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CHRISTIANS ARE PRESENT DAY EPISTLES.pdf

CHRISTIANS ARE PRESENT DAY EPISTLES.pdf

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY SAMUEL COX



" Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of
all men, manifestly declared to be an epistle of Christ, ministered
by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God ;
not on tables of stone, but on tables that are hearts of flesh." —
2 Corinthians iii. 2, 3.
BY SAMUEL COX



" Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of
all men, manifestly declared to be an epistle of Christ, ministered
by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God ;
not on tables of stone, but on tables that are hearts of flesh." —
2 Corinthians iii. 2, 3.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 10, 2013
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CHRISTIANS ARE PRESENT DAY EPISTLESBY SAMUEL COX" Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men, manifestly declared to be an epistle of Christ, ministeredby us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God ;not on tables of stone, but on tables that are hearts of flesh." — 2 Corinthians iii. 2, 3.Among other charges alleged against St. Paul by theHebraists who followed him to Corinth was this, — thatwhile they brought letters of commendation from theApostles at Jerusalem, he had no such letters to pro-duce ; that he was, therefore, an unauthorized intruder,thrusting himself from sinister motives, for selfish per-sonal ends, into a ministry to which he was not called.To this charge St. Paul virtually replies, that the Lordof the Church was not dead, but alive again ; that Hestill called men into the service and apostleship of thetruth ; and that as he himself had been called to theministry of the Word by the living Lord of the Church,as he had neither received his Gospel from men norbeen instructed in it by men, but had received it directlyfrom Christ, he did not need letters of commendationfrom the other Apostles. He was an apostle himself,PRESENT-DA V SCRIP TURES. 1 63with a commission direct from Heaven. And the proof was that he himself had power to write epistles, or,rather, that the living Christ wrote living epistles by hishand. What need had he of call or commendation frommen in whom Christ still manifested Himself as thewisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation ?Above all, what need had he of commendation to the
 
Corifithians who had recognized the wisdom and felt thepower with which he had been charged by Christ, andhad been raised by Him into a new and divine life ?This was St. Paul's leading thought ; but his heart isvery full, his thought takes many forms ; and, as wecan hardly fail to remark, his speech and figures of speech are broken and confused. His words throb withemotion ; his metaphors break down under their weightof thought and passion. First, the Corinthians are anepistle written 07t his heart, so dear are they to him, somuch in his mind. Then, they are an epistle to theworld, written and sent forth by him, as the ministerof Christ. Then, the epistle is written on their heartsinstead of his, by the finger or Spirit of God ratherthan by him. Nay, the very figure of an epistle, turn ithow he will, proves insufficient to express his meaning,and he runs it into another. The letter, written, withink, on parchment, changes into a law graven not onslabs of stone, but on the warm and vital substance of the human heart. Obviously, the Apostle is carriedaway by the tumult of his emotions, and crowds intowords a burden of meaning they will hardly bear.Even to us, however, this broken and imperfect utter-1 64 PRESENT-DA Y SCRIPTURES.ance is the more impressive for its very imperfections,since through these we catch glimpses of St. Paul'sheart, and learn what he felt as well as what he thought.And, to the Corinthians, the very sentence which to usseems defective by its broken metaphors and crowdingthoughts, must have seemed one of those rare andfelicitous turns of expression of which only the greatmasters of language are capable. While it was the
 
most graceful of compliments to them, it was alsoone of those swift controversial movements, turning thewhole force of an adversary's argument against himself,which are peculiar to men of genius. "You, Paul, haveno credentials, no letters of commendation," said hisopponents and detractors. " Have I not ? " replied theApostle. " I have the best in the world. These men of Corinth, quickened into a divine life, tliey are my letterof commendation. And who could have a better letter,or more convincing credentials, than these ? " It was asplendid stroke of oratory, of logic on fire with emotion :for what physician can produce a more cogent and per-suasive testimonial than patients healed of many fataldiseases? or how can a teacher more convincinglydemonstrate his fitness, his capacity, for his vocation,than in pupils proficient in the art, or science, he hastaught them ? or what can prove a man a true ministerof Christ, if not a whole community drawn into thefaith and obedience of Christ by his toils ?Every man, then, may be, every church should be, aliving epistle of Christ, read and known of men. Thisis the ruling thought, this the ruling figure, of the pas-PRESENT-DA Y SCRIPTURES, 165sage before us. Let us briefly inquire what it containsor implies.I. The first characteristic of a letter is, that it co7itainsand expresses the mind of the writer. An upright maniises words to convey his thoughts, not to conceal them.His letters express himself — his true plans and purposesand wishes. Can men, can churches, convey the mind•of Christ as a letter conveys the mind of a friend }We might well doubt it, so imperfect are men, so im-perfect are churches, while the mind of Christ is perfectand divine. We need to remember, therefore, both that

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