Verse 33. "Even as I please all men" - Act as I do: forgetting myself, my own interests, convenience, ease, and comfort, I labour for the welfare of others; and particularly that they may be saved. How blessed and amiable was the spirit and conduct of this holy man! THIS chapter has already presented the serious reader with a variety of maxims for his regulation. - 1. As to his own private walk; 2. His domestic duties; and 3. His connection with the Church of God. Let us review some of the principal parts.
1. We should be on our guard against what are called little sins, and all occasions and excitements to sin. Take heed what company you frequent.
One thing, apparently harmless, may lead by almost imperceptible links to sins of the deepest dye. See the example in this chapter:
1. The people sat down to eat and to drink.
2. They rose up to play, dance, and sing: and
3. They committed fornication, and brought upon themselves swift destruction.
2. However conscious we may be of our own sincerity and uprightness, we should ever distrust ourselves. God has made nothing independent of himself; the soul has no principle of self-dependence either in itself or its attainments: it is wise, powerful, and happy, only while it is depending on infinite wisdom, unlimited power, and endless mercy.
3. The Gentiles were in communion with demons by their idolatrous services. In what communion are those who feed themselves without fear, who eat with the glutton and drink with the drunkard? So they partake of the Lord Jesus who are under the influence of pride, self-will, hatred, censoriousness, &c., and who carry their self-importance and worldly spirit even into the house and worship of God?
4. A spirit of curiosity too much indulged may, in an irreligious man, lead to covetousness and theft: in a godly man, to a troublesome and unscriptural scrupulosity of conscience, productive of nothing but uneasiness to itself, and disturbance to others. Simplicity of heart saves from this, and is an excellent gift.
5. In many actions we have a twofold rule-the testimony of God and charity: and in many things charity is the best interpreter of the testimony. The testimony often permits what charity forbids, because circumstances in time, place, &c., may render a thing improper on one occasion that might be proper on another.
6. Pious Quesnel has well said: Every thing honours God when it is done for his sake; every thing dishonours him when any ultimate end is proposed beside his glory. It is an unchangeable principle of the Christian morality that all comes from God by his love, and all should be returned to him by ours. This rule we should keep inviolate.
7. Though many of the advices given in this chapter appear to respect the Corinthians alone, yet there is none of them that is not applicable to Christians in general in certain circumstances. God has given no portion of his word to any people or age exclusively; the whole is given to the Church universal in all ages of the world. In reading this epistle let us seriously consider what parts of it apply to ourselves; and if we are disposed to appropriate its promises, let us act conscientiously, and inquire how many of its reprehensions we may fairly appropriate also.