to prevail over him. He never goes back on His word.

II. THESE PROMISES ARE MATTER OF EXPERIENCE. They have been put to the test in every age, land, and occasion, and such a thing as a failure was never known.

III. THESE PROMISES ARE WORLD-WIDE IN THEIR APPLICATION. They cover every moment of life-extend to every need and duty — are equal to any emergency or strait.


(Homiletic Monthly.)

Let us consider the matter by way of objections. It is objected —

I. THAT MEN ARE DEPRAVED CITIZENS OF A FALLEN WORLD. The answer is that the world is redeemed.

II. THAT THERE IS AN UNUSUAL, startling, compelling ELEMENT IN THEIR TEMPTATIONS. The answer is, that even temptation is tethered by law, and the special severity of it is a myth.

III. THAT THE TOTAL MORAL AND SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT MUST CONSPIRE WITH THE INNER DEPRAVITY TO MAKE SIN VICTOR. The answer is that, practically, there is much in these relations of ours to sin, on the one hand, and righteousness on the other, to break the force of temptation.

1. There is the danger which attends sinning. This is one of God's ways for our escape.

2. Our memory reproduces the pain and sorrow which past sins caused us. This is another of God's ways.

3. We know that sinning is wrong, and conscience, more or less alert in all souls, makes another of God's fire-escapes.

4. Every sinner is, to some extent, conscious of coming retribution, and that mingles with his motives and makes a way of escape.

5. Nor is it a small thing that every grace and nobleness are honoured in the censoriousness of sinning men. Is it no way of escape that right-doing wears the purple of royalty?

IV. THAT, though these things may be true, yet COMMON EXPERIENCE PROVES THAT MEN ARE IN A HARD CASE AS RELATED TO RIGHTEOUSNESS. Admitted. Because it is hard infinite love stoops to help us. A hard case, therefore, is not a hopeless case. Redemption has made obedience possible. Suppose you were as anxious to win righteousness as to win your way in the world?

V. THAT "ANYHOW SOME MEN HAVE NOT A FAIR CHANCE," e.g., the heathen in the slums of our cities and the heathen abroad. But what does this objection mean? "The race is not fair, and though I might win, I'll not run where my fellows must fail." Beautiful self-abnegation! But will this objector apply the principle? These same people have not his chance to be rich — will he surrender his chance on that account? What good of Providence does he refuse because street Arabs have it not? And how can any of us know that others have not a fair chance for salvation?

VI. THAT GENERAL EXPERIENCE CONFIRMS THE VIEW THAT THE CHANCE IS NOT FAIR. And now we study arithmetic and the saints are few while the sinners are countless legions. But is there one saint? Has one climbed the hill of virtue? Then you also may climb. That men choose to be morally lazy, rather than agonise for righteousness, may he true. But the men who escape prove to us that there is a way of escape.

VII. THAT THE LAW IS RIGOROUS AND MEN VERY WEAK. Here the sinner stands by the sea and tells us it is wide, at the foot of the mountain and declares that it is high. All this is pretty enough. The rigour of the law and the far-offness of perfect character may be admitted. But that is not our practical question. When men began to sail the seas they did not hesitate to creep along the coasts, because the ocean was wide; knowing the Alps to be high, early men struggled up them and through them. The practical man has never hesitated to do what he could because there seemed to be no end to his possible labour. The practical question is not whether you can do all, but have you a margin? Are you conscious of no power to do anything that the law of right asks of you in betterment of your life? This which you can do is your fair chance for salvation.

(D. H. Wheeler, D.D.)

1. St. Paul was writing from Asia to Europe. Many things divide us: time and place, rank and worth, age and country, and yet, in Christ, all may be one; and St. Paul can write, under the shadow of Diana, to dwellers in another idolatrous city, and touch a chord to which their hearts vibrate as one, because Christ is the theme, and the Spirit of Christ the inspiration. And that theme and that inspiration enables us to read, as if written to us, this ancient Greek epistle, though Ephesus and Corinth have passed away.

2. And there is yet another thought in this obliteration in Christ of all natural distances and differences. Mark how St. Paul freshens into new life the old histories of the Bible — makes these Corinthians see in Israelite wanderings the type of all human wanderings and in Israelite judgments the history of the dangers and catastrophes of their own. Such is the setting of my text.

3. Temptation is another word for trial. It is exploration. It is the probing or the sifting which shows what is in us, how much and what kind of natural or acquired evil — how much, if any, of the grace of God's Holy Spirit, sought and cherished by prayer.

4. Though St. Paul would have us be serious, he would not have us to be despondent, and therefore he adds three words of encouragement about this life of trial.


1. There is consolation even in the sympathy of faith. It is no selfishness, it is nature as God made it, to find comfort in the fellowship of suffering. On this principle, in part, the Cross was uplifted. "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them." If you could place yourself in imagination among the first readers of this letter, you might have said to yourself, "I live here in a city wholly given to idolatry. My own house — wife or husband, sister or mother — scoffs at my faith in Jesus, and threatens me with excommunication if I confess it. How can St. Paul tell me that I am under no temptation but the commonest of all? "But when we turn to our own life, with Christians all around, ought we not to say, "I, at all events, cannot call myself exceptionally tempted."

2. Yet there is not one who has not some imaginations of a peculiarity in his own temptation. One says, "If my disposition were but passionate instead of being sullen!" Or, "If my snare were only temper instead of being the flesh!" Or, "If I had but a parent who could feel with me, or a husband who was helpful, it would be so much easier to be a Christian! But as things are with me, there is a force in my temptation which is not common at all."

3. Now let this message straight from God weigh with you in this matter. "Depend upon it," St. Paul says, "there is more of equality than you reckon in the spiritual circumstances of God's creatures. Temptation is not so disproportioned as you, in your own little instance, may imagine, and if you knew all you would admit it."


1. If God did suffer this, He would not be faithful. It is like St. John saying, "God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." There is nothing in the religion of nature which binds God to forgive sin, or to so temper temptation as to make Him unjust if He did not do so. But the gospel, which is God's covenant in Christ, has introduced new equities; God has promised salvation; therefore all things that accompany it, strength as the day, and a Fatherly hand so guiding that all shall work together for good. It cannot work for good that a man should be overpowered with evil; therefore the promise that the temptation shall be coerced into an exact adaptation to the strength given, i.e., grace, is involved in the promise that faith shalt save.

2. What a serious hue does this give to being tempted! With many of us it is a light thing. It is but to sin and be sorry, and all will be well again. St. Paul assumes the terribleness of sin, and says that God Himself would be unfaithful if He left you to it.


1. It may have happened to one of you, on some dull November evening, to find yourself surprised by a sudden transition from twilight to darkness. You have been, perhaps, in a meadow, surrounded by woods. There was one little wicket gate somewhere, but you could not find it. You went round and round the enclosure, but the light was gone, and you might remain there till morning. Accident or Providence at last guided you to it; and then you could understand what St. Paul means — the one way out which makes all the difference between a hopeless entanglement and a remediable perplexity.

2. There is a moment in every temptation when God makes the exit. There is a pause between the suggestion and the execution of every wrong thing, which leaves room for escape. An angry retort is upon your tongue: it need not become articulate. A passionate impulse is upon you: you need not strike. A sinful desire is in your heart: you need not take that turn which will lead you by the house of danger. When lust conceives it bringeth forth sin; but it takes time.Conclusion:

1. If no temptation is above the common, away with our excuses for being what we are.

2. If God adapts the temptation to the strength, you must pray. It is not the strength of nature, but the strength of grace.

3. When temptation is upon you, look out for the way of escape. It is there: take heed that you miss it not. God makes it: it is yours to watch for it, and not to lose it.

(Dean Vaughan.)

We are all familiar with the severity of life; we often feel, and feel bitterly, the extreme tension and painfulness of our present situation. It may be quite true that the fiery law is on the whole benign, that the battle of life ends with a victory for the better, ere it begins again a battle for the best; but so far as we are concerned individually, it is very difficult to bear the pressure and pain. Very delightful, then, is our text, showing how the Divine love tempers life's fierce tyranny.

I. WHILST DISCIPLINE IS ESSENTIAL TO THE PERFECTING OF OUR NATURE, THE STRUGGLE OF LIFE MIGHT BE EXCESSIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE. "Tried above that ye are able." How easy this might be! We see in nature that the law of antagonism may become so severe and unremitting that it makes impossible those things of beauty and joy which prevail under normal conditions. In arctic regions plants, which under more genial conditions would unfold themselves in a delightful perfection, remain stunted and mean, exhausting their vitality in withstanding the severities of the climate. The same is true of animal life. The Newfoundland dogs of Kane in the Polar seas become mad through the excruciating severity of the cold. The birds come to a certain strength and glory through the necessity of awareness, but there is often such a fearful bloodthirstiness in the tropical forest, such a profusion of cruel hawks, owls, serpents, and beasts of prey, that a bird's life is one long terror, and it forgets its music. And this applies equally to man. He is all the better for a regulated conflict with his environment, but all the worse if the conflict attain undue severity. Sometimes a hopeful people have collapsed because they have been compelled to struggle at once against human oppression, and the destructive forces of inorganic nature; with both combined against him, man sooner or later succumbs, and the fields he has won from the primaeval wood relapse once more into wild forestry, or into barren wildernesses. And all this is just as true of our moral as it is of our physical and intellectual nature. A fair share of hardship develops heroic qualities, but when existence becomes too hard it breaks the spirit; the child cruelly treated becomes cowed; men and women bred in misfortune's school becomes timid, nervous, cowardly. So, if Heaven did not temper life, the finer qualities could never be developed in us. Overborne by unmitigated pressure, we should lose all faith, courage, hope; nothing would be left to us but atheism, cynicism, despair. "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." Amid all the confusion, waste, ruin, sweat, tears, and blood of the groaning creation, God stands with the measuring-line, dealing to every man trial, as He assigns to every man duty, according to his several ability. "For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust."

II. SOME OF THE LIMITATIONS WHICH GOD HAS IMPOSED ON THE SEVERITY OF LIFE. "But will with the trial also make a way of escape."

1. There are doors of escape in the direction of nature and intellect. It is not all conflict with nature. Summer hangs out a gay flag of truce. Men shout in the gladness of the vintage; the sky rings with the joy of harvest. We have all gracious hours in which the discords of life are drowned in the music of the world. There are doors of escape also into the intellectual world. The door opening into the library, the picture-gallery, the observatory, the museum — all are doors of hope and salvation. In literature, art, and science increasing multitudes are finding bright intervals which make life endurable, and something more than endurable.

2. The Divine government softens the severity of life by the disposition and alternation of the trials by which we are exercised. A door of escape from one trial is sometimes found in the door which opens upon another, and one, perhaps, not at all less severe. Now, this variation of trial must be regarded as a mitigation of trial. Peter speaks of "being in heaviness through manifold temptations"; but that heaviness might have been utterly crushing had those temptations been less diversified. We little know how much we owe to the vast variety and unceasing change which obtain in the discipline of human life. Change and novelty play their benign part in trial as in pleasure. Manifold temptations are counter-irritants; they relieve one another; together they work to a complex strength and perfection.

3. The severity of life is broken by that law of reaction which God has established within our nature. Trials without discover forces within. Mighty forces often lie latent in nature until peculiar conditions elicit them. The trembling dewdrop is an electric accumulator, and within its silvery cells is stored a vast energy; the raindrop and the snowflake are the sport of the wind, but, converted into steam, we are astonished at their potentiality; the tiny seed seems weakness itself, yet, beginning to germinate, it rends the rock like a thunderbolt. Thus is it, only in a far more eminent degree, with human nature strengthened by the indwelling Spirit of God. Says Victor Hugo, "There are instincts for all the crises of life." A deep perplexity awakens a flash of insight; a bitter opposition sets the soul on fire; a grave peril opens our eyes to horses and chariots of fire; a severe catastrophe evokes a heroism of which the sufferer had not thought himself capable. The mere metaphysician perceives the extraordinary virtue of this mystic interior power: "In extreme cases the inner-deriving activity will conquer. Martyrs may find the flames at the stake as pleasant as rose-leaf couches." God dwelling in us, working in us, speaking in us — here is the limitation of the otherwise overwhelming burden of life. As we pass through scorching flame and sweeping flood, He giveth us the victory through the Spirit which worketh in us mightily.

4. The rigour of life is abated by the social law. If, says the modern evolutionist, stern competition is the fundamental law of nature, coalition is the fundamental law of civilisation. The social law is the principle of civilisation, and the process of civilisation is nothing else than the giving to the principle of reciprocity ever more complete ascendancy.

5. Finally, life is blessedly tempered by the religious hope. "Behold, a door was opened in heaven." What a hiding-place is the Church of God from the storm and stress of life! Strengthened by its sacraments, uplifted by its songs, ennobled by its solemnities, the penitent believing soul forgets its griefs and cares, tasting the powers of the world to come. No language can express the infinite preciousness of the grace flowing to us through the ministers and institutions of the Church of Christ. A lady recently related in one of the journals how she went through a veritable blizzard to see a flower-show. With one step she passed out of the wild night, the deep snow, the bitter wind, into a brilliant hall filled with hyacinths, tulips, jonquils, cyclamens, azaleas, roses, and orchids. It is the privilege of godly men, at any time, to pass at a step from the savage conflicts of life right into the sweet fellowship of God, finding grace to help in the time of need. It is the knowledge of God, the light of His truth, the power of His Spirit, the hope of His glory, which makes us more than conquerors in the times when men's hearts fail them for fear. "For which cause we faint not." No men knew more of the travail of existence than did the apostles, but by laying hold of the Eternal they smiled at life in its darkened aspects, at death in its cruellest forms.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

"Chronicles of Froissart" relate the issue of a siege, which took place in the days of chivalry, and somewhere, I think, in France. Though gallantly defended, the outworks of the citadel had been carried. The breach was practicable: to-morrow was fixed for the assault. That none, alarmed at the desperate state of their fortunes, might escape under the cloud of night, the besiegers guarded every sally-port, and, indeed, the whole sweep of wall. They had the garrison in a net, and only waited for the morrow to secure or to slaughter them. The night wore heavily on: no sortie was attempted; no sound came from the beleaguered citadel; its brave but ill-starred defenders seemed to wait their doom in silence. The morning came: with its dawn, the stormers rushed at the breach; sword in hand, they poured in to find the nest empty, cold. The bird had flown, the prey escaped. But how? That was a mystery: it seemed a miracle, till an opening was discovered that led by a flight of steps down into the bowels of the rock. They descended, and explored their way with cautious steps and lighted torches, until this subterranean passage led them out a long way off from the citadel, among quiet green fields and the light of day. It was plain that, by this passage, the doors of which stood open, their prey had escaped under cover of night. A clever device, a wise precaution. It was a refuge of the besieged, provided against such a crisis. And when affairs seem desperate, and the worst has come to the worst, how should it encourage God's people to remember that He has promised them as safe a retreat!

(T. Guthrie, D.D.)

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
I. WHAT IS IDOLATRY? The worshipping of anything besides God.

1. Outwardly.

2. Inwardly.


1. Heathenish (Romans 1:23).

2. Jewish (1 Kings 12:28).

3. Papistical.

(1)The Cross (Isaiah 44:19).

(2)The host.

(3)Images (Exodus 20:4).

(a)Of Christ.

(b)Of saints.

(c)Of God (Exodus 32:4, 5; Deuteronomy 4:12-16).


1. Praying (Isaiah 44:17).

2. Thanksgiving (Judges 16:23, 24; Daniel 5:4).

3. Sacrifices (2 Kings 17:35).

4. Incense (Jeremiah 18:15; Jeremiah 44:17).

5. Temples or altars (Hosea 8:14; Hosea 12:11).

6. Asking counsel (Hosea 4:12).

7. Bowing down to them, and so adoring of them (Acts 10:25, 26; Revelation 22:8, 9).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

I. INWARD IDOLATRY (Ezekiel 14:7) is —

1. Covetousness (Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5). A covetous man —

(1)Minds his riches more than God.

(2)Takes more pains for them (Matthew 6:24).

(3)Loves them better (1 Timothy 6:10).

(4)Fears to lose them (Acts 19:25).

(5)Puts his trust in them (Luke 12:18, 19; 1 Timothy 6:17).

(6)Makes them his chiefest good (Luke 18:19).

(7)Sacrifices both body and soul for them (Matthew 16:26).

2. Carnal pleasures (Philippians 3:19). A voluptuous man —

(1)Loves pleasure more than God (2 Timothy 3:4).

(2)Takes more delight in them (Romans 8:5, 6).

(3)Takes more pains for them (Romans 16:18).

3. Popular applause (John 12:43). The ambitious man

(1)Desires his own honour more than God's.

(2)Prizes it more (Daniel 4:30).

(3)Is more troubled at the loss of it than of God's favour (2 Samuel 17:23).

4. Sin, especially beloved sin, which —

(1)You prefer before God.

(2)Will not part with for His sake.

(3)Venture more for than for God.

5. Satan.

(1)You prefer him to God (John 8:44).

(2)Are more pleased with his works than God's.


1. Ignorance in the mind.

2. Perverseness in the will.

3. Disorder in the affections.


1. Others worship idols with their bodies, we with our souls.

2. These give the principal part of Divine worship to these things.

3. These things alienate our minds from God (Ephesians 2:12).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

The "wherefore" carries us back to the previous verse, and reveals the apostle's train of thought. He had been warning these Corinthians in chap. 1 Corinthians 8 against partaking of meat that had been offered to idols, not because it was wrong in itself, for an "idol is nothing in the world," but because of "weaker brethren," who believed in the reality of heathen divinities. This leads him, in chap. 1 Corinthians 9, to refer to his own example of self-denial, and he then passes on, in chap. 1 Corinthians 10, to justify his warnings by quoting the melancholy example of Israel, who were placed in circumstances in many respects similar to those of the Church at Corinth, and in their temptations and sins the latter might see the danger that threatened themselves. Still, the temptation was not irresistible (ver. 13). "Wherefore," St. Paul adds, "flee from idolatry": that is, do not see how near to it you may approach without being entangled, but avoid it altogether.

I. IT MIGHT SEEM THAT SUCH A PRECEPT WAS UTTERLY NEEDLESS IN THE PRESENT DAY. For we have reached an intellectual position exactly the opposite to that occupied by the ancient world. They believed in "gods many, and lords many"; we find it difficult to believe in any God at all. They saw divinities everywhere; we see God nowhere. Their sin was believing in gods who had no existence; our sin is disbelieving in One who alone exists.


1. The Roman, e.g., is an idolatrous church. And this not because it formally worships the Pope — although the extravagant homage of those who call him "our Lord God the Pope" comes perilously near to rendering him Divine homage — but because it has dogmatically declared that the voice of a fallible man has the authority of the Word and Spirit of God over the intellect and conscience of man.

2. But Protestants, who reject this with indignation, may themselves be in danger of a similar sin. Roman Catholics complain that we have substituted an infallible Book for an infallible Pope. And it must be confessed that when human interpretations of the Bible have been placed on a level with its Divine verities, when theories of the Atonement have been confounded with the great fact, when a human creed has practically been asserted to be an infallible exposition of Divine truth, or when the authority of the Bible has been used in support, not of religious truth, but of historical and political and scientific theories, all of which have turned out to be false, and when men have been branded as misbelievers because they have refused to submit to the claim thus made upon them, then we have been guilty of a sort of idolatry.

3. Just in the same way scientific men and philosophers are in danger of idolising the intellect. To claim for the logical understanding sole authority in the discovery or the verifying of truth, to deny that we can go beyond all phenomena and hold converse with the Author of them all, to refuse to allow the supreme facts of the spiritual nature of man any place in the facts of human consciousness, is an idolatry offensive to God and perilous to man.

4. Perhaps the most dangerous is practical idolatry. Money is man's chiefest idol, and it is, unhappily, only too possible to retain it in the heart, even after we have professed to be servants of Christ. But "no covetous man who is an idolater hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." To us all, in one form or other, the warning belongs —"Flee from idolatry."

(R. W. Dale, LL.D.)

I speak as to wise men

1. As a revelation.

2. As a remedy.


1. Care.

2. Candour.

3. Prayer.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Let us look upon the text —


1. A natural capacity for judgment (Romans 2:14, etc.).

2. A cultivated capacity; a mind that has passed under the hands of the cultivators of mental soil. A cultivated mind sees God in a thousand things which the less-informed cannot comprehend. Its charms are thrown into the writings of Paul.

3. A spiritual capacity (1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 8:5).


1. The Jews in their rebellions and judgments are ensamples to us (ver. 11).

2. We must guard against light thoughts of sin, and presumptuous confidence in God's grace (ver. 12).

3. Divine support in temptation (ver. 13).

4. That we merge all minor difficulties that stand in the way of Christian usefulness or communion (vers. 27-33).

III. AS URGING INVESTIGATION AS A MATTER OF IMMEDIATE IMPORTANCE. "I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say." And this in order —

1. To the purity of the Church.

2. Its prosperity.

3. Its unity.

(W. Morris.)

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?
I. THE CUP OF BLESSING WHICH WE BLESS, i.e., over which we apostles or ministers speak the word for good. When we mortals say may it be good, we pray that it may be good: when God says, Be it good, the good becomes, it takes effect. Man blesses God in words, God blesses man in deeds; for He speaks and it is done, His benedictions are benefactions. In the Holy Supper of bread and wine what is offered by us to God of His own earthly gifts, with the prayer that He bless the offering into a heavenly good, that is given back to us by God in the new form and substance of the supernatural good itself. But the cup of blessing, i.e, the cup of the benediction — of the benediction which the Lord Himself pronounced in His own institution of the sacrament — this cup — is it not — communion? the means of communion, asks the apostle — in the blood — here St. Paul pauses a moment and then dictates to his amanuensis — of the Christ? This word communion denotes the .fellowship of persons with persons in one and the same object common to all and sometimes whole to each. By way of illustration: when the sun shines upon a band of haymakers in a field, these do not, properly speaking, partake of the sun; there is no true participation; we cannot say that a portion of ten beams is assigned to A, of twelve to B, of twenty to C, rather the undivided sun is common to all the labourers and whole to each of them; they all have fellowship or a common interest in one and the same sun. Even so within the hallowed sphere of the sacramental communion the Sun of Righteousness shines upon His own, equal to all and total to each. Communion is not the same thing with union, but rather proceeds from it, growing out of our mystical union with Christ's humanity; by this mystical union we were made members of His body, bred of His flesh and of His bones. This mystical union is founded in baptism and is strengthened and consolidated in the Eucharist by means of mystical communion. And as the union itself is twofold, for thereby we are "members of Christ," and "members one of another," so is the communion twofold, for thereby we have fellowship with the Incarnate Son and fellowship with one another. The cup of the Lord's blessing and the chalice of His benediction is it not in the consecrated wine thereof — the medium of fellowship, fellowship of the members both with the Head and with each other — fellowship in what? In a nature common to all. Of this fellowship the blood is the medium. Of this inward communion with Christ and with all who have been baptized into His Divine human nature, the Divine human blood is the life-giving medium. For in baptism we put on Christ — just as a graft by insertion puts on a tree, and as a graft after insertion drinks the sap of the tree ("has in common with the root the fatness of the good olive,") so in the Eucharist we drink the blood of Christ more truly than the graft drinks the sap of the tree in which it has been inserted.

