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. 167 willing himself to be as an Anathema, for his brethren's fake: his “ heart's desire and “ prayer to God for Israel was, that they “ might be saved.”
My brethren, though it may be considered as unnecessary, thus to guard against mifapprehending the text, what we have now said, in demonstrating that it is not an imprecation, and that it does not countenance wishing or praying for what is evil, to any set of men, how criminal soever, is not without an object. It serves to excite and secure our love and veneration towards our blessed Lord and his Gospel. It is always with much advantage that we consider “ the “ grace of the LORD JESUS,” the spirit manifested by his followers, the character formed by his Gospel.
INSTEAD of considering, then, the text as an imprecation of his own, or as recommending and justifying imprecation to the Corinthians, and the Christian world, the words of the apostle must be interpreted so as to be perfectly consistent with the purest and most extensive charity
It is one of those pithy and important exhortations with which he concludes his epistles. I am persuaded that in this folemn and impressive manner he beseeches the Corinthians to regard with abhorrence those men who, notwithstanding specious appearances of friendship, injure and oppose the Gospel.
It is not in this place, only, expressions of the fame kind are adopted, respecting such enemies of the truth. See the complaint of the apostle against the Galatians for being removed “ unto another Gospel, there are “ some that trouble you and would pervert “ the Gospel of Christ, but though we, or “ an angel from heaven, preach any other “ Gospel to you, let him be accursed :” he repeats it, “let him be accursed.” And again, in the fifth chapter of the epistle, “ I would they were even cut off that trou“ble you."
When the Gospel was opposed and attacked by reason and argument, realon and argument were employed in its defence. Over violence and persecution, Christians prevailed
and triumphed, by patience in suffering: but the truth was most injured and endangered by false brethren, by those who, in the church, and expressing regard to revelation, departed from the truth, and undermined and subverted the faith, in its leading and essential doctrines. The severelt wounds of religion are received in the house of her friends. Against such false brethren, the churches are warned. In speaking of them, the apostle shews the warmth of a just zeal and indignation ; while his exhortation is, not merely confistent with charity, but the effect of sincerest good will. Regard with abhorrence oppofition to the Gospel, especially by those who do so, under the profession of friendship.
As to the peculiar phraseology, “Let them “ be Anathema Maranatha who love not the “ LORD JESUS CHRIST,” the most natural account or explanation of it is this. Anathema fignifies what is devoted to destruction, and is therefore naturally used to signify what is to be regarded with aversion and horror. Maranatha means “ the LORD will come.” After being deprived of the power of life and death, the Jews still retained the forms, observed in
their trials; and entertained the belief that the condemnation they pronounced would be executed, sooner or later, in the providence of God; and Maranatha referred to the coming of the Lord to judgment. Expressions familiar and solemn as these, were used with the highest propriety to mark the guilt of those “ who love not the LORD JESUS “Christ;” and to impress it on the minds of the Christians at Corinth, that, with much aversion and abhorrence, they were to regard those who love not the LORD.
By not loving the Lord Jesus, more is meant than mere want of affection : just as will not hold him guiltless, signifies will assuredly regard as very guilty: and seek not my face in vain, expresses the certain and exalted advantages of devotion. In stigmatising those who do not love the Lord Jesus, it is strongly asserted that our Lord is the object of the highest affection; and it is declared their guilt is exceedingly heinous, who pervert, injure, or oppose his Gospel. They to whom his Gospel has been proposed, who are not his friends, are his enemies : “ they that are not for us are “ against us : they that gather not scatter
“ abroad.” Think of their situation and guilt as condemned, and as they will be condemned, at the coming of the Lord. Regard them as highly criminal : let their injuring and perverting the Gospel fill you with horror ; let that part of their conduct and character, be regarded as an abominable and accursed thing.
It is thus I understand the text : I believe the exhortation is, I have said, Let the injuring, perverting and opposing, of the Gospel, fill you with horror: consider this character as detestable and abominable, mindful of the coming of the Lord.
Is the question put, Who are of this character ? I have said, it is exceedingly probable, and indeed I have no doubts, that the apostle intended to fill the minds of the Christians at Corinth with abhorrence, for the character of the false teachers, who were active in perverting and opposing the Gofpel; or, in other words, for the false, unchriftian and antichristian, doctrines of such teachers. In condemning them, and exciting abhorrence for their character and conduct, he excites the abhorrence of all ChrisZ 2