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able? But does Divine knowledge only regard that which
to us important ? The parable of the talents is, at all events, a warning of the danger of assuming that there is no special work for myself. And, practically, it is sufficient to say that nothing is a greater stimulus to zeal and devotion-nothing is more calculated to stir us up to prayer for strength and grace to fulfil our work, to direct our prayers and make them effectual—than to set this before our minds very definitely indeed, “ The work to which God calls me is my own work for Him, to fulfil which I am made a member of Christ and a child of the living God."
THE APOSTLE PAUL.
But there is an apostle, not of the Twelve, whose work for his Lord is exhibited to us, in Holy Scripture, so much more completely and particularly than that of any other follower of
Christ, that it is impossible not to conclude that it is specially set forth by the Holy Ghost as an example to us. For it is the example of a man of like passions with us, who could with perfect truth say of himself, “I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Most marvellous instance of the power of that grace, and of the fulfilment of our Lord's saying,
The last shall be first and the first last !" He who, for many years after the calling of the first apostles, was a violent and bigoted persecutor of the Church, is by far the most conspicuous figure in the apostolic history, the man whose writings form a larger portion of the New Testament than those of any other of Christ's disciples.
The explanation of this very noticeable fact is that a special work for God was assigned to
Its special character consisted, first of all, in his being the apostle of the uncircumcision, as St. Peter was of the circumcision. But this means much more than that he
* 1 Cor. ix. 17.
laboured specially amongst the Gentiles. There was a higher sense in which St. Paul was the apostle of the Gentile world as neither Peter nor any of the Twelve could have been. For it was not only a special mission that was committed to him, but a special revelation which qualified him for the fulfilment of that mission.
This revelation was not indeed of any new facts in the history of Redemption. From several passages in his epistles we must conclude, that his knowledge of the facts of our Lord's history, to which those who were apostles before him gave their testimony as eyewitnesses, was communicated to Paul, not from them, but by a special revelation from Christ. These facts, as we learn from his own words, * hė preached among the Gentiles as others had preached them among the Jews, as the gospel by which men are saved.” In that respect his ministry was identical with theirs.
But our Saviour Himself intimated, when, in His last discourse on the eve of His passion,
* 1 Cor. xv. 1-4.
He spoke of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, Whom His Father would send in His name, that the great power which the Divine Spirit would exercise in the world would consist in the spiritual conclusions from the great work of Redemption which the Spirit would bring home to the hearts and consciences of men. I think, who carefully studies the history and writings of St. Paul, can doubt that his vocation as the apostle of the Gentile world was the primary fulfilment of this particular promise of the Holy Ghost, as convicting the world in respect of sin, righteousness, and judgment." It will be observed that in St. Paul's writings, as in our own religious language derived from them, the gospel is not only, or chiefly, the history of the Son of God in our nature ; but it is the spiritual doctrine that is derived from that history. And the Gospel, in this sense of the word, is not capable of being formulated in express dogmas, like the Articles of the Creed, but must be embodied in the living
* Gal. i. 6-9.
words and living deeds of men. guided and taught by the “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” This gospel of life was the revelation to the apostle Paul, which it was his mission to preach to the world. For this end he was born, and for this end he came into the world. And, as his own language implies, the distinctive characteristic of his apostleship was that he bore witness to Christ, not merely as a Redeemer and Saviour from without us, but as a Divine spiritual power within every one who believes. In such an one, Christ so dwells through the uniting energy of living faith, that all that Christ is, and all that Christ has done as man for man, is ours, through being, as it were, reproduced in us by the spiritual union of which our baptism is the seal and sacrament. And this doctrine, in order that he might teach it effectively, in the spirit not in the letter, was so embodied in the history and life and the personal feelings and character of this apostle, that he stood out then, and still in his writings stands out to the present hour, as himself the