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Published by glennpease

I planted, Apollos watered ; but God gave the increase."
I Corinthians iii. 6.

I planted, Apollos watered ; but God gave the increase."
I Corinthians iii. 6.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 09, 2013
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SPIRITUAL HUSBANDRY.BY SAMUEL COXI planted, Apollos watered ; but God gave the increase."I Corinthians iii. 6.The most common form in which one hears thesewords quoted is, I think, this : " A Paul may plant, andan Apollos water ; but only God can give the increase."Years ago they were often quoted in this form to provethat learning and eloquence are of little value, or evenof no value, in the ministry of the Word ; that, thougha preacher were learned as Paul and eloquent asApollos, he would preach to no effect without theDivine blessing : and that as these gifts were of no availapart from the blessing of God, therefore — O strange" therefore " ! — they were of no use at all. The text isstill occasionally quoted, I believe, in order to " humblethe pride " of ministers — an intention for which, when itis sincere, ministers cannot be too grateful — in order toremind them that, however erudite they may be, andwhatever their natural gifts, neither their gifts nor theirerudition will of themselves enable them to commandsuccess in the great work to which they have been378 SPIRITUAL HUSBANDRY.called. But as a rule, I suppose, these words are nowused as a humble and sincere confession of the factthat, whatever our capacities and whatever our culturemay be, we can none of us, cleric or lay, do anythingto purpose in the service of God without his presence,cooperation, and benediction.
In whatever connection they are used, they are trueso long as they assert our dependence on God for suc-cess in our labours. In whatever connection they areused, they become false the very moment they deny awise use of the best means to be a main condition of success, or attribute that success to anything arbitraryor capricious in the will of God. If a minister does notowe his success simply to his learning or to his elo-quence, still less does he owe it simply to his ignoranceor to an unversed and unaccomplished tongue. Whateverhelps to make a man a wise teacher, or a good and tell-ing speaker, will also help to make him an effective andsuccessful preacher of the Word. Neither learning noreloquence will avail him much if he lack higher quali-ties — a delicate sympathy with truth and righteousness,an intense love for God and man, a single-hearteddevotion to spiritual ends. But I have yet to learn thata thoughtful, gifted, and cultivated man, a man who hasworked hard and long to make the best of himself, ismore likely to be lacking in spiritual gifts and aimsthan the man who has taken less pains to improve him-self. The presumption is that " to him that hath, itshall be given." The presumption is that the wise manwill be the first to accept the highest wisdom, and thatSPIRITUAL HUSBANDRY. 379the man of most gifts will be the first to value the bestgifts. The presumption is that the most effectivespeaker will speak most effectively for God.And, assuredly, those who think the great Lawgiveracts without law, that God grants success to those whoare least likely to command success, have no right toquote St. Paul's words in favour of their strange argu-ment. For, first, the Apostle is not here laying down ageneral principle ; he is simply appealing to an historical
fact ; the fact that at Corinth he and Apollos had bothministered the word of the Gospel, and that God hadblessed their ministry to the salvation of many souls.He neither affirms, nor denies, that men less learned ^than himself, or less eloquent than Apollos, would havedone their work just as well as they had done it. Allhe affirms is that it was they who had done it, and thatGod had worked together with them.And, again, if we must draw a general inference fromthe historical fact stated by St. Paul, let us be sure thatwe draw it fairly, that we really understand his wordsand the principle which lies behind them. Consider,then, the illustration which he employs, and which givesform to the whole Verse. Obviously, it is that of afarmer or a gardener. " One gardener plants, anotherwaters the plants ; but only God can make their gardengrow." Is that true } Assuredly it is true. In this, as' Of course in applying this epithet to St. Paul, I have in mindmainly his familiarity with all the wisdom of the Hebfeius^ Scrip-tural and Rabbinical, and leave the disputed question of hisClassical erudition untouched.38o SPIRITUAL HUSBANDRY.in every, province of human activity, men, even whenthey have done their best, are dependent on the actionand blessing of God. But is there anything capriciousor arbitrary in his action ? Is his benediction governedby no law ? With whom does He generally act ? whomdoes He commonly bless ? Is it not the wise and skilfulgardener, not the unwise and unskilled ? It is quite truethat even the most learned and practised gardener can-not thrive and prosper in his work without God, Butwould you expect many flowers or much fruit from agarden that was neither planted nor watered ? Andfrom which would you expect the choicest flowers and

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