1 Corinthians 14* Prophecy preferred to the gift of tongues. (1-5) Theunprofitableness 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 womenspeaking in the church. (34-40)1-5 Prophesying, that is, explaining Scripture, is comparedwith speaking with tongues. This drew attention, more than theplain interpretation of Scripture; it gratified pride more, butpromoted the purposes of Christian charity less; it would notequally do good to the souls of men. What cannot be understood,never can edify. No advantage can be reaped from the mostexcellent discourses, if delivered in language such as thehearers cannot speak or understand. Every ability or possessionis valuable in proportion to its usefulness. Even fervent,spiritual affection must be governed by the exercise of theunderstanding, else men will disgrace the truths they profess topromote. 6-14 Even an apostle could not edify, unless he spoke so as tobe understood by his hearers. To speak words that have nomeaning to those who hear them, is but speaking into the air.That cannot answer the end of speaking, which has no meaning; inthis case, speaker and hearers are barbarians to each other. Allreligious services should be so performed in Christianassemblies, that all may join in, and profit by them. Languageplain and easy to be understood, is the most proper for publicworship, and other religious exercises. Every true follower ofChrist will rather desire to do good to others, than to get aname for learning or fine speaking. 15-25 There can be no assent to prayers that are notunderstood. A truly Christian minister will seek much more to dospiritual good to men's souls, than to get the greatest applauseto himself. This is proving himself the servant of Christ.Children are apt to be struck with novelty; but do not act likethem. Christians should be like children, void of guile andmalice; yet they should not be unskilful as to the word ofrighteousness, but only as to the arts of mischief. It is aproof that a people are forsaken of God, when he gives them upto the rule of those who teach them to worship in anotherlanguage. They can never be benefitted by such teaching. Yetthus the preachers did who delivered their instructions in anunknown tongue. Would it not make Christianity ridiculous to aheathen, to hear the ministers pray or preach in a languagewhich neither he nor the assembly understood? But if those whominister, plainly interpret Scripture, or preach the greattruths and rules of the gospel, a heathen or unlearned personmight become a convert to Christianity. His conscience might betouched, the secrets of his heart might be revealed to him, andso he might be brought to confess his guilt, and to own that Godwas present in the assembly. Scripture truth, plainly and dulytaught, has a wonderful power to awaken the conscience and touchthe heart. 26-33 Religious exercises in public assemblies should have thisview; Let all be done to edifying. As to the speaking in anunknown tongue, if another were present who could interpret, twomiraculous gifts might be exercised at once, and thereby thechurch be edified, and the faith of the hearers confirmed at thesame time. As to prophesying, two or three only should speak atone meeting, and this one after the other, not all at once. Theman who is inspired by the Spirit of God will observe order anddecency in delivering his revelations. God never teaches men toneglect their duties, or to act in any way unbecoming their ageor station. 34-40 When the apostle exhorts Christian women to seekinformation on religious subjects from their husbands at home,it shows that believing families ought to assemble for promotingspiritual knowledge. The Spirit of Christ can never contradictitself; and if their revelations are against those of theapostle, they do not come from the same Spirit. The way to keeppeace, truth, and order in the church, is to seek that which isgood for it, to bear with that which is not hurtful to itswelfare, and to keep up good behaviour, order, and decency.
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