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The Apostle is here explaining some of the Events of the Church in the Wilderness, as Types of the New Testament Dispensation. He sweetly discourseth on the Subject of the Lord's Supper.
(1) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; (2) And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (3) And did all eat the same spiritual meat; (4) And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (5) But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. (6) Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (8) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. (9) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. (10) Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. (11) Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
It is a very sure and blessed truth, that the Gospel was preached to the old Church, as well as unto the new. To our Father s in type and shadow; to us in sum and substance, Galatians 3:8. And very blessed it is, when under the Holy Ghost's teaching, we can read the one through the other. For, it not only thereby proves, that one uniform design runs through both Testaments of Scripture, from beginning to end, that Christ is both the end of the law for righteousness, to everyone that believeth, and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World; but that God the Holy Ghost hath presided as the Almighty Lord and Minister of his Church through all ages. He that called light out of darkness in the old creation, is the same that commandeth the light from darkness in the new creation of the soul, in every individual instance of his people, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, Romans 10:4; Revelation 13:8; Genesis 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:6.
The Apostle opens this chapter to the Church, whom he calls brethren, to shew their right and interest in what he was about to deliver to them, as distinguished from the world, and calls upon them to be informed of what concerned them highly to know; namely, that the Gospel was very early preached to the Church, even from their first formation as a Church, on coming up out of Egypt. And, Reader! it is our mercy from this sweet scripture of the Holy Ghost to learn some very blessed things, which without it, we should not so plainly have understood. Who could have thought, but for this divine teaching, that the pillar of the cloud, which acted in a double capacity, both for light by day, and a screen by night, had an allusion to Christ, and the blessed leadings of his Holy Ghost graciously condescended to have given the Church his own illustration of the whole, to his glory and our joy? Very sweet and blessed, indeed, are those scriptures on those subjects, and we never can be sufficiently thankful to the Holy Ghost for them, since they not only serve to throw a light over the whole of the eventful Scriptures of the Old Testament, but most decidedly shew to us, that from the first dawn of revelation to the consummation of all things, one and the same dispensation of grace hath been uniformly carried on, in manifesting His blessed and Almighty Person Jesus Christ, who is the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.
But what I beg the Reader particularly to remark with me, is what the Apostle had in commission from the Holy Ghost to teach the Church, that all that came out of Egypt by Moses, were not alike interested, in those precious things. With many of them, this Scripture saith, God was not well pleased; and they were overthrown in the wilderness. And the reason is elsewhere explained. All are not Israel which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called, Romans 9:6-7. The visible Church then, as the visible Church now, which consisteth only of outward privileges, may be, and indeed are, common things, and enjoyed in common with those who have no real lot nor part in the matter. Thus we are told, that beside six hundred thousand on foot beside children, that went up out of Egypt, a mixed multitude went up also with them, Exodus 12:37-38.
It should be well understood, therefore, to avoid all possible misapprehensions, that when God is speaking of his people, it is a distinction of character infinitely higher, than can be discovered by mere outward things. All the whole earth is the Lord's; and as the Creator, everything in it is his. But there is a title of property; and peculiarity, by which the Lord hath marked the people taken into Covenant in Christ concerning whom the Lord specially saith: This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise, Isaiah 43:21. I humbly conceive, it will form the best spiritual improvement of this sweet Scripture, under God the Spirit's teaching, if we look a little closer into those features of character, by which they are discoverable, from the mere outward visible Church, which all men possess in common, and which from having no real Covenant interest in Christ, are daily productive of the same consequences as are spoken of here, are overthrown in the wilderness.
And first, let the Reader observe, how the Lord's Israel are marked. The Lord saith, that he hath set them apart for himself. They were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4. And during the time-state of the Church, they are called with an holy calling; not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace, given them in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2 Timothy 1:9. So that He who chose them before the world began as his Israel, appointed for them also the grace for an effectual calling of them in time; by giving them that grace in Christ, which therefore must be sure to all the seed, Romans 4:16. And hence Peter was taught by the Holy Ghost, to remind the Church, how they should judge of their interest and safety in Christ, by giving all diligence to make their calling and election sure. For if they could prove their calling, the certainty of their election must be proved also; for the one is included in the other : 2 Peter 1:10-11. See Deuteronomy 32:8-12. God's true Israel, therefore, are marked with these distinguishing features of character. They are set apart, called, awakened, regenerated, and manifested to be the children of God, by adoption, and grace: while the mere nominal Israel, though in the visible Church, and apparently enjoying the same privileges, remain in unbelief, darkness, and the shadow of death. The Lord's own account of them is: they do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in wrath; they shall not enter into my rest, Psalms 95:7; Hebrews 3:10-11.