II. THE BREAD WHICH WE BREAK after consecration or benediction, is it not the medium of our communion with Christ and with one another in the body of Christ? As the material bread, God's earthborn gift, we all do eat together with the outward man, so "the spiritual food of Christ's most precious body," we receive together and manducate with the inward man; for the natural bread after consecration is not only the symbol but also the vehicle (in effect) of Christ's body (in essence). How often in Scripture is the natural consecrated to be the medium of the supernatural! And there is always a congruity and meetness of correspondence between the outward sign and the inner thing signified. The material rock gushing with streams in the desert was a vehicle of a spiritual rock, even Christ in effect. The sacred animal breath which our blessed Lord before His ascension breathed on His disciples was not only the meet emblem but true vehicle also of Holy Spirit; for He blew on them, He breathed strong and steadfast upon them and said Take Holy Spirit, and they, the disciples, received their Master's sensible breath, and with it an instalment of His own God-man's Spirit.

III. FOR WE BEING MANY ARE ONE BREAD AND ONE BODY. A better rendering and one that connects the argument is because there is one bread, one body are we the assembled many. The sense is: Because the bread of many parts, into which it is broken, is yet one bread, one body are the many we. Many fractions, one bread; many members, one body. The bread which we break, is it not communion with Christ and with one another in relation to the body — of Christ? We the many are one body — Body and body? The body proper of Christ — and the many we one body corporate? Clearly St. Paul here makes an easy transition from the body proper of Christ to the body corporate, His Church. This is most remarkable as tending to show that he identifies the two bodies in essence or substance. In accord with this interpretation, no wonder many ancient fathers held that while in baptism we obtain incorporation into Christ, in the Eucharist we obtain concorporeity if not consanguinity with Him. But this concorporeity we receive by degrees and rudimentally. The consubstantiation is now laid in its foundations, to be consummated at the Parousia. The Church, says , is one body, not only generally and mystically, but properly and corporeally, because all members are really, i.e., Substantially, united to Christ. Every one of us mortals is a twofold man; one called by St. Paul outward, the other inward. Every one of us is double by double creation, constituted in the first Adam we are reconstituted in the second, the outward or material man asks for earthborn food, bread and wine, lest physical death supervene; the inward or spiritual man asks for heavenly food, the Divine body and blood, lest the higher life of the new creation should pine and fade and dwindle and perish in the silting brightness of the advancing Pareusia.

(Canon Evans.)

Christ, though not corporally, is really and spiritually present in the sacrament of the Supper, and those happy aids and influences which that holy presence imparts are the benefits and the comforts with which true Christians are then favoured. And it is by these aids and these influences which the Saviour's presence conveys, that the Divine life in the soul is cherished and maintained. As vegetables and animals can live only by their connection with the earth or material system from which they spring, so a sense of piety and religion in the mind can be preserved and strengthened only by the support and agency of that Divine Being who gave it birth.

(D. Savile, M.A.)

But here the question rises: What is this principle of communion? The communion is commonly spoken of as something upon a table consisting in certain elements distributed to persons met under special conditions to receive them. All these are evidently, however, not the communion, but only the form of the communion. The communion is not a material but an invisible thing of the soul. Valuable emblems surely. If tokens and signals are valuable anywhere or for anything; if we will not strip life of all its beautiful symbols and affectionate associations, then these tokens, chief and head of all in the dignity and pathos and promise they intend, deserve our respect and solemn celebration. But still comes back the question, What do they intend? For when Christians are so absorbed in the external signs as to forget the thing signified, and look on the visible ordinance as the source of benefit, instead of its indication, then come in superstition and idolatry, exaggerated and foolish reverence for the mere shape and ritual of worship. What, then, is the intrinsic communion itself? It is being brought out of our individual interests and separations, and bound together by the holy and loving power we all acknowledge. Communion, so understood, is indeed the essence of Christianity; not a theory, but a life. This communion is the fulfilment of the Saviour's prayer for His disciples, that they all might be one in Him and His Father. It is the consciousness that we, who live and breathe in these several frames, are not mutually exclusive beings, but with a common care for the welfare of each other, and of our neighbour and of our fellow-man. This reality of communion we refer to Christ, because He first brought it in its fine and perfect pattern as an historic verity upon earth. He established it among men and made His Church by it. So, after Him, the Christian is a communicator. He does not shut up anything good in his own hand or his own bosom, but extends and diffuses it for a general blessing. Whatever he has he shares. The more precious it is, the more free and anxious he is to share it. Thus, too, it is very easy, by the same rule, to say who is not a Christian. He is one that does not communicate, who takes not communion, but competition for his spirit and law. He seeks his own, not another's. But this communion does not break down the sacred distinctions of men. To commune is not to be confounded together. We are individuals, each with a distinct nature, and free, accountable will. But the peculiarity is that in Christ we are individuals pledged to each other and to the race we are part of, and have a common nature with being "members one of another." This is the communion. A majestic principle, indeed, then is the communion. There is some grandeur in any way of living for others and consecration to common ends. The very meanest type of such an existence is nobler than the highest and most ostentatious one of self-seeking. The old Roman, when he felt he was part of Rome, freely to fight and bleed for her, as if his arms and veins were her own; the wild Northman jealous for his clan has a touch of sublimity about him absolutely glorious in comparison with the close temper of a man, in our modern Christendom, all taken up with hugging his gains or nursing his reputation heedless of others' success and forgetful of the common weal; while all the time Christianity thunders in his ears her meaning that we are not our own but public property, belonging to others in public spirit and love. In such communion there is power beyond the desultory efforts of individual men. As electric jars, touched one after another, yield each but a faint flash, but combined, pour out a sparkling stream before which flint melts and flows, so the exertions which, disunited and scattered, made but a feeble display of little execution when blended in the loving Church of Christ, reduce what is most refractory in the world. Moreover, in such communion alone is there any beauty. When we look out upon the bright evening sky, it is not some strange shooting star, appearing madly to leave its sphere and traverse the firmament on its own account, that attracts our admiration; but it is the moving harmony of the mutually related orbs of heaven. How affecting the permanency and inexhaustible supply of Christ's redeeming power! Nothing so spreads, nothing so lasts as the religious feeling, He above all others especially awakens. But the question we started with now opens into a further interrogation. Who and what is Christ, the object or medium of this communion? The same principle or essence of the gospel risen and meets us for an answer. Christ was and is a being in communion with God, communion perfect and entire, receiving the Spirit without measure. But, then, He is a being in communion with man too, and is the Son of man wearing a human nature mixed with the Divine. He alone possesses the wonderful property to fill up the whole space between God and man. His communion has two wings: one touching the heavenly throne, the other mortal abodes. On this principle of communion as the true expression of our religion, the pattern of supreme excellence set in God and Christ for man to copy, is not a correct outward morality, though that is indispensable, and will be a certain result. We do not feel that we adequately describe Christ in speaking of Him merely as of one that tells the truth and never violates His veracity. We are thus far only on the outside and at the fingers' ends of His excellence. We reach the heart of it only when through all true words and righteous deeds we penetrate to the warm, immense love of His communion with God and man. This communion it is, reverently be it said that makes Christ. This communion, too, alone can make the Christian Christ's follower. How wondrously too this idea transforms the outward figure and being of Jesus Himself! He is no longer simply an historic character of whom we read. Through this all-conquering, everywhere travelling power of love, He draws near. To our gaze He seems not, as to those men of Galilee, rising up to vanish in abysses of air, but rather approaching. He leaves His seat of glory on high, and descends upon us. Busily He works within, writing His own life on the fleshly tables, and forming Himself in us the hope of glory. This communion is no abstract and fruitless thing. If genuine, it will issue from us in every mode of gracious action. As Christ's nature was to impart, and virtue went out of Him from His tongue and hand and garment's hem; so, in His communion, virtue will go out of us. Our light and knowledge, our genius and power, or our worldly opportunities and means will be sacrifice. This Christian communion, in fine, makes us responsible, not only for ourselves but for all within the circle of our life. As some plants make the air wholesome, and others turn it to a deadly poison, so is it with our own atmosphere. Christ came and left in charge to His followers to sweeten the air of existence. Therefore, descended He from heaven; therefore His followers live on earth.

(C. A..Bartol.)

I. THE CUP. It may have been of gold, or silver, or brass, or wood; it matters not.

1. Its name. "The cup of blessing which we bless." All blessing is in Scripture connected with Messiah, His person, and His work. Hence that vessel which so specially points to Him receives this name. It contains the blessing, the long-promised, long-looked-for blessing. The wine in that cup is impregnated with blessing.

2. Its meaning. "Is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" or, "is it not communion with the blood of Christ?" That wine is then the symbol of the blood; the blood of the new covenant, the everlasting covenant. That blood is the life; and that life is the payment of the sinner's penalty. In that cup there is both the death of the Surety and the life flowing out of that death; our death flowing into Him so that He dies; His life flowing into us, so that we live. Thus the cup is the cup of blessing for the sinner, because it contains both the death and the life. The word "communion" is properly "partnership" — "partnership in the blood of Christ"; all that the blood contains for the soul becoming ours. All its blessings — the paid ransom, the cancelled penalty, the forgiveness, the life, the joy — all becoming ours. He, then, that takes the cup is committed to all that it symbolises, he is counted as one with it, the possessor of its contents, the partaker of its fulness.

II. THE BREAD. The word more properly signifies "the loaf" or "cake," intimating its original oneness or completeness. It is necessary to keep this in mind, as the point of the apostle's argument turns on this. Let us consider —

1. What the bread signifies. It is bread — the common passover loaf, unleavened bread — made of the corn of earth, grown in our fields, cut down, gathered in, winnowed, ground, and formed into a loaf for the passover table. Such was Christ's body, our very flesh; born, growing up, ripening, cut down, prepared for our food.

2. What the breaking of the bread signifies. It points us to the Cross, it speaks of a crucified Christ. His body unbroken is no food for us. It is no nourishment for the soul of the sinner. It would not satisfy our appetite nor prove wholesome food. Incarnation without crucifixion does not satisfy the soul. Bethlehem without Golgotha would be mockery.

3. What our partaking of it signifies. This act of eating, then, has a twofold signification or reference.(1) A reference to Christ. It is "communion with the body of Christ," partnership with that body; so that all that is in it of virtue, health, strength, or excellence becomes ours. We reckon ourselves one with it, and God reckons us one with it. As he who eats of the idols' bread in a heathen temple is responsible for the whole idolatry of the place, and is so dealt with by God, so he who eats this broken bread in faith is identified with a crucified Christ and all His fulness. Partnership with the body of Christ, how much that implies!(2) A reference to ourselves. It realizes to us the perfect oneness between the members of Christ's body. As the loaf is made up of many parts or crumbs, and yet is but one loaf — nay, gets its true oneness from the union of these many parts — so is it with the members of the body of Christ. All that He has is ours — His life, our life; His light, our light; His fulness, our fulness: His strength, our strength; His righteousness, our righteousness; His inheritance, our inheritance; for we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. If these things be so —(a) What a blessed place should the communion table be to us! A Peniel where we prevail with God and receive the blessing in full.(b) What manner of persons ought we to be. Nothing is lacking to those who have this heavenly communion, this Divine partnership.(c) What love and unity should prevail against us.(d) What longing for the time when we shall see Him face to face.

(H. Bonar, D.D.)


1. It was an acknowledgment of sin. Wherefore did Christ die. That He might save sinners.

2. It has an expression of faith in the good news of mercy.

3. It is also an expression of attachment to the Saviour. It is an open and bold declaration of that attachment.

4. It is an expression of earnest desire that others may share with us the purchase of His death.

II. THIS ORDINANCE IS A SOLEMN COVENANT. We renew this covenant with each other "as often as we do it."

1. We renew our covenant to accept Christ as our common Lord.

2. It is a covenant to fulfil the duties of discipleship.

3. It is a covenant of self-denial for the sake of others.

III. THIS ORDINANCE IS AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION WITH CHRIST. Here, if possible, more truly than anywhere, we feel that "we have fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ."

1. We have fellowship with His sufferings; being reminded of His pains on the Cross.

2. We have fellowship with His love; entering into somewhat of the spirit that led Him to lay down His life a ransom for sinners.

3. We have fellowship with His joys; rejoicing with Him in the progress of His kingdom and the prosperity of His cause.

4. By anticipation we have fellowship with His glory since they who suffer with Him shalt also be glorified in His presence.

(F. Wagstaff.)

By the term κοινωνία, does the apostle mean to designate a material participation in the blood of Christ, or a moral participation in its salutary efficacy for the expiation of sins? In the former case we must hold that, as the instantaneous effect of the consecration, a physical act is wrought, either in the form of a transubstantiation, which makes wine the very blood of Christ, or in that of the conjunction of the blood with the wine. But if the real blood of Christ was in one of these two forms offered to the communicant, this so essential element of the rite would certainly be wanting at its institution; for Christ's blood, not yet shed, could not be communicated to the apostles. The reference, therefore, could only be to the blood of His glorified body. But Paul expressly teaches that blood, as a corruptible principle, does not enter as an element into the glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:50). The two theories, Catholic and Lutheran, seem to be overturned by this simple observation. On the other hand, the apostle's words cannot merely denote the profession of faith made by the communicant in the expiatory virtue of Christ's blood, and the thanksgiving with which he accompanies this profession. What does Paul wish to prove by appealing here to the analogy of the Holy Supper? He wishes to demonstrate, by the salutary influence which the communion exercises over the believer's heart, that demons exercise a pernicious one over him who takes part in the sacrificial heathen feasts. The Holy Supper is not, therefore, a simple act of profession and thanksgiving on the believer's part. It is at the same time a real partaking of the grace purchased by Christ, and which He communicates to the devout recipient.

(Prof. Godet.)

I. THE SUBJECTS of this communion.

1. The designation "saints" is often applied, in modern usage, as a term of reproach.

2. The term applies to sincere believers only — those who, whatever may have been their former characters, are washed and sanctified. They are partakers of a "holy faith," they are called with a "holy calling," and they are distinguished by a "holy conversation": in a word, they are wholly set apart for God.

3. These, and these only, are the capable subjects of this sacred communion. All communion springs out of union. It arises out of certain sympathies which we have in common one with another. You cannot have communion with plants, with minerals, etc., etc. Hence there can be no communion without spiritual affinity. "What fellowship hath light with darkness?" etc. There must, in order to this fellowship, be a Christian state of mind, in order that we may hold converse with Christians as such. As none but these are capable subjects of this fellowship, so all these have a right to participate in this communion, in despite of minor differences and distinctions.

II. ITS NATURE. It embraces within its sphere —

1. All the holy and happy intelligences in the heavenly world.(1) The Father, in the purposes of His grace, the provisions of His mercy, the communications of His love; the Son, in the nature He assumed, the obedience He rendered, the sufferings He endured, the blessings He procured; the Holy Ghost, in His light, purity, and consolations.(2) Unfallen angels. We come, in the exercises of this communion, to the "innumerable company of angels."(3) The disembodied spirits of "the just made perfect."

2. All the disciples, followers, and friends of Christ, who are now living in the present world. They have communion with each other —(1) In the belief of the same truth (2 John).(2) In the participation of the same spiritual privileges: justification, adoption, regeneration, hope, consolation, joy.(3) In the pursuit of the same objects: the glory of God, the advancement of Christ's kingdom, and the happiness of the whole human family.(4) In the celebration of the same ordinances: reading, singing, praying, preaching, and sacramental commemoration. This ordinance of the Supper, referred to in the text, is at once the badge, the seal, and expression of this fellowship.


1. How it has been purchased. It became necessary to this end, that "one man should die for the people;" that He might "gather together in one the children of God" — "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."

2. How it is produced. The Holy Spirit visits the heart to purify it, and thereby lay a foundation for the existence and interchange of this charitable fellowship.

3. How malignantly it is grudged and envied by apostate spirits. The great design of Satanic policy is to divide the people of God, and to interrupt their communion.

4. How inexpressibly sweet and refreshing it is, and how helpful and strengthening.

5. What it foreshows and prognosticates.Conclusion:

1. Let us be thankful if we know anything of this subject.

2. You who are strangers to this bliss, come and enjoy it.

(G. Clayton, M.A.)

I. A THANKSGIVING FOR OUR LORD'S DEATH, more than a grateful remembrance of it.

1. "The cup of blessing which we bless." Paul does not mean a cup full of blessings; but alludes to a custom at the passover. The master of the house took a passover cake, and blessed God for it; and, breaking it, distributed it among the persons present. The feast then went on. At the conclusion of it, he took a cup of wine and did likewise. Our Lord did this when He kept His last passover. And hence this ordinance is called "the eucharist," or the giving of thanks.

2. See, then, in what frame of mind we ought to attend this ordinance; most humbly and sorrowfully doubtless, for it was our sin that brought on Christ all the sufferings we are commemorating. But we must not so mourn over the evil as to forget the glorious deliverance. A broken heart is a good thing at the Lord's table, but a thankful and rejoicing heart becomes us as well there.

II. A SYMBOL OF OUR SPIRITUAL RECEPTION OF CHRIST. The ordinance which shadows forth to us Christ's death, He takes care shall shadow forth also our need of a personal interest in it. He commands us, therefore, not to stand gazing on the bread and wine, but to eat and drink them. Thus this ordinance is "the communion of the body and blood of Christ," i.e., a taking together. And faith does partake of Christ here; of His blood to cleanse us, His righteousness to cover us, His Spirit to purify us, His wisdom to guide us, His power to keep us, His love to solace us, His peace to quiet us, His joy to elevate and delight us.


1. After offering sacrifices to their deities, the Corinthians used to make a feast of those sacrifices, and these feasts were generally scenes of riot and excess. And so much under the influence of early habits were some Christians that they continued to frequent these unhallowed feasts. St. Paul reproves them for this by a reference to the Lord's feast, which involves a profession of faith in Him. "How then can you partake of that sacrament, and then go to the feasts of your old heathen deities? It is idolatry; and being such, it is a turning of your back on Christ. The two things are altogether opposed, and you must give up one of them."

2. And this reasoning fully bears out the view of attendance on the Lord's Supper as a profession of faith in Christ and allegiance to Him. It is more so than baptism. That is done once and over, but this is continually recurring. This sacrament must have been, in the early Church, a trial of the Christian's faith. "There," says Christ, "I leave you a memorial, not of My power and greatness, but of My humiliation, My Cross. Now can you own Me in My shame?" And hence it was that this ordinance soon began to be designated by the word "sacrament" — the oath which the Roman soldiers took to be faithful to their general. It represents us at the table of the Lord, as so many soldiers of Christ, binding ourselves in the most solemn manner to be faithful to Him even unto death.

IV. AN EMBLEM OF OUR UNION ONE WITH ANOTHER IN CHRIST. Men who voluntarily feast together may be supposed to be men of one mind. If they are heathens and feast together in honour of any idol, they may be regarded as united to one another by their common attachment to him. The apostle takes up this idea (ver. 17). And this seems to have been much in our Lord's mind when He instituted His Supper (John 14:17).

(C. Bradley, M.A.)


1. The doctrine of the Scriptures is that it pertains to believers only. The instructions here given as to the state of mind in which communicants should partake, show that this ordinance is intended exclusively for them (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 11:27-30). Few but the self-righteous and pharisaical appear to be in error here: for wicked persons confess frankly that none but the godly are qualified to partake of it.

2. The observance is enjoined by Christ on all His disciples (Luke 22:19; Matthew 26:27). There are two classes of persons to whom these remarks are more particularly applicable: young disciples of Christ; and those whose faith is but weak and wavering. In religion assistance comes not in the way of abstaining from, but of compliance with, the will of your Lord. Wait on the Lord, then, and He will renew your strength.

II. ITS CHIEF OBJECT. To bring the souls of the communicants into fellowship with the body and blood of Christ.

1. For this object the ordinance is commemorative of Christ. The broken bread which we here eat brings to our wandering and forgetful minds the remembrance of that precious body. The wine poured out brings to our remembrance that precious blood which was shed on the Cross. In this ordinance the Saviour has thus recorded His name for ever, and this is His memorial throughout all generations.

2. It is an ordinance in which we are warranted to expect the special presence of Christ. Wherever but two or three are met in His name, at His ordinance, and in dependence on the fulfilment of His promise, there is He in the midst of them.

III. THE STATE OF MIND IN WHICH BELIEVERS SHOULD JOIN IN IT. This as taught in the text is a spirit of thankfulness. "The cup of blessing which we bless."

1. You should here bless God for the gift of His Son to be our Saviour.

2. You should here bless Christ for giving Himself.

3. You should here bless the Holy Spirit for applying the merits of Christ to your souls.

(C. Lee.)

For we being many are one bread and one body

1. The differences observable in God's people according to the dispensation under which they live. As in the natural world, both the opening dawn and the bright meridian acknowledge the same source of light, so in the spiritual world it is the same "Sun of Righteousness," whether it is flinging its dim rays over the dawn of patriarchal promise or lighting up the gospel times with glory. Hence we are to conclude that the apparent diversity between Jewish and Christian forms of worship or religious experience is merely a difference arising from the progressive character of the Divine disclosures and the advancing capacities of the human mind.

2. The inequalities of our several stations in life. God "would have all men to be saved." Hence rich and poor, young and old, may be "all partakers of that one bread," and yet all vary in their manifestations of religious character. This should enhance to us the law of Christian charity, which reminds us that men who seem "not to follow with us," may yet in spirit be truly of us and with us.

3. The diversities among good men which arise out of education, temperament, and intellectual endowments. Christianity has no war with the refinements of life; but it would be folly to assert that it may not exist without them. There are many rugged tempers which in the main are right towards God; and many gentle spirits who please everybody while they are displeasing God. The retaining of original characteristics may consist with a converted state. Where could we find two more opposite characters than Peter and John? And yet both had drunk into the same spirit; both had been "partakers of the one bread."

4. The diversities occasioned by the progressive character of religion itself. The "babe in Christ," from the moment he is made "partaker of the Divine nature," is as much a Christian as if he had arrived at "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." In all its elementary properties the spark is the same as the flame; the green blade as the full-grown ear.

II. WHEREIN THEY OUGHT AND ARE SEEN TO AGREE. "For we, being many, are" still "one bread and one body." The diversities of Christian character lie upon the surface; the uniformities are internal, and often discoverable only by the eye of God. And this was what was to be expected. The empire of Christ has more especial reference to the affections. There with unseen food He supports our fainting life, and makes us partaker of that "meat which the world knows not of." But since this meat is the same to all, and since we "all drink of the same spiritual drink," there must be some corresponding uniformity in the manifestations of spiritual life. We note in all good men —

1. A deep abasement, forced upon them by a consciousness of their own vileness and of their Maker's holiness. Difference of dispensation makes no difference in this respect.

2. The joys and hopes of Christian life. Their personal experience of these feelings may be little or much; but in their nature and tendency they must be the same.

