« PreviousContinue »
sentative, Mediator and Intercessor; and would say that we are uniformly to speak according to the oracles of God, without any deleterious admixture of foreign elements imparted by means of philosophy and vainglorious deceit. They would quote several passages which describe the Gospel message as the simplest thing imaginable-“Look unto me, and be ye saved ;"" Believe, and live;" “Wash, and be clean;" overlooking the fact that owing to the corruption of our nature, and the alienation of our hearts, that which is described as 80 very simple, becomes in practice the hardest thing imaginable.
We may also bear in mind that there are many passages which speak of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid in Christ, which represent the Saviour as the power of God and the wisdom of God, which teach us that into the mystery of redeeming love even angels desire to look. How are we to reconcile this language with the simplicity that is in Christ?
A glance at the context in the original will show the real meaning of the words. St. Paul says (2 Cor. xi. 2.), “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy,"_with a jealousy inspired by God-with a sensitiveness for the divine honour and glory_" for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ; but I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty,” thus your minds, your understandings and sentiments should be corrupted from your singleness of affection towards Christ. The word dnóms denotes singleness of purpose, integrity, generosity, impartiality; it marks that openness and sincerity of heart which repudiates duplicity in thought or action. There is no idea of simplicity in the ordinary use of the word, except the expression of his desire that the Corinthians should remain simple concerning evil, simple in respect of any attachment which might seduce them from the singleness of devotion, the undivided affection and homage due to Christ. This interpretation so commends itself from its harmony with the context as to render subsidiary arguments quite superfluous. I would, however, remind the critical student that some MSS. insert another word, suggested, perhaps, by the expression, “as a chaste virgin," and thus the passage might be rendered, lest your thoughts should be corrupted from your singleness of devotion and your chastity towards Christ. Christianity, says Archdeacon Wordsworth, is the marriage of the soul to Christ as the single object of affection, and is distinguished from the spiritual polygamy of heathenism and the spiritual fornication of heresy.
According to this interpretation we may affirm that these words which have passed into a proverb, are misapplied universally. A new and more forcible meaning is extracted from the passage which is involved in the illustration employed. The language of St. Paul is in perfect harmony with the prophets who represent unfaithfulness to the old covenant as spiritual adultery. The jealousy of Paul carries out the teaching of the Baptist (John. iii. 28, 29), “ Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom," &c. Any one who thinks of competing with the husband for a share in the affections of the bride, is guilty of the basest effrontery and most abominable turpitude. The friend of the bridegroom may rejoice that he is received into a near, intimate, and honourable relation, but the paranymph can never think of claiming the inalienable privileges of the bridegroom. That were an iniquity to be abhorred of all. What a proof does it give of the versatility and subtlety of Satan, that the Church Universal, or any branch thereof, that any human system or organization should claim a share in the devotion which we owe to our living Lord and glorified Head! Who is Paul, and who is Apollos? Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized in the name of Paul ?
The Preacher's Finger-Post.
“And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me”-Acts xxii. 8. This remarkable verse presents to us four great general truths.
I THAT MAN IS THE OBJECT OF DIVINE INSPECTION.
Though Christ was now in heaven, yet his eye followed Saul on his way to Damas
Little did Saul know that He whom he hated, whose disciples he sought to destroy, and whose name he endeavoured to blot from the earth, knew all about him-not only marked his every footstep, but saw his
has to say
every passing thought and God to reveal his Son in feeling. That the great God
me," &c. knows all about the life and III. THAT HUMILITY IS THE conduct of the individual man CONDITION OF HEAVENLY COMis obvious, First. From the MUNION. When did Saul omniscience of Hisnature. He hear the voice of Jesus ? who sees all things, sees each When was his soul put en thing-the minute as well as rapport with the Divine the vast. Secondly: From the mind? When he had fallen history of mankind-Hagar to the ground. Humility in the wilderness, Jacob at implies a deep sense of need, Bethel, Elijah in the cave, and without that sense the and now Saul on his
way to soul will never open its eye or Damascus. Thirdly : From its car to the Divine. We the teachings of the Bible. must take off the shoes from (See Psalm cxxxix.; Prov. xv. our feet, like Moses-fall to 3.; Heb. iv. 13.) This the dust, like Isaiah-smite solemn fact should make us our breast, like the publican, serious, circumspect, devout. if we would hear what God II. THAT CHRIST IS THE
“Unto that man ORIGINATOR MORAL RE- will I look who is of a broken FORMATION. What now gave spirit," &c. the turning-point to Paul's IV. THAT UNION VITIT life? The manifestation of CHRIST IS THE PRIVILEGE OF Christ in the “light,” the THE GOOD. “Why persecutest "voice,” the address. “Saul, thou me ?" What does this Saul,” &c. Conversion does not mean? Personally, Christ originate with self; nor with was in the heavens, beyond the agency of man outside, the reach of mortals. It but always with Christ. It means that so dear are his is a resurrection. Who can disciples to his heart, that raise the dead but He ? It is their sufferings are His. He a creation. Who can create bears their infirmities, and but He? This fact agrees, carries their sorrows, even in First: With the consciousness | heaven. They are of the good. The good every- bers of his body," and no part where, involuntarily, ascribe can be wounded without their goodness to Him. This quivering to the sensorium. is the burden of heaven's (See Matt. xxv. 40, 45.) “Inanthem. Second : This agrees asmuch as ye have done it to with the teachings of Scrip- the least of these," &c. ture. “Of his own will begat he us," &c. “When it pleased
THE DIVINE ORDINATION OF to it, and lead into it as
MAN TO THE HIGHEST LIFE radia to their centre. It is, ON EARTH.
