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soul, it causes unspeakable misery to its victim, and great injury to society. It makes a man restless, dissatisfied, and unhappy; and it sets him against his brother, and produces a callous indifference to his rights and interests. It is the spirit of him who said, “Am I my brother's keeper?" and if this spirit were indulged universally and without restraint, it would change the world into a pandemonium of lawless lust and ruthless violence. Even in good men, the manifestations of this spirit are not always nor entirely suppressed ; and how many humbling discoveries of it have been seen in their actions. When they do a right thing, how often is done to be seen of men, to magnify self, and to gain the world's favour or flattery? Many have done generous deeds, and conferred signal benefits on their fellow-creatures, especially in our own day; and we ought to be thankful for this, and give them full credit for the best of motives. But in so far as they have been enabled to “do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame," they themselves would be the first to acknowledge that it was not nature, but grace, that had brought them up to this high standard. Paul himself had frequent and sad experience of selfishness, in the conduct even of his own friends; for when requesting his beloved Timothy to be sent to him, he said, “I have no man like-minded; for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.” And even yet, the same spirit prevails in the Church to a
melancholy extent; for doth not the Spirit say expressly, that" in the last days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves ?”
We may be sure, therefore, that if Paul himself manifested a spirit of unselfishness, this was not natural to him, but was acquired by grace, and was the fruit of the operation of the Holy Spirit in his heart. Having received the Spirit of Christ, he had also, in no ordinary degree, the mind of Christ. In respect of disinterestedness, the Master, of course, stands preeminent and alone; and none could ever say, with the same degree of truth, “I seek not mine own glory," and "I seek not mine own - will, but the will of Him who hath sent me." Let us see then how far the servant resembled his Master, in his freedom from selfishness, and from all worldly designs and interests.
1. Paul's unselfishness appears in renouncing all his worldly advantages and prospects for Christ. In embracing a religion which was everywhere spoken against, he had nothing of a worldly kind to gain, but he had everything to lose. He had to give up all his early friendships, and all the respect and reputation which he had won by his superior gifts and attainments, and all the alluring prospects of worldly advancement and honour, which were held out to him, as a disciple in the school of Gamaliel, as an adherent of those in power, and as one who had "profited in the Jews' religion above many his equals.” And not only so,
but as we have already seen, he had to enter upon a life of intense suffering, of incessant self-denial, of imminent peril, and appalling persecution. All this he knew full well, for he had been forewarned of it; but he did not for an instant shrink from the sacrifice. Having counted the cost, he was willing to pay it, and he did pay it to the full, as long as he lived. Like the other apostles, he "forsook all, and followed Christ,” during his whole lifetime; in the storm, as well as in the calm ; in gloom, as well as in sunshine ; through bad report, as well as through good report. “None of these things,” he said, “move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things." These are noble utterances, breathing a spirit of the highest disinterestedness; and they are made not boastfully, but most humbly and truthfully. Such is the spirit of living Christianity; and wherever it is felt in its power, it cannot but expel the spirit of selfishness, and constrain us to look not merely on our own things, but also upon the things of others, and to sacrifice our time, and ease, and comfort, for their spiritual benefit.
2. Paul's unselfishness appears in refusing his temporal support from niggardly churches. One of these was the church of Corinth, which had been planted by himself. In his second epistle, he tells them, that during his former visit, he had not been “burdensome to them ;” and he tells them, further, that though he was about to visit them again, yet he was determined to act on the same principle. “I will not,” he says, “be burdensome to you; for I seek not yours, but you.” The reason why he acted thus was, because certain false teachers had persuaded many of his converts that he was influenced by mercenary motives, and that he wished to make money by preaching the Gospel. At that time there was a number of itinerant teachers, who went about the cities of Greece to lecture “for filthy lucre's sake;" teaching erroneous doctrines, poisoning the minds of the converts, causing divisions in the Church, and striving to undermine the apostle's influence over his spiritual children. These false teachers, whose only object was to enrich themselves, by flattering the prejudices and pandering to the low tastes and passions of their hearers, sought to impute the same base design to the apostle ; and strange to say, they often succeeded in gaining for a time a greater ascendency over the minds of some, than Paul himself obtained. Accordingly, in a strain of severe but friendly irony, he reproved the Corinthians for allowing themselves to become the silly dupes of these selfish and designing men, “who made a gain of godliness." "For," he says, "ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face” (2 Cor. xi. 19, 20). Thus these false teachers were far more popular at Corinth than Paul himself was. He was too strict and uncompromising, in his principles and conduct, to suit the taste or gain the applause of weakly and low-set believers. He would not stoop to their low level, or minister to their carnal pride and self-conceit; but as the false teachers willingly did so, they gained great influence over vulgar minds, and got large sums of money.
Now, it was in these circumstances that Paul refused to take anything from the Corinthians for his temporal support; because he knew that if he did, his motives would be misunderstood and misrepresented. Therefore he wrought with his own hands at the trade of tent-making, in order that he might preserve his independence and authority as a servant of Christ, and let all men see that he was not influenced by selfish or sordid motives, in preaching the Gospel to them, and that he sought not theirs but them; not their money, but their souls; their salvation from sin, and their highest spiritual advantage. Hence that noble appeal: “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself, that