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and made himself ready to die. Then followed that scene of parting and of death, so touchingly and minutely described by Plato that his pages are wet with the tears of twenty-three centuries, and we can only refer the reader to their moving words, if he would learn how Socrates died. He died as he lived, the martyr missionary, the hero sage,
the model man of Greece, the tallest and strongest spirit that ever stood on that classic land whose soil is hallowed by the dust of the mighty dead.
A crowd of thoughts press on us, which our limits must exclude, or permit us only to suggest. For his character and relations as a philosopher, we must refer to the pages of Schleiermacher, Grote, and others, who have well nigh exhausted this theme and left but little more to be desired on this aspect of the subject. He was the Bacon of Grecian philosophy, the father of that wondrous method the use of which by his immediate successors carried the science of metaphysics at once to that verge of possible thought, beyond which its boundaries have scarcely been carried a line since the days of Plato and Aristotle, and yet a method which none have ever been able to use like its mighty master. Like the weapons of Goliath, none have been found strong enough to wield them since the giant arm has been laid low. But this theme is too wide for our present limits, and we pass it by.
The relation of Socrates to the history of religion is a theme that has been much less discussed, and one which we would gladly pursue at length, were it possible. The best features of the Platonic element, that have acted for good as well as for evil on the religious history of man, are due to the influence of Socrates. The counteraction of that deadly scepticism that was working in the Grecian mind, and eating out all belief in the divine, the unseen, and the eternal, was furnished by the influence of Socrates. He was the great prophet to the old heathen world of the soul's immortality, and saved it from total corruption. And there was a strength of belief in the great facts of natural religion, and a working of them up into the texture of his daily life, that was amazing. Never have we felt the materialism and the worldliness of the modern Church, and of our own hearts, more sternly rebuked than in reading the words and tracing the life of this wondrous old man. There was a constant sight of the unseen and eternal in his view, a practical acknowledg. ment of them in all his conduct, and an evident realization of them visible in his maxims of reasoning, his forms of thought, and his whole life, that come nearer the requirements of the Christian teachings, than anything that modern Christianity often furnishes. We stand abashed and condemned, with our Bibles in our hands, before this high-hearted old heathen, and learn new lessons from his life in regard to the possibility of conforming to its spiritual teachings.
And yet we gather instruction of the most valuable nature from this life. It is the farthest reach that human nature has ever made without the Bible, and far though it be, the errors, fables, and defects that we find mingled with this peerless pagan, are a most powerful proof of the necessity of a revelation. Human nature never went further than this, and yet human nature must go further, or fall far short even of Socrates. He reminds us of some sightless giant, groping in his greatness to find the path that the open-eyed child can run along with ease.
But there are many points of comparison as well as of contrast. We feel that we better comprehend that awful Presence that walked the shores of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem, as we follow this apostle of reform along the streets of Athens, denouncing the Phariseeism of the Sophists, mingling alike with the lofty and the lowly, living in contented poverty, and dying in unfaltering faith. Wide and wonderful as is the difference between them, we feel that the one aids us to rise to a more distinct conception of the other. And as we carry the comparison yet further, we find new points of instruction. The diverse portraits of Plato and Xenophon enable us the better to understand the representations of Matthew and John, and see how the same character may be depicted from opposite points, and yet be still the same. The silence of Josephus about the son of Mary finds its exact parallel in the silence of Thucydides about the son of Sophroniscus. The hatred of Jews and Romans toward Christ and his apostles, and the strange strabismus of Tacitus and Pliny, are more readily understood when we look at the hatred that assailed Socrates and his followers, and the misapprehension of their mission by Aristophanes and others. And the very partial manifestations of repentance that the Jewish nation made for the murder of their Messiah, finds its counterpart in the conduct of the Athenians after the death of Socrates. For although the common impression is that they bitterly repented it, and put to death his accusers, Mr. Grote shows very clearly that there is no evidence that they ever did thus feel or act, and that this common impression is wholly erroneous. These thoughts would furnish us themes of most interesting reflection; but we must close with the opinion, that there are few characters the study of which will better reward the Christian than that of Socrates.
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. V.-25
ART. V.-EXPOSITION OF I. COR. III, 1-17.
It may scarcely be worth while to present here the different views which have been taken of this portion of Holy Scripture by expositors of note. In some parts most of them agree, while in others they widely differ. Their views will, to some extent, be given, in connexion with those of the present writer, as he advances in his exposition.
The state of the Church at Corinth was deplorable; and without a full examination of that state it may answer every purpose for the present, to consider the charge which the apostle brings against its members, together with the specifications which sustain the charge.
Verse 1. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. Like those described in the previous chapter, who “received not the things of the Spirit.”
Verse 2. I have fed you with milk. They had made so little progress in things spiritual as to be still in infancy, not able to bear strong truth, or be taught in the deep things of God.
Verse 3. For ye are yet carnal. This is the charge, and it is a sad one to stand against a professedly Christian Church.
The specifications are undeniable, and fully support the charge. Their envying, strife, and divisions were notorious, and proved that they walked as men; as the natural, or carnal man—Katà άνθρωπον. .
