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tion. He carried with him the strong and controling impression that he was acting for the church and for the world. His deeds were all immortal. Souls bound for eternity were all around him; and if he gave them any impulse, it must be toward the kingdom of God. For this he must give account at the last. The law of God that left him free, had a law above it that required him to be benevolent. The license to eat was modified by a precept that required him to beware lest his liberty became a stumbling block to them that were weak, and thus souls perish for whom Christ died.
And we shall find this a Christian principle of broad and mighty application. If I have wealth and leisure, it may not be a sin occasionally to let an hour pass unoccupied ; but I may not be idle in the place and in the presence of those who may be tempted by my example to idleness, and poverty and crime. If I have abundantly the means, it may not be wrong to wear better vestments than those whose idleness, or improvidence, or appetites, have clothed them in rags; but I may not set an example of that extravagance in dress which will lead others into dishonest and criminal adornings. The case may be such that a very strong necessity may require me to employ the hours of Sabbath in secular toils; but care, such as that with which I would eye the approach of death, must be taken lest my example, upon such as cannot know my necessity, may exert a destructive influence against the commandment of God. I may see a man so consummately mischievous and wicked as to be justified in denominating him “a child of the devil, an enemy of all righteousness ;” but great care must be taken not to deal in railing accusation. The case may occur when I may lawfully put to my lips the cup
that contains strong drink; but not for a world may I do it
in the place, at the time, in the circumstances, or in the presence of men who may by my example be drawn into the vortex of inebriation. I may be where vice is so bold and so supported, that it cannot safely or profitably be rebuked; but I may not linger there a moment beyond the limits of a dire necessity, lest others be tempted to abide there because they love to. I may be lawfully absent from the sanctuary or the place of prayer; but I may not, under the price of a soul, set the example of treating contemptuously the ordinances of God. I may see occasion to pour my rebuke upon the highest authorities of my country; but I may not refuse to submit to the powers that be," and that are ordained of God. There may be many deeds which, in themselves considered, a good conscience would approve, but which, in their bearing upon the spiritual interests of men, conscience would denounce iniquitous. This world is governed by public sentiment; which I may not corrupt for my life. The mass of its population are moving on to hell by an impulse to which I would not add the weight of a feather for a world. A very small remnant are " straying upward," whose advance I would not retard for my house full of silver and gold. Such was the spirit of benevolence with which the apostle declared "I will eat no meat while the world standeth, if meat make my brother to offend.'
THIRDLY. There was in the conduct of the apostle in this matter a display of great Christian magnanimity. He acted emphatically under the impression, 6. None of us liveth to himself.” He did not care that every act of his went to gratify himself, and exalt himself, and add some gloss to his own reputation. He could not agree to dissociate himself from the brotherhood, and be content to guard himself from danger, and leave others to spell out their own escape and manage their own defence. If he could go to a heathen feast and eat harmlessly, but his brother who should go with him might receive damage, or the host who invited them be sustained in his idolatry, he would not be there. Thus he headed the infant church, as some generous- s-hearted and brave commander, who would place himself in the edge of every battle, and be among the last to retreat, and die the shield and champion of his warriors. Thus he patterned after his Master, who laid down his life for the sheep, who was rich, but for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich.
And the Christian spirit in all ages must be the same. When the child of God might hide himself from exposure, he may not, if his retreat would endanger his brethren. If others would defend the hated doctrines, and the self-denying duties, and handle the more obnoxious matters of discipline, and he could gain applause by inaction, he covets no such honour. Nehemiah would not hide himself in the temple, from the threatened invasion of his three inveterate enemies. If others would build the walls, and defend the fortresses, and watch the enemy, and his own life was ever so precious to the enterprize, still he would not lurk behind the walls, and hide himself in the sanctuary.
Believers may not take their shoulders from under the burden and leave their brethren to bear it. The spirit of the gospel has none of the world's time-serving mixed with it. If attacks must be made the whole
army of the gods, and Jupiter should himself array the host, Paul would dare his thunders and expose his weakness, and lead the church of God to the onset. Thus he stood in the streets of Athens, and poured out his contempt upon their priests, their shrines, and their sacrifices,
till we wonder that he, lived to rehearse the adventure, He knew the commander he marched under, and the goodness of the cause he supported, and the firmness of that decree that pledged him the victory.
If exposure is demanded in the cause of the Lord, the believer dare be exposed; if courage is wanted, the Christian has it. If one has it not, he may well doubt whether he shall triumph at the last with the sacramental host. If sin is to be attacked in its stronghold, you may send any Christian to the onset. He has commenced with sin a war of extermination, and has no measure to keep with it. If the vice be popular, he cares not. If interest holds him back, he cares not. If he must go to the onset alone, he dares to meet the enemy of God and man in his deadliest assault. He dare tell a whole community by precept and example that their Sabbathbreaking will destroy them; that their profaneness is cowardly, and vulgar, and ruinous; that their vile cup, when it has enriched a few, and made paupers of the multitude, and murdered wives and children, and blasted their individual and civil reputation, will, in its final results, damn eternally the whole mass of its advocates, from the man who gains an office by its influence, down to the vagabond who dies in the ditch by the use of it. If sin is to be attacked, there is not a single coward among all God's elect. And if any hope they belong to that number, who dare not commence hostilities with sin, they had better know soon, that when the marriage supper is spread, and those who were ready have gone in with the bridegroom to the marriage, they must be in outer darkness.
FOURTHLY. The apostle, in the case before us, displayed great Christian wisdom and prudence. I know that some would suppose that the very opposite of this was true; that if he wished to put down idolatry and convert the heathen, he must go to their feasts, and eat their sacrifices, and drink their oblations, and by no means separate himself from their society, lest he lose his influence over them. He must not push matters so far for fear of a reaction that should frustrate all his hopes. But Paul had more wisdom, and knew that in order to cure idolatry he and his brethren must stand wholly' aloof from it, and thus render those ashamed who practised it. Had he attended freely their feasts, and took all his weaker brethren with him, he would have done mischief in two ways. The heathen would never have abandoned their gods, and many of the Christians would have gone back to idolatry; and thus the whole work of founding the Christian churches would have been to be done over. Exactly thus may we prescribe for the cure of other vices. To cure profaneness, we must mingle, they say, with the swearers, and smile at their witty oaths, and invite them to our houses, and employ them in our service, and let our children hear them swear, and never let them know that we are ashamed of them; thus they have the full benefit of our chaste conversation, and we shall occasionally have opportunity to check them! To cure intemperance we must not be too bold in our measures. We must not refuse to drink wine occasionally, nor advise others to quit it wholly; must not deprecate the sale of the poison, nor refuse to keep it in our houses, nor refuse to deal it out to the labourer, or the visiter, nor forbid our children to take it, nor cry down the whole article as useless, a curse and a nuisance : all this will drive the intemperate from us, so that we can have no influence over them to persuade them to quit it! Exactly the opposite advice that Paul would give. By such prescriptions we might keep this a drunk