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Gifts of the Spirit.

Gifts of the Spirit.

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Published by glennpease
BY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.


1 COBINTHIANS xii. 14.

The body is not one member ^ but many.
BY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.


1 COBINTHIANS xii. 14.

The body is not one member ^ but many.

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Published by: glennpease on Oct 05, 2013
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GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.BY THOMAS AROLD, D.D.1 COBITHIAS xii. 14.The body is not one member ^ but many.The chapter from which these words are taken, the lessonfor this evening's service, is one of those passages in St.Paul's epistles, the wisdom and profit of which are mostinexhaustible, and yet have been most neglected. or isthis t6 be wondered at, when we know how little able menare to go beyond the letter for any good and wise pur-poses, however fondly they may depart from it in the wayof fancy and superstition. ow this chapter speaks of themiraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as they were en- joyed in the early church ; and as these gifts have longsince ceased, it may seem to tliose who follow the letter of a rule without entering into its spirit, that the directionsgiven with regard to these gifts have ceased to be of im-portance also. Whereas it is manifest that a moral ruleapplies to the reason of a case, and not to the particularform which it may happen to wear in any one age orcountrv. And thiLs, as St. PauFs rule here is a moralone, and teaches us how we should act and feel with re-spect to God's gifts, it matters not that the particulargifts to which it is actually applied in the Epistle to theCorinthians are no longer in existence, if we know thatother gifts of God are in existence, which, like those spokenGIFTS OF THE SPIRIT. 221of by the Apostle, may either be used or abused ; mayeither excite in us good feelings or the contrary.ow, first of all, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were
 
given according to His will. * He divideth to every manseverally as He will.' This is one point. And again,these gifts were not the greatest perfection of a man'snature ; he might have the very highest of them, and yetperish everlastingly ; ' Covet earnestly the best gifts ; andyet show I unto you a more excellent way ; for though Ispeak with the tongues of men and of angels, though Ihave the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteriesand all knowledge ; and though I have all faith so thatI could remove mountains, and have not charity, I amnothing.' This is another point. Thirdly, these giftswere given to enable him who had them to do good toothers ; ' The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyman to profit withal.' This is a third point.ow then, if there are any gifts of God now enjoyedby us, in which all these three points are to be found :gifts given according to God's free pleasure ; gifts whichwe may have in the highest measure and yet perish ; butat the same time, gifts which may enable lis to do good toothers, and therefore are highly valuable and earnestly tobe coveted, — then St. Paul's rules, with regard to the giftsof the Holy Spirit, are applicable to us now.It is most evident that there are such gifts ; and thatwe all are, more or less, partakers of them. ay, so closean analogy exists between what we call the course of nature,that is, the course of God's ordinary providence, and thedispensation of grace, that is, the course of His specialprovidence, that it might be possible to go through theseveral gifts mentioned by the Apostle, and to find foreach of them some strictly corresponding gift in God'sdealings with us now. Yet, lest we should be driven intoany thing like extravagance by so insisting on this paral-222 GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.lei as to fiwicy a resemblance beyond reality, it will be
 
better simply to notice what are, beyond question, God'sgifts to us now ; as freely given, as capable of being madeuseful, as capable also of being separated from that holi-ness which alone shall see God, as were the gifts of thechurch of Corinth. ^Consider for a moment ; let each of us think withinhimself whether he has not some power, some talent, sometaste, some advantage of one sort or another, in which hefeels that his main strength lies ; something particularlycapable of improvement, and which beyond other pointsin him, would reward the care spent on its cultivation.Perhaps some may doubt this, from being accustomed toconfine the notion of God's gifts to something which theyconsider very high and important : they would neverdream of carrying it down to little things. Yet what isthe Apostle's comparison : ' those members of the bodywhich seem to be more feeble are necessary ; God hathtempered the body together, liaving given more abundanthonour to that part which lacked.' I may safely usethese words, as confirming what our reason will show us,if we apply to it, that God is the author and giver of theleast of our gifts, faculties, tastes, talents, and advantages,no less than of what we call the highest.Bearing this in mind, and extending as widely aspossible the notion that all that we have comes from God,these three great points form St. Paul's rule for us tofollow : — that every gift is a means of good ; that no giftextends to our highest spiritual good ; that we should vidueevery gift, however humble, and not despise our neighbourbecause his gift is not the same as ours. These are thegreat points of St. Paul's lesson, which we may now proceedto consider particularly, each in its order.I. Every gift is a means of good. It is easy to mora-lize, as has been done very strikingly and beautiftdly byvarious writers, on the vanity of human wishes, in beino-

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