3. An endeavour after increased sanctification; a desire to be more assimilated to the likeness of God.Conclusion:

1. Learn that however much the trees of the Lord's vineyard may differ in size, strength, age, and natural form, yet that every tree of the Lord's planting bears the same kind of fruit.

2. Wherefore, "if these things be in you and abound," happy are ye.

(D. Moore, M.A.)


1. Who are the members of this communion?(1) Some in show only. The openly wicked of course are excluded (Galatians 5:19-21). But hypocrites are seeming visible members of it (Galatians 2:4; 1 John 2:19).(2) There are three sorts of real members.

(a)Real members in God's design, but not yet formed.

(b)Real members already perfected — the saints triumphant (Hebrews 12:22, 23).

(c)Real members formed, but not perfected yet — all saints on earth, whatever visible Church they belong to (1 Corinthians 12:12). These are they whom our text speaks of.

II. WHEREIN THIS COMMUNION CONSISTS, or how they are one body.

1. They have all one Head (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 2:19).

2. They are all animated by one Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

3. One grace of faith wrought by the self-same Spirit in them all (Colossians 2:12) terminates in and knits them to one head, the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 3:17).

4. They have all one heart and one mind in respect of fundamentals (Ephesians 4:5).

5. They are united to one another in love (Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 4:16).

6. They have a communion in one another's gifts and graces, as the case stands in the natural body (Ephesians 4:16).


1. It is a most honourable communion, for it is a communion with the Holy Trinity (1 John 1:3).(1) The Father is the Head and Father of the communion (Ephesians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 11:3).(2) The centre of this communion is the Son, the blessed Mediator. In Him all meet (1 Corinthians 11:3).(3) The Holy Spirit is the internal original bond knitting all the members to Christ and among themselves (Ephesians 4:4).

2. It is a most rich communion. There are companies joining stocks together to advance worldly wealth; but the richest of them have nothing but trifles in comparison with the company of saints.(1) They have communion with Christ, a common interest with Him who is Heir of all things.(2) They have communion with God (Psalm 144:15), and with Him all things, since all is His, and He is theirs (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

3. It is a most extensive communion. It extends —(1) Over the earth; and so is called the Catholic Church (1 Corinthians 1:2).(2) To the heavens (Hebrews 12:22, 23).

4. It is a holy communion. It is a fellowship of saints (Ephesians 2:19).Conclusion: One's partaking of the sacrament is a declaring himself to be of that communion.

1. It is a sign and badge of the commumion of saints. "We are one bread" — the one bread signifying that we are one body.

2. It is a seal of the communion of saints, and seals it effectually to all those that do sincerely take hold of the covenant (Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

3. It is an engagement to the duties of this communion of saints (Ephesians 4:1-5).

(T. Boston, D.D.)

(John 14:15; Matthew 26:26, 27; and text): —


1. From the first we learn that the test of love to the Saviour is obedience to His will and keeping of His commandments. Now when Christ says, "Keep My commandments," does He mean that we are to choose amongst them? Certainly not. He means, of course, keep all My commandments.

2. The second belongs to a very solemn occasion, and has the power of a dying request. It was the very last that the disciples were likely to neglect.

3. In the third, as well as in all other records of the history of the early Church, we find that the whole body of believers were communicants, and that it was a strange, indeed almost an unheard-of thing for any adult to be an habitual absentee from the table of the Lord. What, then, is to be thought of a man's pretension to love the Saviour when he lives in wilful and systematic violation of one of the Saviour's most important commandments?


1. That of scrupulosity. The majority of those who absent themselves from the Lord's table do so from the secret conviction that they have not given their hearts to Christ. To come to church they think commits them to nothing. But attendance at the communion does commit them, and they dare not, whilst they feel that they are living for the world and not for Christ, they dare not approach the Lord's table. No one, of course, can blame them. The only wonder is that, knowing they are in a wrong state, they can be contented to remain in it. Look at the excuses that are made.(1) Some say, "Many frequent the Lord's table regularly, who are yet not a bit better than others. What is the good of communicating, then? I will have nothing to do with it whilst these people go there." Now, what sort of reasoning is this? When Peter asked Christ a merely inquisitive question, the Lord said, "What is that to thee? Follow thou Me." May not the same be said to these singular reasoners? The question is about my duty, not about the manner in which another man fulfils, or fails to fulfil, his.(2) Others say, "Oh, a man sets himself up to be so much better than others if he becomes a communicant." Now that is precisely what the man does not do. In fact, his coming forward to the holy table is a virtual confession of his unworthiness and weakness.(3) Another says, "It is such an awful thing to fall into sin after receiving the holy communion." Now that means really, "I am bound to lead a strictly Christian life if I attend the communion; but I am not so bound if I continue to absent myself from it." Is not this a fallacy, and a very ruinous one? Those of you who are non-communicants are as much bound to live a holy life as the communicants are. The difference between you and them is that they are taking the right means to do it and you are not.(4) Another says, "But if I come to the holy communion, people will set up a higher standard for me, and watch my conduct; and should I fall into any inconsistency they will speak reproachfully of me." Well, what else does the New Testament lead you to expect, if you would be a follower of Christ, but that you will become a marked man? The city set on a hill cannot be hid. And Christ warns His followers that they are to expect the world to even "hate" them. What right, then, have we to claim exemption from the usual consequences of Christian discipleship?(5) Others say they are "not good enough to be communicants." But we do not come because we are good, but because we want to be made better. The question, then, is not, Are we holy? but, Have we given our hearts to Christ?

2. That of superstition: and this is more fatal than the other. It is taught that in the act of consecration some mysterious change passes over the elements; so that a man receiving the bread and wine receives something — it is difficult to say what — quite irrespective of his state of mind and of his relation to Jesus Christ. Now this is simply untrue. Life is necessary for the reception and assimilation of food. So, spiritual life — that being, of course, inseparably associated with true faith — is essential to the right use and enjoyment of the privilege of holy communion. And whenever you give the bread and wine to a man who is destitute of a true and living faith in the Saviour, you are simply putting food into the mouth of a corpse! Whilst keeping yourselves from that miserable fetichism which attributes to the sacrament a magical efficacy, regard the holy communion as the chiefest of the means of grace which God has appointed for your edification and comfort, and for your growth in the Divine life.

(G. Culthrop, M.A.)

Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
In the Levitical sacrifices there was communion between Jehovah on the one hand and the priests and worshippers on the other. The communion was effected by means of the slain bullock, e.g., in the peace-offering. This bullock in the burning of the fat furnished —

1. Food of firing for Jehovah, who by fire consumed His portion of the sacrifice.

2. Food of flesh hallowed by the altar to the priests and worshippers, who in this feast common to all were fellow guests with one another and with God. This common feast was a sacrificial meal after the sacrificial offering. In like manner the blood, after its effusion from the body of the bullock in the slaughtering (cf. Luke 22:20), was affused or poured against the altar

(1)for atonement, and,

(2)hallowed by the altar, was given back in the form of sprinkling upon the people for cleansing.Thus the same animal was from the altar given back both in its blood and its flesh to the priest and the people. The blood was regarded as one blood although it was set in bowls by the priest in two halves — one half for affusion to bring God nigh His people, the other half for aspersion to make the people meet for drawing nigh to God. Thus the altar, on which the victim was given to Jehovah and from which it was given back to the offerers, was a meeting-place of communion between them. Now, according to St. Paul, the Eucharistic feast is an antitype of the sacrificial meal of the peace-offering here, as it is of the passover in chap. 1 Corinthians 5. And from the significant word "altar of sacrifice" it seems as if the apostle's thought was that the flesh of Christ, as given back from the altar of the Cross, is the medium of communion in the eating thereof, and the real and therefore spiritual food of His body, by feasting on which we have fellowship with Himself and with one another, and through Himself with God. His human nature, then, of flesh and blood is the "thing signified," and the "remission of sins and all other benefits of His passion" is that which is given us through the "thing." This being the case, the Lord's Supper is not a sacrifice, save in the offering of self-dedication and of God's creatures of bread and wine, but a sacramental feast upon the great sacrifice which was once for all offered to God on the altar of the Cross.

(Canon Evans.)

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils
I. THE MORAL INCOMPATIBILITIES IN LIFE. Every man's life has the two cups. Out of one of these every man drinks, and by it he lives such a life as he has. What are these cups?

1. The devil's cup is full to the brim of selfish gratification. They who drink of it are absorbed with their own personal interests and pleasures. Christ's cup is that of self-denial. "He that taketh not his cross," etc.

2. The devil's cup is full of fictions, phantasies, and vanities. False theories of religion, happiness, greatness, life. Hence the millions who drink of it "walk in a vain show." Christ's cup is full of realities. "I am come to bear witness of the truth." Those who drink of this cup are real men, real in thought, conviction, purpose, and life. They "quit themselves like men."

3. In the cup of the devil everything is material — material pleasures, pursuits, dignities. The men who drink of it live after and for the flesh. Their grand question is, "What shall we eat, what shall we drink?" In Christ's cup there is spirituality, and the men who drink of it feel that the spirit is everything, they are "born of the spirit, are spirit," and live spiritually.

4. In the cup of the devil there is no God, nothing but nature. The men who drink of it are without God in the world. God is not in all their thoughts. In Christ's cup God is the essence and spirit of its contents. They who drink of this cup come under the consciousness of the fact that God is everything; hence, like Enoch, they "walk with God."

II. THE STRONGEST TEMPTATION IN LIFE — to participate of both cups.

1. All men begin and most continue with the devil's cup. We "were by nature the children of wrath even as others." The cup is put into the hand of the child at the very dawn of moral agency, he takes a liking to it until it gets the mastery over him.

2. Some — and their number is ever increasing — renounce the devil's cup and adopt the cup of Christ. The apostle is referring to these when he says, "Such were some of you: but ye are washed," etc.

3. In both classes there is a desire to participate of both cups at the same time. Those who drink of the devil's cup are not morally satisfied, and hence they often desire if possible to participate of the other. On the other hand, many of those who drink of Christ's cup have frequently a strong desire to participate of the devil's cup. Hence the desire for self-indulgence, worldly pleasures and pursuits, etc. Like the Jews in the wilderness, they have a hankering after the fleshpots of Egypt; like Lot's wife, they cast a lingering look upon the old scenes of Sodom.

III. THE ATTEMPTED IMPOSSIBILITY IN LIFE. "Ye cannot," etc. "No man can serve two masters," etc. Ye cannot be selfish and benevolent, materialistic and spiritual, false and true, atheistic and godly, good and bad at the same time. Every man must be one or the other. Conclusion:

1. My unregenerate brother, drink no more of the devil's cup. It may be pleasant, but it is sapping your spiritual constitution, and stealing away your health. It may be delicious, but it still and must turn to poison. Thrust it from you. Thousands have done so: not one who has done it has ever regretted the sacrifice.

2. To you, my Christly friends, I say, cherish no lingerings after the old cup; crush every rising desire for another sip of it. The cup you have in your hand has all and more than you want to satisfy your conscience, to strengthen your faculties, to ennoble your existence, and beautify your being.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

is an expression easily understood when we remember that in the solemn feasts of the ancients the consecration of the banquet took place with that of the cup, accompanied by the libation in honour of the gods. The first cup was offered to Jupiter; the second to Jupiter and the nymphs; the third to Jupiter Soter. To participate in these three cups which circulated among the guests, was not this to do an act of idolatry, and to put oneself under the power of the spirit of evil, as really as the Jew by sacrificing put himself under the influence of Jehovah, and the Christian by communicating under that of Christ? Materially, no doubt, it was possible to act thus, but not without criminal inconsistency. And what proves that this is the meaning of "Ye cannot" is the fact that in the sequel Paul expressly states that the Corinthians already venture to act thus, for he declares the fate which awaits them if they persist.

(Prof. Godet.)

Consider —

I. WHAT THIS SACRAMENT IS. "The cup of the Lord" — "the table of the Lord."

1. We have many observances which, however profitable, are of man's appointment only. But this owes its origin to our Divine Lord. And this circumstance ought to make us view it with the greatest reverence. Christ spreads this table and presides at it.

2. The Lord who instituted it commanded it as a memorial of Himself. And the fact in our Lord's history of which we are to be put peculiarly in mind is His love for lost sinners as displayed in His sufferings and death upon the Cross (1 Corinthians 11:26). Apart from Him this sacrament has no meaning whatsoever.

II. THE SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGES ENJOYED BY THOSE WHO PROPERLY RECEIVE THIS SACRAMENT. It is not bread and wine alone which true communicants receive, but that which is signified by the bread and wine — even the benefits of Christ's body crucified, the merits of His dying blood (ver. 16).


1. Paul is evidently referring to festivals in honour of heathen gods (Daniel 5:4). The Christians, it appears, were often asked to join these; and, believing that an idol was nothing in the world, they drew from thence the inference that such a course was harmless. Now St. Paul reminds them that though in truth "an idol was nothing in the world," yet what the heathens offered to their idols they offered in fact to evil spirits (ver. 20). "And I would not," says he, "that ye should have fellowship with devils." Then, by way of giving them a weighty reason against continuing to attend those ungodly celebrations, he tells them how impossible it was that they could get any benefit from the Lord's Supper whilst they did so.

2. Satan has a wide temple, has spread a large table and has provided deep cups overflowing with deadly wine. At this table every man sits who lives in the practice of sin. The brutish drunkard — is it not the devil's cup which bereaves him of his reason and fills his mouth with riot and with blasphemy? The gluttonous man — is it not at the devil's table that he sits when he makes such a besotted use of the bounties of God's providence? The covetous man that is making gain his god, the lover of worldly pleasure and praise, the selfish, the proud, the passionate, the liar, the hypocrite — all are Satan's guests. Now, can such drink the Lord's cup, eat the Lord's bread, i.e., receive the spiritual blessings of this sacrament?

IV. HOW WE TO COME TO THIS SACRAMENT SO AS TO ENJOY ITS PRIVILEGES? If we cannot drink the Lord's cup or partake of the Lord's table whilst we partake of Satan's, then the right way of coming to this ordinance is by dashing Satan's cup away from us — by rising from his table with an intention, under grace, of sitting down to it no more.

(A. Roberts. M.A.)

Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and of the table of devils
The Lord's Supper got the name of "table" because the early Christians celebrated it in connection with the family meal (of. Acts 2:46 and Pliny's letter). Heathenism turned religious rites into convivial feats, and Christianity made a household meal a sacrament. But the apostle here borrows the name from Malachi, who designates the altar of burnt-offering "the table of the Lord," meaning that God's altar is God's table, i.e., that God partakes of the sacrifice in common with the worshipper. Similarly, says the apostle, the supper instituted by Christ was then and now a table at which the believer is brought into real communion with Christ. But the table is an altar, inasmuch as the communion rests on Christ's atoning sacrifice (cf. Hebrews 13:10).

(Principal Edwards.)

I. "THE DECISION WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO THE MAINTAINING OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. "Ye cannot be partakers," etc. Paul does not mince the matter, but holds forth the solemn fact that idolatrous worship is the worship of devils.

1. Mark what real Christianity is. It is a Divine participation, not merely a participation of bread and wine; that were to be partaker of man's table, because man provides them. To constitute it the Lord's table, the Lord must be present, and I must by faith partake of the Lord, as my lips partake of the bread and the wine.

2. Mark how this excludes all Satan's baits.(1) By "the table of devils" I understand carnal objects engaging the affections, vain amusements, etc. A real Christian is not careful to contrive how near he may go to hell and yet not perish; but he is anxious to try how near be can live to God and Christ.(2) But more is intended. The apostle is speaking throughout of idolatry.

3. "Ye cannot be partakers" of both. "No man can serve two masters." It is this which condemns the spirit of compromise. It cannot be expected that, if you have been meeting with His enemies at their table, Christ will meet you at His as a friend.


1. Have you ever attempted to calculate what you are indebted to grace for? Have the infinite obligations under which you are laid by the acts of grace had their due influence upon heart and life? Were an earthly monarch or an earthly friend to do for you or for me a thousandth part of what Jesus has done, all his injunctions and wishes would be sacred with us. And how is it that Christ should have given Himself for us, and yet we should feel such a wretched coldness and indifference to the interests of His kingdom upon earth and His throne in our own hearts? Think of the mighty debt we owe, and then ask whether we can " be partakers of the table of the Lord and the table of devils."

2. The obligation rises still higher if we bear in mind the dignity of the character to which we are exalted. Remember you are not merely pardoned, but adopted; made kings and priests to God, and destined to live and reign with Him. And shall such dignity of character be debased by our "partaking of the table of devils"?

3. What is your expectation? To be like Christ and to see Him as He is, to be entirely and eternally rid of sin, and he a partaker of glory. And shall I forget it all and be "a partaker of the table of devils"? God forbid!

(J. Irons.)

Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?
I know of but one provocation that is commendable — the "provoking one another unto love and to good works." All others are to be shunned; and most of all that which provokes God. My text is in perfect accordance with that expression, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." We "provoke the Lord to jealousy" —

I. BY A WORLDLY SPIRIT. All through the Bible separation from the world is enjoined. God's Church is a peculiar people. But alas! it has become almost the common practice to aim to get rid of all that could be considered peculiar.

II. WHEN THE OPPOSITION TO SIN AND HERESY CEASES TO BE MAINTAINED. "Curse ye Meroz." Why? Not because they had done any mischief, but because they were neutrals. Our Lord has said, "He that is not with Me is against Me." Oh! provoke Him not to jealousy.

III. BY UNBELIEF. There are many of you that have had evidences which you could not controvert that you belong to God; but yet you have never owned it — nay, refuse to admit the fact, fear it is not for you. You reject the comforts: and this is "provoking God to jealousy."

IV. BY LAXITY IN PRAYER. His kind invitation runs, "Draw nigh to Me, and I will draw nigh to you"; " Pray without ceasing." And what say our closets?

V. BY DECLENSION FROM HIS TRUTH. This will follow laxity in prayer. Where the truth of God is undervalued, where the doctrines of God's grace are considered of comparatively little importance, we "provoke the Lord to jealousy." Nothing is more offensive in His sight than when "truth is fallen in the streets" and "cannot enter."

(J. Irons.)

Consider —


1. By sin.

2. By impenitence and unbelief.

3. By distrust and murmuring.

4. By giving His glory to another.


1. He is very jealous.

2. His anger is fierce.

3. He will not acquit the guilty.


1. He is stronger than we.

2. We cannot escape.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient.
People born and educated in a Christian country, and surrounded with the public opinion and social habits attendant upon Christian civilisation, can have no idea of the difficulties of a converted heathen. Cases of conscience would perplex such a man which to us would seem childish. In the present and preceding chapters the apostle is dealing with such cases, and sums up the whole matter in the text. The question, in things indifferent, was not merely Are they lawful? but Are they expedient? They may be lawful in the abstract, but this lawfulness must always be used, subject to the consideration that advance in righteousness must not be hindered whether in ourselves or others. "All things" of course must be limited to the special cases referred to. The apostle gives here no countenance to Antinomianism. Only indifferent things are intended. Note —

I. THAT WHAT IS LAWFUL FOR A CHRISTIAN MAY NOT ALWAYS BE EXPEDIENT. Consider what a Christian man is, and how holy a trust he has committed to him. He is a child of God and has to walk worthy of his vocation. Such a position brings with it not merely an obligation to do what is right, but to do what is becoming. E.g., to a Christian prince and a Christian peasant there are the same motives of action and the same rule of character; yet what would be becoming for the one, would be unbecoming for the other. This principle obtains in social life. The world holds truly that there are many things which are not unseemly in an ordinary man which are unseemly in a magistrate or in a minister. And it is just this distinction which a child of God is to regard. Now to what a variety of things may this principle be applied! To dress, style of social life, recreations, conversation, etc. Does this conduct consist with charity? Does it throw a hindrance in the way of a weak brother? The expenditure I make is lawful. Granted; but is it expedient? Might not my time and money be better employed? Am I seeking in selfishness my own needless indulgence in preference to the important good of my neighbours?

II. THAT TO A CHRISTIAN, WHATEVER IS APPARENTLY EXPEDIENT, MUST AT THE SAME TIME BE CLEARLY LAWFUL. In the world the right is too often sacrificed to the expedient. E.g., "My business would be gone," says the worldlywise trader, "if I acted upon those rigid rules of right which you put up." "These commercial frauds," says the man on Change, "are general customs, they are understood things, and I only practise upon others according to my experience from others." But to do evil that good may come is to do Satan's work. Remember, our standard of conscience and conduct is not that of the world — it is that of Christ. "He that abideth in Him must walk even as He walked." Now I know of no other method of safety but that which lies in the command, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."

(C. J. P. Eyre, M.A.)


1. A good man has a right to go wherever, to eat whatever, and to dress as he pleases, for he will be actuated evermore from a good motive.

2. But for him to use his full right would be often inexpedient and even pernicious to others. "Things lawful" for him would not always "edify," build up souls in reverent faith and true worship. Therefore do not stand upon your rights, but yield for the sake of others.


I. If you are over-scrupulous about what you eat, it will prevent your participation in what nature has provided for you (ver. 25). If it is good meat it is not the worse for human food because used in sacrifice.

2. If you are over-scrupulous about the beliefs of men, you will be deprived of social enjoyments (ver. 27). Free, genial, social intercourse is one of the greatest blessings. Our Saviour came "eating and drinking," but by scrupulosity you sacrifice all this and injure your nature. The world was given for your enjoyment. "All things are yours."

III. A DEFERENCE TO THE CONSCIENCES OF OTHERS SHOULD NEVER BE NEGLECTED. When at the table with meats which have been sacrificed to idols, from which a fellow-guest conscientiously abstains and reminds you of the fact, then out of deference to his weak conscience do not touch it — however delicious it may appear, and however hungry you may be. The most sacred thing is conscience, and the weakest should be respected. What are meats and drinks in comparison?

IV. SUPREME REGARD FOR THE GLORY OF GOD SHOULD RULE US ALL (ver. 31). These words embrace all life. The definite acts of eating and drinking are mentioned because under consideration. They are, however, to be regulated by the same principle which guides all true life. The modern distinction between religious and secular is nowhere recognised by St. Paul. The commonest thing may be done in a high Christian spirit; the greatest deed may spring from a low and selfish motive. A religious act done in a secular spirit is secular. A secular thing done in a religious spirit is religious.


(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth

1. Wealth here does not mean riches, but men's spiritual good. The word signifies prosperity in general, as is still seen in the use of the word commonwealth or public good.

2. The apostle directs us not to seek our own, but every man another's wealth; ourselves are not excluded, but others are included in the rifle. It is a Jewish form of speaking, very common in the Old and New Testaments (Mark 9:37).


1. Not to do that action which we know to be lawful when there is danger of its misleading and weakening the faith of another Christian who thinks it unlawful.

2. To endeavour to promote the practice of piety and virtue.

3. To promote the knowledge of religion in our fellow-creatures, the want of which we find by experience to produce very fatal effects; for when young persons set out in such a world as this is, unacquainted with the grounds of their religion, not knowing the reason and foundation of the hope that is in them, how easily do they become a prey to the libertine or superstitious perverter.

