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Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two
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[268] 1 Cor. i. 1. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God.” St. Paul, when he calls himself an apostle, does commonly add some such clause as this, “through the will of God;” so 2 Cor. i. 1. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God;” and the very same words, Eph. i. 1. and Col. i. 1. and 2 Tim. i. 1. and 1 Tim. i. 1. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ;” and Rom. i. 1. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” Ver. 5. “By whom we have received grace and apostleship;” which was because he continually carried a deep sense of his unworthiness to be an apostle, who before was so great a sinner. And how it was not owing to any thing in him that he was promoted to such dignity, but only to the sovereign will and pleasure and free grace of God, which, of a persecutor of the church, made him an apostle in the church. Therefore, when he takes the honour of the name of an apostle, he ascribes it to God’s sovereign pleasure and grace. The cause of it is a sense of what he expresses in 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10. “For I am the least of the apostles, and am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But, by the grace of God, I am what I am;” and Eph. iii. 8. ’‘Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

[155] 1 Cor. i. 24. “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” The power of God answers to a sign or miracle, which the Jews sought after; and the wisdom of God, to the wisdom which the Greeks sought after, mentioned in the last verse but one preceding.

[156] 1 Cor. ii. 15, 16. “For he that is spiritual judgeth all things; but he himself is judged of no man.” He that has the Spirit of God to teach him truth, he is not in those things subject to the judgment or correction of any of the wise men of this world. The instruction, and judgment, and correction of a human master, of what he understands or believes by the Spirit of God, is what he needs not. In this case it does not take place, it will not alter him, for, says the apostle, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? for we hare the mind of Christ.” A man that has the mind of Christ, is taught by his Spirit; if he should be subject to the judgment and correction of men, that would argue that the mind of the Lord itself was subject to human correction.

[157] 1 Cor. iv. 6. “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos, for your sakes, that ye might learn not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” It seems that it was not Paul and Apollos particularly that the Corinthians were divided about; but what the apostle means, when he says, “some say they are of Paul, and others of Apollos,” is, that some were for one teacher, others for another; they over-valued their teachers, and built their faith upon them. He mentions his own name, and that of Apollos, personating any human teachers whatsoever; he transferred it in a figure to himself and Apollos, that they might not be apt to suspect that he reproved them for being for this and that man, out of respect to himself; he would not have them set too much by men, though it were himself.

[152] 1 Cor. ix. 16. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of.” That is, In case I had a dependence upon preaching the gospel for a livelihood, then might it be said that necessity is laid upon me. Yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel. That this is what the apostle means, I think is evident by the context.

[49] 1 Corinth. xi. 14. “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” Having the head covered by long custom, had been used to denote subjection; and as a mark of subjection in man, it was plainly against nature itself. The plain light of nature had taught all nations the superiority of man to woman, and his rights to rule over her. The apostle had been pleading against man’s wearing long hair, or his covering the head, only on this score, that it was a debasing of man below the place that God had put him in, that it was unnatural and a shame, a debasing of man, and confusion of the order of nature, and in this sense against nature. In this nature teaches the contrary, it is a disgrace to him, Greek or Hebrew, to appear below the woman, a debasing of him below his nature, and therefore nature teaches the contrary; not but that, if having the head uncovered were a sign of subjection, it would have been as much against nature for the man to have his head uncovered. And that which is against nature in this sense, is against it in a proper sense. It is against nature in a proper sense, to bow down before an idol, because it is against nature to adore an idol; and bowing down, by universal custom, is used to denote adoration; but if bowing down by universal custom were used to denote contempt, it would not be against nature.

