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1 Corinthians 11:30-34

30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

30. Propterea inter vos infirmi sunt multi, et aegroti, et dormiunt multi.

31. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

31. Si enim ipsi nos iudicassemus, non iudicaremur.

32. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

32. Porro quum iudicamur, a Domino corripimur, ne cum hoc mundo damnemur.

33. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

33. Itaque, fratres mei, dum convenitis ad edendum, alii alios ex spectate.

34. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

34. Si autem quispiam esurit, domi edat, ne in iudicium edatis; caetera autem, quum venero, disponam.


30. For this cause, etc. After having treated in a general way of unworthy eating, and of the kind of punishment that awaits those who pollute this sacrament, he now instructs the Corinthians as to the chastisement which they were at that time enduring. It is not known whether a pestilence was raging there at that time, or whether they were laboring under other kinds of disease. However it may have been as to this, we infer from Paul’s words, that the Lord had sent some scourge upon them for their correction. Nor does Paul merely conjecture, that it is on that account that they are punished, but he affirms it as a thing that was perfectly well known by him. He says, then, that many lay sick — that many were kept long in a languishing condition, and that many had died, in consequence of that abuse of the Supper, because they had offended God. By this he intimates, that by diseases and other chastisements from God, we are admonished to think of our sins; for God does not afflict us without good reason, for he takes no pleasure in our afflictions.

The subject is a copious and ample one; but let it suffice to advert to it here in a single word. If in Paul’s times an ordinary abuse of the Supper 710710     “Vn tel abus de la Cene qui n’estoit pas des plus grans;” — “Such an abuse of the Supper, as was not one of the greatest.” could kindle the wrath of God against the Corinthians, so that he punished them thus severely, what ought we to think as to the state of matters at the present day? We see, throughout the whole extent of Popery, not merely horrid profanations of the Supper, but even a sacrilegious abomination set up in its room. In the first place, it is prostituted to filthy lucre (1 Timothy 3:8) and merchandise. Secondly, it is maimed, by taking away the use of the cup. Thirdly, it is changed into another aspect, 711711     “Vne forme estrange et du tout autre;” — “A strange and quite different form.” by its having become customary for one to partake of his own feast separately, participation being done away. 712712     “Sans en distribuer ne communiquer aux autres;” — “Without distributing or communicating of it to others.” Fourthly, there is there no explanation of the meaning of the sacrament, but a mumbling that would accord better with a magical incantation, or the detestable sacrifices of the Gentiles, than with our Lord’s institution. Fifthly, there is an endless number of ceremonies, abounding partly with trifles, partly with superstition, and consequently manifest pollutions. Sixthly, there is the diabolical invention of sacrifice, which contains an impious blasphemy against the death of Christ. Seventhly, it is fitted to intoxicate miserable men with carnal confidence, while they present it to God as if it were an expiation, and think that by this charm they drive off everything hurtful, and that without faith and repentance. Nay more, while they trust that they are armed against the devil and death, and are fortified against God by a sure defense, they venture to sin with much more freedom, 713713     “Ils pechent plus audacieusement, et a bride auallee;” — “They sin more daringly, and with a loose bridle.” and become more obstinate. Eighthly, an idol is there adored in the room of Christ. In short, it is filled with all kinds of abomination. 714714     The above paragraph is aptly designated in the old English translation by Thomas Tymme, (1573) “a lyuely description of the Popishe Masse.” — Ed.

Nay even among ourselves, who have the pure administration of the Supper restored to us, 715715     “Le pur vsage de la Cene en son entier, qui nous a este finalement rendu par la grace de Dieu;” — “The pure use of the Supper in its completeness, which has been at last restored to us by the grace of God.” in virtue of a return, as it were, from captivity, 716716     Calvin here employs the term postliminum, (restoration from captivity,) and most felicitously compares the restoration of the pure observance of religious ordinances, consequent upon the Reformation from Popery, to the recovery, by a Roman citizen, of his superior privileges, on his return from a state of captivity, during which they had been — not forfeited — but merely suspended. — Ed. how much irreverence! How much hypocrisy on the part of many! What a disgraceful mixture, while, without any discrimination, wicked and openly abandoned persons intrude themselves, such as no man of character and decency would admit to common intercourse! 717717     “Lesquels vn homme de bien, et qui auroit honnestete en quelque recommendation, ne receuroit iamais a sa table;” — “Whom a man of principle — that had any regard to decency — would never admit to his table.” And yet after all, we wonder how it comes that there are so many wars, so many pestilences, so many failures of the crop, so many disasters and calamities — as if the cause were not manifest! And assuredly, we must not expect a termination to our calamities, until we have removed the occasion of them, by correcting our faults.

