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10. Warnings From Israel's History

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; 2And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7Neither 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. 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13There 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.

14Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. 15I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16The 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? 17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20But 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. 21Ye 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. 22Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? 23All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. 25Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. 27If 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. 28But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: 29Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? 30For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

11. Now all these things happened as types. He again repeats it — that all these things happened to the Israelites, that they might be types to us — that is, examples, in which God places his judgments before our eyes I am well aware, that others philosophize on these words with great refinement, but I think that I have fully expressed the Apostle’s meaning, when I say, that by these examples, like so many pictures, we are instructed what judgments of God are impending over idolaters, fornicators, and other contemners of God. For they are lively pictures, representing God as angry on account of such sins. This exposition, besides being simple and accurate, has this additional advantage, that it blocks up the path of certain madmen, 556556     “Elle ferme la bouche a vn tas d’enragez;” — “It shuts the mouth of a troop of madmen.” who wrest this passage for the purpose of proving, that among that ancient people there was nothing done but what was shadowy. First of all, they assume that that people is a figure of the Church. From this they infer, that everything that God promised to them, or accomplished for them — all benefits, all punishments, 557557     “Qui leur sont aduenues;” — “Which happened to them.” only prefigured what required to be accomplished in reality after Christ’s advent. This is a most pestilential frenzy, which does great injury to the holy fathers, and much greater still to God. For that people was a figure of the Christian Church, in such a manner as to be at the same time a true Church. Their condition represented ours in such a manner that there was at the same time, even then, a proper condition of a Church. The promises given to them shadowed forth the gospel in such a way, that they had it included in them. Their sacraments served to prefigure ours in such a way, that they were nevertheless, even for that period, true sacraments, having a present efficacy. In fine, those who at that time made a right use, both of doctrine, and of signs, were endowed with the same spirit of faith as we are. These madmen, therefore, derive no support from these words of Paul, which do not mean that the things that were done in that age were types, in such a way as to have at that time no reality, but a mere empty show. Nay more, they expressly teach us, (as we have explained,) that those things which may be of use for our admonition, are there set forth before us, as in a picture.

They are written for our admonition This second clause is explanatory of the former; for it was of no importance to the Israelites, but to us exclusively, that these things should be committed to record. 558558     “Car quant aux Israelites qui viuoyent lors, il n’estoit point requis que ces choses firssent enregistrees et mises par escrit, mais seulement pour nous;” — For in so far as concerned the Israelites who lived at that time, it was not requisite that these things should be recorded and committed to writing, but solely on our account.” It does not, however, follow from this, that these inflictions were not true chastisements from God, suited for their correction at that time, but as God then inflicted his judgments, so he designed that they should be kept everlastingly in remembrance for our instruction. For of what advantage were the history of them to the dead; and as to the living, how would it be of advantage to them, unless they repented, admonished by the examples of others? Now he takes for granted the principle, as to which all pious persons ought to be agreed — that there is nothing revealed in the Scriptures, that is not profitable to be known.

Upon whom the ends of the world are come The word τέλη (ends) sometimes means mysteries; 559559     The term is applied in this sense, more especially to the Eleusinian mysteries, which were called τὰ μεγάλα τέληthe great mysteries Plat. Rep. 560 E. See also Eurip. Med. 1379. — Ed and that signification would not suit in with this passage. I follow, however, the common rendering, as being more simple. He says then, that the ends of all ages are come upon us, inasmuch as the fullness of all things is suitable to this age, because it is now the last times. For the kingdom of Christ is the main object of the Law and of all the Prophets. But this statement of Paul is at variance with the common opinion — that God, while more severe under the Old Testament, and always ready and armed for the punishment of crimes, has now begun to be exorable, and more ready to forgive. They explain, also, our being under the law of grace, in this sense — that we have God more placable than the ancients had. But what says Paul? If God inflicted punishment upon them, he will not the more spare you. Away, then, with the error, that God is now more remiss in exacting the punishment of crimes! It must, indeed, be acknowledged, that, by the advent of Christ, God’s goodness has been more openly and more abundantly poured forth towards men; but what has this to do with impunity for the abandoned, who abuse his grace? 560560     “Dequoy sert cela pour prouuer que les meschans, et ceux qui abusent de la grace de Dieu demeureront impunis?” — “Of what use is this for proving that the wicked, and those that abuse the grace of God, will go unpunished?”

This one thing only must be noticed, that in the present day the mode of punishment is different; for as God of old was more prepared to reward the pious with outward tokens of his blessing, that he might testify to them his fatherly love, so he showed his wrath more by corporal punishments. Now, on the other hand, in that fuller revelation which we enjoy, he does not so frequently inflict visible punishments, and does not so frequently inflict corporal punishment even upon the wicked. You will find more on this subject in my Institutes. 561561     Our Author probably refers more particularly to that part of the Institutes in which he states the points of difference between the Old and the New Testaments. See Institutes, volume 1, pp. 525-529. — Ed.


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