« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
that blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
To whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghoff, be all glory and honour now and for ever. Amen.
SERMON CCX. of doing all to the glory of God.
I COR. X. 31.
do all to the glory of God.
T Hese words are a general conclusion inferred from
a particular case, which the Apostle had been 1 discoursing of before ; and that we may the better understand the meaning of this general rule, it will not be amiss to look back a little upon the particular case the Apostle was speaking of; and that was concerning the partaking of things offered to idols, and that in two cases; either by partaking of the idol-feasts in their temples, after the facrifices; or by partaking of things offered to idols, whether shey were bought by Christians in the market, or set before them at a private entertainment, to which by fome Heathens they were invited.
The first he condemns as absolutely unlawful: the ether not as unlawful in itself, but in fonie circumNances upon the account of scandal.
The first case he speaks of from ver. 14. to the 23. Wherefore, my beloved brethrer, flee from idolatry. I speak to wise men : judge ye what I say. As if he had said, you may easily apprehend what it is I ain going to caution you against. And first he tells them in general, that they who cominunicated in the worship of any deity, or in any kind of facrifice offered to hin, did, in so do
ing, own and acknowledge that for a deity. To this purpole he instanceth in communicating in the Christian facrament, and in the Jewish facrifices, ver. 16. 17. 18. The cup of the blesing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Chris? For we being many are one bread and one body : for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flelle : that is, the Jews, are not they which eat of the sacrifices, partakers of the altar? Thus it is in the Christian and the
Jewish worship. And the case is the fame, if any man partake of the idol-feasts in their temples. This he does not express, but takes it for granted they un. derstood what this discourse aimed at.
And then he answers an argument, which it seems was made use of by some, particularly the Gnosticks, of whom the Apostle speaks, chap. viii, and that was this. If an idol be nothing, and consequently things facrificed to idols were not to be considered as sacrifices, then it was lawful to partake of the idol-feasts, which were celebrated in their temples. And that the Apostle speaks of these, is plain from his discourse against the Gnosticks, who made use of this argument for the lawfulness of communicating at the idol-feasts, chap. viii. 4. As concerning therefore the eating of things which are offered in sacrifice untó idols; we know that an idol is nothing in the world, &c. And ver. 10. If any man see thee which haft knowledge, alluding to the very name of Gnosticks, if any man see thee which haft knowledge, fit at meat in an idol temple.
This then is that partaking of idol-feasts, which the A poftle here speaks of, which they pretended to be lawful, because an idol is nothing. This, says the Apostle, I know as well as you, that an idol is no real deity, but for all that, the devil is really worshipped and served by this means, ver. 20. But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they facrifice to devils, and not to God, and I would not that jie jould have fellowship with devils. re cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils : ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and the table of devils.
Having declared this way of partaking of things offered to idols, to be unlawful in itself, and a virtual renouncing of Christianity; then he proceeds to the consideration of the other case, of eating of things offered to idols out of their temples, which might bappen several ways. Sometimes being sold by the Priests, they were expofcd to sale in the market. Sometimes the Heathens carried some remainders of the sacrifices to their houses, and inviting the Christians to a feast, might set these meats before them; what should Christians do in either of these cafes ?
First, He determines in general, that out of the temples it was lawful to eat these things, because in so doing they communicated in no act of worship with the Heathens : it is lawful, he says, in itself; but because it might be harmful to others, and give scandal, in such circuinstances, it became unlawful by accident. Ver. 23. All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient ; all things are bawful for me, but all things edify. not. Things which are lawful in themfelves, may in some cases be very dangerous and destructive to on thers, and we should not only consider ourselves, but others also. Let' no'man seek his own : but every man another's wel fare. And then he comes to the particular cases. Whatever is sold in the jhambles, that eat, asko ing no question for conscience fake : for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. We may take these things from God's hand, who is the true Lord of them and of all creatures. For this reason we may without fcrupulous enquiry use those meats which are publickly expofa ed to fale.