[305] 1 Cor. xiii. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, Now we see through a class darkly,” &c. There is a twofold failing or ceasing of those miraculous and other common gifts of the Spirit, both of which the apostle has doubtless respect to: one is their failing at the end of the present state of probation, or the present imperfect state of God’s people in time, with respect to particular persons that have common gifts, at death, and with respect to the church of God collectively considered, at the end of the world; and the other is the failing of miraculous gifts in the church of Christ, even while yet remaining in its temporary and militant state, as they failed at or about the end of the apostolic age, that first and more imperfect, and less settled and established state of the Christian church, before it was wholly brought out from under the Mosaic dispensation, wherein it was under tutors and governors, and before the canon of the Scripture was fully completed, and all parts of it thoroughly collected and established. Miraculous, and other common gifts of the Spirit, cease at the end of the imperfect state of the church: wherein the church knows in part, and is in a state of childhood in comparison of the more perfect state that follows. So there is a twofold perfect state of the church to answer them, wherein the church may be said to be in a state of manhood, with respect to that more imperfect state that they succeed. The first state of the church, in its first age on earth, before the canon of the Scripture was completed, &c. is its imperfect state, wherein the church knows in part, and is as a child, and speaks, and understands, and thinks as a child, and sees through a glass darkly, in comparison of the state of the church in its latter ages, wherein it will be in a state of manhood, in a perfect state, and will see face to face in comparison of what it did in its first infant state; and so the gift of prophecy and tongues, &c. ceased at the end of the church’s age of childhood, but charity remains when the elder age of the church comes, and when it shall put away childish things. That age shall be an age of love, but there shall be no miraculous gifts of the Spirit, as being needless, and more proper helps for the church in a state of infancy, than in that state of manhood.

Again, the church, all the while it remains in a militant state, is in an imperfect state, a state of childhood, sees through a glass darkly, thinks, speaks, and understands as a child, in comparison of what it will be in its heavenly and eternal state, when it shall be come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; when it shall see face to face, and know as it is known, then it shall put away such childish things, as the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, but love shall gloriously prevail. The world shall be a world of love. If we thus understand the apostle, it fully proves that the gifts of tongues, and miracles, &c. are not to be upheld in the church in the millennium.

[304] 1 Cor. xiii. 13. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity; these three, but the greatest of these is charity.” The apostle in this place is not comparing these together as three distinct graces, but gifts of the Spirit of God. They cannot be properly three distributively distinct graces, or saving virtues, because charity or love is the sum of all saving virtue, as abundantly appears from the foregoing part of the chapter, and from innumerable other places of Scripture. Love is an ingredient in saving faith, and is the most essential thing in it, is its life and soul, and so it is in hope. The apostle is here comparing gifts of the Spirit, and not graces, as is manifest from the last verse of the foregoing chapter, and the former verses of this and the beginning of the next; what is in faith and hope, which is distinct from love, which are principles or exercises of mind that are called also by those names of faith and hope, though they are not Christian and saving faith and hope, yet they are principles that are gifts of God. And in those three gifts of the mind, Faith, Hope, and Love, are the three gifts into which all Christianity, as a principle in the mind, is to be resolved.

The first, viz. Faith, as distinct from love, hath its seat purely in the understanding, and consists in the understanding of divine things, and an apprehension of their reality. Hope, if we mean that hope that is distinct from love, has its seat both in the understanding and natural will, or inclination, and apprehends not only the reality of divine things, but our interest in them.

Love has its seat in the spiritual will, and apprehends divine things as amiable. And in these three consists the whole of that respect that the mind of man has to divine things wherein the Christianity of the mind consists; and those three, when joined together and united in one, constitute saving faith, or the soul’s savingly embracing Christ, and Christianity. But of these three constituents of justifying faith, love is the greatest; the other two are the body, that is, the soul.

