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“ thefe conciliating expressions : “ brethren, my “ heart's desire and prayer to God for Wrael is, that « they might be saved; for I bear them record, thai. « they have a zeal of God, but not according to know. “ ledge." Lastly, having, ch. x. ver. 20, 21. by: “the application of a passage in Isaiah, insinuated “ the most ungrateful of all propositions to a Jewish “ ear, the rejection of the Jewihh nation as God's
peculiar people, he haftens, as it were, to qualify “ the intelligence of their fall by this interesting ex. “ postulation, “I say then, hath God caft away his. " people (i. e. wholly and entirely)? God forbid ; for " I also am an Ifraelite, of the seed of Abraham, of as the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not caft away his " people which he foreknew ;." and follows this thought. " throughout the whole of the eleventh chapter, in “ a series of reflections, calculated to footh the Jew. “ ish converts, as well as to procure, from their Gen“ tile brethren respect to the Jewish institution. Now " all this is perfectly natural. In a real St. Paul, “ writing to real converts, it is what anxiety to bring “ them over to his persuasion would naturally pro• duce ; but there is an earnestness and a personal“ ity, if I may so call it, in the manner, which a. “ cold forgery, I apprehend, would neither have “ conceived nor supported.”.
Thus far this excellent writer ; and undoubtedly these instances strongly confirm his conclusion ; but, I may add, they more strongly confirm the conclu
fion I am labouring to support; for such instances of heartfelt affe&ion, for those whose opinions he most strongly opposes—and anxious care to foften and guard every thought, and every expression, so as, if possible, not to offend, is unexampled in the writings of any man infected with the weakness, the violence, and the pride, so constantly attendant on fanaticism.
Another, not less striking instance of St. Paul's mildness and tenderness, presents itself in the apoftle's language to the Corinthians, amongst whom he had discovered the most atrocious o incest had been committed, and allowed to continue with impunity. On such an occasion a violent enthusiast would have instantly thundered forth a ban of eternal condemnation, certainly against the individual offender, probably against the whole society; no expressions would have seemed too bitter, no violence too great. Not fo the apostle ; he expofes in strong, but calm and dignified language, the enormity of the crime, the contagion of the example, and the danger of impunity. He commands them “P to put away from 66 among themselves that wicked person-to deliver “ him over 9 to Satan for the destruction of the
o i Cor. v. 1. . . 1 Cor. v. 5.
9 Vid. Benson's history of the first planting of Christianity, vol. i. p. 53. and the notes in Dodd and Macknight. Probably, this means, deliver him over by a sentence of excommunication, to the punishment which shall be in consequence miraculously infitted on him, by a bodily disease.
“ flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of " the Lord Jesus.”-But when his exhortation had produced the desired effect, when the finner had been punished, and reduced to a due sense of shame and sorrow for his enormous crime, and when the autho, rity of virtue, and the sacredness of religion had been thus restored, with what inimitable tenderness does the apostle speak pardon and peace to the penitent offender, and consolation to the humbled church ?-«? Out of much affli&ion and anguish of “ heart I wrote unto yoų, with many tears, not that " you should be grieved, but that you might know “ the love which I have more abundantly unto you. “ If any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me “ but in part (that I may not overcharge you all); “ fufficient to such a man is this punishment, which ♡ was inflicted of many, so that, contrarywise, ye " ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, « least, perhaps, such a one should be swallowed up « with overmuch forrow: wherefore, I beseech you,
that you would confirm your love towards him."
The famę epistle to the Corinthians exhibits. St. Paul, treating another subject of the most trying and delicate nature, with the most consummate judgment and address, as well, as the most perfect composure, and the most unfeigned humility..
One or more teachers had, in the absence of the
r 2 Cor. ii.
apostle, intruded into the Corinthian church, who laboured to undermine his character, to subvert his authority, and establish their own influence on the ruins of both : with such opponents, how would a wild enthusiast have combated ? doubtless with virulent, undisguised, and unbounded condemnation, unqualified self-applause; and above all, by denouncing against them, the immediate and irreconcileable vengeance of an offended God. Or, if we suppose him to have united with the heat of enthusiasm, any thing of the artifice and the fraud of imposture, this would betray itself in cunning attempts to reconcile his adversaries, by compromise and concesfion, or to oppose calumny by calumny, and falfhood by falshood; while attention to order and piety would be affected, merely to mask pride and avarice, contending for authority united with emolument. Totally different from either of these is the spirit which pervades the writings of the apostle. He mentions his rivals and opponents only in general terms, not naming them individually, left he should seem to be actuated by personal enmity, or to wish to excite against them personal opposition. He reprehends the fpirit of contention and party amongst the Corinthians, not because it led them to revere an authothority different from his own, but because it led them to follow any human authority, to a degree incon. sistent with the reverence due to their common Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ; and he exemplifies the unreasonableness and impiety of such misplaced re
) verence, on the supposition of its being paid, not to another, but to himself, and such of his brother apostles, as he most esteemed ; for, (says he) “ while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of “ Apollos, are ye not all carnal ? Who then is Paul, “ and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye be“ lieved, even as the Lord gave to every man? I “ have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the “ increase ; so then, neither is he that planteth any “ thing, neither he that watereth, but God, who “ giveth the increase."
In the very same spirit of heartfelt piety, and unfeigned humility, does he teach the Corinthians the just degree of estimation, in which they should hold him, and every other minister of the gospel; and the principle which bound them to suspend all rash judgment on their character and views, and all contention about their pretensions and authority. Let a " man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, os and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, " it is required in stewards, that a man be found “ faithful; but with me it is a very small thing, that “ I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment; “ yea, I judge not mine own self, for I know no“ thing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified; “ but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore “ judge nothing before the time, until the Lord