1 Corinthians 14

* Prophecy preferred to the gift of tongues. (1-5) The

unprofitableness of speaking in unknown languages. (6-14)

Exhortations to worship that can be understood. (15-25)

Disorders from vain display of gifts; (26-33) and from women

speaking in the church. (34-40)

1-5 Prophesying, that is, explaining Scripture, is compared

with speaking with tongues. This drew attention, more than the

plain interpretation of Scripture; it gratified pride more, but

promoted the purposes of Christian charity less; it would not

equally do good to the souls of men. What cannot be understood,

never can edify. No advantage can be reaped from the most

excellent discourses, if delivered in language such as the

hearers cannot speak or understand. Every ability or possession

is valuable in proportion to its usefulness. Even fervent,

spiritual affection must be governed by the exercise of the

understanding, else men will disgrace the truths they profess to

6-14 Even an apostle could not edify, unless he spoke so as to

be understood by his hearers. To speak words that have no

meaning to those who hear them, is but speaking into the air.

That cannot answer the end of speaking, which has no meaning; in

this case, speaker and hearers are barbarians to each other. All

religious services should be so performed in Christian

assemblies, that all may join in, and profit by them. Language

plain and easy to be understood, is the most proper for public

worship, and other religious exercises. Every true follower of

Christ will rather desire to do good to others, than to get a

name for learning or fine speaking.
15-25 There can be no assent to prayers that are not

understood. A truly Christian minister will seek much more to do

spiritual good to men's souls, than to get the greatest applause

to himself. This is proving himself the servant of Christ.

Children are apt to be struck with novelty; but do not act like

them. Christians should be like children, void of guile and

malice; yet they should not be unskilful as to the word of

righteousness, but only as to the arts of mischief. It is a

proof that a people are forsaken of God, when he gives them up

to the rule of those who teach them to worship in another

language. They can never be benefitted by such teaching. Yet

thus the preachers did who delivered their instructions in an

unknown tongue. Would it not make Christianity ridiculous to a

heathen, to hear the ministers pray or preach in a language

which neither he nor the assembly understood? But if those who

minister, plainly interpret Scripture, or preach the great

truths and rules of the gospel, a heathen or unlearned person

might become a convert to Christianity. His conscience might be

touched, the secrets of his heart might be revealed to him, and

so he might be brought to confess his guilt, and to own that God

was present in the assembly. Scripture truth, plainly and duly

taught, has a wonderful power to awaken the conscience and touch

the heart.
26-33 Religious exercises in public assemblies should have this

view; Let all be done to edifying. As to the speaking in an

unknown tongue, if another were present who could interpret, two

miraculous gifts might be exercised at once, and thereby the

church be edified, and the faith of the hearers confirmed at the

same time. As to prophesying, two or three only should speak at

one meeting, and this one after the other, not all at once. The

man who is inspired by the Spirit of God will observe order and

decency in delivering his revelations. God never teaches men to

neglect their duties, or to act in any way unbecoming their age

or station.
34-40 When the apostle exhorts Christian women to seek

information on religious subjects from their husbands at home,

it shows that believing families ought to assemble for promoting

spiritual knowledge. The Spirit of Christ can never contradict

itself; and if their revelations are against those of the

apostle, they do not come from the same Spirit. The way to keep

peace, truth, and order in the church, is to seek that which is

good for it, to bear with that which is not hurtful to its

welfare, and to keep up good behaviour, order, and decency.

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