[158] 1 Cor. xv. 28. “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” Christ as Mediator has now the kingdom and government of the world so committed to him, that he is to all intents and purposes in the room of his Father. He is to be respected as God himself is, as supreme, and absolute, and sovereign Ruler. God has left the government in his hands wholly, now since his exaltation, that he may himself have the accomplishment and finishing of those great things for which he died. He is made head over all things to the church until the consummation; and he is now king of the church, and of the world, in his present state of exaltation. He is not properly a subordinate ruler, because God hath entirely left the government with him, to his wisdom, and to his power. But after Christ has obtained all the ends of his labours and death, there will be no farther occasion for the government’s being after that manner in his hands. He will have obtained by his government, all the ends he desired; and so then God the Father will resume the government, and Christ and his church will spend eternity in mutual enjoyment, and in the joint enjoyment of God; not but that Christ will still be the king and head of his church, he will be as much their head of influence and source of good and happiness as ever. But with respect to government, God will be respected as supreme orderer, and Christ with his church united to him, and dependent on him, shall together receive of the benefit of his government.

[120] 1 Cor. xvi. 21, 22, 23., &c. “The salutation of me, Paul, &c. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” The apostle concludes his epistle with a curse and a blessing; he curses all that do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, but yet he blesses all that are of the church of Corinth; by which it is evident that those that are regularly of the communion of the Christian church are visible lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, they are so looked upon in public charity, and treated as if they were really such.

[67] 2 Cor. i. 24. “Not for that we have dominion over your faith,” &c.; this verse is to be joined to the 14th verse.

[363] 2 Cor. ii. 14, 15, 16. “Maketh manifest the favour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other we are the savour of life unto life.” This last verse might more literally, and more properly, have been translated thus: “To those indeed we are a savour of death unto death, but to these a savour of life unto life,” which makes the sense much less perplexed. Ministers are, as it were, the vessels that carry the sweet ointment of the name of Christ, whose name is said to be as ointment poured forth. Christ is the fragrant rose. That knowledge of Christ that is diffused by his ministers is the savour of this rose, and this is the savour that the apostle speaks of, which in the 14th verse. he calls the savour of his knowledge. This is always a sweet savour to God. The name of Christ is ever delightful to God, and the preaching of Christ in the world, whether to elect or reprobates, is acceptable to God, as he delights in having the name of his Son glorified; for Christ’s being made known to those that perish, shall be greatly to the glory of Christ. God loves to have the name of his Son made known to all men for his Son’s glory, so that the knowledge that reprobates receive of Christ, by the preaching of the gospel, is a sweet savour to God; for wherever the name of Christ is found, it is acceptable to God. But yet it is not always a sweet savour to them to whom the gospel is preached, though it be to God. Indeed to the elect, to those that are saved, it is a sweet savour as well as to God; it is a savour of life; we are to them a savour of a living Redeemer; they believe him to be a risen and glorified Redeemer. He is a savour of life unto life, i. e. not only a sweet savour as of a living Redeemer, but a refreshing, renewing, life-giving savour.

But to them that perish he is a savour of death unto death; the preaching of Christ crucified is not a sweet savour unto them, but an odious savour, as of a slain dead carcass; they do not believe his resurrection; they look upon him dead still; and the doctrine of Christ crucified is nauseous to them; it is a savour of death unto death.

[96] 2 Cor. iii. 17. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” It seems to refer to that place, 51st Psalm, 12th verse., where the Spirit of God is called the free Spirit.

[89] 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty;” that is, freedom of looking; and behold our sight is not hindered as the children of Israel’s was, but we have liberty to see. “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord;” with open face, not covered with a veil, as Moses’s face was, as in the 7th and 13th verses; [are changed into the same image;] as Moses was by beholding God’s brightness, his own face shone; [from glory to glory;] that is, changed from the glory of God, from a sight of his glory, to a glory to, and glory in, ourselves like it.

[335] 2 Cor. iii. 18. “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.” The word in the original, Greek or Hebrewi, signifies beholding, as in a reflecting glass, or looking-glass. Had the meaning been, beholding through a transmitting glass, the word Greek or Hebrew would rather have been used, which signifies to see through or to look through.

We behold the glory of God, as in a glass, in two respects, both which seem to be intended in these words.