And so likewise in the other case, if we be invited to the table of an Heathen, we may eat what is fet before us, without enquiring whether it be part of an idol-facrifice. But if any man tell us, that this meat was of: fered in sacrifice to idols, in that case we ought to abstain from eating of it, for his fake that shewed it, and for confcience fake ; that is, out of regard to the opinion of those, who think these meats unlawful: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. Also in another sense, God hath made fuch abundant provision for us, that we may abstain from this or that meat without any
great inconvenience. Conscience, I say, not thine own but another's. He had said before, we should eat of what was set before us, asking' no question for conscience Jake ; that is, not making it a matter of conscience to ourselves : now he says, if we be told it was offered to an idol, we should not eat for conscience fake ; that is, not as making a matter of conscience of it to ourselves, but out of regard to the conscience of another, to whom it might be a scandal. For why is my liberty judged of an. other man's conscience and if I with thanksgiving be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks ? that is, why should another man's conscience be a prejudice to my liberty ? if another makes conscience of it as unlawful, why should his conscience govern mine, and make me think so too; or why should I be evil spoken of, for thinking it lawful to eat any thing set before me for which I give thanks! This is a little obscure; but the plain meaning of the Apostle's reasoning seems to be this; though I have that regard to another man's weak conscience, as to abstain from eating what he thinks unlawful ; yet am I not therefore bound to be of his opinion, and think it unlawful in itself: I will confider his weakness so far as to forbear that which I am persuaded is lawful to do, but yet I will still preserve the liberty of my own judgment; and as I am content to give no scandal to him, so I expect that he should not censure and condemn me for thinking that lawful, which he believes not to be so : and then from all this discourse, the Apostle establilheth this general rule in the text, Wherefore whether ye eat or drink, or what. ever ye do, do all to the glory of God. To which is parallel that other text, i Pet. iv. 11. That God in all things may be glorified. So that this general rule lays a duty upon all Christians of designing the glory of God in all their actions; all the difficulty is, what is here meant by this, of doing all things to the glory of God. The Jews have a common saying, which seenis to be parallel with this phrase of the Apostle, That all things Mould be done in the name of God. And this they make so essential to every good action, that it was a received principle among them, that he who obeys any command of God, and not in his name, shall receive no re
ward. Now that to do things in the name of God, and to do them to his glory, are but several phrases signifying the same thing, is evident from that precept of the Apoftle, Col. iji. 17. And what foever ye do in word, or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, to his glory. Now for our clear understanding of the fense of this phrase of glorifying God,or dring things to God's glory; we will consider the various use of it in scripture, and so descend to the proper and particular sense of it here in the text.
The glory of God is nothing else but the honour which is given to him by his creatures ; and consequently, the general notion of glorifying God, or doing any thing to his glory, is to design to honour God by such and such actions; and this phrase is in scripture more efpecially applyed to these following particulars.
I. We are said in scripture to glorify God by a folemn acknowledgment of him and his perfections, of his goodness and mercy, of his power and wisdom, of his truth and faithfulness, of his sovereign dominion and authority over us. Hence it is that all folemn a&tions of religion are called the worship of God, which fignifies that honour and glory which is given to him by his creatures, fignified by some outward expression of reverence and respect. Thus we are faid to worship God, when we fall down before him, and pray to him for mercy and blessings, or praise him for favours and benefits received from him, or perform any other folemn act of religion, Psal. Ixxxvi. 9. All nations whom thou hast made, shall come and worship before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name.
But especially the duty of praise and thankfgiving is most frequently in fcripture called glorifying of God, or giving glory to him. Psa.lxxxvi. 12. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify thy name. Matth. v. 16. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven; that is, praise him upon that account. Luke V. 25. it is said of the man sick of the palsy, that when he was healed, He departed to his own house, glorifying God; that is, praising God for his great mercy to him. And Luke xvii. 18. our Saviour speaking of the ten le