31. For if we would judge ourselves Here we have another remarkable statement — that God does not all of a sudden become enraged against us, so as to inflict punishment immediately upon our sinning, but that, for the most part, it is owing to our carelessness, that he is in a manner constrained to punish us, when he sees that we are in a careless and drowsy state, and are flattering ourselves in our sins. 718718     “Quand il voit que nous ne nous soucions de rien, et que nous-nous endormons en nos pechez, et nous fiattons en nos ordures et vilenies;” — “When he sees that we are quite careless, and are asleep in our sins, and are flattering ourselves in our filthinesses and pollutions.” Hence we either avert, or mitigate impending punishment, if we first call ourselves to account, and, actuated by a spirit of repentance, deprecate the anger of God by inflicting punishment voluntarily upon ourselves. 719719     “Prions nostre bon Dieu d’addoucir la rigueur de sa iustice; par manier de dire nous punissans nous-mesmes sans attendre qu’il y mette la main;” — “We beseech our good God to mitigate the rigour of his justice — punishing ourselves (so to speak) instead of waiting till he put forth his hand to do it.” In short, believers anticipate, by repentance, the judgment of God, and there is no other remedy, by which they may obtain absolution in the sight of God, but by voluntarily condemning themselves

You must not, however, apprehend, as Papists are accustomed to do, that there is here a kind of transaction between us and God, as if, by inflicting punishment upon ourselves of our own accord, we rendered satisfaction to him, and did, in a manner, redeem ourselves from his hand. We do not, therefore, anticipate the judgment of God, on the ground of our bringing any compensation to appease him. The reason is this — because God, when he chastises us, has it in view to shake us out of our drowsiness, and arouse us to repentance. If we do this of our own accord, there is no longer any reason, why he should proceed to inflict his judgment upon us. If, however, any one, after having begun to feel displeased with himself, and meditate repentance, is, nevertheless, still visited with God’s chastisements, let us know that his repentance is not so valid or sure, as not to require some chastisement to be sent upon him, by which it may be helped forward to a fuller development. Mark how repentance wards off the judgment of God by a suitable remedy — not, however, by way of compensation.

32. But when we are judged Here we have a consolation that is exceedingly necessary; for if any one in affliction thinks that God is angry with him, he will rather be discouraged than excited to repentance. Paul, accordingly, says, that God is angry with believers in such a way as not in the meantime to be forgetful of his mercy: nay more, that it is on this account particularly that he punishes them — that he may consult their welfare. It is an inestimable consolation 720720     “Y a-il plus grande consolation pour le Chrestien que ceste-ci?” — “Is there a greater consolation for the Christian than this?” that the punishments by which our sins are chastened are evidences, not of God’s anger for our destruction, but rather of his paternal love, and are at the same time of assistance towards our salvation, for God is angry with us as his sons, whom he will not leave to perish.

When he saysthat we may not be condemned with the world, he intimates two things. The first is, that the children of this world, while they sleep on quietly and securely in their delights, 721721     “Sont tout asseurez, et ne se soucians du iugement de Dieu s’endorment en leurs plaisirs et voluptez;” — “Are quite confident, and not concerning themselves as to the judgment of God, sleep on in their pleasures and delights.” are fattened up, like hogs, for the day of slaughter (Jeremiah 12:3.) For though the Lord sometimes invites the wicked, also, to repentance by his chastisements, yet he often passes them over as strangers, 722722     “I1 aduient souuent qu’il les met en oubli comme estrangers;” — “It often happens that he overlooks them as strangers.” and allows them to rush on with impunity, until they have filled up the measure of their final condemnation. (Genesis 15:16.) This privilege, therefore, belongs to believers exclusively — that by punishments they are called back from destruction. The second thing is this — that chastisements are necessary remedies for believers, for otherwise they, too, would rush on to everlasting destruction, 723723     “Ils tomberoyent aussi bien que les autres en ruine eternelle;” — “They would fall, as well as others, into everlasting destruction.” were they not restrained by temporal punishment.

These considerations should lead us not merely to patience, so as to endure with equanimity the troubles that are assigned to us by God, but also to gratitude, that, giving thanks to God our Father, we may resign ourselves 724724     “Voluntairement, A soustenir tel chastisement qu’il luy plaira nous enuoyer;” — “Willingly to bear such chastisement as he may be pleased to send upon us.” to his discipline by a willing subjection. They are also useful to us in various ways; for they cause our afflictions to be salutary to us, while they train us up for mortification of the flesh, and a pious abasement — they accustom us to obedience to God — they convince us of our own weakness, they kindle up in our minds fervency in prayer — they exercise hope, so that at length whatever there is of bitterness in them is all swallowed up in spiritual joy.

33. Wherefore, my brethren From the discussion of a general doctrine, he returns to the particular subject with which he had set out, and comes to this conclusion, that equality must be observed in the Lord’s Supper, that there may be a real participation, as there ought to be, and that they may not celebrate every one his own supper; and farther, that this sacrament ought not to be mixed up with common feasts.

34. The rest I will set in order when I come It is probable, that there were some things in addition, which it would be of advantage to put into better order, but as they were of less importance, the Apostle delays the correction of them until his coming among them. It may be, at the same time, that there was nothing of this nature; but as one knows better what is necessary when he is present to see, Paul reserves to himself the liberty of arranging matters when present, according as occasion may require. Papists arm themselves against us with this buckler, too, for defending their mass For they interpret this to be the setting in order which Paul here promises — as if he would have taken the liberty 725725     “Mais c’est bien a propos, comme si ce sainct personnage se fust donne ceste license;” — “But this is a likely thing truly! As if that holy personage would have allowed himself this liberty,!” of overturning that eternal appointment of Christ, which he here so distinctly approves of! For what resemblance does the mass bear to Christ’s institution? But away with such trifles, as it is certain that Paul speaks only of outward decorum. As this is put in the power of the Church, so it ought to be arranged according to the condition of times, places, and persons.

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