1. We behold the glory of God, as in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the brightness of God’s light or glory, as it were reflected; and is the express image of the Deity; the perfect image of God, as the image in a plain and clear looking-glass is the express image of the person that looks in it; and this is the only way that the glory of God is seen by his church, he is seen no other way but in this perfect, and as it were reflected, image; for no one hath seen God immediately, at any time; the only-begotten Son of God that is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. He is “the image of the invisible God;” and “he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father;” and the Father is seen no other way but by the Son; and it is only by this image in Christ, that God is seen in heaven by the saints and angels there; yea, it is by this image only that God sees himself, for he sees himself in his own perfect substantial idea. And that one thing here meant by the image in the glass, is the image of Christ, that is to be seen in Christ’s face, may be argued from two things.

(1.) The apostle is here comparing the glory of God that we see in Christ to the reflected glory of God which the children of Israel beheld in Moses, where Moses’s face was instead of a glass to them, in which they beheld the glory of God reflected to their view; though with this difference, that a veil was put over the glass then, or there was a veil between their eyes and Moses’s face, which was the glass that reflected God’s glory, because the children of Israel could not bear to look upon the glass immediately; but now we all with open face behold the image in the glass.

(2.) Another thing that argues this, is what follows here in the continuance of the apostle’s discourse on this subject, in the 4th verse of the next chapter; where the apostle, speaking of the same glory, mentions it as the light of God’s glory, which we see in Christ as the image of God; (i. e. as the image in the glass is the image of the man it represents;) and in the 6th verse he speaks of this same glory as that which is seen in the face of Christ; alluding to the children of Israel seeing the reflected light of God’s glory in the face of Moses.

2. We behold the glory of God as in a looking-glass in another respect, and that is as we behold it by the intermediation of the outward means of our illumination and knowledge of God, viz. Christ’s ministers, and the gospel which they preach, and his ordinances which they administer; which serve instead of a looking-glass, to reflect the glory of the Lord. When men read the Holy Scriptures, they there may see Christ’s glory, as men see images of things by looking in a glass, so we see Christ’s glory in ordinances. Ministers are burning and shining lights; but then they do not shine by their own light, but only reflect the light of Christ. They are called stars, that are held in the right hand of Christ, and shine by reflecting Christ’s light, as the stars shine by reflecting the light of the sun; and so they are as mirrors that bring the light of Christ’s glory to the view of the church. They are lights set up in golden candlesticks; by looking on these lights, they see light, they see the light of Christ reflected. It is evident the apostle is here speaking of the light of Christ’s glory as ministered and communicated by ministers of the gospel, and ministers of the Spirit, which is that light and glory, as we shall show presently. Verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. So in the words next following in the beginning of the next chapter, ver. 1, 2, 5. and which is strongly to the purpose in the 6th verse., he expressly speaks of the light of this glory as communicated to men by ministers in this way, viz. by first shining upon them or into their hearts, and then being communicated, or given from them to others, which is just as light is communicated from a reflecting glass. “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And in the next verse they are spoken of as the vessel that conveys the treasure: now a vessel is to the treasure that it conveys, as a glass is to the light that that conveys. And, it further argues that the apostle has respect to ministers and to the means of grace, as a glass in which we see the glory of the Lord, by that to which he here alludes, viz. the children of Israel’s seeing the glory of the Lord in Moses’s face; but Moses is here by the apostle spoken of, as in this representing both Christ and gospel ministers. That he speaks of him as in this thing representing Christ, is most evident by the 6th verse of the next chapter; and that he also speaks of him as herein like gospel ministers the apostles and others is also evident, because the apostle does expressly compare Moses’s holding forth the glory of God in his face to ministers’ holding forth the glory of Christ, as in the 12th and 13th verses.

