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I COR. xiij. 1, 2, 3. Though I speak with the Tongues of Men
and of Angels, and have not Charity, I am become as sounding Brass, or a
tinkling Cymbal. And though I have the gift of Prophesie,
and understand all Mysteries, and all Knowledge and though I have all Faith, so that I could remove Mountains, and have no Charity, I am no
thing. And though I bestow all my Goods to feed
the Poor, and though I give my Body
the Apostle treats of the Commendation of Charity. This excellent Grace he commends unto us several ways.
1. From the absolute Necessity thereof in order to Salvation, in the first, second and third Verses.
2. From the Nature, Properties, and Effects thereof, in the fourth, fifth, fixth and seventh Verses.
3. From the durableness of it, in the remainder of the Chapter.
The Neceffity of Charity he sheweth by a double Comparison.
1. He compares it with Gifts, and those of all common Gifts the most excellent, and the most admired ; and he affirms the Necessity of Charity to be such, that without it all those rare and extraordinary Gifts signifie nothing.
2. He compares it with Sufferings, and Doings, or Performances, and both these also such as are of greatest account among Men, and have the highest acceptance with God, if they be duely qualified; that is, if they proceed from Love; and he affirms that these likewise avail nothing without Charity.
I shall first briefly explain the words, and then speak to that which is principally intended in them.
Though I Speak with the Tongues of Men and of Angels : With the Tongues of Men, that is, with whatever Tongues there are found among Men; if I had all the several Languages of all the Nations in the World, and could understand and speak them all exactly : and though I speak with the Tongues of Angels, that is, though I had the most excellent Faculty of Speech, Angelical Language or Eloquence; though I spake with such a Tongue as Angels might make use of, if they needed any such Instrument of Speech, as that with, which we speak. In this Sense it seems to be that the Psalmist speaking of Manna, calls it Angels Food į so excel- Pfal. 78. lent a Food, that if Angels needed 25. Food, they might eat of it. But to go on with the Text.
If I Speak with the Tongues of Men and of Angels, and have not Charity, I am become as founding Brass, or as a tinkling Cymbal
: That is, all my Tongues, excellency of Speech, and admired Elor quence, without Charity, are but an empty and useless found, that can be of no real Advantage to me. All be it these Endowments may be of some use to others though they be separated from
Charity, yét can they not in the least be beneficial to the Person himself, in reference either to his acceptance with God here, or the Salvation of his Soul hereafter.
And though I have the Gift of Prophefie. In the holy Scriptures Prophesie sometimes signifies the foretelling of Things to come, and sometimes only expounding, teaching, or declaring the Truths of God, or publishing and fetting forth the great Works of God, to the Glory of his Name, and the Edification of the Hearers. In this Sense we are to understand Prophesie, when
we read that Jeduthun, and Afaph, and 1 Chron. Heman, with their Sons, were by the 25.1,2,3
appointment of David, to prophesie with Harps, and Psalteries, and Cym
that is, to praise the Lord singing unto those Musical Instruments. So
we read of the words of King Lemuel, Prov. 31. the Prophesie which his Mother taught
him. By which Prophesie we are to understand nothing else but those holy Instructions, afterwards recorded in that Chapter, which Bathsheba gave unto her Son Solomon. In this Sense is the word used no less than ten times in 1 Cor. 14. And this is most probably the significa
tion of the word in my Text; though we may, if we think that better, take it in the greatest latitude, under Prophesie comprehending as well the foretelling of Things to come, as publishing and declaring the Truths, the great Works, and the Praises of God: For the Gift of Prophesie, take it in what sense you will, is nothing to a Man's spiritual and everlasting Estate, without Charity.
Though I have the Gift of Prophesie, and understand all Mysteries ; that is, sacred and heavenly Mysteries, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God, the most abstruse and deep Things of the Gospel ; and though I have all Knowledge, all kinds and all the measures and degrees of facred Knowledge, of the Knowledge of heavenly Things : And though I have all Faith ; which we are to understand not of justifying or saving Faith, but of the Faith of Miracles ; for so it follows, Though I have all Faith, so that I could remove Mouna tains ; that is, though I have the highest measure of that Faith, though my Faith in that kind were so strong that I could do the most strange and even incredible Things, yet if I have not