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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 bad been deliberating, before he saw them, in what way he should address them with the fairest probability of success. Ile 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 lie delivered this doctrine, he says, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing 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 “ 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 foolishuess, are brought to believe in Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God; and “the enticing words” of man's wistlom may include all those ways and arts which the wise , men of the workl have usedl, or aj proved, as most effectual, to express, adorn, or defend their own wise sentiments and discoveries. These, and the
c 1 Cor. ii. 1-4.
a In 1 Cor. xiv. I, St Paul recommends “ words casy to be understood." His reasoning in that chapter is levellou
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 particulars : 1. A vain inquiry into things which lie wholly beyond the capacity of man in his present state, and which can only be discovered by supernatural revelation : 2. A vain attempt to account for every thing according to the light and principles of depraved reason : 3. A studious exactness in language, either an easy flow of words to please und amuse the car, or a torrent of strong and figurative expressions to engage the passions, according as a different taste ori fashion happens to prevail. It would be too dry a task to illustrate these points, by adducing specimens of each from the works of the ancient and modern philosophers; but if we had not other employment in hand, it would be easy to show that man's wisdom, in the first sense, is Uncertainty; in the second, Prejudice; in the third, Imposition and artifice. It is sufficient for my present purpose, that the apostle renounced thein all. Instead of vain conjectures, he spoke from
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 expresserl in English phrases, are as useless to the bulk of the people as if they were delivered iii Greck; for what have the people to do with scholastic or metaphysical niceties, or curious researches into antiquity, or clegant (lisserta'ions upon the fitness of things? They cannot understand them; and if they could, they would find i hem nothing to their purpose,
e Though the apostle disclaimed the light sophistry which obtained in the schools, the tenour of his preaching was founded upon the clearest principles, and contained a chain of the justest consequences.
He did not only assert, but prove and demonstrate, the truth of his doctrinies, by
certain experience; he could say, “I received of the Lord, that which I also delivered to you :" instead of accommodating his doctrine to the taste and judgment of his hearers, he spoke withi authority, in the name of God whom he served : instead of losing time in measuring words and syllables, that he might obtain the character of a fine speaker, he spoke, from the feeling and fulness of his heart, the words of simplicity and truth. The success of his preaching did not at all depend upon the softness and harmony of his periods, and therefore he disdained an attention to those petty ornaments of speech, which were quite necessary to help out the poverty of “ man's “wisdom ;" he sought something else, which those who preach themselves rather thau Christ Jesus the Lord, have little reason to expect;' I mean, the power and demonstration of the Spirit. He knew that this alone could give him success; and ministers may learn from him, what to avoid and what to seek for, if they would be useful to their hearers. Men can but declare the truths of the Gospel ; it is the Spirit of God who alone can reveal them : nothing less than a divine power can present them to the mind in their just
ancient prophecies, by recent facts, and by a present incontestable efficacy. Yet it is called the “demonstration of the Spirit,” to intimate ihat the strongest and best adapted evidence is insufficient to the purpo:es of salvation, unless accompanied with a divine power.
f A man who has languages and science in his head, but does not know or relish ihe Gospel of Christ, is an ignora it, in le::d, a stupid person, unaffected with the grandest view of wi dm, puwer, and goodness, that ever was, or can be displayed; and whoevertruly knows and embraces this mystery of gidliness, is a wise man, a person of an excellent inderstanding, though he may not be much acquainied with those uncertain, unsatisfying systems wliich men have agreed to honour with the name of knowledge. See Ps. cxi. 10.
importance, and throw light into the soul by which they may be perceived; nothing less than this power can subdue the will, and open the heart to receive the truth in the love of it: without this concurring agency, even St. Paul would have preached in vain. From what has been said, we may remark two obvious reasons, amongst others, why we have so much unsuccessful preaching in our days : either the Gospel truths are given up, or the Gospel siniplicity departed from. Where either of these is the case, the Lord refuses his power and blessing.
VIII. Another observable part of St. Paul's character, is his unaffected humility. In the midst of his eminent and extensive services, he retained a deep sense of the part he once acted against the Lord. He speaks of himself, on this account, in the most abasing language, as the chief of sinners, and strongly expresses his unworthiness of the grace and apostleship he bad received, by comparing himself to an untimely birth; 8 and though his insight into the mysteries of the Gospel, the communion he maintained with God by faith in his Son, and the beauty of holiness which shone in his conversation, were all beyond the common measure; yet having, in the same proportion, a clearer sense of his obligations, and of the extent and purity of the
$ 1 Cor. xv, 8. " As one born out of due time." The original word is Ektpwua, that is, un abortion. He speaks of himself under this despicable image (the true sense of which is nut easily perceived by an English reader,) 10 show the deep and humbling sense he retained of the part he once acted against the church of Christ. He considered himself as unworthy and contemptible to the last degree, as one of whom no good hope cou d be justly formed at that time, much less hat he should be honoured with a sight of the Lord Jesus from heaven, and with a call to the apostolic office.
divine precepts, he thought nothing of his present attainments, in comparison of those greater degrees of grace he was still pressing after,” While, in the eyes of others, he appeared not only exemplary, but unequalled, he esteemed himself less than the least of all saints; and his patience and condescension towards others, and his acquiescence under all the trying dispensations of providence with which he was exercised, were a proof that this was not an affected manner of expression, but the genuine dictate of his heart. To speak of one's self in abasing terms is easy; and such language is often a thin veil, through which the motions of pride may be easily discerned; but though the language of humility may be counterfeited, its rca! fruits and actings are inimitable. Here again he is a pattern for Christians. An humble frame of mind is the strength and ornament of every other grace, and the proper soil wherein they grow, A proud Christian, that is, one who has a high conceit of his own abilities and attainments, is no less a coatradiction, than a sober drunkari, or a generous miser. All other seeming excellencies are of no real value, unless accompanied with this; and though a person should appear to have little more than a consciousness of his own' insufficiency, and a teachable dependent spirit, and is waiting upon the Lord, in his appointed way, for instruction and a blessing, he will infallibly thrive as a tree planted by the water-side; for God, who resisteth the prond, has promised to give grace to
1: Phil, iii. 13. Forgetting the things that are behind." As a traveller upon urgent business posts from place io place, forgets the distance and inconveniences behind him, and has all his thoughts taken up with the place he would be at, and the remainder of the road that leads to it.
i Eph. iii. 8.