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plish any of their purposes, by means of instrumentalities, which are congenial to selfishness and ungodliness. “ For," as he affirms, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal." It is evident, that he means as if he had said,- we attempt no coercion or violence. No fraud, no self-aggrandizement, no corruption of the word of God, can be laid to our charge. We may indeed invoke miraculous judg. ments in vindication of our despoiled authority. But we much prefer to “beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ," and to speak with far less of assurance, than would become us, of the "authority which the Lord bath given for EDIFICATION, and not for DESTRUCTION.”
Laying aside the metaphors of the text, I propose to specify and illustrate the principal means, by which the great apostle so successfully labored to promote the gospel of the grace of God; and by which he became so pre-eminently a model for the “ministry of reconciliation ” among all people throughout all ages,- until the last message of redeeming love shall be delivered in the name of Jesus.
1. The apostle labored to promote the gospel, by publishing it as a definite and distinctive system of faith and practice.
As in the material, so in the moral world, when “God said, Let there be light, there was light, and God divided the light from the darkness." "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ " shone into the heart of Saul of Tarsus. The doctrine of Christ and him crucified, like Christ himself, was to him no longer “ without form or comeliness.” He saw in clearness and resplendence the amazing “mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,"—the way of salvation by a sincere, penitential faith in the blood of the cross. It was not an airy, misty, shadowy, undefined, and undefinable something or somewhat ; but it it was "the word of life," which could be “seen," be "looked upon," and be "handled."
When, therefore, Paul went out to preach to his fellow-men, he carried with him a FORM OF DOCTRINE, which he could publish and "deliver," as such, to all who became the disciples of his Master. It was a “form of sound words," which the faithful could " hold fast" unto death. It was "truth," and the truth, in a reality and with a blessedness, of which he had sure and most ennobling erperience. In all things he thus had an incalculable advantage, in encountering the philosophy of the schools, and vulgar superstition, whether associated with the bewildering traditions of the Jew, or the debasing mythologies of the Gentile. He could edify, or build up, as well as demolish and destroy.
His faith did not not consist in “xor believing." His creed was neither a summary of negatives, nor of disclaimers. He could announce to all men everywhere, as "a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" for the LIVING GOD, who made heaven and earth, “ gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” In few words he could answer The question, “What must I do to be saved ?" Or he could discuss the great doctrines of justification by faith, and of atonement, in elaborate treatises, as in the epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews. In either he had something positive, substantial, real, visible, and tangible. He was neither a pantheist, nor a mystic, a transcendentalist nor an enthusiast.
2. It may next be remarked, that Paul labored to promote the gospel, by publishing it as indispensable to salvation, and as freely offered to all.
It made no difference whether he was addressing Jews or Greeks, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free. He "preached Christ” to all, as the only Saviour from " the wrath to come.” No one, however, could better have known the first impressions of the story of the cross-especially upon minds of the higher cast, both in activity and attainment. The intellectual habits, and the moral associations of those in the great cities of wealth, learning, luxury, and pride, in which most of all the apostles preached, -gave them ideas of dogmatical and irresponsible self-consequence, and predisposed them in large masses to repel with ineffable scorn the uncompromising and humbling claims of Christ and him crucified. Yet in all places and among all people, without the least respect of persons, he proclaimed the “Gospel of Christ as the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” “The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, THEN WERE ALL DEAD! Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. . . . . God hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
He kuew, that “of God Christ Jesus is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,-that, according as it is written, He that glorietb, let him glory in the Lord." He knew and felt most deeply, that “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them believe.” And hence it was, that, while willing to be himself accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kinsman according to the flesh, he laid to their charge as the sin above all their sins, that of “forbidding" him "to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved.”
As a “Hebrew of the Hebrews," he had himself sought righteousness and heaven by the deeds of the law. His eyes had been shut, and had then been opened to see, that no man on earth was ever so justified and saved. Ruined and helpless as a man weltering in his own heart's blood, Jesus Christ was revealed to him, as "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Such now was the transformation of his views and feelings, such the inward and transporting witness of the remedial efficacy of the doctrine of Christ and him crucified, that he was as sure as of his being, that whosoever believeth hath eternal life, beyond all possi. bility of disappointment and shame. The great problem of “glory
and virtue" had been solved by the revelation of the Son of God; and not a sbadow of a doubt remained, that, by faith in his name, the regenerated soul would have the victory over death and hell, and be crowned with spotless and immortal righteousness. And although at Antioch, in Pisidia, he could not refrain from “shaking off the dust of his feet," as a solemn and awful testimony in the name of Christ, against the “despisers," who." beheld ” to “wonder and perish ;" yet did he stand forth before all the world, as himself the “chief of sinners," and a “pattern" for the effectual persuasion of all the anxious and the agonized, on account of sin and the second death, that, not for a moment might they despair of pardon and life, if they would but remember the abounding mercy of the Lord Jesus to him, who was before "a blasphemer and a persecutor.”
3. Paul labored to promote the gospel, it may further be remarked, by publishing it in simplicity
Having “neither received it of man, nor was taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ,” he preached it as he also received it. He had no improvements to make upon Jesus Christ. He discarded all the philosophy of the world, as "vain,” because foolishness with God." The truths of Christianity he cordially embraced AS FACTS, in regard to which he was not authorized to raise “doubtful disputations," any more than “foolish questions." All admixtures of mere reason or imagination he vigilantly shunned, although the chief of the apostles, and accomplished in all the learning of his age.
