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mighty works; but this was not a faving gift. A perfon might poffefs it, yet remain unrenewed, and perish in his fins.
SOME appear to have exercised this power, who profeffed no relation to Chrift, but were openly connected with his enemies. This is evident from his expoftulation with those who attributed to infernal agency, the authority with which he extorted obedience from evil fpirits-" If I by Beelzebub caft out devils, by whom do your fons caft them out? Therefore fhall they be your judges."* The fame appears from another incident, recorded by St. Mark-" And John answered, faying, Mafter, we saw one calling out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. And Jesus said, Forbid him not: For there is no man who fhall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me."t
It seems that some who had seen the disciples caft out devils in Chrift's name, though not them. felves his disciples, attempted to do the fame and fucceeded; and that things of this nature were not uncommon after Chrift began his ministry ; though it did not always, if at all fucceed, after his fufferings and exaltation.‡
THE gift of miracles, like other gifts, was diftinct from fanctifying grace. This grace was often joined with that gift; but not always. There was no neceffary connexion between them.
UNDER the former difpenfation, the gift of prophecy did not certainly argue a renewed na+ St. Mark ix. 38, 39. + Acts xix. 43.
*Luke xi, 19.
ture. It was fometimes given without it. Bala. am had this gift. The deceiver who brought back the man of God who was fent from Judah to reprove Jeroboam, had it. By divine order he told the Jew what would happen to him, because he difobeyed the word of the Lord, and returned to eat bread in that place. Neither is there a trait of fanctity visible on the prophet Jonah, though he was compelled to bear God's meffages to Ninevah, and used to make other fpecial communica
tions to men.
UNDER the gospel difpenfation divine adminif tration hath been the fame. Judas had doubtless the gift of miracles in common with his fellow difciples; and many will appeal to the judge in the great day, that they "have prophefied in his name, in his name caft out devils, and in his name. done many wonderful works, to whom he will profefs, I never knew you," and whom he will fend away among the workers of iniquity.
MEN are too often eftimated by their gifts. Many confider those as the best men who poffefs the most enlarged, and especially the most showy talents; and defpife thofe of a different defcription, as though their gifts and graces must be equal. But this is wrong. A perfon may pofsess the talents of an angel of light, who hath the temper of an infernal. Such is probably the flate of apoftate fpirits. And fome of the great. eft of mankind have been fome of the worst and moft abandoned.
THOUGH this must be evident to the confiderate, there is yet a difpofition in man to judge others, yea, and himself too, by gifts apart from the grace which fanctifies gifts, and renders them beneficial, both to the poffeffor, and to the world; and at the fame time keeps the poffeffor humble, and prevents him from thinking of himself, above that which he ought to think.
NEITHER are the renewed out of danger from this quarter. Sanctification being imperfect, dif tinguished gifts, or usefulness, or uncommon di. vine communications, are liable to be abufed and made to fofter pride and raise in the worm too high an opinion of himself. St. Paul, though not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles," needed fomething to keep him humble and prevent him from being elated by the revelations which were made to him. And he left these things on record as a warning to others; and particularly noted them to the church at Corinth, which abound. ed with miraculous gifts, and among whom they were exceedingly abufed. He declared them not only inferior to charity, or holy love, but, confidered in themselves, as of no eftimation in a moral view; that a perfon might poffefs them in the highest degree, and yet be nothing in religion"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as founding brafs, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and underftand all myfteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, fo that I could remove mountains,
and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I beftow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. The apostle here supposeth a perfon poffeffed of the moft eminent miraculous gifts, yet wholly deftitute of religion. Could no fuch cafe happen, he would not have made the fuppofition. He did not write to amuse, but to edify and inftruct.
SOME at Corinth prided themselves in their gifts and defpifed others-perhaps men's moral ftate was estimated by them. Therefore did he fhow the use of thofe gifts-that they were diftinct from renewing grace-that the latter was more excellent than the former; and that the poffeffion of the latter could not be argued from the exercise of the former.
THOSE gifts were very useful at that day, and in that city, which was filled with idolatry, and almoft the headquarters of paganifm; but to the poffeffor they were of lefs value than Christian graces-" Covet earnestly the beft gifts; and yet thew I unto you a more excellent way"-Namely, the charity described in the following chapter, of which we have been treating above.
To prevent the feventy from indulging the fpir it which the apoftle afterwards thus reproved at Corinth, was the defign of the caution given them in the text. Christ observed how they valued themselves on their gifts and checked the fpirit in
* 1 Cor. xiii. 1, &c.
its beginning. Rejoice not that the fpirits are fubject unto you.
II. WE are to confider the command-But rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
THE names of the faints are here reprefented as written in Heaven. This language is figurative, accommodated to human weakness. God hath promised falvation to the faithful and caufed them to hope in his mercy; but memorandums are not necessary to remind him of his promises, or records in heaven to entitle the faithful to the heavenly inheritance. God's counfels are always before him. The phraseology of the text is borrowed from the customs of men, who need memorandums and records to fecure the fulfilment of engage
WHEN men are made free of a city, or state, they are enrolled in the archives of the community-Thence probably, the metaphorical language of the text, and fimilar fcriptures: For we often find matters which are determined in the divine councils represented as written in celeftial records-"Then they that feared the Lord, fpake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that thought on "his name." Zion is faid to be "graven on the palms of his hands"The faints to be written "in the book of lifeThe dead to be judged out of the things written in the books" which will be opened at the grand affize, when the world will be judged in righteouf.nefs.