(Z. Pearce, D.D.)

The main cause of men's prejudices against the gospel was that it not only pretended to mysteries far above human understanding, but enjoined such things as were intolerable to human sense. And seeing that this phrase is so hard to be understood, and so much harder to be practised, I shall endeavour —

I. TO EXPLAIN THE SENSE OF IT. "Let no man seek his own," i.e. —

1. Be selfish in his designs, be of a narrow private spirit; but let him have an open heart and a public mind.

2. So as to injure or neglect others; but let him also seek another's wealth, and not only his wealth, but his safety, peace, content, honour, everlasting good. Let no man lay it as the first principle of his thoughts, words, and actions, How shall I improve my own affairs? But, How shall I make other people happy?

II. TO SHOW THE REASONABLENESS OF IT — the goodness, the agreeableness of it to our interest. Consider —

1. That no good man is a separate and entire being of himself; he is but a part of a whole, or a member of a body. That which gives life and heat to any member is the circulation of spirits that is in common to the whole body. Therefore when ye are bid not to seek your own, ye are bid to live and be happy in the common benefits of mankind; to have an interest in that which others have. It is for your own preservation and happiness that ye are bid not to seek your own.

2. That we ourselves are not our own; we have a proprietor which is God. We neither made ourselves, nor are we anything but what He pleases to make us; and therefore it is very improper to call ourselves, or anything we have, our own, and to seek anything as our own is to withdraw ourselves from Him in whom we life and move and have our being; but not to seek our own — that is, not to place our hopes and desires on anything but God — is to entitle ourselves to His care and protection.

3. That upon the text we may build safely and innocently the greatest self-interest. For if we dedicate all our desires and acquisitions to God, then, and not till then, everything we possess is properly our own; everything we enjoy is the free gift and blessing of God.


1. Our Lord "came unto His own, and His own received Him not," etc. His own were those whose benefit He designed. So, following His example, we may make many things our own which otherwise we should have no relation to. We may "make to ourselves friends, e.g., of the mammon of unrighteousness." The mammon itself will fail them that seek it, but the friends we make with it will never fail us. The poor we have always with us, and we may make them our own, our relations and dependents here; and they, under Christ, will be our advocates hereafter. If we seek out a distressed family to relieve it, that will be our own family, it will always own us before God, and we ourselves shall enjoy, as it were, the affluence, the refreshments, the joys of that family.

2. But that reward must not be the only motive. That will be seeking our own, if what we do for others be only upon the hopes that God will pay it back to us; and much less may we propose to ourselves any temporal advantage from the benefits we confer upon our brethren. We must not do good to our tenants or servants because they may be the better able to pay us or serve us, but because they have a dependence upon us. So likewise in duties to ourselves we must not seek our own upon selfish motives; we must not be temperate for the sake only of health, but in obedience to God and for a good example to others. We must not be sober and discreet only because we are in such a place or office, but because we possess the gospel of Christ and are called by His name. We must not be industrious and frugal that we may fill our bags, but because we have a family to provide for, or some great acts of charity to perform. We must not do great and glorious actions for the reputation that we may gain, but for the glory of God and the honour of our country. All our designs must be of a large and regular circumference, our hopes and desires must be elevated above ourselves.

3. But every one must consider himself as no more than one among the rest of mankind — a servant of Christ's and a member of His body; and therefore he must seek that only as is most pleasing to His Lord and most beneficial to the advantage of the whole. As a tree that brings not forth for itself, but for others. He must look upon himself as poor and miserable, when he has not an opportunity of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, etc. He must seek opportunities of doing all this and much more; and he must rejoice when he hath found out a way of making others happy. For as the enemy of God and man "goes about seeking whom he may devour," so he who will be a friend to God and man must go about seeking whom he may support.

(S. Pratt, D.D.)

The apostle cannot be supposed, in the text, to prohibit or discourage all regard to our own interests. Self-love is the most active principle in the human mind; and to seek our own happiness is to obey the first law of our nature. It is then only that our attention to our own concerns becomes culpable, when they so entirely employ our thoughts, and engross our affections, as to leave us neither leisure nor inclination to pay a due regard to the interests of others. And at the same time that the apostle dissuades us from indulging a selfish temper, he exhorts us to cultivate the contrary spirit, and to exercise a generous concern for the welfare of our brethren. Behold the prosperity of such as are happy; and let the sight of their felicity increase your own. Take notice of the calamities of the unfortunate, and let their afflictions penetrate your hearts.

I. In the first place, IT IS PERFECTLY AGREEABLE TO OUR NATURE, AS MEN, THAT WE SHOULD BE ATTENTIVE TO THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS, AS WELL AS TO OUR OWN. Examine the constitution of the human mind, and you will see that it is endued by its Maker, with principles and affections of a social as well as of a private and personal kind; and that we are as really, though perhaps less strongly, impelled by the former to interest ourselves in the welfare of our fellow-creatures, as by the latter to provide for our own happiness. A farther obligation to this duty arises from the state of mutual dependence in which mankind are placed. All the employments and occupations of society are reciprocal offices of kindness, which mankind are perpetually performing towards each other, for their mutual support and happiness. Another argument, to enforce the exhortation of the text, may be taken from the pleasures of benevolence. How noble, how satisfying, how far superior to all other delights, these pleasures are, the good man who has experienced them alone can tell. There is nothing from which the superior excellence of the pleasures of benevolence more plainly appears than from this circumstance; that they may be enjoyed through all the vicissitudes of human life, and will continue when other pleasures shall forsake us for ever. Under the greatest reverse of fortune, and the heaviest pressure of affliction, the good man may have the satisfaction of performing some offices of kindness to others: or at least may extend his benevolent wishes to all mankind, and offer up his fervent prayers to heaven on their behalf. The remembrance of his good deeds will minister consolation to his soul in that hour when consolation is most of all needed. Having said thus much concerning the internal pleasures of benevolence, it may perhaps seem of little consequence to add, that an attention to the interests of others will secure us the esteem and love of mankind. But, though the approbation of our own hearts is above all things else to be desired, yet the good opinion of the world is certainly not beneath the notice of a wise man.

II. THAT BY COMPLYING WITH THE EXHORTATION OF THE APOSTLE IN THE TEXT, WE SHALL ACQUIRE A RESEMBLANCE TO THE MOST AMIABLE AND PERFECT OF ALL BEINGS. The Eternal Deity, whose being and happiness are independent and immutable, liveth not unto Himself. He continually exerts His almighty power, and employs His perfect wisdom to preserve and bless the numberless orders of beings which He hath created. Consider, farther, that to be attentive to the interests and seek the happiness of our brethren, is to act agreeably to our Christian profession and character. If we form our ideas of the Christian character, either from the dispositions and conduct of Christ, from the laws which He hath given us for the regulation of our actions, or from His own express language, we shall see that it consists in a benevolent heart and a good life. "By this," saith He, "shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one towards another."


(W. Enfield.)

The precepts of the gospel sometimes fall in with, and sometimes oppose, the natural feelings of the heart. One of the strongest natural feelings is self-love. This principle in man is rebuked or countenanced by the doctrine of Christ, according to the manner in which it is modified by other principles. If it be single, the only motive which governs the character, it is then a thorough selfishness which leads to all sin, and is peremptorily denounced. But when it is kept under sober control, regulated by reason, limited by regard to the rights and happiness of others, and to the laws of equity, kindness, and truth, then it is allowed and advocated by Christianity. Our Lord would blot out and destroy none of the native characteristics of man; He seeks but to correct, renew, and exalt them. It is the purpose of the gospel to bring the benevolent principle to an equality, as far as possible, with the selfish. It would adjust the one by the other, graduate them side by side, and make them equal, active, and successful partners in the promotion of human happiness.


1. He may have a legal right to go on and advance his own interest, however it may be to the detriment of another. He may trample on the poor man his neighbour, and avail himself of the defencelessness of the widow, and take advantage of the unskilful in trade, and obstruct the inexperience of youth. But all this, which the policy of the world may allow, the kind spirit of the gospel, yes, the eternal rule of equity condemns. So also of the character of his pursuits. He may have a legal right to enter upon any occupation which shall grant a livelihood, or make him rich, without regard to its injurious operation on others. But he has no moral right, no Christian right, to do it. It was not for this that was sent into the world. Both natural morality and Christian precept cry out against this prostitution of his power, and lay upon him their imperative injunction to pursue an occupation innocent at least, if he cannot make it absolutely beneficial.

2. We are not, however, to interpret this obligation of usefulness so straitly as to infer that no pursuit is allowable but such as promotes directly the welfare of other men or of society. It must be accounted sufficient that a man's calling be not injurious, or that it be indirectly useful to the whole by its benefit to those whom Scripture calls his own.

3. It is to be observed further, that in a civilised state of society there are many callings essential to the general comfort and refinement which cannot be, and ought not to be, dispensed with, which can yet in only a very secondary sense be denominated useful. Yet they are so indispensable to the highest advancement of human society that they are not to be proscribed by religion. All cannot be teachers, all cannot be magistrates, all cannot be philanthropists. "If the whole body were the head, where were the body." But they have their place, and in that place their office is serviceable. And, be it remembered, that the conscientious man may always make his occupation directly useful by devoting a portion of its gains to useful ends, and of its leisure to works of kindness and social good. Thus much concerning the general obligation of usefulness.


1. God has plainly intimated His will by the nature which He has given us. Our earliest feelings, it is true, are absorbed in ourselves. But we no sooner enter on the experience of society, and become capable of understanding the situation of others, than our hearts are drawn out toward them, and we instinctively desire that they also should enjoy.

2. God has further testified to us His will by the situation to which He has appointed us. It is a state of mutual and reciprocal dependance.

3. He has further enforced this obligation by His own example. What has He made, what has He done, except for some useful end? In all the expenditures of His universe, what has been expended except to do good?

4. The obligation is also laid upon us by the example of Jesus Christ. His life was devoted, consecrated, to useful labours. No matter for Himself; no matter for His own convenience, comfort or rest.

(H. Ware.)

If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast.
I. CHRISTIANITY DOES NOT FORBID IT — does not forbid the acceptance of the invitation. To forbid such intercourse —

1. Would involve a command with which it would be impossible to comply, and which would be inconsistent with the position of the Christian as a citizen of this world. The distinction between believers and unbelievers is doubtless the most important which it is possible to make, but is not the classification made by men generally. It is not recognised by trade. Hence to forbid intercourse would be to prescribe an impossible rule. Christians are to be "diligent in business," etc. Moreover, how many families are there, some of the members of which believe, and others believe not!

2. Would necessitate our making distractions which it is impossible for us to make. Which of us could draw the line between those that believe and those that believe not?

3. Would encourage in those who believe the most un-Christlike feelings. How would it encourage the spirit of Pharisaism! "Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other men are." "Give place, for I am holier than thou." Further, all those who believe were once amongst those who believe not; and how has this transition been made? "By grace." And this being the case, how unbecoming abstinence from all social intercourse with those who believe not.

4. Would be to take away the best means for the cultivation of personal piety. The piety of the Bible is not the piety of the cloister, but one which is consummated in love. And where do we find the best school for this? A manly piety is best cultivated in the midst of the busy hum of the market and the shop. It is in the world that we meet with that discipline which is necessary for the strengthening of our faith, patience, and meekness.

5. Would interpose a barrier to the spread of Christian truth. The influence of example is one of the most valuable means of spreading the gospel (chaps. 7, 8)

6. Would be inconsistent with the example of Christ. He was "invited to a feast," on more occasions than one by those who believed not, and went. "This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." Such reasons show the propriety of the truth involved in our text. With many, however, the great danger is of erring on the other side. No surer proof is there that our heart is not right with God than when we choose for our intimate companions those who are utter strangers to the power of godliness.

II. CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE CAREFUL, IN SUCH INTERCOURSE, NOT TO BE THE MEANS OF CAUSING THEIR CHRISTIANITY TO BE EVIL SPOKEN OF. The particular way in which this might be done is specified by the apostle. Occasions, in such intercourse, there are sure to be, when the temptation to belie our faith in Christ will be strong. An unguarded word or look may be the means of causing some of "the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme." Moreover, we may advert to the care we should take to turn such social intercourse to good account. To what an eminent degree did Christ do so; and well would it be if Christians embraced opportunities of saying "a word in season" in that easy, natural way in which Christ did it. We must cultivate our own personal godliness — live more ourselves in the Spirit — and then we shall make that use of social intercourse which we ought.

(Caleb Scott, LL.B.)

Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other
Strictly the form of the expression would be, "Conscience, not only thine own, but of the other as well." The moral significance of life is nowhere more vitally manifest than in what we do or fail to do for the characters of our neighbours. And it is easy enough to agree that we ought not to damage other men's consciences; but to give up the pleasant and otherwise harmless habit which will damage them, is not always easy. Besides, there are some questions of right, how far this ought or is demanded to be done. Now note —


1. On the ground of the nature of the case this can he denied only by the monk on the ground that in solitude, as a higher state of man, the relations do not exist; by the indifferentist on the ground that the result of things is beyond the influence of ethical distinctions; or by the believer in the legitimacy of sheer impulse.

2. Quite as clear is the word of the gospel. The Christian faith is eminently a social principle. The forms it takes on are domestic and associative. It founds a church. It advocates the common weal. Amongst its commandments are, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," and "Bear ye one another's burdens." The lives of the apostles were consecrated labours for the souls of their fellow-men.

II. NOW, THE HELPS MEN RENDER TO ONE ANOTHER'S VIRTUE ARE FOR THE MOST PART, RENDERED WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS ATTEMPT AT WHAT IS CALLED "SETTING AN EXAMPLE." Excellence is more impressive when it is seen living and acting by a certain independent force from within itself, than when it is put on exhibition for a pattern. In agriculture and mechanics producers do sometimes raise stock, or finish fabrics, merely for a show; but goodness is a more delicate thing. If we undertake to manufacture it for a pattern, we shall spoil it in the making. It will not be genuine, but Pharisaic.

III. BUT THIS DOES NOT AT ALL DENY OUR OBLIGATION TO DO OR NOT TO DO SOME THINGS, OUT OF A SIMPLE REGARD TO THEIR SOCIAL EFFECTS. Christian modesty may shrink from the thought of being exemplary; but Christian principle will eagerly renounce what is hurtful. Is it not likely that we are set into society for this very end, that by sacrifices for others we may be disciplined into a more Christlike disinterestedness? The complicated case, undoubtedly, is where some habit is felt to be perfectly safe to yourself, but would probably be unsafe to others who are the more likely to go astray for your practice.

1. The defence set up is: "Rules of meat and drink, amusement and display, are not definite nor absolute. Each must adjust his habit to his constitution and circumstances, and stop there. Everything is likely to be abused. I am to strike out a way of living that seems lawful enough for myself, and expect everybody else to do the same." Now —(1) This language has a sound of hardness and selfishness, and the moral judgment pronounces that it is not the final nor the highest view of duty. It is not the sort of response we expect from the nobler order of men, who live for the good of their race, and not for themselves.(2) This defence is not very likely to be urged where the party endangered by our gratification should be a child or a brother. But Christianity recognises no such limitation of responsibility — it declares all mankind one family; and that, for the purposes of doing God's will, every human being is a mother or a brother or a sister.(3) And when it is said that all things must be abused, remember that this tendency by no means excuses him who so uses, beyond the line of necessity or duty, that the abuse comes in. If "offences must needs come," none the less "woe to him by whom the offence cometh."(4) If you further say that, so long as your act is not in itself wrong, Providence must see that no harm comes of it, the reply is that Providence is quite as likely to see that no harm comes to you when you deny yourself. Besides, when we speak of an act as "right in itself," consider what is included in "itself." For no act can be said to be right in itself which is so done that the spirit of the doer or the situation of its occurrence binds it up inseparably with wrong.(5) And if you still urge that nothing ought to be given up which makes for the happy processes of social life, then let it be fully established that the practice does belong to the best order of life, and is essential to it, and that its advantages are not outweighed by the evils that spring directly out of it. Above all, let it be clear whether the thing is really done from a conscientious regard to the public good, or whether that is only a sophistication to palliate what is actually done only because it is agreeable.

2. Set over against the defence the following words of Paul, and say which seems to ring clearest from the heights of Christian clearsightedness and truth, "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Let no man put a stumbling-block in his brother's way. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink," etc.

IV. THE MORE FREQUENT OBSTACLE TO THIS THOUGHTFUL AND GENEROUS BEHAVIOUR, IS THE ABSENCE OF ANY GLARING EVIDENCE THAT OUR LUXURIES DO TEMPT OUR NEIGHBOURS. What is the delight of a palate, or of an amusement, that any of us would not hurl from him if he saw one fellow-creature plunged into all profligacy by it? But surely, in such a matter, a doubt is grave enough to dictate a Christian's conduct. A very earnest moral nature will not be willing to imperil a fellow-creature's purity on the slender difference between a conjecture and a certainty. And little as they may suspect it, who eat, drink, and are merry, without a religious scruple on their pleasures, all the while, in many a building not far away, the beginnings of vice are taking a terrible warrant and license from their freedom. Conclusion:

1. There is no self-denial deserving the name that is not willing to give up any privilege rather than endanger the least or lowest of God's children. In the estimates of God and eternity, the generosity that shields a human heart from shame will stand above a genial style of hospitality. Not till comfort shall become the creed of Christendom, can free living be the testimony of faith.

2. After all, we must raise our minds before a higher judgment than our own. Again the voice of the Lord God will be heard at the end of the day, asking of you and me, "Where is thy brother?" How little will it avail us then to stammer with the impotent mockery of self-defence, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

(Bishop Huntington.)

Whether therefore ye eat... do all to the glory of God.

1. The glory of God is —(1) The essence, person, or majesty of God; i.e., God Himself, who is the fountain of glory (2 Peter 1:17).(2) The manifestation of God's perfections (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 11:7). And because in every one of the Divine perfections there is something distinctly worthy of praise, it is not unprequent to call any one of those perfections the glory of God.

(a)The Divine power (Psalm 19:1; John 11:4, 40).

(b)The Divine mercy and goodness as the attributes wherein God chiefly delights (James 2:13, "Mercy glorieth over judgment"; see also Romans 9:23; Ephesians 3:16). These are also called the glory of Christ (John 1:14). And even the glory of a man (Proverbs 19:11; see also Ephesians 1:14; Romans 11:32).

2. The glorifying God is(1) The acknowledgment which creatures make again to God —(a) In worshipping (Psalm 29:1; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 19:7); and because the heathen gave this to others instead of the true God St. Paul charges them (Romans 1:21) with knowing God but glorifying Him not as God.(b) By thanks particularly returned for special benefits received (Luke 17:18).(c) By acknowledgment of His government and supreme dominion in the world (Philippians 2:11; Revelation 11:13). Belshazzar, for neglecting this, was reproved by Daniel (Daniel 5:22). And Herod, in Acts 12:23.(2) Confession of past sins with true humiliation (Joshua 7:19).(3) Actual repentance, and forsaking of sin, by real amendment (Revelation 16:9).(4) Habitual holiness (1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 1:11). In a word: whatever tends to the true honour of religion, to its promotion among men, are the things which promote the glory of God. Hence the apostles, in their exhortations to the practice of any virtue, urge this argument — that it will be to the glory of God (Romans 15:5; and text; see also Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11; Titus 2:10).

II. WHAT IT IS THAT IS REQUIRED OF MEN IN PRACTICE IN ORDER TO THEIR SATISFYING THE PRECEPT. He who will in all things promote the glory of God, must —

1. Show forth the sense he has of God upon his mind, by acts directly religious (Hebrews 10:24; Psalm 107:31; Revelation 5:13).

2. Resolve against being at any time guilty of any action which is sinful (Romans 2:23; Numbers 15:30; Isaiah 5:24; 1 Corinthians 10:22).

3. In all actions of moment, although not directly religious, expressly intend the glory of God as the main end.

4. The same in the smallest and most inconsiderable actions of life. The Scripture represents all, even irrational and the very inanimate creatures (Psalm 148:2, etc.) as glorifying God, because they act regularly, according to the nature He has given them, and by His command. Much more, then, may even the most common actions of men be justly said to be done to the glory of God, when they are done, as becomes men and Christians. Conclusion:(1) The text rebukes those who, far from doing all things to the glory of God, do, on the contrary, dishonour Him by open sin.(2) Those who, though they do not dishonour God by acts directly irreligious, yet are careless and negligent in matters of religion.(3) Such as have indeed a zeal for religion, but not according to knowledge, placing the main stress on ceremonies unworthy of God; or in opinions and notions, which through their obscurity or their disagreeableness to the everlasting gospel, hinder, instead of promoting, the glory of God.(4) Even the best of men have need to be admonished, to be more and more deligent in all their actions, to do everything to the glory of God: not with a superstitious anxiety or burdensome preciseness, but with a cheerful application of everything that occurs in life, to the promoting of truth and virtue among men.

(S. Clarke, D.D.)

1. To do everything for God's glory is the great law of the universe. For this the flower blooms, the bird warbles, the rivers murmur, etc., and from the standpoint of celestial science all seemingly anomalous facts and antagonistic forces yield to the same law.

2. This is also the law of God's moral universe; all actions of all spiritual creatures work out the same Divine purpose. Even sin is working out God's declarative glories — like the thick cloud, a background for His rainbows; like the black night, revealing His stars. The moving invitations of the gospel are not urged lest God should come short of His ultimate glory. Note: —


1. Our religious life is no more to be confirmed to Sabbaths and sanctuaries than is our eating and drinking. Holiness to the Lord ought to be inscribed as well on the bells of our horses as on the bells of our sanctuaries. And all the sounds of busy civilisation — the axe, the chisel, the saw, the wheels, yea, the joyous laugh, should blend with the new song of the redeemed in heaven unto the glory of God.

2. That it is not so, practically, we all know. To profess religion has come to mean little more than to go to church and partake of the sacrament. There may be during the entire six days an arrest of all thought of God. But now comes the Sabbath, and, lo! a sudden resurrection of buried Christianity. Practical Christianity is no sanctuary sensation; it is the conscientious discharge of all duty with a desire therein to honour Jehovah. It makes the whole world a temple, and the whole life a priesthood.

II. ITS UNIVERSALITY. The apostle speaks of actions seemingly trivial to be done religiously. The taste of our times is for great things in religion. As the summer tourist hurries carelessly by all the tamer beauties of the landscape, and can experience no rapture save on the height of some mountain, or in the spray of some waterfall, so nothing less than a powerful revival seems to many a season or sphere wherein God can be honoured. Now, against this disposition our text is launched. Its practical wisdom will appear if we consider —

1. That life is made up of little things and trivial occurrences. As in nature there is but one Mount Blanc, and one Niagara, so in grace there occur but few great crises. In the mass and in the main, if we do anything for God, it must be in the ever-recurring things of our daily life.

2. That though one might occasionally do some great thing for God, yet this neglect to honour Him in these small things would destroy all the good influence of the grander achievements. Let a man be as ardent as Peter, as eloquent as Paul, as loving as John, if in his common life he is vain, or proud, or selfish, then it will be as the dead fly of Solomon — the savour of his godliness is an offence.

