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SCRIPTURAL USE OF MEATS.
Query. How is it that the apostle presses the discontinuance of eating meats offered to idols, sometimes on the bare inexpediency of it, and at other times on the absolute unlawfulness of it? 1 Cor. viii. 9-13 with x. 14-21.
Answer. The querist is certainly right as to the fact, for both these kinds of dissuasion are used in 1 Cor. viii. to x. To account for it, it may be proper to observe, that eating part of the sacrifices of the city, which might be provided at the public expense, had been the custom in all former times; and it was probably thought a hardship to be forbidden it. Some of the members of the church at Corinth proceeded so far as to resume their old stations at these public feasts; and justified themselves on the ground, that they were not so ignorant as not to be able to distinguish between idolatry and good eating and drinking; they did not mean by it to do any honour to the idol, but merely to partake of the repast. Yet by their example many weaker brethren, who still retained the prejudices of their heathen education, were actually drawn into a superstitious veneration of the idol.-The thing also was in itself wrong, as it was having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
To remedy this evil, the apostle first reasons with them on their own principles. Be it so, as if he had said, that there is no evil in it, and that you by your superior knowledge, (thus satirising their vain pretences) can walk over these coals without being burnt; yet that is more than your weaker brethren can do. You make them sin, though you be sinless yourselves.-In this view he allows their conduct, for argument sake, to be lawful, but denies it to
be expedient. But having thus proved the impropriety of their conduct, even upon their own principles, he then proceeds to evince its utter unlawfulness; calling it 'idolatry,' chap. x. 14, and proving it to be so on this general principle, that he who voluntarily associates with others in any act, is a partaker of that act. On this ground says he it is, that in the Lord's supper we hold professed communion with Christ; that those who among the jews ate of the sacrifices, partook of the altar; and upon this ground, you cannot eat and drink things offered to idols, without having fellowship with demons.
VINDICATION OF ST. PAUL.
Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 2 Cor. xii, 16.
THIS passage is so far from being friendly to the exercise of guile, that it is a manifest disavowal of it. It is an irony. The apostle does not describe what had actually been his conduct, but that of which he stood accused by the Corinthian teachers. They insinuate that he was a sly crafty man, going about 'preaching, persuading, and catching people with guile.' Paul acknowledges that he and his colleagues did indeed 'persuade men,' and could not do otherwise; for the love of Christ constrained them.' (Chap. v. 11, 14.) But he indignantly repels the insinuation of its being from mercenary motives. We have wronged no man,' says he; 'we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.' (vii. 2) Having denied the charge, he shows the absurdity of it. Mercenary men, who wish to draw people after them, have an end to answer: and what end, says Paul, could I have in view, in persuading you to embrace the gospel? Have I gained
any thing by you? When I was with you, was I burdensome to you? No: nor as things are, will I be burdensome. Yet, being crafty, forsooth, I caught you with guile!
Oh, said the accusers, he affected great disinterestedness at first, that he might the more easily take you in afterwards. He declined taking any thing with his own hands, with the intention of sending others to collect it for him at a more convenient season! Did I then make a gain of you,' replies the apostle, 'by any of them whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother: did Titus make a gain of you? Walked we not in the same spirit; walked we not in the same steps? Chap. xii. 17, 18.
Nothing is more evident, than that all guile and hypocrisy were laid aside' by the primitive ministers. 'Our rejoicing is this,' says the apostle; 'the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.' Chap. i. 12.
PROPER AND IMPROPER USE OF TERMS.
The first of the three following papers has already appeared in vol. viii. of the Author's works; but as it was there given incomplete, and was originally followed with some animadversions from the pen of a respectable writer, which induced Mr. Fuller more largely to defend his positions; the Editor judged it expedient to insert the entire series in their proper connection, and hopes the partial repetition will be excused.
NOTWITHSTANDING the number of words found in every language, they are far from being equal to the number of ideas in the human mind. Hence it is that one and the same term has a variety of meanings; hence also arises the distinction between the proper and improper, the literal and figurative use of terms. The word abib, the first in the hebrew lexicon, signifies, (1) verdure or greenness, Job viii. 12: (2) an ear of corn on its first appearance, being then of a green colour, Lev. ii. 14: (3) a month in the jewish year, falling somewhere about March or April, when corn in that country began to ear.
Here we see the progress of language, and the causes of different ideas being affixed to the same term. When a name is wanted to express an idea, men do not think of making a new one; but call it by something already known, to which it bears a resemblance; and as this resemblance is frequently confined to one leading property, and sometimes to one that is not so, it hence comes to pass that the more objects a term is applied to, the farther it commonly advances from the original idea. In mentioning the month Abib, for example, a jew would think nothing of greenness or verdure, which is its true and primary meaning; but merely of the time of his forefathers coming out of Egypt, and of the institution of the passover. Yet in arguments from the meaning of scripture terms, it becomes us to ascertain the true, primitive, or proper sense, and to measure all secondary and figurative applications by it as a standard. It appears to me that, many important errors have been introduced and defended for want of attending to this rule, which is dictated by common sense. Instead of defining a term according to its proper and primary meaning, and resting nothing upon its secondary or figurative applications, any farther than they accord with it, the reverse has been the practice. The proper meaning has been made to give way to the figurative, rather than the figurative to the proper.
1. The Universalist, finding the terms used to express the duration of future punishment frequently applied to things which have an end, endeavours from thence to set aside the evidence of its eternity. That is, he grounds his argument on the secondary and figurative application of terms, to the setting aside of that which is primary or proper. Thus awwv, though its proper meaning is always being, is made to mean no more than age or ages; and alwvios, though it literally signifies everlasting or endless, yet is said to mean no more than age-lasting. Thus, instead of measuring the secondary sense of words by the primary, the primary is measured and excluded by the secondary; which goes to exclude all just reasoning, and to introduce everlasting wrangling. It were just as reasonable to contend, that the English word 'turnpike' signifies a road made by act of parliament, though it is so called merely in a way of contraction, and because such roads have tolgates, and such gates a turnpike for the accommodation of foot passengers.
2. The adversaries of the doctrine of atonement have taken the same method. "By a sacrifice," says Dr. Taylor, "is meant a symbolical address to God, intended to express before him the devout affections, by significant emblematical actions; and consequently, whatever is expressive of a pious and virtuous disposition may rightly be included in the idea of a sacrifice; as prayers, thanksgivings, expenses, labours, &c." It is easy to see that the primary notion of a sacrifice is here explained away, or lost in the crowd of secondary meanings; by which any thing may be proved or disproved, as the writer pleases.
3. Let it be dispassionately and impartially considered, whether the principal objections brought against the ordinance of baptism being administered exclusively by immersion, do not originate in the same cause.