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St. Paul having told the Corinthians, in the last words of the preceding chapter, that he would show them a more excellent way, than the emulous producing of their gifts in the assembly, he, in this chapter, tells them, that this more excellent way is charity, which he at large explains, and shows the excellency of.


1 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. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries,

and all knowledge ; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.


1 If I speak all the languages of men and angels, and yet

have not charity, to make use of them entirely for the good and benefit of others, I am no better than a sounding brass, or

noisy cymbal', which fills the ears of others, without any 2 advantage to itself, by the sound it makes. And if I have the

gift of prophecy, and see, in the law and the prophets, all the mysteries o contained in them, and comprehend all the knowledge they teach; and if I have faith to the highest degree, and


La «Tongues of angels" are mentioned here, according to the conception of the

Jews. 6 A cymbal consisted of two large hollowed plates of brass, with broad brims, which were struck one against another, to fill up the symphony in great concerts of music; they made a great deep sound, but had scarce any variety of musical

notes. 2 ° Any predictions, relating to our Saviour or his doctrine, or the times of the

Gospel, contained in the Old Testament, in types, or figurative and obscure expressions, not understood before his coming, and being revealed to the world, St. Paul calls “mystery,” as may be seen all through his writings. So that “ mystery and knowledge” are terms here used by St. Paul, to signify truths concerning Christ to come, contained in the Old Testament; and “ prophecy,” the understanding of the types and prophecies containing those truths, so as to be able to explain them to others.

TEXT. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I

give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me

nothing 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; charity envieth not; charity

vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily

provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth : 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth

all things. 8 Charity never faileth : but whether there be prophecies, they shall

fail ; whether there be tongues, they shall cease ; whether there be

knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done

away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child ; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

PARAPHRASE. power of miracles, so as to be able to remove mountains, and 3 have not charity, I am nothing, I am of no value. And if

I bestow all I have in relief of the poor, and give myself to 4 be burnt, and have not charity, it profits me nothing. Charity

is long-suffering, is gentle and benign, without emulation, in5 solence, or being puffed up; Is not ambitious, nor at all self

interested, is not sharp upon others' failings, or inclined to ill 6 interpretations: Charity rejoices with others, when they do

well; and, when any thing is amiss, is troubled, and covers y their failings: Charity believes well, hopes well of every one, 8 and patiently bears with every thing : Charity will never

cease, as a thing out of use; but the gifts of prophecy, and tongues, and the knowledge whereby men look into, and ex

plain the meaning of the Scriptures, the time will be, when 9 they will be laid aside, as no longer of any use. For the

knowledge we have now in this state, and the explication we 10 give of Scripture, is short, partial, and defective. But when,

hereafter, we shall be got into the state of accomplishment and perfection, wherein we are to remain in the other world, there will no longer be any need of these imperfecter ways of

information, whereby we arrive at but a partial knowledge 11 here. Thus, when I was in the imperfect state of childhood,

NOTES. d“ To remove mountains," is to do what is next to impossible. 7 € May we not suppose, that, in this description of charity, St. Paul intimates,

and tacitly reproves their contrary carriage, in their emulation and contests about the diguity and preference of their spiritual gifts ?

TEXT. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face : now

I know in part ; but then shall I know, even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest

of these is charity.

PARAPHRASE. I talked, I understood, I reasoned after the imperfect manner

of a child: but, when I came to the state and perfection of 12 manhood, I laid aside those childish ways. Now we see but

by reflection, the dim, and, as it were, enigmatical representation of things: but then we shall see things directly, and as they are in themselves, as a man sees another, when they are face to face. Now I have but a superficial, partial knowledge of things; but then I shall have an intuitive, comprehensive knowledge of them, as I myself am known, and lie open to the

view of superior, seraphic beings, not by the obscure and im13 perfect way of deductions and reasoning. But then, even in

that state, faith, hope, and charity, will remain : but the greatest of the three is charity.



CONTENTS. St. Paul, in this chapter, concludes his answer to the Corinthians, concerning spiritual men, and their gifts; and having told them that those were most preferable that tended most to edification, and particularly shown that prophecy was to be preferred to tongues, he gives them directions for the decent, orderly, and profitable exercise of their gifts, in their assemblies.

TEXT. 1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye

may prophesy. 2 For he, that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto

men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him : howbeit, in the Spirit, he speaketh mysteries.