3. That the absence of small graces destroys the very essence of the greater. So dependent are all Christian principles one upon another, that they cannot even exist separately. Let a man be all patience without courage, and he becomes more a sheep than a saint; let him be all courage without gentleness, and he is simply a tiger. Zeal without knowledge is a devouring fire in a harvest-field; and even love without labour is a scorching sirocco, withering the strength of the becalmed mariner.

4. That even in regard of His own actions God is more sensibly glorified in small things than in great. Strictly speaking, God's great things are only an aggregate of little things. Mount Blanc is but a masonry of sand-grains; Niagara only a multiplication of rain-drops. And to a simply philosophic mind God is more wonderful when feathering the insect's wing than when upholding the great orbs of astronomy.

5. How often false are our reckonings of what is great and small. Great actions are such only as produce great results: and so shortsighted are we in respect to life's issues, that we can never know when we are doing great things or small.

6. How it requires and manifests a higher style of piety to do well the small thing than the great. Naaman found it easier to conquer mighty cities than to go down in childlike obedience to the Jordan. Martyrdom itself, under the influence of a grand heroism, is among the easiest of all things. It requires less piety to do this splendid thing for God than to subdue every selfish and carnal thought, to love an insolent and provoking enemy. Paul found it easier to combat Ephesian beasts than to bear his thorn in the flesh; and Peter, who could plunge into the sea, and flash his sword for Christ, could neither keep his temper nor govern his tongue.

7. The importance of these smaller things in religion, inasmuch as they abound in the spheres of our pleasures. If we may eat and drink to God's glory, then as certainly we may gather bright flowers and listen to singing birds. We may gratify all taste of art, literature, and science. God wants His children, even on earth, to be happy. Conclusion: What a blessed world this would become under the full play of so heavenly a principle! What a prodigious power it would give to the gospel in the eyes of gainsaying men if, instead of this mere Pharisaism of sanctuaries and sacraments, it was seen to inspire its disciples with all the practical graces of truth, honour, public spirit, brotherly kindness, and charity.

(C. Wadsworth, D.D.)

This injunction is abused by those who pay no attention to it at all, and by those who, by giving it the most literal and matter-of-fact interpretation, worry themselves over every little detail of conduct.


1. No deeds of ours add to or detract from God's glory. He is Himself the source of His own glory. When we do anything for the glory of God, it is to bring His glory out. A man who acts worthily, as God enjoins, causes men to acknowledge the source and origin of his worthiness. Thus the mother is honoured when her son is honoured; so, too, her virtue shines again in the virtue of her daughter.

2. This definition does away with that objective obedience to our text upon which so many insist, and substitutes a subjective form of obedience. Take a business man, as he sits in his office, or pushes past you on the streets. Of what is he thinking? Is it of wife and children? Not at all. In thought he is making a bargain. Yet he is a father and a husband as truly as if he had his boy on his knee, and his wife by his side. A carriage-maker does not make a wheel all at once, but spoke by spoke; and, when he is shaping a spoke or a felly, he is thinking about that, and not of the entire wheel. The highest motive is not always necessary or proper. A butcher is doing his duty; but it would be nonsense to ask him if he used his knife for the glory of God. A Christian has no right to vulgarise his religion by such forced interpretations.

3. The passage, then, is to be taken in its large, general sense. It has no application to pudding and pies, playing chess, etc. It is intended to cover the main tendency of a life, and not particular acts and transient states of feeling. It is globular, and not atomic. It is vast as the earth, and not minute and special as a grain of sand.

II. THE APPLICATION. It is an exhortation to all men, and especially to all Christitus —

1. To give in all their doings a due recognition of God. By nature man is his own god. Self-love rules. But Christians are people whose nature has been renewed. Still, we are not immaculate. We are pushed against and soiled. Even the best forces of our nature lead us astray. Economy, unless watched, becomes sordidness; ambition, unscrupulousness; pride, arrogance; self-esteem, vanity. The goal is lost sight of in the dust of the course, and, owing to the multitude and rush of the runners, we get excited, lose control, and, like a vicious or frenzied horse, when in the very home-stretch — bolt. This text, therefore, exhorts us to recognise God in all our plans and purposes — His authority over us, His ownership in us, His gracious love for us. Put this recognition of God as a pilot at the helm of your life, and your soul will come to the conclusion of its voyage as a rich-freighted ship. Even trouble will be to you, in your relation to God, what night is to the sky above your head. Its shadows are, indeed, sombre and oppressive; but without its darkness you would never have known the stars.

2. To a wise gravity. I fear that half the lives lived are frivolous lives. Not a few are living without an object. How dare you live in idleness (you call it leisure) when the best voices of the world are calling for help? How dare you fritter away your time in self-amusement? Help some one; lift some one.Conclusion:

1. The first thing for one to do who would live for the glory of God is to live without sin. He who sins cannot glorify God. It is in virtue and personal holiness that man most glorifies his Maker.

2. If he would glorify God, the average state of a Christian's soul should be a happy one. Christians should sing while they work, as birds while building their nests and gathering food for their young.

(W. H. H. Murray.)

I. THE VARIOUS USE OF THIS PHRASE IN SCRIPTURE. We are said in Scripture to glorify — i.e., honour — God —

1. By a solemn acknowledgment of Him and His perfections in worship (Psalm 86:9); but especially in praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 86:12; Matthew 5:16; Luke 5:25; Luke 17:18).

2. By the acknowledgment of sin and repentance for it (Joshua 7:19; Jeremiah 13:16; Revelation 16:9); because in so doing we acknowledge God's authority and the righteousness of those laws which we have broken.

3. By our holiness and obedience (1 Corinthians 6:20). Thus our Saviour glorified God (John 17:4), and bids us do so (John 15:8). So likewise St. Paul prays for the Philippians (Philippians 1:11).

4. By our sufferings for His cause and truth (John 21:19).

5. When the honour and advantage of religion is consulted —

(1)By faithful ministers (1 Peter 4:11).

(2)By maintaining the peace and unity of the Church (Romans 15:5, 6).

(3)By abstaining from things likely to cause scandal, as in the argument concluded by the text.


1. They must be materially good; we must do what God commands, and avoid what He forbids.

2. They must be done with regard to God, and out of conscience to our duty to Him, and not for any mean or temporal end. If we serve God to please men, if we profess godliness for gain, though the actions be never so good, yet all their virtue is lost.

3. They must not be spoiled by any bad circumstance; for circumstances may render that which is lawful in itself unlawful.


1. This is morally impossible, and therefore cannot be obligatory.

2. It is not necessary, any more than it is for a man who takes a journey every step of his way actually to think of his journey's end.

3. A habitual intention to glorify God in the course of our lives is sufficient; because this will serve all good purposes, as well as an actual intention upon every particular occasion.


1. If we could admit the supposition that the two might come in competition, there could be no obligation to choose eternal misery, for that would be to choose sin, the cause of it. And sin is not to be chosen in any case; no, not for the glory of God (Romans 3:7, 8). As to the instance of Moses, the phrase of "blotting out of the book of life" probably signifies no more than death. St. Paul's was a vehement and hyperbolical expression of his mighty affection to his brethren according to the flesh.

2. The supposition is senseless. By seeking the glory of God we directly promote our own happiness; the two are inseparably linked together.


1. See here the goodness of God, who is pleased to esteem whatever is for the good of men to be for His glory.

2. Here is a great argument to us to be very careful of our duty, and to abound in the fruits of holiness, because hereby we glorify God.

3. We should in all our actions have regard to the honour and advantage of religion, the edification, peace, and unity of the Church; because in these things we do in a peculiar manner glorify God.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

This is one of those brief and wonderful sentences whose simplicity is the mark of their Divine original. In these few words there is that truth after which the best earthly philosophy was always reaching forth in vain. This great principle —


1. When men of old looked forth into the world around them, they saw everything in broken lights and endless contradictions: good and evil, pain and pleasure, so mingled that the whole constitution of things was hopelessly entangled. They knew not how a good God could permit such misery, nor how an evil God should mingle so much blessing with His curses. And if they turned their thoughts inward, they found the darkness thicken over them. There was such a mixture of great and small, of good and bad. They could not settle wherein their chief good lay, or whither time was bearing them. The voice of God within haunted and distracted them: that unwritten living law, which they continually transgressed, tormented and embarrassed them.

2. Now, on all this confusion rose the gospel of Christ, as a harmonising light.(1) In the world around might now be seen the work of a good and holy God, marred by the sin and wilfulness of his creatures. There was this clue to the continued entanglement, that He was even now working to bring good out of evil.(2) Now man saw why he was so full of greatness and littleness. He saw that the sin which had tormented him was not himself, but his enemy, which, by breaking his relation to God, had taken from him all the true end of his being — the service of a holy God; yea, had brought the strife which had consumed him within his own heart. But he now learned also that his Lord had taken his very nature, that He might constitute Himself the perfect and righteous Head of the fallen race, and so present him again as holy and acceptable before God. Here, then, the mystery was solved. Now, when he met with sin or misery, it was not as a mystery, but as a detected enemy. He knew his place in God's world, and he knew the secret of its apparent contradictions; he could take that place, and walk amongst those contradictions, and hear, with a living meaning flowing forth from them, the words, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

II. IS THE PRACTICAL SPRING OF A NEW ACTIVITY OF LIFE. Every man who has not learned to look upon himself, and all around him, in this light, must be infected more or less with the benumbing spirit of the Manichaean philosophy, which leads him to make his religion principally a speculation — to satisfy himself with better feelings, though his works are evil, and which must diminish the hearty, straightforward service of God.

III. RESTORES HIS BROKEN RELATIONS TO HIS FELLOW-MEN, amongst whom, and for whom, he is to work. Believing, as he does, that Christ has redeemed the whole race, every man has, through Christ, become again his brother.

IV. GIVES HIM A HAPPY LIBERTY IN HIS WORK. He is working for God, and with God's providence; he need not perplex himself about results: these are God's, not his. It is from this that great deeds spring; it is in this spirit that a man can be contented to labour in the Church for some good end, which may not be accomplished for ages to come. And this spirit of liberty will animate and ennoble all that he does. In his labours it will take away those low present ends which ever haunt and enfeeble self-servers and self-worshippers. In his intercourse with others it will deliver him from the need of those petty distinctions by which men who live on lower rules seek to mark out for themselves a separate path of holiness. In a high and noble sense, "all things are lawful to him." The arts and knowledge of this world, all its triumphs and its stores, he dares to take and to use freely as gifts of his God, as knowing that all things are sanctified to him. And this gives a glory to all his occupations, whilst it keeps him from sinful exultation in any. There can neither be great nor small in services done to God; His greatness makes all equal. Whether he be ruling an empire or ministering to a beggar, what matters it if he is ministering as God's freedman? And this will reach down to the meanest things — to the service even of his body, as well as of his spirit; and will do its work upon those secret springs of the will by which the man is moved and governed. Conclusion:

1. Many allow, within their hearts, low aims and barren earthly motives, on the plea that "to do all to the glory of God" is an overstrained attempt, except for some few saints of a higher level, or that it is a species of service which they can hardly render, who, with full hands and busy heads, are just entering upon the throng and bustle of life. Let us look into this. Life here, as faith reveals it, is the opportunity of performing certain outward actions from certain inward motives, on the necessary condition that every action will strengthen the motive from which it springs, and make it tend towards growth into a habit; this tendency, moreover, being accelerated, if its direction be evil, by the corruption of our nature — if good, by the gracious influences of the blessed Spirit of God. Thus, then, the opportunities of outward action offered to each one of us are the seeds of our future character for good or for evil, in time and in eternity. Thus, then, this busy opportunity of working, which is made the excuse for not doing all to God's glory, is, in fact, our special call to do all from this very motive: for he who enters on every day's actions in this spirit, strengthens the upgrowth of this spirit within himself: he who performs them from a worldly spirit, makes himself worldly. It is this which will, and must, colour his whole being.

2. If, then, we have such need of this earnest exhortation, let us inquire how we may nourish within ourselves this only worthy habit of doing "all to the glory of God."(1) Strive to possess your souls with a higher estimation of the will of God. As self-worship is your danger, bring yourself into the presence of Jehovah, and the idol of man's majesty must fall before Him.(2) To this reverence for God's will add this: that you strive to realise your true position in this world, as one whom Christ hath redeemed. Without this, God's majesty and might must be to us a continual terror. His will cannot be the will of a Father, unless we so look unto Him.(3) As springing out of this, strive to sanctify every act and under-taking by a special reference to your heavenly Father.

(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)

I. THE SCRIPTURES AND COMMON SENSE TEACH THAT THE GLORY OF GOD IS THE ONLY PROPER END AND RULE OF ALL THINGS. For this they were created. By the glory of God is meant His Divine perfection, His essential and infinite excellence, which renders Him the object of admiration and adoration. To act for the glory of God is to act so that His glory is manifested, acknowledged, and admired. The text is therefore an exhortation —

1. To make that end the highest commanding end of our actions.(1) Some make their end —

(a)Their own happiness.

(b)Their country.

(c)Their kind.

(d)All beings.(2) These are false ends. Their selection vitiates religion because it makes something besides God the motive and the end of action — i.e., it substitutes for religion something that is not religion.

2. To make that the rule of our actions. When anything is to be done or left undone —(1) The rule is not —

(a)Whether it will be agreeable or disagreeable to ourselves, or to others, i.e., popular.

(b)Nor whether it will be expedient or inexpedient.(2) But whether it will tend to make men admire and worship God or not.


1. To the choice of a profession.

2. In determining where we are to labour.

3. In deciding on the distribution and occupation of our time.

4. In determining our outward conduct towards others, our conformity to the world.

5. In deciding on the thoughts, feelings, and purposes which we shall cherish.

6. In the way we bear reproach, neglect, sickness, etc. In short, it is a simple comprehensive universal rule.


1. God's glory is the highest end.

2. God Himself has made it the end of creation, providence, and redemption.

3. Christ made it His end.

4. All saints and angels do the same.

5. It is essential to the order and happiness of the universe. What would result if, instead of making the sun the centre of our system, some little satellite should set up, or be set up, as such?

6. The making of any other end our object is the sum and essence of idolatry.

7. It brings the whole life into perfect harmony, inward and outward. It promotes holiness, happiness, and usefulness.

8. It is the end which we must promote, either by our salvation or perdition.

(C. Hodge, D.D.)


1. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Heaven and earth are full of His glory. But to believe, to admire, and to adore, is all the part which we can take in this province of His glory. We cannot in any way contribute to it.

2. The natural world, however, is not the only or the most exalted domain of God's glory. In the kingdom of mind the majesty of God is more especially enthroned. The affections, the moral sentiments, the intellectual faculties proceed most from Him, they are nearest to Him, they are most like Him. In this province we are not only allowed but expected to act. Our Maker has so endowed us that in the hall of His presence and on the steps of His throne we may assume the station of our birthright, and work with Him and for Him. He has given us faculties to be improved, and affections to exercise, and reason that we might regulate all; and we consult His glory by answering these designs. He bids us help forward the cause of holiness and study the happiness of our fellowcreatures; and so far as we obey these commands, we increase the sum and the splendour of His glory in the world; for what is His glory, but the triumph of religion and benevolence?

II. BUT WE ARE TOLD TO DO ALL TO HIS GLORY. HOW IS THIS ALL-INCLUDING REQUISITION TO BE FULFILLED? We cannot always have the Deity in our thoughts, nor consider whether every occupation will conduce to His glory. Neither can we be always engaged in the high concerns of worship and piety. How then is the precept to be obeyed?

1. Take an instance from domestic life. When we say of an exemplary son that he conducts himself in all things to the honour of his father, we do not mean that in every transaction he had his father's image and approbation in view, but that he was determined never to bring disgrace upon his father's name, that he was ever watchful of his father's interests, and that he so carried the paternal injunctions in his heart that he referred to them unconsciously, and was preserved by a habit of obedience to them from being guilty of practices which they would condemn.

2. Just in this manner may we, the children of God, do all to His glory. When we read a book we do not slowly spell every word; it would certainly be no proof of our scholarship if we did. The accomplished arithmetician calculates his sums without turning over at every process to the simple tables. Religious principle, well instilled and thoroughly received, is present and operative, though unobtrusively and unostentatiously so, through every chapter, page, and paragraph of life.

(F. W. P. Greenwood, D.D.)

1. The universe may be likened to a great machine, the prime motive power of which is God; and man the one who is set to tend upon it. So long as he keeps his place, all is well; but when, instead of regulating his own acts and motions by the movements of the machinery, he throws himself recklessly into the midst of its wheels and levers, he is crushed.

2. The doctrine of the text is that true religion belongs to all the interests of life, or, rather, they all belong to it. False religions are confined to time, place, circumstance; and are satisfied with man's homage in part. They may be compared to chemical attraction, where one particular body has an affinity for another particular body and only for that; whilst true religion is like the attraction of gravitation, which draws all bodies to its centre. The whole man is God's creature, the object of God's care, the purchase of the blood of Christ: should less than the whole man then be sanctified? God's glory should be consulted —

I. IN EATING AND DRINKING. The apostle would have us recognise God as the bountiful Benefactor who openeth His hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness. He would not have man eat as the dumb beast eats. He would not have the Christian eat as even many men eat. What a beautiful lesson our Lord hath left us on this subject! About to feed the people miraculously, He called the people to thanksgiving, and in it led the way. How inconsistent excess in eating and drinking, and a form of thanksgiving at meat! It looks as though we would make God the "minister of sin." How degrading thus to live to eat, and not rather simply eat to live to God's glory! The taking of food, if sanctified by religion, is eucharistic, involves devotion in act and habit in one of its highest forms.

II. IN THE USE OF SPEECH In order for speech to glorify God it must be —

1. Truthful. God is a God of truth, and He requires truth.

2. Pure. Impurity of thought is wicked; impurity of speech is worse.

3. Habitually temperate and sedate. We need run into no cynical or ascetic extremes, but still it should be remembered that the spirit of Christianity is not a spirit of frivolity.

4. Reverent.

5. Benevolent.

6. Devout.

III. IS THE USE OF TIME. Time has but two proper uses, and all others are insignificant in comparison. The first is, to be spiritually wise in, to make our peace with God in; and then, having obtained reconciliation with God through the blood of His Son, to serve Him in it, by the aid of His Spirit, to our lives' end.

(W. Sparrow, D.D.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO GLORIFY GOD? We glorify God —

1. By seeking to know Him, because thus we arrive at a better comprehension of His excellence.

2. By constantly acknowledging Him, because we thus declare in the strongest terms how worthy He is of our admiration and regard.

3. By loving Him, because we thus acknowledge His superiority to every earthly object.

4. By serving Him, because we thus testify that His service is perfect freedom.

5. By delighting in Him, because we thus show that He is greater, and better, and more desirable than all things.

II. THUS TO GLORIFY GOD IS THE CHIEF END OF MAN. This I proceed to prove. The design of the Creator in making all things was to exhibit to intelligent beings His own glory. It is absurd to suppose that any created thing could have been made for itself alone. We know not at what period creation commenced; but before that took place God was as happy as when creation appeared. And how? — in the contemplation of His own excellences. But then these excellences could not have been seen if intelligent creatures had not been made. Such a manifestation of His glory was the end for which we were formed. Man therefore is bound by the original law of his creation, in whatsoever he does, to "do all to the glory of God." When God first created man, this was his high office, to be a high-priest, to offer up sacrifices of praise to God continually. When man sinned, he lost sight of this great object; he no longer sought the Divine glory, but began to live to himself.


1. Doctrinal. We are taught by this subject —(1) To take a most affecting view of the nature of sin. Sin is nothing less than robbing God of His glory.(2) The only principle laid down in Scripture as constituting evangelical virtue. "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God": this is the only motive which the gospel recognises and of which God will approve.

2. Practical. Regard this as a motive to vigilance and industry; for this demands the exertion of your whole powers of soul and body. Mark how this rule applies alike to all your employments, and to all your relaxations — will they glorify God? If not, they ought not to be engaged in.

(J. F. Denham, A.M.)

(text; Psalm 73:25, 26): —


1. Its nature. To glorify is either to make glorious or to declare to be glorious. God glorifies, i.e., makes angels or men glorious; but man cannot make God glorious, for He is not capable of any additional glory (Job 35:7). God is glorified, then, only declaratively (Psalm 19:1). Man declares His glory —(1) By his heart. Honouring God with the lips only is but a very lame and unacceptable performance. He ought to be glorified —

(a)By our understanding, thinking highly of Him, and esteeming Him above all others.

(b)By our wills, choosing Him as our portion and chief good.

(c)By our affections, loving Him, and rejoicing and delighting in Him above every other.(2) By his lips (Psalm 1:23). Therefore man's tongue is called his glory (Psalm 16:9), not only because it serves him for speech, which exalts him above the brutes, but because it is given him as a proper instrument for speaking forth the glory of God.(3) By his life (Matthew 5:16).

2. In what respects is God's glory man's chief end?(1) It is man's end —

(a)It is the end which God aimed at when He made man (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 11:36).

(b)It is the end of man as God's work. Man was made fit for it (Ecclesiastes 7:29). The very fabric of a man's body, whereby he looks upward, while the beasts look down, is a palpable evidence of this.

(c)It is the mark to which man should direct all he does (text; Psalm 16:8).(2) It is man's chief end, that which God chiefly aimed at, and that which man should chiefly aim at. God made man for other ends, as to govern, use, and dispose of other creatures (Genesis 1:26); but still these are subordinate. There are some ends which men propose to themselves, which are simply unlawful, and which are not capable of subordination to the glory of God, who hates robbery for burnt-offering. But there are other ends, in themselves lawful, but sinful, if they be not subordinate to the glory of God. Now, God's glory is made our chief end —

(a)When whatever end we have in our actions, the glory of God is still one of our ends. We may eat and drink for the nourishment of our bodies; but this must not jostle out our respect to the glory of God.

(b)When it is that which we chiefly design. All other sheaves must bow to that sheaf: as a diligent servant designs to please both the master and his steward, but chiefly the master.

(c)When it is the perfection of what we design, beyond which we have no more view. Thus we should eat that our bodies may be refreshed, so that we may he the more capable to glorify God. Thus we are to seek salvation, that God may be glorified.

3. The extent of this duty. This must be the end —(1) Of our natural rations (text).(2) Of our civil actions, working our work, buying and selling, etc. (Ephesians 6:7; Proverbs 21:4).(3) Of our moral and religious actions (Zechariah 7:5). We must pray, hear, etc., for God's glory.

4. The reason of the point is, because God is the first principle, therefore He must be the last end. He is the first and the last, the Alpha, and therefore the Omega. God is the fountain of our being; and therefore seeing we are of Him, we should be to Him (Romans 11.).


1. The nature of this enjoyment.(1) There is an imperfect enjoyment of God in this life; which consists —

(a)In union with Him, or a saving interest in Him, whereby God is our God by covenant. By this union Christ and believers are so joined that they are one spirit, one mystical body.

