Samuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) Worcester.

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cross, — especially upon minds of the higher cast, both in activity
and attainment. The intellectual habits, and the moral associa-
tions of those in the great cities of wealth, learning, luxury, and
pride, in which most of all the apostles preached, — gave them ideas
of dogmatical and irresponsible self-consequence, and predisposed
them in large masses to repel with ineffable scorn the uncom-
promising and humbling claims of Christ and him crucified. Yet
in all places and among all people, without the least respect of per-
sons, he proclaimed the " Gospel of Christ, as the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth." " The love of Christ
constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then
were all dead ! Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new

creature God hath made him to be sin for us, who

knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

He knew, that " of God Christ Jesus is made unto us wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, — that, according as it
is written. He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." He knew
and felt most deeply, that " the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from
heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on
them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,
when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired
in all them that believe." And hence it was, that, while willing to
be himself accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kinsmen ac-
cording to the flesh, he laid to their charge as the sin above all their
sins, that of ''forbidding" him " to speak to the Gentiles, that they
might be saved.''

As a " Hebrew of the Hebrews," he had himself soug^ht righteous-
ness and heaven by the deeds of the law. His eyes had been shut,
and had then been opened to see, that no man on earth was ever so
justified and saved. Ruined and helpless — as a man weltering in
his own heart's blood, — Jesus Christ was revealed to him, as " the


end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Such
now was the transformation of his views and feehngs, such the in-
ward and transporting witness of the remedial efficacy of the doc-
trine of Christ and him crucified, that he was as sure as of his be-
ing, that whosoever beiieveth hath eternal life, beyond all possibili-
ty of disappointment and shame. The great problem of " glory
and virtue" had been solved by the revelation of the Son of God ;
and not a shadow of a doubt remained, that, by faith in his name,
the regenerated soul would have the victory over death and hell,
and be crowned with spotless and immortal righteousness. And
although at Antioch, in Pisidia, he could not refrain from •' shaking
off the dust of his feet," as a solemn and awful testimony in the
name of Christ, against the " despisers," who " beheld" to " wonder
and perish ;" yet did he stand forth before all the world, as himself
the " chief of sinners," and " a pattern" for the effectual persuasion
of all the anxious and the agonized, on account of sin and the
second death, that, not for a moment might they despair of pardon
and life, if they would but remember the abounding mercy of the
Lord Jesus to him, who was before " a blasphemer and a persecu-

3. Paul labored to promote the Gospel, it may further be remark-
ed, by publishing it in simplicity.

Having " neither received it of man, nor was taught it, but by
the revelation of Jesus Christ," he preached it as he also received
it. He had no improvements to make upon Jesus Christ. He dis-
carded all the philosophy of the world, as "vain," because "foohsh-
ness with God." The truths of Christianity he cordially embraced
as facts, in regard to which he was not authorized to raise "doubt-
ful disputations," any more than " foolish questions." All admix-
tures of mere reason or imagination he vigilantly shunned, although
the chief of the apostles, and accomplished in all the learning of his

Capable of efforts of oratory, which were not unnoticed by Lon-
ginus, in his illustrations of the sublime, and in connection with such
names as Demosthenes, it must have been sheer malice or nothing
better, which prompted some of the Corinthians to say of him, that
" his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible." But
well aware of the taste of that ancient Paris, the city of Corinth,
and of the fascination of rhetorical brilliancies of expression and
factitious accomplishments of delivery, he there appears to have
been more than ever solicitous to keep himself behind the cross, and
to commend the simple, the pure, and undefiled doctrine of Christ
to every man's conscience. Yet he could never have had a greater
temptation to avail himself of what was accounted " excellency of
speech," or the "enticing words of man's wisdom."

It may occur to you, however, and should not be forgotten here,
that in no epistles of Paul is there so much of genuine classical per-
fection of style, as in those to the Corinthians. That fifteenth


chapter of his first Epistle is unsurpassed in every quality of
chaste and terse, elegant and energetic, beautiful and sublime com-
position. Still you cannot fail to perceive, that, in all his matter and
in all his manner of discourse, he betrays no ambition or desire to be
praised and honored by the ungodly, whether learned or illiterate,
noble or ignoble ; but was ever aiming with most unfeigned solici-
tude to win souls to Christ, that Christ might have all the glory.

In the providence of God, the language of Greece — the richest of
all languages of the heathen w^orld, and that most extensively
spoken in the Roman empire, at the time of "the beginning of the
Gospel" — was made the repository and the vehicle of the message
of the Redeemer's love to uncounted millions. But even the peerless
language of Homer and Plato, of Herodotus and Euripides, was in-
adequate, without much " private interpretation," to express every
" truth as in Jesus," in its various forms and connections, so that
there should be no mode or degree of unintelligibleness or obscurity.
Hence Peter had occasion to say, that there were " some things
hard to be understood" in the epistles of his " beloved brother Paul ;"
— whether or not his " beloved brother Paul" might have indulged
in a similar fraternal criticism upon his own.

