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the disgrace of Greece itself. I may mention one historical fact in confirmation of this-that the temple of Venus stood in the midst of the city, and that one thousand prostitutes were daily employed in serving at the public expense. The bestial vices of our nature were here held in esteem: the observation of the poet was falsified that "vice to be hated needs but to be seen." It was seen here to be admired and applauded. It was the master-trick of Satan, by which he sought to overwhelm the world with corruption, and to bring the sensualities of our nature into esteem. Vice, therefore, at Corinth, was deified in the personification of their gods and goddesses. And, my brethren, in this later age, and this enlightened country, where the evil of sin is known, its offensiveness to the Deity understood, and its exposure to his future wrath fearfully revealed, so fearful are its workings in our nature, that it breaks forth notwithstanding. What, then, must it have done when all these barriers were removed, and when, in addition to the natural delight of gratifying these propensities, were added the incentive that they pleased the gods, and procured their approbation. It was as if sin had plunged mankind into a second fall still deeper than the first heavenly creatures became earthly by the first, but now the still more dismal features were added to the character of sensual and devilish
Such was Corinth at the time the Apostle entered the city, and began to preach the Gospel in the Jewish synagogue. I find four things connected with his labours there, well deserving, in my opinion, of a distinct and serious consideration.
The first relates to HIS ABODE AND MANNER OF LIFE. He found two aged Christians there of the names of Aquila and Priscilla, who had come from Rome to settle in that city. They probably had been converted at Rome by the preaching of some of the converts at the day of Pentecost in Judea on their return to the imperial city. Their departure from Rome was hastened by the edict of the emperor Claudius, banishing all Jews from that city. With them Paul soon became acquainted, and went and abode with them, and wrought with them at their occupation of tent-makers for his maintenance. This art he had learnt in his youth; for it was the custom of Jewish parents whatever was the condition of their children in future life, always to teach them some handicraft occupation, on which they might fall back in case of reverse of fortune. This custom served the apostles on the present occasion, and on other occasions; but he wrought now for his maintenance that he might not be chargeable to the inhabitants of Corinth, and so be represented as preaching the Gospel for hire-which might have formed an obstruction in the way of their reception of it. You know that the false Apostle who succeeded him there did endeavour to bring this charge against him, but he repudiated it by an appeal to this fact, which showed the reason and the propriety of his conduct now. Not that that conduct is to be drawn into a precedent; he did not relinquish the right, though for prudent reasons he saw fit to forego the claim. In the epistle which he afterwards wrote to the converts of this place, he asserts the right; he tells them that he who ministered to them in spiritual things should reap of their carnal things; and that as God ordained under the law that the ox should not be muzzled who trod out the corn, but be fed at the common expense, so Christ himself hath ordained that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. Those narrow-minded persons, therefore,
who are unwi.ing to allow ministers who labour for them to share in their temporal comforts, and plead the example of the Apostle as their justification, may learn their mistake. In so doing they violate a law of Christianity, and show such an indifference to the ministry of the word as will make us fear that Christ will withhold his blessing from them: for it is this point to which the Apostle afterwards refers, when he says, "He that sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth plentifully shall reap also plentifully."
We may learn from the Apostle's conduct, the folly of those persons who affect to despise trade. The artificial distinctions of society are very numerous and very arbitrary-some of them very contemptible, especially those who affect to despise an honest and honourable occupation. Let such persons remember, that Jesus Christ was the son of a carpenter; and that the great Apostle, with all his natural and acquired gifts, sent by Christ himself to preach the Gospel, did not deem it beneath him to work at the art of tent-making for his livelihood.
I cannot help reflecting what a solace must be the company of these two pious persons, while working with them, and conversing with them, in the midst of all the opposition which he met with from the Jews. How would they talk together of the truths of Christianity! What a fund of materials for interesting conversation does the revelation of the Gospel furnish! What are all the stories of the mythologies of the heathen, compared with the fact of the Gospel revelation-the divine philanthropy in the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer the transformation of Christ in assuming our nature-his ignominious death on the cross-his resurrection from the grave-the work of the Holy Ghost in our hearts-our rising from the grave-our appearance at the judgment-seat-the misery of eternal torment-the felicity of eternal glory; what in the mythology of the heathen is to be found compared with these amazing facts? O what depths are here which lead to thoughts and conversations which increase our knowledge by mingling our sentiments together in discourse! But is there not reason to fear that the very heathen talk more about their ridiculous deities to each other than some Christians about the sublimities of the Gospel of the Son of God! Not so the Apostle Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla and the messengers of Christ would beguile the hours away while they discoursed of the wonderful things contained in this book, and presented to your view as the matter for your conversation.
