33.Be not deceived. Evil communications corrupt good manners As nothing is easier than to glide into profane speculation, under the pretext of inquiring, (91) he meets this danger, by warning them that evil communications have more effect than we might suppose, in polluting our minds and corrupting our morals. (92) To show this, he makes use of a quotation from the poet Menander, (93) as we are at liberty to borrow from every quarter everything that has come forth from God. And as all truth is from God, there is no doubt that the Lord has put into the mouth of the wicked themselves, whatever contains true and salutary doctrine. I prefer, however, that, for the handling of this subject, recourse should be had to Basil’ Oration to the Young. Paul, then, being aware that this proverb was in common use among the Greeks, chose rather to make use of it, that it might make its way into their minds more readily, than to express the same thing in his own words. For they would more readily receive what they had been accustomed to — as we have experience of in proverbs with which we are familiar.
Now it is a sentiment that is particularly worthy of attention, for Satan, when he cannot make a direct assault upon us, (94) deludes us under this pretext, that there is nothing wrong in our raising any kind of disputation with a view to the investigation of truth. Here, therefore, Paul in opposition to this, warns us that we must guard against evil communications, as we would against the most deadly poison, because, insinuating themselves secretly into our minds, they straightway corrupt our whole life. Let us, then, take notice, that nothing is more pestilential than corrupt doctrine and profane disputations, which draw us off, even in the smallest degree, from a right and simple faith; (95) for it is not without good reason that Paul exhorts us not to be deceived. (96)
(91) “De douter et s’;” — “ doubting and inquiring.”
(92)“ Les bonnes moeurs;” — “ manners.”
(93) “Menander was a celebrated comic poet of Athens, educated under Theophrastus. His writings were replete with elegance, refined wit, and judicious observations. Of one hundred and eight comedies which he wrote, nothing remains but a few fragments. He is said to have drowned himself’ in the fifty-second year of his age, B. C. 293, because the compositions of his rival Philemon obtained more applause than his own.” — Barnes. — Ed.
(94) “Pour nous seduire;” — “ draw us aside.”
(95) “De la simplicite de la foy;” — “ the simplicity of the faith.”
(96) “ connection is not that in which we should have expected such a maxim to be inserted. It is in the midst of a very affecting and instructive view of the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting; but the occasion of it was this: the Corinthians had received, from the intrusion of false teachers, principles which militated against that great doctrine. They had been taught to explain it away, and to resolve it merely into a moral process which takes place in the present world; interpreting what is said of the resurrection of the dead in a mystical and figurative manner. The apostle insinuates, that it was by a mixture of the corrupt communications of these men with the Christian Church, and the intimate contact into which they had permitted themselves to come with them, that they had been led off from the fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and rejected a primary part of the apostolic testimony. ‘ if there be no resurrection of the dead, then,’ as he observed, ‘ Christ not risen, and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain; ye are yet in your sins.’ We see, that notwithstanding the apostle had planted pure Christianity among the Corinthians, and had confirmed it by the most extraordinary miracles and supernatural operations, yet such was the contagion of evil example and corrupt communication, that the members of the Corinthian Church, in a very short time, departed from the fundamental article of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ; and hence we may learn the importance, nay, the necessity, of being on our guard in this respect, and of avoiding such confidence in ourselves as might induce us to neglect the caution here so forcibly expressed — ’ not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners.’” — R. Hall’ Works, (Lond. 1846,) volume 6, pages 273, 274. — Ed.