But whatever there may be in the style of Paul, which may have
obscured his meaning, at the time of his personal ministration, and
which cannot now be fully elucidated, we may be very certain,
that the difficulty could never have arisen from an affectation of
originality, or of depth of thought, or from any artistic structure or
embellishment. We may concede, that parts of his Epistles are
quite dark, if not impenetrable ; yet, as compared with the whole,
they are like the solar spots, and would, perhaps, entirely disappear,
if it were not for the dark places in the hearts and in " the eyes"
of the " understanding," not only of believers generally, but also of
the very best Christian expositors. So clear, so effulgent are the
cardinal principles and the essential doctrines which he taught, that
our Sabbath School children may understand them, and be " wise
unto salvation." No one who heard Paul preach, or read what he
wrote, need to have " perished for lack of knowledge." On the
contrary, " leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ," he
might " go on to perfection ; not laying again the foundation of re-
pentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doc-
trine of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands, and of the resur-
rection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

4. Another means by which Paul labored to promote the Gospel,
was that of publishing it in godly sincerity.

He really believed what he preached. His whole manner of
preaching and of living was a demonstration of the genuineness,
the cordiality of his personal faith in the doctrine of Christ. He
" bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus," and so lived unto
his Saviour and Lord, that he was dead unto the world. No selfish
or secular end whatever could have furnished him the slightest


motive to do or to suffer what he did, in publishing the word of
salvation. He could thus appeal to his " manner of life," as a de-
cisive witness of his godly sincerity.

'■ Our rejoicing is this," he says to the Corinthians, " the testi-
mony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not
with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we had our conver-
sation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. For we
write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowldge
even unto the end. . . . Therefore, seeing we have this
ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not ; but have re-
nounced the hidden things of dishonesty ; not walking in craftiness
nor handling the word of God deceitfully," " I have coveted no
man's silver or gold, or apparel," — said he to the elders of Ephesus.
'•' And ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered to
my necessities, and to them that were with me." To the Thessa-
lonians he wrote, — " Our exhortation was not from deceit, nor of
uncleanness, nor in guile. But as we were allowed of God to be
put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men,
but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used
we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness : God
is witness. Nor from men sought we glory, neither from you,
neither from others. . . . Ye are witnesses, and God also,
how holily and justly and unblamably we behaved ourselves among
you that beheved ; and how we exhorted and charged every one of
you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of
God, who hath called you to his kingdom and glory."

The peculiar impressiveness of this appeal may be lost upon those,
who should happen to forget or fail to be reminded, that many have
a charactei- of excellence in public, which belongs not to their pri-
vate walks, and is unknowai among the observers of their daily life.
He who could say, — " I have wronged no man, I have corrupted
no man, I have defrauded no man," — " ye are witnesses and God
also how holily and justly and unblamably we behaved ourselves you that believe," must have been a man who, amidst the
abounding corruptions and impurities of the times, would have en-
dured the scrutiny of fire upon fire. And this character of untar-
nished righteousness, of incorruptible honesty and sincerity, must
have imparted, to all his preaching of the Gospel of the Holy One
and the Just, a power and a charm of conviction and persuasion,
which neither Isocrates nor Tully, nor Quinctilian, could have
ever imagined in all their grandest conceptions of the moral worth
of " the good man" — irreproachable purity of life, — as the crown-
ing perfection of consummate oratory.

5. The earnestness of Paul was another means, by which he
labored so effectively in promoting the Gospel.

I cannot here withhold a reference to a fact of unwritten biogra-
phy, which the subject in this view very forcibly recalls to my
mind. While pursuing my studies at the neighboring University,


there was a fellow-student from one of the opulent families of the
South. For some months, he was reported to be in a state of par-
tial derangement, and was at length obliged to leave his class.
Whatever instructions he may have received in childhood, it after-
wards appeared from very unexpected disclosures of his history,
that he was almost an entire stranger to the Scriptures. Before
leaving his class, and while much depressed in spirits — craving
relief he knew not what — he one day took up a Bible, or his Greek
Testament. He soon found himself attracted and absorbed by the
"Acts of the Apostles," in which Luke has so graphically described
the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and narrated the more important
events and incidents of his subsequent career. He became in-
tensely interested in the character of Paul, as a character. The
more he read of him, the more his admiration increased. And if
I do not greatly err in memory, it was the earnestness of Paul, more
than any other characteristic, which deeply affected his heart, and
was blessed of God to his ultimate conversion. In all his life, as
he thought, he had never found a man with a soul like that of
Paul ; so earnestly devoted to his God, and to the work of spreading
the knowledge of salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ.*

