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2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you.


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1. Imitators of me. From this it appears, how absurdly chapters are divided, inasmuch as this sentence is disjoined from what goes before, with which it ought to have been connected, and is joined to what follows, with which it has no connection. Let us view this, then, as the close of the preceding chapter. Paul had there brought forward his own example in confirmation of his doctrine. Now, in order that the Corinthians may understand that this would be becoming in them, he exhorts them to imitate what he had done, even as he had imitated Christ

Here there are two things to be observed — first, that he prescribes nothing to others that he had not first practiced himself; and, secondly, that he directs himself and others to Christ as the only pattern of right acting. For while it is the part of a good teacher to enjoin nothing in words but what he is prepared to practice in action, he must not, at the same time, be so austere, as straightway to require from others everything that he does himself, as is the manner of the superstitious. For everything that they contract a liking for they impose also upon others, and would have their own example to be held absolutely as a rule. The world is also, of its own accord, inclined to a misdirected imitation, (κακοζηλίαν) 610610     “Κακοζηλία, an absurd invitation The term is used in this sense by Lucian. (V. 70.) Our author makes use of the same term in the Harmony, vol. 1, p. 209, n. 2. — Ed and, after the manner of apes, strive to copy whatever they see done by persons of great influence. We see, however how many evils have been introduced into the Church by this absurd desire of imitating all the actions of the saints, without exception. Let us, therefore, maintain so much the more carefully this doctrine of Paul — that we are to follow men, provided they take Christ as their grand model, (πρωτότυπον,) that the examples of the saints may not tend to lead us away from Christ, but rather to direct us to him.

2. Now I praise you He passes on now to another subject-to instruct the Corinthians, what decorum ought to be observed in the sacred assemblies. For as a man’s dress or gesture has in some cases the effect of disfiguring, and in others of adorning him, so all actions are set off to advantage by decorum, and are vitiated by the want of it. Much, therefore, depends upon decorum (τὸ πρεπον,) 611611     Τὸ πρέπον, may be defined to be the union of propriety and grace. Πρέπον and καλὸν being used among the Greeks and among the Romans, pulchrum and decorum, as synonymous terms. See Cic. de Off., 1, 27. — Ed and that not merely for securing for our actions gracefulness and beauty, but also to accustom our minds to propriety. While this is true in a general way as to everything, it holds especially as to sacred things; 612612     “Es choses qui concement le seruice de Dieu;” — “In things that concern the service of God.” for what contempt, and, eventually, what barbarism will be incurred, if we do not preserve dignity in the Church, by conducting ourselves honorably and becomingly? Hence he prescribes some things that are connected with public order, by which sacred assemblies are rendered honorable. But in order to prepare them the more for obedience, he commends, in the outset, their obedience in the past, inasmuch as they observed his ordinances; for inasmuch as he had begotten that Church to the Lord, (1 Corinthians 4:15,) he had delivered to them a certain system, by which it was to be governed. By retaining this, the Corinthians gave reason to hope, that they would also in future be docile.

It is surprising, however, that, while he now bestows upon them this commendation, he had previously blamed them for many things. Nay more, if we consider the state of the Church, such as has been previously described, they were far from deserving this praise. I answer, that there were some that were infected with those vices which he had previously reproved, and indeed, some with one, others with another; but, in the meantime, the form which he had prescribed to them had been retained by the entire body. For there is nothing of inconsistency in saying, that very many sins, and of various kinds, prevail among a particular people — some cheating, others plundering — some envying, others quarrelling, and another class guilty of fornication — while, at the same time, in respect of the public form of the Church, the institutions of Christ and his Apostles are maintained.

This will appear more clearly when we come to see what Paul means by παραδόσεις; (traditions;) 613613     “Traditions ou ordonnances;” — “Traditions or ordinances.” and independently of this, it is necessary to speak of this word, for the purpose of replying to Papists, who arm themselves with this passage for the purpose of defending their traditions. It is a common maxim among them, that the doctrine of the Apostles consists partly of writings and partly of traditions. Under this second department they include not merely certain foolish superstitions, and puerile ceremonies, with which they are stuffed, but also all kinds of gross abomination, directly contrary to the plain word of God, and their tyrannical laws, which are mere torments to men’s consciences. In this way there is nothing that is so foolish, nothing so absurd — in fine, nothing so monstrous, as not to have shelter under this pretext, and to be painted over with this varnish. As Paul, therefore, makes mention here of traditions, they seize, as they are accustomed to do, upon this little word, with the view of making Paul the author of all those abominations, which we set aside by plain declaration of Scripture.

I do not deny, that there were certain traditions 614614     “Quelques ordonnances;” — “Certain enactments.” of the Apostles that were not committed to writing, but I do not admit that they were parts of doctrine, or related to things necessary for salvation. What then? They were connected with order and government. For we know that every Church has liberty to frame for itself a form of government that is suitable and profitable for it, because the Lord has not prescribed anything definite. Thus Paul, the first founder of the Corinthian Church, had also framed for its regulation pious and seemly enactments — that all things might be done decently and in order, as he afterwards enjoins. (1 Corinthians 14:40.) But what has this to do with those silly trifles of ceremonies, which are to be seen in Popery? 615615     “Les sottes ceremonies et badinages, qu’on voit auiourd’huy en la Papaute;” — “The silly ceremonies and fooleries that are to be seen in Popery at this day.” What has it to do with a worse than Jewish superstition? What has it to do with a tyranny worthy of Phalaris, 616616     “Ceste tyrannic plus que barbare;” — “That worse than barbarous cruelty.” Phalaris, the tyrant of Agrigentum in Sicily, was infamous for his cruelty. Cicero on more than one occasion employs the term Phalarismus to denote excessive cruelty. See Cic. Att. 7. 12, and Fam. 7. 11. — Ed. by which they torture miserable consciences? What has it to do with so many monstrous rites of idolatry? For the foundation of all right enactment was this: to observe the moderation that Paul made use of — not to compel persons to follow their enactments, 617617     “Leurs arrests et determinations“ — “Their decrees and determinations.” while, in the meantime, contriving everything that might strike their fancy, but to require that they should be imitated, in so far as they are imitators of Christ But now, after having had the audacity to criticize everything agreeably to their own humor, to demand obedience from all is exceedingly absurd. Farther, we must know that Paul commends their obedience in the past, in order that he may render them docile also for the time to come.




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