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gifted and eloquent men as Paul and Apollos. But this same carnal pride split them into factions amongst themselves, some maintaining the superiority of Paul, and some of Apollos. The Apostle shows them their carnality in this thing, by supposing the contest for superiority actually to have been taken up by himself and Apollos. He knew that they could not fail to see, that such a strife between their teachers would have been sinful, and he holds it up to them, that they might see that they were themselves guilty of the self-same sin of vain-glory, in ascribing to men what was due to God, whilst they were claiming a superiority for the one over the other, on account of spiritual gifts or eloquence. “ These things have I transferred, in a figure, to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written.” Chap. iv. 6. That which was “written” was, that they were not to think of men otherwise than as stewards, whose duty and praise is faithfulness in the use of the things committed to their care. It is not to the praise of the steward, that he has ten talents committed to him,—for that is entirely his Lord's doing ;—but it is to the praise of the steward, that he is faithful in his charge, whether it be of little or much. And thus the question, " Who maketh thee to differ from another?” refers to the amount of the talents committed to the steward's charge, and not to his faithfulness in his charge.
The man who uses God's gifts in God's service and to God's glory, is a faithful steward; and the man who uses them in his own service and to his own glory, is an unfaithful steward. God gives the capacity of being faithful when He gives the trust, and thus the difference between stewards, in point of faithfulness, lies with themselves and not with God, for He willeth that all men should be faithful. He who is boasting himself of any gift, is an unfaithful steward ; and thus to him the rebuke applies, “ who maketh thee to differ from another?" but it has no reference whatever to a faithful stew. ard, who is making his boast in God, and who is asserting his own faithfulness in so doing. There is a most marked line of separ. ation distinguishing between the talents en. trusted to us, and our faithfulness or unfaithfulness in the use of them; and a doctrine which does away this distinction in any measure, is destructive of moral truth, and must be erroneous. In the first five verses of chap. iv., the apostle recognizes this distinction most fully, for he there recognizes, that although any difference in the amount of talents intrusted to the stewardship of Apollos or himself, was to be attributed not to the steward but to his Lord, yet there was in each of them a real ground either for praise or blame, according to his faithfulness, and therefore whilst he warned the Corinthians to refrain from judging of their respective deserts in this matter, considering that they could not see into the heart, he at the same time assured them that, when the Lord came, He would give judgment on the comparative deservings of all men, making manifest the counsels of the heart, and awarding to each man his due praise or blame.
I am confident that the conscience of the reader must go along with me in these things, and I do hope that he now sees that the righteousness of God and the meaning of the Bible are, on this point, in complete harmony with his conscience.
The common doctrine of Election supposes that faithfulness is a special talent of itself, given to some and not to others, difthe difference in the faithfulness, to the steward. 155
fering in this one respect from all other talents, that wherever it is given it irresistibly operates its own fulfilment. But the passage before us proves that this is not the case, for it distinctly marks, that whilst the talents entrusted to us are so entirely of God that no approbation can be at all due to us for being entrusted with them, the faithfulness in the use of them is so of our. selves that there is an approbation which the righteous Judge, on the day when He bringeth hidden things to light, will bestow on those who shall be found to have been faithful. The allotment of five talents, or of two, or of one, is of sovereignty, but the praise, “well done, good and faithful servant;' and the blame, “O thou wicked and slothful servant,” are of righteous judgment. Matt. xxv.
The second objection to which I referred, as having probably suggested itself to the reader, is this, that the place in these statements, which I have given to the inward word sown in the heart, seems to detract somewhat from the importance of the outward manifestation of Christ, and also from that of the Bible, the outward Word, so as to make them of inferior moment. This objection, then, divides itself into two heads, the first relating to the importance of the personal manifestation of our Lord in flesh; the second relating to the importance of the inspired Book which contains the history of God's dealings with men, and of his purpose towards them in Christ Jesus.
With regard to the first head, namely, the importance of the outward manifestation of Christ himself, I make answer, that I have always, throughout the course of this work, meant to teach, that it was only on the ground of the outward manifestation of Christ, the Word, in our nature, fulfilling all righteousness as our Head, either anticipated in the purpose of God, or actually accomplished, that the inward word is given to man. Jesus Christ is the link by which man is again united to God, after the disruption occasioned by the fall. And this link is a living open channel, through which the inward word, a pulsation of the Divine nature, is communicated to every individual of the human family; so that the benefit resulting from the gift of the Saviour, even to those whom no Bible or no missionary has ever reached, is not simply that an atonement has been made, through which the forgiving