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a preacher of Christ and a winner of souls over a great part of the Roman empire, but as an instructer in divinity—a teacher of future teachers-who was training up a host of laborers to be his successors in the vineyard of the Lord.
Amidst the various other labors of the apostle Paul, he maintained a general care and inspection of the churches he had planted. This is what he particularly mentions as coming upon him daily" The care of all the Churches." In the exercise of this general care, he would be led to pray for them; to keep up a correspondence with them and an acquaintance with their state; to warn them of their dangers; heal their divisions; correct if possible their disorders; refute the errors which appeared among them; and with the feelings of an affectionate, anxious parent, to seek by every method to promote their good.
And we are not to suppose, that while the apostle was engaged in these several parts of his duty, the work of extending the gospel was permitted to stop. He was constantly pushing it forward to remoter regions, and was ever planning to make farther and and still farther incursions upon the empire of dark
Nor did the labors of Paul, either in fact, or in his own probable estimation of them, have respect solely to the age in which he lived. He planned and labored for posterity. He labored for the good of the Churches and of his fellow immortals, to the end of time, and to the labors of no mere man are the church and world more deeply indebted, than to those of Paul.
The sketch here given of the labors of this dis tinguished apostle and Minister of Jesus is sufficient,
it is thought, to justify his declaration in the text: "I labored more abundantly than they all." And as he was disposed to take none of the glory of these extensive labors to himself, but ascribe it wholly to Divine grace-as his feelings prompted him to say “ Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me ;” so it becomes us to honor Paul only as an instrument, and to ascribe the glory of his exertions and success to sovereign grace alone.
I proceed now to the second part of this discourse, in which I am to inquire how it can be accounted for, that Paul should accomplish so much as he did. Christians in these days think they do about as much as they can, if they keep up the round of religious observances, and take care of themselves. And christian Ministers think they do as much as they can, if they preach two Sermons on the Sabbath, and perform the usual clerical duties in their own parishes. But what, my brethren, did Paul do? and if we are doing as much as we can, how shall it be accounted for that he was enabled to bring to pass so much as he did?
He, let it be remembered, was no more than a man. Nor is there evidence that he possessed firmer health, or greater strength, or a more winning exterior or manner, than other men. His enemies said of him, by way of reproach, that "his bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible ;” and all the accounts of him which ancient writers have furnished, represent him as small in stature, "rude in speech," and destitute of any peculiar peronal advantages with which to be recommended.
Nor can his distinguished labors and success be accounted for, on the ground of his possessing pecu
liar facilities for preaching and promoting the gospel
Such facilities he did not possess.
the contrary, he was obliged to pursue his labors, under many trying and distressing embarrassments. He was tried, perhaps usually, with deep poverty. He was tried with frequent and cruel persecutions, and with constant exposures to danger and to death. And whatever may be intended by the "thorn in his flesh"; there can be no doubt that he considered it at distressing hindrance to his usefulness.
Nor can the abundance of Paul's labors be accounted for, from the great length of the period during which he was employed; as the whole space, from his conversion to his death, could have been little more than thirty years.
The true reasons of which we are in search, and by means of which we may account for the distinguish. ed labors and success of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, are doubtless chiefly of a moral nature.
In the first place, he gave himself wholly to his work. The leading object of his life was, to promote the gospel and save souls; and this he kept constantly in view. He had no farm to cultivate, no schemes of ambition to accomplish, and no private purposes of worldly policy or speculation to carry into effect. He had no time to devote to sensual gratifications, to scenes of festivity and amusement, or even to many of the innocent enjoyments of life. He had a great work before him-one, on which his whole heart was set-one, in comparison with which all worldly things appeared as trifles; and nothing was permitted to divert him from it. He was not satisfied to engage in this work one day in the week, and in the pursuits of the world all other days; day devoted, and every day active, cause of his Redeemer and Lord.
but he was every in promoting the
In this great work of spreading the gospel, Paul, it appears, was an indefatigable laborer. There was no stopping him, and no tiring him. Whether on the land or the ocean; whether among Christians, Jews, or heathens; whether a prisoner or a freeman; whether in plenty or in want; in one respect he was always the same. His heart was habitually fixed, and his mind, his tongue, and his hands employed, in promoting his Redeemer's cause.
Again, the Apostle Paul was an ardent and yet a most affectionate laborer. Of the intense ardor with which he engaged in the great work he had undertaken, we have many examples. Thus, it is said of him, during his abode at Athens, that "his spirit was stirred within him, when he saw the whole city given to idolatry." At the commencement of his public labors at Corinth, it is also said that "he was pressed in spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ." Of the state of feeling denoted by these different expressions, perhaps no person of less ardor than the Apostle Paul can well conceive. "His spirit was stirred within him"-"he was pressed in spirit"-the strong emotions of his heart must have utterance, or his heart must break.-Still, the ardor of his soul did not discover itself in the language of violence and resentment, but rather in the melting accents of affectionate entreaty. He warned his hearers "night and day with tears-WITH TEARS."
Other traits in the character of Paul's ministerial labors were prudence and faithfulness. He "kept nothing back which was profitable" to his hearers; and yet adapted his instructions in the wisest manner to the different circumstances of time and place. "Unto the Jews, he became as a Jew, that he might gain
the Jews; to them that were under the law, as under the law, that he might gain them that were under the law; and to them that were without law, as without law, that he might gain them that were without law. To the weak, he became as weak, that he might gain the weak: He was made all things to all men, that he might by all means save some." And yet, he "was determined to know nothing among" his hearers, "save Jesus Christ and him crucified;" and he "shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God."
The manifest disinterestedness of the apostle Paul spread a moral charm over his labors, and made him almost irresistible. There was a kind of transparency about him, which rendered his designs evident and open to all whom he addressed. They could not but be satisfied, at once, that he had no priva ends to answer, and that he "sought, not theirs, but them.”
It was characteristic of the labors of Paul, and may be regarded as one reason why he accomplished so much, that he constantly aimed at great things. In all his movements after he became a Missionary, we discover the march of a man who, though deeply humbled, was conscious of his own powers, and was determined to accomplish much for Christ. The maxim of a distinguished modern Missionary-" expect great things; attempt great things "-must have been familiar to him in thought, if not in words. Every spiritual conquest he gained, every church he founded, served to inspire him with resolution to gain another conquest, and lay another trophy at the footstool of his Lord.
It was doubtless a principal reason why Paul was enabled to do so much good, that he maintained a constant sense of his dependence upon God, and pursued all his labors with fervent prayer for the Di