Secondly, THE AMAZING ASSIDUITY AND INDEFATIGABLE Diligence of the APOSTLE PAUL. His occupation did not prevent him preaching every Sabbathday at least in the synagogue he publicly proclaimed the truths concerning the Messiah, showing that the prophecies of the Scriptures respecting Messiah were fulfilled to the very letter in the life, character, and history of Jesus of Nazareth. By a careful induction of particulars he pointed out the actual correspondence and agreement between the original and the portraiture exhibited beforehand. Many of these prophecies were of such a nature as that they could not have been fulfilled by the individual himself in his own person, because they related to the time, and circumstances, and means, and the will of others, over which he had no power, and on which he could exert no influence. Such were the prophecies relating to the particular time and place of the birth of the Messiah, and the person of his mother, that she was to be a
virgin of the house and family of David, and of the tribe of Judah. Such were the prophecies relating to the rejection of him by his countrymen, notwithstanding the miracles which he wrought for the consolation of Israel; the betrayal of him into the hands of his enemies by one of his own disciples; the exact price which the enemy should offer for his betrayal; his making his death with the guilty, and his grave with the rich; and his rising again on the third day. It was the evidence that He in whom all these things met must have had these fulfilled in him by the divine power; there was no room for imposture. All these things the Apostle asserted concerning Jesus of Nazareth, confirming the assertion by the miracles which he wrought, claiming for him their acknowledgment as the Messiah of God. But prejudice blinded them. They were impressed with different views of the Messiah from those which the Apostle presented, and therefore refused to listen to him; they could not refute him, but they could shut their ears, and steel their hearts, against the truths he spoke. They treated his proclamation with disdain: and perceiving them to be infatuated, and given over by the Almighty to fill up the measure of their iniquity, he shook his garments at them, as much as to say, "I am clear from your blood; I participate not in your guilt, and will not be accessary to it: henceforth I turn to the Gentiles, and witness against you that I am clear from the blood of your guilty souls."
It appears from what follows in the chapter that the Apostle now became the subject of great depression of mind. It might have arisen from the continued rejection of him by the Jews, or from a view of the pride, and learning, and sensuality arrayed against him on the part of the Gentiles to whom he now turned; or it might have arisen from some discouraging views which he took of his bodily circumstances-his smallness of stature, his paralysis of speech, as well as the offensive nature of the truths he had to publish. Whatever it was he became much dejected; he says in his epistle, he was with them "in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling." This extraordinary man, with all his natural and supernatural endowments, was of like passions with ourselves, clothed with the same infirmities, and subject to the same temptations. But these served to set off the power of Christ, and the efficacy of his grace. Jesus Christ now appeared to him in a vision, and said, "Fear not; I am with thee, and no man shall hurt thee: stay, and labour in this place, for I have much people in this city." And is he not present still with his ministers at every stage of their labours? What but that gracious presence could keep them from fainting under their discouragements and difficulties?
You learn, also, that the people of Christ are his before they are converted. "I have much people in this city." They were his by the eternal decree. Every converted man was given to Christ before the foundation of the world; and he may say of himself, looking back to that period, "When I was without God, and without hope in the world"-as to all saving knowledge of him. Many converted persons here may say, looking back to that period," Preserved in Christ Jesus and called."
The message of Jesus to the Apostle comforted and encouraged his mind: he therefore hired a house next door to the synagogue, that he might catch he Jews, if, notwithstanding their prejudices, they choose to stray in and hear. Here he continued to preach for the space of eighteen months, with the greatest And here, besides all his labours, he found time to write the first of
those divine epistles which form the last and best part, as to the development of the mind of God, of our New Testament-the first to the Thessalonians to whom he had sent Timothy and his companion for their comfort-an epistle which contains those arguments for the divinity of our religion which has been the greatest use to the church through all successive ages. What an invaluable treasure do these epistles furnish to the church of God! Here we have the fullest development of the mind of God concerning the destinies of our race particularly are we indebted to the Apostle Paul, who wrote fourteen out of the twenty-one. Blessed be the Lord for the skill he gave to this Apostle in the use of the pen, and for the diligence he enabled him to manifest in its employment; the record of which, in a manner, make him present with us, and go to prevent the wish so passionately expressed by Augustine, to have heard Paul in the flesh. By these, being dead he yet speaketh to us in our Christian temples almost every Sabbath-day: the earthly materials of conveying his sentiments in letters and words may perish, but they will be transferred with other materials, and the mind exhibited in these writings will never expire. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof fadeth; but the word of the Lord endureth for ever: and this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you."
