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2. Wisdom From the Spirit

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

8. None of the princes of this world knew If you supply the words by their own discernment, the statement would not be more applicable to them than to the generality of mankind, and the very lowest of the people; for what are the attainments of all of us as to this matter, from the greatest to the least? Only we may perhaps say, that princes, rather than others, are charged with blindness and ignorance — for this reason, that they alone appear in the view of the word clear-sighted and wise. At the same time I should prefer to understand the expression in a more simple way, agreeably to the common usage of Scripture, which is wont to speak in terms of universality of those things that, happen επι το πολυ, that is commonly, and also to make a negative statement in terms of universality, as to those things that happen only ἐπι ἔλαττον, that is very seldom In this sense there were nothing inconsistent with this statement, though there were found a few men of distinction, and elevated above others in point of dignity, who were at the same time endowed with the pure knowledge of God.

For had they known The wisdom of God shone forth clearly in Christ, and yet there the princes did not perceive it; for those who took the lead in the crucifixion of Christ were on the one hand the chief men of the Jews, high in credit for holiness and wisdom; and on the other hand Pilate and the Roman empire. In this we have a most distinct proof of the utter blindness of all that are wise only according to the flesh. This argument of the Apostle, however, might appear to be weak. “What! do we not every day see persons who, with deliberate malice, fight against the truth of God, as to which they are not ignorant; nay, even if a rebellion so manifest were not to be seen by us with our eyes, what else is the sin against the Holy Ghost than a willful obstinacy against God, when a man knowingly and willingly does not merely oppose his word, but even fights against it. It is on this account, too, that Christ declares that the Pharisees, and others of that description, knew him, (John 7:28,) while he deprives them of all pretext of ignorance, and accuses them of impious cruelty in persecuting him, the faithful servant of the Father, for no other reason but that they hated the truth.”

I answer that there are two kinds of ignorance. The one arises from inconsiderate zeal, not expressly rejecting what is good, but from having an impression that it is evil. No one, it is true, sins in ignorance in such a way as not to be chargeable meanwhile in the sight of God with an evil conscience, there being always a mixture of hypocrisy, or pride, or contempt; but at the same time judgment, and all intelligence in the mind of man, are sometimes so effectually choked, that nothing but bare ignorance is to be seen by others, or even by the individual himself. Such was Paul before he was enlightened; for the reason why he hated Christ and was hostile to his doctrine was, that he was through ignorance hurried away with a preposterous zeal for the law. 116116     “Vne zele de la loy desordonne et real regle;” — “An inordinate and ill regulated zeal for the law.” Yet he was not devoid of hypocrisy, nor exempt from pride, so as to be free from blame in the sight of God, but those vices were so completely covered over with ignorance and blindness as not to be perceived or felt even by himself.

The other kind of ignorance has more of the appearance of insanity and derangement, than of mere ignorance; for those that of their own accord rise up against God, are like persons in a frenzy, who, seeing, see not. (Matthew 13:13.) It must be looked upon, indeed, as a settled point, that infidelity is always blind; but the difference lies here, that in some cases malice is covered over with blindness to such a degree that the individual, through a kind of stupidity, is without any perception of his own wickedness. This is the case with those who, with a good intention, as they speak, or in other words, a foolish imagination, impose upon themselves. In some cases malice has the ascendancy in such a manner, that in spite of the checks of conscience, the individual rushes forward into wickedness of this sort with a kind of madness. 117117     The distinction drawn by Calvin is illustrated by a statement of Solomon in Proverbs 21:27. “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind.” בזמה — “with a wicked design.” — Ed Hence it is not to be wondered, if Paul declares that the princes of this world would not have crucified Christ, had they known the wisdom of God. For the Pharisees and Scribes did not know Christ’s doctrine to be true, so as not to be bewildered in their mind, and wander on in their own darkness.


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