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he was, can make us like him; and that the heights of piety, and virtue, and usefulness, to which he rose, are not inaccessible to us; for “ with God is the residue of the Spirit.”
We purpose, therefore, to analyse the character of the apostle Paul, and to exhibit it as an example of living Christianity, or the life of faith, and especially as a model for young men. They are the rising hope of our country and of the Church. Many of them have shared richly in the blessings of a time of revival, and have re
а. solved to devote themselves to the work to which Paul's whole life was consecrated ; and it may be useful to them to fix their attention on his character and labours, and to learn from them those lessons of wisdom which they are fitted and designed to teach ; and it may be useful to others, by inducing them to devote their energies to the cause of Christ, and to the extension of His kingdom in the world
In this introductory chapter we shall endeavour to present merely a general view of Paul's character in three leading aspects; and in subsequent chapters we shall enter more into detail, and exhibit, specifically, the more prominent features of his character.
I. HIS FAITHFULNESS AS A PREACHER OF CHRIST.
There are many, in the present day, who undervalue, and even despise, the preaching of the Gospel and who regard it as foolish and fanatical to expect
that the words, spoken by a fellow-mortal from the pulpit, will reform men's lives, and renovate their hearts. But they forget that the preaching of the Gospel is an ordinance of Christ; and that, however feeble or defective the instrument in itself may be, yet it becomes "mighty through God.” Whenever His Word is preached simply, faithfully, and earnestly, it will not return to Him void : and "it hath pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.”
But while this notion is entertained by the sceptical, it is strange that a similar notion is entertained also by the superstitious. For instance, the Romanist and the Ritualist undervalue public preaching, and attach far greater importance to baptism and other external rites. But that was not the opinion of the apostle Paul; for he says, “ Christ sent me, not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel,” plainly intimating that no outward observances can for a moment be put
in comparison with a full and faithful proclamation of the Gospel. It was for this end mainly that he was converted to the faith of Christ, and it was to this that he consecrated all the energies of his gifted mind, and all the activities of his busy life. “Necessity is laid upon me,” he said, “yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel.” In this he was never idle, but he went from house to house, from city to city, and from one country to another, preaching, in
nd out of season, the glad tidings which were
proclaimed on the plains of Bethlehem by the angelic host, “ Unto you is born a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” Accordingly, we find that the whole substance of his preaching is summed up in such words as these: "I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified;" "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ;” “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
From all this, it is clear that, as a herald of salvation, his trumpet gave no uncertain sound, and that he left no one in doubt as to the meaning of the message which he brought. His teaching was uniformly clear and definite, simple and decided. Everywhere he proclaimed ruin by sin, and redemption by grace; the guilt of the sinner and the glory of the Saviour ; the depravity of the human heart, and the sanctifying power of the Spirit; the helplessness of man and the sovereign grace of God; the inefficacy of good works to justify us, and yet the absolute necessity of good works to prove that we have been justified. These are some of the leading topics which formed the essence of Paul's preaching, and on which he never ceased to enlarge with glowing fervour. And these vital truths are the only lever power by which man can be lifted up out of the depths of his guilt, and misery, and moral degradation, and restored to the favour and image of God, and made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. It is not by moral
essays, or misty statements, or ritual observances, that man can be extricated from the horrible pit, and set upon the Rock; but it is only by the simple story of the Cross, by the truth as it is in Jesus, preached with apostolic fervour, and impressed upon the heart by Divine grace. And the more closely the preaching of modern times comes to resemble the preaching of Paul in its simplicity and faithfulness, in its directness and fervour, in its lucid statements of doctrine, and in its warm appeals to the conscience and the heart, the more confidently may we expect similar results in the conversion of sinners, and the consecration of saints to the service of Christ. Let young men, then, prize the simple Gospel, and seek to profit by the preaching of it. Let them beware of itching ears, and a craving after novelty and mere excitement; and, “as new-born babes, let them desire the sincere milk of the Word, that they may grow thereby.”
II. His PATIENCE AS A SUFFERER FOR CHRIST.
“I will show him” (said Christ to Ananias at Damascus) “how great things he must suffer for my name's sake;" as if one main purpose for which he was converted had been to endure suffering. These sufferings began as soon as he was known to be a Christian. Then he “suffered the loss of all things” for Christ. He forfeited the good opinion of his former friends, and the high esteem in which he was
held by his Jewish brethren, and all his dazzling prospects of worldly advancement. But what things were gain to him, these he counted loss for Christ; and he willingly parted with all, in order that he might “win Christ, and be found in Him.” No sooner did he open his mouth at Damascus to preach Christ in the synagogues, than “the Jews watched the gates day and night to kill him." And all through the thirtytwo years of his public ministry, he met with similar treatment both from Jews and Gentiles. At Lystra, he was nearly stoned to death. At Philippi, he was scourged with rods, and cast into prison, and fettered in the stocks. At Thessalonica, the mob assaulted the house of Jason where he lodged, and compelled him to flee for his life. At Corinth, he was dragged before the judgment-seat of Gallio, but for whose protection he would have been subjected to indignity and cruelty. At Ephesus, the whole city was thrown into an uproar, raised by the silversmiths; and if the mob could have seized him, they would have torn him to pieces. At Jerusalem, the rulers plotted against him, and the people beat him in the very temple, and went about to kill him. These, however, were but a few of his sufferings, and many have been left unrecorded, except incidentally in his own epistles. It was literally true that in every city bonds and afflictions awaited him. Read the affecting account which he gives of his sufferings, not in the language of boast