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to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working ?” The apostle did not only forbear some little things, but he put himself to great difficulties by forbearing those things that were in themselves lawful. It cost him a great deal of labour of body to maintain himself. But yet he willingly laboured, working with his own hands, and as he says, though he was free from all men, yet he made himself the servant of all, that he might gain the more. Let tbis ioduce such persons to consider themselves, whether they act altogether as become Christians, who look upon it as a sufficient excuse for all the liberties they take, that the things in which they allow theinselves, are in themselves lawful, that they are nowhere forbidden, though they cannot deny but that considered in their circumstances, they are of ill tendency, and expose them to temptation, and really tend to wound the credit and interest of religion, aud to be a stumbling block to others, or as the apostle expresses it, lend to cause others to offend. But they uphold themselves with this, that the things which they practise are not absolutely unlawful in themselves, and therefore they will not hearken to any counsels to avoid thein. They think with themselves that it is unreasonable they should be tied up so strictly; that they may not take one and another liberty, and inust be so stiff and precise above others. But why did not the apostle talk after their manner? Why did not hc say within himself, it is unreasonable that I should deny myself lawful meat and drink merely to comply with the consciences of a few weak persons, that are unreasonable in their scruples ? Why should I deny myself the comforts of marriage; why should I deny myself that maintenance wbich Christ himself has ordained for ministers, oply to avoid the objection of unreasonable men ? But the apostle was of another spirit. What he aimed at was by any means to promote the interest of religion, and the good of the church. And he had rather forego all the common comforts and enjoyments of life, than that religion should suffer.
Fifthly. The apostle willingly endured innumerable and extreme sufferings for the honour of Christ and the good of men. His sufferings were very great ; and that not only once or twice, but he went through a long series of sufferings, that continued from the time of his conversion as long as his life lasted. So that his life was not only a lite of extraordinary Jahour, but a lite of extreme sufferings also. Labours and sufferings were mixed together, and attended each other to the end of the race which he rau. lle endured sufferings of all kinds, even those that cannot consist in the loss of temporal things. He tells us he had suffered the loss of all things, Phil. iii. 8, all his former enjoyments, which he had before his conversion. And he endured many kinds of positive afflictions. 1 Cor. iv. 11, 12. "Even unto this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place. And labour, working with our hands; being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we suffer it.” 2 Cor. vi. 4-11. « But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left; by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed ; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing ; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” None of the apostles went through so great, and such various afflictions as he: 2 Cor. xi. 23–28. “Are they ministers of Christ? I am more; in labours more abandant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." His sufferings were so extreme, that he did not go through a series of sufferings merely, but might be said, as it were, to go through a series of deaths. He did in effect endure the pains of death over and over again almost continually, and therefore he expresses himself as he does. 2 Cor. iv. 9-11. “ Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body.” Rom. viii. 36. “As it is written for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 1 Cor. xv. 31. “ I protest by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." He was so pursued and pressed by troubles, sometimes outward VOL. VIII.
and inward troubles together, that he had no rest. 2 Cor. vii. 5. " For when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side: without were fightings, within were fears." Sometimes his sufferings were so extreme that his nature seemed just ready to faint under them : 2 Cor. i. 8. “For we would not brethren have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life." And at last the apostle was deprived of his life. He suffered a violent death at Rome under the hand of that cruel tyrant, Nero, soon after he wrote the second epistle to Timothy. These things he endured for Christ's sake; for the advancement of his kingdom ; as he says, he was always delivered to death for Jesus' sake. And those he endured also from love to men, and from an earnest desire of their good : 2 Tim. ii. 10. “ Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
He knew what afflictions awaited him beforehand; but he would not avoid his duty, because of such affictions. He was so resolute in seeking Christ's glory, and the good of men, that he would pursue these objects, notwithstanding what might befal him: Acts xx. 22—24. “And now behold I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befal me there ; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But pone of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Yet he went through them cheerfully and willingly, and delighted to do God's will, and to promote others' good, though it was at this great cost : Col. i. 24. “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the Church.” And he was never weary. He did not, after he had suffered a long time, excuse himself, and say he thought he had done his part. Now here appears Christianity in its proper colours. To be of such a spirit as this, is to be of such a spirit as Christ so often requires of us, if we would be his disciples. This is to sell all and give to the poor. This is to take up the cross daily and follow Christ. To have such a spirit as this, is to have good evidence of being a Christian indeed, a thorough Christian, one that has given himself to Christ without reserve; one that hates father and mother, and wife and children and sisters, yea and his own life also; one that loses his life for Christ's sake, and so shall find it. And though it is not required of all that they should endure so great
sufferings as Paul did; yet it is required and absolutely necessary, that many Christians should be in a measure of this spirit, should be of a spirit to lose all things, and suffer all things for Christ, rather than not obey his commands and seek his glory. How well may our having such an example as this set before our eyes, make us ashamed, who are so backward now and then to lose little things, to put ourselves a little out of our way, to deny ourselves some convenience, to deny our sinful appetites, or to incur the displeasure of a neighbour. Alas! what thought have we of Christianity, to make much of such things as these ; to make so many objections, to keep back, and contrive ways to excuse ourselves, when a little difficulty arises ! What kind of thoughts had we of being Christians, when we first undertook to be such, or first pretended a willingness to be Christians ? Did we never sit down and count the cost, or did we cast it up at this rate, that we thought the whole sum would not amount to such little sufferings as lie in our way?
