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3. We notice the ardor of his pious affections, and the tenderness of those affections.
Paul was, in a high degree, and with a remarkable uniformity, an affectionate man; affectionate I mean, in regard to spiritual objects, and the moral condition of men. His benevolence was expansive as the world, embracing Jews and Gentiles, of every rank, and was too generous and devoted to be checked by provocation, or straitened by partial considerations. It fastened upon its object with a vehement desire. This we learn partly from what he did, and very fully from the strong language he uses. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." His language has in it indeed the clearest evidence of being from the abundance of the heart. It shews that he loses himself, in the strong current of his affection towards others. Towards Christ, his ever-beloved master, how strong they were! I will quote to you but a single passage, in reference to him. "But what was gain to me I counted loss for Christ; yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ—that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." Towards his brethren in Christ, to the conversion of many of whom he had been directly instrumental, he seems to be all love. "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us—But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time, in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire—For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy—Ye are in our hearts to die and live with you."
Does he affirm correctly pi himself, when he appeals to the Elders of the Church of Ephesus as witnesses of the deep interest he took in the everlasting welfare of those, to whom his labors extended in that city? We cannot doubt it. His words are, "Therefore watch, and remember, that, by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
To the Corinthians, some of whom, from the invidious insinuations of false apostles, had treated him very wrongfully, he most pathetically says, "I seek not yours, but you; and I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved."
Very strongly did his benevolence go forth towards the unbelieving Jews, who were his brethren according to the flesh, the most of whom, at least, were his embittered persecutors. "I say the truth in Christ: I lie not; my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart; for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." However criticism may dispose of this passage, it certainly expressed very strong benevolence towards this description of people; a benevolence that could rest in nothing short of their eternal salvation, which perhaps is all that it is important that we should get from it. In perfect coincidence with this passage, is the first verse of the following chapter. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved." Thus the ardor of holy affection, in all the modifications and towards all the objects of it, wrought perpetually in the soul of this distinguished missionary.
4. We will now turn our attention to another trait in Paul's character as a Christian Missionary, closely connected with what has been just mentioned, his exclusive devotedness to the object of his mission, and his indefatigable industry in prosecuting it.
Was not his eye single? Was he not, through the whole course of his life, subsequent to his conversion, engrossed, we might almost say perfectly, by the work to which he had been called? Did he not, in agreement with the injunction he laid on Timothy, give himself wholly to these things? What worldly good does he appear at any time to have sought? Did he mingle at all in projects of worldly ambition or schemes of avarice? Was he, for a day or an hour, in search of popularity, of splendor, or of ease? We discern nothing in him of this nature. And his declarations respecting himself, especially considering with what solemnity they were uttered, are certainly entitled to confidence. He says, "For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, neither a cloke of covetousness. God is witness. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, or yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. Did I make a gain of you, by any of them that I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? Walked we not by the same spirit? Walked we not by the same rule?" The love of popularity, of preferment, in the higher, but spurious grades of the sacerdotal office, of indolence, of luxurious indulgence, and superfluous riches, the opposite entirely of the self-denial of the Gospel, has been, and continues to be, to a great extent, the disgrace and ruin of the Christian ministry. Nothing of this is to be seen in our apostolic missionary. Never indeed does he designedly take an offensive attitude. Never docs he aim to draw persecution on himself for the sake of the honors and the rewards of martyrdom. But his charge he executes with a cautious self-denial, and a most exemplary purity.
His industry appears to have corresponded with the singleness of his purpose. We will not forget what he says to the Ephesian elders, "Ye yourselves know, that these hands, have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me." To the believers in Corinth he says, "Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool. I am more, in labors more abundant—in weariness and painfulness; besides those things, that come upon me daily, the care of all the Churches." To the Thessalonians he says, "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travel; for, laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the Gospel of God." From the account given of him in the Acts, and from his own writings, he appears to have been unceasingly engaged, wearing himself down in the labors of his mission, scarce giving himself an hour of innocent, and, as we should say, necessary, relaxation.
5. Another circumstance deserving notice, in Paul's discharge of the duties of his mission, is the manner in which he preached the Gospel.
I do not refer to his attitude as a preacher, his gestures, his enunciation, the smoothness of his periods, or the energy and pathos with which he may be supposed to have poured out his inspirations. These, it is confessed, are of some necessity, at least to conciliate the estimate of fastidious hearers. But the Holy Spirit has not thought them of sufficient importance to make them a part of an infallible