1 Corinthians 11

* The apostle, after an exhortation to follow him, (1) corrects

some abuses. (2-16) Also contentions, divisions, and disorderly

celebrations of the Lord's supper. (17-22) He reminds them of

the nature and design of its institution. (23-26) And directs

how to attend upon it in a due manner. (27-34)

1 The first verse of this chapter seems properly to be the

close to the last. The apostle not only preached such doctrine

as they ought to believe, but led such a life as they ought to

live. Yet Christ being our perfect example, the actions and

conduct of men, as related in the Scriptures, should be followed

only so far as they are like to his.
2-16 Here begin particulars respecting the public assemblies,

ch. #1Co 14|. In the abundance of spiritual gifts bestowed on

the Corinthians, some abuses had crept in; but as Christ did the

will, and sought the honour of God, so the Christian should avow

his subjection to Christ, doing his will and seeking his glory.

We should, even in our dress and habit, avoid every thing that

may dishonour Christ. The woman was made subject to man, because

made for his help and comfort. And she should do nothing, in

Christian assemblies, which looked like a claim of being equal.

She ought to have "power," that is, a veil, on her head, because

of the angels. Their presence should keep Christians from all

that is wrong while in the worship of God. Nevertheless, the man

and the woman were made for one another. They were to be mutual

comforts and blessings, not one a slave, and the other a tyrant.

God has so settled matters, both in the kingdom of providence

and that of grace, that the authority and subjection of each

party should be for mutual help and benefit. It was the common

usage of the churches, for women to appear in public assemblies,

and join in public worship, veiled; and it was right that they

should do so. The Christian religion sanctions national customs

wherever these are not against the great principles of truth and

holiness; affected singularities receive no countenance from any

thing in the Bible.
17-22 The apostle rebukes the disorders in their partaking of

the Lord's supper. The ordinances of Christ, if they do not make

us better, will be apt to make us worse. If the use of them does

not mend, it will harden. Upon coming together, they fell into

divisions, schisms. Christians may separate from each other's

communion, yet be charitable one towards another; they may

continue in the same communion, yet be uncharitable. This last

is schism, rather than the former. There is a careless and

irregular eating of the Lord's supper, which adds to guilt. Many

rich Corinthians seem to have acted very wrong at the Lord's

table, or at the love-feasts, which took place at the same time

as the supper. The rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up

the provisions they brought, before the poor were allowed to

partake; thus some wanted, while others had more than enough.

What should have been a bond of mutual love and affection, was

made an instrument of discord and disunion. We should be careful

that nothing in our behaviour at the Lord's table, appears to

make light of that sacred institution. The Lord's supper is not

now made an occasion for gluttony or revelling, but is it not

often made the support of self-righteous pride, or a cloak for

hypocrisy? Let us never rest in the outward forms of worship;

but look to our hearts.
23-34 The apostle describes the sacred ordinance, of which he

had the knowledge by revelation from Christ. As to the visible

signs, these are the bread and wine. What is eaten is called

bread, though at the same time it is said to be the body of the

Lord, plainly showing that the apostle did not mean that the

bread was changed into flesh. St. Matthew tells us, our Lord bid

them all drink of the cup, ch. #Mt 26:27|, as if he would, by

this expression, provide against any believer being deprived of

the cup. The things signified by these outward signs, are

Christ's body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed,

together with all the benefits which flow from his death and

sacrifice. Our Saviour's actions were, taking the bread and cup,

giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving both the one and

the other. The actions of the communicants were, to take the

bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and to do both in

remembrance of Christ. But the outward acts are not the whole,

or the principal part, of what is to be done at this holy

ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take him as their

Lord and Life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him.

Here is an account of the ends of this ordinance. It is to be

done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds his

dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in

virtue of his death, at God's right hand. It is not merely in

remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered; but to

celebrate his grace in our redemption. We declare his death to

be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we

glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and plead

it as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. The Lord's supper is

not an ordinance to be observed merely for a time, but to be

continued. The apostle lays before the Corinthians the danger of

receiving it with an unsuitable temper of mind; or keeping up

the covenant with sin and death, while professing to renew and

confirm the covenant with God. No doubt such incur great guilt,

and so render themselves liable to spiritual judgements. But

fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at

this holy ordinance. The Holy Spirit never caused this scripture

to be written to deter serious Christians from their duty,

though the devil has often made this use of it. The apostle was

addressing Christians, and warning them to beware of the

temporal judgements with which God chastised his offending

servants. And in the midst of judgement, God remembers mercy: he

many times punishes those whom he loves. It is better to bear

trouble in this world, than to be miserable for ever. The

apostle points our the duty of those who come to the Lord's

table. Self-examination is necessary to right attendance at this

holy ordinance. If we would thoroughly search ourselves, to

condemn and set right what we find wrong, we should stop Divine

judgements. The apostle closes all with a caution against the

irregularities of which the Corinthians were guilty at the

Lord's table. Let all look to it, that they do not come together

to God's worship, so as to provoke him, and bring down vengeance

on themselves.

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