II. I now proceed to show under what special obligations we are to follow the good example of this apostle.
Beside the obligation that rests upon us to follow the good example of all, and beside the eminence of his example, there are some special reasons why we are under greater obligations to be influenced by the good example of this great 'apostle, than by the very same example in others. This appears if we consider,
1. In general, that those whom God has especially appointed to be teachers in the Christian church, be has also set to be examples in his church. It is part of the charge that belongs to teachers to be examples to others. It is one thing that belongs to their work and office. So this is part of the charge, that the apostle gives to Timothy, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” The same charge was given to Titus, “ In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works." And this is part of the charge the apostle Peter gives to the elders and teachers of the Christian church, “ The elders which are among you, I exhort ; feed the flock of God. Neither being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the lock.” Thus Christ, the chief Shepherd of the sheep, whom God ordained to be the greatest teacher, he also ordained to be the greatest example to his church. And so those shepherds and teachers that are under him, according as they are appointed to be teachers, are also to be examples. They are to be guides of the flock in two ways, viz. by teaching and by example, as shepherds lead their flocks in two ways; partly by their voice by calling them, and partly by going before them, and by leading the way. And indeed guiding by word and guiding by example, are but two different ways of teaching; and therefore both alike belong to the office of teachers in the Christian church. But if this be so, if God has especially set those to be examples in the Christian church whom he has made its teachers, then it will follow, that wherever they have left us good examples, those examples are especially to be regarded. For God has doubtless made the duty of teachers towards the church, and the duty of the church towards her teachers, to answer one another. And theresore the charge is mutual. The charge is not only to teachers to set good examples, but the charge is to the church to regard and follow their good examples : Hebrews xiii. 7. “ Remember them which have the rule over you, which have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” It is with respect to the good examples of the teachers of the Christian church, as it is with their words, their instructions and exhortations. We ought to hear good instructions and good counsels of any one, let him be whom he may. But yet we are under special obligations to hearken to the good instructions and examples of those whom God has made our teachers; for that is the very office to which God has appointed them to teach and to counsel us.
2. There are two things that are to be observed in particular of the apostle Paul, which, from the foregoing general observation, will show that we are under very special obligations to regard and follow his good example.
First. God hath appointed the apostle Paul not only to be a great teacher of the Christian church in that age in which he liv. ed, but the principal teacher of his church of any mere man in all succeeding ages. He was set of God not only to teach the church then, when he lived, but God has made him our teacher by his inspired writings. The Christian church is taught by the apostle still, and has been in every age since he lived. It is not with the penmen of the scriptures, as it is with other teachers of the Christiao church. Other teachers are made the teachers of a particular flock in the age in which they live. But the penmen of the scriptures hath God made to be teachers of the church universal in
And therefore, as particular congregations ought to follow the good examples of their pastors, so the church universal in all ages ought to observe and follow the good examples of the prophets and apostles, that are the penmen of the scriptures, in all ages. So the apostle James commands us to take the ancient prophets for our example, because they have been appointed of God to be our teachers, and have spoken to us in the name of the Lord. James v. 10. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction and patience.” The prophets and apostles, in that God has made