(b)In communion with God, which is a participation of the benefits of that saving relation, whereof the soul makes returns to the Lord in the exercise of its graces, particularly of faith and love.(2) There is a perfect enjoyment of God in heaven. This consists in —

(a)An intimate presence with Him in glory (Psalm 16:11).

(b)Seeing Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

(c)A perfect union with Him (Revelation 21:3).

(d)An immediate, full, free, and comfortable communion with Him, infinitely superior to all the communion they ever had with Him in this world, and which no mortal can suitably describe.

(e)Full joy and satisfaction resulting from these things for ever (Matthew 25:21).

2. The order of this enjoyment.(1) It is a part of man's chief end, and, in conjunction with glorifying of God, makes it up.(2) Glorifying of God is put before the enjoying of Him, because the way of duty is the way to the enjoyment of God (Hebrews 12:14). The pure in heart, and they who glorify God now, shall alone see God, to their infinite joy in heaven.

3. The enjoyment of God is man's chief end in point of happiness, the thing that he should chiefly seek. For this end, consider —(1) What man is.

(a)He is a creature that desires happiness, and cannot but desire it.

(b)He is not self-sufficient; and therefore he is ever seeking something without himself in order to be happy.

(c)Nothing but an infinite good can fully satisfy the desires of an immortal soul.(2) What God is.

(a)God is the chief good, for He is the fountain good, and the water that is good is always best in the fountain.

(b)God is all good. There is nothing in Him but what is good. All that is good is in Him; so that the soul, finding Him commensurate to its desires, needs nothing besides Him.

(T. Boston, D.D.)


1. In nature (Psalm 19:1; Psalm 139:4).

2. In Providence.

3. In grace.

(1)The incarnation.

(2)The resurrection.

(3)The gospel of the grace of God. The full development, however, of the works and purposes of grace will be in heaven.


1. Nature. It closes the eyes, so that it is not seen as showing forth the wisdom and power of God. It stops the ears, so that its voice, proclaiming the goodness and greatness of its Almighty Creator, is not heard. It darkens the understanding (Romans 1:18-22).

2. Providence. By this our country is distinguished above all other countries; but how is this mighty influence and vast wealth employed? Has not sin perverted our maritime power, so that the visits of our sailors to heathen countries have proved serious hindrances to the spread of the gospel? Are not commercial prosperity and national property sadly abused and obviously misemployed? Not to mention the thousands spent by the lovers of pleasure at places of vanity and dissipation, I would call your attention to what is expended on intoxicating liquors.


1. As to eating and drinking. The glory of God is promoted when these exercises fit us for the service of God. If, on the contrary, we eat or drink that which disables us from serving God, then they can in no way promote the glory of God.

2. As to abstinence. Total abstinence from intoxicating drinks may be promotive of the glory of God —(1) When the money usually spent on such liquors is better employed.(2) When done with a view to the benefit of our fellow-creatures.(3) When done with a desire to remove hindrances to the spread of truth and godliness. Conclusion:

1. Whatever others may think of these things, and however they may be determined to act, let us have no part at all in the drunkard's ruin.

2. Be sure you bear in mind that temperance is not regeneration.

(J. F. Witty.)

A king is made glorious by the obedience of his subjects. The parent is honoured by the child. Not by his running around the neighbourhood and saying, "Oh, what a great man my father is!" or, "What a beautiful woman my mother is!" but by studiously fulfilling their wishes. The teacher is honoured, not by what the pupil says, but by what he does. And we honour, or glorify, God by fulfilling His commands. The command of the Bible is, Amid all the thousand questions of life, ask yourself, What is the will of God? Ascertain what this is, and then settle your casuistry by aiming to fulfil it.

I. This leads to THE SUPREME QUESTIONS OF MOTIVES. Ordinarily a motive is supposed to be that which draws out of a man a line of conduct. But this is wrong. E.g., we say that gold is the motive which impels the miser. No; gold wakes up his avarice, but his will is working in him the desire of acquisition; and the motive power is the faculty, and not the thing which sets the faculty in motion. We say that a man works because he wants food; the truth is, that hunger is the thing which moves him towards the food. The question, therefore, becomes not, What end induces such a course of action? but, What faculties worked in such a course of action? and then you can ask, What was it that started those faculties? Let us look closer at this.

1. Right and wrong consist not in action but in the end or purpose. I take from a store an object of great value and carry it home. Another man takes it and carries it home. In both cases the action is precisely the same; but there is a special reason why that man is a thief and I am not. God has never put a faculty into the mind of a man which is not, in its own sphere and degree, right. If it be wrong, it is because it is acting out of the proper degree and out of its own sphere.

2. Many faculties act, in regard to the other faculties, with co-operation, or with a normal alternation. Many men say, "What was the motive by which I was guided?" And when they look into their minds there is a perfect jumble of motives, as they interpret them. A man says, "I am afraid I was not actuated by right motives; for I can discern the traces of other motives." The normal activity of the mind, in every case, is the result, not of a single faculty, but of all the faculties. The revolution of forces which go to make up the process of your thought in a single hour is a more stupendous work than any that was ever performed in a laboratory. If it were possible for a man to put sensitised paper in his hat and have everything that he thought or felt stamp itself thereon the journal of an hour thus recorded would take him two days to read. And yet men are troubled because there is not a singleness of motive which inspires their action!

3. The power of any action in men depends, not on the singleness, but on a combination of faculties. Instead of other faculties invalidating any course of conduct, or making it inferior, its value depends upon the other faculties which are concentrated in the production of it. The highest condition of the mind is that in which all the pipes in the multiform organ are uttering their appropriate sounds in the proper way.

4. Moral character is to be determined or primary and regnant motives and not simply by auxiliary ones. Thus a man says, "I have made up my mind to join the Church; but I do not know that I am sincere in wishing to do it." What is the matter? "Well, nothing would please my wife and my mother so much; and I have thought perhaps it was to please them that I was going to join it." Well, it is right that you should inquire whether these are the prime feelings; but, if you say, "I see that the time is going fast with me, and that if ever I am to change and get a hold on heaven I must do it soon, and now I am determined to obey my Master according to the best of my ability," there is a motive that should be sovereign; and if then, when that is settled, you think that everybody who loves you will be happy, this collateral motive will be a help to the other. Again, thoughts of personal interest are not wrong under such circumstances. Godliness is profitable for this world and for that which is to come; only see that your chief motive is to glorify God.


1. On the one side is the danger of indifference to all motives. Men ought to want to do the best things from the best motives, i.e., with their noblest faculties; but it is better to do a right thing from the poorest motive than not at all. If you make the condition of right living onerous the great mass will be discouraged. If you say to a man, "You have before you an ideal of Christian duty, and you must live up to that, you must act from the highest motives — for if those motives are adulterated by lower ones, they go for nothing"; you screw the man up till he is like a violin-string that goes squealing higher and higher until by and by it snaps and no longer has any power. There are thousands who began honestly to live a Christian life, but on whom were put tests, until they were screwed so high that the feeling in them snapped; and now they are in despair, and say, "There is no use of my trying any longer."

2. There is great feebleness, and a great want of generous momentum in the Christian life, which comes from the consciousness of one's self. Any course of self-examination is mischievous that puts a man all the time upon thinking of himself; under which a man is continually asking himself, "Am I going right now?" — saying, e.g., at ten o'clock, "Well, I have gone right all day so far"; but at twelve says, "Have I had the glory of God before me up to this time?" You are not to sit and brood over your possible conduct. You are to take your direction and be sure it is right, and then make a fire, and put on steam, and go ahead, and trust yourself on the way.

(H. W. Beecher.)

1. The praises of God should not be kept only for Sunday. A Christian's whole life should be a life of praise. Every day sees all nature singing its Te Deum, and shall we alone keep silence?

2. All our lives are woven of a different pattern, but in all we can trace the golden thread of God's mercy, of Christ's redeeming love. When we remember how little we have deserved God's goodness, how little we have done for Him who doeth all for us, surely our lips must break forth into praise. We owe Him "our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life," etc.

3. But we must praise God not only with our lips but in our lives, making our life one long hymn of praise. To do this you must make it —

I. A CONTENTED LIFE. Murmuring lips can shape no praises. There is the legend, that one day Elijah appeared suddenly in the crowded market-place of a great city. The prophet, on being asked who among that crowd would be saved, pointed to two mechanics talking and laughing merrily together. These men had done no great thing, but they were contented with such things as they had, they worked honestly and cheerfully at their trade, they thanked God for His mercies, and never spoke evil of their neighbours. So the man or woman who takes what God sends, be it sunshine or shower, and can look up and say truly, "Thank God," who works cheerily without grumbling, "as unto the Lord, and not unto men," such an one praises God. If men would understand this, they would not look on their work as a curse, but a blessing. The reason why it is so hard to get working-men to church is because they have never learned to praise God in their work, and so they do not care to praise Him in His holy temple.

II. BY HELPING TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY, AND BY LEADING THEM TO JESUS. I believe that the sight of a mother teaching her little one to pray, or that of a gentle friend soothing the sorrows of an invalid, or leading a wrong-doer to a better mind, are precious in God's eyes above all the great works of the greatest men of all time. These things, like Mary's ointment, are remembered for ever. The sacrifice of love is the best praise offered to the all-giving God. it was said by one of old that life consisted of two heaps; a large one of sorrow, a small one of happiness. And whoever carried a little atom from one to the other did God service. To make others happy, especially to make them good, is an offering of a sweet-smelling savour to the Lord. They tell us that they can trace in the sandstone the marks of a raindrop that fell a million years ago. So the smallest act of love done for God shall leave its mark, if not seen here in time, it will be visible in eternity.

(H. J. W. Buxton, M.A.)

In all ages there has been a tendency to set apart certain days, places, and occasions for worship; and these have their importance. A man cannot be so much of a Christian on Sunday that he can afford to he a worldling all the rest of the week. If a steamer put out for Southampton, and go one day in that direction and the other six days go in other directions, how long will it take the steamer to get to Southampton? And though a man may seem to be voyaging heavenward on the Sabbath, if, during the following six days he is going towards the world, the flesh, etc., he will never ride up into the harbour of heaven. We want to bring the religion of Christ into —

I. Our EVERY-DAY CONVERSATION. When a dam breaks, and two or three villages are overwhelmed, or an earthquake swallows a city, then people begin to talk about the uncertainty of life, and imagine that they are engaged in religions conversation. No. You may talk about these things and have no grace in your heart. If there is anything glad, beautiful, important about religion we ought to be continuously speaking about it. And yet how few circles there are where it is welcome! As on a summer day, when the forests are full of life and carol, if a hawk appear in the sky the forests are still; just so I have seen a lively religious circle silenced on the appearance of anything like religious conversation. But then we must live religion or we cannot talk it. If a man is cross, uncongenial, and hard, and then begins to talk about Christ and heaven, everybody is repelled by it.

II. OUR EVERY-DAY EMPLOYMENTS. "Oh," you say, "that is very well if a man handle large sums of money, or if he has an extensive traffic; but my sphere is too humble for the action of such grand principles." Who told you so? God watches the faded leaf as certainly as He does the path of the sun. And the moss makes as much impression upon God's mind as the cedar. When you have anything to do in life, however humble it may seem to be, God is always there to help you to do it. A religion that is not good in one place is not worth anything in another place. The man who has only a day's wages in his pocket as certainly needs the guidance of religion as he who rattles the keys of a bank. Plato once said that spirits of the other world came back to this to find a body and a sphere of work. One came and took the body of a king and did his work. Another took the body of a poet and did his work. After a while Ulysses came, and he said, "Why, all the fine bodies and all the grand work are taken. There is nothing left for me." And some one replied, "Ah! the best one has been left for you — the body of a common man, doing a common work, and for a common reward." A good fable for the world, and just as good a fable for the Church. "Whether ye eat or drink," etc.

III. OUR EVERY-DAY TRIALS. For severe losses, for trouble that shocks like an earthquake, we prescribe religious consolation; but for the small annoyances of last week, how much of the grace of God did you apply? "Oh!" you say, "these trials are too small for such application." My brother, they are shaping your character, souring your temper, wearing out your patience, and making you less and less of a man. A large fortune may be spent in small change, and a vast amount of moral character may go away in small depletion. A swarm of locusts will kill a grain-field sooner than the incursions of three or four cattle. Rats may sink a ship. One lucifer match may send destruction through a block of storehouses. Catherine de Medici got her death from smelling a poisonous rose. Columbus, by stopping and asking for a piece of bread and a drink of water at a Franciscan convent, was led to the discovery of a new world. There is an intimate connection between trifles and immensities, between nothings and everythings. Now, be careful to let none of those annoyances go through your soul unarraigned. Compel them to administer to your spiritual wealth. Our Government does not think it belittling to put a tax on trifles. The individual taxes do not amount to much, but in the aggregate to millions of dollars. And I would have you put a high tariff on every annoyance that comes through your soul. This might not amount to much in single cases, but in the aggregate it would be a great revenue of spiritual strength and satisfaction. A bee can suck honey even out of a nettle, and if you have the grace of God in your heart you can get sweetness out of that which would otherwise annoy.

IV. OUR EVERY-DAY BLESSINGS. When the harvests are in we assemble in churches and are very thankful. But every day ought to be a thanksgiving day. We have to see a blind man led by his dog before we begin to bethink ourselves of what a grand thing it is to have eyesight. We have to see some wounded man hobbling on his crutch, or with his empty coat sleeve pinned up, before we learn to think what a grand thing God did for us when He gave us healthy use of our limbs. We are so stupid that nothing but the misfortunes of others can rouse us up to our blessings. The cow that stands under the willow chewing its cud looks very thankful; and who can tell how much a bird means by its song? The aroma of the flowers smells like incense, and mist arising from the river looks like the smoke of a morning sacrifice. Oh, that we were as responsive! Yet, who thanks God for the water that gushes up the well and that foams in the cascade, and that laughs over the rocks, and that patters in the shower, and that claps its hands in the sea? Who thanks God for the air, the fountain of life, the bridge of sunbeams, the path of sound, the great fan on a hot summer's day? Who thanks God for this wonderful physical organism? We take all these things as a matter of course. But suppose God should withdraw these common blessings?

(T. De Witt Talmage, D.D.)

Man must not separate his life from God. By so doing he ruins his own soul. Can the stream continue to flow when disconnected from the fountain? Can the tree blossom and fruit when uprooted from the earth? Can a boy say, "Father I can do without you"? Let everything you do, then, have reference to God. Do all things to His glory.

I. How?

1. Let everything we do show the intention of God in our existence. The flowing of the river, the fruit and fulness of the tree, the shining of the sun, etc., are exhibitions of God's purposes in those objects. Does your life tell what God's intention is with it? If so, you glorify God.

2. Let everything be done in obedience to God. We live in the midst of a complicated system of laws — physical, mental, moral. Obedience to these is glory to God.

3. Let all things be so done that when they are completed they shall be to the praise of God's wisdom, power, and love. The artist is moved by his genius and paints a picture. When exhibited the genius of the artist is praised. Every good man has in his heart the inspiration of God. Let him, then, so act that when his works are completed they shall be to the glory of God.


1. In business.(1) Here religion is an absolute necessity. Business requires —

(a)Integrity, and religion makes a man just, truthful, etc.

(b)Strength and health in business.Let men do the business of life in the spirit of religion, and a voice shall break over them saying, "The everlasting arms are underneath thee; thou shalt not bear thy burden alone. Cast thy burden on the Lord."(2) Religion connects the business of this life with the affairs of another. Business is a dull leaden cloud in itself: let in the light of eternity upon it and it becomes glorious.

2. In government.(1) The government of a family is never done well without religion. The development of your boys and girls will never be beautiful if you rule the home without God.(2) The government of society cannot be well done without religion. A great city is likely to become a mass of sin and misery without it.(3) No nation was ever yet governed well without some kind of religion. Rome began to decline when the priests began to laugh at each other, and the thinkers to ask, "What is truth?" France tried to govern without God, and the wicked attempt ended in the Reign of Terror.

3. In literature. This to work for good must be permeated with the principles of religion.



(3)Kindness.The truth of criticism should be baptized with love.

4. In science. Men of science need the light of religion for the sake of their own science. If you were to read a book that you could not understand, would it not be of immense advantage to have the author present to explain it? The material world is God's book, and if you would understand its higher hieroglyphics you must pray.

5. In philosophy, which is the noble attempt of the greatest minds to answer three great questions. Now there are no answers so wise and deep as the old ones. Whence? From God. How? Nobody knows. Why? That the universe might be filled with blessedness to the glory of God.

(T. Jones, D.D.)

I. CONTRAST THIS PRINCIPLE WITH WHAT NATURALLY INHABITS OUR OWN BOSOMS, and we shall then be fully convinced that this text must have God for its Author. Believe me when I tell you that we are all, in every thought, and word, and action, engaged in undeifying God and deifying ourselves. I do not mean to say that there are not many amiabilities in members of civil society which ought to endear them to us; but, mark me! you will find the loveliest of these amiabilities in the brute creation. I refer you to the ingenuity and love with which the parent brute defends its young. It does everything it could possibly do, even if possessed of the reasoning powers of man. We hear a great deal of human friendship: human friendship, without the grace of God, I boldly assert, is inferior to the friendship of a dog. There is a something awfully defective in the best works of man — in all his loveliest emotions. "God is not in all his thoughts," he is a withered branch separated from the parent tree.


1. God glorifies Himself in calling all things into existence. Saints and angels are triumphing in this truth in heaven, and ever will triumph in it.

2. For the same reason He preserves everything in existence, namely, to glorify Himself.

3. It is for His own glory that He governs all things; and we should bear this in mind while courting at His hands the sublimest principles of action.

4. God glorifies Himself in His mercy infinitely more than in anything else.

5. He glorifies Himself in His vengeance.

6. The obedience of all innocent beings is fully influenced by this principle, or rather they have this end fully in view, the glory of God in all things.


1. By convincing him of sin in its evil and desert — in its evil, as being committed against God — in its desert, as meriting nothing less than His eternal wrath and condemnation.

2. By revealing His Son in the heart of man.

3. By conferring a new disposition upon man — a disposition that involves the glory of God in all His beauty and perfections.

(W. Howels.)

I. BY THE TERM "GLORY," WHEN REFERRING TO GOD, WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND HIS ESSENTIAL ATTRIBUTES AND CHARACTER, especially as displayed in the works of creation, providence, and grace. It may serve to illustrate this definition, to consider that the glory of any human beings consists in the display of those parts of their conduct which are deemed worthy of admiration. Thus the false glory of warriors and conquerors has ever been sought to be promoted by the declaration and celebration of their deeds of valour; the glory of the beneficent, by the record of their acts of charity; and the glory of men of science by the name they acquire for the discoveries which they make. Those who desire to extend the glory of such persons effect their object by extending the knowledge of what has been accomplished by the subjects of their admiration; and in proportion to the degree of manifestation, is the amount of glory attained. So with respect to the Divine character, the glory in itself is infinite, because it consists in the uncreated excellency of infinite perfection; but the manifestation of the glory is increased or diminished according to our knowledge or ignorance of the attributes and acts and character of the most high God.

II. CONSIDER THIS GLORY AS THE END OF GOD IN CREATION, PROVIDENCE, AND GRACE, and how the creatures are made subservient thereto. It is quite conceivable that Jehovah might have continued to delight Himself alone, without putting forth any act of creative power; but it became His infinite goodness to communicate and reveal itself by giving being to various ranks of intelligent creatures. After He had created the angels, He might have paused for ages longer before He condescended to form the material world, or to people it with inferior beings. But it was His blessed will to increase the happiness of the angels, by increasing their knowledge of Himself; and therefore the command went forth, the earth arose out of chaos, and the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy, at the new manifestation of the Divine glory. Wisdom and love and power were magnified by their being put forth into exercise. The glory of the Divine attributes doth shine brighter and brighter until the perfect day, and a fuller and fuller disclosure of them may be looked forward to, in the kingdom of God. They dwell, as in a fountain, in Jehovah; they streamed forth as a wide and rapidly increasing river in the works of creation and preserving Providence; but they spread into a searchless and unbounded ocean in the displays of redeeming grace.


1. If our only true enjoyment is to be found in the knowledge of the glory of God, this fact affords a new argument for highly estimating that whereby this glory is revealed.

2. In order to carry out into our habitual conduct the precept of the inspired apostle, it is necessary that we cordially acquiesce in the design of God. As long as we adopt any other end, we are pursuing vanity and lies.

3. Diligently cultivate the use of those means which are fitted to increase our knowledge of God.

4. Before engaging in any pursuit, consider how it bears upon the great ultimate end of all things. God hath given you mental faculties, and you ought to employ them; but see that they are employed about those objects which tend to promote His glory. God hath given you affections, and these affections are not to lie dormant; but see that they are awake to objects becoming a pilgrim and a stranger upon earth. He permits you to enjoy intercourse with your fellow-men; but see that your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt. It is in the way of self-denial, of lowliness, of dependence, that fresh revelations of Divine beauty meet the traveller in his journey heavenward.

5. Consider the variety of ways in which we may advance the Divine glory.

(H. Craik.)

One great object of religion is to bring men to a sense of the duty which they owe to God.

I. To understand THE NATURE OF THE PRINCIPLE which St. Paul here inculcates we should observe the cases before him, in the context from which he takes occasion to prescribe this general rule. This chapter contains advice upon three particular cases of conscience. The first respects the lawfulness of assisting at idolatrous feasts, such as were held in pagan temples, and in honour of the pagan worship. Of these entertainments some Christians, it appears, who were less careful to please God than to gratify their worldly connections, condescended to partake. The second case was that of buying such flesh in the market; for whatever part of the animal was not consumed on the altar, or distributed for presents and entertainments, was exposed publicly to sale. And to this the apostle gives his decided sanction. "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no questions for conscience sake." The third case respected the propriety of eating these same meats at the table of a heathen acquaintance, and this is resolved like the last. Being invited as to a common meal, you are in general to partake of it as such, without either uneasiness or remark. "Whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake." This leads to the general conclusion — not only in these cases but in all others — "Whether ye eat or drink," or abstain from either; in a word, "whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God." We see, then, that the principle here inculcated is of the soundest, most enlightened, and vigilant kind: sound, as forbidding strictly whatever is really an offence: enlightened, as it discriminates what; is sinful from what only seems so to be: and watchful, in attending not merely to an action as it stands alone, but even to those possible effects of it which might bring dishonour to God. The great rule of our life must be regard to God's honour, and this rule must be applied on occasions when we perhaps think little of responsibility.

