by John Flavel
"Now I beseech you, brethre, by the name of our Lod Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10).
When I consider this healing and uniting text, and the scandalous divisions of the congregations to which I recommend it, I would choose rather to comment thereon with tears than words. It is just a matter of lamentation to think what feeble influences such divine and pathetical exhortations have upon the minds and hearts of professed Christians. But it is not lamentations, but proper counsels, and convictions obeyed, that must do the work.
The primitive and purest churches of Christ consisted of imperfect members. Notwithstanding, they were knit together by the same internal bond of the Spirit, and the same external bonds of common profession, and common danger. They enjoyed extraordinary helps for uniting, in the presence and doctrines of the apostles among them. Yet they quickly discovered a schismatical spirit, dividing both in judgment and affection, to the great injury of religion, and grief of the apostle's spirit. To check and heal this growing evil in the church at Corinth, the apostle addresses his pathetical exhortations to them, and to all future churches of Christ, whom it equally concerns in the words of my text; Now I beseech you, brethren, &c. Where note:
1. The duty exhorted to,
2. The arguments enforcing the duty.
The duty exhorted to is unity, the beauty, strength, and glory, as well as the duty of a church. This unity he describes two ways. It is exclusive of its opposite, schism, or division. All rents and rash separations are contrary to it, and destructive of it. I beseech you, brethren, that there be no divisions [or schisms] among you . Secondly, it is inclusive of all that belongs to it, namely, the harmony and agreement of their judgments, hearts, and language. 1. That ye all speak the same thing. 2. That ye be perfectly joined together in one mind. And, 3. In the same judgment. This threefold union in judgment, affection, and language, includes all that belongs to Christian concord, makes the saints synpsychkoi , men of one heart and soul, the loveliest sight this world affords (Acts 2:46-47).
The arguments enforcing this duty upon them, come next under consideration. And these are three: 1. I beseech you. 2. I beseech you, brethren . 3. I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . These arguments are not of equal force and efficacy; the first is great, the second greater; the last the most efficacious and irresistible of all the rest. But all together should come with such power, and irresistible efficacy upon the judgments, consciences, and hearts of Christians as should perfectly knit them together, and defeat all the designs of Satan, and his agents outside them, or of their own corruptions within them, which might rend asunder their affections or communion.
And first, he enforces the duty of unity by a solemn, apostolical obsecration and adjuration, I beseech you, he says. He had power to command them to this duty, and threaten them for the neglect of it. He had in readiness to revenge all disobedience, and might have shaken the rod over them, but he chooses rather to entreat and beseech them.
Next, he enforces the duty of unity by the nearness of their relation; I beseech you, brethren . Brotherhood is an endearing thing, and naturally draws affection and unity with it (1 Pet. 3:8). To see an Egyptian smiting an Israelite, is no strange sight; but to see one Israelite quarreling with another, is most unnatural and uncomely. The nearer the relation, the stronger the affection. "How good and pleasant is it (says the Psalmist) for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Ps. 133:1).
But the greatest argument of all is the last, viz. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . In this name he beseeches and entreats them to be at perfect unity among themselves. In the former he sweetly insinuated the duty by a loving compellation , but here he sets it home by a solemn adjuration ; I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . That is to say,
1. For Christ's sake, or for the love of Christ; by all that Christ has done, suffered or purchased for you; and as Christ is dear and precious to you, let there be no divisions. If you have any love for Christ, do not grieve Him, and obstruct His great design in the world by your scandalous schisms.