on 1-corinthians 8 :13
Wherefore, etc. - Rather than give any occasion to a Christian to sin against and so to harden his conscience that he should return to idolatry and perish, I would not only abstain from all meats offered to idols, but I would eat no flesh, should I exist through the whole course of time, but live on the herbs of the field, rather than cause my brother to stumble, and thus fall into idolatry and final ruin.
The following words of Origen contain a very solemn lesson and warning: "If we did more diligently attend to these things, we should avoid sinning against our brethren and wounding their weak conscience, that we might not sin against Christ; our brethren that are among us, for whom Christ died, often perishing, not only by our knowledge, but by many other ways, and things, in which things we, sinning against Christ, shall suffer punishment; the souls of them that perish by us being required of and avenged upon us." See Whitby on this place.
1. The greater our reputation for knowledge and sanctity, the greater mischief we shall do by our influence and example if we turn aside from the holy commandment delivered unto us. Every man should walk so as either to light or lead his brother to heaven.
2. It is the duty of every Christian to watch against apostasy in his own case, and to prevent it as much as possible in that of others. That a person for whom Christ died may finally perish is strongly argued, says Dr. Whitby, from this place, and Romans 14:15; for here the apostle dissuades the Corinthians from scandalizing their weak brethren, by an argument taken from the irreparable mischiefs they may do them, the eternal ruin they may bring upon them by this scandal; whereas if it be, as some assert, that all things, even the sins of the elect, shall work together for their good, and that they shall never perish; if the apostle knew and taught this doctrine to them, why does he endeavor to affright them from this scandal, by telling them that it might have that effect which he had before told them was impossible? If you interpret his words thus: So shall he perish, for whom in charity ye ought to judge Christ died; it is certain, from this doctrine, that they must be assured that this judgment of charity must be false, or that their brother could not perish. In the first place, they could not be obliged to act by it, and in the second, they could not rationally be moved by it to abstain from giving scandal on that impossible supposition.
If you interpret the apostle thus: So shalt thou do that which, in its nature, tends to make thy brother perish; and might have that effect, had not God determined to preserve all from perishing, for whom Christ died; since this determination renders it sure to me, who know it, that they cannot actually perish, it must assure me that there can be no cause of abstinency from this scandal, lest they should perish by it.
Moreover, by thus offending, saith the apostle, ye sin against Christ; viz. by sinning against him whom he has purchased by his blood; and destroying them for whose salvation he has suffered. If this intent of Christ's death be denied, how can we show in what Christ has demonstrated his great love to them that perish? Is it possible that they can sin against redeeming love? and how, by thus offending them who neither do nor can belong to him as members of his mystical body, are we injurious to Christ? See Whitby on this place.
3. It is natural for man to wish and affect to be wise; and when this desire is cultivated in reference to lawful objects, it will be an indescribable good; but when, like Eve, we see, in a prohibition, something to be desired to make one wise, we are then, like her, on the verge of our fall. Though extensive knowledge is not given to all, yet it is given for all; and is the public property of the Church. He who does not use it for general edification robs the public of its right. For the misuse and misapplication of this talent we shall give account to God, as well as of other gifts and graces.
4. Persons of an over tender and scrupulous conscience may be very troublesome in a Christian society; but as this excessive scrupulosity comes from want of more light, more experience, or more judgment, we should bear with them. Though such should often run into ridiculous extremes, yet we must take care that we do not attempt to cure them either with ridicule or wrath. Extremes generally beget extremes; and such persons require the most judicious treatment, else they will soon be stumbled and turned out of the way. We should be very careful lest in using what is called Christian liberty we occasion their fall; and for our own sake we must take heed that we do not denominate sinful indulgences, Christian liberties.
5. Though we are bound to take heed that we put not a stumbling block in the way of a weak brother, yet if such a brother be stumbled at any part of our conduct which is not blamable in itself, but of which he may have taken a wrong view, we are not answerable for the consequences. We are called to walk by the testimony of God; not according to the measure of any man's conscience, how sincere soever he may be.
6. Many persons cover a spirit of envy and uncharitableness with the name of godly zeal and tender concern for the salvation of others; they find fault with all; their spirit is a spirit of universal censoriousness; none can please them; and every one suffers by them. These destroy more souls by tithing mint and cummin, than others do by neglecting the weightier matters of the law. Such persons have what is termed, and very properly too, sour godliness. Both are extremes, and he who would avoid perdition must avoid them.
on 1-corinthians 8 :13
Wherefore - As the conclusion of the whole matter.
If meat ... - Paul here proposes his own views and feelings, or tells them how he would act in order to show them how they should act in these circumstances.
Make my brother to offend - Lead him into sin; or shall be the cause of leading him into error and guilt. It does not mean, if the eating of meat should "enrage or irritate" another; but if it is the occasion of his being led into transgression. How this might be done is stated in 1 Corinthians 8:10.
I will eat no flesh ... - My eating meat is a matter of comparative unimportance. I can dispense with it It is of much less importance to me than happiness, a good conscience, and salvation are to my brother. And the law of love therefore to him requires me to deny myself rather than to be the occasion of leading him into sin. This is a noble resolution; and marks a great, disinterested, and magnanimous spirit. It is a spirit that seeks the good of all; that can deny itself; that is supremely anxious for the glory of God and the salvation of man, and that can make personal comfort and gratification subservient to the good of others. It was the principle on which Paul always acted; and is the very spirit of the self-denying Son of God.