Thirdly, THE CHARACTER AND EFFECT OF HIS MINISTRY. He tells us himself that he "came not with enticing words of men's wisdom," nor with "excellency of speech:" alluding to the art of oratory then and there in repute; the matter to be discussed being arranged with the nicest order, the periods rounded with the greatest care, and even the tones and modulation of the speaker's voice adjusted with the utmost skill. But there was less of all this in the apostle's preaching at Corinth than any where else-less of method, argument, and order than in any other place. "I use," he says, "great plainness of speech;" for this obvious reason, that the effects might be attributed to nothing but the power of truth. How deaf was the apostle to applause! He could have obtained admiration for his oratory, but he chose to lose sight of himself in the naked splendour of the truths he exhibited, as the high-priest was concealed amidst the blaze of his own radiance.
The topics of his ministry were also very few. They were chiefly the doctrine of justification by faith in a crucified Saviour, and of the sanctifying energies of the Holy Spirit: truths, my brethren, to which your ears are not strangers; and truths which to this moment have lost nothing of their original efficacy wherever they are received in the heart, and suffered to influence the conduct.
The effect of the simple proclamation of these truths were prodigious. It appears that the character of the inhabitants of these places, before their conversion, was of the most flagrant and abandoned description. They were slanderers, covetous persons, idolaters, abusers of themselves with one another, given over to voluptuousness. They had wallowed in their crimes for years; they were steeped and dyed in the very filth and ordure of these vices. They go and shake off these vices by the power of truth; the Ethiopian changes his skin, and the leopard his spots; they become transformed in the renewing of their mind; their bodies become the temples of the Holy Ghost; they "hate the very garments spotted by the flesh," and "perfect holiness in the face of
the Lord." Such were the amazing effects of the preaching of these truths by the apostle Paul at Corinth.
One does not wonder that the ancient fathers triumphed so much as they did in these amazing facts of the preached Gospel. I will read you an extract from the writings of two of them. The first is from Ignatius. "The reason" says he, "why philosophy could never do so much good in the world as Christianity is obvious; because that was not suited to all capacities, and required such a skill in the arts to attain, as could not be possessed by men who yet were as capable as others of being made happy. And how inefficacious the precepts of philosophy have been appears by the philosophers themselves, who so far from having command by them over their masterless passions have been fain to confess that nature was too strong to be kept in by such weak reins. But what great demands the divine precepts have on the souls of men daily experience shows. See the changes they have wrought by the energies residing in them, and accompanying them. Give me a man who is wrathful, malicious, unbridled: with a few of the words of God, I will render him placid as a lamb. Give me a man covetous, avaricious, close-fisted: I will turn him back to be liberal, having his hand filled with large gifts. Give me a timid man, one who fears and stumbles at every thing, and who is terrified at the summons of death: he shall contemn now the cross, and face the roaring bull. Give to me the libidinous man, the fornicator and adulterer and unclean you shall see him contented, sober, chaste. Give to me a cruel man, a man with an appetite for blood: his fury shall be changed into true clemency. Give to me an unjust man, a wine-bibber and sinner: he shall become instantly prudent, equitable, and upright. And these changes shall be lasting, not temporary, to relapse again into worse disorders; but the evil of the sinful disorder shall be so instilled into the soul, that they shall never recover strength to make head again."
The other extract is from the work of Origen against Celsus. Some persons have republished parts of the works of Celsus, the infidel; it is a great pity that the masterly works of Origen, referring to what took place in his own time, have not also been translated and published as a counteractive. “I triumph over you, Celsus, on this ground; for what evidence can be stronger of the fact, that a divine power is in the doctrines of the Gospel, than the great alteration wrought by it to those who are influenced by them; so that from being vicious, debauched, and dissolute, it made them temperate, sober, and religious. The doctrines of Christ have converted the most wicked persons who embraced it from all their debaucheries to a life most suited to nature and reason, and to the practice of all virtue. The church of God which is at Corinth, disciplined to Christ now, compared with other cities, shine among them like lights in the world; for who can but confess that even the worse parts of the Christian church exceed the best of the popular assemblies? The church of God at Corinth is quiet and peaceable, because she approved herself to God; but in the popular assemblies there are seditious tumults, and in nothing is to be compared with the church of God. So it is with the church of Alexandria, and other places, compared with all their assemblies. Any candid inquirer after truth, will exceedingly wonder how such fair islands appear in such a sea of wretch edness; how these churches of God should be planted in such rude and profane places. If these things be so, how can it be but most rational to adore the