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CHRIST THE ONLY FOUNDATION,
1 CORINTHIANS III. 11.
For other foundation can no man lay, thun
that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.
THE Church in Corinth was the seat of discord soon after its formation. Forgetting that One was their Master, even Christ, they split into parties, calling themselves by the name of Paul and Apollos. Against this ungodly conduct the apostle remonstrates with holy warmth, asking them, “ Who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but “ ministers by whom ye believed, even as “ the Lord gave to every man?” He proceeds to inform them that, in converting the world, the ministers of Christ had different parts assigned them.
“ I have planted," says he, “ Apollos watered; but God gave “ the increase.” The whole depended on the divine co-operation and blessing. They were, however, all one with respect to the end for which they laboured. They were joint-labourers employed by God. The people were God's field which they were to cultivate, and God's building or temple which they were to rear.
He then assures them that, as a wise master builder, he had laid a good foundation for this temple, this building of God. Every one, therefore, coming after him, was bound to take heed how he builded thereupon ; for he declares, “ Other foundation can no man lay, than " that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
These words not only contain a warning to ministers for the regulation of their conduct, but also unfold a solemn and important truth, for the benefit of all who hear them. In this last view they will now be used as the subject of discourse. For their explanation, we shall consider,
I. In what sense Christ is the foundation of the Christian temple, or the whole Church, and each believer in particular.
II. Endeavour to demonstrate, that no other foundation can be laid.
I. The idea of good men being a temple, was familiar to the ancient Heathen, as well as common in the Scriptures. Two things concur in the constitution of a temple, and both apply to all believers :
First. That the Divinity should either dwell in, or give some tokens of his especial presence there. Hence was the temple of Jerusalem called the house of God's habitation, and the tabernacle, the place of the habitation of God's glory, from whence he is said to shine forth when he
the Jews a testimony of his gracious presence. Now the Holy Spirit being that in the New Testament which answers to the Schechinah in the Old, he dwelling in the bodies, and being present in the assemblies of the saints, doth make them a spiritual habitation of the Lord.
Second. To constitute a temple, it must be a place dedicated and appropriated to God's use.
Hence are the temple and tabernacle so often called the house and temple of the Lord. Therefore, also, saith the apostle, addressing believers, “ Ye are not your own."
In both these particulars, which illustrate sufficiently the propriety and suitableness of the figure used, is Christ the foundation of the whole Church, and of each believer individually. For,
1. Through him God dwells in them, and gives them especial tokens of his pre
Disconnected from Christ, they are alienated from God and enemies of his
government. This is the uniform language of Scripture, when it describes the natural state of all men, believers as well as unbelievers. They are dead in trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; being by
nature children of wrath.
In this state, God cannot but view them with abhorrence, for he loves his own perfections, and whatever is conformable to them. Before he can love any of our race,
it is therefore evident that they must undergo a great and radical change. This change, we are informed, cannot be effected by our own powers, because we see no necessity for it, and therefore will remain as we are, without even a sincere desire after a change.
Every unrenewed person is in the situation of a lunatic, who fancies himself a monarch disposing of kingdoms, whilst he is ignorant of his true character and pitiful situation. Where there is no con, viction of sin, there the impression on the mind is self-complacent. The sinner thinks himself spiritually rich and increased in goods, and in want of nothing. He does not feel condemned, because he sees nothing in himself to condemn. If the tenor of his life be free from external transgressions, he looks forward to future happiness as the reward of his merit. Had he the fore of creating himself anew, he would not do it, for he has no inclination to be holy.