« הקודםהמשך »
character of an inspired teacher, how philosophically does he rebuke the early schisms of the Church, by this forcible appeal to their judgments, Is Christ divided ?
This leads me to consider the general conduct of St. Paul, sometimes misunderstood, on the subject of my present discourse. And let me premise, that we are never so truly the faithful servants of Christ as when we regulaté our ministry by the pattern of St. Paul, who, with the humility and fidelity worthy of an apostle, requires us to be followers of Him, only as he was himself a follower of Jesus Christ.
St. Paul had to contend at once with Jews and Gentiles : with Jews, to whose earliest religious impressions the doctrine of the Cross was necessarily a stumbling-block; with the refined race of the Greeks, to whom it naturally appeared foolishness. He adapted his discourses, accordingly, to the particular exigency of each. As Christ had in his addresses to the Sadducees, dwelt on the reasonableness of the Resurrection, and on the Divine authority for it in the very Scriptures they possessed ; and to the Pharisees, on the necessity and usefulness of Ordinances, but, at the same time, on their secondary importance, when considered in relation to the purity of heart they were designed to symbolize and inculcate : So his miraculously chosen disciple ever suited his language to the particular necessities of his respective Churches : tolerant towards errors of education and habit, and patient towards natural infirmities : always endeavouring by gentleness, by kindness, to win souls *. He was willing and glad, he assured his converts, to spend and be spent for them, even though the more abundantly he loved them, the less he was loved f. But with all this tenderness of regard towards them, he never allowed his courtesy to compromise his duty. To unreasonable demands upon his forbearance, to false brethren who came in privily to spy out the liberty the converts had in Christ Jesus, that they might bring them into bondage, to them, he avouches boldly, he gave place by subjection, no, not for an hourand this is the reason he gives for his firmness, That the truth of the Gospel might continue
* 1 Cor. i. 13.
with them *. In this spirit, He allowed Timothy, the son of a Jewess, to undergo the abrogated ceremony of circumcision, as it was calculated to make him, at that particular period, a more acceptable and influential minister to the Jews. In this he betrayed not his trust, but acted after the ensample of his Master, who, though an eternal high priest, had submitted, : on entering on his ministerial office to the Levitical institution of baptism. But when the Jews at Jerusalem demanded that Titus, the son of Gentile parents, should undergo the same rite, he resisted, declaring it no longer necessary, but in this case subversive of Christian liberty. On this, and on all occasions, it was evidently his aim to give none offence, no just cause of offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God † ; and when he pleased all men in all things, his motive was not selfish, his compliances not unfaithful: it was for their good to edification. He sought not his own profit, but the profit of many, that they might be saved I. That in becoming, according to his own emphatic language, all things to all men *, he made no unworthy concessions; we have his own strong testimony in his declaration, that if he sought to please men, he should be no longer the servant of Christ -t. Had his compliances been in opposition to the spirit of the Gospel, he could not have made them, as he assures us that he did, for the Gospel's sake. He could not have advanced the Gospel by lowering its precepts, or accommodating its requirements to the caprice of his hearers, however enlightened. He told his Corinthian: brethren, that a necessity was laid upon him to preach the Gospel, yea, that woe was unto him if he preached it not S. And to his Galatian Church he had before declared with a vehemence which þespoke and became his fidelity to his Master, that if he or his fellow labourers, or (to make the affirmation still more striking, by supposing an impossible case,) even if an angel
* Gal. ii. 4, 5.
+ 1 Cor. x. 32. I 1 Cor. x. 33.
from heaven should preach any other gospel unto them, he would be accursed ||
* 1 Cor. ix. 22. # 1 Cor. ix. 23.
|| Gal. i. 8.
+ Gal. i. 10.
The Gospel of Reconciliation is now complete. Gradually unfolded to man by a series of prophets, who spake as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance, and by Ordinances appointed by God himself to adumbrate the only availing sacrifice, the great atonement, the full and final redemption, it is now consummated by the Death and Resurrection of Christ. The doubts which soon after his Ascension began to perplex the faithful, have been long since removed, by Apostles writing under the sure guidance of inspiration. Insomuch that the Sacred Volume is acknowledged to contain all things, whether of doctrine or of precept, for our faith or our obedience, necessary for our salvation : and is, by the authority of the Holy Spirit, closed with a denunciation of present and eternal woe to every one who shall add to, or take away, from the words of the Sacred Book.
This everlasting Gospel, in its perfection and integrity, is by the same Spirit committed to our charge. This, and this only, we have solemnly sworn to make the basis of our instructions,
to teach nothing as required of necessity to “ eternal salvation, but that which we are per66 suaded
may be concluded and proved by the