1 Let your endeavours, let your pursuit, therefore, be after

charity; not that you should neglect the use of your spiritual % gifts a, especially the gift of prophecy: For he, that speaks

in an unknown tongueb, speaks to God alone, but not to men:

NOTES. 1 a ZnacÕTE TÈ WVEUyatıxã. That Sn7.0ữy does not signify to covet or desire, nor

can be understood to be so used by St. Paul in this section, I have already shown, chap. xii. 31. That it has here the sense that I have given it, is plain from the same direction concerning spiritual gifts, repeated ver. 39, in these words, ζηλούτε το προφητεύειν και το λαλείν γλώσσαις μή κωλύετε, the meaning, in both places, being evidently this, that they should not neglect the use of their spiritual gifts ; especially they should, in the first place, cultivate and exercise the gift of prophesying, but yet should not wholly lay aside the speaking with variety of tongues in their assemblies. It will, perhaps, be wondered why St. Paul should employ the word Snimowy in so unusual a sense ; but that will easily be accounted for, if what I have remarked, chap. xiv. 15, concerning St. Paul's custom of repeating words, be remembered. But, besides what is familiar in St. Paul's way of writing, we may find a particular reason for his repeating the word Srihoūv here, though in a somewhat unusual siguification. He having, by way of reproof, told them that they did In noữ ta yapíopata tờ xpeítiova, had an emulation, or made a stir about whose gifts were best, and were, therefore, to take place in their assemblies. To prevent their thinking that Bracūv might have too harsh a meaning, (for he is, in all this epistle, very tender of offending them, and therefore sweetens all his reproofs as much as possible,) he here takes it up again, and uses it, more than once, in a way that approves and advises that they should Snacūv aveupalıxd, whereby yet he means no more but that they should not neglect their spiritual gifts ; he would have them use them in their assem

blies, but yet in such method and order as he directs. 2 He, who attentively reads this section about spiritual men and their gifts, may

find reason to imagine that it was those, who had the gift of tongues, who caused the disorder in the church at Corinth, by their forwardness to speak, and striving to be heard first, and so taking up too much of the time in their assemblies, in speaking in unknown tongues. For the remedying this disorder, and better regulating of this matter, amongst other things, they had recourse to St. Paul. He will not avoid easily thinking so, who considers,

1st, That the first gift which St. Paul compares with charity, chap. xiii., and extremely undervalues, in comparison of that divine virtue, is the gift of tongues, as if that were the gift they most affected to show, and most valued themselves upon; as indeed it was, in itself, most fitted for ostentation in their assemblies of any other, if any one were inclined that way: and that the Corinthians, in their present state, were not exempt from emulation, vanity, and ostentation, is very evident.

2dly, That chap. xiv. when St. Paul compares their spiritual gifts one with another, the first, nay, and only one, that he debases and depreciates, in comTEXT. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and

exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, edifieth himself; but he

that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophe

sied : for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with

tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what

shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation,

or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine ? 7 And even things without life, giving sound, whether pipe or harp,


for nobody understands him; the things he utters, by the

Spirit, in an unknown tongue, are mysteries, things not under3 stood by those who hear them. But he, that prophesieth “,

speaks to men, who are exhorted and comforted thereby, and 4 helped forwards in religion and piety. He that speaks in

an unknown tongue", edifies himself alone; but he, that pro5 phesieth, edifieth the church. I wish that ye had all the gift

of tongues, but rather that ye all prophesied; for greater is he that prophesieth, than he that speaks with tongues, unless he

interprets what he delivers in an unknown tongue, that the 6 church may be edified by it. For example, should I apply

myself to you in a tongue you knew not, what good should í do you, unless I interpreted to you what I said, that you might

understand the revelation, or knowledge, or prophecy, or docng trine e contained in it? Even inanimate instruments of sound,

NOTES. parison of others, is the gift of tongues, which he discourses of for above twenty verses together, in a way fit to abate a too high esteem, and a too excessive use of it in their assemblies; which we cannot suppose he would have done, had they not been guilty of some such miscarriages in the case, whereof the twentyfourth verse is not without an intimation..

3dly, When he comes to give direction about the exercise of their gifts in their meetings, this of tongues is the only one that he restrains and limits, ver.

27, 28. 3 + What is meant by prophesying, see note, chap. xii. 10. 4 d By ycoon, “unknown tongue,” Dr. Lightfoot, in this chapter, understands

the Hebrew tongue, which, as he observes, was used in the synagogue in reading the Sacred Scripture, in praying and in preaching. If that be the meanivg of tongue here, it suits well the apostle's design, which was to take them off from their Jewish, false apostle, who probably might have encouraged and promoted

this speaking of Hebrew in their assemblies. 6 It is not to be doubted but these four distinct terms, used here by the apostle,

had each its distinct signification in his mind and intention : whether what may be collected from these epistles may sulliciently warrant us to understand them

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