therefore, the sublimest sub"And he said, The God of our
ject of thought. It expresses fathers hath chosen thee, that the divine nature, it reveals thou shouldest know his will, and the universe. It is, therefore, see that Just One, and shouldest
the great theme for the study hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all of eternity. To the study of men of what thou hast seen and this Paul was thus ordained, hoard." -Acts xxii. 14, 15. He began it then, he is at it THE verb, Tpoexeploato, now, he will continue at it which is here translated, for ever. “chosen," only occurs in this II. To A VISION OF THE form in one other place in HIGIIEST EXISTENCE, “ And the New Testament. (Acts see that Just One.” Not only xxvi. 16), where it has the to understand the will which sense of “making," or ap
is the law of the universe, pointing." The idea here is but to see the Lawgiver Himordination, or setting apart. self. “ That Just One." Ananias tells Paul that the Who? Evidently the MesGod of their fathers had siah-the God-man.
(See ordained him to the life Acts iii. 14.) He is called specified in these verses.
“that Just One” not merely And truly the life is one of because, as God, he is absothe highest that man can live lutely just, the Fountain of on earth. What is the ordi. eternal rectitude. Nor merely nation? It is
because, as man, he “ did no I. TO AN UNDERSTANDING sin, neither was guile found HIGHEST SUBJECT,
in his mouth.” But as Media“That thou shouldest know tor who has engaged to make his will." God has a will. A unjust men just. His work will in relation to all exist- as mediator is to make a ences—a will in relation to world of unjust men just to every individual man. His themselves, just to their will is at once the spring of fellows, just to the universe, all existence, the rule of all just to God. This is his work, motion, the standard of all and his work exclusively. character. To understand it Hence he is designated" that is to understand the philo- Just One.”
Paul was orsophy of all being, the cause dained to see Him. of all phenomena, and the To renovate him as a sinner. science of all duty. All true The vision of Christ is the subjects of thought are related soul-transforming force!“ Be.
holding, as in a glass, the what an ecstasy of joy! glory of the Lord, we are Every utterance of that voice changed," &c. Second : To will then dispel some cloud qualify him as an apostle. of mystery from the sky of It would seem that one of spirits, and open up some the necessary qualifications of new realm of thought to the an apostle was, that he should intellect, some new domain of have personal view of beauty to the imagination. Christ. Hence he says, “ Am What is the voice of your I not an apostle ; have I not Platos or even of your Pauls seen Christ our Lord ? " compared to the voice of Thirdly : To consummate his Christ? The glimmerings of blessedness as a man. What rushlight to the light of day. is the heaven of souls? The IV. To A DISCHARGE OF beatific vision of Christ. The THE HIGHEST MISSION. What sight of Him thrills all, work was He chosen to ? brightens all, elevates all, “Thou shalt be his witness enraptures all. (Rev. v. 6, unto all men, of what thou 12.)
hast seen and heard." First: III. TO A RECEPTION OF THE To bear witness of the highest HIGHEST COMMUNICATIONS. facts about the Greatest Being. “And shouldest hear the Paul was appointed as a voice of his mouth.” To have witness for Christ. He was a direct communication with to declare all that he knew Christ seemed necessary in
from observation and experiorder to put Paul on a level ence concerning the Son of with the twelve apostles. God. This he nobly did. (Acts xiii. 3 ; Galatians i. 1.) Second: To bear witness of But whilst this was specially the highest facts about the required for Paul as an apostle, Greatest Being, to all manit is a high privilege to which kind. “ Unto all men." To God “hath chosen," or ap
the Jew as well as to the pointed all good men. And Gentile. what a privilege !
Who Oh, brothers! be "ordained" teaches like Christ? “ Never to such a life as this. How man spake like this 'man.” | earnestly should we aspire So they said who heard Him to such an ordination ! when on earth, when he spoke only the few things that they could bear. His words on earth were original, sugges
GETTING RID OF SIN. tive, soul inspiring But to
“And now, why tarriest thou?
arise, and be baptized, and wash listen to that voice in Heaven, I away thy sins, calling on the