And is it strange, that he should have been so affected ? Who
can now read of Paul in those delineations of his fellow-laborer,
and in his own writings, without seeing that he was indeed in
earnest, like a man, who felt to the very utmost power of emotion,
and not seldom to agony, that to those who perished, he was a
savor of death unto death ; but to those that were saved, of life
unto life ! Neither the " love that passeth knowledge," nor " the
terrors of the Lord" could ever languish sleepily upon his tongue !
In earnest he always was : and sometimes, as before Felix, " terribly
in earnest."

His mode of reasoning very strikingly displays this element of
character and of power. Let him take any point to argue, and
however systematic may be his plan, or important the regularity of
the succession of his positions or facts, he proceeds but a little way^
before he seems to forget that he is reasoning, and breaks out in
some burst of glowing exclamation or appeal. His reasoning is
always '• logic set on fire," — and fire so powerful, as to threaten to
burn off the very strongest links of the chain of the argument.

But in all his earnestness, you see no proof of mere animal ex-
citement, or of extravagance and enthusiasm. It was emotion, in-
spired legitimately by the realities of the great and the glorious
theme, which enkindled and exalted his soul. And hence, we can-
not doubt, that it was with an overwhelming moral dignity and
grandeur, that he replied to Festus : — " I am not mad, most noble
Festus, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness !"

* It would not be proper to say more. The facts were not known, until after the
student had left Cambridge ; and it is doubtful whether any of the officers of the Uni-
versity were ever aware of what the writer has here ventured to record,



6. The boldness of Paul may next be specified, as a means by
which he endeavored to promote the Gospel.

Hardly had the scales fallen from his eyes at Damascus, after
"the heavenly vision," before he "entered the synagogues," and
" preached Christ that he is the Son of God. All that heard him
were amazed, and said. Is not this he that destroyed them, which
called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent,
that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests ?" When
subsequently he went to Jerusalem, " Barnabas took him, and
brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had
seen the Lord on the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how
he had preached boldly at Damascus, in the name of Jesus. And
he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he
spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against
the Grecians ; but they went about to slay him."

As he began, so he continued. Surely he was not unapprised of
the scorn and the obloquy, the scourgings, imprisonments, and
deaths, which everywhere threatened the heralds of the cross of
Calvary. Beside the vivid suggestions of his own experience,
while " breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the dis-
ciples of the Lord," — suggestions which would be sufficient to dis-
hearten any man who had not the fortitude and the courage of the
noblest in the army of the mart3^rs, — we find, that, at the very out-
set of his ministry for Christ, he received a revelation of suffering,
no less than of salvation. While Ananias was hesitating to per-
form the service, to which a vision directed him, — thinking it im-
possible, that Saul of Tarsus had become a man of prayer in spirit
and in truth, — "Go thy way," said the Lord: for he is a chosen
vessel unto me, to bear my name before the gentiles, and kings, and
the children of Israel. For I will show him how great tilings he
must suffer for my name's sake.''

It was then in full view of all his liabilities to reproach, and
ignominy, and torture, and frightful martyrdom, that he went
through all the populous cities, the marts of commerce, and the seats
of opulence and learning, — preaching boldly the gospel of the king-
dom of the Son of God. If men of the highest rank ridiculed his
doctrine, and scoffed at his warnings, they could never have raised
a blush upon his cheek. He could say to all, I am not ashamed of
THE Gospel. He could " weep in secret places for their pride,"
like the prophet of Lamentations ; but no reproach or reviling
could have ever caused him to appear " with confusion of face."
Never did he flee for his life, or hide himself, because he feared
death in any of its terrors ; for he was always " ready, not to be
bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus."

Beyond a question, his appeal to those elders of Ephesus was
applicable to all, whom he had been permitted to address accord-
ing to his heart's desire. " I have not shunned to declare unto you
the whole counsel of God." He neither disguised the truth, nor


withheld any truth, nor neutralized the truth, that he might make
his doctrine more agreeable to the depraved taste of the carnal
mind. In the conclusion of his Epistle to the Church at Ephesus, —
written when he was in chains, — is the memorable exhortation, to
" put on the whole armor of God, that they might be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil. . . . Praying always with all
prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with
all perseverance and supplication for all saints, and for me,'" it is
added, " that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my
mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel ; for which
I am an ambassador in bonds, that therein I may speak boldly as I
ought to speak''

7. If Paul was distinguished for boldness, he was no less remark-
able for the meekness and humility, with Vv^hich also he labored to
promote the Gospel.