Secondly. The Lord's Israel of the present hour are as truly brought up out of spiritual Egypt, as the Lord's Israel were of old from the bondage of natural Egypt. They have felt, and do feel; the plague of their own heart; and the wormwood, and the gall, of a bondage state. The corruption of a fallen sinful state, both in original and actual transgression, drink up their spirits. And therefore, when the Lord speaks to them now, as he did to Moses of old : I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt; and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them, Acts 7:34. In every individual instance of a soul brought out of darkness and the shadow of death; and brought through the red sea of blood; the typical representation Egypt's history then furnished, is truly realized, and the design of God the Holy Ghost in that shadowy dispensation, through grace is seen.
Thirdly. The Lord's Israel are as truly known now, as was then, in the being brought into a wilderness state, and being distinguished from all other people; amidst their wilderness dispensations, in the pillar of the cloud going before them by day, and the pillar of fire surrounding them by night. Distinguishing grace marks the whole path, all the way through. everything around them, about them, in them, and by them; sets forth the manifestation of the Lord's care over them. The sun doth not smite them by day, neither the moon by night. So that every child of God may say now, as truly as Moses did then, when summing up their history : Happy art thou, 0 Israel: who is like unto thee, 0 people saved by the Lord! Deuteronomy 33:29.
And what I beg the Reader in this view of the subject, is to mark the distinguishing properties of the grace bestowed upon Israel in the old Church in the Wilderness; and the Israel now, under the common mercies of the visible Church then, had the pillar the cloud, the manna, and the water, with all the other means and ordinances; it was only the true Israel of God which enjoyed the spiritual blessings. In like manner, in the present hour, the outward privileges nationally considered, are in common to all that are called Israel; but the spiritual seed of Jacob only, are blessed with the spiritual enjoyment of them. The whole camp of Israel was victualled from Heaven with the Manna, day by day; and all partook of the water which flowed from the Rock that followed them. But, none saw Christ in the Manna, nor in the Rock, but God's true Israel. So, in the present hour, the multitude receive the Gospel in all the outward ordinances of it, but behold not Jesus in his ordinances. They live in the use of them, not by faith on Christ, but on themselves and their duties, and their own improvements, as they call them; and in the midst of all, have no apprehension of Jesus. And, as the carcases of the unbelievers, as here described, fell in the wilderness; some by idolatry, some by fornication, some by murmuring: so now, who shall calculate what multitudes die, unawakened, unregenerated, unrenewed, in the very midst of ordinances, after the same example of unbelief, Hebrews 4:11.
I detain the Reader one moment longer, just to observe, on that striking verse, of those who are said to have tempted Christ in the wilderness, that it becomes a most decided testimony in proof that Christ is He whom Stephen spake of which was in the Church in the Wilderness, Acts 7:38. And also, it as decidedly proves Christ to be God. For Moses, in relating this event, expressly called him so. Wherefore do ye (saith he) tempt the Lord? Exodus 17:2. Precious testimony by the way.
(13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (14) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. (15) I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
This is a very sweet Scripture, and hath been found truly refreshing and consolatory to God's children, in all their exercises. Jesus too well loves his people, to suffer any temptations to be brought upon them, but what he himself knows shall minister to his glory, and their welfare. And what endears the thought yet more, he is with them in all, and supports them under all, and will bring them through all, Deuteronomy 33:27; Hebrews 2:17-18.
(16) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (17) For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (18) Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (19) What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? (20) But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (21) Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. (22) Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
There is somewhat particularly striking and solemn in this account of the Lord's Supper. Paul calls the service the cup of blessing, and the communion of the blood of Christ; and the bread broken, the communion of the body of Christ; evidently meaning, that all truly regenerated believers, which partake in that feast, being a feast upon the sacrifice, are virtually considered by that act of faith as partaking by fellowship in all the blessings, and benefits of Christ's death. The bread and the cup being one, and all and every individual partaking in the same, manifest thereby, their oneness, and union with Christ as Christ; and their interest, in all that belongs to Christ, as Christ. And the inference the Apostle draws from it, is also as striking. If by this solemn service, believers desire to testify their oneness with Christ; it is impossible after that, that any could be found in the idol's temple. Paul speaks of it with a kind of abhorrence. Can any man drink of the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils? Can any man be partaker of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. Reader! we have no idol sacrifices, no form of religion in this country, where such horrid services are performed. But we have tantamount to graven images, in the follies, and pleasures, which the ungodly and carnal part of mankind, are earnest to mingle up with the mere rituals of worship. And, when we find many, who regularly fill their places at the Lord's table, and as regularly fill their places in the synagogue of Satan, I mean public amusements and diversions; wherein do such differ from the characters the Apostle reprobates in those verses? How very plain and evident is it, therefore, that nothing can lay the foundation for communion with the Lord, but a pre-union with his Person, and an interest in his blood and righteousness. We must be first married to his Person, or there can be no right to any dowry in what belongs to him. First grafted into Christ, as the spiritual vine; or we can bring forth no fruit, as branches in him. The members of the body must he really and truly united to the head, or all vital influence is wanting. I hope the Reader knows by this heart-felt enjoyment, for it is most blessed. And when communion with Christ ariseth from an union with Christ, and the soul of a believer hath not only an habitual state of grace within, but an actual exercise in going forth in desires after Christ, and incomings of blessing from Christ; when prayers go up, and answers come down, and the Lord makes all his goodness pass before us; then a child of God enters into a real soul enjoyment of the Apostle's word : and can truly say, that the cup of blessing, and the bread broken, open sweet communion by faith, both of the body and blood of Christ.
