« AnteriorContinua »
tion of others, bound him. To a similar line of conduct, in matters in any way
affecting their brethren, he by implication exhorts them ; observing, that in the exercise of this sort of self-control in the use of things innocent or indifferent, no more was required of them, as the followers of Christ contending for a heavenly prize, than they were accustomed to see practised, for the attainment of a far inferior object, by those who strove for the mastery in their secular games.
In the tenth chapter he resumes and pursues further his argument concerning things offered to idols. Hitherto he had spoken of the want of charity, manifested in doing that which might make a brother to offend'; he now begins to urge
the sible danger to themselves of the conduct, which he had as yet condemned on the score of charity only: reminding them, that while in the security of their conscience they ventured to partake in feasts, so closely connected with an idolatrous service,
f 1 Cor. viii. 13.
they might indeed be in more danger than they seemed to suspect, of falling into the idolatry, from which, in the strength of their persuasion of the nothingness of an idols, they flattered themselves they were altogether free. This danger he places in the fact of such eating being, in itself, and abstracted from the knowledge, which might render it innocent in them, an overt act of idolatry. He observes, that with reference to the offence, in this case, it was not always enough, even for Christians, to know, that an idol is nothing ; for that in this respect our freedom, in consequence of our participation in the ordinances of the Gospel, cannot be greater than that of the Israelites in the desert, who had been baptized by an analogous baptism unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea"; and who had figuratively eaten the same spiritual meat, and drank the same spiritual drinki with those; who now had part in the Christian sacraments; but with whom, notwithstanding,
God was not well pleased on this very account; namely, their having partaken in an idolatrous festival. For the sole act of idolatry, objected to the Israelites on the occasion alluded to by St. Paul, is that they sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up play! And from the narrative of the transaction in Exodus, it seems fair to infer, that many of them did this, with as little conscience of an idol ", that is, with as little intention of doing honour to the idol, as the Corinthians themselves in their participation of the feasts, following, or accompanying the heathen sacrifices. For though some of them might, not improbably, be parties to the offerings made to the golden calf, as such; yet the greater part seem from the context to have considered the sacrifice as in reality offered to the Lord: according to the very words of Aaron, inviting them to it, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord". With these then the overt act of idolatry was, as in the case of those to
k 1 Cor. x. 5.
11 Cor. x. 7.
whom St. Paul is writing, in the sitting down to eat of that, which had in fact been offered to an idol. And as this virtual idolatry had, in the case of the Israelites, been so severely punished; so St. Paul would insinuate, that a similar self-indulgence, on the part of the Corinthians, could not be safe.
Having thus pressed upon them the breach of charity, as it respected others, and the danger of falling unconsciously into idolatry and sin, as it respected themselves, St. Paul next proceeds to argue yet further against the eating of things offered to idols, from its inconsistency with a participation in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; a topic of argument of no little weight under any circumstances, but particularly forcible, when addressed to those, who, like the primitive Christians, were in the habit of a far more frequent celebration of the Sacrament than we are accustomed to; and whose practical sense of its importance may be presumed to have been in some degree proportioned to that frequency.
Now the whole force of the Apostle's reasoning in this part of his Epistle, rests upon the assumed and admitted analogy between the bread which we break, and the cup of blessing which we bless, in the Eucharist, and the idol feasts, from which he would dissuade his readers. - The table of the Lord and the table of devils, the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils, the communion implied in the one and the communion implied in the other, these are severally compared, and their total dissonance asserted. But in what sense were the idol feasts in question a means or an occasion of communion with devils? Surely by being celebrated on that, which had to devils been offered. In what like sense was the Lord's Supper the means or the occasion of an opposite communion? Surely by being celebrated, not indeed literally on the actual victim of the sacrifice to which it referred, but on the symbolical representation of it, the bread and wine, conventionally representing the body of Christ broken, and the blood of Christ shed for the sins of the world, and offered to God.