For this cause many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. — 1 COR. 11:30–32.
AFTER blessed St Paul had sown the seed of heavenly doctrine, Satan had sown some tares. Besides some corruption in doctrine, there was also corruption in life among the Corinthians; whereupon God was forced in mercy to visit them with some judgment: and lest they should be ignorant of the cause, the blessed apostle here doth put his finger to it, ‘for this cause.’ We have considered these four things in the words: the cause of the judgment; and then the kinds; and the remedy for the prevention, if it had been used: ‘If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged;’ and the comfort: howsoever, ‘when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.’ Of the cause, the kinds, and the remedy we have spoken; and now we proceed to the comfort.
Mark here the text that I have read unto you. Though we do all neglect this forenamed remedy in part, yet God is wonderful merciful: ‘When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.’ We will unfold the comfort, as the text leads us. In the words consider these things especially, these general heads:—*
1. First of all, that there is a world that must be condemned: we shall not be condemned with the world.
2. And then, God’s people shall not be condemned with the world.
3. The third conclusion that ariseth out of the text is this, that the way that God sanctifies to prevent his children from damnation, is fatherly correction and chastisement; and therefore we are judged, that we should not be condemned with the world; in the unfolding of which course that God takes, these three things are to be touched:—
(1.) That God’s dealings with his children are but chastisements.
(2.) And his chastisements; ‘We are chastened of the Lord.’
(3.) And that they are blessed for this end, to keep us from damnation. These things we will speak of in order.
Doct. 1. First, There is a world that is to be condemned: God’s children shall not be condemned with the world.
What is the world in this place?
The world in this place, it is not the frame of heaven and earth; but (to avoid multiplicity of acceptions, in which were idle to spend time) by world here is meant those that Peter speaks of, the ungodly world, the world of ungodly.† As we see, 2 Pet. 3:7, they are called the world of ungodly; so there is a world took out of the world, the world of the elect. For as in the great world there is the little world—man—so in the great world of mankind, there is a little world—the world of God’s people; but here it is the world of the ungodly.
Why are they called the world?
They are called the world, partly because they are great in the world. They swagger in the world, as if they were upon their own dunghill there, and as if they were the only men in the world, as indeed for the most part they are. God’s people are a concealed, a hidden people here. And then again, they are the world, because they are the most of the world. But especially they are the world, because the best thing in them is the world. They have their name from that they love. Love is an affection of union. What we love, that we are knit unto. Now because carnal men are in love with the things of the world, being united in their affections to it, they have their name from that they love. And indeed, anatomise a carnal man that is not in the state of grace, rip him up in his soul, what shall you find in him but the world? You shall find in his brain worldly plots, worldly policy and vanity. You shall find little of the word of God there, and scarce any thing that is good, because the best thing in him is the world; therefore he is the world.‡ But to pass from the meaning of the word to the point: This world must be condemned. Why condemned? Mark these four or five reasons.
[1.] First of all, because the world doth set itself upon things that must be condemned, upon present vanities. Why? All things in this world must pass through the fire ere long, the frame of heaven and earth and all in it. Now those that love the world especially, and have no better things in their souls, they must perish with the world. He that stands on ice, and on slippery things, he slips with the thing he stands on. So those that fasten their souls upon the world, upon slippery and vain things, they fall, and slip with the things themselves. Now, because the world pitched their happiness in the things of this life, they are vain as the things themselves.But to go on.