These divisions, &c., were caused merely by their individual preferences of men. Some preferred Paul, some Apollos, and so parties were formed in their names. Such was the condition of many in that Church : but we must not suppose that all had so far departed from the spirit of their religion; doubtless there were some who were spiritual.
For the purpose of leading them back to the way of peace, the apostle places himself and Apollos before them in their true relation.
Verse 5. Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos? They are only the servants, or ministers of God, by whom these Corinthians were brought to faith in Christ. It was not by the power of the ministers that they were converted; but as the Lord gave to every man, to each minister, his share of success.
Verse 6. I have planted, Apollos watered. They were employed in the field, while success, or increase, was only from God. Those that plant, or water, are nothing; and it is very foolish to divide on their account.
Verse 8. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one. There is no occasion to divide and strive in favour of men who are themselves perfectly united. Paul and Apollos were of one heart, engaged in one work, and each was sure of his reward, according to his own labour. Paul planted the seed of the kingdom there, by preaching Christ; and he had the satisfaction to see it spring up and give promise of a harvest. In due time Apollos "succeeded him on the circuit," and watered the growing plants.
Verse 9. For we are labourers together with God-okoð yáp ŠOPLEV ovvepyoi—God's labourers together, or labourers together for God. Ye are God's husbandry; his field, farm, or tillage. This figure is now laid aside, as belonging only to what has been said. God's building; a new metaphor, still farther to illustrate.
Verse 10. I have laid the foundation : Christ, see verse 11. All who should come after would build thereon, if they were God's labourers. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. Every minister is the builder here cautioned to take heed. In this discussion the apostle says not one word of any work, or labour, performed by any but ministers. The Church had then, and has now, work assigned it; but of this the writer was not treating at all. As a husbandry, or as a building, the Church could not work. A farm does not plant, or water; neither does a building procure its materials, nor erect itself. Having chosen such metaphors, it would be contrary to all good usage, as well as rhetoric, for the apostle to speak of them as working. All that is said of work, or labour, refers to the ministers. We are labourers ; YE are the building.
All the commentators consulted by the writer agree in this interpretation. Wesley, Clarke, Coke, Benson, Henry, Doddridge, Macknight, and Scott, apply to ministers all that is said in this connexion about work. This is regarded as a sufficient answer to all those expositors who imagine that the work belongs to Church members, and consists in works according to holiness which will abide, or sin which will be burned. Some have supposed that here is proof of the salvation of such as die in a partially sanctified state, provided they were built on Christ as the true foundation. It is supposed, if such leave the world partially impure, the fire will purge away their remaining sins, and fit them for the inheritance of the saints in light.” This sentiment is too near the minds of some who are called Protestants, while it is one of the favourite tenets of the Church of Rome. Neither purgatory, nor restorationism, nor death-purification can find aid here. Nor can another sentiment resort to this portion of Scripture for support. We are told that this scripture teaches the final salvation of the sincere, but erring Christian: he bases his faith and hope on Christ, the true foundation; that with the true and fundamental doctrine of faith in Christ, he mingles various errors; and that in the day which shall declare it, these errors shall be destroyed, or burned, and the man himself shall be saved, “so as by fire.”
It is doubtless true, that all who have the faith which works by love, and who persevere to the end, shall be saved; for holiness, and not orthodoxy, will be their qualification for heaven. But this is not the idea which was in the mind of the apostle; nor can it be derived from his teachings in this place, except indirectly, and by inference.
Verse 12. Now if any man build on this foundation. If any labourer, any builder, any minister, build with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble. Here are three kinds of materials mentioned which are good, and will bear the trial by fire; gold and silver will receive no harm by such a test. The stones are not such as we call precious stones, in familiar language; but valuable stones, such as are fit for building purposes. There are, also, three kinds mentioned which will not endure, or abide the fiery ordeal. Wood, hay, and stubble will burn. The building which ministers are employed to erect is a fire-proof one. But the question here arises, What are we to understand by these metaphors? And it is just here that the doctors disagree.
The greater number who have been consulted agree in saying: The gold, silver, and precious stones represent true and important doctrines; while the wood, hay, and stubble signify false, or unimportant doctrines. In this agree Wesley, Clarke, Coke, Benson, Henry, Doddridge, and Scott. Here is an array of great names, sufficient to settle the question, if these were the court or jury. And in venturing to differ from them, the writer will, perhaps, incur the charge of temerity. But, in all humility and modesty, he is constrained to adopt and express another opinion.
On this one point in the subject, there is but one expositor known to the writer who has, in his estimation, given the true meaning. That writer is Macknight, who says:
“ Now if any teacher build on this foundation, Christ, sincere disciples, rerresented in this similitude by gold, silver, valuable stones ; or if he buildet
) hypocrites, represented by wood, hay, stubble, every teacher's disciples shall be made manifest in their true characters.”
Dr. Coke is, in this matter, a witness not to be relied on, because there is a discrepancy in his testimony. It may be well, notwithstanding, to hear him. In one place he says:
“ If, therefore, any teacher built on that foundation sincere converts, metaphorically represented by gold, silver, and precious stones ; or if he built hypo