For I would that all men, etc. - He wished that all that were then in the Church were, like him self, unmarried; but this was in reference to the necessities of the Church, or what he calls, 1 Corinthians 7:26, the present distress: for it never could be his wish that marriage should cease among men, and that human beings should no longer be propagated upon earth; nor could he wish that the Church of Christ should always be composed of single persons; this would have been equally absurd; but as the Church was then in straits and difficulties, it was much better for its single members not to encumber themselves with domestic embarrassments.
Every man hath his proper gift of God - Continence is a state that cannot be acquired by human art or industry; a man has it from God, or not at all: and if he have it from God, he has it from him as the author of his nature; for where it does not exist naturally, it never can exist, but either by miraculous interference, which should never be expected, or by chirurgical operation, which is a shocking abomination in the sight of God. See the note on Matthew 19:12; (note).
For I would - I would prefer.
That all men - That Paul was unmarried is evident from 1 Corinthians 9:5. But he does not refer to this fact here. When he wishes that all people were like himself, he evidently does not intend that he would prefer that all should be unmarried, for this would be against the divine institution, and against his own precepts elsewhere. But he would be glad if all people had control over their passions and propensities as he had; had the gift of continence, and could abstain from marriage when circumstances of trial, etc., would make it proper. We may add, that when Paul wishes to exhort to anything that is difficult, he usually adduces “his own example” to show that “it may be done;” an example which it would be well for all ministers to be able to follow.
But every man hath his proper gift - Every man has his own special talent, or excellence. One man excels in one thing, and another in another. One may not have this particular virtue, but he maybe distinguished for another virtue quite as valuable. The doctrine here is, therefore, that we are not to judge of others by ourselves, or measure their virtue by ours. We may excel in some one thing, they in another. And because they have not our special virtue, or capability, we are not to condemn or denounce them; compare Matthew 19:11, Matthew 19:12.
Of God - Bestowed by God either in the original endowments and faculties of body or mind, or by his grace. In either case it is the gift of God. The virtue of continence is his gift as well as any other; and Paul had reason, as any other man must have, to be thankful that God had conferred it on him. So if a man is naturally amiable, kind, gentle, large-hearted, tender, and affectionate, he should regard it as the gift of God, and be thankful that he has not to contend with the evils of a morose, proud, haughty, and severe temper. It is true, however, that all these virtues may be greatly strengthened by discipline, and that religion gives vigor and comeliness to them all. Paul‘s virtue in this was strengthened by his resolution; by his manner of life; by his frequent fastings and trials, and “by the abundant employment” which God gave him in the apostleship. And it is true still, that if a man is desirous to overcome the lusts of the flesh, industry, and hardship, and trial, and self-denial will enable him, by the grace of God, to do it. idleness is the cause of no small part of the corrupt desires of people; and God kept Paul from these:
(1)By giving him enough to do; and,
(2)By giving him enough to suffer.
6. As in the days of Noah, one of the signs of these times is a passion for injudicious and hasty marriages. Satan is in this. If Paul could remain single, and recommend the same to others, that he and they might be wholly the Lord's, why not those who would be wholly His, and wish to make a sure thing of avoiding the cares, trials, and bitter anguish so frequent in the experiences of those who choose the married life, remain as he was? And more, if he chose to remain so, and could recommend it to others, eighteen centuries since, would not to remain as he was be a commendable course for those who are waiting for the coming of the Son of man, unless evidences were unquestionable that they were bettering their condition, and making heaven more sure by so doing? When so much is at stake, why not be on the sure side every time?—The Review and Herald, March 24, 1868. TSB 251.5Read in context »