II. Having thus examined the nature of the principle, let us proceed to SHOW ITS OPERATION IN SANCTIFYING THE COMMON ACTIONS OF LIFE. It is not often that the best of men have a due sense of the value of Christian principle in this point of view. And as to the world at large they can scarcely understand the application of it. With them religion is confined to acts of worship, morality is the principle of our duty to man; and interest, inclination, custom, convenience are to direct the vast variety of human actions which are less perfectly of the moral kind. Thus, in all the ordinary conduct of their lives, in their business and their amusements, in the connections they form, and the society they frequent; in the use of their time, their influence, their fortune, or their talents; in the management of their families; in their habits of personal indulgence; in their common discourse; in their general bearing and behaviour they live altogether without regard to God. But let us take a particular instance or two. Take first the duties of any humble and laborious calling — of a husbandman, of a mechanic, of a servant, of one who must labour for a subsistence, and whose whole time is occupied in the work of his vocation. If a man submits to this lot as a mere act of necessity, if he goes through his toil with cheerfulness, because he thus supplies his wants, or procures his humble comforts, or hopes one day to improve his condition; though he may be acting well and wisely in some points of view he does nothing to the glory of God. But suppose that he thus reflects on his condition, and says, "I will therefore go to my labour cheerfully: I will pursue it diligently, as God's appointment: I will consider this as my place in the great family of His creatures, and endeavour to serve Him in it." Such views would consecrate the labours of the day. Thus would a man be glorifying God. But there may be a question of some importance here. Are these reflections to be continually passing in the mind? Or, is nothing done to the glory of God, when we do not place it thus distinctly before us, as our express and particular object? I answer, when the principle exists and thrives, such reflections will of course be frequently occurring. But when it is well-formed and established we shall act by it on all common occasions, not so much from reflection as from habit; and be led into the feelings and duties which our object demands without recalling it expressly to our thoughts. A parent who lives for the welfare of her child has no need to reason with herself upon the matter; nor, in every single act which promotes her object, to have it strongly or expressly in her eye. She feels rather than reasons, she acts rather from habit than deliberation.

2. Let me briefly show the operation of this same principle in another instance. There are various peculiar duties attached to every rank and relation in life. To parents and children for example, to husband and wife, to master and servants. The duties of these relations may be performed, and decently performed, without any regard to God. A heathen parent may have a tenderness of affection for his children which all mankind must admire. In such cases natural affections or ordinary motives do that, in part, which the aid and control of a higher principle would enable them to do much better — and God is only so far glorified as the general order and harmony of His creatures demonstrates the perfection of the Creator. But where the heart is renewed, and a regard to God implanted, the influence of this principle will extend to the various relations of life, and all their duties be placed on a new footing. Thus our very amusements and relaxations should be enjoyed upon principle. As far as they are subservient to right ends they may be indulged with a good conscience. Thus, too, the food and rest which we require should be taken upon Christian principles. Such then are the objects we shall keep in view, and such the motives from which we shall act in proportion as we feel the power and possess the true spirit of the gospel. And now let us turn to our own consciences and hearts. What is our prevailing principle? Is it the fear and love of God? Or is it our own gratification or temporal advantage alone? I say alone, because we may conscientiously seek our own advantage when it is in subserviency to the will of God. That will and our own interest point frequently to the same line of conduct. Again, let this subject convince us of the error of those who confine religion to devotional duties. Lastly, would we possess this principle of doing all things to the glory of God, let us first seek to have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. The effect is a great one, the motive which produces it must therefore be powerful. Let us love God, and we shall serve Him faithfully and universally.

(J. Venn, M.A.)

Plain Sermons by Contributors to, The Tracts for the Times."
When persons are convinced that life is short, when they feel that the next life is all in all, then they are apt to undervalue this life altogether, and to forget its real importance. This state of mind is chided in figure in the words of the holy angels to the apostles, when they say, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" In various ways does the thought of the next world lead men to neglect their duty in this; and whenever it does so we may be sure that there is something wrong and unchristian. Now I am far from denying that a man's worldly occupation may be his cross. Again, I am far from denying that under circumstances it may be right even to retire from the world. But I am speaking of cases when it is a person's duty to remain in his worldly calling, and when he does remain in it, but when he cherishes dissatisfaction with it: whereas what he ought to feel is this — that while in it he is to glorify God, not out of it, but in it, and by means of it, according to the apostle's direction, "not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Now what leads such a person into this mistake is that he sees that most men who engage cheerfully and diligently in worldly business, do so from a worldly spirit, from a low carnal love of the world; and so he thinks it is his duty, on the contrary, not to take a cheerful part in the world's business at all. But surely it is possible to " serve the Lord," yet not to be "slothful in business"; not over devoted to it, but not to retire from it.

1. "Do all to the glory of God," says St. Paul, in the text; nay, "whether we eat or drink"; so that nothing is too slight or trivial to glorify Him in. We will suppose a man who has lately had more serious thoughts than he had before, and determines to live more religiously. In consequence of the turn his mind has taken he feels a distaste for his worldly occupation. The ill-instructed man will at once get impatient and quit it; or if he does not quit it, at least he will be negligent and indolent in it. But the true penitent will say to himself, "No; if it be an irksome employment, so much the more does it suit me. I deserve no better. I am bound to afflict my soul for my past sins. Far from repining, I will, through God's grace, go cheerfully about what I do not like. I will deny myself. I know that with His help what is in itself painful will thus be pleasant as done towards Him. But leave it without a call from God, I certainly must not. On the contrary, I will work in it the more diligently, as far as higher duties allow me."

2. A second reason which will animate the Christian will be a desire of letting his light shine before men.

3. Thankfulness to Almighty God, nay, and the inward life of the Spirit itself, will be additional principles causing the Christian to labour diligently in his calling. He will see God in all things. He will recollect our Saviour's life. Christ was brought up to a humble trade. Thus he will take his worldly business as a gift from Him, and will love it as such.

4. True humility is another principle which will lead us to desire to glorify God in our worldly employments if possible, instead of resigning them. Christ evidently puts His greater blessings on those whom the world despises. He has bid His followers take the lowest seat.

5. Still further, he will use his worldly business as a means of keeping him from vain and unprofitable thoughts. One cause of the heart's devising evil is, that time is given it to do so. The man who has his daily duties, who lays out his time for them hour by hour, is saved a multitude of sins which have not time to get hold upon him.

6. Lastly, we see what judgment to give in a question sometimes agitated, whether one should retire from our worldly business at the close of life, to give our thoughts more entirely to God. On the whole, then what I have said comes to this, that whereas Adam was sentenced to labour as a punishment, Christ has by His coming sanctified it as a means of grace and a sacrifice of thanksgiving, a sacrifice cheerfully to be offered up to the Father in His name. It is very easy to speak and teach this, difficult to do it; very difficult to steer between the two evils — to use this world as not abusing it, to be active and diligent in this world's affairs, yet not for the world's sake, but for God's sake.

(Plain Sermons by Contributors to "The Tracts for the Times.")

1. That God's glory is the end of our being.

2. That God's glory should be the end of our doing.

3. The ground of both these, because both being and doing are from Him, therefore they ought to be both for Him. Goal is independent altogether and self-sufficient. This is His royal prerogative, wherein He infinitely transcends all created perfection. He is of Himself, and for Himself, from no other, and for no other, but of Him, and for Him are all things. But the creature, even the most perfect work, besides God, it hath these two ingredients of limitation and imperfection in its bosom. It is from another and for another. It hath its rise out of the fountain of God's immense power and goodness, and it must run towards that again, till it empty all its faculties and excellencies into that same sea of goodness. Dependence is the proper notion of a created being, dependence upon that infinite independent being, as the first immediate cause and the last immediate end. You see then that this principle is engraven in the very nature of man. It is as certain and evident that man is made for God's glory, and for no other end, as that he is from God's power, and from no other cause. And there is the more reason of it that His Majesty's seeking of His own glory is not prejudicial to the creature's good, but the very communication of His fulness goes along with it; so that in glorifying Himself He is most beneficial to His own creatures. "All things are of Him and for Him," but man in a peculiar and proper way. As God in making of man, He was pleased of His goodness, to stamp him with a character of His own image, and in this He puts a difference between man and other creatures that be should have more plain and distinct engravings of Divine majesty upon him, which might show the glory of the workman. So it appears that he is in a singular way made for God as his last end. As he is set nearer God, as the beginning and cause than other creatures, so he is placed nearer God as the end. But you may ask, what is it to glorify God? Doth our goodness extend to Him? Or is it an advantage to the Almighty that we are righteous? No indeed. And herein is the vast difference between God's glorifying of us and sanctifying of us, and our glorifying and sanctifying of Him; God calls things that are not and makes them to be; but we can do no more, but call things that are, and that far below what they are. God's glorifying is creative, ours only declarative. He makes us such, we do no more but declare Him to be such. This then is the proper work that man is created for, to be a witness of God's glory, and to give testimony to the appearances and out-breakings of it, in the ways of power, and justice, and mercy, and truth. Other creatures are called to glorify God, but it is rather a proclamation to dull and senseless men, and a provocation of them to their duty. The creatures are the books wherein the lines of the song of God's praises are written, and man is made a creature capable to read them, and to tune that song. They are appointed to bring in bricks to our band, and God has fashioned us for this employment, to make such a building of it. We are the mouth of the creation, God will open the mouths of asses, of babes and sucklings, and in them perfect praises (Psalm 8:1, 2). Epictetus said well, "If I were a lark I would sing as a lark, but seeing I am a man what should I do but praise God without ceasing?" It is as proper to us to praise God as for a bird to chant. All beasts have their own sounds and voices peculiar to their own nature, this is the natural sound of a man. Now as you would think it monstrous to hear a melodious bird croaking as a raven, so it is no less monstrous and degenerate to hear the most part of the discourses of men savouring nothing of God. If we had known that innocent estate of man, oh, how would we think he had fallen from heaven! This, then, is what we are bound unto by the bond of our creation; this is our proper office and station God once set us into when He assigned every creature its own use and exercise. This was our portion (and oh, the noblest of all, because nearest the King s own person) to acknowledge in our hearts inwardly, and to express in our words and actions outwardly, what an one He is, according as He hath revealed Himself in His Word and works. Well, then, without more discourse upon it, without multiplying of it into particular branches, to glorify God is in our souls to conceive of Him, and meditate on His name, till they receive the impression and stamp of all the letters of His glorious name, and then to express this in our words and actions, in commending of Him, and obeying of Him. Our soul should be as wax to express the seal of His glorious attributes of justice, power, goodness, holiness, and mercy. And as the water that receives the beams of the sun reflects them back again, so should our spirits receive the sweet warming beams of His love and glorious excellency, and then reflect them towards His Majesty with the desires and affections of our souls. All our thoughts of Him, all our affections towards Him, should have the stamp of singularity such as may declare there is none like Him, none besides Him; our love, our meditation, our acknowledgment should have this character on their front, there is none besides Thee. Thou art, and none else. And then a soul should by the cords of affection to Him, and admiration of Him, be bound to serve Him. Then a soul will glorify God, when love so unites it to God, and makes it one spirit with Him, that His glory becomes its honour and becomes the principle of all our inward affections and outward actions. Now, when we are speaking of the great end and purpose of our creation we call to mind our lamentable and tragical fall from that blessed station we were constitute into. "All men have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). His being in the world was for that glory, and he is come short of that glory. O strange shortcoming! Short of all that he was ordained for! What is he now meet for? For what purpose is that chief of the works of God now? But behold! the goodness of the Lord and His kindness and love hath appeared towards man, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through Jesus Christ" (Titus 3:4, 5). Our Lord Jesus, by Whom all things were created, and for whom He would not let this excellent workmanship perish so, therefore He goes about the work of redemption. A second creation more laborious and also more glorious than the first, that so He might glorify His Father, and our Father. This is the end of His second creation as it was of the first; "We are His workmanship created to good works in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). We once came short of our end. God's glory and our happiness; but know that it is attainable again. We lost both, but both are found in Christ. Awake then and stir up your spirits else it shall be double condemnation, when we have the offer of being restored to our former blessed condition, to love our present misery better. You are sent into the world only for this business, to serve the Lord. Now what will many of you answer? If you speak the truth you must say, "Lord, I spent my time in serving my own lusts, I was taken up with other businesses and had no leisure, I was occupied in my calling," etc. Even as if an ambassador of a king should return him this account of his negotiation, I was busy at cards and dice, I spent my money, and did wear my clothes. Though you think your ploughing, and borrowing, and trafficing, and reaping very necessary, yet certainly these are but as trifles and toys to the main business. Oh, what a dreadful account will souls make! Know, my beloved, that you were not made for that purpose, nor yet redeemed either to serve yourselves or other creatures, but that other creatures might serve you, and ye serve God (Luke 1:74, 75). And this is really the best way to serve ourselves, and to save ourselves, to serve God. Self-seeking is self-destroying; self-denying is self-saving, soul-saving. Here is a compendious way to glorify God. Receive salvation of Him freely, righteousness and eternal life, and this sets a seal to God's truth, and grace, and mercy: and whoso counts the Son worthy to be a Saviour to them, and sets to their seal of approbation to Him whom God the Father hath sent and sealed, he also honours the Father, and then he that honoureth the Father hath it not for nothing, "for them that honour Me, I will honour" (1 Samuel 2:30), says the Lord; and "he that serves Me him will My Father honour" (John 12:26).

(Hugh Binning.)

It is difficult for us, accustomed to the use of the phrase, "the glory of God," to imagine the fresh interest and the new dignity with which this clear ringing sentence of the apostle must have invested even the humblest lives of those who first listened to it. To some, no doubt, such as the proselyte Titus Justus, or Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, who had found in the Church the true Israel of God, the real goal of Judaism, the idea of the Divine glory being the end of life was not strange. But to the Greek converts the contrast between their present life and a past, from which an interval of at most three years separated them, must have come home with an almost overpowering force. Now they were instinct, unless indeed they were losing it by self-will, with the power of a new life, for "they were washed, they were sanctified, they were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of their God." Now they were the glad possessors of a revelation from on high, such as gave them the key to understanding the world's history and their own. A little before, the skill and power and beauty of life, regarded as merely human, had thrilled them, but it was satisfaction on the surface with the present world which had been complete.

1. It is, I think, worth while, by strong and true efforts of the imagination to rescue the apostle's magnificent axiom from the insincere conventionality with which we too often drape it, as we strive to realise the power which must have marked the moment of its earliest enunciation. Are some of the younger among us perplexed, are some of the older tempted almost to despair, at the fact of our age being distinguished by efforts, not seldom both earnest and honest, to reconstruct morality, whose basis we had rightly believed to be Divine, on foundations purely of man's making? The explanation is not far to seek. History will tell you that when (as in the thirteenth century, or the sixteenth, or the eighteenth) there is a decay of personal religion in men's relationship to God, to self, to the world, a desire to have morality as our very own, apart from God, is sure to appear. We know what the Church of Corinth had become. And yet, in a centre of luxury and license, face to face with a Church which would have been pronounced by modern objectors to missions as "a total failure," or else as an imposture, the apostle loses neither nerve nor heart. Impurity, conceited folly, untempered feeling, unhallowed rivalry, spiritual decay, these shall all be things of the past; each pulsation of the pure moral enthusiasm of the regenerated life will throw the whole being of those Corinthians upon revealed truth; each new perception of revealed truth will increase the volume of the moral force of their entire being; and, therefore, "whether they eat or drink, or whatsoever they do, they will do all for the glory of God."

2. The principle then was set before men whom, despite whatsoever imperfections, St. Paul could discern an inextinguishable power, such as would enable them to make it the chief among the final aims of their lives. The power which we have striven to realise must not be forgotten, if we would understand the maxim. Apart from the power of which the apostle and the Corinthian converts alike were conceivers, the maxim might indeed have been impressive, but it would have awakened no response. Instead of being, as it has become, the possession of multitudes, it would, like the wonderful saying of , or Seneca, or M. Aurelius, have been nothing more than the word of a solitary thinker. But the Corinthians felt that it was not a mere sentiment.

3. And, certainly, the principle has been tested long enough to make us confident in adopting it as the end which shall determine conduct, especially as no other end has yet been found to be adequate, or other sanctions to be really influential.(1) To St. Paul, as to his Jewish converts, the principle, although now instinct with a vivifying spirit unknown in their earlier days, was not strange. The main instrument in St. Paul's mental education, even while he sat at the feet of the renowned teacher whom his contemporaries fondly named "The Beauty of the Law," had undoubtedly been the creed of Judaism, the fulness of which in its developed form became known to him when an apostle as it had never been known before. "The Lord our God is one Lord." You may have sometimes wondered how it was that a nation which, except at rare intervals, must have seemed to the empires around so paltry and so down-trodden as the Jewish nation, did nevertheless most clearly contain within itself a recuperative force. Where, you may have asked, can we find the secret of its vitality? You may find it, if you will, at every stage of its progress. It is revealed in the Divine charge to Abraham: "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect." It prompts the large-hearted prayer of the great Lawgiver: "Show me, I pray Thee, Thy glory." It is the explanation of Elijah's steadfast will; he lives in the consciousness of a Presence higher than any which eye can see: "As the Lord, the God of Israel, liveth, before whom I stand." Isaiah finds in it, as he faces Eastern speculations, the true interpretation of creation. The Divine voice, which "awakened morning by morning " his listening ear, speaks to him of "every one that is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory." In the manifestation of the God-like character Jeremiah traces a grandeur which no philosophy, no military splendour, no commercial enterprise can supply; "Let him," so ran the Divine message, "that glorifieth God, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord, which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."(2) If you would begin, still better if you are continuing to live a "godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of God's holy name," put honestly and humbly, not shirking some inevitable shame, the life of the Son of God made Man side by side with your own. It is the fault of this restless, often superficial, age to be always adopting new plans, which too often end in a humiliating collapse. Let us be content for once with an old plan, which no one is yet known to have honestly tried and to have found a failure.(3) He has now, in His manhood, thus triumphed through sacrifice, been the one final end which His Body, the Church, representing her unseen Head amid the things of time and sense, has in her truest moods set before herself.(4) The experience of St. Stephen has been the experience of the Church just in proportion as her members "have been filled with faith and the Holy Ghost." If the glory of God has really been the one aim to which every other consideration, whether of ease, or of work, or of policy, or of success, has been honestly and consciously subordinated, then the Church has gained that vivid sense of the splendour and energy of the unseen and eternal, that profound conviction of the present fellowship of the interceding Lord, who in His majesty loves each one still, which is the secret of strength alike to the society and the individual. No one felt it more than St. Paul. "Why," he thinks, "were we received into the Church at all?" There is but one explanation of mercy so undeserved; not to promote our private happiness, but "Christ received us to the glory of God." "Unto Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever." What is the aim of the final consummation? "The Lord" will come "to be glorified in His saints." Nothing lower than the image of Christ in His glory imprinted on the hearts, not only of bishops and confessors, "whose praise is in all the churches," but of lowly and untutored multitudes of slaves, of little children, can possibly account either for the Church's growth or for those first triumphs of the Cross.

4. Certainly, this principle so tested, these powers so clearly recognised, cannot be explained on the supposition of having sprung from what is with some boldness described as "the sacred soil of the human heart." The dominant influence and aim were high indeed in Rome. Reverence for law and the paramount claims of the public interest are alike noble, but they are not conscious of relationship with God nor the sovereignty of His will. The Hellenic mind, at its best, delighted in beauty and in truth, but if these were occasionally identified in poetic imagery with the supreme good, it knew nothing of the will and love of an unseen Person. In the philosophy, if not in the practice of those vast Buddhist systems, which still number among their adherents perhaps four hundred and seventy millions of mankind, there is no doubt an energetic sympathy with many forms of goodness, but the end of human life, in which, indeed, there is held to be no abiding principle, has ever been the purely individual object of perfection of self. No, the spring of this "rushing river of consciousness of God," with all the quickening power enabling those who drink of it to glorify Him more, is not found in the human heart. It flows from beneath the throne of God and of the Lamb, but it meets as nothing else can do the cravings of our being.

5. Each heart here, and perhaps, the hearts of those who are the youngest and appear the lightest, most of all knows as none other can describe its own want, but it asks still to be assured of the blessedness of making the Divine glory its final aim. "The principle," it says, "is no doubt practical; it has well stood the test of time; it is unquestionably unique; but, will it give me what I feel to be so sore a need, will it give me honestly and truly the peace which passeth all understanding?" Note the path by which St. , baffled, tempted, driven by overwhelming passion almost into entire wreck, returned to God. See how his thirst for truth, as keen as that of the most ardent student in this University, was satisfied by the gift of the Divine revelation. See how the undisciplined will, which craved in all its licentiousness for salvation, became the possessor of true freedom by the action of the Divine Redeemer. In mental and moral helplessness, it was not merely or chiefly an example, however beautiful, for which Augustine craved. He needed a Saviour "full of grace and truth," who would enable him to attain the true end of his creation.(2) And yet, with all the experience of history, with all the lives of the saints, with the calm beauty and majestic order of the natural world, with the "gospel of the kingdom and all its marvellous power of appropriating and assimilating everything that is noble and salutary around it," it is as sad as it is strange to note how largely this which is pre-eminently the end of life is set aside and practically forgotten. Even, as we learn from his biography, it was in earlier life almost like a new revelation to one so pure and so true as the late Lord Chancellor Hatherley, who in after years could say, "Enough for me if I may sit in loving adoration of Him in the extremest confines of His courts," to learn that the "glory of God's holy name" is, after all, the object which must determine and sanction the life of devotion, of righteousness, and of self-discipline.

6. Is it not then the ease that a conscious sense of promoting the Divine glory is just, what is needed to reanimate and to control the energies of public worship? And we feel with David, that "the palace is not for man, but for the Lord God"; we begin to discern that public worship is not a matter of sentiment or taste, but of duty.

7. And if from childhood we had only been taught that there is an object in prayer far higher than the supply of our daily needs, there would never have been that stagnation in private devotion which, too often, explains a creeping paralysis of moral effort.

8. And many a home clouded with disappointment, embittered by ill-concealed jealousies, because there is no one common aim, disunited because, in forgetting the Divine will, its organising principle is gone, earthbound by thoughts only of what is material, and therefore temporary, would at once be lit up with new hope, if it were felt that the family too were not for man only, but for the Lord God.

9. Work, now and then, could not be unaffected. These riches of the Eternal Wisdom committed to our stewardship are, as Richard Hooker felt, for Him "to show beneficence and grace in them." "All things have been created through the Son of His love, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." How splendid a motive, to throw by grace every energy of will, and heart, and mind into our appointed task. Such is the final end of life — an end which, if desired in early manhood, will at once consecrate and harmonise the discipline of self and the service of men. Already we are the sons of God, and a son must surely reflect in himself and on his brethren his Father's character.

(Preb. Worlledge, M.A.)

