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tions of men: it enforces its edicts by compulsion and severity; it would willingly call for fire from heaven; but, unable to do this, it kindles the flame of persecution, and, if not providentially restrained, wages war with the peace, comfort, and liberty of all who disdain to wear its chains, and breathes threatening, slaughter, and destruction with an unrelenting spirit: its mildest weapons, (which it never employs alone, except where it is checked by a superior power,) are calumny, contempt, and hatred; and the objects it seeks to worry are generally the quiet in the land, and those who worship God in spirit and in truth: in a word, it resembles the craft by which it works, and is earthly, sensual, devilish. But the true Christian zeal is a heavenly gentle flame it shines and warms, but knows not to destroy it is the spirit of Christ, infused with a sense of his love into the heart: it is a generous philanthropy and benevolence, which, like the light of the sun, diffuses itself to every object, and longs to be the instrument of good, if possible, to the whole race of mankind. A sense of the worth of souls, the importance of unseen things, and the awful condition of unawakened sinners, makes it, indeed, earnest and importunate; but this it shows not by bitterness and constraint, but by an unwearied perseverance in attempting to overcome evil with good*. It returns blessings for curses,
See Rom. xii. 20, 21. This practice the apostle recommends by the metaphor of heaping coals of fire on an enemy's head. As metals that endure a moderate warmth, without alteration, are melted down and quite dissolved by an intense heat, so the hard heart, even of an enemy, may be sometimes softened by a series, an indefatigable heaping up,of favours and obligations. This is a noble piece of chemistry, but almost as much out of repute and practice as the search after the philosopher's stone.
prayers for ill treatment, and, though often reviled and affronted, cannot be discouraged from renewed efforts to make others partakers of the happiness itself possesses. It knows how to express a becoming indignation against the errors and follies of men, but towards their persons* it is all gentleness and compassion; it weeps, (and would, if possible, weep tears of blood,) over those who will not be persuaded; but, while it plainly represents the consequences of their obstinacy, it trembles at† its own declarations, and feels for them who cannot feel for themselves: it is often grieved, but cannot be provoked. The zealous Christian is strictly observ-ant of his own failings, candid and tender to the faults of others; he knows what allowances are due to the frailty of human nature and the temptations of the present state, and willingly makes all the allowances possible; and though he dare not call evil good, cannot but judge according to the rule of the Scripture, yet he
* When St. Paul, speaking of the Judaizing false teachers and their adherents, says, "I would they were even cut off which trou❝ble you," he seems to allude to the circumcision they so strenuously enforced, Gal. v. 12. Compare Phil. iii. 2. His wish concerning these sectaries has been often perverted, to give sanction to the rage of persecutors; but he does not mean to cut them off with fire and sword, or to cut them off from fire and water, but to have them excluded from communion and converse with true believers. + How awful to declare,to denounce the terrors of the Lord! Those terrors which are represented to us by fire unquenchable, with the additional idea of eternity, Matt. iii. 12.; Mark ix. 43. As such descriptions shock and alarm a guilty conscience, there are two different methods by which the removal of this alarm is attempted. Some seek and find peace and security from the blood of Jesus; and some, who are not pleased with this method, satisfy themselves and their friends with criticisms upon the terms, and tell us that the phrase "for ever and ever" signifies a limited space; and "fire "that cannot be quenched," denotes fire that goes out of itself.
will conceal the infirmities of men as much as he can, will not speak of them without just cause, much less will he aggravate the case, or boast himself over them. Such was the zeal of our apostle: bold and intrepid in the cause of God and truth, unwearied in service, inflexible in danger; when duty called, he was not to be restrained either by the threats of enemies, the solicitations of friends, or the prospect of any hardships to which he might be exposed. He cheerfully endured hunger and thirst, watching and weariness, poverty and contempt, and counted not his life dear, so that he might fulfil the great purposes of the ministry which he had received of the Lord. But at the same time, in all his intercourse with men, he was gentle, mild, and compassionate; he studied the peace, and accommodated himself to the weakness, of all about him: when he might command, he used entreaties; when he met with hard and injurious treatment, he bore it patiently, and, if opportunity offered, requited it with kindness. Thus as he had drunk of the spirit, so he walked in the steps of his Lord and Master.
All who bear the name of ministers of Christ, would do well to examine how far their tempers and conduct are conformable to St. Paul's. Are there not too many who widely differ from him? Where he was immovable as an iron pillar, they are flexible and yielding as a reed waving in the wind, suiting their doctrines and practice to the depraved taste of the world, and prostituting their talents and calling to the unworthy pursuit of ambition and applause. On the other hand, in things less essential, or not commanded, they invade the rights of private judgment, and attempt to bind*
*Matt. xxiii. 4. "They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be "borne," a weight of traditions and observances, "and lay them
heavy yokes and impositions upon those whom Christ has made free; and while they readily tolerate, (if not countenance,) scepticism and immorality, they exert all their strength and subtilty to disquiet or suppress those who differ from them in the slightest circumstance, if they profess to differ for concience's sake. But Jesus has no such ministers: their claim is utterly vain; none but those who are ignorant of the plainest truths can allow them this character; their tempers, their behaviour, the tenour of their professed instructions, and the total want of efficacy and influence in their ministrations, plainly demonstrate that he neither sent them nor owns them.
VII. Having considered the subject-matter and the leading views of the apostle's ministry, it may not be improper to take some notice of his manner as a preacher. This he reminds the Corinthians of. They were reputed a polite and ingenious people. St. Paul was aware of their character, and expresses himself as if he had been deliberating, before he saw them, in what way he should address them with the fairest probability of success. He tells them*, that he determined to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ, and him crucified, including, in this one comprehensive expression, the whole scheme of Gospel doctrine; and as to the manner in which he delivered this doctrine, he says, "My speech and my preaching was not with en
upon men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move "them with one of their fingers." There is a double opposition in this passage between to be borne and to move, and between the shoulders and a finger. It has been often found since, that those who are most impatient of restraint themselves, are most earnest in pressing yokes and bonds upon others.
ticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration "of the Spirit and with power." We are sure that he did not renounce justness of reasoning or propriety of expression; in these respects he exceeded their most admired orators, as may appear to any who have skill and candour to compare his epistles and discourses, (in the original,) with the best performances of the Greek writers; but he renounced "the enticing," or plausible "words of man's wisdom." In the term In the term "man's wisdom," I apprehend may be included whatever the natural faculties of man are capable of discovering or receiving, independent of the peculiar teaching of the Spirit of God, which is promised and restrained to those who, sensible of their own foolishness, are brought to believe in Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God; and "the enticing words" of man's wisdom, may include all those ways and arts which the wise men of the world have used, or approved, as most effectual to express, adorn, or defend their own wise sentiments and discoveries*. These, and the methods of setting them off to advantage, have been divided into many branches, and dignified with sounding names; but all the efforts of man's wisdom, considered as engaged in the subjects of religion and morals, may be summed up in three
* In 1 Cor. xiv. 9. St. Paul recommends "words easy to be "understood." His reasoning in that chapter is levelled not only against the absurdity of speaking in an unknown tongue, but against the use of any terms, or the treating upon any subjects, which are not adapted to the level of the auditory. Many discourses that are expressed in English phrases, are as useless to the bulk of the people as if they were delivered in Greek; for what have the people to do with scholastic or metaphysical niceties, or curious researches into antiquity or elegant dissertations upon the fitness of things? They cannot understand them; and if they could, they would find them nothing to their purpose.