“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
To us it seems important at the present time, that the testimony of the apostles upon the subject embraced in this text, should be kept before the church of God, both for their admonition and consolation. For their admonition, because the temptation to regard worldly wisdom as being in some manner or to some extent connected with the prosperity of the cause of God, is much stronger and more insinuating and seductive than it has been in ages past. If in all ages of the church, and under all circumstances, it has been necessary to observe this solemn admonition of the apostle, now that evil men and seducers have grown worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, it is the more needful that we take heed to those words which we have heard spoken, lest at any time we should let them slip.
It is important also that we refresh the memory of the saints upon this important subject for their consolation, seeing that they are greatly reproached by their adversaries for their lack of the wisdom which the world teaches. Caricatures, slurs, reproaches, ridicule and taunting jeers are dealt out upon our churches and the servants of the churches with an astonishing profusion, and many are made sad, and feel mortified when reproached for their ignorance of the popular sciences of the world. To call the attention of that poor and afflicted people who are everywhere spoken against to the consolations of the gospel, is calculated to fortify them for the encounter of the enemy. There is a peculiar fitness at the present moment in the application of the text under consideration, to the ministry of the gospel ordained by Christ. Showing, first, what things (by scriptural authority and apostolic example) are to be preached. Second, the manner in which these things were preached by the apostles, and are to be preached by Christ’s ministers.
1st. The things to be preached are those which none of the princes of this world know. The princes and aristocracy of this world have generally been familiar enough with the sciences of the world, and that wisdom which all intelligent creatures may, to a greater or less degree, acquire. But had they been able by worldly wisdom to comprehend spiritual things, they might have understood the true character of Christ, which would have arrested the execution of the purpose of God, in the redemption of his people, for if they had known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
2d. The things spoken of by the apostles and to be preached by the ministers of all apostolic churches, are those of which 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.” Superhuman qualifications are therefore indispensible to prepare the preacher to set them forth, and the hearer to comprehend them, seeing that our natural faculties, however capacious, have never, can never attain to a knowledge of them. Things that are not revealed to sense, can never be communicated to sense by worldly wisdom, moral suasion, or taught or learned as worldly sciences are communicated.
3d. The things spoken by the apostles and to b reiterated by the ministers of Jesus, are those which are revealed unto us, (the church of God) by the Spirit. Things which are, or can be learned by application to study, in schools or colleges, are not the things which the apostles preached. They preached among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ; and things which are unsearchable, like their divine Author, cannot be found out by the searching of men; for if they could, they would not be unsearchable. The Spirit, and that Spirit only, can search the deep things of God. The argument of the apostle in verse 11 of the same chapter is conclusive: “For what mall 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.” “Now, (continues the apostle) we (the saints) 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.” That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit; and this Spirit of which the saints are born, is not the spirit of the world, which involves worldly wisdom and human policy, but the Spirit which is of God, which Spirit constitutes its possessor spiritual, and qualifies him to judge all things, while he himself can be judged of no man. See verse 15. Hence Christ said, “Except a man be born again he cannot see.” Cannot see what? Man certainly requires no second birth to qualify him to see natural things. What is it then that a man, however wise or learned he may be, cannot see except he be born again? The kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not visible to unregenerate men, because it is a spiritual kingdom; not composed of flesh and blood, nor meats nor drinks, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. These are things which the apostles preached, and which the carnal or fleshly, or natural mind could not comprehend, as the apostle said: “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.”
Finally, the things preached by the apostles embraced the entire gospel of the Redeemer, and nothing else; for a dispensation of the gospel was committed to them, and they shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God. Incomprehensible as the gospel was and is to natural men, it was understood through the revelation of the Spirit of God, by the apostles, and by the same spirit of truth, which Christ promised to send, to lead his people into all truth; it is measurably understood by every one that has been called of God, quickened and taught by the Spirit, and by no other persons whatever. And all others who may attempt to find out the riddle, will be found among those who are “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” If it be demanded of us to tell why the things of the Spirit are concealed from the unregenerate, the answer is found in the words of him who never spake amiss, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
New Vernon, N. Y.,
April 15, 1843.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 255 – 258