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ple worship, hitherto performed exclusively in one distinguished place, should be abolished, and the cumbrous ceremonies and fatiguing forms of the Jewish ritual set aside, to make way for a purer mode of adoration; when the contrite heart was to supersede the costly sacrifice, and God should be worshipped in a way more suited to his spiritual nature.*
Yet, even here, the wise moderation of Paul is visible. He did not manifest his dislike of one extreme point by flying to the antipodes of opposition: when ostentatious rites were pronounced to be no longer necessary, he did not adopt, like some other reformers, the contrary excess of irregularity and confusion. While the internal principle was the grand concern, the outward appendage must be decorous. To keep the exterior "decent" and "orderly," was emblematical of the purity and regularity within!
While Paul's severe reproof of the confusion and irregularities, which disgraced the Church of Corinth, proves him to be a decided enemy to the distempers of spiritual vanity and enthusiasm; he does not, like a worldly reprover, seize the occasion given by their imprudence to treat with levity the power of religion itself: he does not lay hold on the error he condemns for a pretence to deride true zeal, and to render ridiculous the gifts which had been indecently abused. On the contrary, he observes how improperly these gifts and supernatural powers had been used by some on whom they were conferred; who, he laments, were more anx
* Gospel of St. John, chap. iv.
ious to eclipse each other in these shewy distinctions, than convert them to the purposes of practical use and excellence; advises, that "spiritual gifts" may be directed to their true end; "that ye may excel to the edifying of the Church;" gently reminds the offenders, that they themselves were nothing more than vehicles and organs of the operation of the Spirit. While he insinuates that, were these miraculous powers their sole distinction, it might be doubtful by what specific mark to recognize in them the genuine Christian: he removes the difficulty, by shewing them there was a more excellent way, by which they might most indisputably make out their title. This "way," which is now, as it was then, the discriminating characteristic of the true believer, is Charity; all the properties of which he describes, not for their instruction only, but for ours also.
If the apostle has here, on the one hand, furnished no example or apology for enthusiasm and eccentricity; if the solidity of his piety, and the sobriety of his mind, are uniformly opposed to the unprofitable fervours of fanaticism, both in doctrine and conduct, yet on the other hand his life and writings are quite as little favourable to a more formidable, because a less suspected and more common evil,-we mean indifference. Coldness and inefficiency, indeed, are, in the estimation of some persons, reputable, or at least safe qualities, and often obtain the honourable name of Prudence; but to Saint Paul it was not enough that nothing wrong was done; he considered it reproach sufficient, that nothing was done.
He sometimes intrenches himself in the honest severity which his integrity compels him to exercise against
the opposers of vital Christianity, by adducing some pointed censure against them from men of their own party or country. For instance, when he condemns, in his letter to their new bishop, Titus, the luxurious, avaricious, and slothful Cretans, he corroborates the truth of his testimony by the authority of one of their own poets, or "prophets.” These slow sensualists, these indulgers of appetite, these masters of ceremonies, he not only stigmatizes himself, but adds to his Pagan quotation, "This witness is true." And it may be adduced as a striking instance of his discriminating mode of church government, that this wise ecclesiastical ruler, who had before exhorted Timothy, the bishop of another church, to "be gentle unto all men, meekly instructing those who oppose themselves," now directs Titus to "rebuke sharply" these temporising teachers, and unholy livers.
He saw that a grave and sedate indolence, investing itself with the respectable attribute of moderation, eats out the very heart's core of piety. He knew that these somnolent characters communicate the repose which they enjoy; that they excite no alarm, because they feel none. Their tale of observances is regularly brought in; their list of forms is completely made out. Forms, it is true, are valuable things, when they are "used as a dead hedge to secure the quick;" but here the observances are rested in; here the forms are the whole of the fence. The dead fence is not considered as a protection, but a substitute. The teacher and the taught, neither disturbing nor disturbed, but soothing and soothed, reciprocate civilities, exchange
commendations. If little good is done, it is well; offence is given, it is better; if no superfluity of zeal be imputed, it is best of all. The Apostle felt what the Prophet expressed," My people love to have it so."
Perhaps the sum and substance of the duties of a Christian minister, to which there is also a reference in this chapter, was never compressed into so small a compass as in his charge to his beloved Titus ;*. "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works. In doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech." We see here, in a few significant words, a rule of conduct and of instruction which is susceptible of the widest expansion. The most elaborate paraphrase will add little to the substantial worth of this brief monition. Every instructor must furnish his own practical commentary by transferring into his life the pattern, and into his preaching the precept. He adds, the sure effect of a life and doctrine so correct will be to silence calumny; the adversary of religion will be ashamed of his enmity when he sees the purity of its professor defeat all attempts to discredit him.
It is a truth, verified in every age of the Church, that the doctrines which Paul preached, stood in direct opposition to the natural dispositions of man; they militated against his corrupt affections; they tended to subdue what had been hitherto invincible,-the stubborn human will; to plant self-denial where self-love had before overrun the ground. To convince of sin, to point to the Saviour, to perfect holiness, yet to exclude boast
*Titus, ch. 2,
ing, are the apostle's invariable objects. These topics he urges by every power of argument, by every charm of persuasion; by every injunction to the preacher, by every motive to the hearer; but these injunctions, neither argument, persuasion, nor motive, can ever render engaging. Man loves to have his corruptions soothed; it is the object of the apostle to combat them: man would have his errors indulged; it is the object of the religion which Paul preached, to eradicate them.
Of the dislike excited against the loyal ambassadors of the Gospel, by those who live in opposition to its doctrines, our common experience furnishes us with no unapt emblem. When we have a piece of unwelcome news to report, we prepare the hearer by a soothing introduction; we break his fall by some softening circumstance; we invent some conciliatory preamble: he listens; he distrusts; but we arrive at the painful truth; the secret is out, the preparation is absorbed in the reality, the evil remains in its full force; nothing but the painful fact is seen, heard, or felt.
"Thy news hath made thee a most ugly man."
The apostle knew that it would afford little comfort to the humble Christian to talk of the mercy of God in the abstract, and the forgiveness of sins in vague and general terms. He persuades the believer to endeavour to obtain evidence of his own interest in this great salvation. The fountain of forgiveness may flow, but if the current reach not to us, if we have no personal interest in the offered redemption, if we do not indivi