1 Corinthians 10:3

By a few master strokes of his pen St. Paul indicated the typical significance of Israel's life in the wilderness. His object in these allusions to the Old Testament was to correct party spirit among the Greek Christians of the first century, by showing that, like the tribes of Israel in the old time, the people of Christ are one in respect of their redemption and consolation in him. As all the Hebrew fathers were delivered from slavery in Egypt, so all the Christians are delivered from the bondage of the flesh. As all of them were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the sea, so all the Christians have been baptized into Christ by death and burial with him. As all of them ate of the manna from the Lord, so all Christians have the same spiritual food; and as all of them drank of the water from the smitten rock in Horeb, so all Christians drink of the same spiritual Rock, which is Christ. Thus what God did for Israel, he did for all; what he gave to Israel, he gave to all that people. It was the fault of the people that this unity was broken. "Some of them were idolaters;" "some of them committed fornication;" "some of them tempted the Lord;" "some of them murmured." Christians should mark this, and beware lest any of them, through temptations to idolatry, fleshliness, or wilfulness, forfeit what the Lord has provided for all of them without respect of persons. Here are the necessaries of the spiritual as of the natural life - food and drink, bread and water.

I. SPIRITUAL FOOD. The Israelites got manna as a direct and free gift from God. Christians receive Christ as "the true Bread which came down from heaven," a direct and a free gift from God. The bread is his flesh which he has given for the life of the world; i.e. Christ nourishes his people through the efficacy of his atonement. Whosoever heartily believes in Christ crucified eats by faith of the flesh which is heavenly bread. The emphasis in this passage lies on the words, "They all did eat the same." In the wilderness, every family of the whole redeemed nation ate daily of exactly the same bread with every other family. Moses himself partook of the manna, and so did the lowest of the people. There was no difference between the princes of Israel and the feeblest in the tribes, between the old people and the children, or between masters and servants. All partook of the same daily bread. So there is the same Christ for all of us. Believers have the same life and the same support or staff of life. No matter what social and intellectual distinctions may be among us, or what varieties of view on secondary points; in this we are at one, that we have the same spiritual food. And we show this when we all partake together of the Lord's Supper.

II. SPIRITUAL DRINK. The water from the rock at Horeb not only supplied the immediate want, but was of use to the tribes of Israel for many days. Now, that rock signified Christ. Jehovah said to Moses, "I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb." So God is now before us in Christ Jesus, able and willing to satisfy all the poor and needy whose hearts faint and" fail them for thirst." Christ as the Rock smitten is a Fountain of life, available to us now, and not now only, but all our lives long. As the bread resolves itself into the flesh, so the stream also into the precious blood of Christ. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, according to his own teaching at Capernaum. Thus we are again brought to the fact and virtue of the atonement. That which it would be gross and intolerable to eat and drink after a literal and carnal manner, is, after a spiritual manner, full of sweetness and strength. And again, the emphasis is on the participation by all Christians of the same spiritual drink, which is symbolized in the Lord's Supper. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" Other Scriptures follow more closely the idea of water gushing from a rocky fountain. As the blood of Christ signifies his atonement, so the water is a sign of the communication of the Holy Ghost. By the former our Lord gives peace to the conscience; by the latter, cleansing and healing to the heart. Christ, our Rock, spoke more than once of his power to impart to all comers the water of life (John 4:10-14; John 7:37-39). And now, as from a height above the plain on which his people still walk as pilgrims, our Saviour in heaven gives this water to the thirsty. To it all are welcome. Water is no luxury for the few, but an acknowledged universal necessary of life; and so a participation of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is no privilege of a few superlative Christians, but necessary to the inward life of every one who is a Christian at all "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." How can a rock follow? The rock in Horeb did not move from its place, but followed the people in the stream which issued from it and flowed through the lower levels of the wilderness. So Jesus Christ remains at God's right hand; yet is with us always in the continual efficacy of his shed blood and the continual fellowship of his Holy Spirit. The fountain never runs dry. We never find anything less than fulness in him. And there is no need to go on a long pilgrimage to our sacred well. The Rock follows us.

III. HOW TO GET THIS NOURISHMENT. By grace, through faith. When the children of Israel saw the manna, they "wist not what it was." Then Moses told them from God what it was, and bade them gather it, "every man according to his eating." So now, men do not know of themselves what Christ is; but it is preached or proclaimed as from God that this is the true Bread. Take, and eat, and live. Why should any household be without the heavenly Bread? When the rock was smitten, no one stood by but Moses and the eiders, who had gone in advance of the host. One can imagine those elders hastening back to the camp, and calling aloud to the several tribes, "Water! water! He, every one that thirsteth, come to the waters!" Shall we who have found life and peace in Jesus Christ hold our peace? Nay, but we call to every thirsty soul, "Come, and drink, and live." - F.

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.)

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