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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 12 - Verse 7

Verse 7. But the manifestation of the Spirit. The word "manifestation" (fanerwsiv means, properly, that which makes manifest, conspicuous, or plain; that which illustrates, or makes anything seen or known. Thus conduct manifests the state of the heart; and the actions are a manifestation, or showing forth, of the real feelings. The idea here is, that there is given to those referred to, such gifts, endowments, or graces, as shall manifest the work and nature of the Spirit's operations on the mind; such endowments as the Spirit makes himself known by to men. All that he produces in the mind is a manifestation of his character and work, in the same way as the works of God, in the visible creation, are a manifestation of his perfections.

Is given to every man. To every man whose case is here under consideration. The idea is not at all that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to all men indiscriminately—to pagans, and infidels, and scoffers, as well as to Christians. The apostle is discoursing only of those who are Christians, and his declaration should be confined to them alone. Whatever may be true of other men, this statement should be confined wholly to Christians; and means simply that the Spirit of God gives to each Christian such graces and endowments as he pleases; that he distributes his gifts to all, not equally, but in a manner which he shall choose; and that the design of this is, that all Christians should use his endowments for the common good. This passage, therefore, is very improperly adduced to prove that the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are conferred alike on all men, and that pagans, and blasphemers, and sinners in general, are under his enlightening influences. It has no reference to any such doctrine, but should be interpreted as referring solely to Christians, and the various endowments which are conferred on them.

To profit withal. prov to sumferon. Unto profit; that is, for utility, or use; or to be an advantage to the church; for the common good of all. This does not mean that each one must cultivate and improve his graces and gifts, however true that may be, but that they are to be used for the common good of the church; they are bestowed for utility, or profit; they are conferred in such measures, and in such a manner, as are best adapted to be useful, and to do good. They are bestowed not on all equally, but in such a manner as shall best subserve the interests of piety and the church, and as shall tend harmoniously to carry on the great interests of religion, and further the welfare of the whole Christian body. The doctrine of this verse is, therefore,

(1.) that the Holy Spirit bestows such endowments on all Christians as he pleases; and

(2.) that the design is, in the best manner to promote the common welfare—the peace and edification of the whole church. It follows from this,

(1.) that no Christian should be unduly elated, as if he were more worthy than others, since his endowments are the simple gift of God;

(2.) that no Christian should be depressed and disheartened, as if he occupied an inferior or unimportant station, since his place has also been assigned him by God;

(3.) that all should be contented and satisfied with their allotments in the church, and should strive only to make the best use of their talents and endowments; and

(4.) that all should employ their time and talents for the common utility; for the furtherance of the common welfare, and the advancement of the kingdom of Christ on earth.

{b} "profit withal" Eph 4:7

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