Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

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.”


“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 wa

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 boasting, but in self-defence against those false teachers, who sought to weaken his authority, and to mar his usefulness--2 Cor. xi. 23, 25: “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool), I am more : in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep." These words were written about twelve years before his martyrdom; and we might have expected that his lofty heroism and warm benevolence would thenceforth turn aside the hatred and hostility even of his bitterest enemies. But no; for, even to the last, he was subjected to great sorrow and suffering, and was the object of relentless persecution. The world hated, and hunted to death, one of its greatest benefactors, and requited his love with ever deepening malignity and cruelty, till at length it robbed him of his life, and sent him home to obtain the martyr's crown.

But, amid all these protracted and intense sufferings, the apostle possessed his soul in patience. They did not sour his spirit, nor quench his zeal, nor dry up the gushing fountains of his love to man.

The more bitterly they hated him, the more actively did he labour, and the more fervently did he pray, for their salvation. Here truly was “another spirit” from that which is natural to man. Mere flesh and blood would have shrunk back from such sufferings. In such a sea of trouble foaming around him, any man, if unaided by heavenly grace, would have been engulfed. Manifestly, it was the power of Christ resting upon him, and the love of Christ constraining him, and the hope of glory inspiring him, that enabled the apostle to endure such trials, not only with calm tranquillity, but even with exulting triumph. “We glory," he says, “in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” Thus, patience in him had its perfect work; for he could bear his trials without murmuring, and perform his duties without discouragement, and wait for the promised blessings without despondency. Here then is a pattern for the imitation of young

If they are faithful to Christ, they must lay their account with self-denial, and suffering, and the world's hatred. If indeed they are content to walk according to the course of this world, they will escape that hostility, which is the lot of all who will live godly in Christ Jesus. But surely it is better to suffer than to sin; better to endure the world's hatred than God's displeasure; better to regulate our conduct by strict Christian principle than to be driven hither and thither by every wind that blows, amid the ever-shifting currents of human opinion. By conforming to


« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »