Monday, March 3, 2014

Do not let your Liberty Wound the Cause of Christ

.....The apostle Paul did willingly forego those things that
were in themselves lawful, for the furtherance of the interests
of religion and the good of men..... So it was lawful for the
apostle to take the other course of life, as in eating and drinking,
and freely using all kinds of wholesome food.....But he forbore
those things, because he supposed that in his circumstances,
and in the circumstances of the Church of Christ in that day,
he could more advance the interests of religion and the good
of men without them.  For the gospel's sake, and for the good
of men, he was willing to forego all the outward advantages he
could derive from them.  1 Cor. 8:13. "Wherefore if meat make
my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth,
lest I make my brother to offend."  He would not only avoid those
things that were useless in themselves, but those also that gave
any occasion to sin, or which led or exposed either himself or
others to sin.  Then it follows in the next chapter....”Have we not
power to eat and to drink?”.....Let this induce such persons to
consider themselves, whether they act altogether as become
Christians, who look upon it as a sufficient excuse for all the
liberties they take, that the things in which they allow themselves,
are in themselves lawful, that they are nowhere forbidden, though
they cannot deny but that considered in their circumstances, they
are of ill tendency, and expose them to temptation, and really
tend to wound the credit and interest of religion, and to be a
stumbling block to others, or as the apostle expresses it, tend
to cause others to offend.  But they uphold themselves with this,
that the things which they practice are not absolutely unlawful in
themselves, and therefore they will not hearken to any counsels
to avoid them.  They think with themselves that it is unreasonable
they should be tied up so strictly; that they may not take one and
another liberty, and must be so stiff and precise above others.
But why did not the apostle talk after their manner?  Why did not he
say within himself, it is unreasonable that I should deny myself lawful
meat and drink merely to comply with the consciences of a few
weak persons, that are unreasonable in their scruples?.....But
the apostle was of another spirit.  What he aimed at was by any
means to promote the interest of religion, and the good of the church.
And he had rather forego all the common comforts and enjoyments of life,
than that religion should suffer.
                                                                 Jonathan Edwards

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