Fierce as he was, before he became a new man, he was so trans-
formed into the image of Christ, that it might be said of him most
truly, that he was " meek and lowly in heart." He could suffer
injuries without any desire of revenge ; and whatever trials might
come upon him, it was all well, if the power of Christ was present
with him for his strength of consolation. The remembrance of
what he once was, while a destroyer of the faith, and the conscious-
ness of the unspeakable mercy which had been bestowed upon him,
disarmed him of all asperity, and subdued all his haughtiness. This
we are fully warranted to believe, from his words and his example.
Still it was true, that he insisted firmly and indomitably upon a re-
cognition of his rights, as a Roman citizen, and withstood even
Simon Peter to the face, when he was justly "to be blamed."

Far and wide did Paul preach the gospel, with signal and signal-
ized success. Yet he never speaks of his distinction in this respect,
as if disposed to bring himself into notice. Upon one occasion he
said, — " I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apos-
tles." It was when compelled for the honor of Christ to vindicate
himself against the outrageous aspersions of those, who craftily and
shamelessly endeavored to undermine and destroy his influence in a
church, for which he had toiled with such self-sacrificing endurance.
The same remark will apply to otherexpressionsof a similar nature.
Vastly more congenial was the language of his first Epistle to that
church : " Last of all Christ was seen of me also, as of one born
out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, and am not
worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of
God. But by the grace of God I am what I am : and his grace
which was bestowed upon me was not in vain ; but I labored more
abundantly than they all ; yet not I, but the grace of God which
was with me."

How admirable the wisdom and the spirit of his charge to
Timothy ! " O man of God, follow after righteousness, godliness,
faith, love, patience, meekness. . . . Foolish and unlearned


questions [questions indicating both ignorance and folly] avoid,
knowing that they gender contentions. And the servant of the
Lord must not contend ; but be gentle to all men, apt to teach,
patient, — in ?7ieek7iess instructing those that oppose themselves, if God
perad venture will give them repentance to the acknowledging of
the truth."

" Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in
honor preferring one another," was an injunction to the Romans.
To the Colossians also, and to the kindred in Christ generally, he
wrote in the style of commandment or exhortation, enforcing the
obligations of humility and meekness, upon all classes and orders in
the household of faith, — as if these graces of the Christian charac-
ter were of immeasurable importance. And never could he have
written as he did to those who had known him so well, if they had
not indubitable evidence, that every v/ord was true when he said :
" Being reviled, we bless ; being persecuted, we suffer it ; being de-
famed, we entreat ; we are made as the filth of the world, and are
the offscouring of all things."

8. We have another and a most important view of the means by
which Paul labored to pro-iriote the Gospel, when we consider that
he always published it, as being made effectual in no other way,
than by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Not the slightest hope of success would the apostle have had,
were it not that his " speech was in demonstration of the Spirit and
of power." In every variety of manner, he proclaimed as his joy
and exultation, that all the glory of the triumphs and the trophies of
the Gospel belonged to his Saviour and his God. " We have this
treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may
be of God, and not of us." He never speaks or writes of his suc-
cess in publishing the glad tidings of salvation by the blood of Christ,
but as accomplished by the " Lord working with him," or as if his
unworthy instrumentality would have availed nothing, and less
than nothing, if the word preached had not been " mighty through
God." How he rebuked the Corinthians and glorified God, when
he said : — " Whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as nen ? For while one
saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not car-
nal ? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by
whom ye believed, even as the Lord Jesus gave to every man ? I
have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase So then
neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but


9. I add, briefly, that Paul published the Gospel, as being made
effectual in answer to fervent 'prayer.

From the moment he became convicted of sin, and was enlight-
ened into a knowledge of Christ, he was a man of prayer, — earnest,
energetic, effectual prayer. '• What wilt thou have me to do ?" was
his first petition, and we know not but his last. Certain it is, that


from the time his Lord could say of him, " behold he prayeth," — up
to the latest hour of record, we have ample proof that, in enjoining
upon the Thessalonians and other Christians, to " pray without ceas-
ing," he enjoined what he himself most sacredly performed.

I know not in how many instances he uses such language as, —
" Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers."
And to what end ? " We pray always for you, that our God would
count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of
his goodness, and the work of faith with power ; that the name of
our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified -in you, and ye in him, ac-
cording to the grace of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Again he says to the Thessalonians, " Brethren, p?'^?/ for us.'' How

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) WorcesterSermons / by Samuel M. Worcester → online text (page 10 of 11)