While the world standeth - Greek, For ever. The phrase 'I will never eat meat' would express the idea. "Lest I make, etc." Rather than lead him into sin, by my indulging in eating the meat offered in sacrifice to idols.
Remarks On 1 Corinthians 8
This chapter is very important, as it settles some principles in regard to the conduct of Christians; and shows how they should act in reference to things that are indifferent; or which in themselves can be considered as neither right nor wrong; and in reference to those things which may be considered in themselves as "right and lawful," but whose indulgence might injure others. And from the chapter we learn:
1. That Christians, though they are truly converted, yet may have many erroneous views and feelings in reference to many things, 1 Corinthians 8:6. This was true of those converted from ancient paganism, and it is true of those who are now converted from paganism, and of all young converts. Former opinions, and prejudices, and even superstitions, abide long in the mind, and cast a long and withering influence ever the regions of Christian piety. The morning dawn is at first very obscure. The change from night to daybreak is at first scarcely perceptible. And so it may be in conversion. The views which a pagan entertained from his childhood could not at once be removed. The influence of corrupt opinions and feelings, which a sinner has long indulged, may "travel over" in his conversion, and may long endanger his piety and destroy his peace. Corrupt and infidel thoughts, associations of pollution, cannot be destroyed at once; and we are not to expect from a child in the Christian life, the full vigor, and the elevated principle, and the strength to resist temptation, which we expect of the man matured in the service of the Lord Jesus. This should lead us to charity in regard to the imperfections and failings of young converts; to a willingness to aid and counsel them; to carefulness not to lead them into sin; and it should lead us not to expect the same amount of piety, zeal, and purity in converts from degraded pagans, which we expect in Christian lands, and where converts have been trained up under all the advantages of Sunday Schools and Bible classes.
2. Our opinions should be formed, and our treatment of others regulated, not by abstract knowledge, but by love, 1 Corinthians 8:1. A man is usually much more likely to act right who is influenced by charity and love, than one who is guided by simple knowledge, or by self-confidence. One is humble, kind, tender toward the frailties of others, sensible himself of infirmity, and is disposed to do right; the other may be vain, harsh, censorious, unkind, and severe. Knowledge is useful; but for the practical purposes of life, in an erring and fallen world, love is more useful; and while the one often leads astray, the other seldom errs. Whatever knowledge we may have, we should make it a point from which we are never to depart, that our opinions of others, and our treatment of them, should be formed under the influence of love.
3. We should not be self-confident of our wisdom, 1 Corinthians 8:2. Religion produces humility. Mere knowledge may fill the heart with pride and vanity. True knowledge is not inconsistent with humility; but it must be joined with a heart that is right. The people that have been most eminent in knowledge have also been distinguished for humility; but the heart was right; and they saw the folly of depending on mere knowledge.
4. There is but one God, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6. This great truth lies at the foundation of all true religion; and yet is so simple that it may be known by all Christians, however humble, and is to be presumed to be known by all. But though simple, it is a great and glorious truth. To keep this before the minds of people was one great purpose of all God's revelations; and to communicate it to people is now the grand object of all missionary enterprises. The world is full of idols and idolaters; but the knowledge of this simple truth would change the moral aspect of the entire globe. To spread this truth should be the great aim and purpose of all true Christians; and when this truth is spread, the idols of the pagan will fall to the dust.
5. Christians acknowledge one and only one Lord, 1 Corinthians 8:6. He rules over them. His laws bind them. He controls them. He has a right to them. He can dispose of them as he pleases. They are not their own; but are bound to live entirely to him, and for the promotion of his cause.
6. It becomes Christians to exercise continual care, lest their conduct, even in things which are in themselves lawful, should be the occasion of leading others into sin, 1 Corinthians 8:9. Christians very often pursue a course of conduct which may not be in itself unlawful, but which may lead others who have not their intelligence, or strength of principle, into error. One man may be safe where another man is in danger. One man may be able to resist temptations which would entirely overcome another. A course of life may, perhaps, be safe for a man of years and of mature judgment, which would he ruinous to a young man. And the grand principle here should be, not to do that, even though it may be lawful itself, which would he the occasion of leading others into sin.
7. We see here the importance and the power of example, 1 Corinthians 8:10-11. Nothing is of more value than a correct Christian example. And this applies particularly to those who are in the more elevated ranks of life, who occupy stations of importance, who are at the head of families, colleges, and schools. The ignorant will be likely to follow the example of the learned; the poor of the rich; those in humble life will imitate the manners of the great. Even in things, therefore, which may not he in themselves unlawful in these circumstances, they should set an example of self-denial, of plainness, of abstinence, for the sake of those beneath them. They should so live that it would be safe and right for all to imitate their example. Christ, though he was rich, yet so lived that all may safely imitate him; though he was honored of God, and exalted to the highest office as the Redeemer of the world, yet he lived so that all in every rank may follow him; though he had all power, and was worshipped by angels, yet so lived that he might teach the most humble and lowly how to live; and so lived that it is safe and proper for all to live as he did. So should every monarch, and prince, and rich man; every noble, and every learned man; every man of honor and office; every master of a family, and every man of age and wisdom, live that all others may learn of them how to live, and that they may safely walk in their footsteps.
on 1-corinthians 8 :13
8:13 If meat - Of any kind. Who will follow this example? What preacher or private Christian will abstain from any thing lawful in itself, when it offends a weak brother?