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science appears in offering to pay his friend Philemon all the loss he had sustained by the dishonesty of his runaway slave Onesimus. And still more it appears in the scrupulous exactness with which he managed all the business connected with the collecting of the contributions of the churches for the poor saints at Jerusalem. He refused to take the sole charge of the money collected, lest he should expose himself to unworthy suspicions; but he insisted that the churches themselves should choose commissioners of their own to accompany him on his errand of charity; thus acting upon his own rule, to "provide things honest, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”
In all this, what a noble pattern is presented to young men !
How careful should they be to be strictly honest, and conscientious in all pecuniary transactions; and how earnestly should they beware of getting into debt, for it will soon get them into disgrace, and bring them to shame and ruin. Nothing tends more to degrade the character of a man, and to take off the fine edge of conscience, and to make him the helpless victim of the world's temptations, than running wilfully into debt, and failing to pay his accounts with scrupulous exactness. The sum at first may be small; but “ he that is unfaithful in that which is least, will be unfaithful also in much.” And not less injurious to character, and blinding to conscience, and destructive of confidence, is every kind of dishonesty and fraud in the transactions of trade. Illgotten gains are usually soon lost; and even when retained, they are a curse to their possessor, by debasing his character, blunting his conscience, and driving him to shifts and subterfuges which not only blight his worldly prospects, but deaden his own moral feelings, and make him an easy prey to Satan's subtle wiles. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” “By what means shall a young man cleanse his way?” “By taking heed thereto, according to Thy Word."
Finally, Paul's conscientiousness appears in his faithful preaching of the Gospel, and his earnest efforts to win souls to Christ. No mere man could ever more truly say, than he could, to all his hearers, “ I seek not yours, but you.” His great aim was to rouse them from the sleep of spiritual death, to probe their consciences to the quick, to pierce them with saving convictions of sin ; and then to draw them to the Saviour of sinners, in order to be washed in His precious and peace-speaking blood, and renewed inwardly by His Holy Spirit, and so made meet for His glorious presence in heaven. In aiming at this, he did not use flattering words, but he used great "plainness of speech," and sharpness of reproof. And though many counted him their enemy" because he told them the truth,” yet his conscience would not let
him be silent, or allow him to keep back any part of the counsel of God, or tempt him to dilute or alter his Master's message, in order to make it more palatable to the carnal mind. And this, under the Divine blessing, was the great secret of that wonderful success which crowned his labours in the Lord's vineyard. “ Necessity is laid upon me,” he said ; "yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel !” “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
Here, then, is a model for young men, which they would do well to copy, by striving to do good, and by using as their instrument and lever power that Gospel of the grace of God, which in its simplicity and purity is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." Let them therefore never be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ in these days of abounding error, and let it produce its full effect upon their own hearts and lives; so that like Paul, they may become living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men, by combining a spirit of transparent unselfishness with a spirit of unswerving conscientiousness.
In the next chapter, we shall refer to Paul's high moral courage combined with habitual prayerfulness.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”
- Phil. iv. 13.
CORRECT and complete idea of the whole is best obtained by the study of its various
parts, viewed not only separately and in detail, but also in their several relations and adjustments to each other. In examining a work of art, such as a statue or a picture, we do not pronounce it to be a masterpiece of genius, however accurate it may be in its details, unless its various parts are well proportioned and harmoniously adjusted to each other, so as to produce, by their combination, symmetry in form and beauty in colouring. And so with human character. There may be great mental and moral excellences, but if these are combined with glaring faults or defects, we must withhold our admiration. When, however, the noblest qualities are exhibited in happy combination, and harmonious adjustment and operation, we pronounce their possessor to be truly great and good.
It is on this principle that we have endeavoured to proceed in analysing the many-sided character of the apostle Paul. In its general aspect, it stands out as that of an eminent preacher, a great sufferer, and a deeply exercised Christian. And in considering the features of his character in detail, we have seen that he was distinguished by unaffected humility, combined with high moral dignity; by transparent unselfishness, combined with strict conscientiousness; and by largeheartedness, combined with tender-heartedness. These qualities, viewed in combination, present to us one of the noblest ideals of human character that the world has ever seen, always excepting the unrivalled character of the Perfect Man, Christ Jesus, who is "altogether lovely," and the “chiesest among ten thousand.” Eminent as Paul himself was in Christian grace and excellence, yet none felt more deeply than he did, how far short he came of that high standard of spotless virtue, and none laboured more strenuously than he to reach “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” And this, let us never forget, must be the constant aim of every true Christian, viz., to become more like Christ, and to have the same mind that was in Him. Still, while He is to be our chief model, yet it will greatly assist us in our aspirations and efforts, to study the character of His most faithful