Capable of efforts of oratory, which were not unnoticed by Longinus, in his illustrations of the sublime, and in connection with such names as Demosthenes, it must have been sheer malice or nothing better, which prompted some of the Corinthians to say of him, that "his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible." But well aware of the taste of that ancient Paris, the city of Corinth, and of the fascination of rhetorical brilliancies of expression and factitious accomplishments of delivery, he there appears to have been more than ever solicitious to keep himself behind the cross, and to commend the simple, the pure, and undefiled doctrine of Christ to every man's conscience. Yet he could never have had a greater temptation to avail himself of what was accounted "excellency of speech," or the "enticing words of man's wisdom.”
It may occur to you, however, and should not be forgotten here, that in no epistles of Paul is there so much of genuine classic perfection of style, as in those to the Corinthians. That fifteenth chapter of his first Epistle is unsurpassed in every quality of chaste and terse, elegant and energetic, beautiful and sublime composition. Still you cannot fail to perceive, that, in all his matter and in all his manner of discourse, he betrays no ambition or desire to be praised and honored by the ungodly, whether learned or illiterate, noble or ignoble ; but was ever aiming with most unfeigned solicitude to win souls to Christ, that Christ might have all the glory.
In the providence of God, the language of Greece--the richest of
all languages of the heathen world, and that most extensively spoken in the Roman empire, at the time of “the beginning of the gospel "-was made the repository and the vehicle of the message of the Redeemer's love to uncounted millions. But even the peerless lavguage of Homer and Plato, of Herodotus and Euripides, was inadequate, withoui much "private interpretation," to express every “truth as in Jesus," in its various forms and connections, so that there should be no mode or degree of unintelligibleness or obscurity. Hence Peter had occasion to say, that there were "some things hard to be understood” in the epistles of his “beloved brother Paul;"_whether or not his “beloved brother Paul” might have indulged in a similar fraternal criticism upon his own.
But whatever there may be in the style of Paul, which may have obscured his meaning, at tbe time of his personal ministration, and which cannot now be fully elucidated, we may be very certain, that the difficulty could never have arisen from an affection of originality, or of depth of thought, or from any artistic structure or embellishment. We may concede, that parts of his epistles are quite dark, if not impenetrable ; yet, as compared with the whole, they are like the solar spots, and would, perhaps, entirely disappear, if it were not for the dark places in the hearts and in " the eyes” of the "understanding," not only of believers generally, but also of the very best Christian expositors. So clear, so effulgent are the cardinal principles and the essential doctrices which he taught, that our Sabbath School children may understand them, and be “wise unto salvation." No one who heard Paul preach, or read what he wrote, need to have “perished for lack of knowledge.” On the contrary,“ leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” he might "go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."
4. Another means by which Paul labored to promote the gospel, was that of publishing it in godly sincerity.
He really believed what he preached. His whole manner of preaching and of living was a demonstration of the genuineness, the cordiality of his personal faith in the doctrine of Christ. He “ bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus," and so lived unto his Saviour and Lord, that he was dead unto the world. No selfish or secular end whatever could have furnished him the slightest motive to do or to suffer what he did, in publishing the word of sal. vation. He could thus appeal to his “manner of life," as a decisive witness of his godly sincerity.
“Our rejoicing is this," he says to the Corinthians, "the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 'For we write pone other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge even unto the end... Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty ; not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully.” “I have coveted no man's silver or gold, or apparel," said he to the elders of Ephesus. “And ye yourselves know, that these bands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me." To the Thessalonians he wrote,“Our exhortation was not from deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile. But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness: God is witness. Nor from men sought we glory, neither from you, neither from others. . . . . Ye are witnesses, and God also, bow holily and justly and unblamably we bebaved ourselves among you that believed ; and how we exhorted and charged every one of you, as a father doth bis children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom and glory."
The peculiar impressiveness of this appeal may be lost upon those, who should happen to forget or fail to be reminded, that many have a character of excellence in PUBLIC, which belongs not to their private walks, and is unknown among the observers of their daily life. He who could say, "I have WRONGED no man, I have corRUPTED no man, I have DEFRAUDED no man,”-ye are witnesses and God also how holily and justly and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe," must have been a man who, amidst the abounding corruptions and impurities of the times, would have endured the scrutiny of fire upon fire. And this character of untarnished righteousness, of incorruptible honesty and sincerity, must have imparted, to all his preaching of the gospel of the Holy One and the Just, a power and a charm of conviction and persuasion, which neither Socrates, nor Tully, nor Quinctilian, could have ever imagined in all their grandest conceptions of the moral worth of " the good man”-irreproachable purity of life,-as the crowning perfection of consummate oratory..
5. The EARNESTNESS of Paul was another means, by which he labored so effectively in promoting the gospel.
I cannot here withhold a reference to a fact of unwritten biography, which the subject in this view very forcibly recalls to my mind. While pursuing my studies at the neighboring University, there was a fellow student from one of the opulent families of the South. For some months, he was reported to be in a state of partial derangement, and was at length obliged to leave his class. Whatever instructions he may have received in childhood, it afterwards appeared from very unexpected disclosures of his history, that he was almost an entire stanger to the Scriptures. Before leavieg his class, and while much depressed in spirits--craving relief he knew not what-he one day took up a Bible, or his Greek Testament. He soon found himself attracted and absorbed by the “ Acts of the Apostles," in which Luke has so graphically described the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and narrated the more important events. and incidents of bis subsequent career. He became intensely