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fellow heirs, and of the fame body, and partakers of his promife in Chrift, by the Gospel, whereof I am made
THESE were fome of the myfteries difpenfed by this steward of the myfteries of God; who "fhunned not to declare all the counfel of God." He declared the deep things, which human reason could not have discovered; and those alfo which it cannot comprehend. These are to be found in Paul's teachings, as well as the plain things which are easy to be understood.
BUT the principal business of this "steward of the mysteries of God," was to open the way of falvation through a Savior, and shew that provision is made in him for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles, and offered alike to thofe of every nation; and to lead men to the knowledge of themfelves and the Redeemer, and teach them how they might be benefitted by divine grace in him.
AND while he acknowledged the obligations of fidelity, he declared himself no way greatly affected by the judgment which might be paffed upon him by his fellow mortals. But with me it is a fmall thing to be judged of you, or of man's judgment. An intimation that he was judged and cenfured by fome of them. This was, doubtless, matter of notoriety at Corinth; but he little regarded it. It made no change in him, or in the manner in which he difcharged the duties of his office. He was chiefly concerned, to obtain the. approbation of an higher tribunal that of his di
Ephefians iii. 2—7.
vine mafter, the Judge of all. The judgment of fellow mortals did not move him-He that judgeth me is the Lord.
Not that he was wholly indifferent to the opinion entertained of him by his fellow men. Had he been fo, he would not have undertaken his own defence as in these epiftles. A measure of esteem was neceffary to his usefulness in the miniftry. Had all who heard him thought him the enemy of God, he could have done no good in it. Therefore his endeavor to rectify their mistakes. And the rather because he held the truth as it is in Jesus; fo that in rejecting him, and the doctrines which he taught, they turned afide into errors which might fatally mislead them. But he did not wrong his confcience to please them, or depart from truth to gain their approbation"Do I feek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the fervant of Chrift." Had Paul been chiefly concerned to please men, he would have continued a Pharifee.
THE person who would please Chrift, while paying such deference to the opinions of men as fairly to weigh every objection against his faith or practice, and try them by the divine rule, muft be careful to conform to that rule, whatever opinions may be entertained of him. Of the meaning of the rule he must judge for himself before God"calling no man master." The reasons of his faith and practice, and his conftruction of the divine rule, he may lay before his fellow men, to remove the grounds of prejudice; but he must
rife so far above their frowns and flatteries, as not to be influenced by them to disguise his fentiments, or counteract his own judgment of the law of God, of the gospel of Christ, or of the duties incumbent on him.
Ir is not by human judgments that we are to stand or fall. It is happy that this is the cafe ; that the good man hath a judge more just and can. did than his fellow fervants; one who knows and pities his weakness, though he hath none of his own: "Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercies are great; and let me not fall into the hand of man."
BUT the apoftle did not ftop with a declaration that the judgment of others did not move him; he brought it home to himself: Yea, I judge not mine own felf. For I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby juftified; but he that judgeth me is the Lord. St. Paul had a witness in himself that he was fincere and upright before God-" Our rejoicing is this, the teflimony of our confcience, that in fimplicity, and Godly fincerity, not by fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our converfation in the world, and more abundantly toward you."
THE fame is the import of his declaration in the text—“ I know nothing by myfelf-am conscious of no allowed wickednefs-of no wilful error, either in profeffion or practice." But he dared not to affert that he had made no mistakes-yet am I not hereby juftified. He knew himself liable to errordid not trust his own heart." He that judgeth me
is the Lord" his judgment is according to truth -that will determine my character, and fix my doom."
THE apostle could remember a time in which he had confcientiously done wrong. He had per. fecuted the church; killed Chrift's difciples, and thought he was doing right; verily believed that he was doing God fervice !-Now he acted confcientiously in " preaching the faith he had once de. ftroyed"-in the manner of his preaching it; and discharging every minifterial and Chriftian duty; though he was cenfured and calumniated by fome, and suspected by others. He followed the light of his own mind, and determined to follow it ; so to act as not to be condemned of himself. But he knew that the ftandard of rectitude did not follow his views, and vary with his judgment. "If his heart did not condemn him, he had confidence toward God; yet he knew God to be greater than his heart," and poffeffed of all knowledge; dared not therefore affirm that his judge would approve of all which he approved-Yet am I not hereby juftified he that judgeth me is the Lord.
I. We fee that cenfure may be incurred without neglect of duty, When Paul was converted to Christianity, he was made an apoftle, and ordered of the Redeemer to preach the gofpel. He obeyed. He was guided in his work by the spirit of God; yet he was blamed by fome, and suspect. ed by others.
THAT Chrift's faithful fervants are flandered and reproached is not a new thing under the fun. It hath been common among men. And herein they are only made like their Lord. And fhall they think it strange? "It is enough for the dif ciple that he be as his mafter, and the fervant as his Lord. If they call the mafter of the house Beelzebub,how much more them of his household ?"
WHEN oppofition and reproaches come from those who profess friendship to Chrift they wound the deeper. This however, hath often happened. It happened to the apoftle at Corinth, and elfewhere. If we witness that which is fimilar, we need not be furprized, as though fome ftrange thing had happened.
II. ARE we unjustly cenfured by our fellow fervants, or reproached while in the way of our duty? We have here an example worthy our imitation. St. Paul was chiefly concerned to approve himself to God. We fhould be fo too-fhould ftudy to acquaint ourselves with the divine rule, and to conform to it; not difobeying God to please men.
GREAT care is requifite to know our duty. Enveloped in darknefs, and biaffed to error, it is often difficult to find out the right way. But we are not left without inftruction. A rule is given us by which we may "judge of ourselves what is right." Of that rule we muft judge for ourselves, and by it try ourselves. "To our own mafter we ftand or fall." To obtain his approbation should be our chief concern. "If God be with us, who can be against us ?"