(23) All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (24) Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. (25) Whatsoever is sold in the meat market, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: (26) For the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof. (27) If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. (28) But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof: (29) Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? (30) For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? (31) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (32) Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: (33) Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
I do not think it necessary to detain the Reader with any particular observations on those verses. everything in them is plain, and obvious. But I would just remark, what a blessed frame of mind, that regenerated child of God must be in, who can always keep in view, and through grace act upon it, what the Apostle hath said, in a general comprehensive manner, of all actions. Whatsoever we do, whether we eat or drink, to do all to the glory of God. This, if followed, would make our most ordinary meals carry with them a savoriness that would be sacramental. And very certain it is, that many a blessed believer, from the unction of the Holy Ghost, enjoys more of Jesus at his own table, than all unregenerated persons do of Jesus at the Lord's table. And it must be so. For how shall a soul unawakened, bear and know the joyful sound? How shall a soul dead in trespasses and sins, perform a living act of faith upon a living Savior, or spiritually eat of the body and blood of Christ? But he that bottoms everything upon Christ, makes Christ what Jehovah hath made him, the first and the last, the Author and Finisher of salvation: this truly regenerated believer hath God's glory in view, in all the acts of providence and grace; in ordinances, and all the means of social and godly life. This is what the Apostle elsewhere calls, the knowledge of the love of Christ, which passeth all understanding, and being filled with all the fulness of God, Ephesians 3:19.
Who would have thought, on reading Israel's history in coming up out of Egypt, that all the great outlines of Christ's Church is here shadowed forth? Yes! my soul, thy deliverance from the worse than Egyptian bondage of sin and death, of Satan's captivity and prison-house, was here represented. As all our father's in the Church were baptized unto Moses, as the Lord's minister, in the cloud, and in the sea; ate and drank of the spiritual sustenance, by faith in Christ; and eyed Christ as the sum and substance of all: so thou, by the same faith in the same God and Savior, art now passing through the same wilderness dispensations; and fetching strength for every new exercise by living on Jesus, and of his fulness receiving grace for grace. Oh! God the Holy Ghost, bring me under thy continual baptisms! Let my spiritual life in Christ, be maintained, as the faithful Israelites were, by the same spiritual meat; and let My soul's thirst be continually satisfied in drinking of the same spiritual drink; for He that went before in the pillar of the cloud, and that followed them in the pillar of the fire, is the same Lord Jesus to me, as them; even the Rock whose work is perfect, just as true is He! Precious Lord Jesus! do I not know? hast thou not taught me? that all grace for thy whole family here, and all glory for thy redeemed above, is treasured up, and hath been treasured up, in thine Almighty Person, as the Covenant-head and Husband of thy Church from all eternity?
Sweet cup of blessing in my Lord's Supper! may it be my holy joy and delight often to take thee. For surely, it is an ordinance of Jesus' own appointing. And He who appointed it at the first, promised to be present at every celebration, and will continue to the last, to make it sanctified to every true partaker. Surely it is among the love-tokens of Jesus. He will be always there where his people are assembled. We shall feed on Him by faith. And we shall know heartfelt experience, while the King sitteth at his table, and this graces of our souls, which he himself hath given, and calleth forth into exercise, is like the spikenard, that the cup of blessing which we bless is indeed rich communion with the blood of Christ; and the bread we break is indeed precious communion of the body of Christ! Oh! for the sweet quickenings of God the Spirit leading to the feast, that my soul may be often taking the cup of salvation, and calling upon the name of the Lord. And do thou, dearest Lord, so lead, so guide, so daily, hourly, momently, bring my soul under thy blessed teachings, and influences; that in providences as well as seasons of grace, at my own table or at the Lord's, wherever I am, however employed, in the Church or in the market place, in dealings with men, or sweet communion with the Lord; whatsoever do, in word, or deed, do all to the glory of God, in the name of Jesus Christ.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/