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1 Cor. xi. 18, 19.
I bear, that when ye come together in the congre
gation, there are divisions among you : and I believe it, as to some part of you. For there must also be beresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Our apostle had immediately before been reproving the christians at Corinth, for a great impropriety in their behaviour at their public assemblies for divine worship : particularly some of the other sex, in what he calls their prophesying ; which term frequently, and here in particular, does not signify the foretelling of future events, but praying or teaching under an extraordinary influence of the holy spirit of God; and was a gift communicated in that first age of the Gospel sometimes to women as well as the men ; when, probably through the too great vehemency of 2 c 2
their zeal, they threw off their veils, with which they were always covered from view in those countries; and which in those times was a great indecorum, and might expose their christian society to undeserved censure and suspicions.
What St. Paul goes on further to blame them for, in the passage I have read to you, was their irregular and indecent manner of celebrating the christian ordinance of the Lord's supper ;
which drew from him the censure and general remark in the words
prefixed to my discourse,-that it could not be expected that all would act the proper part and behave suitably to their christian profession; nevertheless, that such wrong things, through the overruling design and providence of God, would have their use.
It is my purpose to illustrate this observation of the apostle's ; keeping our eye still to the subject of the Lord's supper, which gave occasion to it; and then consider some of the useful lessons we may receive from it. « There must be heresies," says he. The original Greek word here used by St. Paul, and which we translate heresies, is in other places translated sect or sects, and is sometimes
used in the New Testament in an indifferent sense, merely to mark out a difference of religious opinion or profession, without either praise or blame.
Thus St. Paul, (Acts xxvi. 5, 6.) in his defence of himself before king Agrippa and Festus the Roman governor, says," My manner of life know all the Jews, if they would testify, that after the straitest, or the strictest, sect of our religion, I lived a Phari
It is in the original-After the strictest heresy of our religion, I lived a Pharisee,
And in the same book of the Acts, (xxviii, 22.) the writer, St. Luke, introduces the Jews residing at Rome saying to St. Paul, on his first coming thither; “ We desire to hear of thee, what thou thinkest : for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.” It is in the original, “ as concerning this heresy," &c.
The name heresy they give to christianity without any design to censure or condemn it, but barely to hear what the apostle had to say for it.
But the word isin other places of the New Testament taken in a bad sense, as implying a blameable dissension, or departure from the doctrinę
delivered by Christ and his apostles. (2 Pet. ii. 1.) The apostle Peter, having a foresight of the corruptions of the christian doctrine that were coming in among those to whom he writes, says:
: “There shall be false teachers
who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, (for so the word may be more properly translated rather than damnable,) even denying the Lord that bought them.” In which words the apostle speaks not of our Saviour Christ, and men's denying him, whom God has made the Lord of us christians ; for he is never said to have bought us : and the word here answering to Lord, DECTOTNS, is never in the New Testament applied to Christ, but to God the one supreme and sovereign Lord of all. But St. Peter refers to the known extravagance and error of some in those times, who denied God to be the Cre, ator of the world, asserting it to be the work of inferior beings; which he might well call a pernicious, destructive heresy, and departure from the truth of the Gospel.
(Gal. v. 19, 20.) St. Paul classes heresies with adultery, uncleanness, and the most heinous crimes.
And in the passage before us he obviously applies the word to a practice which he highly
condemned :-" There must also be heresies among you," &c. Let us then go on to open and explain the history and the subject, and then consider the use we are to make of this remark.
I. The heresy, or direct contradiction to the known doctrine of Christ, to which he here alludes, related to the Lord's supper, and their way of administering it.
There was great plainness and simplicity in this religious ordinance as instituted by our Lord himself.
The evening before he was put to death, after the supper-meal was over, sitting at table with his disciples, taking a loaf and dividing it into pieces, and wine in a cup, he called the one his body that was to be given for them, and the other his blood that was to be shed for them; thereby easily pointing out his approaching death upon the cross ; not for any
crimes or sins of his own, but in confirmation of the truth he taught, and so for their good and benefit, and that of all his followers in all times; and ordered bread and wine, so considered, to be eaten and drunk in remembrance of him: so our apostle further explains it here, (ver. 26.)