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1 CORINTHIANS, iv. 5.
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.
THE manner in which the zealous, unwearied, and disinterested labours of the apostle Paul were requited from mankind, forms the most conclusive proof of human depravity; next to that arising from the contradiction, contempt, and cruelty, which his divine Master had experienced. Not only was this distinguished servant of God "every where spoken
against;" and treated as "the filth of the world, and "the offscouring of all things," by unconverted Jews and Gentiles: the whole body of Jewish converts also were exceedingly prejudiced against him; many of the churches he had planted were alienated from him; and his Corinthian converts had been so perverted by false teachers, as to entertain the most injurious susVOL. I.
picions, as to the motives of his ministerial conduct. But fervent zeal for the honour of Christ, and affectionate longing after the salvation of souls, kept him from fainting, and rendered him "stedfast, unmove
able, always abounding in the work of the Lord:" and he even submitted, with the most evident reluctance, to vindicate his character, and magnify his ministry, to the disaffected Corinthians; that, by reestablishing his apostolical authority, he might recover them from the delusions into which they had been se‐ duced. In attempting this, he warned them against exalting some and despising others, of those who had laboured among them. "Let a man," says he, "so "account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and "stewards of the mysteries of God." All Christians are servants of Christ, and the word rendered ministers denotes those servants, who wait on any person, as ready at all times to execute his orders with unreserved assiduity.-But ministers are also stewards of the mysteries of God: they are not mere teachers of morality, but they are entrusted with the great mysterics of revealed truth, that they may declare them to mankind, as they have received them of the Lord. "Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be "found faithful." It is not necessary for ministers to be orators, courtiers, philosophers, or even men of distinguished genius or learning; but integrity and faithfulness are indispensable. Any person of common prudence would prefer a down-right honest steward, though but moderately qualified, to the most accomplished man in the world, who, he was aware, would oppress his tenants and embezzle his property.
Thus faithfulness is the grand requisite in a minister; without which, talents, however they may recommend him to the applause of men, will not procure him deliverance from the wrath of God. "But," says the apostle, "with me it is a very small thing, "that I should be judged of you, or of man's judg "ment; yea, I judge not mine own self: for I know "nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified; "but he that judgeth me is the Lord."-It must not be expected, that every one who aims to be faithful, should thus decidedly rise superior to the opinion of men, especially those within the pale of the church. At the call of duty a minister may be enabled to venture giving offence; yet do it reluctantly and be drawn into many reserves, under the notion of prudence, which may greatly impede his usefulness. Christians should therefore take heed, that they do not inadvertently tempt ministers to unfaithfulness, or render faithfulness uneasy to them. The apostle no doubt did examine his own motives and conduct; but he knew that an appeal lay from his decision to that of his heart-searching Judge; and that reflection gave rise to the caution and warning of the text; "Therefore
judge nothing before the time until the Lord come, "who both will bring to light the hidden things of "darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of "the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of "God." Let us
I. Meditate on the coming of the Lord, and the solemnities of that awful event.
II. Consider the discoveries which will then be made.
III. Advert to the consequences of those dis: coveries.
I. Let us contemplate the coming of the Lord, and the solemnities of that awful event.
The sacred scriptures continually lead our thoughts to this great crisis, when the important and eternal interests of the whole human species will be finally determined. The servants of God from the beginning of the world looked forward to it: even "Enoch the "seventh from Adam prophesied of these things;
saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands "of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to "convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their "ungodly deeds, which they have committed, and of all "the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken "against him."* That profession, which Job ardently wished might be " graven with an iron pen "and lead in the rock for ever," seems to have had as much respect to the second coming of the Lord, as to his first appearance in our nature; I know that
my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the "latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin
worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see "God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes "shall behold, and not another; though my reins be "consumed within me."t
In the fiftieth psalm, which is a most poetical as wellas a prophetical description of a future judgment: we have this sublime language, "Our God shall come "and shall not keep silence, a fire shall devour before
* Jude xiv. 1.
† Job xix. 23, 27.
"him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about "him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and "to the earth that he may judge his people,-And "the heavens shall declare his righteousness, for God "is Judge himself. Selah."* The words of Solomon shall close these citations from the old Testament. Rejoice, O young man in thy youth, and let thy "heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk "in the way of thine heart, and in the sight of thine
eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God "will call thee into judgment."—"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret "thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."+ In the new Testament the same subject continually demands our attention. Christians are said "to wait "for the Lord from heaven, even Jesus who delivered "us from the wrath to come," to "look for the glori
ous appearing of the great God and our Saviour "Jesus Christ," and "to love his appearing." Thus the language of the old Testament relative to the coming of JEHOVAH, and our preparing to meet God, who is Judge himself, is applied to Christ by his apostles, without the least hesitation. And with a conscious dignity, he spake of himself, in his lowest abasement, as the Judge of the world, and the arbiter of men's eternal state. "When the Son of man shall come in "his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then "shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before "him shall be gathered all nations."‡
* Psalm 1. 3-6. † Eccles, xi. 9. xii. 14. Matt. xxv. 31,32.