Do you want to have religion in daily life? See to it that it exists in your heart, that you love God with your whole soul, and you will not fail to render daily sacrifice acceptable to your Maker. There is a reason why religion is possible in daily life. It is that daily work brings out the Christian temper, shows the Christian character and develops it. Christianity is like a beautiful tree, with the branches of sturdy virtue growing on it, and healing leaves quiver on those branches, and occasionally it is covered with the blossoms of kindness and gentleness; and in the summer-time of the soul it is laden with the fruits of generosity and self-sacrifice. Where shall we plant that tree? To put it in some close courtyard, where neither scorching sun nor biting wind can reach it, would be to make it languish and die. No! out in the open, among other plants and trees, where broad sunshine is felt and winds are blowing — there it must be reared if it is to be healthy. There are things to be resisted in daily life which show how necessary every-day religion is. Every man takes a lower self with him which stands like a demon at his elbow. You hear its cynical laugh and its hissing whisper, "Take care of number one." That lower self has to be resisted by young people at home, by older people in shopping, by business men in dealing with other business men. There is injustice standing with a stiletto before us with threatening mien; a coward at heart but a bully in manners. Resist him. There is impurity sliding stealthily along the pavement. Resist him. Intemperance destroys with its poison tens of thousands. Oh! in the name of all that is noble and powerful in God's truth, resist him. It is said that we do not lay enough stress on the doctrines of Christianity in thus teaching, as we so often do, the necessity of a practical religion. But I think we shall see that the two cannot be divorced from one another. You cannot have religion in daily life unless you have Christ in daily life. To have Him is to have His teaching, and the truths which explain His mission and character. Take some of the principal ones, and we shall see how they illustrate and enforce our subject.

1. The incarnation. This teaches us that God was in the flesh, that the very God came to our common duties. What could be more inspiring than the knowledge of this fact? Why, it at once brings God down to be our Guide and Helper. Our common life is no longer common when we find ourselves side by side with the very God who undertakes our work for us and with us.

2. The Atonement is a cardinal doctrine. How can we understand and apply it? Apply it to daily sins, to common guilt; to the transgressions which we ourselves have committed. It is an awful struggle, this fight against sin. It was said that Constantine saw a flaming cross in the sky on the night before his battle with Maxentius, and that thenceforth he gave his soldiers the sign of the cross on their shields. This is a parable of what we must do. By the blood of Christ we conquer. In the power of the Cross we can go forward.

3. There is the doctrine of inspiration. We see a book before us which professes to tell us how to live, how to work, how to believe, how to die, how to enter eternal felicity. We might discuss that statement and define it, and refine upon it for years, and get no nearer any valuable truth. But if once we turn to the Book, and seek to guide daily life by its precepts, all becomes clear. We get inspiration in actual experience, and our souls are lifted near to God.

4. Nay, the very Godhead is best understood in the light of every-day life. How can we ever penetrate the great mystery of the Trinity? Yes, it is there that we understand who God is and what He may be to us. Every breath tells of His power, every blessing witnesses of His kindness, every incident points to His Providence, and death itself is the door that admits to His presence chamber. Oh! how glad and solemn, how beautiful and responsible your life may be; redeemed from triviality and sin, you are now a child of God by faith in His Son, an heir of immortality and marching forward to glory! Remember, then, whose you are, and whom you serve.

(S. Pearson, M.A.)

1. Worth considering, indeed, is this command; for though it has been in the Bible for eighteen hundred years, it is seldom read, seldomer understood, and still more seldom put into practice. This is the especial curse of our day, that religion does not mean, as it used, the being like God and showing forth God's glory; but the art of saving our own miserable souls from hell, and getting God's wages without doing God's work, as if that was anything but selfishness. And therefore it is that people have forgotten what God's glory is.

2. It is a wonder, indeed, that we are saved from hell, much more raised to heaven; and yet the more we think of it the less wonder we shall find it. God has done for sinful men only just what was to be expected from such unutterable generosity as His is. And recollecting this, we shall begin to forget self and look at God; and in thinking of Him we shall get to worshipping Him.

3. This is what we must try at — to find out what God is: and has He not shown us what He is? He who knows Christ knows God; and that knowledge will help us to show forth God's glory. He is His own glory. As you say of any very excellent man, you have but to know him to honour him; or of any very beautiful woman, you have but to see her to love her; so men have but to see and know God to love and honour Him.

4. When we delight to honour our Father we shall try to make every one honour Him. Now nothing is so infectious as example. If you wish your neighbours to see what Jesus Christ is like, let them see what He can make you like. One man who does not put his religion on with his Sunday coat, but wears it for his working dress, and lets the thought of God grow into and through him till everything he says and does becomes religious, that man is worth a thousand sermons — he is a living gospel, he is the image of God.

5. Would not such a life be a heavenly life? We should then be sitting in heavenly places with Jesus Christ, and having our conversation in heaven. We are in heaven now — if we had but faith to see it. Get rid of those carnal, heathen notions about heaven, which tempt men to fancy that after having misused this place for a whole life, they are to fly away when they die, like swallows in autumn, to some place where they are to be very happy. Heaven is not a mere place. All places are heaven if you will be heavenly in them. Heaven is where God is and Christ is; and hell is where God is not and Christ is not.

(C. Kingsley, M.A.)

1. St. John, as Cassian relates, amusing himself one day with a tame partridge, was asked by a huntsman, how such a man as he could spend his time in so unprofitable a manner. To whom St. John replied, "Why dost thou not carry thy bow always bent?" "Because," answered the huntsman, " if it were always bent I fear it would lose its spring and become useless." "Be not surprised then," replied the apostle, "that I should sometimes remit a little of my close attention of spirit to enjoy a little recreation, that I may afterwards employ myself more fervently in Divine contemplation." In the broad sense of the term, recreation must form an integral part of human life, which is made up of graver and lighter passages. Man's mind is so constituted that it cannot be always on the strain; so it seeks and finds a safety-valve in the lighter passages of life, through which its natural elasticity vents itself. Therefore if recreation is a constituent part of life, recreation must be capable of being sanctified.

2. Recreation is for the mind what sleep is for the body. No man's body could long endure the stress and burden of daily life without sleep. And no man's mind could long endure any mental pressure without recreation. It is wonderful what the body gains in sleep, and it is no less wonderful how much the mind may gain in recreation. That recreation is abused is no argument whatever against its possible utility. Sleep itself is not beneficial but mischievous if it be not well regulated. Consider —

I. THE PRINCIPLE BY WHICH ALONE ANY RECREATION CAN BE SANCTIFIED. Like work, it must be engaged in with a view to God's glory. Eating and drinking, the taking of nourishment, is a species of recreation. To take nourishment is to refresh the body, even as to take recreation is to refresh the mind. If then the taking of nourishment may be made conducive to Gods glory, and brought within the scope of His service, so also, without doubt, may the taking of recreation.

II. AS TO THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF RECREATION, the following suggestions may be offered.

1. Care must be taken that there may be nothing in them contrary to the will and Word of God.

2. It does not follow that because it is abstractedly innocent, it is therefore allowable. There are many amusements which to the pure are pure, but which with persons whose imaginations have been fouled by evil, throw serious temptations in their way. Let no man or woman for the sake of a paltry amusement venture within arm's length of a temptation. To do so were to turn into a mockery the petition — "Lead us not into temptation." If the circumstantials of any amusement are such as effectually to preclude secret prayer, the realisation of God's presence, etc., to us such amusement is forbidden, though Scripture may be silent upon it. Yet it is quite possible that our neighbour, whose mind is possessed of more recollectedness and self-control than ours, may partake of it innocently.

3. The more amusing amusements are the better, busy lives have not time for many; let such as are taken, then, be thoroughly refreshing. Yet what a perfect burden are many forms of so-called amusement! The ordinary recreation of ordinary persons very much resolves itself into conversation with friends or casual acquaintance. Yet how miserably stale, flat, and unprofitable much of it is! How often is foreign travel, one of the best and most intelligent forms of recreation, turned from a pleasure into a burden by the silly, scrambling way in which it is embarked upon!

4. Although anything like severe application would interfere with the end of recreation, it is very much to be wished that a good education embraced some knowledge of those lighter subjects of study, which, as they turn upon Nature, can be taken up and pursued wherever Nature is found. Nature is God's pure work, unsullied by sin; and therefore the study of it is a pure delight to those who love Him.

5. All excess in recreations must be avoided. They are not, and must not be, regarded as the earnest business of life.

6. Our longer periods of leisure should always be made to pay to God the tax of additional devotion.

(Dean Goulburn.)

I was talking the other day to a friend of mine whom I had known some years before as an easy-going youth, just drifting with the hour, a present pleasure shaping his life. I found him an earnest and devoted Christian, a leader in the work of God's word. I was anxious to know what had led to the change, and soon I had the chance of a quiet talk with him. "How did this all come about?" I asked. He told me that one week-day afternoon he was passing some place of worship, and seeing the people going in he strolled in with the rest. He sat and listened to an earnest appeal from the speaker, and began to think more seriously than he ever had done about his life and what he should do with it. "Here am I just beginning life," he said to himself, "what is really the best thing I can do with it? I can go in for money, and perhaps make it; but I shall have to leave it behind, and I must die a pauper however much I make. I can go in for pleasure and get it for awhile perhaps, but that can't last for ever; or I might give myself right up to God, and live with all my heart to serve and please Him. That will last longest and be best for now and ever." So he started then and there; and since that day he had tried to make that the purpose of his life.

(M. Guy Pearse.)

Give none offence... Jews... Gentiles... the Church of God.
I. THE ESSENTIAL OFFENCE, OF THE CROSS MUST NOT BE EVADED. The doctrine of a crucified Christ with its correspending duty of crucified affections will ever provoke the hostility of "the carnal mind." Offence is inevitable where disaffection rules. "Love or hatred" is the sole alternative. Our mission is, "Christ and Him crucified" — not Christ and Him Judaised, or philosophised, or adumbrated in a myth, or held in reserve, or the Shibboleth of a faction. Far from St. Paul was the least suppression of the faith in deference to the fashion of the world or the fury of his adversaries. If "to the Jew he became as a Jew, it was to gain the Jew," etc. His evangelical theology coupled with his chivalrous life of toil present the safest comment upon the mingled courtesy, charity, and policy of his injunction — "Give none offence, neither to the Jews," etc.

II. WHAT ARE THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL AFFRONTS THAT MUST BE AVOIDED? The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church present the three types of those several relations of the world to religion, and whose spiritual interests may be gratuitously obstructed by ministrational offensiveness.

1. Ritualism.(1) This was "the rock of offence on which Zion stumbled" and lost her standing.(a) The Jew gloried in his descent from Abraham; but St. Paul did not ridicule the pretension, but, pointing it in its right direction to the faith of Christ, courteously conceded "then are ye Abraham's seed," etc.(b) The Jew rested in the law. Paul "bare them record, they had a zeal for God," etc., because "the law was their schoolmaster to bring them to Christ."(c) The Jew stood upon his circumcision. Was it asked, "What profit was there of circumcision?" The reply was, "Much every way," except indeed in their own way, but in such a way as they would be more disposed to listen to as "the more, excellent way."(2) Apply this apostolic gauge to our own modes of dealing with modern Jews.(a) Take the English Jew; his national and hereditary dislike of Christianity is not likely to be propitiated by our too general indifference to the means of his conversion, which strikes him as irresistibly at variance with our evangelical premises.(b) Take the spirit of ritualism as embodied in Romanism. To unchurch Rome — the communion of a Borromeo, Fenelon, and Pascal — is not the spirit which acknowledged their prototypes, "who are Israelites."The civil concession of her antiquity pleads the conciliatory parallel, "whose are the Fathers." The graceful recognition of her early evangelising labours finds a gentler precedent in the admission, "of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came," than in the loose ignoring of all old better times. Neither is it an obstacle, but rather ancillary to our argument to let her share the honour of having had "committed unto her the oracles of God." Rome must be vanquished by her own instruments. The Christianity in her Vulgate will yet displace the Popery in her creeds.

2. Rationalism.(1) There can be no antagonism between reason and faith. Christianity and science are both from the same Author, and it robs Him of part of His glory to take either away. Deal with such particles of truth as exist in rationalistic or socialistic writings, as Paul did with the inscription on the Athenian altar, or the maxims of a Menander or Aratus. He "disputed daily in the school of one Tyrannus," but "gave no offence to the Gentiles."(2) But the text includes the unconverted, and there is a risk of gratuitously offending the mere worldling by the style, as well as matter of preaching. Do not blacken poor human nature darker than she is. Look upon the young keeper of the commandments as Jesus "looked and loved him."(3) The Church of God. The really enlightened children of God are susceptible of offence from an incautious ministry. There is such a contingency as "making my weak brother to offend" in various shapes. We may scandalise, damage, or discourage a fellow-Christian by the class of amusements in which ourselves or families fraternise with the world, or by the inconsiderate denouncement of all recreation; by showing respect of persons in the way of sparing the follies of the rich, and bearing hard upon the vices of the poor, or contrasting the assiduity of pastoral attention to the former, with a comparative neglect of the latter; by careless. partial, imperfect or indistinct statements of truth; by an obvious disparity between our public preaching and personal conversation; by any inattention to the commoner charities, morals, and civilities of life, as if Christianity contained no such precepts as "use hospitality," "be courteous," "render unto all their dues."

(J. B. Owen, M.A.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. THE GREAT OBJECT AT WHICH THE APOSTLE AIMED — the profit, the salvation, of many. The term "profit" may apply, in general, to anything which improves either the man or his condition. So "wisdom is profitable," etc. (Ecclesiastes 10:10); and Paul profited in Jewish learning, etc. (Galatians 1:14). But as happiness is man's summum bonum, his highest good, whatever promotes this evidently deserves to be so characterised. In this view salvation appears to be eminently profitable.

1. Deliverance from the shackles of superstition — of a superstition erroneous in sentiment — extravagant in its hopes, fears, etc. — painful in its services.

2. Deliverance from the guilt of sin, and from that danger which always, and from those fearful anticipations which frequently, attend it.

3. Deliverance from the slavery of sin (Romans 6:12-14).

4. It is an abiding profit.


1. Observe his disinterestedness. "Not seeking mine own profit." How different from the man who, when any subject is proposed to him, immediately inquires, "What shall I gain by it?"

2. Mark the apostle's benevolence. Aiming at "the profit of many."

3. Consider the apostle's labours. "Seeking the profit of many"; in devising plans to promote their prosperity (2 Corinthians 11:28).

4. Consider also the sacrifices he made.

(Sketches of Sermons.)


1. What are we to understand by the word "offence." This word is taken in two senses. In the sacred writings it generally signifies a stumbling-block, or whatever is the occasion of another's fall. But the word "offence," in the common acceptation of it, is taken to signify an occasion of anger, grief, or resentment. Whoever finds these passions stirring in his mind, is said to be offended; and whatever be the incentive or cause of them, is called the offence. In this latter sense we sometimes find the word used in Scripture, as well as in the former (Psalm 119:165; Matthew 17:27). It is this latter sense in which I intend to improve the words of the text, and consider them as a precept, to follow after things that make for peace, and to keep our conscience void of offence towards all men.

2. With what restrictions this precept must reasonably be taken.(1) When peace with men stands in competition with our duty to God, we should not be afraid of giving them offence.(2) Not only the honour of God, but the rights of conscience must be maintained as sacred in opposition to all that would invade them, however that opposition may offend them.(3) Nor are the perverse and unreasonable humours of men to be always submitted to for fear of giving offence. The truth ought to be sometimes boldly asserted, strongly proved, and closely urged; and the vanity and ignorance of the conceited humorist mortified and exposed.(4) It is lawful sometimes to give offence to others for the sake of their good. That is, when that good we are able to do them cannot be done without it. This especially takes place in case of reproof.(5) Nor should we be afraid of giving a private offence when it is necessary to the public good. Otherwise magistrates would not be faithful to their trust, nor could penal laws be executed.(6) We should not be too scrupulous of giving offence in justifying an injured character, or in vindicating the honour and reputation of an absent person, when aspersed by the petulance of an unbridled or malicious tongue.(7) When the honour, interest, and credit of religion are manifestly concerned, they ought not to be meanly prostituted for the sake of peace.

3. The proper latitude and extent of it in a few particulars wherein men are most apt to forget it.(1) We should take care we do not give a needless offence to others in matter of opinion.(2) In like manner we should take care how we give just offence to weak Christians in matters of practice.(3) We should take care not to give offence in our discourse or conversation with others.(4) We should take care to give no just offence in our way of commerce or dealings with men. Either by exaction and oppression, or by rigorous and exorbitant claims, beyond the rules of equity and mercy, where there is but small ability to answer them.(5) We should take care not to give offence to others by our tempers. In some tempers there are many things very offensive, which tend very much to disturb the peace of society and dissolve the bonds of Christian love and friendship.(a) A vain and ostentatious temper — when a man appears to centre all his views in himself, and to be so full of secret pride and self-applause that it is continually running over his lips.(b) A rigid, censorious, and detracting spirit, which often proceeds from the same original as the other, viz., secret pride and excessive self-love.(c) A passionate and revengeful temper is a very offensive one.(d) An arbitrary, over-bearing, and imperious temper, which tyrannises over ingenuous modesty, and thinks to carry all before it by mere dint of noise and confidence.(e) A mercenary and selfish temper, which shows a little, contracted heart, wrapped up in itself, and shut fast to all the world beside; whereas the heart of a good man is open and generous, and longs to diffuse joy and gladness all around it.(6) We should take care to give no offence to others by the abuse of those talents which we enjoy more than they.(7) We should take care how we give offence in any of those several relations in life wherein Providence hath placed us.


1. The first is from the example of our great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Which is not only our greatest motive to it, but at the same time will be our best direction in the practice of it. He was not ashamed to maintain the cause of God and truth at the expense of His own peace and fame; nor afraid to oppose and reprove the proud priests and bigoted Pharisees, though He knew He should give them offence and incur their hatred by so doing. Here He showed the courage of a lion; in other cases all the meekness of a lamb.

2. He who makes no conscience of offending men, will make no conscience of offending God. Nay, herein he actually does offend Him. A just occasion of offence given to them is a real offence offered to Him, because it is a wilful violation of His laws, which in the most express manner have forbidden it.

(J. Mason, A.M.)

1. The apostle did not shrink from giving offence where the honour of his Master or the rights of His gospel were to be maintained, where sin was to be rebuked, and hypocrisy unmasked. The public opinion of those times doubtless regarded him as an extreme man (1 Corinthians 4:3, 4). Wherever he went he roused the fiercest passions of the Jews. It was from no inability to perceive the "offence of the Cross," that he made it the theme of his ministry. Even to the Church he gave offence where duty required — to Barnabas, to Peter, to the Jewish Christians in general.

2. How singular, then, sound such words as those of the text. "He give no offence!" might be the comment of some of his opponents, "why, it is not possible that any man should give more." These words, however, prove that Paul had no love for antagonism. Truth must be served first, but where it did not call he would not grieve either Jew or Gentile or fellow-Christian. He is speaking here of things not necessary to salvation.


1. With many it may be very feeble and restricted, but to none has it been wholly denied. To some have been given two, and to a few even five talents, but there is not one who can say that he has no talent at all. One of the mightiest forces thus lies within the reach of all. An innocent babe, all insensible of the power which it wields, will sometimes almost transform the spirit of a father.

2. Few things are more marvellous than the way in which such influence propagates itself. Take, e.g., the simple Christian man whose sympathy was excited on behalf of the ignorant and godless children in the city of Gloucester. He little knew how his Christian thought would fructify. So the Christian woman who invited her young apprentice to the evening service in the Tabernacle was unconsciously setting in motion a train of influence, the full results of which are not yet fully developed. That evening sermon was to lead John Williams to the foot of the Cross.

3. Nor is it only that a man may exercise such influence, it is certain that he must do so. It is not that no man ought to live to himself, but that, as a matter of fact, no man can live to himself. Be not deceived, if you are not a blessing you will be a curse to the world. A purely negative existence, even if desirable, is not possible to any of us.


1. It may be regarded under two aspects, the direct and the indirect power which we exert. The Christian must strive to serve his Master in both. He must not only engage in Christian labours, but he must breathe a Christian temper. The power of earnest words and generous deeds will be neutralised by the inconsistency which awakens doubts as to his sincerity, or the offensive bearing which, in exciting prejudice against himself, creates a new obstacle to the success of the message which he bears. It is to this that the apostle chiefly alludes. The offence of the Cross was not to be removed by silence as to Christ crucified; but whatever his message might be, he sought that he himself should not be a stumbling-block.

2. Some men make it their boast that they take no heed to the opinions of others. They have the approval of their own conscience. What can it matter to them though they are condemned by the unanimous voice of their brethren? A doubt of their own infallibility never appears to occur to them, nor a desire to spare the feelings and respect the convictions of others to influence their modes of speech or action. Of course it is better to be unpopular than untrue; but even if regard to the highest principle require a man sometimes to oppose himself to those whom he most respects, there is a way of acting by which he may avoid provoking that unpleasant irritation which is sure to defeat the very purpose he seeks to achieve. Keep back nothing which fidelity to God requires you to utter; but let there be the courtesy which pays a due respect to the opinions it is compelled to oppose, and the readiness to make everything subordinate to the one great work of promoting the gospel. It is pitiable to mark the way in which some men, by little defects of character, mar the effect of labours inspired by the purest motive and apparently fitted to secure the richest fruit. They are like a gardener who, having sown his seeds, no sooner sees them breaking the ground than he begins to trample them down.

3. "Not seeking mine own profit," etc. Such, too, is our principle, but may we not learn something even from those who seek the inferior end? If men can stoop to secure an earthly prize — if they deem no labour too hard, no rebuff too humiliating, no arts too mean which are necessary to ensure success — what effort should not Christians put forth, and what sacrifice should they not make in order to win a power which they may use for the profit of many?

(J. G. Rogers, B.A.)


1. Give none offence.

2. Please all men.

3. Sacrifice self.

II. THE OBJECT — that they may be saved.

III. THE INCENTIVE — the example of Christ and His apostles (1 Corinthians 11:1).

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Even as I please all men in all things

1. The case of Timothy (Acts 16:3).

2. Paul at Athens.

3. Paul at Corinth.

4. His address to Agrippa.

5. His words in reference to meats and drinks.



(1)Christian truth and principle must at all rates be maintained.

(2)Christian moderation and suavity must be exhibited.

(H. W. Beecher.)


1. On the plea of becoming all things to all men, Christians are tempted into sinful conformity with the habits and amusements of the world.

2. On the same plea the Church of Rome adopted heathen rites, until the distinction between Paganism and Christianity was little more than nominal. Heathen temples were called churches; Pagan gods were baptized as saints, and honoured as before.

II. THE APOSTLE SO ACTED AS TO PRESERVE THE CHURCH FROM EVERY TAINT OF EITHER PAGANISM OR JUDAISM. The rules which guided the apostles may be easily deduced from the conduct and epistles of Paul.

1. They accommodated themselves to Jewish or Gentile usages only in matters of indifference.

2. They abstained from all accommodation even in things indifferent, under circumstances which gave to those things a religious import. They allowed sacrifices to be eaten; but eating within a temple was forbidden.

3. They conceded when the concession was not demanded as a matter of necessity; but refused when it was so regarded. Paul said circumcision was nothing and uncircumcision was nothing; yet he resisted the circumcision of Titus when it was demanded by the Judaisers.

4. The object of their concessions was not to gain mere nominal converts, nor to do away with the offence of the Cross (Galatians 4:11), but to save men. No concession therefore, whether to the manners of the world or to the prejudices of the ignorant, can plead the sanction of apostolic example, which has not that object honestly in view.

5. It is included in the above particulars that Paul, in becoming all things to all men, never compromised any truth or sanctioned any error.

(C. Hodge, D.D.).

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