And herein the sight, that the saints have of the glory of Christ in this world, differs from that sight that the saints have in heaven; for there they see immediately face to face, but here by a medium, by an intervening looking-glass, in which the glory is but obscure in comparison of the immediate glory seen in heaven. 1 Corinth. xiii. 12. “Now we see through a glass darkly, then face to face.” But it is a very plain and clear sight in comparison of that which was under the law; it is beholding with open face in comparison of that, though the face that is seen be in a glass; the sight we have now is by a medium as well as then, though the medium made use of now excels that made use of under the law, as much as an open glass, for discerning, exceeds a glass covered with a veil.

“Are changed into the same image.” In this there is an agreement between our looking in this glass, and a person’s looking in a material glass, that there is an exact resemblance between the image in the glass, and the person that beholds it, in both cases. But in this there is a difference, that, whereas when a person looks in a glass, the image in the glass is conformed to him, as being derived from him as his image; he impresses his image upon the glass; but, when a person looks in this spiritual glass, the image that he beholds there conforms him to it. It is not his image, but the image of God, and reflects and impresses its likeness on the beholder.

[341] 2 Cor. iii. 18. “Behold as in a glass.” What seems especially to be meant by the looking-glass here spoken of, is the figurative representation of gospel things in the Old Testament, especially the law of Moses; which, to the Jews, who did not know the meaning of them, nor see the image of Christ, or gospel things, in them, was as a veil; but to us, to whom the image plainly appears as unveiled by the gospel, those types and other figurative representations are as a glass, in which we see the image of Christ’s face.

[57] 2 Cor. v. beginning. The house from heaven means the body of Christ’s resurrection; as appears by the last clause of the 4th verse.

[60] 2 Cor. v. 1. It is a confirmation that the apostle meant the body of the resurrection by a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens, that Christ said, Destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will raise another, made without hands; as the false witnesses testified, probably, so far truly.

[62] 2 Cor. viii. 10. “Who have begun before not only to do, but also to be forward, a year ago.” It may seem strange that the apostle says, not only to do, but also to be willing. Doing is more than merely being willing, but it is as if he had said, Ye have not only begun to do before now, but you have been ready to do for a long time, even a year ago: to be forward so long ago, was something that might well be mentioned, in addition to their having now begun to do.

[164] 2 Cor. xi. 4. It ought to have been translated, Ye have well borne, or ye might well have borne with me. In the beginning of the chapter he desires them to bear with him because he was jealous over them, having betrothed them to Christ, that he might present them a chaste virgin to Christ. He was jealous lest they should yield their supreme affections to other objects, and be denied; and he tells them in this verse that, seeing they were solicited to forsake Christ, seeing that he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, he might well be jealous, and they might well bear with him in his boasting to set himself off, or rather to set off Christ, appearing, speaking, and working in him, to their affections, that so they might not like his rivals better.

Verse 5. “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chief,” &c.; and so accordingly now he begins to boast.

[165] 2 Cor. xii. 13. “Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell.” When the apostle said, absent from the body and present with the Lord, he doubtless meant by absent from the body, the same that he here means by out of the body, which is a proper separation of the soul from the body.

[425] 2 Cor. xiii. 1. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” These words seem to be quoted from the law of our Saviour, Matt. xviii. 16. and not from the law of Moses in Deuteronomy; not only because the words are the same with those in Matthew, but from the likeness of the case. In Deuteronomy, the law given concerns only judicial trials; in Matthew, it is a rule given for the management of persuasion used to reclaim offenders by fair means, before coming to the utmost extremity; which is the case of Paul here. The witnesses, which he means that he made use of to persuade them, being his two epistles. That, by witnesses, he means his two epistles, is plain from his way of expressing himself here, where he carefully sets down his telling them twice, viz. before in his former epistle, chap. iv. 19.; and now a second time, in his second epistle, and also by these words, as if I were present with you a second time. By our Saviour’s rule, the offended person was to go twice to the offender; which the apostle refers to. Mr. Locke’s exposition.

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